[Federal Register: October 16, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 200)]
[Page 61176-61178]
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 Cabin Timber Harvest 
Plan, Napa County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the California Baptist 
Foundation (CBF) 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 permit 
would authorize the incidental take of one pair of northern spotted 
owls (Strix occidentalis caurina), federally listed as a threatened 
species, that may result due to habitat modification within the nest 
stand. The permit would be in effect for 5 years.
    The Service announces the receipt of CBF's incidental take permit 
application and the availability of the proposed Cabin Habitat 
Conservation Plan (Plan), for public comment. The Plan fully describes 
the proposed project and the measures CBF will undertake to minimize 
and mitigate project impacts to the northern spotted owl. The Service 
has determined that the Cabin Timber Harvest Plan (THP)/Plan qualifies 
as a ``Low Effect'' Plan as defined by the Service's Habitat 
Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996). The Service has further 
determined that approval of the Plan qualifies as a categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act, as provided by 
the Department of Interior Manual (516 DM2, Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6, 
Appendix 1). The basis for this

[[Page 61177]]

determination is discussed in a Low-effect Screening form, which is 
also available for public review. This notice is provided pursuant to 
section 10(c) of the Act.

DATES: Written comments on the permit application and Plan should be 
received on or before November 15, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Comments regarding the permit application, low-effect 
screening form, or the Plan should be addressed to the Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Habitat Conservation Planning Team, 1829 S. Oregon 
Street, Yreka, CA 96097. Individuals wishing copies of the application, 
screening form, and Plan for review should immediately contact the 
above office. The Plan may be obtained from the following website: 
www.ccfwo.r1.fws.gov/completedPlans.html. Documents also will be 
available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business 
hours at the above address. All comments received, including names and 
addresses, will become part of the official administrative record and 
may be made available to the public.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Phil Detrich, Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office, telephone (530) 842-4471.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 9 of the Act and Federal regulation 
prohibits the ``taking'' of a species listed as endangered or 
threatened. Take of listed fish or wildlife is defined under the Act to 
mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, 
collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. However, the 
Service, under limited circumstances, may issue permits to 
``incidentally take'' listed species, which is take that is incidental 
to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities. Regulations 
governing permits for threatened and endangered species are promulgated 
in 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 17.22, respectively.


    The CBF has applied to the Service for a section 10(a)(1)(B) 
incidental take permit for northern spotted owls, on the Cabin Plan 
area in Napa County, California. The term of the permit would be 5 
years. The Cabin Plan area consists of 15 acres of privately owned land 
located approximately one mile north of Mt. Veeder, and 5 miles west of 
the cities of Yountville and Napa in Napa County, California. A THP for 
the site has previously been approved by the State of California (THP 
1-97-201-NAP). The area was partially harvested in 1997, and the CBF 
currently wish to complete timber harvesting on this property. 
Completion of the THP will entail a selected harvest of 25 trees from 
an area approximately 2 acres in size located within the nest stand of 
a pair of northern spotted owls. A nest stand is defined as the nest 
tree and the adjoining area up to 500 feet from the nest tree.
    The Cabin Plan area is composed of pure hardwood stands, mixed 
conifer/hardwood stands, and conifer stands occurring mostly as clumps 
of Douglas-fir and redwood. Habitat in the surrounding area is highly 
fragmented as a result of conversion from foothill woodlands to 
vineyards and home sites.
    Timber harvest will consist of single tree selection (25 trees 
within approximately 2 acres). The area will remain in a forested 
condition following the harvest. There will be no new roads built and 
existing landing and skid trails will be used. The goals of the Cabin 
Plan are to allow for the completion of the Cabin THP while protecting 
any reproductive effort of northern spotted owl pairs resident within 
the THP boundaries and avoiding adverse effects to aquatic resources 
for the five year duration of the permit.
    As described in the Plan, the applicant proposes the following 
measures to minimize and mitgate the anticipated project impacts: (A) 
Retention of existing habitat as functional roosting habitat containing 
an average of 65 percent canopy closure post-harvest; (B) No trees to 
be removed are closer than 50 feet to the current nest tree. All trees 
to be removed shall be directionally felled away from the nest tree. 
The down logs shall be tractor skidded from existing skid trails to an 
existing landing outside the nest grove; (C) Operations to complete the 
Cabin THP shall not occur during the northern spotted owl breeding 
season (February 1 through July 31) unless it is conclusively 
demonstrated to the Service that active breeding is not occurring 
within 1,000 feet of the area of operations.
    Monitoring of the known northern spotted owl nest site within the 
Plan area shall be conducted each spring beginning after March 1 during 
the permit period by a qualified wildlife biologist to assess continued 
owl residency and nesting status. If the owls are not detected in the 
current nest tree, the Cabin Plan area and lands surrounding the Plan 
area out to \1/4\ mile will be surveyed in accordance with the 
guidelines specified in the Protocol for Surveying Proposed Management 
Activities That May Impact Northern Spotted Owls (USDI Fish and 
Wildlife Service 1992b). If the Service adjusts the dates of protocol 
application, the CBF will be entitled to use those dates. Should the 
Service revise the northern spotted owl survey protocol, the CBF may 
elect to adopt the new protocol, or continue to use the protocol 
currently in place.
    The Service has determined that the Cabin Plan qualifies as a ``Low 
Effect'' Plan as defined by the Service's Habitat Conservation Planning 
Handbook. Low Effect Plans are those involving: (1) Minor or negligible 
effects on federally listed and candidate species and their habitats; 
and (2) minor or negligible effects on other environmental values or 
resources. The Cabin Plan qualifies as a Low Effect Plan for the 
following reasons:
    1. Approval of the Plan will result in minor or negligible effects 
on the northern spotted owl. The Service does not anticipate that 
significant direct or cumulative effects to the owl will result from 
the proposed 2 acres of selection harvest. No other federally listed, 
proposed, or candidate species are known or expected to occur within or 
immediately adjacent to the proposed harvest, and the National Marine 
Fisheries Service has determined that, as a result of incorporation of 
aquatic protection measures, the project is not likely to adversely 
affect listed salmomids that may occur in the watershed below the 
project area.
    2. The proposed harvest will not have adverse effects on unique 
geographic, historic or cultural sites, or involve unique or unknown 
environmental risks.
    3. Approval of the Plan will not result in any cumulative or growth 
inducing impacts and, therefore, will 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 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 this Plan will not establish a precedent for future 
action or represent a decision in principle about future actions with 
potentially significant environmental effects.
    The Service has therefore determined that approval of the Cabin 
THP/Plan qualifies as a categorical exclusion under the National 
Environmental Policy Act, as provided by the Department of Interior 
Manual (516 DM2, Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6, Appendix 1). No further 
National Environmental Policy Act documentation will therefore be 
prepared. This notice is provided

[[Page 61178]]

pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act. The Service will evaluate the 
permit application, Plan, and comments submitted thereon to determine 
whether the application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the 
Act. If it is determined that the requirements are met, a permit will 
be issued for the incidental take of the northern spotted owl. The 
final permit decision will be made no sooner than 30 days from the date 
of this notice.

    Dated: October 10, 2000.
Elizabeth H. Stevens,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 00-26537 Filed 10-13-00; 8:45 am]