[Federal Register: June 28, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 125)]
[Page 39919-39920]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 39919]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Receipt of an Incidental Take Permit Application and Availability 
of an Environmental Assessment Associated With the Habitat Management 
Plan for Natural Communities in the City of Carlsbad, California

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The City of Carlsbad, California, has applied to the Fish and 
Wildlife Service (Service) for an incidental take permit pursuant to 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). The proposed 50-year permit would authorize incidental take of 9 
federally threatened and endangered wildlife species, 8 threatened and 
endangered plants should take authorization be necessary, and 30 
unlisted species of concern in the event that these species become 
listed during the term of the permit. Take would occur incidental to 
urban development of up to 3,051 acres of non-federal land in the City 
of Carlsbad, northwestern San Diego County, California. The permit 
application includes the Habitat Management Plan for Natural 
Communities in the City of Carlsbad (Habitat Management Plan) and an 
Implementation Agreement that serves as a legal contract.
    An Environmental Assessment for our proposed action of issuing a 
permit to the City of Carlsbad is available for public review. We 
request comments on this Assessment and the permit application. All 
comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of 
the administrative record and may be made available to the public.

DATES: We must receive your written comments on or before July 28, 

ADDRESSES: Send comments to Mr. Ken Berg, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 2730 Loker 
Avenue West, Carlsbad, California 92008. You also may submit comments 
by facsimile to (760) 431-9618.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Julie Vanderwier, Fish and 
Wildlife Biologist, at the above address; telephone (760) 431-9440.


Availability of Documents

    You may request copies of the documents by contacting the office 
listed above. You also may view the documents, by appointment, during 
normal business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Monday through Friday at the 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES). Alternatively, you 
may view the documents at the City of Carlsbad Planning Department, 
1635 Faraday Avenue, Carlsbad; at the Georgina Cole Library, 1250 
Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad; and at the La Costa Library, 1775 
Dove Lane, Carlsbad.


    Section 9 of the Act and Federal regulation prohibit the ``take'' 
of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. That is, no one 
may harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or 
collect listed animal species, or attempt to engage in such conduct (16 
U.S.C. 1538). ``Harm'' is defined by regulation to include significant 
habitat modification or degradation that actually kills or injures 
wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, 
including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). Under certain 
circumstances, the Service may issue permits to authorize 
``incidental'' take of listed animal species (defined by the Act as 
take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, the carrying out of 
an otherwise lawful activity). Regulations governing permits for 
threatened and endangered species, respectively, are at 50 CFR 17.32 
and 50 CFR 17.22.
    The City of Carlsbad has submitted an application for a 50-year 
incidental take permit to the Service, proposing the take of 47 species 
now or in the future, on approximately 3,051 acres of habitat within 
the 24,570-acre planning area (15,812 acres of which are already 
developed). The proposed permit would authorize incidental take of the 
following listed animals: Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus 
woottoni), San Diego fairy shrimp (Branchinecta sandiegonensis), 
California brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus), 
California least tern (Sterna antillarum browni), coastal California 
gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica), least Bell's vireo 
(Vireo bellii pusillus), light-footed clapper rail (Rallus longirostrus 
levipes), southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus), 
and western snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus). For 30 
other unlisted species (16 plants, 3 invertebrates, 1 reptile, and 10 
birds), should they become listed during the term of the permit, the 
permit would become effective at the time of listing.
    Five endangered plants and three threatened plants would be named 
on the permit, should take authorization be necessary: California 
orcutt grass (Orcuttia californica), Del Mar manzanita (Arctostaphylos 
glandulosa ssp. crassifolia), Encinitas baccharis (Baccharis vanessae), 
Orcutt's spineflower (Chorizanthe orcuttiana), spreading navaretia 
(Navarretia fossalis), San Diego button-celery (Eryngium aristulatum 
var. parishii), San Diego thornmint (Acanthomintha ilicifolia), and 
thread-leaved brodiaea (Brodiaea filifolia). The take prohibitions of 
the Act do not apply to listed plants on private land unless their 
destruction on private land is in violation of State law. Nevertheless, 
the City of Carlsbad has considered plants in its Habitat Management 
Plan and requests a permit for them to the extent that State law 
    The permit application from the City of Carlsbad includes a Habitat 
Management Plan that qualifies both as a Habitat Conservation Plan 
pursuant to Federal law and as a Natural Community Conservation Plan 
pursuant to State law. On December 10, 1993, the Service issued a final 
special rule for the coastal California gnatcatcher pursuant to section 
4(d) of the Act (58 FR 65088). The rule allows incidental take of the 
gnatcatcher if such take results from activities conducted under a plan 
prepared pursuant to the state of California's Natural Community 
Conservation Planning Act of 1991, its associated Process Guidelines, 
and the Southern California Coastal Sage Scrub Conservation Guidelines. 
Consistent with the Conservation Guidelines, while planning for natural 
communities is underway, the special rule allows interim loss of no 
more than 5 percent of the coastal sage scrub habitat in specified 
areas (subregions).
    To mitigate the impact of urban development over a 50-year period, 
the City of Carlsbad would require project-level impact avoidance and 
minimization measures, and would assemble a preserve of approximately 
6,757 acres. This preserve would be comprised of existing open space 
(3,946 acres), proposed hardline open space (1,206 acres), planned open 
space derived from specific criteria applied to standards areas (553 
acres), passive restoration of disturbed habitat (744 acres), and 
acquisition of core coastal California gnatcatcher habitat outside of 
the City (308 acres). The preserve would contain the following 
habitats, at a minimum: coastal sage scrub (3,315 acres), southern 
mixed/chamise chaparral (968 acres), southern maritime chaparral (392 
acres), oak woodland (29 acres), riparian (574 acres), coastal salt/

[[Page 39920]]

freshwater marsh (1,366 acres), and grassland (1,856 acres).
    Should the Service approve the Habitat Management Plan and issue an 
incidental take permit to the City of Carlsbad, the 5 percent limit on 
interim loss of coastal sage scrub, imposed as part of the Natural 
Community Conservation Planning Program and the special rule for the 
gnatcatcher, would be replaced by the conditions of the permit and the 
Implementation Agreement. Carlsbad would then exercise its land-use 
review and approval powers in accordance with the Implementation 
Agreement to implement the Habitat Management Plan and assemble its 
preserve. The City would amend its zoning regulations to reflect the 
preserve boundaries and to achieve consistency with the Plan. In 
addition, the Habitat Management Plan includes guidelines for 
compatible land uses in and adjacent to the preserve. The City would 
incorporate these guidelines into its General Plan, zoning regulations, 
and approval process for projects, including adoption of appropriate 
mitigation guidelines.
    Our Environmental Assessment considers the proposed action and 
three alternatives: the Habitat Management Plan as proposed; an 
Expanded Preserve System Alternative; an Offsite Regional Conservation 
Alternative; and a No Action Alternative. Under the Expanded Preserve 
System Alternative, the Service would issue a permit that would 
authorize incidental take of 47 species in the plan area. The City of 
Carlsbad would require project-level impact avoidance and minimization 
measures. The expanded preserve of 7,310 acres would conserve all 
extant natural habitats in biological core and linkage areas identified 
during the preserve planning process. The acquisition of lands within 
the core gnatcatcher areas would be limited to the 240 acres required 
as part of the approval of the Fieldstone-La Costa Habitat Conservation 
Plan. The conserved habitat would include, at a minimum, the following 
habitat types: coastal sage scrub (2,991 acres), southern mixed/chamise 
chaparral (887 acres), southern maritime chaparral (431 acres), oak 
woodland (29 acres), riparian (518 acres), coastal salt/freshwater 
marsh (1,183 acres), and grassland (1,271 acres).
    Under the Offsite Regional Conservation Alternative, the Service 
also would issue a permit for incidental take of 47 species. The City 
of Carlsbad would preserve 7,901 to 9,928 acres of habitat through the 
management of already preserved lands within the City, implementation 
of project-level impact avoidance and minimization measures, and 
habitat conservation outside of the City (with the exception of 
wetland, riparian, and vernal pool resources) in accordance with 
established mitigation ratios. The majority of the preserve could be 
outside of the City of Carlsbad in portions of northern San Diego 
County that are less developed than Carlsbad. The preserve would 
include, at a minimum, the following upland habitat types: coastal sage 
scrub (3,315 to 5,342 acres), southern mixed/chamise chaparral (968 
acres), southern maritime chaparral (666 acres), oak woodland (79 
acres), and grassland (1,127 acres).
    Under the No Action Alternative, the Service would not issue a 
permit and the City of Carlsbad would not implement its Habitat 
Management Plan. Projects would either be designed to avoid take of 
listed species or project proponents would apply for individual permits 
under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. Existing hardline open space 
would remain protected and approved habitat conservation plans would be 
implemented. Under this alternative, we estimate that 3,850 acres of 
habitat would be conserved.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(a) of the Endangered 
Species Act and regulations for implementing the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (40 CFR 1506.6). We will evaluate the permit 
application, Environmental Assessment, associated documents, and 
comments submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets 
the requirements of section 10(a) of the Endangered Species Act. If we 
determine that the requirements are met, we will issue a permit for the 
incidental take of the 47 species covered by the Habitat Management 
Plan. We will make a decision on permit issuance no sooner than 30 days 
from the date of this notice.

    Dated: June 20, 2000.
Elizabeth H. Stevens,
Deputy Manager, Region 1, California/Nevada Operations Office, 
Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 00-16281 Filed 6-27-00; 8:45 am]