The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, Division of Forestry announce entering into an agreement to promote the survival, conservation, and recovery of the federally endangered Indiana bat on state forests within the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

The Conservation Memorandum of Agreement provides Kentucky and the Service with a streamlined and programmatic approach to evaluating potential impacts and conservation benefits to the Indiana bat that will result from specific forest management activities occurring on state forests. It also will measure and track the benefits to Indiana bat recovery that are achieved through implementation of those activities.

Some of these recovery benefits include:

  • improving Indiana bat summer maternity habitat and fall swarming habitat;
  • focusing new state forest acquisitions in areas of known Indiana bat habitat, and
  • maintaining the condition of potential and occupied Indiana bat habitat on state forests so that the habitat can be utilized by the bats.

“This is a major advancement for Indiana bats and their habitats in Kentucky,” said Lee Andrews, supervisor of the Service’s Kentucky Field Office.  “Under this agreement, we know that more than 43,000 acres of state forest lands will be managed in a way that is beneficial to this endangered species, especially the state forests that are known to contain Indiana bats.  We greatly appreciate the work that Director MacSwords and her staff at the Kentucky Division of Forestry has put into this effort and hope that our collaboration will continue to increase.”

Development of this Indiana bat Conservation Memorandum of Agreement began in 2009 and involved intensive coordination and cooperation between the two agencies.  In the agreement the Service and KDF developed a set of avoidance and minimization measures to be implemented in conjunction with the covered forest management activities.  These measures not only reduce potential negative impacts to the Indiana bat but also provide them tangible conservation benefits through improved habitat conditions.

“We are pleased with our agreement with the Service because it provides certainty in our forest management operations relative to the Indiana bat and Endangered Species Act compliance,” said Leah MacSwords, Director of Kentucky Division of Forestry.  “We’re also happy that Kentucky’s State Forest System can contribute to the long-term survival and recovery of the Indiana bat.”

The agreement promotes forest habitat for the Indiana bat through timber stand improvement practices such as mid-story removal.  This will not only improve foraging conditions for the bat, it will ensure that suitable roosting trees are left following forest management activities.

The Kentucky Division of Forestry manages 10 Kentucky State Forests containing more than 43,000 acres.  Indiana bats are known to occur on at least five of these forests – Big Rivers, Green River, Kentenia, Kentucky Ridge, and Tygarts State Forests.

These forests provide important habitat for the Indiana bat across the Commonwealth.  In particular, Tygarts State Forest provides important Indiana bat fall swarming and winter (hibernaculum) habitat for Kentucky’s largest hibernating population of Indiana bats.

The Indiana bat was one of the first 79 species listed as endangered species in 1967.  In the summer months, the species can be found living in forests in all or parts of 20 states in the east and central U.S.; in the fall, it migrates to its hibernacula (i.e., caves and underground mines) where it hibernates in the winter months and then emerges again in the spring to migrate back to its summer habitat.  In 2011, the Indiana bat’s population was estimated at 424,000 individuals, with approximately 70,000, or nearly 14 percent, occurring in Kentucky.

Copies of the agreement can be obtained from either agency.  KDF’s main office is located at 627 Comanche Trail, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601 and the state forest program coordinator can be reached at 502-564-4496, or at the Service’s web site at : http://www.fws.gov/frankfort/, or by contacting biologist Jennifer Garland at 502-695-0468, ext 115, e-mail Jennifer_Garland@fws.gov, or mail her at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 330 West Broadway, Room 265, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601.

The Kentucky Division of Forestry, headquartered in Frankfort, manages nine district offices with forestry staff assigned to every county in Kentucky for the purpose of providing services to the citizens of the Commonwealth.  The agency’s mission is to protect and enhance Kentucky’s forest resources through a public informed of the environmental, social and economic importance of forests.

Logo courtesy U.S Fish and Wildlife Service

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