Cave-dwelling bat populations in Wisconsin are rapidly declining due to a fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome. Some species may soon be listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). In preparation for this listing, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is teaming up with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to develop a large-scale Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP).
The purpose of this HCP is to obtain a federal incidental take permit under ESA section 10 requesting authorization for the incidental take of bats during forest management activities. The goal of this project is the protection of federally endangered bat species and the continuation of forest management activities in the Lake States.
The Wisconsin DNR will use the HCP to guide forest management activities on DNR-administered land. County, municipal and private landowners may also choose to participate in the plan as a way to continue forest management activities while remaining in compliance with the ESA.
Draft Chapters Now Available
We are pleased to announce that drafts of the final three chapters of the HCP are now available for your review here: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestPlanning/bats.html.
Chapter 6: This chapter describes the implementation framework of the Lake States HCP, including the organizational structure, agencies’ roles and responsibilities, and the assurances requested by the State DNRs through permit coverage.
Chapter 7: This chapter outlines the estimated costs of implementing the Lake States HCP over the proposed 50-year permit term and provides assurances that Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNRs) has resources to implement the HCP.
Chapter 8: As required by the ESA, this chapter discusses alternatives that were considered but not selected and the reasons those alternatives were not selected for analysis.
Appendix F: This appendix describes a landowner enrollment program that will be available for incidental take coverage on other lands.
Your Feedback Requested
You are invited to read the chapters and share your feedback at https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestPlanning/bats.html.
Comments will be accepted until August 21, 2020.
Please email your questions, comments and suggestions to DNRNHCForestBatHCP@wisconsin.gov. We will review all comments and will incorporate feedback and suggestions into the HCP as appropriate.
Next Steps in the Process
These are the final three chapters of the HCP, we will consider all comments as we assemble the final draft of the entire HCP.
As required by the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), there will be another, more formal opportunity for public comment when the full draft of the HCP is submitted to USFWS. We will provide notice of that opportunity when it arises.
USFWS will make the final determination of what can be included in the lake States Forest Management Bat HCP.