[Federal Register: June 26, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 123)]
[Page 39421-39422]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of a ``Lost Pines'' Environmental 
Assessment/Habitat Conservation Plan for Assigned Permit Number TE-
025997-0. For Issuance of an Endangered Species Act Section 10(a)(1)(B) 
Permit for the Incidental Take of the Endangered Houston Toad (Bufo 
houstonensis). During the Construction and Occupation of Single Family 
Residences (each on home-sites of 0.5 acres or less) in 45 subdivisions 
in Bastrop County, TX

SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office has prepared an 
Environmental Assessment/Habitat Conservation Plan for assigned permit 
number TE-025997-0 for issuance of an Endangered Species Act Section 
10(a)(1)(B) permit for the incidental take of the Endangered Houston 
Toad. The Service proposes issuing endangered species permits to 
individual lot owners under an EA/HCP, where each permit would 
authorize the incidental take of the endangered Houston toad, directly 
or indirectly, from the construction and occupation of a single-family 
residence on an undeveloped lot in the 45 subdivisions covered under 
this EA/HCP. This alternative was selected as the Preferred Alternative 
as it will allow for responsible development of the lots while 
minimizing and offsetting impacts to the Houston toad by providing for 
on-site and off-site conservation measures that will be used to promote 
the long-term survival of the species. It is also considered to provide 
the most simplified, expeditious, and effective

[[Page 39422]]

process by which landowners can comply with the provisions of the 
Endangered Species Act in a more efficient manner. The Service has 
divided the 45 subdivisions into two categories, those in low/marginal 
quality Houston toad habitat, and those in medium quality Houston toad 
habitat. The EA/HCP requires the same avoidance, minimization, and 
mitigation efforts from every lot owner, within their respective 
category. This negates the need and cost in both time and money to 
prepare individual HCPs and go through separate public review 
processes. Since this EA/HCP will have already gone out for public 
review and comment (through this Notice in the Federal Register), and 
been finalized, it would cover 8,476 undeveloped lots, covering a 
maximum of 4,238 acres of sub-optimal Houston toad habitat, as noted in 
the EA/HCP in the 45 listed subdivisions, and endangered species 
permits could be issued in a matter of days as opposed to months under 
the current permitting process.
    The EA/HCP has been assigned permit number TE-025997-0. The 
requested permit issuance, which will be for a period of 5 years, would 
authorize the incidental take of the endangered Houston toad (Bufo 
houstonensis). The proposed take would occur as a result of the 
possible construction and occupation on 8,476 remaining undeveloped 
lots, covering a maximum of 4,238 acres of sub-optimal Houston toad 
habitat, in 45 subdivisions in Bastrop County, Texas.
    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 on or 
before July 26, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the EA/HCP may obtain a copy by 
contacting: Austin Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 10711 
Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, Texas 78758 (512/490-0057). Documents 
will be available for public inspection by written request, or by 
appointment only, during normal business hours (8 to 4:30) at the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Austin, Texas. Written data or comments 
concerning the EA/HCP should be submitted to the Field Supervisor, 
Austin Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at the above 
address. Please refer to permit number TE-025997-0 when submitting 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Contact the Austin Office of the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service at the above address.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 9 of the Act prohibits the 
``taking'' of endangered species such as the Houston toad. 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 17.22.


    This action will permanently disturb a maximum of 0.5 acres of 
Houston toad habitat within each eligible lot and result in indirect 
impacts within the subdivision. Each applicant will compensate for this 
incidental take of the Houston toad by providing mitigation funds to 
the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for the specific purpose of 
land acquisition, protection, and management within Houston toad 
habitat, as identified by the Service.

Bryan Arroyo,
Acting Regional Director, Region 2, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. 00-16032 Filed 6-23-00; 8:45 am]