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CONTENTS

Section                                                                                                                                           Page

ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS.................................................................................................. iii

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY............................................................................................................... ES-3

 

1.0        INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................... 3

 

1.1        GOALS AND POLICIES.............................................................................................. 5

1.2        RESPONSIBLE AND INTERESTED PARTIES.............................................................. 5

1.3        NEPA COMPLIANCE AND INTEGRATION................................................................. 6

1.4        INTERAGENCY COORDINATION AND REVIEW........................................................ 6

1.4.1     Agency Review and Comment.......................................................................... 6

1.4.2     Public Participation.......................................................................................... 6

 

2.0        BACKGROUND INFORMATION............................................................................................. 3

 

2.1        PICATINNY ARSENAL DESCRIPTION AND MILITARY MISSION.............................. 7

2.2        AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT...................................................................................... 9

2.2.1     Regional Physiography and Setting.................................................................... 9

2.2.2     Picatinny Landscape and Natural Resources...................................................... 10

2.2.3     Picatinny Human Environment......................................................................... 17

 

3.0        SPECIES INFORMATION..................................................................................................... 20

 

3.1        PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION........................................................................................ 20

3.2        DISTRIBUTION AND RANGE................................................................................... 20

3.3        LIFE HISTORY......................................................................................................... 23

3.4        HABITAT AND BEHAVIOR....................................................................................... 27

3.4.1     Roosting Cohorts and Habitat Utilization........................................................... 27

3.4.2     Foraging Habitats and Behavior........................................................................ 34

3.5        REASONS FOR DECLINE......................................................................................... 35

3.6        CONSERVATION MEASURES.................................................................................. 35

3.7        IBAT STATUS IN NORTHEAST REGION AND AT PICA AND NORTHERN NJ........... 37

3.7.1     Hibernia and Other Local Mine Studies............................................................. 41

3.7.2     PICA Studies................................................................................................. 42

3.7.3     Other Relevant Studies................................................................................... 47

3.8        CHRONOLOGICAL OVERVIEW................................................................................ 50

 

 


CONTENTS (Continued)

 

Section                                                                                                                                           Page

4.0        PICA CONSERVATION GOALS............................................................................................ 51

 

5.0        MANAGEMENT PRESCRIPTIONS........................................................................................ 53

 

5.1        MANAGEMENT PRESCRIPTIONS FOR PICA ACTIVITIES....................................... 53

5.1.1     Forest Management........................................................................................ 53

5.1.2     Pest Management........................................................................................... 56

5.1.3     Construction and Demolition and Environmental Remediation.............................. 58

5.1.4     Leasing of PICA Property............................................................................... 58

5.1.5     Test Range and Operations........................................................................... 58

5.1.6     Training Exercises......................................................................................... 58

5.1.7     Hunting and Other Outdoor Recreation............................................................. 59

5.1.8     Firewood Cutting........................................................................................... 59

5.2        OTHER MANAGEMENT PRESCRIPTIONS................................................................ 59

5.2.1     Monitoring of IBAT and Habitat....................................................................... 59

5.2.2     Protection of Water Quality............................................................................. 61

5.2.3     Protection and Inspection of Bat Roosts in Buildings, Mines, or Caves................. 62

5.2.4     Provision and Protection of Artificial Bat Roost Structures................................. 62

5.2.5     Implementation of Employee and Community Awareness Program...................... 63

5.2.6     Communication with USFWS.......................................................................... 63

 

6.0        ENDANGERED SPECIES MANAGEMENT PLAN IMPLEMENTATION................................... 64

 

6.1        COMPLIANCE AND REVIEW................................................................................... 64

6.2        TIME, COSTS, AND PERSONNEL............................................................................ 64

 

7.0        ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT....................................................................................... 68

 

7.1        PURPOSE OF AND NEED FOR THE PROPOSED ACTION......................................... 68

7.2        ALTERNATIVES CONSIDERED ............................................................................... 68

7.2.1     “No Action” Alternative.................................................................................. 68

7.2.2     Proposed Alternative...................................................................................... 68

7.3        CUMULATIVE EFFECTS.......................................................................................... 76

7.4        CONCLUSIONS........................................................................................................ 76

 

8.0        REFERENCES...................................................................................................................... 77

 

 


CONTENTS (Continued)

APPENDICES

Appendix

A          GLOSSARY

B          INDIVIDUALS CONSULTED DURING ESMP/EA PREPARATION

C          PICATINNY ARSENAL ENDANGERED SPECIES MANAGEMENT PLAN ANNUAL COMPLIANCE CHECKLIST

D          FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ENDANGERED SPECIES MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE IBAT, MYOTIS SODALIS

 

 

FIGURES

Figure                                                                                                                                            Page

1          INSTALLATION LOCATION.................................................................................................. 7

2          INSTALLATION LAYOUT AND GEOGRAPHY...................................................................... 11

3          DISTRIBUTION OF THE IBAT (WINTER AND SUMMER RANGES COMBINED)................... 21

4          LIFE CYCLE OF THE IBAT................................................................................................... 24

5          PICATINNY IBAT CAPTURE SITES; ZONES OF CONCERN FOR ROOSTING AND FORAGING 46

 

TABLES

Table                                                                                                                                              Page

1          PICATINNY FOREST TYPES AND ACREAGE....................................................................... 15

2          U.S. IBAT OCCURRENCES AND ESTIMATED POPULATIONS.............................................. 22

3          POTENTIAL IBAT ROOST TREES........................................................................................ 30

4          NORTHEASTERN IBAT OCCURRENCES AND ESTIMATED POPULATIONS......................... 37

5          ESTIMATED LEVEL OF EFFORT AND COST BY MANAGEMENT PRESCRIPTION............... 65

6          ESTIMATED OVERALL COST OF CONSERVATION ACTIONS............................................. 67

7          PROPOSED ACTIONS AND EXPECTED IMPACTS............................................................... 70


ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS

aka                   Also Known As

AR                    U.S. Department of the Army Regulation

EA                    Environmental Assessment

EIS                   Environmental Impact Statement

dbh                   Diameter at Breast Height

ENSP                Endangered and Nongame Species Program (NJDFW)

ESA                  Endangered Species Act

ESMP               Endangered Species Management Plan

FNSI                Finding of No Significant Impact

ft                      Feet

IAW                 In Accordance With

IBAT                Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis)

IMCOM            Installation Management Command (formerly Installation Management Agency - IMA)

INRMP             Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan

NEPA               National Environmental Policy Act

NGVD              National Geodetic Vertical Datum (for topographic elevations)

NRM                Natural Resources Manager

NJDFW            New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife

NJFO                New Jersey Field Office; Pleasantville, NJ (USFWS Region 5)

PICA                Picatinny Arsenal

USACE             U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

USFWS             U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Background:  U.S. Department of the Army Regulation (AR) 200-3, “Natural Resources–Land, Forest, and Wildlife Management,” requires installations to implement programs and develop Endangered Species Management Plans (ESMP) to protect and conserve listed and proposed threatened and endangered species and critical habitat in order to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Biological surveys conducted at Picatinny Arsenal (PICA) reveal that the federally listed endangered Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) (hereafter referred to as IBAT) forages and roosts at the installation.  Specifically the first ever post-lactating female IBAT in NJ was captured on PICA property on July 29, 1995, which represented the first confirmed summer record (Conserve Wildlife 1997) within the core maternity season (15 MAY -15AUG).  This capture suggested that an actual maternity colony existed within 1-2 miles of the capture site and quite possibly on Army property.  Subsequently, sampling and capture of 8 IBATs (5 male and 3 female) from mid-May 1997 through July 1998 documented summer roosting and foraging by 2 male IBATs (including one in a storage warehouse), as well as pre and post hibernation foraging activity by 3 male and 3 female IBATs.  Tracking of these six bats after the spring emergence in 1998 was unsuccessful due to predation, apparent return into local mines, battery failure of the applied transmitters, and likely migration out of the local area.

In 1993 IBATs were verified by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Division of Fish and Wildlife, (NJDFW), Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) `to be hibernating in Hibernia Mine, an abandoned horizontal iron ore tunnel (adit) about 1.5 miles from the eastern edge of installation property. A small wintering colony has been confirmed using the mine consistently over the past decade (USFWS 2000).  Until recently, this colony was the only confirmed and monitored IBAT population in NJ.  The number of individual IBATs found in this one winter colony has ranged from 18 to 107 individuals within the portion of the mine that can be safely accessed.  In 1996, IBATs were netted near the entrance of two vertical mine shafts about 0.25 miles from the PICA Mt. Hope Gate, also on the eastern side of the Army installation.  Safe entry and descent by professionals was only recently allowed by the landowner and performed.  In February 2004, over 500 IBATs were observed (Butchkoski, Chenger, Craddock, Scherer, pers.comm. 2004) for the first time in roosting clusters in one chamber of this deep network of vertical shafts and lateral tunnels (drifts) known as the Mount Hope Mine(s).  This population is significantly larger than the one in Hibernia Mine and validates this second hibernaculum as one of premier importance for this endangered species in NJ.  Even so, other IBAT colonies may occupy winter roosts in other mines as yet unknown, thus making censuses difficult.

No maternity roost trees have yet been discovered on PICA property.  Although roosting and foraging habitat at PICA may comprise only a relatively small fraction of the IBAT’s total summer range and is not considered to be “critical habitat” – that is, it is not listed in the September 24, 1976, Federal Register as habitat essential to the conservation of the species and requiring special management considerations or protection – the U.S. Army understands that this habitat is important to the local population and potentially to the long-term survival of the species (Tetra Tech 1999f).  Especially important is the proximity of known winter hibernacula, which subjects all the forest cover on PICA to widespread foraging during pre and post hibernation activity.  In fact, IBAT biologists consider all forest cover within 5 miles of known hibernacula as crucial for foraging purposes (Kiser and Elliott 1996, Scherer pers.comm. 1999, USFWS 2000, Clawson 2000, USDA-FS 2000). In NJ the ENSP recommends for its NJ Landscape Project, a 1.2-mile (2 km) radius around hibernacula to protect foraging areas (Craddock 2004).  This ESMP and Environmental Assessment (EA) have been prepared to support PICA in meeting AR 200-3 requirements.  The management prescriptions presented in this document are consistent with AR 200-3, current management guidelines for the IBAT, and the installation’s military mission and Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP).


Current Species Status:  The IBAT was first listed as a federal endangered species throughout its range on March 11, 1967, under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966.  Researchers have primarily attributed the decline of the IBAT population to direct and indirect actions of humans and to natural hazards.  Based on censuses taken at hibernation sites, the total known population of the IBAT is estimated to have declined from 884,000 in 1970 to 383,000 in 2000 (USFWS 1983, 1999, Clawson 2002).

Habitat Requirements and Limiting Factors: The IBAT requires two distinct types of habitat: (1) winter hibernation sites and (2) summer roosting sites and foraging areas.  During the winter, the IBAT generally hibernates in caves, although abandoned mines have also been used.  During the summer, the IBAT roosts beneath slabs of loose bark of dead or dying large diameter trees (>8 inches diameter breast height) in semi-wooded areas in upland and bottomland forests or in open areas.  Tree crevices, cavities, and hollows are also used.  Suitable summer habitat consists of stands with a minimum of one large diameter snag per hectare (2.5 acres).  Nursery colonies of IBATs consist primarily of females and their offspring, and they may be located over 200 miles away from the hibernacula (Tarr 1999).  The IBAT has been observed to occupy two types of maternity roosts: primary (generally greater than ≥30 bats) and alternate (generally less than <30 bats).  Smaller trees with loose bark will be used as roosting sites by smaller groups of bats.  A continuous supply of adequate roost trees is required for the reproductive success of the IBAT.  It forages in upland, flood plain, and riparian forests or in open areas.  Its diet primarily consists of small, soft-bodied insects such as small moths (Lepidoptera), flies (Diptera), caddisflies (Trichoptera), bees and wasps (Hymenoptera), stoneflies (Plecoptera), and lacewings (Neuroptera), as well as beetles (Coleoptera) and true bugs (Hemiptera).  Water quality is important for sustaining populations and seasonal emergences of aquatic based insects.  Foraging habitat can be preserved by observing restrictions concerning timber harvest activities near stream edges and by maintaining adequate stream buffers (Tarr 1999).

Insufficient data are currently available to conclude whether lack of availability of summer habitat is a limiting factor to the recovery of the IBAT.  Until such information is obtained, national recovery guidelines include a conservative approach to evaluating the potential effects of land use practices on the summer habitat of the species.

Management Objectives and Conservation Goals: The primary objective of this ESMP and EA are to recognize the ecosystem elements present at PICA that support the IBAT and to present management practices that are important to the local IBAT population and potentially the long-term survival of the species.  Therefore, the following conservation goals have been established at PICA:

·                     Conserve and maintain existing IBAT spring, summer, and fall foraging habitat at PICA by minimizing incremental or cumulative permanent loss of standing forest cover up to 7 percent or approximately 280 acres with up to 40 acres in riparian corridors.

·                     Conserve and maintain existing IBAT male summer roosting habitat; as well as potential maternity roosting habitat.

·                     Prevent disturbance to existing structures (or artificial roosts) and dead standing trees (aka snags) that may serve as potential IBAT roost sites.

·                     Protect and maintain existing riparian corridors, for vegetative cover and water quality.

·                     Construct and attract summer roosting bats (mainly Little Brown Bats and possibly IBATs) to artificial roosts in optimal safe and secure locations while excluding local colonies from old existing buildings or warehouses on post (mainly building 3236).

·                     Try to establish credible population structure and estimates for northern NJ through interagency cooperation and data sharing.

·                     Monitor and assess the IBAT population and habitat utilization at PICA through periodic surveys using a variety of capture or monitoring methods.

·                     Educate individuals who have a potential impact on the northern NJ IBAT population and its presence at PICA.

·                     Communicate with the USFWS regarding the status of the IBAT at PICA.

Compliance with this ESMP/EA is consistent with principles of ecosystem management used at PICA and supports applicable conservation goals outlined in the USFWS IBAT (national) Recovery Plan.

Actions Needed: The following general actions encompass the management prescriptions detailed in this ESMP and are consistent with the current Recovery Plan goals for the species.

·                     Incorporate IBAT habitat conservation guidelines into existing PICA activities that might impact the IBAT, including forest management, pest management, construction and demolition, environmental remediation, property leasing or transfers, training exercises, hunting and other outdoor recreation, and firewood cutting.

·                     Implement an IBAT population and habitat-monitoring program at PICA.

·                     Implement an education program for PICA residents, employees, contractors, and the community, to promote regional awareness and conservation of the IBAT and its foraging and roosting habitat.

·                     Report findings from IBAT species and habitat monitoring activities to the USFWS Region 5, Pleasantville, New Jersey Field Office (NJFO).

For activities that PICA is considering undertaking, funding, permitting, or authorizing that are outside the scope of management prescriptions or have a potential impact on the IBAT at PICA, PICA will engage in necessary ESA Section 7 consultation with the USFWS NJFO.

Total Estimated Cost of Conservation Actions: The total estimated cost of conservation actions over the first 5 years of this ESMP is presented in the chart below.  Table 5 in this ESMP provides a more detailed description of the time, costs, and personnel needed to implement each management prescription.

Fiscal year Estimated annual cost

Fiscal Year

Estimated Annual Cost

2006

*$111,000

2007

$13,000

2008

$8,000

2009

$8,000

2010

*$104,000

5-Year Total

244,000

*    Includes costs associated with biological survey and major ESMP/EA revision

Implementation of the management prescriptions presented in the ESMP portion of this ESMP/EA will not (1) adversely impact the quality of the environment at PICA or (2) result in other significant environmental impacts that require preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement under 32 CFR 651.41 (e). The ESMP also meets the requirements of AR 200-3 by presenting management prescriptions that aim to protect and conserve the endangered IBAT in order to comply with the ESA.

The intent of this ESMP is to find the balance between mission requirements and conservation of the IBAT.   This ESMP/EA represents the U.S. Army’s commitment not only to IBAT conservation while PICA is under U.S. Army ownership, but also to the continued conservation of the species through current and future leasing of installation property. Beneficial impacts of implementing the management prescriptions include preservation and conservation of favorable IBAT habitat, conservation of water quality and riparian corridors, gathering of additional scientific data on the IBAT during monitoring, sharing of information among all responsible and interested parties, and promotion of regional awareness about the IBAT and its roosting and foraging habitat.


1.0        INTRODUCTION

U.S. Department of the Army Regulation (AR) 200-3, “Natural Resources – Land, Forest, and Wildlife Management,” requires installations to implement programs that protect and conserve listed and proposed threatened and endangered species and critical habitat in order to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Specifically, Chapter 11-5 of AR 200-3 requires that installations prepare Endangered Species Management Plans (ESMP) for listed and proposed threatened and endangered species on the installation.  The IBAT (Myotis sodalis), a federally listed endangered species, was determined to be roosting and foraging at Picatinny Arsenal (PICA) in Morris County, New Jersey (USFWS 2000; Rinehart and Kunz 1998; Bickle 1995). Critical habitat has not been designated at PICA or the surrounding area at this time. In addition, no maternity roost trees have been discovered on PICA at this time.  As a result, this ESMP has been prepared to support PICA IAW AR 200-3 requirements.

This ESMP and Environmental Assessment (EA) details management prescriptions for conservation of the endangered Indiana Bat (IBAT) at Picatinny Arsenal (PICA) in Morris County, NJ, and meets the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) for the actions proposed.

This document was prepared in accordance with (IAW) the “Manual for the Preparation of Installation Endangered Species Management Plans” (U S Army Environmental Center 1995) and is organized in the sections discussed below:

·         Section 1.0, INTRODUCTION; discusses the goals and policies associated with this ESMP/EA, responsible and interested parties, compliance with and integration of NEPA requirements, and interagency coordination and review for the ESMP/EA.

  • Section 2.0, BACKGROUND INFORMATION; describes PICA and its military mission as well as the affected environment at the installation and surroundings.
  • Section 3.0, SPECIES INFORMATION; provides information on the IBAT, including its physical description, distribution, life history, habitat and behavior; the reasons for its decline; conservation measures; and its status at PICA and in surrounding areas.
  • Section 4.0, PICA CONSERVATION GOALS; lists the installation’s goals as they relate to protecting the IBAT and its habitat at PICA.
  • Section 5.0, MANAGEMENT PRESCRIPTIONS; presents management prescriptions that will be implemented at PICA to meet its conservation goals, mainly forest and stream protection practices to conserve foraging and roosting habitat(s).
  • Section 6.0, ESMP IMPLEMENTATION; discusses how PICA will implement the plan in terms of compliance and updating; time, costs, and personnel; and review.
  • Section 7.0, ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT; reviews the purpose of and need for the proposed action, discusses the alternatives considered, reviews the cumulative effects of ESMP, implementation, and summarizes the conclusions of the EA.
  • Section 8.0, REFERENCES; lists the sources of information used to prepare this ESMP/EA.

The following appendices are included to supplement the ESMP/EA:

  • Appendix A, GLOSSARY; defines key terms used in this ESMP/EA.
  • Appendix B, PERSONS CONSULTED DURING ESMP/EA PREPARATION; lists the individuals who provided information for this ESMP/EA.

·         Appendix C, PICA ESMP ANNUAL COMPLIANCE CHECKLIST; presents a questionnaire for PICA to use in evaluating its compliance with the management prescriptions (outlined in Section 5.0 of the ESMP).

  • Appendix D, FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT (FNSI) FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ESMP FOR THE IBAT, MYOTIS SODALIS; provides supporting documentation for the conclusions of the EA.

 

1.1        GOALS AND POLICIES

As mentioned previously, AR 200-3 requires installations to implement programs that protect and conserve listed and proposed threatened and endangered species and critical habitat in order to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (U.S. Army 1995).  Specifically, Chapter 11-5 of AR 200-3 requires that an installation prepare ESMPs for listed and proposed threatened and endangered species on the installation.  The IBAT, a federally listed endangered species, was determined to be roosting and foraging at PICA (USFWS 2000; Rinehart and Kunz 1998; Bickle 1995).  As a result, this ESMP/EA has been prepared to support PICA in meeting AR 200-3 requirements. The management prescriptions presented in this document are consistent with AR 200-3, current management guidelines for the IBAT, and the installation’s military mission.  In addition, this ESMP incorporates PICA’s principles of ecosystem management; the objectives of which are to restore ecosystems where practical and create optimum habitat for all wildlife species, including the IBAT.  Specifics regarding these objectives are presented in PICA’s Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP).

 

1.2        RESPONSIBLE AND INTERESTED PARTIES

Successful implementation of the management prescriptions outlined in this ESMP/EA requires a cooperative effort among various parties.  PICA is the party directly responsible for implementing the ESMP/EA.  Picatinny and its Army mission is overseen by an Installation Commander, however the Garrison Commander is directly responsible for operating and maintaining PICA and is legally liable for complying with the laws involved in implementing this ESMP/EA. The Natural Resources Manager (NRM) is responsible for managing the installation’s land and natural resources.  Specifically, the NRM develops and implements or coordinates the following:

·         Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP)

·         Fish and Wildlife Management Program

·         Forestry Management Program

·         Water Conservation Program

·         Activities of lessees or tenants on PICA property; and leasing or property transfers at PICA.

 

The NRM, through the Directorate of  Public Works, has the delegated authority from the Garrison Commander to implement this ESMP/EA.  Major partners in implementing the ESMP include the following parties:

·         The U S Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM), Northeast Regional Office (NERO).  Installation Management Agency oversees the natural resources management activities of installations across the country, including PICA through NERO.

·         U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the regulatory authority for the ESA that provides regulatory and technical guidance concerning conservation and protection of the IBAT and its habitat at PICA.

·         The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), specifically the New York District, which is overseeing any grants of easement, and leasing of PICA property.

·         The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJDFW), which owns and manages adjacent and nearby property.  The Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) staff provides advice and assistance as well.

·         Lessees of PICA property, who will also be responsible for implementing the management prescriptions, presented in this ESMP/EA IAW their lease agreements.


 

1.3        NEPA COMPLIANCE AND INTEGRATION

Under NEPA federal agencies must consider the environmental consequences of proposed major actions. The intent of NEPA is to protect, restore, or enhance the environment through well-informed federal decisions. This Act is based on the assumption that providing timely information to the decision-maker and the public concerning the potential environmental consequences of proposed actions will improve the quality of federal decisions.  The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) was established under NEPA to implement and oversee federal policy for this decision-making process. To this end, CEQ has issued “Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act” (40 Code of Federal Regulations (1500-1508). The CEQ regulations specify that an EA must be prepared to provide evidence and analysis for determining whether to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or a FNSI for a proposed federal action. In addition, according to the CEQ regulation in 40 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) 1500.2(c), NEPA requirements should be integrated “with other planning and environmental review procedures required by law or by agency practice so that all such procedures run concurrently rather than consecutively.” Based on this regulation, the EA is integrated into this document as Section 7.0.

 

1.4        INTERAGENCY COORDINATION AND REVIEW

Interagency participation is invited throughout the process of ESMP/EA development.  Once the ESMP is drafted, the EA is used to inform decision-makers and the public of likely environmental and socioeconomic consequences of implementing the “no action” and proposed action alternatives.  In addition, public participation in the NEPA process is encouraged to promote open communication and better decision-making. Agency review and comment and public participation in the development of the ESMP/EA are discussed below.

 

1.4.1     Agency Review and Comment

The responsible and interested parties described in Section 1.2 were provided with an opportunity to review and comment on the draft ESMP/EA completed in May 2004.  Comments were addressed and incorporated into this final ESMP/EA document.

 

1.4.2     Public Participation

The public is notified of the findings and conclusions of the EA through an announcement in the local newspaper (Newark Star Ledger) and by making the ESMP/EA available for public review, by request, for 30 days at PICA before initiating the proposed action.  See Appendix D for the FNSI for the implementation of this ESMP.


2.0        BACKGROUND INFORMATION

This section describes Picatinny’s location, military mission, and history; as well as the characteristic physiography, natural abiotic conditions, biotic resources, and human aspects and influences on the landscape that constitutes the affected environment addressed in this ESMP/EA.

 

2.1        PICA DESCRIPTION AND MILITARY MISSION

Picatinny Arsenal (aka Picatinny Garrison) is located near Dover, New Jersey in Morris County, and is 32 miles Northwest of Newark, NJ and 42 miles west of New York City (see Figure 1).  The Delaware Water Gap is 45 miles west on Interstate-80.  The installation is largely located in Rockaway Township.  A small portion along the western ridge is located in Jefferson Township.  The Arsenal is approximately seven miles long and one and a half miles wide covering an area of 5,850 acres.  The Garrison (federal property) is under the jurisdictional responsibility of the U.S. Army Installation Management Agency, Northeast Regional Office (IMCOM-NERO).  The Garrison is home to the Armament, Research, Development, and Engineering Center (ARDEC), which is part of the recently restructured Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM); as well as several other Department of Defense (DOD) tenant organizations and numerous private contractors.  Military housing is provided on post for about 210 military personnel and dependents.  The present workforce is approximately 4,200 including tenants and contractors.

 

FIGURE 1     INSTALLATION LOCATION

 

NJ map showing Picatinny arsenal locatiion


The installation encompasses a wide central valley (Picatinny Valley) which is approximately seven miles long and a narrower parallel intermontane valley (Green Pond Gorge) about two miles long.  An easterly, as well as westerly ridge flanks both valleys.  The total breadth across the installation averages 1mile.  Frequent outcroppings of bedrock occur.

About 80% of PICA property is classified as unimproved grounds, consisting mostly of lakes, ponds, brooks, other wetlands, and forests.  About 70% of the land at PICA is forested.  The scenic steep slopes of the adjacent hills surround most of the facilities dotting the valley floor.  Most of the flat portions of PICA have been developed.  About 20% of PICA property is classified as improved or semi-improved grounds. These areas include a private cemetery, roadsides, a golf course and urban style landscaping requiring recurring grounds maintenance and mowing.  Refer to INRMP, Table 2.1, Picatinny Landscape Types and Acreage, for details.

The main man-made features on the installation are clusters of office buildings, lab and testing facilities, warehouses, support and service centers for military and employee’s amenities, housing areas, and small outdoor live fire test ranges, as well as dispersed explosive storage bunkers.  Many buildings or groups of structures are possibly eligible for listing as historic sites or districts under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).  Many buildings are concentrated within the cantonment; some such as housing are clustered in semi-improved areas, while most of the storage structures and test ranges are dispersed in undeveloped portions of the landscape.

The Arsenal officially dates from 1879 when Congress authorized the purchase of 1,875 acres of land in Morris County, New Jersey, for the establishment of a powder depot.  Unofficially, the history dates from the days of the Revolutionary War when Picatinny, under private ownership, smelted iron that was further refined at the Mount Hope furnace to produce solid shot for the troops of General Washington’s Continental Army.

Through the years, the Arsenal has come to be known as “the cradle of America’s ammunition industry.” Now Picatinny is known as a premier research center of firepower and lethality.  The vision of ARDEC is to provide “America’s advanced armaments for peace and war”, through the integration of complex cutting edge technologies into guns, ammunition, and fire control methods from concept to acquisition and sustainment of weapons systems.

Although the Installation Commander  oversees all activities, especially the research and development mission, the daily operations and maintenance functions are the full time responsibility of the Garrison Commander (IMCOM).  Picatinny is considered a “restricted access installation”, not open to the general public.

 


2.2        AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT

Through the Directorate of  Public Works the stewardship mission encompassing 5850 acres of Garrison land and water resources are managed with habitat conservation and environmental issues in mind.  The natural landscape features and forces, as well as the human activities and influences of PICA that comprise the affected environment are described below.

 

2.2.1     Regional Physiography and Setting

Highlands Ecosystem

Picatinny Arsenal is located in the New Jersey Highlands of northern New Jersey, a portion of the Reading Prong of the New England Physiographic Province, in a region known as the Green Pond Syncline. The New York-New Jersey Highlands are characterized by northeast-southwest tending ridges separated by long, wide valleys and consist of broad mountain ranges separated by deep valleys that are between 400 to 600 feet (ft) below the ridge crests.  For general discussions of orientation or aspects, the ridges and valley(s) will be construed as running north and south.

New Jersey’s geology harbors, filters, and conveys much of the water used in the Highlands Region. Half of the quantity used by man flows and collects as surface water in the watersheds.  Water is a major component of the Picatinny landscape, evidenced by 2 large lakes, 18 ponds, 4 perennial brooks, several intermittent runs, 3 freshet waterfalls, and a few springs and seeps.

The installation is also centrally situated within the Farney Highlands watershed, which comprises five sub-watersheds located in northern Morris County.  The Arsenal constitutes a major portion of one of these sub-watersheds; namely Water Management Area #6, which serves as the primary water supply for northern New Jersey.  Although the Arsenal is the largest tract of public land within this watershed, public access is not permitted for safety and security reasons.

Roughly 50% of the Highlands Region (about 500,000 acres), including all of Picatinny, harbors substantial populations of fish and wildlife.  Nearly 6000 acres of all public lands surrounding PICA are in fact contiguous with installation boundaries, facilitating fish and wildlife movements and connectivity. Since wildlife often depends on relatively large contiguous areas of habitat to survive or thrive, Picatinny and the many open space public parcels surrounding the installation promote connectivity rather than fragmentation or isolation of habitat.  Conserving not only the Army property, but also the natural lands surrounding PICA protects the Garrison and its mission from elements of encroachment, since suburban sprawl is occurring at a steady pace east and south.

Land use is predominantly rural, west and north; yet suburban, east and south of PICA.  A mix of hills and forested riparian corridors characterizes the landscape to the north and east and west.

Natural Resources Support Military Mission

Being located in a long valley with relatively steep sidewalls, the vast acreage of the installation provides a safety buffer for the surrounding neighbors from armament testing and associated noise.  It also provides a security zone for the various research and testing facilities located on the federal property.  In the main, except in those specific areas where facilities and roads have been located and constructed, the mission does not directly affect natural resources; rather this insulating type topography is advantageous to the current mission activities.

Natural Heritage Priority Site

A 1994 study of state and federal threatened and endangered (T&E) species mapped the natural vegetative communities in the region including the Arsenal.  In conjunction with that study, the state established priority protection areas.  One such area was the Green Pond Macro Site, which identifies areas important for rare plants, insects, birds, and animals, especially those associated with Denmark and Picatinny Lakes.  This site includes part of the northern portion of Picatinny.  Expanding the geographic boundaries of this Macro Site to include most of the eastern half of the Arsenal is justified by the recent documentation of the federally endangered IBAT, as well as state endangered Bobcat.  The Natural Heritage Priority Sites are identified as critically important natural areas for conserving and preserving New Jersey’s biodiversity.

Climate

Northern New Jersey is characterized by a temperate, continental climate with warm summers and cold winters.  The coldest month tends to be January and the hottest, July.  Thunderstorms account for most of the summer rain.  Snow cover can range from October through mid-April.  The period from leaf-emergence to leaf-off typically spans from early-May through early- November.  Seasonal last and first killing frosts occur in the beginning of May and October respectively.  Detailed information on temperatures and precipitation can be found in the INRMP.

Currently, the State of New Jersey is in non-attainment of the standard for ozone. No monitoring stations operate in the vicinity of Rockaway Township, but all pollutants, with the exception of ozone, are presumed to be within the applicable standards because the air quality of Rockaway Township is classified as "better than national standards" (Lev Zetlin Associates 1992).

 

2.2.2     Picatinny Landscape and Natural Resources

 

Figure 2 depicts major geographic features of Picatinny Arsenal.

Topography and Relief

Elevations at PICA range from near 685 ft to over 1,287 ft National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD).  Elevations are generally lower to the south and east of the installation and higher to the north and west. The maximum elevations at the Arsenal occur on the westerly ridge known as Green Pond Mountain with summits ranging from 800-1,287 ft NGVD.  The southern region of Copperas Mountain (1,220 ft) extends into the northern portions of the Arsenal and separates the Denmark Lake Basin to the east from the higher elevated Green Pond Brook Basin to the west. The easterly portion of the Arsenal is composed of knobs with summits ranging from 860 ft to 1,066 ft NGVD.  Local relief rises between 150 and 250 ft above Picatinny Valley.

Soils

The soils at PICA are acidic and primarily derived from glacial deposits.  The central portion of PICA has soils that consist of loamy, silty, and gravel clay pan soils, along with swampy areas, which have peat and muck.  There are seven hydric soil types classified on Picatinny and three other types occur with hydric inclusions.  To the northwest there exists a mountain range (Green Pond Mtn) with rough, stony land that formed on jagged, rocky slopes. Glacial till blankets the western and eastern flanks of the Arsenal. The southern end of the Arsenal consists of poorly sorted sands, gravels, and boulders bordered by a terminal moraine (WES-USACE 1995).  The 26 recognized soil types on the installation are described in detail in the INRMP.


FIGURE 2         INSTALLATION LAYOUT AND GEOGRAPHY

Picatinny base high-level map


Watersheds

The Arsenal comprises five main drainages:

·         Green Pond Basin (Shrub Wetlands and Gorge; headwaters of Green Pond Brook).

  • Denmark Lake Basin (Shrub wetlands; headwaters of Burnt Meadow Brook).
  • Middle Green Pond Brook and Picatinny Lake.
  • Lower Green Pond Brook.
  • Beaver Brook Sub-watershed.  Ames Brook carries headwaters off of 250 acres of the eastern edge of the installation downstream into Beaver Brook.

All drainages at PICA empty into the Rockaway River south and east of the installation.  The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) recognizes the Rockaway River as a high quality waterway.

Surface Waters

The surface water flow regime at PICA consists of numerous streams, ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and wetlands.  There are about 620 acres of lakes, ponds, and their associated scrub-shrub wetlands on the installation.  All lotic corridors comprise 24 miles on post.  Water from Green Pond Brook, as well as Denmark Lake, discharge southerly through the Picatinny Valley (7 miles), including Picatinny Lake near the center of the installation.

The installation has two large lakes, Denmark Lake (174 acres) and Picatinny Lake (108 acres).  Denmark Lake is located in the northeastern sector of the Arsenal.  Historically, both of these lakes have been used as sources of industrial water, and as recreational areas. Green Pond Brook, from its origin to Picatinny Lake has been classified by the NJDEP as “trout production waters” -- those waters used by trout for spawning or nursery purposes during their first summer. Picatinny Lake has been classified by the NJDEP as non-trout waters (State Water Classification and Trout Designation (Chap 7: 9B-1.15 NJAC)).

Floodplains

The Green Pond Brook floodplain (100 year) is located in the southern half of the Picatinny Valley and has been highly disturbed by installation activities.

Wetlands

PICA contains approximately 1,250 acres of wetlands (WES-USACE 1995).  These wetlands are primarily composed of muck and peat formed in poorly drained glacial soils.  Excepting the open waters of lakes and ponds, the palustrine wetlands are nearly all red maple forests or scrub-shrublands.  Wetlands distributed and scattered throughout the installation are very valuable to wildlife and serve as important ground water recharge sites.  The largest tract of Red Maple swamp is near the southern end of the installation.  Refer to INRMP, Table 6.2 Picatinny Wetland Types for more detailed information.

Ground Water, Surface Water, and Controls

Ground water movement at PICA is in response to hydraulic gradients. In Morris County, the direction and magnitude of the natural gradients mimic the local topographic profile except that the water table profile has less relief. Ground water is discharged directly to the streams wherever they intersect the water table and supports stream flow during periods of no precipitation.  Ground water flow is primarily horizontal and upward in both the unconfined and confined glacial aquifers and discharges into Green Pond Brook.  Picatinny’s ground water resides in the Upper Rockaway Aquifer and is a designated sole source aquifer.

Groundwater contamination has been identified at PICA in a number of areas. Past metal‑plating operations and effluent from etching and plating processes have contaminated groundwater resources according to groundwater sampling and analysis conducted at PICA. Additional testing is still being conducted.  Several New Jersey regulations have been adopted to preserve and maintain a high water quality standard for both ground water and surface water.  Picatinny strives to maintain those standards and to remediate where necessary.


Storm Drainage

Due to the steep slopes, particularly on the northwestern side of the valley, runoff speeds tend to be high. Control structures at three dams and an extensive network of surface and subsurface conduits and culverts, especially in the low-lying areas of the valley, control storm water drainage.

Flora

PICA contains terrestrial and aquatic macrophytic species consisting of at least 630 species of flowering plants and 90 species of non-flowering plants (PICA 2001).  Given the numerous wetlands on post, aquatic plant life is abundant and diverse.  The most common types of terrestrial plant life include: upland forest/woodland type characterized by a close stand of trees in a natural area; transitional forest/woodland consisting primarily of native trees located in a forest or woodland stand; transitional urban/industrial vegetation, characterized by indigenous and exotic plants mixed with ornamental vegetation; and urban/industrial vegetation consisting of turfgrass, associated forbs with a predominance of ornamental herbaceous and woody plants.

Grasslands

There are no major grassland areas within the installation other than the mowed portions of the cantonment area and golf course.


Forest Types

The installation is approximately 70% forested and is representative of the forest types of the Highlands Region (Leck 1975).  The woodlands have been categorized into two major groups: Palustrine Forests and Upland Forests.  Palustrine forests are commonly referred to as swamps or riparian corridors and are associated with wetlands.  The Palustrine forests are further subdivided into forests and shrublands.  Upland forests are defined as those vegetative communities that comprise terrain lacking soils and the hydrology characteristic of wetlands.  Table 1 lists Picatinny Forest Types and acreages.

Palustrine Shrublands

The shrublands are associated with the wetlands near Denmark Lake and the Green Pond Basin.  The principle species of these palustrine shrublands, based on abundance, are: Smooth Alder (Alnus serrulata), swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum), maleberry (Lyonia alnifolia), high bush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbossum), swamp loosestrife (Decodon verticillatus) buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), meadowsweet (Spiraea latifolia), and swamp rose (Rosa palustris).

Palustrine Forests

The dominant tree species comprising the Palustrine forests are red maple (Acer rubrum), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis).  The understory is chiefly comprised of spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and arrowwood (Viburnum spp.).

The red maple forest type consists of almost pure red maple. Most of these stands are situated on the very moist or saturated soils.  Some stands are located on organic soils–muck. Common associates of the red maple forest type include sugar maple, black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), elm (Ulmus spp.), and black birch (Betula lenta) (Chambers 1983).  The red maple forest type located on moist soils at the installation is considered climax forest.  Approximately 13% of installation’s woodlands consist of this type.

Upland Forests

The upland forests of the installation are mostly mixed oak and northern hardwood.  These stands are in second-growth stages having been logged historically.  The mixed oak type is the most widespread and prevalent forest type on the installation.  At present, most of these stands are in the pole-sized stage.  This type covers 2,656 acres and represents 65% of the total forested area.  Oak species in these stands consist primarily of chestnut oak (Quercus montana), red oak (Quercus rubra), white oak (Quercus alba), black oak (Quercus velutina), and scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea).  Species composition in these stands varies with elevation, available soil moisture, site quality, and past management and stand origin.  As a general rule, stands at the lower elevations are dominated by species of the red oak group, while chestnut oak dominates the poor sites near the ridge tops.

The northern hardwood forest type comprising 545 acres represents 13% of the total forested area.  This forest type varies widely in species composition and can include upward of 20 species of trees; the single species common to all stands is sugar maple (Nyland et al. 1981).  Other representatives in the canopy that may have occasional co-dominance are pignut hickory (Carya glabra), white ash (Fraxinus americana), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), white oak, tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), yellow birch, black birch, red maple, basswood (Tilia americana), black cherry (Prunus serotina), and hemlock (Nyland et al. 1981).  Most northern hardwood stands are located in the Picatinny Valley and the eastern ridge of the installation.

Representative understory shrub species include mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), great rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum), maple-leafed viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana), deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum), black huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), early low blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum), and spicebush.

The hemlock forest type is the only coniferous forest type located on the installation, except for some small pine clusters in the developed portion of the Arsenal.  The hemlock type is found on 323 acres and represents 8% of the total forested area.  Although the amount of hemlock forest type is low on the installation, it is of great concern that a majority of the hemlock is dead or dying.  The hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) and the elongated hemlock scale (Fiorinia externa) are killing hemlock throughout the Highlands Region.  Hemlock is located mostly in uniform stands on the western boundary of the installation and at one location in the valley.  Several hardwood stands on the installation have a hemlock understory.  Whether or not these dead trees can or will be utilized by tree roosting bats (including IBATS) is yet to be determined.

 

TABLE 1     PICATINNY FOREST TYPES AND ACREAGE

 

Forest Number of stands Acreage Total

Forest Type

Number of Stands

Acreage

% Total Forest Land

Mixed Oak

99

2,656

65%

Northern Hardwood

41

   545

13%

Hemlock

 7

   322

  8%

Red and White Pine

 6

       8

<1%

Red Maple* b/m

64

   532

13%

Aspen/Gray Birch*

 8

      18

  <1%

Hemlock (wet)*

 (2)

        1

 <1%

TOTAL

225

4082

100%

* Palustrine Forest wetland cover type    b/m  includes Yellow Birch/Red Maple cover type

Source: (PICA 2001)

 

Significance Of Forest Holdings

Nearly 4,100 acres of forested land on the installation provide a safety barrier to the surrounding community.  Additionally, the Army holds restrictive easements for 640 acres of private lands adjoining the Arsenal as safety buffers to ongoing operations and testing.  In that these easements are on private property, timber activities are at the discretion of the landowner.

The forest holdings of PICA, due to extent, acreage and connection to other public lands are unique within the Highlands Region.  The remainder of Highland Region’s forests is 75% privately owned and mostly in small lots.  Over 85% of the Highlands tracts are less than 19 acres; 70% are tracts less than 9 acres.  The Picatinny forested acreage (4,082 acres) is unique to the Highlands.  The public lands adjoining or in proximity to the Arsenal provides significant forest area and green belt corridors in the New Jersey Highlands.


Fauna

Fauna present within PICA includes a wide variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects, typical of the Northeastern U.S.  Faunal diversity on the installation is better than average for North Central New Jersey.  To date, 315 species of vertebrates are known to occur on the Arsenal.  The large number of vertebrate species occurring on the Arsenal is in large part due to the diverse array of habitats present on the installation which includes dry forested ridge tops, talus slopes, bottomland hardwoods, mesophytic hardwoods, conifer stands, a few old fields, riparian corridors, wetlands, shrub stands, brooks, ponds, and lakes.

Invertebrates

Invertebrates are abundant although largely unknown and unidentified.  Only the most commonly observed invertebrates – dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies and moths (Odonata and Lepidoptera) have been fairly well documented on the installation, as well as those associated with recurring pest control operations or periodic forest pest outbreaks.  Some limited sampling of Plecopterans and Trichopterans has occurred as part of CERCLA ecological risk studies on post.  It is apparent however that species diversity among these classes of animals is similar to that among the higher forms.  The insect prey base for foraging bats is abundant and diverse at Picatinny.

Mammals

Mammals observed and occurring on post include bear, bobcat, coyote, white-tailed deer; raccoon, eastern cottontail rabbit, opossum, striped skunk, eastern gray squirrel, red squirrel, gray fox, red fox, woodchuck; muskrat and beaver; moles and shrews, mice and voles.

Bats

Bats represent approximately 20% of the potential mammalian fauna on the installation, which is similar to most mammalian communities of temperate zone terrestrial regions (Eisenberg 1981).  Nine species of bats, all in the super family Vespertilinidae, all small-bodied insectivores, have ranges that include northwestern New Jersey (Humphrey 1982).  Seven of these (including the IBAT) have been documented on the installation.  Dozens of Eastern Pipistrels (Pipistrellus subflavus) were observed in an abandoned mine shaft, just off post, in January 1994 by the NRM.  These bats probably forage on post during the summer months.  One warehouse on post, building 3236, is used as a summer colony by thousands of Little Brown Bats (Myotis lucifugus).

Birds

208 species of birds are known to occur on the installation.  They include permanent residents, summer breeders, winter residents, and migrants that only pass through during the spring and fall.  About 47% are transient migrants.  Of the 103 species inhabiting the Arsenal during the breeding season, 65 are confirmed breeders and 15 are probable breeders.

Indigenous upland game birds as well as waterfowl offer opportunities for hunters on post, although stocked pheasant is the prime quarry for most bird gunners.

Since 2000, dead birds suspected of having succumbed to West Nile Virus (WNV) have been noted.  In 2003, U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine (USACHPPM) established a protocol for collection and testing of dead birds on Army installations as a program for sentinel monitoring of the WNV on or near Army bases.


Fish

There are 25 species known to occur on the installation, including nongame and forage types.  Warm water species include largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), chain pickerel (Esox niger), yellow perch (Perca flavescens), crappie (Pomoxis spp), and sunfish (Lepomis spp.).  A self-sustaining population of native brook trout (Salvalinus fontinalis) occurs in the upper reaches of Green Pond Brook known as the Gorge.  Other sections of Green Pond Brook and some ponds are suitable for stocking cool water species such as rainbow or brown trout (Salmo gairdneri or trutta).

Amphibians and Reptiles

Reptiles and amphibians observed and occurring on post include red spotted newt, green frog, bullfrog, American toad, and eastern painted turtle, snapping turtle, garter snake, and black rat snake.  Two venomous snakes reside on the installation:  northern copperhead is common, whereas the timber rattlesnake is rarely sighted.

 

2.2.3          Picatinny Human Environment

Cultural and Historic Resources

PICA contains archaeological remains of prehistoric Native American site activities and historic settlement and industries, as well as significant architectural properties related to its use as a powder depot, arsenal, and weapons and rocket testing facility.  The history of Picatinny and the function and significance of the structures on the property have been well documented.  A draft form was prepared to list these properties as a Multiple Resource Area on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), but registration was not finalized (Nolte and Steinback 1998b). At this time, there are no individual buildings or districts at PICA listed in the NRHP.  However, all identified eligible buildings must be treated as if they may yet be placed on the Register until any proposed action determines its final disposition.

In contrast to the historic architectural properties, no inventory of archaeological resources has been undertaken across the entire installation, although nine historic archaeological sites have been identified within PICA (Fitch and Glover 1990; Rutsch et al. 1986).

A Phase I archaeological survey was undertaken in 1998 to evaluate and refine existing sensitivity models and resulted in the first well-documented prehistoric sites within the boundaries of PICA.  The Phase I survey, lead to the identification of 11 prehistoric and two historic archaeological sites.  The prehistoric sites are typically lithic scatters with few tools and no temporally diagnostic artifacts.  The historic archaeological sites consisted of domestic refuse with no apparent structural features.  As a result of the study, seven of the 53 former Sensitivity Areas were considered to have low archaeological potential based on the degree of soil disturbed or having slopes greater than 15%; the remaining 46 Sensitivity Areas are still considered to have some potential to contain intact cultural resources (Schieppati et al. 1998).

Public Utilities and Services

“Select Energy” furnishes electricity to PICA under a contract issued by the Defense Energy Support Center.  The commodity is wheeled through the service territory of the local electric franchisee, Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), and enters the through two (2) separate 34.5KV transmission lines.  The entry point for one transmission line is at the southwest corner of the near the truck gate and the other entry point is at the east side of the near the Mt. Hope gate.  The electrical power distribution system on the Arsenal itself is owned and operated by Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative (SREC).


Air Quality

Except for ozone, air quality over PICA is acceptable by existing standards.

Ambient Noise

The ambient noise environment varies greatly at PICA. It is relatively quiet along the lakeside recreation areas, noisy near the main gate, due to vehicular traffic, and loud during weapons testing. During the evening and nighttime hours, when activity and commuting are at a minimum, the noise levels are minimal.

Hazardous Waste Management

Picatinny Arsenal receives, produces, and stores hazardous materials during the course of daily operations and activities.  The materials used include solvents, cleaning materials, pesticides, herbicides, fuels, oils, lubricants, and explosives.  The total amount of hazardous wastes manifested by PICA is in excess of 100 tons per year.

Picatinny must abide by numerous federal and state laws and regulations designed to protect both workers and the general public from hazardous waste spills or accidents. Safety training for personnel working with hazardous materials is required, and the installation provides trained spill response teams in the event of accidents.  The Installation Spill Contingency Plan also identifies outside emergency resources, such as local community fire, police, and medical centers, and notification procedures to be used in the event of spill emergencies.

Existing Contaminated Areas

Picatinny Arsenal is a National Priority List (NPL) site, as designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Those sites with the highest relative risk to public health and the environment from substances in ground water, surface water, air, or soil are placed on the NPL.  The Installation Restoration Program (IRP) is a DOD program to identify, characterize, and remediate environmental contamination on military installations.  The IRP is a component of the Defense Environmental Restoration Program, which outlines restoration objectives.

A Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) has been prepared to identify appropriate restoration areas.  The RI shows the areas of risks identified, whereas the FS addresses the alternatives available for the cleaning up of the site.  There are 175 Remedial Investigation sites at Picatinny, which have been identified by personnel from PICA, the Army Environmental Command (AEC), and the Argonne National Laboratory.  The investigative approach suggested by the RI Concept Plan was to break the 175 sites in 16 different RI Concept Areas and divide the areas into three different Phases (Phase I, II, and III).  All RIs have been initiated and ecological and human health risk assessments have been performed on the Phase I and II related sites.  The Phase III Risk Assessment is scheduled for FY 04.

Interface between the Picatinny’s Natural Resource Program and all related requirements and the IRP are coordinated with the Picatinny’s Natural Resource Manager (NRM) as appropriate and/or directly with USFWS. Activities can include the following:

  • Planning and scoping of ecological risk assessments and other investigative activities.  Ecological assessment plans and reports are reviewed by the technical staff of the USFWS as either part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Biological Technical Assistance Group or directly through the USFWS office.  (i.e. the Phase II ecological risk assessment included evaluating the effect of contamination in caddisflies to the IBAT.  The subsequent report was reviewed by the USFWS.)
  • Re-vegetating excavated areas.
  • Prohibition and/or coordination of cutting of trees in regard to the IBAT.  This is coordinated with NRM.
  • Assurance that the action meets all Natural Resources criteria in the Applicable or Relevant and Appropriate Requirements (ARAR) section of the feasibility study or in the remedial design of projects.  Documents are sent for review to the USFWS, EPA and NJDEP. Coordination is required with the NRM

An update and more comprehensive description of the current IRP can be found in the Installation Action Plan (IAP) that is updated every year.  The most-recent IAP is called FY05 as of December 2003.

Petroleum and Minerals

The installation does not have any extractable minerals.  There are no known abandoned mines or cave formations on post.


3.0        SPECIES INFORMATION

This section provides an overview of what is currently known about the biological and ecological information on the IBAT:  distinguishing physical characteristics; range and distribution; life history and behavior; summer and winter habitat requirements; as well as reasons for its decline, and conservation measures taken by various agencies and organizations.  In general, additional study is needed to further delineate this species distribution, as well as to further define its summer habitat requirements and the reasons for its decline.  A summary of the IBAT’s current status at PICA is also presented.

 

3.1        PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

The IBAT is a small, brownish bat with blackish wings (Kurta 1995).  Dorsally, its fur is usually dull, dark pinkish-brown.  Ventrally, the fur is slate-colored basally; has grayish-white tips; and is washed heavily with cinnamon brown, particularly at the flanks.  The IBAT is similar in appearance to the Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) and the Northern Long-Eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis).  The IBAT can be distinguished from these two species based on the following characteristics: (1) the IBAT has smaller feet and shorter hairs on its toes (the hairs do not extend beyond the toenails) and (2) the IBAT has a distinct keel on the calcar, a spur on the membrane between the foot and the tail (Mumford and Whitaker 1982; Whitaker and Hamilton 1998).  IBATs Head and Body measure from 1 to 1 ⅞ inches (41- 49 millimeters (mm)); Forearm lengths tend to measure 1 ⅜ to 1 ⅝ inches (35–41 mm) (USFWS 1999).  Male and female Head to Tail (total length) ranges from 3 to 3 ⅝ inches (76–94 mm) and wingspans are typically 9 ½ to 10 ½ inches (240 to 267 mm).  The average weight of a female is 7.4 grams (g); males are slightly smaller and average 7.1 g (Thomson 1982).  The range for weights is between 0.18 to 0.28 ounces (5.1–7.9 g) (Tarr 1999).

 

3.2        DISTRIBUTION AND RANGE

The IBAT is a migratory species found throughout much of the eastern half of the United States.  Figure 3 presents the range of the IBAT over its winter and summer habitat.  The IBAT winters in at least 336 known hibernacula – caves, mines, tunnels, and even a hydroelectric dam, in 26 different states (Clawson 2002).  Hibernacula (aka winter roosts) are mainly caves.  Hibernacula have been ranked (Priority 1, 2, or 3) on the basis of the numbers of IBATs using these overwintering sites.  Priority 1 (P1) hibernacula contain over ≥30, 000 IBATs (USFWS 1983); Priority 2 (P2) hibernacula contain at least =500 and up to <30,000 IBATs (USFWS 1999); and Priority 3 (P3) hibernacula contain less than <500 IBATs (USFWS 1983, Clawson 2002).

The main breeding and hibernating areas for the IBAT appear to be associated with the major cavernous areas in the Midwest and Eastern United States.  Indiana has more IBATs than any other state (Johnson et al. 2002, Brack et al. 2002).  In winter, large populations of IBATs hibernate in Indiana, Kentucky, and Missouri, which are the only three states with P1 hibernacula (8 total).  More than 95% of the IBAT population hibernates in 15 caves; six of the caves are in Missouri, and the remaining nine are in the Eastern United States (Whitaker and Hamilton 1998).  Eleven states have P2 hibernacula (5 in the southern part of range and 6 in northern region).  As of February 2004, New Jersey should be added as the 12th state with a recently documented P2 hibernaculum (comprising 7 in the north region of IBAT range).  All 26 states have P3 hibernacula (Clawson 2002).  Smaller hibernating populations and individual IBATs have been reported in many other states as reflected in Table 2.  Two IBAT hibernacula closest to PICA are vertical shafts of the Mount Hope Mine(s) in Morris County, NJ.  These mine shafts are just outside the Mt. Hope gate (0.25 mile) east of PICA and will be referred to herein as MHW-shaft and MHE-shaft (Scherer pers.comm. 1997, Craddock pers.comm. 2004, 2006).

There are records of reproductively active individuals from 132 counties, and 82% of these occur outside counties containing hibernation sites (Gardner and Cook 2002).  IBATs have a patchy distribution across their range (USFWS 1999).


FIGURE 3         DISTRIBUTION OF THE IBAT

 (WINTER AND SUMMER RANGES COMBINED)

Base installations in eastern half of the U.S.


TABLE 2     IBAT OCCURRENCES and ESTIMATED POPULATIONS

N.B.  Nearly all IBAT population estimates are based on winter (hibernacula) counts.

* = All monitored hibernacula in a state.

‡ = These are the “monitored hibernacula” for which clusters of IBATs can actually be observed and counted (or numbers present otherwise ascertained).  Other hibernacula can exist and be known, yet remain inaccessible to surveillance.  Conversely, some of these winter roosts can become inaccessible or altered adversely.  The number of these hibernacula and their monitoring is not consistent over time.

+ = Records of isolated individuals or minimal occurrences during summer season.

 

States Number of countries Summer Winter Number of hibernacula Hibernacular counts 1999-2001

STATES

(Regions)

IBAT OCCURRENCES (Types)

POPULATION ESTIMATES

No. of Countiesb

Summer

Winter

No.* of Hibernacula‡

Hibernacula* counts

1999-2001

(NORTHERN)

WI

1

 

a

1

<100

IA

16

a

a

2

<100

il

33

a

a

14

19,300

in

51

a

a

32

173,100

mi

13

a

a

1

<100

oh

23

a

a

5

9,800

wv

7

a

a

8 (25c)

9,700

md

2

 

a

2

<100

(NORTHEAST) See also TABLE 4

PA

3 (4)

a

 

3 (5c)

700

nj

1

a+

a

1 (3)

<100

ny

6

a

a

6 (9c)

34,000

ct

1

 

a

1

<100

ma

1

 

a

1

<100

vt

4

a+

a

5

<100

NH

1

a?

 

 

N/A

(SOUTHERN)

ok

4

 

a

4

<100

mo

37

a

a

67

73,000

ar

13

a+

a

19

2,500

ky

44

a

a

96

47,900

tn

15

a

a

14

10,200

ms

1

 

a

1

<100

al

6

a

a

13

250

ga

1

 

a

2

<100

fl

1

 

a

1

<100

va

5

a

a

5 (11c)

1,000

nc

5

a

a

3

<100

sc

1

 

a

1

<100

 

 

 

 

 

 

          TOTALS

27

296 (311 d)

17states

25states

308‡ (336c)

≈383, 000c

Adapted from:  (USFWS 1983) (USFWS 2000)b (Clawson 2002)c (Gardner and Cook 2002)d

 (Scherer pers.comm. 2004).

 


3.3               LIFE HISTORY

Longevity

Females can live at least 15 years, and males live at least 14 years (Humphrey et al. 1977).  Banded Little Brown Bats in Hibernia Mine, in Morris County, NJ, document a span exceeding 20 years for that species (Valent and Dutko 1994).

Life Cycle

IBATs migrate between winter and summer habitats.  Extensive banding by Hall (1962) and others supported the concept that a north-south seasonal migration is typical (Gardner and Cook 2002), although recent information from telemetry studies in Pennsylvania and New York has shown IBATS dispersing in easterly and southerly directions as well.  In the winter, they hibernate in caves (or mines). They enter the caves during the early fall and continue to forage each night (Evans et al. 1998).  In the winter, when hibernating, IBATs form large, dense clusters of individuals, although in some states, including NJ, IBATs in small groups and individually may cluster with large numbers of little brown bats.  In March and early April, the wintering colonies disperse and migrate to areas where they forage throughout the summer.

Females emerge from hibernation ahead of males.  Some males migrate with or after females and co-locate in the same areas as females (but not the same roosts); whereas some males remain near their hibernacula, or even use a cave or mine as a summer roost also.  Males tend to roost individually or in small groups during the summer (USFWS 1999, Harvey et al 1999).  The nursery colonies of IBATs consist primarily of females and their offspring, and they may be located over 200 miles away from the hibernacula (Tarr 1999).

 

The IBAT annually repeats a cycle of six life history events:

  • Spring “staging” period upon its emergence from hibernation,
  • Spring migration,

·         Summer birthing and rearing, (aka maternity season)

  • Fall migration,
  • Fall “swarming” prior to hibernation, and
  • Winter hibernation.

Along with the IBAT’s foraging habits, these events are described below and are illustrated in Figure 4.

N.B.  This information is generalized from observations primarily in the heart of the natural range.  Patterns and dates may vary at the periphery of its range in the Northeastern U.S. (and New Jersey).

 

 



Spring Staging (aka Post-Hibernation Foraging)

The IBAT emerges from hibernation from late March to early May, depending on climatic conditions.  The bats awake from torpor and stage at the hibernation site in spring before migrating to summer habitats.  During the staging period, the bats begin their feeding forays, and some copulation may also occur (Whitaker and Hamilton 1998); although most fertilization is via sperm stored from the previous fall.  Gestation period is 49-56 days.  Female IBATs enter the staging period in late March to mid-April while most males remain in hibernation.  Most females leave the hibernacula and begin migration by early May; most males leave the hibernacula by mid-May (Cope and Humphrey 1977).  It is unclear how many non-reproductive females (or males) might migrate long distances with the pregnant females or stay relatively close to local hibernacula along with resident males (c.f. Section 3.7.3, Other Relevant Studies)?

Spring Migration to Summer Range and Roosts, Birthing and Rearing

Spring migration is generally northward, with the bats flying up to several hundred kilometers (Whitaker and Hamilton 1998) although recent information from telemetry studies in Pennsylvania and New York has shown IBATs dispersing in easterly and southerly directions as well.  Maximum distance traveled based on banding returns is 300 miles.  Pregnant females segregate from males in the summer, forming small maternity colonies at roosting sites (Humphrey et al. 1977).  Males and nonbreeding females roost individually or form smaller colonies apart from pregnant females (Whitaker and Hamilton 1998).  Unfortunately, it is not known whether some reproductively active females remain near their winter sites in summer, or if some summer records in counties with winter roosts represent females that migrated back to the vicinity of their hibernacula earlier than usual.  The post-lactating female captured in July 1995 at PICA represents this enigma here in NJ.

Because IBATs exhibit strong site fidelity to their summer roosting and foraging habitat, traditional summer sites are essential to the reproductive success of local populations (Humphrey et al. 1977). In general, the core maternity roosting season occurs between May 15 and August 15; although some IBATs could be arriving on summer range as early as April 15 and/or leaving as late as September 15, depending on geographic latitude, longitude, or regional climatic conditions (Scherer pers.comm. 2004, USFWS 1999).  Female IBATs give birth in late June or early July after they have grouped into maternity colonies (USFWS 1983).  Each female IBAT usually bears one offspring per year, although two offspring have occasionally been reported (Cope and Humphrey 1977).  Young bats are called pups and are dependent on their mother.  After the young are born, maternity colonies can consist of up to about 130 bats (Humphrey et al. 1977).  Young IBATs are volant (capable of flight), within a month of their birth.  Early-born young may be flying as early as the first week of July (Clark et al. 1987); however, most probably begin flying from mid to late July.

Fall Migration to Winter Range and Roosts

After the young bats gain their independence, migration back to the hibernacula begins; the males tend to precede the females (Whitaker and Hamilton 1998).  The first IBATs begin to arrive at their hibernacula in August (USFWS 1999).  The number of bats arriving at the hibernacula peaks in September and October; in September, the numbers of males and females arriving are about equal (Whitaker and Hamilton 1998).

Fall Swarming (aka Pre-Hibernation Foraging)

Upon arriving at the hibernacula, the IBAT engages in a behavior known as fall swarming.  Swarming is characterized by large numbers of IBATs coming together in a mating frenzy at the entrances of hibernacula before hibernating.  The peak of this polygamous breeding activity is usually September and October.  Sperm is transferred to the female during swarming, but ovulation and fertilization of the egg are delayed until after the end of hibernation in the spring.  By late September, many females begin hibernation, and swarming bats are predominantly male.  Males continue swarming until mid-October or later in an apparent effort to breed with late-arriving females (Cope and Humphrey 1977). In NJ most IBATs are in hibernation by the end of October, however if weather remains warm bats may continue to emerge and forage or swarm until mid-November.  Foraging throughout the fall swarming period is also very important as the bats consolidate their fat stores prior to hibernation.


Hibernation

In general, the IBAT hibernates from October through April, depending on local weather conditions (Hall 1962; LaVal et al. 1980 as cited in USFWS 1983).  This period of prolonged quiescence requires inactivity and minimal metabolism in a cool and stable temperature in order to conserve fat reserves.

Feeding Behavior

When the IBAT is not hibernating, it is nocturnal, usually foraging for 1 or 2 hours after sunset and before sunrise (Hofmann 1996).  Erkert (2000) suggested that the most important environmental factor regulating emergence activity of a population throughout the year was light, which served as a zeitgeber to synchronize endogenous circadian rhythms, and which often had a direct intensity-dependent, inhibitory effect on level of activity (Viele et al. 2002).  Perhaps, as Voûte et al. (1974) suggest, the zeitgeber is a combination of light levels at time of emergence and at time of return to the roost, i.e. a two-pulse zeitgeber (Pittendrigh 1981 as cited in Viele et al. 2002).  Clark et al. (1987) report mist-netting IBATs as early as 14 minutes after sunset and as late as 22 minutes before sunrise.

Viele et al. (2002) corroborated that the timing of first emergence was correlated most closely with time of sunset and time of the end of civil twilight, whereas peak and average emergence were predicted best by time of first emergence.  The first IBAT typically exited the roost 18–19 min after sunset, peak emergence occurred 21–26 min past sunset, and average emergence was 23–25 min after sunset.  He also noted that first emergence occurred later, relative to sunset, near the summer solstice (Viele et al. 2002).  These studies of evening exits at maternity roosts occurred in IA, IL, and MI.  Once emergence commences it usually lasts from 10-20 minutes; however for male or non-reproductive females roosting individually or in small groups the roost exit can be a very short-lived event.

IBATs are insectivorous.  The IBAT locates insects using echolocation, during which the bat emits high-frequency sound waves that bounce off potential prey.  From the speed and direction of the returning sound waves, the bat can determine the location, the size, and potentially the identity of insects (Ohio Division of Wildlife 1996).  Prey are captured and eaten during flight.

The IBAT’s diet primarily consists of small, soft-bodied insects such as moths and flies, including small moths (Lepidoptera), flies (Diptera), caddis flies (Trichoptera), bees and wasps (Hymenoptera), stoneflies (Plecoptera), and lacewings (Neuroptera), as well as beetles (Coleoptera) and true bugs (Hemiptera) (Brack and Laval 1985; Whitaker and Hamilton 1998).  Overall, the diet includes 12 taxonomic orders, with dipterans, lepidopterans, coleopterans, trichopterans, and hymenopterans accounting for 96% of prey taken (Murray and Kurta 2002).

Although the insects listed above are known components of its diet, the IBAT may also exploit other high-quality, easily digested food sources such as mayflies (Ephemeroptera) that are typically underrepresented in studies of fecal samples (Best et al. 1997).  IBATs from northern colonies apparently consumed more aquatic-based insects (trichopterans and dipterans) than IBATs in southern portions of the range (Murray and Kurta 2002).  Also the diet of the IBAT can vary within a night, seasonally, between years, and across its range (Murray and Kurta 2002).  Fenton and Morris (1976) describe the IBAT as a “selective opportunist.”

Considering that the IBAT ingests mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies, it is noteworthy that all three flies are especially intolerant of aquatic pollution and siltation (Best et al. 1997). These three insect orders are well represented in Picatinny drainages so the need to maintain high water quality in riparian corridors is an important objective.

 


3.4        HABITAT AND BEHAVIOR

The IBAT requires the following two distinct types of habitat: (1) winter hibernation sites (hibernacula) and (2) summer roosting sites and foraging areas.  IBATs forage primarily in closed canopy riparian woodlands or upland forests (Humphrey et al. 1982).  IBATs prefer to forage around the crowns of large trees (Clawson 1987).  Optimum summer habitat includes mature trees that serve as forage areas and dead, yet loose barked trees as roost sites.  Preferred stream habitat appears to consist of streams lined on both banks with mature trees that overhang the water by at least 10 ft.  Stream widths may vary from 10 to 70 ft.  Typical forage areas consist of deciduous forest cover equal to or greater than 30%, with suitable roost trees located within a quarter mile of the foraging area and permanent water available within about a third of a mile from the roost.  The dominant overstory is normally comprised of trees that measure 10 to 24 inches in diameter at breast height (dbh) (Evans et al. 1998).

Bats that repeatedly use the same site at different intervals, whether for foraging, roosting, or hibernating, display “site fidelity” (SF). “Roost-site fidelity” (RSF) is repeated, consecutive (for ≥5 days) or nonconsecutive use of a site for roosting (Gumbert et al. 2002).  This concept can be applied to winter roosts, but most studies focus on summer roosting since this dynamic is more complex.

If site fidelity is registered for several individuals of the same species a subscript “s” is indicated to differentiate from records of repeated use by an individual bat (subscript “i”) (Gumbert et al. 2002). 

Fidelity to roost sites can be further discriminated and specified as Roost Areas (RAF) or even particular Roost Trees (RTF).  Fidelity to particular Foraging Areas is also observed (FAF).

See Glossary for more information regarding site fidelity or philopatry.

Fidelity is considered short-term if a bat is observed during a single tracking period (typically 10–20 days) and long-term if observations encompass more than one tracking period (Gumbert et al. 2002).  Bats that are observed and located in multiple tracking periods are referred to as “multi-period bats.” (Gumbert et al. 2002)

Most researchers agree that IBATs exhibit long term RAF (for winter and summer sites); FAF at summer sites; and some degree of RTF (although this is usually short term) (Gardner et al. 1991a, Kurta et al. 1996, Gumbert et al. 2002).

Another concept related to site fidelity is home range which Burt (1943) defined as the area traversed by an individual in its normal activities of food gathering, mating, and caring for young. White and Garrott (1990) refined this definition by referencing a period of time (Romme et al. 2002).

These concepts are very important when planning and conducting monitoring activities for a colony or local population of this species, which is still considered by most biologists as an enigma (Brack et al. 2002).

 

3.4.1          Roosting Cohorts and Habitat Utilization

Compared to the very stable and relatively static conditions associated with winter hibernation, the spring staging and subsequent dispersal(s) reflect more dynamic, variable, and differentiated behaviors.

For the sake of discussion of this patchily distributed species it is probably helpful to consider three different groups or sets of IBATs.  One cohort, the long-distance migrants, consists primarily of pregnant females.  Upon arrival in their established summer range this migrant cohort apparently segregates further into maternity colonies and non-maternity bands, yet probably share the same foraging habitat.

A second cohort, the non-migratory residents, is primarily males and non-pregnant females.  Together, these IBATs comprise local non-maternity bands that occupy habitats relatively close to hibernacula.  Maternity colonies present in summer using habitat not far from hibernacula could represent two possible cohorts – long-distance immigrants and/or local residents.

A third assemblage is the amassed and mixed cohorts (migrants and residents) immediately preceding and during the fall swarming period.  This latter cohort and the non-maternity bands of summer residents will likely be the focus of future research and monitoring for this ESMP.  If any maternity colonies are found then efforts to determine their precise cohort affiliation will be of keen interest and relevance for continued management.

Most of the summer roosting information, which follows, pertains to maternity colonies (migrant cohorts).

Winter Roosting Habitat

During the winter, IBATs generally hibernate in caves, although abandoned mines have also been used.  IBATs favor walls and ceilings in portions of the hibernaculum where temperatures are 2 to 5 °C (33 to 42 °F), the relative humidity is 66 to 95%, and there is some air movement (Whitaker and Hamilton 1998).

Of all the hibernacula which can be accessed or for which winter population estimates can be ascertained, as of 2001, there are:  Eight (8) P1; 69 P2 (70 if NJ Mount Hope mine MHW-SHAFT is added); and 259 P3 (Clawson 2002).  In some states other hibernacula are known or suspected but are inaccessible, and some may yet remain to be discovered or determined to be populated.

Both sexes are found in hibernating groups, usually in tightly packed clusters of 300 to 350 bats per square foot on walls and ceilings (Hofmann 1996).  They are often clustered to the extent that only the faces, ears, and wrists show (Whitaker and Hamilton 1998).

Summer Roosting Habitat

As mentioned previously, most information presented in this subsection refers to maternity colonies, their summer habitats, roost sites and immediate foraging territories.  As described by some recent research, there is some disparity between habitats in the midwestern (core) summer range of the IBAT and its niches in the North or Northeastern regions of summer range.  Furthermore, characterizations of maternity colonies’ roosting and foraging behaviors may represent a similar generic pattern for non-maternity bands; although the individual IBATs involved would be fewer in number, less gregarious, more dispersed, and likely more opportunistic or adaptive, especially near hibernacula.

When discussing summer roosts it is helpful to distinguish between the microhabitat “site” and the overall roosting habitat “area.”  The microhabitat obviously includes the tree(s) serving as the essential “shelter”, whereas the roosting area, which includes alternate roost trees, serves analogously as “cover.”

Dead or Dying Trees or Live Scaly Barked Trees

The most suitable roost sites are beneath the exfoliating bark of dead trees and have adequate space for air to circulate and for bats to change their position on the trunk (Garner and Gardner 1992).  Trees that possess tenacious bark that springs away from the trunk as the trees die are optimal.

According to Rommé et al. (1995), roost tree characteristics (in approximate relevance and importance) include:

·         Solar exposure and location in relation to other trees:  Seemingly paradoxically exposure to direct sunlight and ample solar insolation to maintain warmth beneath the bark is important for some roost trees, yet shade is equally important to protect some roost sites from intense heat.  Areas with large trees and closed canopies are preferable; however many roost trees are in semi-open areas or in ecotones.

Factors which diminish the suitability of roost trees include (1) an overarching canopy, (2) understory canopy within 6 feet of the bole, (3) a bole dressed with vines, or (4) less than 25% exfoliating bark (Farmer et al. 2002).  See Primary and Alternate Summer Roosts (Trees) below.

In MI, roost trees ranged in height from 49-69 ft, and bats tended to exit these trees at a height from 26-39 ft up the bole (Kurta et al. 2002).  Exits at levels as low as 6 ft have been observed (Kurta et al. 2002).

Proximity to water sources and foraging areas:  Roosting areas also had more patches of water (ponds, lakes, etc.) (Carter et al. 2002).

·         Tree condition (dead or alive):  In a KY study 84% of roost trees were snags (dead or dying trees) (Gumbert et al. 2002).  This was also corroborated in a MI study (Kurta et al. 2002).  In limited cases, natural tree cavities, hollows, crevices or splits induced by decay, lightning, wind/ice breakage, or other damage have been exploited (USFWS 1999)

Live shagbark hickories have been identified as exhibiting favorable temperatures for roosting bats during cool periods due to their greater thermal mass, and effective protection from precipitation because of the structural characteristics of their bark (Humphrey et al. 1977).

No IBATs have been found roosting in downed trees (USFWS 1983, Gardner et al. 1991, Callahan 1993, Romme et al. 1995, Callahan et al. 1997, Tetra Tech 1999e).

·         Quantity of exfoliating bark:  Kurta et al. (2002) describe a system that rates the potential of a tree as a roost according to the amount of exfoliating bark that it possesses as: high (≥25%), medium (<25% but ≥10%), or low (<10%). A rating of zero indicates either a lack of bark on the trunk or that all bark remaines firmly attached to the tree.

IBATs typically roost under exfoliating bark, but some individuals and even maternity colonies find shelter within tree crevices (Gardner et al. 1991a, Kurta et al. 2002, Brack et al. 2002).  The IBAT has also been observed roosting in hollow portions of tree trunks and limbs (Kurta et al. 1993a and 1993b as cited in Whitaker and Hamilton 1998) and in cavities (seams and splits) in lightning struck and damaged trees (Tetra Tech 1999c).

In one study 68% of roosts were rated medium or high for peeling bark, and 89% were medium or high in amount of sunlight received (Kurta et al. 2002).

·         Diameter:  In KY, average diameter of roost trees (n=280 of 17 different species) at breast height was 12 inches dbh and they ranged from 2.5 to 30 inches dbh (Gumbert et al. 2002).  A suitable tree in MI was defined as one that was at least 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter and possessed exfoliating bark under which bats might roost (Kurta et al. 2002).  The majority of all types of roost trees tend to fall into a range of 6–18 inches dbh, although some old large diameter wolf trees have been recorded.

Male IBATs have been found roosting in trees as small as three inches in diameter (Romme et al. 1995).  It is generally believed that males tend to use smaller trees.

·         Species:  The species of tree is probably less important than the structural and thermal conditions presented by the tree, due to its location and exposure, as well as proximity to foraging habitat.

Table 3 identifies tree species which have been or could be used as roost trees for the IBAT.  These trees typically exhibit exfoliating bark when they are senescent, severely injured, or dead.  As seen in Table 3, IBATs apparently exhibit a high degree of flexibility in the species that they utilize for roosts (Miller et al. 2002).


TABLE 3     POTENTIAL IBAT ROOST TREES*

 

Tree family Common name Scientific name IN PA NJ NY NE US

Tree Family

Common Name

Scientific Name

IN

PA

NJ

NY

NE US

Beech

Red Oak

Quercus rubra

a

a

 

 

 

 

Post Oak

Q.  stellata

a

 

 

 

 

 

White Oak

Q.  alba

a

 

 

a

 

 

Shingle Oak

Q.  imbricaria

a

 

 

 

 

 

American Beech

Fagus grandifolia

 

 

 

 

a

Walnut

Bitternut Hickory

Carya coridiformis

a

 

 

 

 

 

Shagbark Hickory

C. ovata

a

a

a

a

 

 

Shellbark Hickory

C. laciniosa

a

 

 

 

 

Elm

Slippery Elm

Ulmus rubra

a

a

 

 

 

 

American Elm

U.  Americana

a

a

a

 

 

Olive

Green Ash

Fraxinus pennsylvanica

a

 

a

 

 

 

White Ash

F.  americana

a

 

a

 

 

Magnolia

Yellow Poplar

Liriodendon tulipifera

 

 

a

 

 

Maple

Silver Maple

Acer saccharinum

a

 

 

 

 

 

Red Maple

Acer rubrum

 

a

a

 

a

 

Sugar Maple

Acer saccharum

 

 

a

 

a

Poplar

Eastern Cottonwood

Populus deltoides

a

 

 

 

 

 

Quaking Aspen

Populus tremuloides

 

 

 

a

a

Legume

Black Locust

Robinia pseudoacacia

a

a

 

a

 

Pine

Eastern Hemlock

Tsuga canadensis

 

 

 

a

a

 

White Pine

Pinus strobus

 

 

 

 

a

Birch

Yellow Birch

Betula alleghaniensis

 

 

a

 

 

 

Gray Birch

Betula populifolia

 

 

a

 

 

*  Based on actual use of these species of trees by IBATs

Source for Indiana: USFWS 1998

Source for Pennsylvania: Butchkowski e-mail 2004

Source for New Jersey: USFWS 2000, Chenger 2006a

Source for New York: Hicks e-mail 2004, Sanders et al. 2001, Scherer pers.comm. 2004

Source for NE US: Scherer e-mail 2004

 


Interspecific Co-habitation

Several researchers have documented IBATs sharing summer roosts with other bats.  Examples include IBATs with:  Northern Long-Eared Bats in a variety of roost trees; Big Brown Bats in a Shortleaf Pine; and Little Brown Bats in buildings or constructed bat roosts (J. E. Gardner pers.comm. to Gumbert et al. 2002, Butchkoski and Hessinger 2002).  Obviously, summer roosts of other tree dwelling species may also be high quality and suitable roosts for IBATs (Foster and Kurta 1999).

Summer Roosting Areas

What is known about summer roosting habitats (sites and areas) is based on seasonal or multi-year radiotelemetry studies of dozens of IBATs tracked to scores of roost trees (Gardner et al. 1991a, Carter et al. 2002).

Range-wide analysis corroborates studies in more localized areas that show IBATs establish maternity colonies in areas dominated by nonforested landscapes (75%) such as, cropland, grassland, and pasture (Callahan et al. 1997, Carter et al. 2002, Gardner et al. 1991a, Kurta et al. 1993a, 2002, Gardner and Cook 2002).

Brack et al. (2002) highlight one of a few enigmas concerning the IBAT; namely, the variability in summer habitats, which have been studied.  Although the IBAT is considered a tree bat in summer, it is most common in portions of its range where large, open, unforested lands are interspersed with wooded areas (Gardner and Cook 2002).  Roosts located in dead trees in open sites that are exposed to solar radiation throughout much of the day apparently provide a highly favorable thermal environment for females and young (Miller et al. 2002).

The IBAT typically is not common in heavily forested regions (Brack et al. 2002); yet Carter et al. (2002) report roosting habitats had fewer and smaller patches of urban development and more and larger patches of closed canopy deciduous forest.

Carter et al. (2002) contend that most roost trees were located within either closed-canopy deciduous forest or bottomland forest, which were however highly fragmented, and near a variety of patches of water.

Bottomland forests occur in low-lying areas that are inundated annually for varying amounts of time; such flooding occasionally leads to the death of trees, thus increasing the number of potential roosts (Carter et al. 2002).

In the case of forest-cover, it seems that the critical element is not amount of land covered by forest, but rather specific characteristics of the stand, that makes an area habitable (Miller et al. 2002).

One characteristic that does appear to affect quality of a site, especially for IBAT maternity colonies, apart from the landscape variables, is the number of trees of larger size (Miller et al. 2002).

Potential roosting habitat is destroyed or degraded by cutting large dead (wolf trees) or dying trees (snags).

Site Fidelity (Areas and Trees)

Gardner et al. (1991a) documented philopatry, long-term reuse of particular trees (RTFs), or areas (RAFs) by bats from year to year, which is more prevalent than strict RTFi (Gumbert et al. 2002).

The tendency for bats to roost in the same area, day after day, may relate to fidelity to nearby foraging habitat (Gumbert et al. 2002).  It seems likely that these bats are choosing roosting habitat that is closer to preferred foraging areas than are random sites (see also Kurta et al. 2002) (Carter et al. 2002).  This information strongly suggests that there is a nexus between RAF and FAF, even for individuals.

Ormsbee (1996) hypothesizes that tree-dwelling bats actually show fidelity to areas rather than to particular roost trees, since favored trees (snags) are temporary (Gumbert et al. 2002).

Other researchers similarly concede that IBATs are faithful to both areas and particular trees within those areas, though they are probably less dependent on the continued suitability of specific trees than on areas (see also Kurta and Murray 2002) (Gumbert et al. 2002).

In MI, the focal point of roosting activity shifted only 1.2 miles (2 km) across the landscape over a 3-year period (Kurta et al. 2002).

Switching

Suitable roost trees are ephemeral and can become unusable quite unexpectedly, so individual bats may use several trees to avoid being caught unprepared when a roost tree is destroyed (Kurta et al. 1996, 2002, Gumbert et al. 2002); and members of a colony must continually locate and establish new roosts (Kurta et al. 2002, Miller et al. 2002).  This behavior is referred to as “switching” (aka roost changes) and occurs generally within one established roost area.  In rare instances, bats that use two areas tend to stay in one main area, switching to another (secondary) area for only a few days (Gumbert et al. 2002).

Although particular trees probably provide higher quality roosting conditions than others (i.e. RTFi) (Gumbert et al. 2002), IBATs tend to switch trees every 2–4 days (Kurta et al. 1996, 2002, Gardner et al. 1991a).

Although distance moved for 74% of roost changes was less than .6 mile (1 km), other observations indicated that an IBAT might be found up to 4.8 miles (7.8 km) from a dayroost that it recently occupied (Kurta et al. 2002).

Switching occurred more frequently in summer and autumn than in spring, about once every two days versus every third day (Gumbert et al. 2002).

Maternity Colonies

Pregnant adult female IBATs establish maternity roosts beneath slabs of loose tree bark on trees, or in hollow trees.  Such trees may be located at varying distances from foraging habitat.

Although maternity colonies appear to be formed mostly in riparian and floodplain forests near small to medium-sized streams (Clawson 1987), upland areas may be used extensively, especially those that contain dead trees (snags) that are near open areas, receive a significant amount of sunlight, and have loose bark that creates natural crevices (Evans 1998).

In MO, IL, IN, and MI, large-diameter snags tend to be located in open areas (Miller et al. 2002, Gardner et al. 1991a, Kurta et al. 1996, 2002).

As suggested previously, maternity colonies have been found roosting along tree-lined ditches; along the edge of woodlots and agricultural lands; in heavily logged woodlots; heavily grazed (savannah-like) woodlots and open pastures; and even pig lots (e.g., Gardner et al. 1991a, Kurta et al. 1993a, 1996, Brack et al. 2002).

Most of this maternity range of the IBAT is within rural, agricultural areas, where land is privately owned (Gardner and Cook 2002, Kurta et al. 2002)

Since snags used for nursery colonies generally remain suitable for only 4 to 8 years (Tarr 1999), stands near sites with maternity colonies contain significantly more large and medium trees, because a large number of old (large-diameter) trees likely contributes to long-term survival of a colony by providing future roost sites (Miller et al. 2002).

A maternity colony of IBATs apparently requires a number of primary and alternate roost trees located near one another (Miller et al. 2002).

Number of roost trees located for each colony in Missouri ranged from 10 to 20; however, these numbers probably were conservative (Miller et al. 2002).

Primary and Alternate Summer Roosts (Trees)

Female IBATs have been observed to occupy two types of maternity roosts, primary and alternate (Callahan et al. 1997, Miller et al. 2002).  Although less frequently documented, roost switching undoubtedly occurs among non-maternity IBATs also.

Roosts are classified as “primary” or “alternate” based upon intensity of use, as indicated by evening exit counts (Miller et al. 2002).  Primary maternity roosts are those used by 30 or more bats on more than one occasion (Miller et al. 2002); all other roosts are considered to be alternate maternity roosts.

Of possible relevance here in NJ and the northeast region are the observations of Kurta et al. (2002) that the number of adults at southern roosts frequently exceeded 40 bats, but emergence counts at northern trees (considered as Primary roosts) typically yielded less than 30 animals.  Recent exit counts at maternity roost trees in VT and NY suggests numbers of IBATs similar to Kurta’s observations for southern roosts (Scherer pers.comm.2004).

Primary roosts sheltered a large number of bats (colony) and typically were large-diameter snags with exfoliating bark, located along edges of forests or within openings with a warm microclimate caused by absorption of solar radiation (Miller et al. 2002).  Primary maternity roost trees have been observed to range in size from 12 to 30 inches dbh (Callahan 1993 as cited in Romme et al. 1995).

As explained previously IBATs frequently switch trees within their roosting areas.  Alternate roosts tend to receive only intermittent use by a small number of bats, generally sheltering less than 10 individuals (Miller et al. 2002).  Differences in patterns of use between the types of maternity roosts are apparently influenced by weather conditions, with increased use of alternate maternity roost trees during periods of elevated temperatures and precipitation.  Miller et al. (2002) suggest that use of dead trees in the forest interior increases significantly in response to unusually warm temperatures (where shading can mitigate); and that use of both interior live trees and snags increases during periods of precipitation (again where canopy cover can mitigate inordinate wetting of tree boles) (Miller et al. 2002).  Alternate maternity roost trees range in size from 7 to 43 inches dbh (Garner and Gardner 1992; Callahan et al. 1997).

Many females and young comprise a maternity (aka nursery) colony.  One such colony may utilize up to three primary roosts, usually snags, throughout the summer (Miller et al. 2002) and as many as 20 alternate (aka secondary) roost sites in live trees.  Therefore, it is important that a variety of suitable roost trees be available within the colony’s summer habitat to ensure continued use of the area by the colony (Tarr 1999).  In one study, it was observed that the radius of the smallest circle that would encompass all maternity roost trees for each maternity colony ranged from 0.5–0.9 miles (0.8 to 1.5 km) (Callahan et al. 1997).

Although roost tree fidelity (RTFi) by individual IBATs is an established fact, the most common pattern reveals frequent switching by individuals among the available diurnal roosts (i.e. nonconsecutive day use of a particular tree 78% of the time during a tracking period) (Gumbert et al. 2002).  Consecutive use of a particular roost tree by an individual bat ranged from 2 to 12 days (maximum recorded) (Gumbert et al. 2002).

O’Donnell and Sedgeley (1999) label trees used for long periods of time or by many bats from the same population as “focal roosting trees,” and this was corroborated by Gumbert et al. (2002) in their five year KY study (1996-2000) of multiple bats (n =60) over multiple tracking periods (n =9).

Atypical or Adapted Summer Roosts (Non-Trees)

Observations and discoveries over the past 10 years have revealed that IBATs can and do exploit roost sites other than trees, even for maternity colonies.  Twenty-nine IBATs were found using an attic roost, with possibly more hidden from view, in an abandoned church in central PA (Butchkoski and Hessinger 2002).  These IBATs at Canoe Creek State Park not only shared their maternity site with hundreds of Little Brown Bats, but also routinely roosted in contact with them (Butchkoski and Hessinger 2002).  Some of these same IBATs subsequently used a man-made bat roost condominium erected near the abandoned church (Butchkoski and Hessinger 2002).  Another more recent example is the discovery of a huge maternity colony in a barn in IA near Iowa Army Ammunition Plant (Chenger pers.comm. 2004).  At PICA, a male IBAT was tracked for 9 days (21-29 JUN 97) and was found to have roosted one day in an abandoned building (b296) and for eight days in a rarely used warehouse (b3236) about 1 mile away.

Although few papers have yet been published, there is a body of gray literature and numerous anecdotal examples, including telephone pole brackets, which substantiate that IBAT individuals and colonies will adapt to other available roosts and co-habit with other bat species.

3.4.2     Foraging Habitats and Behavior

Foraging areas and ranges of female and juvenile IBATs have been established through triangulation of radio-tagged individuals (Gardner and Cook 2002); and Gumbert et al. (2002) demonstrated long-term FAFi for IBATs by recapturing banded individuals in the same foraging areas over multiple years.

The IBAT forages in upland, flood plain, and riparian-forested areas.  Tree species within such areas around which the bat has been observed to feed include the American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), box elder (Acer negundo), silver maple (Acer saccharinum), river birch (Betula nigra), northern hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), black walnut (Juglans nigra), black willow (Salix nigra), and oak (Humphrey et al. 1977; USFWS 1997).  In PA, oak, hickories, maples, and elm stands comprise the main foraging areas (Butchkoski and Hessinger 2002).  See also Section 3.7.3 Other Relevant Studies, Pennsylvania.

Streams, associated flood plain forests, and impounded bodies of water are the preferred foraging habitat for the IBAT (Gardner et al. 1991).  Moist soils and standing water also presumably enhance populations of insects, thereby increasing the supply of food in these areas (Carter et al. 2002)

The IBAT also forages within the canopy of upland forests, in clearings, along the borders of croplands, along wooded fencerows, and over farm ponds in pastures (Clark et al. 1987; Gardner et al. 1991).  The IBAT usually forages and flies from 2 to 30 meters above ground level (Humphrey et al. 1977).  The distance between maternity roosts and the geometric center of foraging areas used by pregnant IBATs has been observed to average 7 miles (1.1 km) (Garner and Gardner 1992) and to extend up to 3 miles (5 km) (Whitaker and Hamilton 1998).  Studies in Kentucky indicate that fall swarming cohorts of IBATs forage heavily in forested areas within 2.5 miles of hibernacula prior to hibernation.  A kernel home-range analysis identified eight areas of repeated use within 3 miles of a hibernaculum (Gumbert et al. 2002).  In another study a small maternity colony roosted and foraged within 1.5 miles of a local P2 hibernaculum (Butchkoski and Hessinger 2002).  Thus, Romme et al. (2002) support guidelines of regulatory agencies restricting activities within 5 miles (8 km) of hibernacula.

 


3.5        REASONS FOR DECLINE

Based on censuses taken at hibernation sites, IBAT population declines are revealed by the following estimates over the past few decades:  1960-1970 => 884,000; 1975 => 459,000 Humphrey (1978); 1980 => 679,000; 1981 => 550,000 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1983, Tetra Tech 1999d); 1990 => 474,000; 1997 => 357,000 (USFWS 1999, Tetra Tech 1999d); 2000 => 383,000 (Clawson 2002).  Overall in the past 40 years the population in the northern part of the range was up 30%, but the increases were not enough to offset losses in the southern region (Clawson 2002).  Due to continuing declines in Priority One populations, Priority Two and Three hibernacula have become much more significant to recovery of the species (Clawson 2002, Johnson et al. 2002, Gardner and Cook 2002).  Researchers have attributed the overall decline of the IBAT population primarily to direct and indirect actions of humans and to natural hazards.  Human causes of the population decline include (1) hibernaculum disturbance and vandalism, (2) loss of forest cover, and potentially (3) pesticide poisoning.  Recreational cave explorers and researchers who disturbed hibernacula were believed to cause bats to exhaust their limited fat reserves before spring, resulting in mortality.  Vandalism and destruction of hibernacula and their occupants have also been documented (USFWS 1983).  Loss of forest cover through tree removal or land clearing for agriculture, surface strip mining, road and utility construction, and other forms of development has adversely affected the IBAT throughout its range.  Forest fragmentation that occurs when forests are cleared for farmland or urban development degrades bat habitat (Copeyan 1997).  Although pesticide-related mortality has not been documented for the IBAT, several researchers regard agricultural pesticides as a possible cause of the decline in this species in certain regions (Evans et al. 1998; Garner and Gardner 1992).  The use of pesticides may pose a direct threat through poisoning or an indirect threat by eliminating food sources.  Natural hazards such as cave flooding, cave ceiling collapse, and severe weather have also resulted in destruction of IBAT habitat and in bat mortality (USFWS 1983).  The fact that the IBAT hibernates in large clusters in a few caves makes it especially vulnerable; an extreme disturbance can destroy a significant percentage of the total species population (Mumford and Whitaker 1982; Whitaker and Gammon 1988).  Deteriorating stream quality, insecticide use, chemical pollution, and siltation are all implicated in the habitat fragmentation and decline of insectivorous bat populations in North America (USFWS 1982).

 

3.6        CONSERVATION MEASURES

The IBAT was first listed as a federal endangered species throughout its range on March 11 1967 (32 Federal Register 4001), under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 (80 stat. 926; 16 U.S. Code 668aa[c]).  A USFWS sponsored recovery team developed a recovery plan for the IBAT (USFWS 1983).  The 1983 recovery plan establishes the following goals to meet the primary objective of removing the IBAT from its endangered status:

  • Preventing disturbance to hibernacula
  • Maintaining, protecting, and restoring foraging and summer maternity roost habitat
  • Monitoring population trends
  • Educating the public
  • Conducting research

 

To date, conservation efforts have primarily featured protection of hibernacula and research into the life history of the IBAT.  On September 24, 1976 (Federal Register, Volume 41, No. 187), thirteen winter hibernacula (11 caves and two mines) in six states as listed below, were designated as “critical” habitat for the IBAT (USFWS 1999).  Critical habitat is defined as being essential to the conservation of the species and requiring special management considerations or protection (USFWS and National Marine Fisheries Service [NMFS] 1998). Critical habitat for the IBAT has not been designated on PICA.

  • Big Wyandotte Cave in Crawford County, Indiana
  • Ray’s Cave in Green County, Indiana
  • Blackball Mine in LaSalle County, Illinois
  • Bat Cave in Carter County, Kentucky
  • Coach Cave in Edmonson County, Kentucky
  • Cave 021 in Crawford County, Missouri
  • Cave 009 in Franklin County, Missouri
  • Cave 017 in Franklin County, Missouri
  • Bat Cave in Shannon County, Missouri
  • Cave 029 in Washington County, Missouri
  • Pilot Knob Mine in Iron County, Missouri
  • White Oak Blowhole Cave in Blount County, Tennessee
  • Hellhole Cave in Pendleton County, West Virginia

 

No other hibernacula have been added to the list since September 24, 1976.  Nevertheless, state and federal agencies have acquired several IBAT hibernacula for protection purposes; for example, 54 of the 127 caves and mines (43%) with populations of more than 100 bats are publicly owned, and 46 caves (36%), most of which are on public land, are gated or fenced (USFWS 1999).

Varying population trends throughout the range of the IBAT suggest that the protective measures taken to date have not resulted in the recovery of the species.  Therefore, USFWS is currently revising its recovery plan for the IBAT (USFWS 1999).

Insufficient data are currently available to conclude whether availability of summer habitat is limiting IBAT recovery.  Until such information is obtained, conservation measures include continued research on the summer habitat needs of the IBAT and a conservative approach during evaluation of the potential effects of land use practices on summer habitat.  See Section 3.7.3, Other Relevant Studies.

Until more research and information establishes patterns of summer habitat use in peripheral regions of IBAT range, as well as near hibernacula, Virgil Brack et al. (2002) proffer that implementing standardized management practices across the entire range of the species, based on ecological parameters appropriate for the Midwest, may provide little benefit to the species in outlying areas.  He points out that regulatory agencies almost uniformly require determination of presence/absence of reproductive females by mistnetting in areas of potential impact; however searching for reproductive female IBATs in summer in high and/or cool areas is unlikely to yield significant, positive results (Brack et al. 2002). Nevertheless, one maternity colony is recently reported from 2800 ft elevation in WV (Scherer pers.comm.2004).

He also notes that management for summer habitat almost uniformly is designed with the primary goal of providing more trees (i.e. more summer nursery roosts); yet providing more roost trees at higher elevations and on other cooler sites (e.g., north-facing slopes) is of questionable value to the IBAT, because more roosts trees in areas not thermally suited to the species simply will not result in more IBATs (Brack et al. 2002).

It remains to be determined whether his suggestions might be applicable or validated at PICA or in the Northeast.  If the cohorts of IBATs at PICA eventually reveal a different ethology than what is currently understood, then his recommendation for regional customization of management plans and regulatory requirements to account for regional ecological constraints under which the species lives and reproduces seems reasonable (Brack et al. 2002).

 


3.7               IBAT STATUS IN NORTHEAST REGION AND AT PICA AND NORTHERN NJ

It is very important to consider what Gardner and Cook (2002) believe; namely, given current distribution records and the suspected maximum distance of migration for the species, they suggest that IBATs in Northeastern states are geographically isolated from major (i.e., Priority One) populations in the Midwest.  More investigations are needed to understand fully patterns of distribution in peripheral portions of the IBAT’s range.

Although Region 5 of the USFWS includes 13 states covering the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic areas, for this and subsequent discussions of the IBAT at PICA, Northern NJ, and the wider Northeastern region, only the following seven states are considered:  PA, NJ, NY, CT, MA, VT, and NH.  To date there are no known records of IBATs from ME or RI or DE.

Hibernacula In Northeast Region

Most IBATs in the Northeast are known from local hibernacula as seen in Table 4.  There have been 24 hibernacula in New England, New York, and New Jersey, in which IBATs roosted and were counted, but only 14 of these sites have records since 1996 (Hicks and Novak 2002).  Seventeen of these hibernacula were discovered and inspected before 1980.  Ten caves or mines in VT (-4), NY (-3), MA (-2), CT (-1), no longer have IBATs since the 1980s.  Actively monitored populations in 14 Northeastern hibernacula comprise: 10 in NY, 1 in VT, 1 in CT, and now most recently, 2 (of 3) in NJ.

 

Table 4  NORTHEASTERN IBAT OCCURRENCES AND ESTIMATED POPULATIONS

N.B.  Nearly all IBAT population estimates are based on winter (hibernacula) counts (in odd# calendar years).

* = All monitored hibernacula in a state.

‡ = These are the “monitored hibernacula” for which clusters of IBATs can actually be observed and counted (or numbers present otherwise ascertained).  Other hibernacula can exist and be known, yet remain inaccessible to surveillance. Conversely, some of these winter roosts can become inaccessible or altered adversely.  The number of these hibernacula and their monitoring is not consistent over time.

 

 

NE US IBAT Occurrences - winter- number of hibernacula - All IBAT Occurrences - winter- number of hibernacula - P2 IBAT Occurrences - winter- number of hibernacula - P3 IBAT Occurrences - summer - number of counties IBAT Occurrences - ALL - number of counties Population estimates - hibernacular counts - 1990/91 Population estimates - hibernacular counts - 2000/01 Population estimates - hibernacular counts - 2002/03

NE US

IBAT OCCURRENCES (Types)

POPULATION ESTIMATES

Winter

Summer

All

Hibernacula* counts

No. of Hibernacula‡

No. of counties

All

P2

P3

1990/91

2000/01

2002/03

PA

5

1

4

1

5

262

610

788

NJ

2 (3)d

1

1

1

1

<50a

107b

537c

NY

11

6

5

0

6

13,724

29,175

32,923

CT

1

 

1

0

1

0

0

0

MA

1

 

1

0

1

<100

0

extirpd

VT

5

 

5

1

4 (?)

<10

0

17

NH

0

-

-

1?

1

N/A

N/A

N/A

(Totals)

26

8

17

4

≈20

≈14,200

≈30,000

≈34,300

Adapted from:  (Clawson 2002) (Gardner and Cook 2002) (Hicks and Novak 2002).

a = unofficial census/estimates.  b = 2002 census.  c = 2004 initial descent and survey of MHW-SHAFT.

d = MHE-SHAFT, not yet monitored.

 

Until recently, hibernacula of the IBAT (Myotis sodalis) in the Northeast were of little importance because they were few in number, contained a small number of animals, and contributed little to the overall population of the species (Hall 1962, Humphrey 1978, Trombulak et al. 2001, Hicks and Novak 2002).  Recent winter censuses indicated presence of ≈ 35,000 IBATs, or 9% of the rangewide population.  The region is of growing importance for the continued existence of the species (Clawson 2002, Hicks and Novak 2002).  Increased counts of IBATs are due to more surveys of existing mines or caves, as well as more thorough censusing of additional passageways within known sites.  Nearly 99% of the IBATs wintering in the Northeast occur in New York State.

Relevance and Distance to PICA

Out-of-state hibernacula populations that might possibly contribute summering cohorts to northern NJ or PICA include:

  • Ulster Co., NY; 17,640 bats (59% of all IBATs in NY) from two P2 and two P3 hibernacula; about 84 miles from northern NJ.
  • Albany Co., NY; 500 bats from one P3 hibernaculum; within 100 miles of northern NJ.
  • Luzernne Co., PA; <100 bats from one P3 hibernaculum within 100 miles of northern NJ.
  • Onandaga Co., Jefferson Co., Essex Co., NY; 10,400 bats from three P2 hibernacula about 250 miles from northern NJ.
  • Blair Co., PA; 600 bats from one P2 hibernaculum about 250 miles from northern NJ.

Hibernacula from 1 county in CT, 1 county in MA and 4 counties in CT are believed to be inactive in the past 20-25 years or if any of these are active only a few to tens of bats may be roosting.  Similarly the summer records of IBATs in VT and NH are best described as de minimus.  These states and their populations probably do not contribute to the cohorts inhabiting northern NJ summer range or local hibernacula.  This supposition can only be verified by banding and recaptures, or more likely by intensive radio-tracking efforts during spring or fall migration movements.

New Jersey IBAT Discoveries

Previously, in the winter and spring of 1993, hibernating IBATs were discovered in an abandoned mine about two miles from the Arsenal.  The following year (1994), two more IBAT hibernacula were found in abandoned mines within a half a mile of the installation (PICA 2001).  An historical discovery of a post-lactating female IBAT was made in July 1995.  This federally listed Endangered species was netted and documented on PICA.  The trapping effort was the result of an environmental assessment process for a requested grant of easement (power transmission line Right of Way) by Mount Hope Hydropower Inc.  This IBAT capture in 1995 was the first summer resident of this species documented in New Jersey or the Northeastern U.S. in decades.  Portions of the Arsenal may provide important summer breeding or at least pre-and post-hibernation foraging habitat for the IBAT.  In fact, the only confirmed IBAT summer foraging habitat documented to date within New Jersey is on PICA.

Winter Roosts

IBATs have been documented to roost in mine shafts on private land immediately adjacent to the installation, as well as a mine adit now owned and protected by NJDFW.  All three of New Jersey’s known IBAT hibernacula sites are within 2.5 miles of the installation.  Lack of adequate protection of the hibernacula on private land immediately adjacent to the installation is a serious threat to the IBATs in the vicinity of the Arsenal.  No hibernaculum has been discovered on post.  Bats associated with these hibernation sites have been documented to forage on the installation prior to hibernation.

Most accessible caves and mines (<200) in the Northeast (except for PA) with the greatest potential as hibernacula also have been surveyed (J. Dickson pers.comm., T. French pers.comm., K. Morris pers.comm., S. Parren pers.comm., M. Valent pers.comm.) to (Hicks and Novak 2002).  According to Cal Butchkoski there are probably thousands of caves and mines in Pennsylvania, and many remain to be examined for overwintering bats (Hicks and Novak 2002).  Melissa Craddock (NJDFW) and Annette Scherer (USFWS) believe there are several mines/shafts in NJ waiting direct counts or indirect (presence/absence) surveys.

As mentioned earlier and as seen in Table 4 virtually all IBATs in the Northeast, more than 99%, hibernate in the state of New York; and as in IL, most hibernate in abandoned mines (Kath 2002, Hicks and Novak 2002).  Consequently, IBATs from hibernacula in NY may summer throughout NY and New England, in at least parts of PA and NJ, and perhaps in Quebec and Ontario (Hicks and Novak 2002).


Summer Roosts

Although no maternity colonies have been found to date in NJ or on PICA, there are ample forested areas that could potentially provide habitat.  Potential roost trees are present on the Arsenal, but have not been methodically identified, quantified, or protected.  Threats to such trees include fire, wind events, and possibly new construction.

Although a few captures of males has established that there are roosting IBATs on post, it is unknown how many actual roost sites may exist; and the summer resident IBAT population is unknown.  However, IBATs are assumed to roost within the Arsenal’s boundary, at least temporarily, preceding the fall swarming period and during the spring staging phase.  Given the proximity of their winter hibernacula, at least some males (and perhaps non-reproductive females) are likely roosting through the summer months.

Telemetry studies of spring emerging bats from a hibernacula in northeastern NY showed female IBATs dispersing to the Champlain Valley region of NY and VT.  In a similar spring telemetry study of female IBATs dispersing from a mine in Ulster County, NY, the bats moved south and east.  While summering areas for more than half of the radioed bats from these mines were located within 30 miles of their hibernacula, the remaining radioed bats could not be relocated and are likely to have dispersed greater distances.

Unfortunately, there are no recaptures indicating patterns of movement from hibernacula in CT, NJ, PA, or VT; as well as some southern region states.  Recent captures, however, of reproductively active adults and discovery of summer roosts in these states (e.g. Harvey 2002) could indicate that IBATs living there do not migrate long distances between summer and winter habitats (Gardner and Cook 2002).

Brack et al. (2002) raise the prospect that the probability that the IBAT reproduces [raises young] at higher elevations in WV, VA, or PA is low, although this supposition is challenged by the discovery of the maternity roost tree at 2800 ft in WV.  In PA, the only known maternity colony of IBATs uses artificial roosts in buildings and man-made roosting structures (bat boxes), which probably provide thermal benefits.  Members of this colony roost and preferentially forage at lower elevations, and foraging seems concentrated in areas with a southerly aspect (Butchkoski and Hassinger 2002, Brack et al. 2002).  The smaller diameter trees, low amounts of incident solar radiation (7 hours versus 10 hours in a MI study), and small exit counts suggested that trees at Canoe Creek State Park were roosts of secondary importance compared to the church (Butchkoski and Hessinger 2002, Kurta et al. 2002).  The church (primary roost) is located less than 1.5 miles from the state’s largest hibernaculum, Hartman Limestone Mine (Butchkoski and Hessinger 2002).

Foraging

Overall, foraging habitat on the Arsenal and surrounding area is estimated to be good.  Interior forest habitat is excellent.  Nevertheless, there is a need to determine and document bat foraging habitat requirements.

The nearest study of foraging habitat that is somewhat similar to northern NJ was in central PA in 1999 at Canoe Creek State Park.  That study of foraging IBATs was the first to occur in an area with significant changes in elevation, and it would be useful for future management to know whether IBATs in other hilly or mountainous areas behave in a similar manner (Butchkoski and Hessinger 2002).  These researchers documented that the bats concentrated foraging in areas of unbroken forest with slopes less than 10° and ranged as far as 2.8 miles (4.5 km) from the church (their primary summer roost).  All core areas, where a bat spent 50% of its foraging time, were located along intermittent streams or within hollows containing an intermittent stream, and all core areas had a southerly aspect (Butchkoski and Hessinger 2002).

A home range of about 1,544 acres was documented for one IBAT in western VA (Hobson and Holland 1995).


New Jersey IBAT Population Estimates (and NE Region)

Winter Counts

Based on biennial counts since 1992, the number of IBATs in Hibernia Mine range from 18 to 107 individuals. A recent count of IBATs in the MHW-SHAFT of Mount (Mt) Hope mine tallied 537 individuals.  Only portions of these two sites (Hibernia adit and Mt Hope MHW-SHAFT) have been surveyed.  A third site, Mt Hope MHE-SHAFT has not been entered due to safety concerns, however IBATs are known to overwinter here also based on trapping/netting near the large opening.  Among the three known hibernacula, the winter roosting population of IBATs is conservatively estimated to be about 600 to 700 individuals although actual numbers could be much higher within the inaccessible portions of this mine site.  More studies at the mines using mist nets or Harp traps can possibly provide some estimates of the sex ratio and reproductive conditions of IBATs in these winter roosts.  Until some dispersal information on spring migration numbers and distances traveled can be ascertained, no estimate of the percentage of wintering IBATS remaining in or leaving northern NJ can be made.  Some assumptions using rates of dispersal from other regions or perhaps in nearby NY state might be helpful in this regard.

In 1975, Humphrey (1978) credited the Northeast region with only 500 IBATs; and by 1981, the area still contributed only 2,000 according to estimates of the USFWS (1983) (Hicks and Novak 2002).  In 1990, PA and NY hibernacula alone accounted for about 27,000 IBATs.  In 2000, NY alone claimed about 35,000 IBATs in its 11 monitored hibernacula, while PA had 700.  Recent increases (or discovery of new roosts) inside five mines that have been monitored since 1985 in the NE account for 76% of all IBATs that winter in the Northeast (Hicks and Novak 2002).  Four of these mines are in NY; 2 in Ulster County, and 1 each in Warren and Essex Counties.  The other site is Hibernia Mine in Morris County, NJ.  The recent observation of over 500 IBATs in one of the Mt Hope mine shafts in Morris County will revise hibernacula counts upward significantly in NJ.

Summer Occurrences

Although summer records for IBATs in counties with hibernation sites are mostly males and nonreproductive females, there are 23 records of reproductively active females from winter counties (Gardner and Cook 2002).  Nevertheless, records of reproductively active females from winter counties generally consist of one or a few individuals (Hicks and Novak 2002), as noted for VT, NH, PA, and NJ. Summering females from Blair County, PA and Morris County, NJ are the representatives in this tally nearest to PICA.

Based on the 1995 capture of a single female IBAT which had just finished weaning her young of the season, a maternity colony (roost site) was presumed to be on or adjacent to Picatinny property.  Maternity colonies typically consist of 25 or more pregnant females or up to 200 individuals.  A minimal population estimate on Picatinny property might assume 1 maternity colony of 24 reproducing females (co-habiting with the one captured female in 1995); and perhaps a couple dozen local male cohorts of the two previously captured in 1997; and a few non-reproductive females.  Such assumptions would suggest the possibility of at least 60 IBATs roosting and foraging on or just outside the installation.  Add to this number the possibility of 25 pups, which renders a late summer population of 85 animals, not to mention an influx of what is now believed to be several hundreds of fall migrants.  Annette Scherer (USFWS) proffers the possibility of one maternity colony in the vicinity with perhaps 20-50 females.  When pups are volant, at least 40-100 IBATs could be foraging at PICA, not to mention the cohorts of males and no-reproductive females on range at the same time.


3.7.1     Hibernia and Other Local Mine Studies

Hibernia Mine History

The mine working known as Hibernia began in 1722.  Around 1765 iron ore from this mine (fourth ranked in NJ for overall production) was processed at forges located on nearby property that later became the federal military reservation known as Picatinny Arsenal.  The mine was abandoned in 1913.  Bats were documented in this mine as early as 1939 by two Cornell University researchers, H. Trapido and J. Kezer.  Little Brown Bats (Myotis lucifugus) and Northern Long Eared Bats (Myotis septentrionalis) were noted at that time.  Some specimens, including the Eastern Small Footed Bat (Myotis leibii) existed in the collection of the American Museum of Natural History circa 1946-47.  Dr. John Hall (Albright College) banded thousands of bats in this mine in the 1960s and 1970s (Leffler et al. 1978); three of which were rediscovered in the years 1990-91.

Hibernia IBATs

NJ nongame zoologist Rick Dutko first reported IBATs in the mine in 1992.  The following year (1993) IBATs were verified by the USFWS and NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, Endangered and Nongame Species Program (NJDFW ENSP) biologists to be hibernating in Hibernia Mine; about 1.5 miles from the eastern edge of installation (PICA) property.  A small wintering population has been confirmed using the mine consistently over the past decade (USFWS 2000, Hicks and Novak 2002).

Over the years of winter sampling in Hibernia Mine, 7 species have been documented adding the Eastern Pipistrelle, Big Brown Bat, and most recently the Silver Haired Bat (Valent and Dutko 1994, Scherer pers comm. 2004).  The mine hosts primarily Little Brown Bats and between 20 to 120 IBATs (Scherer, Valent pers.comm. 2004).  The variation in the number of IBATs counted may be attributed to identification difficulties, difficulty in picking them out of clusters of Little Brown Bats, and observer bias.  Total number of bats (all species) counted within the portion of the Hibernia mine that can be safely accessed by biologists have been as high as 27,000 bats; however, the Hibernia mine workings are extensive and it is likely that additional bats (including perhaps IBATs) also use the unsurveyed portions of the mine for hibernation.

Through the 1960s and 1970s many shafts and chambers were forever closed or sealed by blasting and bulldozing.  In 1989 the main entrance to Hibernia Mine was walled shut to exclude vandals and partiers.  Bats were also excluded to a large degree despite some small holes near the top of the walled entrance (Valent and Dutko 1994).  The issue of bat access for continued use of this well established winter roost site became the focus of mutual cooperation among the private landowners, the American Cave Conservation Association, and state and federal agencies.  On July 9, 1994, a well-designed Bat Conservation Gate was installed to effectively exclude persons yet allow normal bat ingress and egress to the mine adit (Valent and Dutko 1994).

Mount Hope Mines (More IBATs)

Subsequently, with funding from the USFWS, ENSP began to survey abandoned mines in Northern NJ.  Also a complex of mine shafts near Mt. Hope, NJ, even closer to PICA, were recommended for inspection by the environmental consultant for a proposed hydropower project (Balzano 1994).  A few could be entered safely and counts conducted.  A few are potentially unsafe, yet mist nets and captures during swarming activities occurred in October 1996.  Two of three potential sites near Mt. Hope yielded a few IBATs, which suggested presence of a hibernating population (Hicks and Novak 2002), and likely New Jersey’s second and third known hibernacula (Conserve Wildlife 1997).  In the spring of 1998, six IBATs were captured while leaving one of the vertical shafts (USFWS 2000), which further verified the expected use of this site as a winter roost.

Absolute confirmation, as well as an inaugural count occurred in February 2004, when over 500 IBATs were observed for the first time in winter roosting clusters in one gallery of this deep network of vertical shafts and lateral drifts at multiple levels known as the Mt Hope Mine(s).  These shafts are about 0.25 mile from the installation’s Mt. Hope Gate, also on the eastern side of the federal property.  As mentioned above, IBATs had been netted near the entrance of these two vertical shafts since 1996; however safe entry and descent by professionals was only recently allowed by the landowner and performed (in MHW-SHAFT) (Scherer pers.comm. 2004).

Although hibernacula have been documented only in Morris County, none have been documented at PICA.  As discussed in Section 3.2, the IBAT hibernaculum closest to PICA is the Mt Hope Mine MHW-SHAFT in Morris County, NJ.

NY and PA Mines

In 2001, from 10 APR – 5 MAY, the spring exodus of IBATs from mines in Ulster County, NY were tracked and documented for several days by researchers of the private company Bat Conservation and Management, and NY and CT state biologists (Sanders et al. 2001).  This was the first concerted effort to follow migrating IBATs in the Northeast U.S.  Four female IBATs were trapped from two sites near Williams Lake (Rosendale, NY).  One IBAT seems to have stayed in the local area and probably re-entered a mine site.  One IBAT crossed the Hudson River and probably remained in CT.  Two IBATs moved east to the Hudson River, then traveled south to near Newburgh and West Point, NY; and towards the NY / NJ border suggesting possible movement into northern NJ.  These IBATs were documented as foraging in wetlands and in suburban sites; and roosting in a dead oak in standing water, a dead oak in an upland habitat, trees in orchards, and under the deck attached to a small home in a woodland setting.  Despite three ground crews, more reliance on aerial tracking was recommended, since a couple of bats averaged sustained flight speeds of at least 25 mph.

In mid April 2004, NY Department of Environmental Conservation staff captured and released 20 transmittered female IBATs from Kingston NY (Ulster County which is less than 100 miles from PICA), eventually recovering 11.  All 31 roosts were within 35 miles south and east of the hibernacula in Orange and Dutchess counties, and under 607 ft in elevation.  Most roosts were shagbark or black locust trees, but also included a house, where bats were repeatedly observed exiting over the summer.  The other nine IBATs may have traveled farther distances, and possibly into northern NJ.

 In 2003, from 12-20 APR, a single female Indiana bat was captured emerging from its hibernaculum, an abandoned limestone mine (Hartman) in Canoe Creek State Park, Blair County, PA and tracked around the clock for four nights and days (Chenger 2003).  This bat led trackers on an odyssey easterly through the Allegheny mountains, having easily crossed Blue, Blacklog, and Shade mountains, (each with elevation changes between 600 to 1,400 feet) in under an hour.  After moving 37 miles in four days it settled into a dead white oak tree on a wooded upland slope.  Several other bats were also observed during subsequent dusk counts, suggesting that this was a maternity colony in a primary roost tree.  Aerial tracking was key to the successful monitoring of this migrating female IBAT.

 

3.7.2     PICA Studies

Besides the trapping and identification efforts mentioned previously in conjunction with the local mines by the NJDFW ENSP and USFWS NJFO staff, two summer field surveys have been conducted on PICA.

Figure 5 depicts capture sites and roost sites and zones of concern for conservation and management of IBATs on PICA.

Survey by Mt. Hope Hydro Inc. (1995)

The Mt. Hope Waterpower Project (aka Mt. Hope Hydro Inc) was conceived nearly two decades ago as a self-contained underground pumped water storage concept.  The design involved installation of turbine generators deep (2800 feet) within existing iron ore mine shafts, to be flooded and activated during peak electrical usage hours.  The water source would be a large above ground manmade reservoir.  After flooding the turbines, the water-stored underground would be pumped back up into the reservoir over night (off-peak hours) for reuse the next day.  Several such cycles of release and back pumping can occur in a 24-hour period if necessary.  Based on the EIS prepared years earlier, the private investors ultimately would have to seek and receive a Grant of Easement for a Right of Way (RoW) to cross PICA with their transmission lines.  Forest clearing for such a corridor on federal property necessitated an EA under NEPA.  Mt. Hope Hydro Inc. pursued this task in the early 1990s.  Since IBATs were known from at least one nearby winter roost in Hibernia Mine, there was concern that winter roosts may occur in other local mines, near or along the proposed project site and RoW.  As presented previously, this fact was substantiated in the mid 1990s.

As part of the EA for the proposed RoW across PICA for Mt. Hope Hydro Inc., a summer survey, to be conducted by IBAT experts from KY, along the anticipated transmission line corridor was scheduled on and near the installation.  In 1993, Hal Bryan of Eco-Tech Inc. pointed out that there were no documented maternity colonies of IBATs within several hundred miles of NJ – mainly because no mist netting or radio tracking had been undertaken in the (Mt. Hope Hydro Inc.) project area or elsewhere in NJ (Bryan 1993).  On 29 JULY 1995 (the first good night of sampling after a rainout on 28 JUL 95), Mr. Bryan and his team mist netted a post-lactating female IBAT on Picatinny property.  This represented the first confirmed summer record in NJ (Valent 1995) within the core maternity season (15 MAY –15 AUG).  This capture suggested that an actual maternity colony existed within 1-2 miles of the capture site (Hal Byan et al. pers.comm. 1995), quite possibly on Army property.

Survey by Boston University and USFWS NJFO (1997-1998)

Subsequent biological surveys at PICA indicate that the installation currently supports the summer habitat needs of a local IBAT population (Rinehart and Kunz 1998, USFWS 2000).  In the summer of 1997 (14 MAY- 15 AUG), four graduate students from Boston University (BU) and one from Albright College, conducted nightly surveys to assess whether the IBAT forages or roosts in the natural habitat at PICA.  Staff from the USFWS NJFO assisted them periodically.  Additionally, for continuity of the IBAT seasonal movements and behaviors, after the students returned to college, the NJFO personnel were contracted to perform surveys in the fall of 1997; as well as the following spring 1998.  The following chart summarizes:

Bat Captures at PICA (and nearby Mt. Hope Mines) from 14 MAY 97 through 17 JUL 98

Date and bottom totals Bat captures at PICA Bat captures in the mines Bat recaptures at PICA Bat recaptures in the mines Individual bats at PICA Individual bats in the mines Bats banded # of species at PICA # of species in the mines

 

Bat Captures

Recaptures

Individual bats

Bats banded

# species

PICA

Mines

PICA

Mines

PICA

Mines

PICA

Mines

(May-Aug)

BU

383

233

23

0

360

233

558

7

4

616

23

593

(Sep)

4

162

0

1

4

161

510

2

2

(Apr-May)

43

297

1

1

42

296

2

4

(Jun-Jul)

65

38

3

1

62

37

4

3

USFWS

609

7

602

 

 

 

Totals

1225

30

1195

1068

7

  • All the bats recaptured by USFWS personnel were bats banded the previous summer by the BU team.
  • 719 of these captures occurred during the summer maternity season, and IBATs comprised < 1% during this period.

Summer 1997

Twenty-six (26) different sites on the installation were sampled fairly evenly over the summer months for a total of 64 trap-nights.  Seven of nine possible bat species in northern NJ were documented.  Five sites, mostly in the northwestern portion of the installation, recorded four or more species.  The capture rate was considered low when compared to the capture rate in 1995.  Four trap-nights were spent off post at the Mt Hope mine MHW-SHAFT and MHE-SHAFT.  Most of the 233 bats caught at these shafts were Little Brown Bats; no IBATs were caught.

All captured bats were banded using silver colored incoloy #1 size bands, serially numbered from 15001 - ≈16001.  A few bats and larger bats were banded with red colored incoloy #2 size bands, serially numbered from 6001-≈ 6102.  All bands bear the prefix “THK”.  Males received bands on their right forearms; and females on the left.  IBATs were fitted with tiny transmitters (temporarily glued to back) for tracking (up to 14 days).  Four Northern Long Eared Bats were similarly tracked – mainly as a test of the method in PICA terrain.  The telemetry equipment and methods worked well.  Acoustic detection of ultrasonic echolocation calls of bats was utilized as an adjunct surveillance tool.  The day roosts of tracked bats were identified and characterized.  Evening dusk counts were made to record the time of the marked bat’s exit, as well as numbers of other bats emerging.

During the BU survey, among the 360 bats caught on post, two male IBATs were captured (see Figure 5); one (IBAT 15119) while foraging at South Basin on 21 JUN 97, and the other (IBAT 15462) along the overgrown roadway near G-2 field on 12 AUG 97 (Rinehart and Kunz 1998).

IBAT 15119 (Building 3236)

IBAT 15119 was tracked for 9 days.  Its first day roost after release was in an abandoned building (bldg 296); about 0.9 mile west of the capture site.  The next day and all subsequent days it was roosting in a warehouse (bldg 3236); about 0.1 mile east of the capture site.  This warehouse is perennially used as a summer roost site for hundreds of Little Brown Bats.  Many of these bats banded that summer have been observed in this roost site in years since then.  IBAT 15119 seemed to roost in the northwest corner of the building, away from most of the other bats.  This male IBAT exemplified atypical or adapted summer roosting behavior, as well as co-habitation discussed previously in Section 3.4.1.

IBAT 15462 (G-2 Pond)

IBAT 15462 registered 13 bat-days of roosting and switching among 6 different roost trees over a total tracking period of 16 days.  All of the roost trees were in the vicinity of the small G-2 Pond less than 0.25 mile south of the capture site.  Most of the trees around the margin of this pond had been drowned by high water levels induced by a beaver dam constructed in the spillway of G-2 Pond a few years earlier.  This cluster of roost trees had very similar characteristics.  All had high bark cover (70-95%); heights ranged from 44 - 75 ft; and dbh ranged from 9 – 17 inches dbh.

On 29 AUG 97 it was determined that the transmitter was no longer on the bat, but apparently lodged under the bark of a red maple tree (USFWS 2000).  This transmitter produced a signal for a total of 18 days.  Attempts to retrieve the device for recycling were unsuccessful.  This IBAT exhibited RAFi and RTFi by using one particular red maple for a total of 8 bat-days.

Dusk counts revealed that only 1, 2 or 3 other bats would exit with or after the tagged IBAT.  Roost exit occurred at 2017 on 14 AUG 97 and at 1950 on 28 AUG 97 paralleling the progressively earlier time of civil sunset as described by Viele et al. (2002).

On one occasion, immediately after evening roost exit, IBAT 15462 was tracked from a ridgetop vantage as having circled the shoreline of Lake Denmark in a counterclockwise circuit for about 20 minutes before returning nearly precisely to the G-2 pond roost area.

Post Hibernation Emergence 1998

USFWS conducted harp trapping activities at both the MHW-shaft and MHE-shaft near PICA during spring of 1998 and additional mist netting on PICA in mid summer.  Six IBATs (3 females and 3 males) were captured on three different nights in April at the shaft(s).  This capture site was near the location of the proposed reservoir for the Mt. Hope Hydro project.  One of these IBATs sustained a trapping injury to a wing and was transferred to a NJ Wildlife rehabilitator.  IBAT 15821 was recovered on the same night of its release, having been killed by a local raptor near the Mt Hope Pond.  Of the remaining 4 transmittered bats, two likely remained in the local area until the transmitter signals failed and two likely migrated out of the local area.  Female IBAT 15683 was located on three nights foraging near the mineshafts and nearby rock quarry and after re-entering the mine on 6 APR 98, was not relocated again.  Male IBAT 15855 was tracked from its release on 30 APR 98 through 5 MAY 98.  This bat foraged nightly in the vicinity of Mt Hope Pond, located just south of the mine(s).  Early battery failure of the applied transmitters and signal interference limited the information collected from these bats.  Female IBAT 15750 left the local area immediately upon release.  Male IBAT 15749 foraged at a pond on PICA for about 1 hour and 20 minutes and then is believed to have left the local area.  Efforts to locate signals of bats dispersing from the shafts by automobile were unsuccessful (USFWS 2000).

These intensive survey efforts revealed that the IBAT forages and roosts on PICA property and that the Little Brown Bat was the species most commonly encountered/captured (Rinehart and Kunz 1998, USFWS 2000).  Although the Little Brown Bat is the most often observed species in the cantonment and semi-improved grounds, the Northern Long-Eared Bat is most prevalent in the forested portions of the Arsenal. Tree foraging and roosting behaviors are similar to those of the IBAT.  Several tree roosts of each of these forest-adapted species were located on the eastern side of the Arsenal during the summer survey in 1997.

 

Survey by Bat Conservation and Management, Inc.  (2006)

(intentionally left blank at this time – 27 AUG 07 – due to time and space limitations.  A synopsis of the most recent IBAT survey at PICA will be appended here at the next subsequent ESMP review period).

 


 

FIGURE 5         PICATINNY IBAT CAPTURE SITES; ZONES OF CONCERN FOR ROOSTING AND FORAGING

Picatinny base high-level detailed map


3.7.3     Other Relevant Studies

Summer Habitats Outside Core (Midwest) Range

Gardner and Cook (2002) reviewed many studies of summer habitat of known maternity colonies in most of the natural range in order to characterize and perhaps highlight essential parameters and variables at the landscape scale.  Quite germane to this ESMP are their following qualified caveats.

Only one county record (Morris County, New Jersey) of a reproductively active female fell outside the maximum migration distance from the eight major (Priority One) hibernacula. However, there were winter records for thousands of IBATs from the Northeastern states and suitable summer maternity habitats undoubtedly occurred in at least portions of this northward extension of the IBAT’s range.  Unfortunately, lack of knowledge of summer habitats used by reproductively active females in this area precluded inclusion of additional types of forest cover from these areas in our range-wide predictive model (Gardner and Cook 2002).

Brack et al. (2002) compared detailed climatological maps, which indicate that the core portion of IBAT maternity range is typically warmer in summer than parts of the bat’s range to the east and northeast.

Michigan

Kurta et al. (2002) studied the roosting ecology of a group of IBATs in southern MI over 4 years.  All roosts were in palustrine wetlands (Cowardin et al. 1979), except (one) the shagbark hickory.  The fact that 37 of 38 roosts (97%) were located in wetlands suggested that bats actively selected wetlands for roosting purposes.  Also, the relative proximity of roost trees to one another indicated clumping, since the average distance from a roost to a neighboring roost was 981 ft (299 m), but the median was only 105 feet (32 m) (Kurta et al. 2002).

Superficially, the wetland habitats and tree characteristics in southern MI (Vermotville) are similar to those at PICA and northern NJ.  Rockaway Township, NJ latitude (40.5°N) is only 2.1° more southerly.  The USDA Hardiness Zone comparisons are “5a” in the MI county, and slightly warmer (“6a” and “6b”) in Morris County.

Pennsylvania

The only studies of summering IBATs in PA have been in the central part of the state at approximately 40.3°N latitude and in the USDA Hardiness zone “6a”.  Canoe Creek and the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River wind through limestone valleys flanked with ridges covered by forests of mixed oaks (Quercus spp.) and hickories (Carya spp.), as well as northern hardwoods (birch, Betula spp.; maple, Acer spp.; and beech, Fagus spp.). Valley bottoms are a mosaic of riparian woodlands, old fields, pastures, croplands, and rural residential sites (Butchkoski and Hessinger 2002).  Even with the diversity of landscape types, these IBATs used the largest block of continuous forest for their activities and mainly foraged in interior forest stands (Butchkoski and Hessinger 2002).  Again, the PA upland summer habitat is similar to northwestern and north central NJ, although the slopes at PICA are steeper.

In summer of 1997 while PICA was being surveyed for IBATs, students of Albright College under the direction of professor Karen Campbell were also surveying federal property in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.  No IBATS were caught in their 90-100 net-nights of effort between May and July on the west side of the Delaware River.  This survey was repeated in 1998, including net sites on the NJ side of the Delaware River, however no IBATs were captured.

 


Habitats Near Hibernacula (MO, IN, VA, KY, PA, NY, NJ)

Romme et al. (2002) tracked the staging area activities of IBATs on and near Fort Leonard Wood, MO.  Home ranges of IBATs appear short-lived in spring and fall.  Size of home range averaged 93 - 464 acres (113 ± 75 ha) for females and 410 – 850 acres (255 ± 89 ha) for males.  In springtime they documented a maximum distance of travel of 6.4 miles (10.3 km) for one female.  Male bats in Indiana have been found almost 10 miles from hibernacula during spring staging (3D/International 1998).  In autumn bats traveled up to 3.9 miles (6.4 km) from the cave where they were captured.  Staging areas near hibernacula in spring and autumn may vary from year to year with proximity and quality of available roosts, weather conditions, and availability of prey (Romme et al. 2002).

Although bats have been found up to 4.2 miles from hibernacula in the fall (3D/International 1996), most of the bats tracked in summer and fall have stayed within two to three miles of hibernacula (Clawson and Titus 1992, Hobson 1993, Kiser and Elliott 1996).  Work is still needed to determine how far male bats will roost and forage.

Hobson and Holland (1995) used telemetry to track two IBATs in spring near a hibernaculum in western Virginia (Romme et al. 2002).  They documented a home range of about 1544 acres (625 ha); however Romme et al. (2002) believe Hobson and Holland were witnessing movements in a maternity cohort.

In central PA, recaptures and observations of banded IBATs documents at least 8 females using both the summer roosts at Canoe Creek State Park and the nearby winter roost in Hartman Mine (Butchkoski 2003).

New Paltz, NY near the hibernacula in Ulster County with thousands of IBATs is located at 41.7°N latitude and comprises USDA Hardiness zones “5b” and “6a”.

Bat Band Returns

In February 1999, three Little Brown Bats banded in 1997 were observed hibernating in Hibernia Mine.  One of these bats (THK 15143) was banded on PICA in early JUL 97, another (THK 15388) was banded at the MHW-SHAFT in early AUG 97, and the third (AC710) had been captured and was banded 31 AUG 97, while swarming at a mine near Quakertown, PA by Dr. Karen Campbell of Albright College.  In March 2002, two banded bats were observed in Hibernia Mine:  a Little Brown Bat (THK15197) was first caught and banded on 22 JUL 97 at the spillway of Lake Denmark on PICA; and the other, a Big Brown Bat was first caught and banded on 18 MAY 98 at the MHW-SHAFT of Mt Hope mine.  Again in February 2004, two different banded Little Brown Bats were seen in Hibernia Mine:  one (THK 15170) had been banded on 14 JUL 97 as an adult male near the railroad bed to the northeast of Lake Denmark; and the other (THK 15327) had been captured as a juvenile male on 27 JUL 97 at the Mt Hope Mine.

Summer Habitat Models

In summer of 2000, PICA funded a study by the USACE Waterways Experiment Station to compare and evaluate two Summer Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) Models for possible use by the PICA NRM in developing this ESMP.  One HSI model developed by Romme et al (1995) for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources was compared with a recently released model developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Farmer et al. 1997).  Both models were developed for the “core” maternity range in the Midwest.  Similar habitat variables were measured in each model, including density of suitable roost trees and percent area with forest cover, for three different and spatially separated areas across the installation.  The Romme model was more complex, using 9 “life requisite” variables, versus 3 “landscape” variables in the USFWS model.  The final report (Webb et al. 2001) concluded that the simpler model was less sensitive to habitat quality differences due to the generic landscape scale variables employed, whereas the other model might provide better ‘resolution’ and sensitivity, but only at the expense of more intensive data collection and application.  The most limiting variable (for NJ habitat) in the USFWS model was “cover types” and in the Indiana model it was “tree dbh.”  It was also noted that the calculated numerical indices’ values representing high, medium, or low suitability did not seem to corroborate field experience with regard to capture rates, documented roosting, and overall bat activity areas.

In a follow up evaluation of their own model, Farmer et al. (2002) were quite explicit that the utility of the model is based on a single component— density of suitable roost trees, which can be used to assess potential habitat at sites of interest, yet only in the core maternity range.  Miller et al. (2002) seem to concur that density of roost trees is a key factor for IBATs occupying suitable habitat.

The NRM, after consultation with the local USFWS biologist, decided to defer use of any summer habitat model until their utility and reliability in the northeast might be improved.

Food Sources and Contamination

As part of the ongoing Environmental Remediation Program and recommendations of the USFWS, a baseline ecological risk assessment was performed to evaluate potential exposure pathways for contaminant uptake in IBATs near contaminated sites.  Dr. Frank Carle, Rutgers University, and Shaw Environmental, Inc conducted prey tissue analysis on biomass samples of collected Trichopterans.  Although bioaccumulative chemicals are present in some brook and pond sediments, as well as in emergent insects from those locales, the calculated levels extrapolated by the food chain model are sufficiently low to imply that no adverse effects to the IBAT are expected.  Species richness was high over the collection months and locations.

Stream sampling of Dipteran -Chironimids by a Drew University undergraduate student, led by Dr. Leland Pollack, also revealed fairly high species diversity in all reaches of Green Pond Brook.

The species diversity of these invertebrates also indicates above average water quality despite known contaminants in some pond or lake sediments.  The diversity of Lepidopterans is also high and no pathways of contamination are suspected for moth species.  There has been no spraying for gypsy moths since the 1980s.

Regional and Professional Bat Working Groups

Two bat organizations well known among bat managers are Bat Conservation International (BCI) and Bat Conservation and Management, Inc. (BCM).  BCI (<batcon.org>) is a nonprofit organization based in Austin, TX, founded by Dr. Merlin Tuttle, which promotes research and conservation of bats worldwide.  BCM (<batmanagement.com>) is a private company based in Carlisle, PA, started by John Chenger, specializing in bat management solutions for homeowners, as well as assistance to public land managers.

Encouraged by BCI, the North American Bat Conservation Partnership (NABCP) includes four Regional Working Groups:  the Northeastern Bat Working Group (NEBWG), the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network (SBDN), the Western Bat Working Group (WBWG), and the Mexico Bat Working Group.

The NEBWG (formed 1998) comprises a Steering Committee, 22 State Coordinators, and Special Committees to address specific bat conservation issues.  The goal of the NEBWG is to conserve bats and their habitats in northeastern North America through collaborative research, education, and management.

The National Military Fish and Wildlife Association (NMFWA), chartered in 1983 by DoD resource management professionals, is a non-profit organization consisting of resource managers working to protect and manage wildlife and other natural resources on DoD lands.  These individuals recognize the critical need for awareness of natural resource conservation requirements in order to provide for both long-term sustainability of resource diversity and the successful accomplishment of the military training mission on public lands administered by the DoD.  Chester Martin of U.S. Army Engineer Research And Development Center (USACE-ERDC), Vicksburg, MS, chairs a Bat Working Group of this organization. Some of the issues of concern to this working group are:  (1) The need for proper bat inventories and what constitutes an adequate survey; (2) bat exclusion measures in old structures; (3) consideration of bat conservation and management in installation Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans; and (4) difficulties obtaining funds for bat surveys and management when there are no threatened or endangered species involved.

 


3.8        CHRONOLOGICAL OVERVIEW (IBAT Benchmarks)

  • 1913  Unknown or misidentified bats from Nickwackett Cave in Brandon, VT identified decades later as IBATs; thus 1st collected and (subsequently) vouchered specimen of IBAT.
  • 1928  1st IBAT Discovered and described as a separate species by Miller and Allen in Indiana.
  • 1940s (mid)  1st Reproductively active female IBAT was collected during maternity season; central IN (Kirkpatrick and Conaway 1948).
  • 1950s (late)  Caves and mines (winter roosts) surveys in Midwest Karst regions.
  • 1962  J. S. Hall  classic work on Myotis sodalis.
  • 1964  1st Winter census inside hibernacula (Ozark Plateau) [R. F. Myers].
  • 1967 (March 11)  IBAT listed Endangered under ESA.
  • 1969  1st Distribution map [Barbour and Davis].
  • 1971  1st Maternity colony (≈50 bats) discovered accidentally after dead American Elm tree bulldozed over in west-central IN (Cope et al. 1974).
  • 1976  1st  Recovery Plan for IBAT [USFWS].
  • 1976 (September 24)  Critical Habitat designated for IBAT under ESA.
  • 1977  S. R. Humphrey landmark study of roosting behavior and summer habitat in west-central IN.
  • 1970s (late)  Nocturnal and foraging behavior studies [LaVals’, R.K. and M.L.].
  • 1970s (late)  IBATs banded in MO hibernacula recaptured in IA indicating long distance migrations to summer range.
  • 1981  Second distribution map  [E.R. Hall].
  • 1983 1st Revision IBAT Recovery Plan [USFWS]; mostly winter ecology information.
  • 1980s (mid)  1st Radio telemetry studies conducted by IL Department of Natural Resources after transmitters miniaturized sufficiently for bats.
  • 1986  1st Maternity roost found using radio telemetry in IL (Gardner et al. 1987).
  • 1992 (February)  1st Winter roosting IBATs documented in NJ; Hibernia Mine, Morris County.
  • 1994 (Summer)  Bat gate effectively installed on Hibernia Mine entrance.
  • 1995 (July 29)  1st Reproductively active female IBAT documented during maternity season in NJ; on PICA, Morris County.  1st PICA IBAT survey.  Also, year of 1st Summer Habitat Suitability Model (Romme et al.).
  • 1996 (July 8)  1st Maternity colony (34-(66)) documented in OH; inadvertent discovery when old dead tree cut down 75 feet from an occupied house in a residential subdivision.
  • 1996 (October)  Other winter hibernacula (mines) evaluated in NJ; including 1st vertical shafts in U.S.  IBATs present in pre-hibernation swarms.  Amateur spelunkers descend and disturb bats in MHW-SHAFT before Christmas; unable to exit, rescued by PICA and volunteer fire departments.
  • 1997 (Summer)  1st Maternity colony (29 bats) in NE US (PA); and 1st in a building (abandoned church).  Also, year of 2nd Summer Habitat Suitability Model (Farmer et al.).
  • 1997 (Summer)  1st Male IBATs roosting during summer season documented in NJ; on PICA, Morris County.  Tree roosts; as well as 1st documented roosting in a building (warehouse) in NJ.  2nd PICA IBAT survey
  • 1998 (Spring)  Continuation of 2nd PICA IBAT survey (1st Spring emergence and staging survey in NJ).  Six IBATs from MHW-SHAFT of Mt Hope Mine confirms 2nd hibernaculum in Morris County, NJ.
  • 1999 (February)  1st banded bats (Little Brown Bats) observed in Hibernia Mine during winter census; suggesting nexus between summer range from nearby PICA (NJ) and eastern PA to winter roost at Hibernia (NJ).
  • 1999 (March)  Draft Revised Recovery Plan  [USFWS].
  • 2001 (Spring)  1st tracking of NY female IBAT migration patterns (Sanders et al.).
  • 2001 (Summer)  1st Summer record of IBAT in VT.
  • 2003 (July)  Largest maternity colony in a building in U.S; an IA barn built circa 1880s.
  • 2003 (April)  1st tracking of PA female IBAT migration pattern (Chenger 2003 et al.).
  • 2004 (February 26)  1st Entry / Descent down vertical mine shaft to inspect IBAT hibernaculum in NJ.  Over 500 IBATs present representing confirmation of 1st P2 hibernaculum in NJ; Morris County.
  • 2005 (summer)  Female IBATs discovered in Great Swamp National Wildife Refuge.
  • 2006 (April)   PICA spring migration survey.  Maternity roosts documented well south of PICA in Morris County; as well as in Somerset and Sussex Counties (Chenger 2006a).
  • 2006 (July)  PICA summer woodland survey.  Two male IBATs captured, and one new IBAT roost documented (Chenger 2006b).
  • 2006 (summer)  Maternity roosts documented in Great Swamp National Wildife Refuge; and 1 female IBAT discovered near Morris County municipal airport.
  • 2007 (June)  Maternity colony discovered in Sussex County, NJ
  • 2007 (????)  Revised (2nd) National IBAT Recovery Plan.
  •  

 

Sources:  (Gardner and Cook 2002) (Hicks and Novak 2002) (Butchkoski and Hassinger 2002)

(Belwood 2002) (Dutko 1994) (Butchkoski e-mail; Scherer, Craddock, Chenger pers.comm.2004)

 

 

4.0        PICA CONSERVATION GOALS

Natural resources at PICA are managed based on the principles of ecosystem management, the objectives of which are to restore ecosystems where practical and create optimum habitat for all wildlife species, including the IBAT.  Specifics regarding these objectives are presented in PICA’s INRMP (PICA 2001).

Unique habitats are frequently divided into the following classes: a) federally designated “critical habitats,” b) areas supporting high concentrations of wildlife, c) areas critical to particular species, d) concentrated migration routes, e) land forms or areas of unusual vegetation associations that support unusual wildlife species, and f) areas that were significant as wildlife habitat in the past (Chambers 1983).  Federally designated critical habitats are ascertained and described by the USFWS.  No “critical habitat” for the IBAT exists on or near PICA; however, habitats used by IBATs throughout its range are provided protection under the E S A.  Due to the proximity of three separate hibernacula, PICA provides summer and pre-and post-hibernation roosting and foraging habitat for the IBAT.  Although no maternity colonies have yet been discovered, it is presumed that they can occur on the federal property, and it is established that males do roost and forage on post in a variety of areas.  IBAT protection at PICA must be predicated on both the widespread spatial use and the extended temporal use of the available habitat throughout the Non-hibernation season (1 APR – 15 NOV).  From the state perspective, because of high wildlife concentrations, diversity, and connectivity, Picatinny comprises a major portion of a NJ Natural Heritage Priority Site known as Green Pond Macro Site.

As discussed in Section 3.7, the IBAT has been found to forage at PICA and males are known to roost in the trees (or buildings) on post.  Although IBAT habitat requirements, are generally discussed in Chapter 8.8.2 of the INRMP these are more specifically addressed in this ESMP.

The 1983 recovery plan for the IBAT establishes the following national goals to meet the primary objective of removing the IBAT from its endangered status:

  • preventing disturbance to hibernacula,
  • maintaining, protecting, and restoring foraging and summer maternity roosting habitat,
  • monitoring population trends,
  • educating the public,
  • and conducting research (USFWS 1983).

 

Although the roosting and foraging habitat at PICA is not considered to be critical to conservation of the IBAT and may make up only a relatively small fraction of the bat’s total summer range, the U.S. Army understands that this habitat, especially being within 5 miles of known hibernacula (Kiser and Elliott 1996, Scherer pers.comm. 1999, USFWS 2000, Clawson 2000) is an important “area of influence” (USDA-FS 2000) to the local bat population and potentially to the long-term survival of the species.  Gumbert et al. (2002) proffer two recommendations relevant to this ESMP:  (1) biologists must consider various types of fidelity by IBATs when developing management plans for areas near hibernacula; and (2) sites of repeated use by individuals or by the species likely provide high-quality roosting conditions and should be preserved (Gumbert et al. 2002).  Therefore, the following conservation goals have been established at PICA:

  • Conserve existing foraging and (male or non-reproductive female) roosting habitat at PICA.
  • Identify and conserve potential IBAT summer maternity roosting; as well as non-maternity roosting habitat at PICA.
  • Estimate the IBAT population at PICA and monitor trends periodically.
  • Educate individuals who have a potential impact on the IBAT regarding the species and its presence at PICA and local mines (including possible lessees on PICA property).
  • Communicate with USFWS regarding the status of the IBAT at PICA and in the local area.

 

Conservation goals and management prescriptions in this ESMP will be reviewed by PICA’s NRM on an annual basis and updated and coordinated with PICA organizations, if necessary.  As discussed in Section 3.6, USFWS is currently revising its recovery plan for the IBAT.  USFWS has done much work on the draft revision (MAR 1999) of the 1983 IBAT recovery plan (Scherer pers.comm. 2004).  Hopefully a new recovery plan will be finalized within the next 2-3 years.  When the revised recovery plan is available, conservation goals and management prescriptions outlined in this ESMP will be reviewed for consistency with the revised recovery plan.

Since 1996, most of the aforementioned conservation goals have been actively promoted through adherence to the following interim policies:

  • Restrict / Prohibit tree trimming or cutting from 1 APR – 15 NOV (spring, summer, fall).
  • Scope and schedule all anticipated projects well in advance of seasonal restrictions.
  • All in house or contract work involving tree removal or pruning must be coordinated with Natural Resources Manger, even during winter season (16 NOV--31 MAR).
  • Favor retention or creation of snags during any forest management.  Strive for 24 suitable roost trees (>9 inches dbh) per acre.
  • Retain all Shagbark Hickories and mature Sugar Maples and White Oaks.
  • Minimize incremental or cumulative permanent loss of forest cover over entire installation.
  • Establish 0.75 mile buffer zone around documented capture / roost sites.  Within these 0.75-mile perimeters:  no permanent loss of forest cover; maintain or increase snag densities; informal consultation with USFWS required for all proposed projects.

These will be carried forward in the specific management prescriptions discussed in Section 5.0 following, which will be implemented to support PICA’s current conservation goals.

Compliance with this ESMP is consistent with principles of ecosystem management used at PICA and supports applicable conservation goals outlined in the IBAT recovery plan (USFWS 1983).  Although compliance with this ESMP will contribute to the success of the specific IBAT population at PICA as well as the overall recovery of the species, it is important to consider that certain negative impacts may occur that are beyond the control of the installation.  For example, harm to the population may be caused at off-site winter hibernacula, during spring or fall migration, or at the installation by activities on surrounding properties.

 


5.0        MANAGEMENT PRESCRIPTIONS

This section discusses management prescriptions that will be implemented by PICA to meet the conservation goals set forth in Section 4.0 so as to conserve existing IBAT summer foraging and roosting habitat.  If a new installation activity is initiated that may impact the IBAT, PICA will review and update this ESMP as necessary and will engage in ESA Section 7 consultation with the USFWS Region 5, Pleasantville, New Jersey Field Office (NJFO).  For activities that PICA is considering undertaking, funding, permitting, or authorizing that are outside the scope of these prescriptions and have a potential impact on the IBAT at PICA, PICA will engage in necessary ESA Section 7 consultation with the USFWS NJFO.

N.B.  Any lessees of PICA property are subject to these goals and prescriptions, which will be specified in lease or easement agreements, as appropriate.

In addition, other management prescriptions that are not directly related to an ongoing or future PICA activity will be taken by PICA to meet the conservation goals, such as ongoing monitoring of the IBAT population at PICA and implementation of an employee and community awareness program.

 

5.1        MANAGEMENT PRESCRIPTIONS FOR PICA ACTIVITIES

This section presents prescriptions for activities that take place at PICA that might impact the IBAT.  To facilitate implementation of these prescriptions, they are categorized according to general types of ongoing and future PICA activities that are most likely to impact the IBAT.  These activities include forest management, pest management, construction and demolition, environmental remediation, leasing of PICA property, training exercises, hunting and other outdoor recreation, and firewood cutting.

N.B.  Any bats that are trapped at roosts sites for identification purposes (as specified in the following prescriptions) will be banded prior to release; and record maintained by the NRM.

 

5.1.1          Forest Management

No commercial timber harvesting currently occurs at PICA.  The forest management program at the installation consists of hazard tree removal, some urban forestry and plantings in the improved grounds and occasional timber stand improvement (TSI) is possible.

The presence of the IBAT will affect the type, location, and frequency of any possible timber harvests in future years.  The main goal of forest management is to protect and conserve IBAT foraging habitat within the perimeter of the Arsenal during the IBAT spring staging, maternity roosting, and fall swarming seasons (April 1 through November 15 – aka Non-hibernation Season), due to nearby hibernacula.

N.B.  For the past several years, a 0.75mile buffer zone around capture sites has been employed as an administrative tool for quantifying and qualifying known and likely habitat used by IBATs to assure that any new projects, operations, or forestry actions in such areas receive at least informal consultation review with the USFWS NJFO.

Under the principles of ecosystem management, the PICA forest management plan promotes the health and vigor of all forested tracts where the IBAT may be present.  A complete description of suitable and potential bat habitat, including snag density, snag bark cover, tree density, and size classes, at PICA will be developed through implementation of the forest management section of the INRMP.  Forest management practices will reflect USFWS IBAT guidelines for forest management and, if applicable, ESA Section 7 consultation.

Management of habitat near hibernacula of IBATs should include the conservation, creation, and maintenance of mixed-forest types, ages, and stand conditions, while maintaining a continuing supply of suitable roost trees (Gumbert et al. 2002) and areas; although Brack et al. (2002) may dispute this approach?  See Section 3.7.3, Other Relevant Studies.  Managing for roost trees may involve implementing cutting regimes that maintain multi-aged stands and retain a component of mature trees following harvest, leaving dead and damaged trees standing, and leaving all trees previously used by IBATs.  Tarr (1999) suggests that management within the summer range should apply even and uneven-aged management that allows large (>20 inches dbh) trees to grow and retains large diameter (>8 inches dbh) snags.

Gumbert et al. (2002) also recommend including long-term population assessments to identify core roosting areas, because evidence from MO and MI indicate that colonies may use the same geographic areas for at least 14–18 years (Kurta et al. 1993b, 1996, Miller 1996).  Miller et al. (2002) reiterate that for a long-term philopatric species that depends upon persistence of an ephemeral resource (snags), a continuous supply of roost trees is needed.  Farmer et al. (2002) cite a study in IA that reports a density of 4 -10 potential roost trees / acre in areas surrounding successful netting sites.

Forest management prescriptions and actions that will be implemented by the PICA NRM to identify and preserve summer habitat (1 APR – 15 NOV) for the IBAT are described below.

 

1.       Restrict / Prohibit tree trimming or cutting from 1 APR – 15 NOV (spring, summer, fall).

Tree cutting will not occur at PICA during the active IBAT roosting season (April 1 through November 15) unless this is necessary to maintain forest health or safety conditions (for example, control of a disease or insect outbreak or removal of storm damage).  Pre-coordinated and scheduled selective tree cutting will be limited to the period when IBATs would be hibernating (November through March) whenever feasible.

2.       Coordinate unavoidable tree cutting during the PICA IBAT Non-hibernation season.

Any tree cutting activities during the Non-hibernation season, or within 0.75 miles of known roost or capture sites, or determined by PICA to have a potential impact on the IBAT will be coordinated with the USFWS NJFO and will undergo any necessary ESA Section 7 consultation to avoid and minimize impacts on the IBAT and on known and (potential maternity) roost trees.  As part of Section 7 consultation, the PICA NRM will provide a detailed description of the tree(s) (species, dbh, and condition of tree, condition of bark, presence of cavities or crevices, presence of dead limbs), along with an explanation of the need to remove the trees, to the USFWS NJFO.  Based on this information, a determination will be made on whether the trees provide potential IBAT roosting habitat.

If it is determined that the trees provide potential roosting habitat, then the trees will have to be monitored for the presence of bats prior to removal.  Tree removal will take place the day immediately following two consecutive nights of dusk counts (in good weather) in which no bats are observed.  If tree removal is not practical immediately after the second dusk count, a pre-dawn count will be conducted using a bat detector the next available day to verify that bats are still not roosting in the tree; and the tree will be removed that day.  If bats are present, then netting near the tree at/after dusk will be necessary for 2 consecutive nights to identify the bat species.

If IBATs are documented the tree will not be removed without consultation with USFWS NJFO (the need for an incidental take statement will be evaluated).  If bats other than IBATs are present then the tree may have to be removed after dark and bat emergence, or bark removed after dark to encourage returning bats to occupy alternate roost trees prior to removal of that tree.  Felling a tree after dark will need to be evaluated and authorized by the safety office.

Trees posing an imminent threat to public safety may be trimmed or felled; however if IBATs are found to be present, are injured or killed, an “emergency after-the-fact” consultation MUST be initiated immediately (by phone AND in writing) with the USFWS.  If at all possible, the NRM must be consulted/notified PRIOR to such a determination of imminent risk/hazard; and alternative or temporary options considered.


3.       Forest management will promote a diversity of age and size classes with emphasis on retention of adequate stocks of large, mature and overmature trees in each stand.  The range of acreage of stands at PICA is presented in the forest management section of the INRMP.  As individuals in the latter age class die and become snags (trees with less than 10% live canopy), they will provide a continuing supply of potential maternity roost trees (typically those listed in Table 3) for IBATs.  Reforestation efforts will favor planting tree species native to regional ecological communities and local IBAT roost tree species where practical.

The following forest management prescriptions will be implemented to maintain a suitable component of habitat for the IBAT at PICA.  Because of heterogeneity both within and between stands, not all the conditions noted are necessarily evenly distributed across the landscape or currently present in each stand.  Attainment of habitat management goals will be evaluated, therefore, on an average (per acre), stand-wide basis and will be attained through the life cycle of forest management activities in each stand

·                     An average of at least three live potential maternity roost trees per acre with a dbh greater than >20 inches (preferably >26 inches) will be maintained in the stand.  These will be the largest potential maternity roost trees in the stand.

·                     An average of at least six additional live potential maternity roost trees per acre with a dbh greater than 10 inches will be maintained in the stand.

·                     If the stand does not contain trees larger than 20 inches dbh, then at least 20 live potential maternity roost trees per acre will be maintained in the stand.  These will be the largest potential maternity roost trees in the stand.

4.       Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) is recognized for its high value as potential maternity roost trees.  Mature Sugar Maple and White Oak trees also possess scaly bark suitable for roosting.  The PICA timber inventory will determine the density and distribution of Shagbark Hickory in each stand, as well as the two maple and oak species.  The harvest of these species may be allowed subject to (1) density thresholds that would otherwise inhibit their reproduction and (2) compliance with other forest management prescriptions described in this ESMP.  PICA will engage in ESA Section 7 consultation with the USFWS NJFO regarding cutting of such trees at the installation during the Non-hibernation (roosting) season or that has a potential impact on the IBAT.  Retain all Shagbark Hickories and mature Sugar Maples and White Oaks.  Although Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) is considered an invasive species, mature specimens on post in suitable bat habitat will be retained.

5.       Snag (and wolf) tree management

Protect and retain snags for roosting habitat.  Snags will be defined as any dead, partially dead, or defective live (cull) tree at least 10 ft tall and at least six (6) inches dbh.  Retain large dead (wolf) trees that are potential nursery sites.  Snags will not be removed except where they pose a threat to safety or forest health (for example, a threat of disease or insect outbreak).  In the event that snag removal is necessary during the IBAT roosting season, the removal will take place immediately after two consecutive nights of dusk counts (and two net nights if necessary) in which no IBATs are identified.  If snag removal is not practical immediately after the second dusk count, a pre-dawn count using a bat detector will be performed the next available day to verify that bats are not roosting in the snag, and the tree will be removed that day.  If IBATs are present, PICA will engage in ESA Section 7 consultation with the USFWS NJFO to evaluate the need for an incidental take statement.  Where practical, snags will be retained in groups with live trees to prevent wind-throw.  Favor retention or creation of snags during any forest management activities.  Strive for 20 suitable roost trees (>10 inches dbh) per acre.


6.       Active roost tree (site or structure) protection.

As active roost trees (including maternity) are identified at PICA, they will be protected until they no longer serve as roosts (e.g.  loss of exfoliating bark, cavities, blow-down, or decay).  As discovered, roost trees may be discreetly marked, as appropriate.  Timber harvest and disturbances will be prohibited within at least 300 ft of sites containing bats.  If necessary, exclusion zones or boundaries of roost clusters will be visibly marked to preclude disturbance (U.S. Army 1995).  Installation base maps will depict a 0.75-mile buffer zone around known roost trees or capture sites on post, as well as off post if within 0.75-miles.  Similarly, non-tree roost sites (and hibernacula) found on the installation, will be protected in like manner.  All trees meeting the criteria in prescriptions 3, 4, and 5 above in forest stands within 0.75-mile buffer zones will be retained.

7.       Canopy cover will be maintained at or above 60% in each forest stand after any forest management activities.  The percentage of canopy cover will be evaluated on an average stand basis, not as continuous cover.

8.       Minimize incremental or cumulative permanent loss of standing forest cover up to 7 percent or approximately 280 acres with up to 40 acres in riparian corridors.  A key objective is to minimize permanent loss of forest cover due to the installation’s proximity (within 5 miles) of New Jersey’s three known hibernacula (Kiser and Elliott 1996, Scherer pers.comm. 1999, USFWS 2000, Clawson 2000, USDA-FS 2000, Romme et al. 2002).

9.       Up to 40 acres of riparian corridor may be cut for mission activities. Tree cutting  within 150 ft of wetlands (other than the aforementioned 40 acres), including on both sides of perennial and intermittent streams will be limited to activities that maintain or improve the quality of IBAT habitat and are IAW other forest management prescriptions described in this ESMP.  PICA will engage in ESA Section 7 consultation with the USFWS NJFO before conducting tree-cutting activities in designated riparian corridors.  Most riparian areas on the installation consist of second-growth hardwood forests in moderately sloping or level brook corridors.

10.   Although controlled burning of woodlands has not been practiced at PICA, if this method of fuel and fire management is determined to be necessary and has a potential impact on the IBAT, PICA will engage in ESA Section 7 consultation with the USFWS NJFO prior to any action. For any roost trees, wild fire prevention measures will be taken.

11.   Pesticides will be applied IAW the prescriptions outlined in the IPMP at PICA (IPMP 2004).  During the IBAT Spring-Fall foraging and roosting seasons, any mosquito or forest pest spraying will comply with the guidance received from USFWS-NJFO     (USFWS 2004).  Only U.S. EPA approved pesticides will be used.

12.   Scope and schedule all anticipated projects well in advance of seasonal restrictions.  Additionally, since the activities later described in subsection 5.1.3 can be reasonably scheduled well in advance, these prescriptions (5.1.1 (1)-(9) herein) will apply similarly for any affected trees.

 

5.1.2          Pest Management

The primary IBAT concern related to pest management is the impact of pesticides on the prey resources at PICA.  Legally acceptable and scientifically based pesticide applications in support of pest management operations on the installation is set forth in the Integrated Pest Management Plan (IPMP) which is administered by the Pest Management Coordinator (PMC), presently a government contractor.

Pesticide applications mainly to be considered in relation to IBATs and their prey base at PICA are mosquito, forest pests (e.g. gypsy moth), and invasive (plant) species control.

Only herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides approved by EPA, USFWS, and the PICA Pest Management Coordinator (PMC) will be used at the installation, and the method and rate of each such chemical’s application will be consistent with provisions presented on the container label.  The PICA PMC will coordinate with USFWS to develop an approved list of pesticides for use at PICA.  In developing this list, consideration will be given to bioaccumulation potential, degradation half-life, and water solubility.  The management prescriptions presented below will be implemented to minimize the impact of pesticides on the IBAT.

General Application of Pesticides

1.   Pesticides (or herbicides) will be applied only after the use of other integrated pest management techniques have been considered and are deemed insufficient.

2.   Limited and routine application of registered pesticides is allowed as long as the application is performed IAW labels.

3.   Pesticides (or herbicides) will be applied by certified applicators and in strict accordance with product label directions as required by federal law.

4.   Pesticide application in gusty winds or when the wind speed exceeds 5 miles per hour will be avoided.

Aerial Application of Pesticides

1.       PICA will complete NEPA documentation on the impact of aerial application of pesticides should it become necessary for forest pest suppression.

2.       Any request for aerial application of pesticide will be submitted to the U.S. Army Environmental Command (AEC), by PICA, where an entomologist certified in aerial application determines approval or rejection of the request.

3.       If aerial application of pesticides is approved by AEC, the application will be conducted at least 300 ft away from known roost trees, through coordination with the NRM.

Ground Application of Pesticides

1.       Ground application of insecticides will follow the general guidance outlined above, as well as any limitations or constraints within the IPMP.

2.       Ground application of herbicides will be prohibited within 300 ft of known roost trees, roost buildings, or artificial roost structures, through coordination with the NRM.  Invasive plant species close to roost sites will be controlled or removed by mechanical methods and with minimal disturbance.

Mosquito and other Aerial Spraying

1.   For mosquito control a program of larvicides will be undertaken to the maximum practicable extent.

2.   If West Nile Virus monitoring indicates a human health risk condition exists on post, then the protocols necessitating adulticide use will be implemented IAW USFWS letter (2004).

3.   In areas of suboptimal bat foraging habitat (namely developed uplands near residences, security gates, or public gathering locations) spraying (fogging) may be conducted until dusk with Ultra Low Volume dispensers.

4.   Spraying or fogging at other portions of the installation must be curtailed 2 hours before sunset.


 

5.1.3     Construction and Demolition and Environmental Remediation

The primary IBAT management concerns related to these activities are potential alteration or disturbance of forest cover, and impairment of water quality in drainages.  Under this ESMP a major construction, demolition, or environmental remediation activity is one that may have an impact on the forested riparian or upland areas at PICA that are suitable for roosting sites or foraging habitat.

Construction and Demolition

Picatinny has a program of ongoing demolition of abandoned or obsolete facilities, as well as renovation and new construction.  These are addressed through appropriate NEPA documents (REC, EA, EIS).  Major construction and demolition activities include but are not limited to construction and demolition of dams, buildings, pipelines, and roads; and water resource developments or improvements.  The PICA NRM will determine the need for ESA Section 7 consultation with regard to such activities.  Standing Operating Procedures For:  Flashing/Decontamination To 5X Degree and Demolition of Contaminated Buildings outlines a process which takes into account possible use of abandoned buildings by bats and impacts to any nearby trees which could be affected by the heat, fire, or smoke associated with these burn events.

Environmental Remediation

Although environmental remediation, known as Installation Restoration Program at PICA, does not require specifically issued permits, compliance with most state and federal ENV statutes is expected by what are known as “permit equivalents” (in documentation).  Yet any activity that may potentially impact IBAT or not be in conformance with this ESMP will be subject to Section 7 consultation with the USFWS NJFO.

As mentioned previously in Section 5.1.1 (6), if any major construction, demolition, or environmental remediation projects are planned within 0.75 miles of known roost trees or roost structures.  PICA will engage in Section 7 consultation with the USFWS NJFO.

 

5.1.4          Leasing  of PICA Property

PICA will consult with USFWS to consider and resolve how IBATs will be protected in leased areas.  PICA has  leased portions of its property to public and private entities for use and partnerships synergistic to the installation mission.  A “Development Plan” is being considered for about 120 acres near the main entrance (Dave Banashefski pers.comm 2004).  Eventually a lease will turn over these acres to one or more private entities that will operate the land as lessees.  The land will still be owned by PICA  The management prescriptions detailed in this ESMP/EA will be referenced in all lease agreements.

 

5.1.5          Test Range and Operations

If any maternity roost trees discovered are located within 0.5 miles of existing test ranges and/or operations which are known to present a fire hazard or which have caused spot fires in the past, then a modification to any fire suppression plan will address protection of the roost site(s) during the summer season.

 

5.1.6     Training Exercises

PICA is not used intensively for training exercises.  Recurring, yet infrequent training exercises conducted at PICA involve small scale USMC (Marine) and U.S. Army reserve components, National Guard units and other Government agencies.  When such  training does occur, it is coordinated in advance and is conducted in designated areas of the installation.  Past training exercises have generally prohibited pyrotechnic devices, although small arms or charges using blanks has been allowed.  PICA police, security guards, force protection personnel, and fire personnel, also conduct various emergency response-training exercises, primarily in non-forested areas or along existing patrol roads in the woods.

The PICA NRM will determine whether any proposed training exercises may have a potential effect on the IBAT or IBAT habitat at PICA; and after PICA coordination, will engage in ESA Section 7 consultation with the USFWS Region 5 Pleasantville Field Office as necessary.

 

5.1.7     Hunting and Other Outdoor Recreation

Although hunting of deer, small game, and wild turkey is allowed on PICA property IAW state established seasons and game laws, impacts or interactions with bats would be negligible.  PICA allows controlled hunting of most game species for recreation, as well as to manage the population of white-tailed deer at the installation. Deer hunting with guns mostly occurs in December.  Nearly all small game hunting occurs after mid-November until mid-February.  Few if any gun hunters are afield during the summer (maternity) roosting period for the IBAT.  Furthermore, no night hunting (e.g. raccoon, coyote) of any sort is allowed on the installation.

Both Spring (mid-April to late-May) and Fall (late-October) turkey hunting seasons overlap with the Non-hibernation Season; Spring dispersal of the IBAT on PICA property, as well as Fall swarming nearby with possible transitory roosting on post.  Turkey hunters will be advised to exercise caution by shooting only (1) when their target is close to the ground (not in flight) and (2) preferably during daylight hours (after civil sunrise).  If maternity roost trees are discovered, turkey hunting will be excluded from an area at least 300 ft around the tree(s); or a portion of the Hunting Area (HA) may be closed for the season.

Other innocuous and non-noisy outdoor recreation activities, such as mushroom collecting or birdwatching, will be allowed.  However, individuals who engage in these activities will be advised to minimize activities in forest stands where roosting and foraging are known to occur.  Under the awareness program described in Section 5.2.5, hunters and other outdoor recreationists will be informed about the IBAT and how they can minimize disturbance.

 

5.1.8     Firewood Cutting

Although PICA has a fuelwood salvage program, harvesting standing timber to generate firewood does not occur.  Permits are issued to allow cutting and loading of firewood from established storage areas or designated temporary staging areas.  Because IBATs do not roost in downed trees (Tetra Tech 1999a), and permittees are not allowed to salvage wood from forest stands, the potential impact of firewood cutting and collection on the IBAT is negligible.

 

5.2        OTHER MANAGEMENT PRESCRIPTIONS

This section describes other management prescriptions that will be taken by PICA to protect the IBAT.  These prescriptions, which are not directly related to ongoing or future PICA activities, include monitoring the IBAT and its habitat, maintaining high water quality, protecting any roosts found in buildings, providing and protecting artificial roost structures, implementing an awareness program, and communicating with USFWS.

 

5.2.1     Monitoring of IBAT and Habitat

Research needs for the bat community include: identifying major foraging areas; identifying species and relative abundance; and locating roosting sites/hibernacula.

Frequent roost-switching, large home ranges, and changes in activity centers between years create challenges for detection, monitoring, and management of the IBAT (Kurta et al. 2002).  Wildlife biologists should initiate longterm studies that emphasize radiotracking individual bats over multiple seasons and years (Gumbert et al. 2002).

Monitoring the IBAT and understanding more about its summer habitat will be a priority at PICA.

Biological Surveys

Population monitoring requirements under AR 200-3 can be fulfilled only if IBAT biological surveys are scheduled on the installation.  Monitoring activities will include biological surveys to identify any active IBAT maternity roosts or new non-maternity roosts at PICA; long-term monitoring of IBAT foraging habitat; and identification of potential IBAT roost trees at the installation.

A biological survey that includes mist netting will be conducted at least once every 5 years to monitor IBAT activity at PICA.  Before each 5-year survey, the NRM will consult with USFWS to clarify the most up-to-date protocols, field techniques, technologies, and sampling biometrics available or recommended.  At a minimum, the following information for each bat captured will be consistently recorded:

  • Species
  • Capture location
  • Time of capture
  • Gender
  • Age class
  • Reproductive condition (lactating or pregnant), if applicable
  • Weight
  • Flight direction(s) (into net and away from release site)
  • Location of maternity roost site (if known)

Notwithstanding the analysis of Brack et al. (2002) that summer netting is consistently unproductive, and that cost of such work can exceed $210,000 per IBAT radio tracked, each biological survey will be conducted IAW USFWS mist netting guidelines (USFWS 1999) and will likely include use of radio-telemetry.  Mist netting is the primary sampling method and requires experienced and approved handlers, since collecting permits are usually required, especially for radio-telemetry work.

Small radiotransmitters are short-lived, and researchers may need to radiotrack the same bats multiple times before obtaining sufficient data to describe fidelity in a particular species (Gumbert et al. 2002).  According to Romme et al. (2002) spring and autumn tracking can be particularly vexing and bats difficult to locate.  Such studies should anticipate the need for aerial telemetry, and if possible, utilize more than three mobile receivers (Romme et al. 2002).  Somewhat offsetting the initial high investment of radio-tracking surveys is the prospect that Gumbert et al. (2002) point out; namely that as long as a roost is suitable, it is likely to be used in future tracking periods.

Electronic bat detectors are available and technology and computer software programs are progressing in discriminating some calls of bats to discern species identification.  Bat “call libraries” (frequencies and patterns) that have been established to develop the model are typical of animals that are flying in open areas (e.g., over fields or ponds and in open flyways); but types of calls that bats emit when flying near environmental clutter (e.g., vegetation or dense forest) are not well represented.  As Tibbels (2000) points out, structure of calls recorded in open areas may not be the same as structure of calls obtained in cluttered areas; therefore Britzke et al. (2002) recommend caution when using their model to identify bats in areas of structural complexity, such as the interior of forests.  At PICA there are few open areas (other than lakes or ponds), so bat detectors will be used mostly for preliminary field reconnaissance or roost site verification (presence/absence) rather than species identification.

Forest Inventories

Long-term monitoring of summer habitat conditions for the IBAT at PICA will be accomplished through collection of information on stocking levels of suitable and potential maternity roost trees and snag density in relation to the forest management prescriptions specified in Section 5.1.1.  These inventories will be conducted at least every 10 years as part of forest resource inventories.

N.B.  Although measuring size of trees within a stand is somewhat labor-intensive, this approach may have some utility in identification of potential maternity sites (Miller et al. 2002).

Alternatively, it is possible, in many areas, to estimate density of potential roost trees, based on forest inventories for the region. Such an approach requires development of a list of forest types and the likely density of suitable roost-sized trees in each type (Farmer et al. 2002).

As part of the forest resource inventories, information will be collected on snags with a dbh characteristic of primary and alternate maternity roost trees as specified in Section 3.4.1 (6 inches dbh or larger, depending on the size class used during the inventories).  The inventory will include evaluation of the following for individual snags:

  • Tree species
  • dbh
  • Total height
  • Cavity presence and location
  • % bark cover
  • Number of branches
  • Crown condition

This information will be used to categorize snags into the following five different stages of decay (Dingledine and Haufler 1983):

  • Stage 1—100% bark cover, many branches, crown intact
  • Stage 2—50 to 99% bark cover, fewer branches, crown intact
  • Stage 3—50 to 100% bark cover, few branches, crown broken
  • Stage 4—Less than 50% bark cover, few branches, crown broken

·         Stage 5—Zero% bark cover, no branches, crown broken

The number of snags per acre will also be recorded.  When analyzed in conjunction with data from biological surveys, long-term monitoring information will permit PICA to evaluate the effectiveness of this ESMP in meeting IBAT recovery goals

N.B.  PICA will ensure in its lease agreements that USFWS or contracted consulting biologists will be allowed access to forested and riparian areas, if necessary, to monitor IBAT activity after coordination with the Installation Commander and Lessee.

 

5.2.2     Protection of Water Quality

Water quality conservation practices already espoused in the INRMP for the entire installation includes, protection of riparian and stream habitats from degradation; and preserving forest cover along streams by maintaining bands of vegetation (closed canopy) at least 300 ft wide.

A riparian corridor on the installation is defined as natural cover within the jurisdictional wetland associated with a perennial or intermittent stream, plus a 150 ft transition zone, per NJDEP Freshwater Wetland Rules (2001), namely (N.J.A.C. 7:7A-2.4(b)2).

Based on (1) the importance of forest cover to protect IBAT habitat, (2) the limited forest management activities occurring at PICA, and (3) the fact that some PICA property has been leased, PICA will implement the following prescriptions:

  • Prohibit timber harvest and firewood cutting in riparian corridors except where catastrophic events such as fire, flooding, wind, or insect damage have resulted in degraded riparian conditions.
  • Prohibit or severely restrict earth moving activities and disturbance of natural vegetation within riparian corridors at PICA.
  • Limit any permanent loss of forest cover within riparian corridors to a goal of less than 40 acres. Avoid potential habitat and stream alteration unless neutral or beneficial to species.
  • Maintain wetland buffers to reduce sediments and delivery or transport of pollutants.
  • Allow beaver activity wherever possible if not causing undue flooding or maintenance of established storm water control structures or spillways.

These prescriptions will indirectly benefit the IBAT by protecting water quality through erosion and sedimentation prevention, preserving water conditions which support the insect fauna that serve as food for the IBAT, and thereby providing foraging and possibly roosting habitat.

 

5.2.3     Protection and Inspection of Bat Roosts in Buildings, Mines, or Caves

IAW SOP AR-XP-WO19 regarding demolition of buildings, inspections are made prior to burning and razing of structures.  If bat signs are evident, the NRM will be notified and a thorough survey and assessment of bat use will be made.  Trapping and identification of bats will also be performed if IBAT roosting is suspected.  Any bat roost suggesting site fidelity for a colony of bats, rather than for merely a handful of bats roosting temporarily will be protected until the bats (non-IBAT) may be relocated or the colony has vacated the building for the winter season.  If only a few (<10) non-IBAT individuals are involved, their roost spot(s) will be made uninhabitable (deconstructed) at some time when they are absent and before sunrise of the day of the scheduled burn and demolition.  A final inspection of the roost spot(s) will be made prior to ignition.

Similarly, if bat colonies are discovered in vacant or occupied buildings, the identity and size of the colony will be evaluated and protected until a plan for exclusion (and possibly relocation) can be formulated and implemented.  If a heretofore unknown mine or other natural site is discovered, it will be evaluated for its potential as a possible roost site, and protected if appropriate.

All known colonies, such as the large one in Building 3236; or any which may become established in specially constructed artificial bat roosts, will be inspected on at least a biennial basis to record a census count and check for presence of any IBATs.

 

5.2.4     Provision and Protection of Artificial Bat Roost Structures

Building 3236 is a long established summer roost site for up to 800 Little Brown Bats.  An IBAT was documented roosting inside this warehouse in the summer of 1997.  Any alterations to this building which could affect its use as an annual summer roost will require consultation with the USFWS.  To accommodate the several hundreds of bats that may be displaced from this present roost, bat condominiums in the near vicinity are recommended.  Siting of any future bat condominium or bat boxes will be coordinated through the USFWS, as well as with PICA master planning personnel, Residential Communities Initiative (RCI) contractors, or any other lessees in proximity to possible site locations.  Building 3236 will remain as a local roost site, until an adequate plan for constructing and verifying occupancy of alternate artificial bat roost(s) is accomplished.  All tenants using this warehouse will be advised of the significance of this structure for the local bat population, including possible IBATs.

If an artificial bat roost is conceived and constructed or installed, due consideration will be given to methods of deterring any possible vandalism, attractiveness of the structure in the local setting, and possible accessibility for census and maintenance purposes.  Any other bat boxes or condominiums will be designed and installed with the same considerations in mind.

 

5.2.5          Implementation of Employee and Community Awareness Program

PICA will promote awareness of the presence and status of the IBAT at the installation as well as the regulatory requirements driving its protection by developing an informational brochure or by using available electronic media or forums on post.  The PICA NRM will be responsible for distributing the information to PICA military residents, employees, tenant organizations, government contractors, private developers or lessees, hunters, or other individuals whose activities may impact IBAT roost sites or foraging areas.

The PICA NRM will also engage in outreach efforts focusing on the surrounding community and will explore opportunities to participate in regional conservation efforts.  These activities are based on the premise that stakeholders around the installation, such as area landowners, must also practice conservation to ensure successful long-term recovery and protection of the IBAT.  For example, roost trees near Norvell, MI are on property controlled by 11 different entities, and when identifiable foraging areas are also considered (Murray 1999), the number of landowners involved with this one summer colony increases to over 35.  Monitoring of maternity colonies, management of summer habitat, and recovery of the IBAT can only be achieved by educating the general public and obtaining cooperation from numerous private landowners (Kurta et al. 2002).

As appropriate, community awareness of the species and its habitat will be promoted through information exchange and interaction with local schools, community events, and through publication of articles in local newspapers.  Also, PICA will support and encourage similar stewardship actions and cooperative efforts by other public land managers outside the installation, especially those within a 5-mile radius of known hibernacula.

To protect the IBAT, the exact locations of IBAT foraging and roosting sites at PICA or the names of the mines used as hibernacula will not be specified in the informational media described above or during any associated outreach programs.

As Belwood (2002) pointed out, an awareness program should also address rabies and bats per the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (1999).  Rabies prophylaxis would be a standard work safety requirement for any researchers on post.

 

5.2.6     Communication with USFWS

The PICA NRM will update, in coordination with PICA staff,  USFWS on the status of the IBAT at the installation by reporting findings from species and habitat monitoring activities to the USFWS NJFO.  As discussed in Section 5.1, PICA will also engage in ESA Section 7 consultation with the USFWS NJFO when necessary.  Currently, ongoing or anticipated ESA Section 7 consultations involve the following matters:

  • INRMP updating scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2006
  • Anticipated development and leasing of property, particularly near the main entrance.

6.0        ESMP IMPLEMENTATION

This section describes how PICA will implement the ESMP. Specifically, this section describes the process of complying with the ESMP portion of this document; and describes the review process for the ESMP.

 

6.1        COMPLIANCE AND REVIEW

To evaluate PICA compliance with this ESMP and the effectiveness of the ESMP itself, the PICA NRM will complete an annual compliance checklist.  This checklist addresses the management prescriptions presented in Section 5.0.  The checklist, which is presented in Appendix C, is the primary tool used in assessing installation compliance with the ESMP.

The PICA NRM will be responsible for completing the checklist during the fourth quarter of each calendar year.  The PICA Environmental Quality Control Committee (EQCC) will review the ESMP compliance checklist.  The PICA Installation Commander (or Garrison Commander) will then approve and sign the ESMP compliance checklist and forward it to IMCOM-NERO by December 31.

If the ESMP compliance checklist concludes that PICA is not in full compliance with the ESMP or that the ESMP is not effective in meeting installation conservation goals, the NRM will discuss the deficiencies with the EQCC and make recommendations for resolving them.  The PICA NRM will review the IBAT ESMP annually and revise it as necessary to meet conservation goals.  This review will be conducted concurrently with the preparation of the ESMP compliance checklist.

The ESMP will be subject to major revision every 5 years in conjunction with major revisions to the PICA INRMP.  If significant information becomes available during the 5-year period, the ESMP will be rewritten; otherwise, it will be continually revised through the annual updating process.

Annual revisions of a substantive nature or shifts in programmatic implementation will be coordinated with both USFWS and NJDFW ENSP, as will major rewrites of the ESMP.

ESMP/EA will also be revised upon issuance of the new IBAT recovery plan, as appropriate.

 

6.2        TIME, COSTS, AND PERSONNEL

Table 5 provides estimates of the time, costs, and personnel needed to implement the management prescriptions described in Section 5.0.  The PICA Installation Commander (and Garrison Commander) is responsible for ensuring that adequate professional staff and funds are provided for these management prescriptions.  The total estimated cost of conservation actions over the first 5 years of this ESMP is presented in Table 6.

 


TABLE 5

ESTIMATED LEVEL OF EFFORT AND COST BY MANAGEMENT PRESCRIPTION

Prescription category Annual level of effort required Cost Frequency

PRESCRIPTION CATEGORY

AnnuAL LEVEL OF EFFORT (LOE) required

COST

Frequency

Forest Management

Forest management prescriptions will largely become integrated into PICA’s forestry management program.

$0

N/A

(Bat Detectors)

An initial one-time cost will be for the purchase of bat detector(s) for roost exit or pre-dawn counts.

$3,000

($150-$2,000 ea)

1x / 5yrs

(Forest Stand Surveys)

Long-term monitoring of summer habitat conditions will become part of PICA’s forest management program.  LOE to collection and compile snag density counts, condition assessment, and to map known or likely roost trees / sites will be necessary every other year.

$12,000

($6,000 x ea)

2x / 5yrs

Construction and Demolition                                      (ESA consultation)

LOE to conduct Section 7 consultation / coordination for proposed construction and demolition activities will likely average two occurrences per year.

$0 - $1,000

($500 x ea)

2x / yr

Environmental Remediation                                         (ESA consultation)

LOE to conduct Section 7 consultation / coordination for proposed environmental remediation activities may average once every other year.

$0 - $1,000

($500 x ea)

2x / 5yrs

Leasing PICA property                           (ESA consultation)

Additional LOE to conduct Section 7 consultation for proposed leasing activities which may occur once in 5 years.

$0 - $500

($500 x ea)

1x / 5yrs

Training exercises

Prescriptions associated with training exercises are not expected to require additional LOE.

$0

N/A

Hunting and other outdoor recreation

Hunting and other outdoor recreation prescriptions are not expected to require additional LOE beyond that associated with routine natural resource management activities.

$0

N/A

Firewood cutting

Firewood cutting prescriptions are not expected to require additional LOE beyond that associated with routine natural resource management activities.

$0

N/A

Monitoring of IBAT population and habitat (recon roosting and foraging)

Costs and LOE associated with contracting a comprehensive (70 day) biological survey once every 5 years will be required.

$95,000

1x / 5yrs

(Monitor known roosts – tree or box)

LOE to inspect roosts and note findings will be an annual task

$2,000

1x / yr

Implementation of Awareness program                                                                       (Picatinny personnel)

Notices, announcements, training, and presentations to work force and residents on post will occur as part of NRM overall duties.

$0

1x / yr             (or as needed)

              (brochures, video, webpage)

An initial one-time cost will be to develop and reproduce an informational brochure and/or electronic media presentation.

$15,000

1x / 5yrs

         (external community relations)

Additional LOE will be required for activities associated with outreach programs presented offsite; interagency and peer information exchange; and local media articles.

$1,200

($300 x ea)

4x / 5yrs

Protection of water quality

Protection of water quality will become part of PICA’s routine natural resource management activities.

$0

N/A

Provide and maintain artificial roosts

Additional LOE and periodic costs for construction or purchase of prefabricated bat boxes or condominiums and site installation and maintenance will be required.

$3,000

($250-$2,500 ea)

2x / 5yrs

Communication with USFWS and other agencies    (ESA consultation)

Additional LOE may be required for unanticipated activities requiring Section 7 consultation perhaps once in 5 years.

$0 - $500

($500 x ea)

1x / 5 yrs

ESMP/EA compliance and updating

Additional LOE will be required for NRM to complete the ESMP annual compliance checklist and minor updates to the ESMP.

$500

1x / yr

 

Additional LOE will be required to complete major revisions to the ESMP and associated EA.

$2000

1x / 5yrs           (or as required)

 

N/A= Not Applicable

 


TABLE 6

ESTIMATED OVERALL COST OF CONSERVATION ACTIONS

Fiscal year Routine/Periodic costs Special project costs Estimated annual costs

Fiscal Year

Routine / Periodic Costs

Special Projects Costs

Estimated Annual Cost

2006

4,000

*107,000

$111,000

2007

4,000

9,000

$13,000

2008

4,000

4,000

$8,000

2009

4,000

4,000

$8,000

2010

4,000

*100,000

$104,000

5-Year Total

20,000

224,000

244,000

 

*          Includes costs associated with biological survey and major ESMP/EA revision

 


7.0        ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

This section meets the EA requirement under NEPA. Specifically, this section presents a description of the purpose and need for the proposed action:  the alternatives considered, including the “no action” alternative and the proposed alternative; the cumulative effects of ESMP implementation; and the conclusions of this EA. A FNSI is included in Appendix D. Details about the affected environment at PICA are presented in Section 2.2 and in PICA’s INRMP (PICA 2001).

 

7.1        PURPOSE AND NEED FOR THE PROPOSED ACTION

NEPA requires federal agencies to determine whether a proposed action is a “major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment” (42 U.S. Code 4332). An EA is normally required for activities, such as preparation of an ESMP, that may affect any federal or state listed or proposed threatened or endangered species (32 CFR 651.41 (e); AR 200-3, paragraph 11-6(f)).  An EIS may be required if an ESMP will significantly affect a listed or proposed species, a critical or proposed critical habitat, or the human environment. Habitat that is considered “critical” is described in the September 24, 1976, Federal Register as habitat essential to the conservation of the species and requiring special management considerations or protection. This EA has been developed IAW NEPA and 32 CFR 651.41 (e) to determine whether the ESMP for the IBAT proposed by PICA poses significant environmental impacts.

 

7.2        ALTERNATIVES CONSIDERED

This section presents an evaluation of the two alternatives considered for this EA:  the “no action” alternative and the proposed alternative of ESMP implementation.

 

7.2.1     “No Action” Alternative

“No action” was also considered as an alternative to ESMP implementation. The “no action” alternative reflects the current state of activity at the installation, which involves some generic conservation and best management practices, and interim policies for IBATs, yet no approved, prescriptive, or funded actions specifically designed for IBAT recovery.  This alternative is not feasible because it violates AR 200-3, which requires U.S. Army installations to develop and implement ESMPs in order to protect and conserve listed and proposed threatened and endangered species and critical habitat in order to comply with the ESA. In addition, the IBAT population at PICA may be adversely impacted over the long term if appropriate protection and conservation measures are not implemented at the installation.  For example, the IBAT population at PICA could be impacted by loss of suitable roosting and foraging habitat.

 

7.2.2     Proposed Alternative

To meet requirements set forth in AR 200-3, the proposed alternative is implementation of this ESMP for the IBAT, which establishes five conservation goals for PICA:

·         Conserve existing foraging and (non-maternity) roosting habitat at PICA.

·         Identify and conserve potential IBAT summer maternity roosting; as well as non-maternity roosting habitat at PICA

·         Estimate the IBAT population at PICA and monitor trends periodically.

·         Educate individuals who have a potential impact on the IBAT regarding the species and its presence at PICA and local mines (including possible lessees on PICA property).

·         Communicate with USFWS regarding the status of the IBAT at PICA and in the local area.

These goals recognize the ecosystem elements present at PICA that support the IBAT. The ESMP also presents management prescriptions that are important to the local IBAT population and potentially to the long-term survival of the species. These management prescriptions are described in detail in Section 5.0; and were developed in cooperation with the local USFWS and NJDEP offices, as well as Picatinny Master Planning Office(s).

Compliance with the ESMP supports applicable conservation goals outlined in the USFWS IBAT recovery plan (USFWS 1983).  The general actions and impacts associated with the proposed alternative are presented in Table 7. These actions are consistent with the conservation goals listed above. Potential impacts would primarily be on ecological and economic conditions.

The ESMP also provides for PICA’s NRM engaging in ESA Section 7 consultation with the USFWS NJFO as necessary with regard to activities outside the scope of the management prescriptions.

Although compliance with this ESMP will contribute to the success of the specific IBAT population at PICA, as well as the overall recovery of the species, it is important to consider that certain negative impacts may occur that are beyond the control of the installation.  For example, harm to the population may be caused at the hibernacula, during spring or fall migration, or at the installation by activities on surrounding properties.

 


TABLE 7

PROPOSED ACTIONS AND EXPECTED IMPACTS OF THE PROPOSED ALTERNATIVE

Proposed actions Expected impacts

TABLE 7 (Continued)

 PROPOSED ACTIONS AND EXPECTED IMPACTS OF THE PROPOSED ALTERNATIVE

PROPOSED ACTIONS

EXPECTED 1MPACTS

Incorporate the following IBAT habitat management prescriptions into existing PICA activities to avoid or minimize impacts on the IBAT:

Forest Management (see Section 5.1.1).

• Restrict / Prohibit tree trimming or cutting from 1 APR – 15 NOV, except when absolutely necessary.  Consult with USFWS NJFO as appropriate.

Forest management will promote a diversity of age and size classes with emphasis on retention of adequate stocks of large, mature and overmature trees in each stand; and canopy cover maintained at ≥ 60%.  Shagbark Hickory, Sugar Maple, White Oak, and Black Locust will be favored and retained. 

• Sufficient numbers and sizes of suitable snag trees will be retained for roosting habitat.

• Known roost sites (trees or structures) will be protected, as well as potential roost trees within 0.75-mile radius of known roosts.

Minimize incremental or cumulative permanent loss of forest cover over entire installation.  A key objective is no permanent loss (or up to 7%) of forest cover.

 

• Implementation of the ESMP is not expected to result in significant impacts on the environment.

• Implementation of the ESMP is not expected to adversely affect IBAT habitat at PICA.

• Beneficial impacts are expected to occur as a result of protection of suitable roost trees and prudent management of forest habitats.

• In addition to preserving favorable IBAT habitat, conservation of vegetative cover and water quality in the forested riparian areas are expected to benefit other wildlife.

 

 

 

Pest Management (see Section 5.1.2).

• Only herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides approved by EPA, USFWS, and the PICA Pest Management Coordinator (PMC) will be used at the installation.

• During the IBAT Spring-Fall foraging and roosting seasons, any mosquito or forest pest spraying will comply with the guidance received from USFWS after consultation.

• If aerial application of pesticides is approved by AEC, the application will be conducted at least 300 ft away from known roost trees.

• For mosquitoes an aggressive program of larviciding will be undertaken to the maximum practicable extent.  If WNV monitoring indicates a health risk condition exists on post, then the protocols for adulticide (fogging) will be implemented IAW USWFS-NJFO recommendations.

• Ground application of herbicides will be prohibited within 300 ft of known roost trees, roost buildings, or artificial roost structures.

 

• Implementation of these and other Pest Management practices IAW IPMP should limit any exposures / risks to all crepuscular and nocturnal bats, including the IBAT.

• Consultation and coordination with USFWS will balance human health risks from insect vectors with appropriate safeguards to local bat populations.

Construction, Demolition, and Environmental Remediation (see Section 5.1.3).

• RECs / EAs / SOPs are reviewed routinely by NRM for any impacts to trees on post.

 • Environmental Restoration Program “permit equivalents” are reviewed by NRM for any impacts to trees on post.

• PICA will always engage in Section 7 consultation with the USFWS NJFO if any major construction, demolition, or environmental remediation projects are planned within 0.75 miles of known roost sites.

N.B.  PICA will pursue Section 7 consultation with the USFWS NJFO if any environmental assessment for any proposed project poses a possibility for adverse effects to the IBAT.

• Restrictions on construction. Demolition, and environmental remediation activities are not expected to result in significant impacts on human health.

• Sufficient review procedures and precautions are in place to prevent impacts to IBATs.

• Tree trimming and cutting will be proactively scheduled in winter months.

Leasing of PICA Property (see Section 5.1.4).

• Reference management prescriptions detailed in this ESMP/EA in lease agreements.

 

• Any leasing of PICA property is not expected to result in significant impacts on the IBAT or human health.

 

Training Exercises, Hunting and Firewood Programs (see Sections 5.1.5, 5.1.6, and 5.1.7).

• Routine limitations and controls preclude impacts to IBATs on post.

 

OTHER MANAGEMENT ACTIVITIES

Implement an IBAT population and habitat-monitoring program at PICA (see Section 5.2.1).

• Identify major foraging areas; relative abundance; and locate roosting sites/hibernacula.

• Monitoring the IBAT and understanding more about its summer habitat will be the top priority at PICA.

• Biological Surveys:  Monitoring activities will include biological surveys to identify any active IBAT maternity roosts or new non-maternity roosts at PICA; long-term monitoring of IBAT foraging habitat; and identification of potential IBAT roost trees at the installation.

• A biological survey that includes mist netting will be conducted at least once every 5 years.  Surveyor/biologist must have NJ Scientific Collecting Permit for IBATs, and may need similar authorization via USFWS.

Forest Inventories:  These inventories will be conducted at least every 10 years as part of forest resource inventories.

 

 

• Population monitoring activities, including mist netting and bat capture will be conducted in strict accordance with applicable federal and state regulations for threatened and endangered species. These activities are not expected to result in significant adverse impacts on the IBAT or other species.

• Habitat monitoring activities will be nonintrusive and therefore are not expected to have significant impacts on the environment.

• Minor beneficial impacts may be realized as additional scientific data on the IBAT is gathered during monitoring.

Incorporate the following IBAT management practices into the existing water quality protection program at PICA (see Section 5.2.2):

• Water quality conservation practices already espoused in the INRMP for the entire installation includes, protection of riparian and stream habitats from degradation; and preserving forest cover along streams by maintaining bands of vegetation (closed canopy) at least 300 ft wide.

• Prohibit or severely restrict earth moving activities and disturbance of natural vegetation within riparian corridors at PICA.

• Prohibit timber harvest and firewood cutting in riparian corridors except where catastrophic events such as fire, flooding, wind, or insect damage have resulted in degraded riparian conditions.

  • Prohibit or severely restrict earth moving activities and disturbance of natural vegetation within riparian corridors at PICA.
  • Limit any permanent loss of forest cover within riparian corridors to a goal of less than 40 acres. Avoid potential habitat and stream alteration unless neutral or beneficial to species.
  • Maintain wetland buffers to reduce sediments and delivery or transport of pollutants.
  • Allow beaver activity wherever possible if not causing undue flooding or maintenance of established storm water control structures or spillways.

• Avoid potential habitat and stream alteration unless neutral or beneficial to species.

• Maintain wetland buffers to reduce sediments and delivery or transport of pollutants.

• Allow beaver activity wherever possible if not causing undue flooding or maintenance of established storm water control structures or spillways.

• Up to 40 acres of riparian corridor may be cut for mission activities. Tree cutting  within 150 ft of wetlands (other than the aforementioned 40 acres), including on both sides of perennial and intermittent streams will be limited to activities that maintain or improve the quality of IBAT habitat and are IAW other forest management prescriptions described in this ESMP. 

PICA will engage in ESA Section 7 consultation with the USFWS NJFO before conducting tree-cutting activities in designated riparian corridors.

• Prohibit activities that may impair the wetlands created by beaver dams.  Retain and maintain beaver dams when possible.

Beneficial impacts are expected to occur as a result of protection of Riparian Corridors and water quality.

• In addition to preserving favorable IBAT habitat, conservation of the natural vegetation and water quality in the forested riparian areas are expected to benefit other wildlife.

• Sedimentation and erosion will be prevented or minimized.

• Maintaining favorable instream conditions should assure continuing reproduction and recharge of the insect prey base.

 

• These prescriptions will indirectly benefit the IBAT by protecting water quality through erosion and sedimentation prevention, preserving water conditions which support the insect fauna that serve as food for the IBAT, and thereby providing foraging and possibly roosting habitat.

• Beaver and associated wetland wildlife benefit from this animal induced and created wetlands, and moreover drowned trees eventually supply numerous roost sites over time.

Protect all non-tree IBAT roosts on post. (see Sections 5.2.3 and 5.2.4):

• Protect and Inspect all Bat Roosts in Buildings, Mines, or Caves.  Provide protection for caves, mines, and abandoned buildings that might be discovered as roost sites for bats.

Provide and Protect all Artificial Bat Roost Structures as appropriate.  Develop ways to deter human visitation or vandalism to bat boxes or condominiums, which may be erected.

 

• Beneficial impacts are expected as a result of providing new and more summer bat roosting options and capacity.

• Reduced rates of occupancy by bats in habitable quarters or buildings.

 

Implement an awareness program (see Section 5.2.5)

Implementation of Employee and Community Awareness Program

• An informational brochure or by using available electronic media or forums on post.

• The PICA NRM will also engage in outreach efforts, including news releases or articles in local newspapers.

• Support and encourage similar stewardship actions and cooperative efforts by other public land managers outside the installation, especially those within a 5 mile radius of known hibernacula.

 

• Beneficial impacts are expected because the educational program is expected to promote regional awareness and conservation of the IBAT and its roosting and foraging habitat.

Communicate with the USFWS NJFO and other agencies or organizations, including NJDFW ENSP, about the local and overall status of the IBAT population (see Section 5.2.6).

 

• Beneficial impacts are expected because PICA, USFWS, NJDFW ENSP, and other organizations, will be kept informed of the status of the IBAT at PICA and the surrounding areas. The joint findings will provide more data on the species and its range and contribute to recovery plan efforts.

 

 

 

 

 


7.3        CUMULATIVE EFFECTS

A cumulative effect in the context of endangered species management is defined as an effect on the environment that results from the incremental effect of a proposed action when added to other past present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions, regardless of what agency or person undertakes such actions. Cumulative effects can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions occurring locally or regionally over a period of time.  Implementation of the ESMP would result in the following cumulative effects:

  • An environmental strategy for PICA that complies with the requirements of AR 200-3.
  • Protection of the IBAT and its habitat.
  • Improvement and refinement to existing natural resource management at the installation.

The prescriptions presented in the ESMP collectively aim to simultaneously manage existing PICA activities while avoiding or minimizing impacts to the IBAT.

 

7.4        CONCLUSIONS

Based on this EA, implementation of the management prescriptions presented in the ESMP portion of this ESMP/EA will not:  (1) adversely impact the quality of the environment at PICA or (2) result in other significant environmental impacts that require preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement under 32 CFR 651.41 (e).  The ESMP also meets the requirements of AR 200-3 by presenting management prescriptions that aim to protect and conserve the endangered IBAT in order to comply with the ESA.  This ESMP/EA represents the U.S. Army’s commitment to IBAT conservation.  Beneficial impacts of implementing the management prescriptions include preservation of favorable IBAT habitat, conservation of water quality, gathering of additional scientific data on the IBAT during monitoring, sharing of information among all responsible and interested parties, and promotion of regional awareness about the IBAT and its roosting and foraging habitat.

*  A Finding of No Significant Impact is hereby prepared to document this finding.

 


8.0        REFERENCES

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