[Federal Register: February 9, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 26)]
[Page 6325-6326]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Fish and Wildlife Service
[I.D. 012599D]

Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement 
Regarding Proposed Issuance of an Incidental Take Permit to Simpson 
Timber Company, Northwest Operations, for Forest Management in 
Thurston, Mason, and Grays Harbor Counties, Washington

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration, Commerce; Fish and Wildlife Service 
(USFWS), Interior

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, NMFS and 
USFWS (the Services) intend to prepare an Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) related to the proposed issuance of an incidental take 
permit (Permit) to Simpson Timber Company, Northwest Operations 
(Simpson), for take of endangered and threatened species in accordance 
with the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). As required 
by the act, the applicant is preparing a Habitat Conservation Plan 
(Plan). The Permit application is related to forest management and 
timber harvest on a portion of Simpson's fee-owned timberlands in 
Thurston, Mason, and Grays Harbor Counties, Washington. Simpson intends 
to request an Permit for the marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus 
marmoratus), and the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Simpson may 
also seek coverage for three fish species proposed for listing under 
the Act and approximately 60 currently unlisted fish and wildlife 
species under specific provisions of the Permit should these species be 
listed in the future.
    The Services are furnishing this notice in order to advise other 
agencies and the public of our intentions and to announce the 
initiation of a 30-day public scoping period during which other 
agencies and the public are invited to provide written comments on the 
scope of issues to be included in the EIS.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before March 11, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Comments and requests for additional information should be 
sent to Kathy Cushman, Fish and Wildlife Service, 510 Desmond Drive, 
SE, Suite 102, Lacey, Washington 98503, telephone (360) 753-9000; or 
Mike Parton, National Marine Fisheries Service, 510 Desmond Drive SE, 
Suite 103, Lacey, Washington 98503, telephone (360) 753-4650.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Simpson owns and manages approximately 
267,000 acres of commercial timberland in Thurston, Mason, and Grays 
Harbor counties, Washington. Simpson proposes to manage, pursuant to 
the Plan, approximately 214,000 acres of its Washington properties 
located north of Highway 8 and west of Highway 101, and possible future 
inclusions of additional lands within 10 miles. The Plan area extends 
into the southern foothills of the Olympic Mountains and across the 
Wynoochee River Valley to the City of Aberdeen's Wishkah Watershed. 
Management activities include timber harvest and other forest 
management activities.
    Some of Simpson's management activities have the potential to 
impact species subject to protection under the Act. Section 10(a)(2)(B) 
of the Act contains provisions for the issuance of incidental take 
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. An applicant for a 
Permit under section 10 of the Act must prepare and submit to the 
Services for approval a Plan containing a strategy for minimizing 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.
    Simpson has initiated discussions with the Services regarding the 
possibility of a Permit and associated Plan for their activities on 
their land to be covered by a Permit. Activities proposed for Permit 
coverage include mechanized timber harvest; log transportation; road 
construction, maintenance, and abandonment; site preparation; tree 
planting; fertilization; silvicultural thinning; experimental 
silviculture; controlled burns; wildfire suppression; stream 
restoration; and the harvest and sale of minor forest products. The 
Plan and Permit would also cover certain monitoring activities and 
related scientific experiments in the Plan area.
    The Services will conduct an environmental review of the Plan and 
prepare an EIS. The environmental

[[Page 6326]]

review will analyze the proposal as well as a full range of reasonable 
alternatives and the associated impacts of each. The Services are 
currently in the process of developing alternatives for analysis. Under 
a No Action Alternative, incidental take permits would not be issued, 
and Simpson would continue a forest management program, which avoids 
take of federally listed species. The applicant's Plan alternative 
proposes that the Services issue incidental take permits and that 
Simpson would implement the Plan on 214,000 acres of Simpson's 
Washington timberlands. Another alternative proposes blending the 
standards and guidelines of the Northwest Forest Plan and the proposed 
Plan. Under this alternative, the Services would issue incidental take 
permits, and Simpson would manage their lands in accordance with 
standards and guidelines less restrictive than the Northwest Forest 
Plan but which exceed those of the proposed Plan. A fourth alternatives 
proposes that Simpson manage their lands in accordance with the 
standards and guidelines of the Northwest Forest Plan. Under this 
alternative, the Services would issue incidental take permits, and 
Simpson would manage their land accordingly.
    Comments and suggestions are invited from all interested parties to 
ensure that the full range of issues related to these proposed actions 
are addressed and that all significant issues are identified. Comments 
or questions concerning this proposed action and the environmental 
review should be directed to the Fish and Wildlife Service or the 
National Marine Fisheries Service (see ADDRESSES).
    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) and of 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 during the second 
quarter of 1999.

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

    Dated: February 2, 1999.
Kevin Collins,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 99-3130 Filed 2-8-99; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-F, 4310-55-F