Carson Power land clearing will await end of bat roosting

PINE PLAINS — The winter season is behind us and Carson Power LLC, which is proposing to build a 10MW solar farm at Pulvers Corners, will hold off on any land clearing until November as part of its agreement with the town to protect the northern long-eared bat.

Carson Power is required by its agreement with the town to limit tree-clearing activity to the winter season, when the bats hibernate.

“We did not proceed with any tree clearing during this winter season, which concluded on 3/31,” Andrew Gordon, director of development at Carson, said in an email.
“We are honoring the winter tree clearing periods as we committed to during our application.

“We will mobilize on site for an 11/1 start,” he added.

The northern long-eared bat is listed an a threatened species that is in danger of becoming a endangered species. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the numbers of these bats have declined by up to 99 percent in the Northeast, based on hibernation counts.

Evaluations made last year when Carson was before the town Planning Board concluded that avoiding tree-clearing during the roosting period would not pose a problem.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that “take” of the bat is “not reasonably certain to occur” given the conservation measure to limit tree removal between Nov. 1 and March 31.

A senior wildlife biologist at the Fish and Wildlife Division of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) concurred.

“If tree removal takes place between November 1st and March 31st, the Department can…determine that the proposed activity is not likely to result in the incidental taking of Northern long-eared bats,” wrote the DEC’s Lisa Masi. last year in May.

The town’s approval of the Carson Power project currently is before a New York State Supreme Court judge in Putnam County.

Judge Anthony R. Molé has set oral arguments to be held in the court house in Carmel on May3 at 10:30 a.m. in Courtroom 306. A group of residents is seeking a reversal of the town’s approval of the project.

The group, Preserve Pine Plains, filed an Article 78 action against the town Planning Board and certain property owners and developers of the project.

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