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Safe Harbor Agreement - Restoration Activities for the Karner Blue Butterfly in the West Gary, Indiana Recovery Unit
Set of Findings
DESCRIPTION OF PROPOSAL
The Nature Conservancy has submitted a SHA to address the regional needs of Karner Blue Butterfly (Kbb) by working with individual landowners to develop site-specific restoration and management plans for a variety of properties. The SHA would provide a mechanism for The Nature Conservancy to address the central problem thwarting development and implementation of conservation strategies in the West Gary Recovery Unit (WGRU), specifically ecological fragmentation combined with complex land ownership and land use patterns. In order to establish a viable metapopulation The Nature Conservancy, through the SHA, would: a) maximize Kbb habitat in protected natural areas b) create supplemental habitat within dispersal range of existing natural areas, and c ) plan and implement strategic restorations to enhance ecological connectivity between natural areas, and d ) capture, ship, house, feed, breed, rear larvae, overwinter, release, and monitor Kbb.
The Nature Conservancy seeks an Enhancement of Survival Permit (ESP) for the Kbb in conjunction with habitat management and restoration on TNC owned property and on property that would be enrolled under Certificates of Inclusion to the SHA within the WGRU in Lake County, Indiana. The project area encompasses approximately 2 ,847 acres of which approximately 650 acres comprise potentially suitable Kbb habitat. The majority of the area is high-density urban development th t has no realistic potential as habitat. The Nature Conservancy's activities involve habitat maintenance and restoration on Core Areas where suitable Kbb habitat and in some cases butterflies currently exist and Satellite Habitat ites, which currently have a baseline of zero. The Nature Conservancy worked closely w ith the Bloomington, Indiana, Field Office to develop their SHA.
A SHA submitted in accordance with the regulations at 50 CFR Part 17. 22(c ) (2) must meet certain issuance riteria. Following is an analysis f the adequacy of The Nature Conservancy's SHA in meeting these criteria.
II. ENHANCEMENT OF SURVIVAL PERMIT ISSUANCE CRITERIA - ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
1. The taking will be incidental and in accordance with the terms of the SHA. The Service finds that the proposed take of Kbb will be incidental to otherwise lawful activities. Landowners would be permitted to take Kbb incidental to otherwise lawful future land use actions, provided they maintain the Kbb baseline responsibilities that existed at the time they agreed to participate in the SHA.
2. As a prerequisite to enrolling property under this Agreement, each non-federal and owner must show that the enrollment of their property would result in a net conservation benefit for Kbb. TNC will identify management actions that will be undertaken to accomplish the expected net conservation benefit to the Kbb, describe where and when those benefits would be achieved, and document the agreed-upon time frames these management actions will remain in effect to achieve the anticipated net conservation benefit(s), per the terms of the SHA and ESP.
3. The ESA's legislative history establishes the intent of Congress that this issuance criteria be identical to a regulatory finding of no "jeopardy" under section 7(a)(2) (see 50 CFR §402.03). As a result, issuance of this section1 0(a)(1)(A)E SP was reviewed by the Service under section 7 of the ESA and a Biological Opinion was prepared. In the biological opinion, which is attached here to and incorporated hereinby reference, the Service concluded that issuance of the ESP is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the Kbb. Implementation of the terms of the SHA will be consistent with applicable Federal, State, and Tribal laws and regulations.
4. The Service and The Natural Conservancy have ensured, and will continue to ensure that the SHA and the actions covered in the SHA are consistent with applicable Federal, State, local, and Tribal laws and regulations. Implementation of the terms of the SHA will not be in conflict with any ongoing conservation or recovery programs for listed species covered by the permit.
5. The Service and The Natural Conservancy have ensured and will continue to ensure that the terms of the Agreement will not be in conflict with any ongoing conservation or recovery programs for the Kbb. The Applicant has shown capability for and commitment to implementing all of the terms of the SUA.
6. The Natural Conservancy is committed and capable to support the implementation of the SHA. At present, there is dedicated funding for the implementation of this program, and personnel within The Natural Conservancy have extensive experience with Kbb management. The Service believes that the Applicant will sufficiently manage implementation of the SHA.
III. GENERAL CRITERIA AND DISQUALIFYING FACTORS - ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
The Service has no evidence that the permit application should be denied on the basis of criteria and conditions set forth in 50 CFR § 13.21(b)-(c).
IV. PUBLIC COMMENTS
In responseto the Septembe2r 0, 2005,F ederalR egisterN otice, the Servicer eceivedo nep ublic
comment as follows:
"One issue o f concern i s that the draft agreement doesn't describe t he process t hrough w hich properties will be included under TNC is incidental take permit, nor does it require any USFWS review of proposed in clusions, o r define a minimum set of actions t hat will be taken o n any or all properties to be included." "One other minor concern is that Section 8 regarding the assurances provided by the Incidental Take Permit. It is clear that the SHA and permit provide TNC with incidenta lt ake authority, b ut nowhere i n the document is it clear t hat landowners e nrolling in the program w ould receive s imilar assurances."
In responseto the above c omment, t he Service a mended th e draft documents to include the following language change (see s ection(s) 3 and 8 in the SHA):
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be given an opportunity to review proposed enrollments of propoerty and if TNC receivs no comments from USFWS within 10 working days, TNC will proceed with enrolling the identified property through a Certificate of Inclusion."
Provided t hat such t ake is consistent with maintaining t he baseline c onditions i dentified in Part 5 hereof, t he Section 1O(a)(I)(A) permit referenced in Part 6 shall "authorize he Conservancy and landowners enrolled through Certificates of Inclusion" to take the covered s pecies in cidental t o otherwise lawful activities.
V. RECOMMENDA TIONS ON ISSUANCE OF PERMIT
Based on our findings with respect to the ESP application, SHA, EA, and Biological Opinion, the issuance of a Section 10(a)(1)(A) ESP to TNC is recommended.
Last updated: October 24, 2012