[Federal Register: April 25, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 80)]
[Page 24222]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of an Environmental Assessment and Receipt 
of a Safe Harbor Application To Enhance the Propagation and Survival of 
the Black-Capped Vireo and the Golden-Cheeked Warbler in the Hill 
Country of Texas

SUMMARY: Environmental Defense, Inc. (Applicant) has applied to the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for an enhancement of survival 
permit pursuant to Section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act 
(Act) of 1973, as amended. The Applicant has been assigned permit 
number TE-024875-0. The requested permit, which is for a period of 30 
years, would authorize the Applicant to issue certificates of inclusion 
under a Safe Harbor agreement to private landowners who voluntarily 
agree to carry out habitat improvements for the black-capped vireo 
(Vireo atricapillus) and/or the golden-cheeked warbler (Dendroica 
chrysoparia) in various counties in central Texas Hill Country.
    Habitat enhancement activities could occur in any or all of the 
following 25 counties: Bandera, Bell, Blanco, Bosque, Brown, Burnet, 
Comal, Comanche, Coryell, Edwards, Gillespie, Hays, Kendall, Kerr, 
Kimble, Lampasas, Llano, Mason, Medina, Real, San Saba, Somervell, 
Sutton, Uvalde, and Williamson. Habitat enhancement activities could 
include, but are not limited to, prescribed burning, selective Ashe 
juniper thinning, rotational grazing, cowbird trapping, and hardwood 
    The Service has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the 
application. A determination of jeopardy to the species or a Finding of 
No Significant Impact (FONSI) will not be made until at least 30 days 
from the date of publication of this notice. This notice is provided 
pursuant to Section 10(c) of the Act and National Environmental Policy 
Act regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

DATES: Written comments on the application should be received by the 
Service on or before May 25, 2000. The application, along with any 
supporting documentation, is available for public review, subject to 
the requirements of the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act, by 
any party who submits a written request for a copy of such documents 
within the comment period to the address specified below.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application may obtain copies 
by written request to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Austin 
Ecological Service Field Office, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, 
Texas 78758 (512/490-0057). The application will also be available for 
public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours (8:00 
am to 4:30 pm) at the Service's Austin Ecological Services Field 
Office. During the 30-day public comment period, written comments or 
data should be submitted to the Field Supervisor at the above address. 
Please refer to the application for the Texas Hill Country and 
reference permit number TE-024875-0 when submitting comments. All 
comments received, including names and addresses, will become a part of 
the official administrative record and may be made available to the 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Krishna Costello at the above 
Austin U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Field Office.


    The black-capped vireo (vireo) and the golden-cheeked warbler 
(warbler) were listed as endangered in November 1987 and May 1990, 
respectively. The vireo and warbler are migratory songbirds that occupy 
breeding habitat in Texas from about March 1-August 31. The vireo 
requires early successional stage, patchy-island habitat of wooded 
areas with shrubs up to about 6 feet tall surrounded by grasslands. 
Warbler habitat is mixed, closed-canopy woodland with mature Ashe 
juniper and oaks.
    Approximately ninety-seven percent of the land in Texas is 
privately owned, and a large majority of existing and restorable vireo 
and warbler habitat falls into this category. Therefore, the 
participation of private landowners in the recovery of these two 
species is very important.
    Landowners having currently unoccupied and/or unsuitable, but 
restorable, habitat and thus a zero baseline condition for the Safe 
Harbor, would be eligible for certificates of inclusion. Exceptions to 
the zero baseline may also be included for certificates under very 
limited circumstances with concurrence from the Service. Upon 
completion and maintenance of the habitat improvements for at least 
four breeding seasons, the landowners would be permitted to conduct any 
otherwise lawful activity on their property, including activities that 
result in the partial or total elimination of the restored habitat and 
the incidental taking of either of these species as a result of such 
habitat elimination.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 9 of the Act prohibits the 
``taking'' of endangered species, such as the black-capped vireo and 
golden-cheeked warbler. However, the Service, under limited 
circumstances, may issue permits to take endangered wildlife species 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities. 
Regulations governing permits for endangered species are at 50 CFR 
    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended, through its permitting provisions (50 CFR parts 13 & 

Geoffrey L. Haskett,
Regional Director, Region 2, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. 00-9357 Filed 4-24-00; 8:45 am]