[Federal Register: February 5, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 24)]
[Page 5775-5776]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Fish and Wildlife Service
[I.D. 012299C]

Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement 
Regarding Proposed Issuance of an Incidental Take Permit to Crown 
Pacific for Forest Management and Timber Harvest in Whatcom and Skagit 
Counties, Washington

AGENCIES: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration, Commerce; Fish and Wildlife Service 
(FWS), Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, this notice 
advises the public that NMFS and FWS (the Services) intend to prepare 
an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) related to the proposed 
approval of a Habitat Conservation Plan (Plan) and an issuance of an 
incidental take permit (Permit) to take endangered and threatened 
species in accordance with the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act). The Permit applicant is Crown Pacific, Ltd., and the 
application is related to forest management and timber harvest on a 
portion of the Hamilton Tree Farm located in Whatcom and Skagit 
Counties, Washington.
    Crown Pacific intends to request a Permit for the northern spotted 
owl (Strix occidentalis), marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus), 
gray wolf (Canis lupus), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), bald 
eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), and the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos). 
It may also request a permit for 22 currently unlisted species of 
concern (including anadromous and resident fish), should these species 
be listed under the Act in the future.
    The Services are furnishing this notice in order to advise other 
agencies and the public of our intentions and to announce that a draft 
EIS is expected to be available for public review and comment during 
the first quarter of 1999.

ADDRESSES: Address comments and requests for information to: Brian 
Bogaczyk, Fish and Wildlife Service, 510 Desmond Drive, SE, Suite 102, 
Lacey, Washington 98503, telephone (360) 753-5824; or Matt Longenbaugh, 
National Marine Fisheries Service, 510 Desmond Drive, SE, Suite 103, 
Lacey, Washington 98503, telephone (360) 753-7761.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Crown Pacific, Ltd., owns and manages the 
Hamilton Tree Farm, located in Whatcom and Skagit Counties, Washington. 
The proposed Plan area is composed of several parcels of the Hamilton 
Tree Farm, totaling 84,664 acres, and is located north and south of 
State Highway 20, roughly between Sedro-Woolley and Marblemount, 
Washington. Management activities on the tree farm include forest 
management and timber harvest. A portion of the proposed Plan area, 
Arlecho Creek, is in the process of being transferred to the Nature 
Conservancy and the Lummi Indian Nation, with the understanding that 
the property will be managed indefinitely as a natural and cultural 
area. The transfer is expected to be completed in late 1999.
    Some timber management activities have the potential to impact 
species subject to protection under the Act. Section 10 of the Act 
contains provisions for the issuance of Permits to non-Federal land 
owners for the take of endangered and threatened species, provided the 
take is incidental to otherwise lawful activities and will not 
appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the 
species in the wild. In order to receive a Permit, the applicant must 
prepare and submit to the Services for approval a Plan containing a 
strategy for minimizing, monitoring, and mitigating all take associated 
with the proposed activities to the maximum extent practicable. The 
applicant must also ensure that adequate funding for the Plan will be 
provided. If approved, the Permit and Plan would be in effect for 100 
    Activities proposed for Permit coverage include the following: Tree 
site preparation; tree planting; harvesting and yarding of timber; 
construction, maintenance and use of logging roads and landings; 
quarrying of stone and

[[Page 5776]]

gravel for use in those roads and landings; and cellular phone and 
radio repeater tower sites.
    Previous announcements relating to this project indicated that an 
environmental review (EIS or Environmental Assessment) would be 
conducted. The Services have now concluded that an EIS should be 
prepared. The EIS will analyze the proposal and the reasonable 
alternatives, as well as the associated impacts of each. Development of 
initial alternatives involved internal and public scoping. Public input 
into the environmental review of this proposal was obtained during a 
public scoping period conducted from August 20 to September 21, 1998, 
and was announced in a previous Federal Register notice (63 FR 44634, 
August 20, 1998). That public scoping period will be used to fulfill 
scoping requirements under 40 CFR 1501.7, consistent with 46 FR 18026 
(March 23, 1981), as amended by 51 FR 15618 (April 25, 1985).
    Four alternatives have been proposed thus far and will be 
considered for detailed analysis in the EIS. Under Alternative A (no-
action alternative) no Permit would be issued and take would be avoided 
for any and all threatened and endangered species on the property. 
Alternative B (preferred alternative) involves issuing a Permit for six 
threatened and endangered species on the property with provisions for 
approximately 22 unlisted species (covered species). The Plan would 
have minimization and mitigation measures for each of the covered 
species on the property. Alternative C involves issuing a Permit for 
northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet only, with provisions for 
approximately 9 unlisted species (covered species). The Plan would have 
minimization and mitigation measures for each covered species. 
Alternative D involves a Candidate Conservation Agreement with 
minimization and mitigation measures for anadromous salmonids and bull 
trout and take avoidance for all threatened and endangered species.
    The environmental review of this project will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and implementing 
regulations (40 CFR parts 1500 through 1508), other appropriate Federal 
laws and regulations, and policies and procedures of the Services for 
compliance with those regulations. It is estimated that the draft EIS 
will be available for public review and comment during the first 
quarter of 1999.

    Date: January 19, 1999.
Thomas J. Dwyer,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Portland, Oregon.

    Date: February 1, 1999.
Kevin Collins,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 99-2795 Filed 2-4-99; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-F, 4310-55-F