Good news for members whose development plans were in danger of being derailed by new regulations regarding the Northern Long-Eared Bat:
Last week, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a final rule that eases some of these restrictions.
NAHB received several calls and emails from members after FWS listed the bat as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act, touching off a series of new protections that could drive regulators and builders, well, batty.
The “interim rule” restricted the removal of certain trees between April and September — the bats’ migration season — in the Eastern and North Central United States.
NAHB submitted comments, and in the final rule, the original quarter-mile buffer around known-roosting sites has been reduced to 150 feet. That gives builders more room for tree-clearing operations to construct homes.
The quarter-mile buffer around hibernation habitat — such as caves and mines — remains the same. However, neither private landowners nor permit applicants need to conduct surveys to determine the bat’s presence on the property.
Dropping the survey requirement removes a huge burden for builders, because these surveys were expensive and could only be performed during certain months of the year.
Instead, FWS and the Army Corps of Engineers will rely on data from the natural heritage database maintained by each state.
For additional information, contact Michael Mittelholzer at 800-368-5242 x8660.