[Federal Register: February 18, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 34)]
[Page 8434-8436]
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 Wiley Creek Unit, 
Linn County, OR

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of receipt of application.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that Mr. Alvin and Mrs. Marsha 
Seiber (applicants) have 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 
application has been assigned permit number TE022715-0. The proposed 
permit would authorize the incidental take, in the form of habitat 
modification, of the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), 
federally listed as threatened. The permit term has not yet been 
defined by the applicants. The permit would address up to approximately 
200 acres, which is the entirety of their property in Linn County, 
    The Service announces the receipt of the applicant's incidental 
take permit application and the availability of the proposed Wiley 
Creek Unit Habitat Conservation Plan (Plan) and draft Implementation 
Agreement, which accompany the incidental take permit application, for 
public comment. The Plan describes the proposed project and the 
measures the applicant will undertake to mitigate for project impacts 
to the spotted owl. These measures and associated impacts are also 
described in the background and summary information that follow. The 
Service is presently reviewing our responsibilities for compliance 
under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and will announce 
the availability of any appropriate NEPA documents at a later date.

DATES: Written comments on the permit application and Plan should be 
received on or before March 20, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Individuals wishing copies of the permit application or 
copies of the full text of the Plan, should immediately contact the 
office and personnel listed below. Documents also will be available for 
public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
address below. Comments regarding the permit application, Draft 
Implementation Agreement or the Plan should be addressed to State 
Supervisor, Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon State Office, 2600 S.E. 
98th Avenue, Suite 100, Portland, Oregon 97266. Please refer to permit 
number TE022715-0 when submitting comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Rich Szlemp, Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Oregon State Office, telephone (503) 231-6179.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 9 of the Act and federal regulation 
prohibits the ``taking'' of a species listed as endangered or 
threatened. However, the Service, under specific 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 species are 
promulgated in 50 CFR 17.32. Regulations governing permits for 
endangered species are promulgated in 50 CFR 17.22.


    The applicants are proposing to harvest approximately 40 acres of 
mature second growth forest from a 200-

[[Page 8435]]

acre parcel of land which contains a little over 150 acres of forest 
land. These 40 acres have been delineated by the Oregon Department of 
Forestry as a portion of an approximately 70-acre spotted owl core area 
under the Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA). The remaining 
approximately 30 acres are located immediately to the north on adjacent 
private property. The surrounding ownership primarily consists of 
private forest lands. There are a few scattered parcels of Federal 
forest lands within a radius of five miles of the property, with much 
larger contiguous Federal forest lands (Willamette National Forest) 
located about seven miles to the northeast. A spotted owl nest tree is 
located within about 300 feet of the northern portion of the property 
on adjacent private land. A pair of spotted owls was last documented 
using this site in 1996. Other federally listed species may also be 
affected by the proposed Plan. Steelhead salmon (Oncorhynchus mykiss), 
federally listed as threatened, are found in Little Wiley Creek within 
the property boundaries. The eastern portion of the harvest area 
encompasses both sides of Cedar Creek, which is a perennial fish-
bearing stream that drains into Little Wiley Creek. No surveys have 
been conducted for bald eagles (Haliaeeus leucocephalus), which are 
also federally listed as threatened, but the Plan area does contain 
potential suitable bald eagle habitat.
    The Wiley Creek Plan area contains forests that are generally 
second growth between 40-65 years old. The predominant species are 
Douglas-fir, silver fir, and western hemlock, with scattered western 
red cedar, big-leaf maple, and alder. The percent canopy coverage and 
relative density of trees varies widely throughout the Plan area. Most 
of the surrounding land is similar second growth, with many patches of 
clearcuts that are less than 20 years old.
    The Wiley Creek Plan contains two alternatives: preferred and no 
action. Under the preferred alternative, the applicants would harvest 
40 acres of mature second growth timber in the Plan area to the extent 
allowed by the OFPA rules. Under the no action alternative, the subject 
timber would be left standing. The applicants rejected the no action 
alternative because they believe it would deny them of all economically 
productive use of the subject timber.
    The applicants propose the following minimization and mitigation 
    a. Conduct harvest activities outside of the nesting season for the 
spotted owl (March 1--September 15), except for road building
    b. Replant Douglas-fir, western red cedar, and/or western hemlock 
over the harvest units. As per OFPA Rules, this planting will take 
place within 12 months after completion of harvest.
    c. Meet current OFPA Rules with regard to management of riparian 
    d. Meet the current OFPA Rules to leave standing and unharvested, 
all snags and dead trees until they have fallen to the ground and 
rotted away except when they provide a safety hazard for the logging 

Summary of Service's Concerns and Recommendations

    The Wiley Creek Plan was prepared without any technical assistance 
from the Service. The Service received the Plan and application on 
November 26, 1999. The Wiley Creek Plan lacks much of the biological 
analysis and information routinely provided by other applicants or 
developed by working together with the Service prior to submitting an 
incidental take permit application. For example, no information on the 
quality of the existing northern spotted owl habitat, current 
information on northern spotted owl survey efforts, or surrounding 
landscape was provided in the Plan. Information on the timber harvest 
or yarding methods was inadequate to determine effects to the listed 
species and the affected environment. Information on the effect of 
implementing the proposed minimization or mitigation measures was also 
lacking. Potential effects to steelhead were also not addressed.
    Service employees visited the Plan area on January 25, 2000, to 
assess existing habitat conditions and to evaluate additional options 
to minimize and mitigate impacts to spotted owls. However, on February 
4, 2000, the applicants' counsel informed the Services that there will 
be no changes in the Wiley Creek Plan. The applicants' counsel also 
requested this notice be published prior to February 15, 2000.
    The Service has reviewed the Wiley Creek Plan and has some concerns 
with the adequacy of the minimization and mitigation measures. We 
specifically invite the public to provide comments on these measures 
proposed by the applicant. We also invite comment on potential 
alternative options. The Service believes that other practicable 
minimization and mitigation measures may exist that would provide the 
basis for reducing the net long-term adverse effects to owls by 
allowing for the regeneration of suitable nesting habitat conditions 
within a shorter time period than would result from the proposed 
harvest. These alternatives could also provide some increased 
opportunities for owl foraging and roosting immediately after the 
timber harvest, which would minimize and mitigate the incidental take 
of owls. Specifically, the Service wishes to receive comment on options 
that may include partial harvest of the proposed 40 acres that would 
provide some level of spotted owl habitat either immediately after 
harvest or within a given period of time after harvest. Additionally, 
we seek comments on the management of the remaining forested acreage on 
the applicant's property that would provide habitat conditions to 
mitigate for the loss of the 40 acres of forest proposed for clearcut 
harvest. Comments on alternatives should include discussion of time 
periods that would be appropriate to create or maintain spotted owl 
habitat to mitigate for any potential losses of suitable habitat under 
any suggested alternative. This information would assist the Service in 
addressing appropriate permit duration.
    The impacts from the applicant's preferred alternative would reduce 
the likelihood of spotted owls nesting within the boundaries of the 70 
acre core area due to the smaller remaining patch of habitat surrounded 
by recent clearcut timber harvests. The OFPA requires the leaving of 
two trees per acre with a minimum of 11 inches diameter at breast 
height per acre harvested. The location and size of actual leave trees 
has not been specified. Based upon the available size classes and 
numbers, these trees will not likely provide or contribute to any 
measurable spotted habitat immediately post-harvest. Except for some 
potential clumping of trees, and the riparian buffer areas, the 
remaining landscape would consist of a very open canopy that would not 
be conducive to owl nesting, roosting, or foraging. The Plan would 
leave a minimum 70-foot riparian buffer along Cedar Creek and a minimum 
50-foot buffer along an unnamed tributary that enters into Cedar Creek. 
These narrow, treed corridors would not provide suitable forested 
habitat conditions for spotted owls.
    This notice is provided 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 not be made 
prior to ensuring compliance with NEPA.

[[Page 8436]]

    Dated: February 10, 2000.
Anne Badgley,
Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon
[FR Doc. 00-3783 Filed 2-17-00; 8:45 am]