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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 9. Environment
Agency 15. Department of Environmental Quality
Chapter 40. Small Renewable Energy Projects (Wind) Permit by Rule
6/26/2022

9VAC15-40-40. Analysis of the beneficial and adverse impacts on natural resources.

A. Analyses of wildlife. To fulfill the requirements of § 10.1-1197.6 B 7 of the Code of Virginia, the applicant shall conduct pre-construction wildlife analyses. The analyses of wildlife shall include the following:

1. Desktop surveys and maps. The applicant shall obtain a wildlife report and map generated from DGIF's Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information Service web-based application (9VAC15-40-120 C 3) or from a data and mapping system including the most recent data available from DGIF's subscriber-based Wildlife Environmental Review Map Service of the following: (i) known wildlife species and habitat features on the site or within two miles of the boundary of the site; (ii) known bat hibernacula on the site or within five miles of the boundary of the site; (iii) known maternity and bachelor bat colonies on the site or within 12 miles of the boundary of the site; and (iv) known or potential sea turtle nesting beaches located within one mile of the disturbance zone.

2. Breeding bird surveys. If the desktop analyses prescribed in subdivision 1 of this subsection indicate the presence of or habitat for a state-listed T&E bird species or a Tier 1 or Tier 2 bird SGCN within the disturbance zone, then the applicant shall conduct a breeding bird survey to identify state T&E bird species and Tier 1 and Tier 2 bird SGCN occurring within the disturbance zone during the species' annual breeding season.

3. Field survey of nonavian resources. If the desktop analyses prescribed in subdivision 1 of this subsection indicate the presence of or habitat for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 vertebrate SGCN, other than a bird, within the disturbance zone, then the applicant shall conduct field surveys of suitable habitats for that species within the disturbance zone to determine the species' occurrence and relative distribution within the disturbance zone.

4. Raptor migration surveys. The applicant shall conduct one year of raptor migration surveys, in both the spring and fall seasons, to determine the relative abundance of migrant raptors moving through the general vicinity of the disturbance zone.

5. Map and field studies for avian resources in Coastal Avian Protection Zones (CAPZ).

a. The applicant shall consult the "Coastal Avian Protection Zones" map generated on the department's Coastal GEMS geospatial data system (9VAC15-40-120 C 1) and determine whether the proposed wind energy project site will be located in part or in whole within one or more CAPZ.

b. When a proposed wind energy project site will be located in part or in whole within one or more Coastal Avian Protection Zones, then the applicant shall perform avian field studies, or shall rely on existing scientific analysis as reflected on the CAPZ map, for each zone where the project is located, as follows:

(1) Zone 1: Nearshore waters extending 1 - 4.83 km (0.62 - 3 mi) from Virginia's ocean-facing shoreline, excluding the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. In this zone, the relevant avian species and other avian mitigation factors are: T&E species (migratory Piping Plovers, Wilson's Plovers, Peregrine Falcons, Gull-billed Terns, and Roseate Terns); hemispherically important migratory corridor for shorebirds, seabirds and waterfowl; and hemispherically important migratory staging area and wintering area for seabirds and waterfowl. The applicant shall either perform avian field studies regarding the actual or likely occurrence of these resources, or rely on existing scientific analysis as reflected on the CAPZ map.

(2) Zone 2: Nearshore waters that extend from Virginia's ocean-facing shoreline out to 1 km (0.62 mi), excluding the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. In this zone, the relevant avian species and other avian mitigation factors are: T&E species (migratory and breeding Piping Plovers, Wilson's Plovers, Peregrine Falcons and Gull-billed Terns, and migratory Roseate Terns) and hemispherically important migratory corridor, migratory staging area, and wintering area for shorebirds, seabirds and waterfowl. The applicant shall either perform avian field studies regarding the actual or likely occurrence of these resources or rely on existing scientific analysis as reflected on the CAPZ map.

(3) Zone 3: Barrier island/seaside lagoon system, including a 100 m (328 ft) offshore buffer. In this zone, the relevant avian species and other avian mitigation factors are: T&E species (breeding and migratory Piping Plovers, Wilson's Plovers, Gull-billed Terns, Peregrine Falcons and Bald Eagles) and hemispherically important staging area and wintering area for shorebirds, seabirds, and waterfowl. The applicant shall either perform avian field studies regarding the actual or likely occurrences of these resources or rely on existing scientific analysis as reflected on the CAPZ map.

(4) Zone 4: Southern end of the Delmarva Peninsula (mainland only), including a 10 km long (6.21 mi) strip along the western (bayside) fringe of the peninsula that extends from Wise Point to (and including) Savage Neck. In this zone, the relevant avian species and other avian mitigation factors are: T&E species (migratory Peregrine Falcons and breeding and migratory Bald Eagles), the designation as an Important Bird Area, and hemispherically important migratory staging area for passerines and other landbirds. The applicant shall either perform avian field studies regarding the actual or likely occurrence of these resources or rely on existing scientific analysis as reflected on the CAPZ map.

(5) Zone 5: Delmarva Peninsula, excluding zones 3 and 4. In this zone, the relevant avian species and other avian mitigation factors are: T&E species (breeding Bald Eagles) and regionally to hemispherically important fall migratory staging area for landbirds. The applicant shall either perform avian field studies regarding the actual or likely occurrence of these resources or rely on existing scientific analysis as reflected on the CAPZ map.

(6) Zone 6: Southern end and mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, including the waters off of the western shore of the Delmarva Peninsula that extend from Wise Point north to the mouth of Craddock Creek. In this zone, the relevant avian species and other avian mitigation factors are: migratory staging area and wintering area for seabirds and waterfowl that may be of hemispheric importance. The applicant shall conduct aerial transect surveys for waterfowl and seabirds during the fall migration, spring migration, and wintering seasons to determine the distribution, density, and relative abundance of these species within this zone throughout the nonbreeding season.

(7) Zone 7: Lower portions of the James, York, and Rappahannock Rivers and small tributaries along the south side of the lower Potomac River. In this zone, relevant avian species and other avian mitigation factors are: T&E species (breeding Bald Eagles), regionally important fall migratory staging areas and wintering areas for waterfowl, and spring migratory staging areas of unknown significance. The applicant shall conduct aerial transect surveys for waterfowl during the spring migration season to determine the distribution, density, and relative abundance of these species within this zone during the spring season. The applicant shall either perform avian field studies regarding the actual or likely occurrences of breeding Bald Eagles and waterfowl during the fall and winter seasons or rely on existing scientific analysis as reflected on the CAPZ map.

(8) Zone 8: Western portions of the Chesapeake Bay. In this zone, the relevant avian species and other avian mitigation factors are: migratory staging area and wintering area for seabirds and waterfowl of unknown significance. The applicant shall conduct aerial transect surveys for waterfowl and seabirds in the fall migration, spring migration, and wintering seasons to determine the distribution, density, and relative abundance of these species within this zone throughout the nonbreeding season.

(9) Zone 9: Virginia's northeast sector of the Chesapeake Bay, including all nearshore waters, marshes, and islands within Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds and all islands and marshes located along the western fringe of the Delmarva Peninsula from Craddock Creek north to the Virginia/Maryland border. This zone is recognized as a migratory staging area and wintering area for seabirds and waterfowl of unknown significance. The applicant shall conduct aerial transect surveys for waterfowl and seabirds during the fall migration, spring migration, and wintering seasons to determine the distribution, density, and relative abundance of these species within this zone throughout the nonbreeding season. In this zone, additional relevant avian species and other avian mitigation factors are: T&E species (breeding Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons) and the designation as an Important Bird Area. The applicant shall either perform avian field studies regarding the actual or likely occurrence of these additional resources or rely on existing scientific analysis as reflected on the CAPZ map.

(10) Zone 10: Upper reaches of the James, Rappahannock, and Potomac Rivers. In this zone the relevant avian species and other avian mitigation factors are T&E species (breeding Bald Eagles and continentally important Bald Eagle concentration areas), the designation as Important Bird Areas, and locally to continentally important waterfowl wintering areas. The applicant shall either perform avian field studies regarding the actual or likely occurrence of these resources or rely on existing scientific analysis as reflected on the CAPZ map.

(11) Zone 11: Lower reaches of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey tributaries. In this zone, the relevant avian species and other avian mitigation factors are: T&E species (breeding Bald Eagles) and the designation as an Important Bird Area. The applicant shall either perform avian field studies regarding the actual or likely occurrence of these resources or rely on existing scientific analysis as reflected on the CAPZ map.

(12) Zone 12: Outer fringes of the lower, middle, and northern peninsulas. In this zone, the relevant avian species and other avian mitigation factors are: T&E species (breeding Bald Eagles). The applicant shall either perform avian field studies regarding the actual or likely occurrence of these resources or rely on existing scientific analysis as reflected on the CAPZ map.

(13) Zone 13: Interior portions of the lower, middle, and northern peninsulas. In this zone, the relevant avian species and other avian mitigation factors are: T&E species (breeding Bald Eagles, for which little information currently exists in this zone). The applicant shall perform ground surveys for breeding Bald Eagles to determine distribution and abundance of Bald Eagle nests within the disturbance zone and within.25 mile of the perimeter of the disturbance zone.

(14) Zone 14: Back Bay and surrounding private lands. In this zone, the relevant avian species and other avian mitigation factors are: T&E species (breeding Bald Eagles), the designation as Important Bird Area, and locally to continentally important migratory staging area and wintering area for waterfowl. The applicant shall either perform avian field studies regarding the actual or likely occurrence of these resources, or rely on existing scientific analysis as reflected on the CAPZ map.

6. Bat acoustic surveys. The applicant shall conduct bat acoustic surveys to determine the presence of and level of bat activity and use within the disturbance zone.

7. Mist-netting or harp-trapping surveys. If the applicant identifies potential for T&E bat species to occur within the disturbance zone, the applicant shall conduct a season-appropriate mist-netting survey or harp-trapping survey or both.

8. Wildlife report. The applicant shall provide to the department a report summarizing the relevant findings of the desktop and field surveys conducted pursuant to subdivisions 1 through 7 of this subsection, along with all data and supporting documents. The applicant shall assess and describe the expected beneficial and adverse impacts, if any, of the proposed project on wildlife resources identified in subdivisions 1 through 7 of this subsection.

B. Analyses of historic resources. To fulfill the requirements of § 10.1-1197.6 B 7 of the Code of Virginia, the applicant shall also conduct a pre-construction historic resources analysis. The analysis shall be conducted by a qualified professional meeting the professional qualification standards of the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Archeology and Historic Preservation (9VAC15-40-120 B 2) in the appropriate discipline. The analysis shall include each of the following:

1. Compilation of known historic resources. The applicant shall gather information on known historic resources within the disturbance zone and within five miles of the disturbance zone boundary and present this information on the context map referenced in 9VAC15-40-70 B, or as an overlay to this context map, as well as in tabular format.

2. Architectural survey. The applicant shall conduct a field survey of all architectural resources, including cultural landscapes, 50 years of age or older within the disturbance zone and within 1.5 miles of the disturbance zone boundary and evaluate the eligibility of any identified resource for listing in the VLR; however, for wind energy projects located in nearshore waters, this field study shall include all architectural resources 50 years of age or older within five miles of the disturbance zone boundary, but shall not extend more than 1.5 miles inland from the mean low water mark.

3. Archaeological survey. The applicant shall conduct an archaeological field survey of the disturbance zone and evaluate the eligibility of any identified archaeological site for listing in the VLR; however, the requirements of this subdivision shall not apply to any portion of the disturbance zone located on state-owned submerged lands that are subject to VMRC permitting pursuant to Title 28.2 of the Code of Virginia.

4. Historic resources report. The applicant shall provide to the department a report presenting the findings of the studies and analyses conducted pursuant to subdivisions 1 through 3 of this subsection along with all data and supporting documents. The applicant shall assess and describe the expected beneficial and adverse impacts, if any, of the proposed project on historic resources identified in subdivisions 1, 2, and 3 of this subsection.

C. Analyses of other natural resources. To fulfill the requirements of § 10.1-1197.6 B 7 of the Code of Virginia, the applicant shall also conduct pre-construction analyses of the impact of the proposed project on other natural resources, which have not been addressed pursuant to subsection A or B of this section, and as are specified in subdivisions 1 and 2 of this subsection. The analyses shall include:

1. Natural heritage resources. An analysis of the impact of the project on natural heritage resources, which shall include the following:

a. A desktop survey of natural heritage resources within the site and within two miles of the boundary of the site.

b. Field surveys within the disturbance zone mapping: (i) the ecological community groups as classified in accordance with DCR's The Natural Communities of Virginia, Classification of Ecological Community Groups (9VAC15-40-120 B 4); (ii) natural heritage resources to include species and community identification, location, age, size, spatial distribution, and evidence of reproduction; (iii) caves; (iv) mines; (v) rock outcrops; (vi) cliffs; (vii) wetlands; and (viii) invasive plant species.

2. Scenic resources. An analysis of the impact of the project on scenic resources, as follows:

a. Pursuant to 9VAC15-40-70, for the area within the site and within five miles of the boundary of the site, a viewshed analysis of the impact of the proposed project on existing federally designated or state-designated scenic resources, including national parks, national forest-designated scenic areas, state parks, state natural area preserves, national scenic trails, national or state-designated scenic roads, national or state-designated scenic rivers, and those resources identified as potential candidates for such designation in DCR's Virginia Outdoors Plan (9VAC15-40-120 B 5).

b. The applicant shall conduct these analyses and shall show the potential impact of the proposed project on the viewshed from such identified resources, where applicable.

3. Other natural resources report. The applicant shall provide to the department a report, including maps, documenting the results of the analyses conducted pursuant to subdivisions 1 and 2 of this subsection. The applicant shall assess and describe the expected beneficial and adverse impacts, if any, of the proposed project on natural resources identified in subdivisions 1 and 2 of this subsection.

Statutory Authority

§ 10.1-1197.6 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 27, Issue 6, eff. December 22, 2010.

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