[Federal Register: September 19, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 182)]
[Page 56590-56592]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of a Habitat Conservation Plan and Receipt of an 
Application for an Incidental Take Permit for the Westwood Tributary 
Point Office Project, Sacramento County, California

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and receipt of application.


SUMMARY: Westwood Tributary Point Limited (Applicant) 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 Service proposes to issue a 2-year permit to the 
Westwood Tributary Point Limited that would authorize take of the 
threatened valley elderberry longhorn beetle (Desmocerus californicus 
dimorphus) incidental to otherwise lawful activities. Such take would 
occur as a result of development on the Westwood Tributary Point Office 
Project area in Sacramento County, California. Development will result 
in the loss of one elderberry plant with two stems which provide 
habitat for the valley elderberry longhorn beetle.
    We request comments from the public on the permit application, 
which is available for review. The application includes a Habitat 
Conservation Plan (Plan). The Plan describes the proposed project and 
the measures that Westwood Tributary Point Limited would undertake to 
minimize and mitigate take of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle.
    We also request comments on our preliminary determination that the 
Plan qualifies as a ``low-effect'' Habitat Conservation Plan, eligible 
for a categorical exclusion under the National

[[Page 56591]]

Environmental Policy Act. The basis for this determination is discussed 
in an Environmental Action Statement, which is also available for 
public review.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before October 19, 

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Mr. Wayne White, Field Supervisor, 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-2605, Sacramento, 
California 95825-1846. Comments may be sent by facsimile to 916-414-
6712 or 6713.

Conservation Planning Division, at the above address or call (916) 414-


Document Availability

    Please contact the above office if you would like copies of the 
application, Plan, and Environmental Action Statement. Documents also 
will be available for review by appointment, during normal business 
hours at the above address.


    Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act and Federal regulation 
prohibit the ``take'' of fish or wildlife species listed as endangered 
or threatened, respectively. Take of listed fish or wildlife is defined 
under the Act to include kill, harm, or harass. The Service may, under 
limited circumstances, issue permits to authorize incidental take; 
i.e., take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, the carrying 
out of an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing incidental 
take permits for threatened and endangered species are found in 50 CFR 
17.32 and 17.22, respectively.
    The Westwood Tributary Point Office project is located west of 
Hazel Avenue, south of Folsom South Canal, and north of U.S. Highway 50 
in the unincorporated Rancho Cordova area of Sacramento County. The 
project site is one parcel of a larger development area, which 
corresponds to an un-sectioned portion of Township 9 North, Range 7 
East of the United States Geological Survey ``Folsom, California'' 
topographic quadrangle. The Applicant is requesting a 2-year incidental 
take permit for the valley elderberry longhorn beetle.
    The Westwood Tributary Point Office project area is currently a 
partially graded vacant lot. The applicant plans on erecting a 2-story 
37,000-square-foot office building with parking facilities on the 3.43-
acre site. Other land uses in the surrounding area include a 216-unit 
high-end apartment village, a 70,000-square-foot, 3-story office 
building, 2 retail furniture stores, 2 fast-food restaurants, and 2 gas 
station/convenience marts. Two additional lots are owned by an 
extended-stay hotel operator.
    One small (6-foot-tall) blue elderberry (Sambucus mexicana) shrub 
is present on the property. Westwood Tributary Point Limited has 
submitted a Plan to minimize and mitigate for the removal 
(transplantation) of this plant, which is potential habitat for the 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle, federally listed as threatened under 
the Act. No beetle exit holes were found in this shrub. The project 
site does not contain any other rare, threatened, or endangered species 
or habitat. No critical habitat for any listed species occurs on the 
project site. Construction of the proposed project would result in the 
removal of one elderberry shrub with two stems greater than 1-inch 
diameter at ground level.
    Under the Plan, compensation for impacts to the valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle would conform to the Service's 1999 Conservation 
Guidelines. The elderberry shrub affected by the proposed project would 
be transplanted to the Conservation Resources Laguna Creek Mitigation 
Bank, a Service-approved compensation site. Transplantation would occur 
after September 15, 2000 and prior to February 15, 2001. To fully 
comply with the Service's conservation guidelines for the 
transplantation of elderberry shrubs, and to minimize the effects of 
take on the beetle, Westwood Tributary Point Limited will purchase one 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle compensation unit at the Laguna Creek 
Mitigation Bank. Purchase of this compensation unit will result in the 
planting of five elderberry plants and five associated native plants to 
compensate for impacts to two stems. The purchase of this compensation 
unit will be consummated with an agreement for the sale of one valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle compensation unit between Westwood Tributary 
Point Limited and Conservation Resources, LLC.
    The Service's Proposed Action consists of the issuance of an 
incidental take permit and implementation of the Plan, which includes 
measures to minimize and mitigate impacts of the project on the valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle. Two alternatives to the taking of listed 
species under the Proposed Action are considered in the Plan. Under the 
No Action Alternative, no permit would be issued. However, Westwood 
Tributary Point Limited did not select this alternative as it is 
inconsistent with local development goals and would result in the 
undisturbed elderberry shrub being left on the site in an isolated 
patch of open space with little habitat value. Another alternative 
would result in the development of another site instead of the 
described project site. The proposed project is an infill project and 
has minor or negligible environmental effects. Westwood Tributary Point 
Limited considers development of the present site as more desirable 
than construction of the project on an open site in a less-developed 
area because the use of an alternative site may result in greater 
environmental effects.
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that the Plan 
qualifies as a ``low-effect'' plan as defined by its Habitat 
Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996). Our determination that 
a habitat conservation plan qualifies as a low-effect plan is based on 
the following three criteria: (1) Implementation of the plan would 
result in minor or negligible effects on federally listed, proposed, 
and candidate species and their habitats; (2) implementation of the 
plan would result in minor or negligible effects on other environmental 
values or resources; and (3) impacts of the plan, considered together 
with the impacts of other past, present and reasonably foreseeable 
similarly situated projects would not result, over time, in cumulative 
effects to environmental values or resources which would be considered 
significant. As more fully explained in our Environmental Action 
Statement, Westwood Tributary Point Limited's habitat conservation plan 
for the Westwood Tributary Point Office Project qualifies as a ``low-
effect'' plan for the following reasons:
    1. Approval of the Plan would result in minor or negligible effects 
on the valley elderberry longhorn beetle and its habitat. The Service 
does not anticipate significant direct or cumulative effects to the 
valley elderberry longhorn beetle resulting from development of the 
Westwood Tributary Point Office Project.
    2. Approval of the Plan would not have adverse effects on unique 
geographic, historic or cultural sites, or involve unique or unknown 
environmental risks.
    3. Approval of the Plan would not result in any cumulative or 
growth inducing impacts and, therefore, would not result in significant 
adverse effects on public health or safety.
    4. The project does not require compliance with Executive Order 
11988 (Floodplain Management), Executive Order 11990 (Protection of 
Wetlands), or

[[Page 56592]]

the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, nor does it threaten to violate 
a Federal, State, local or tribal law or requirement imposed for the 
protection of the environment.
    5. Approval of the Plan would not establish a precedent for future 
action or represent a decision in principle about future actions with 
potentially significant environmental effects.
    The Service therefore has made a preliminary determination that 
approval of the Plan qualifies as a categorical exclusion under the 
National Environmental Policy Act, as provided by the Department of the 
Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6, Appendix 1). Based 
upon this preliminary determination, we do not intend to prepare 
further National Environmental Policy Act documentation. The Service 
will consider public comments in making its final determination on 
whether to prepare such additional documentation.
    The Service provides this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the 
Endangered Species Act. We will evaluate the permit application, the 
Plan, and comments submitted thereon to determine whether the 
application meets the requirements of section 10 (a) of the Act. If the 
requirements are met, the Service will issue a permit to the Westwood 
Tributary Point for the incidental take of the valley elderberry 
longhorn beetle from development of the Westwood Tributary Point Office 
Project area. We will make the final permit decision no sooner than 30 
days from the date of this notice.

    Dated: September 8, 2000.
Elizabeth H. Stevens,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 00-23970 Filed 9-18-00; 8:45 am]