[Federal Register: January 5, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 4)]
[Page 1089-1091]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Fish and Wildlife Service

[I.D. 122800C]

Availability of a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the 
Tacoma Water Department Habitat Conservation Plan, King County, WA

AGENCIES:  National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration, Commerce; Fish and Wildlife Service 
(FWS), Interior.

ACTION:  Notice of availability.


SUMMARY:  This notice announces the availability of a Final 
Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for public review. The FEIS 
addresses the proposed issuance of Incidental Take Permits (permits) to 
the City of Tacoma, WA, Department of Public Utilities, Water Division 
(Tacoma Water). The proposed permits relate to water withdrawal, forest 
management, and timber harvest on City of Tacoma lands in King County, 
WA. Tacoma Water submitted applications on December 23, 1999, to the 
FWS and the NMFS (together, the Services) for permits pursuant to the 
Endangered Species Act (the Act). The proposed permits would authorize 
take of the following endangered or threatened species incidental to 
otherwise lawful management activities: gray wolf (Canis lupis), bald 
eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus 
marmoratus marmoratus), northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis 
caurina), grizzly bear (Ursus arctos), Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), 
Puget Sound chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), and bull trout 
(Salvelinus confluentus). Tacoma Water is also seeking coverage for 24 
currently unlisted species under specific provisions of the permits, 
should these species be listed in the future. The duration of the 
proposed permits is 50 years. This notice is provided pursuant to the 
ESA, and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations.

DATES:  We will issue a Record of Decision and make a final permit 
decision no sooner than 30 days after publication of this notice.

ADDRESSES:  See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for addresses of locations 
where you may review copies of the documents.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  Mr. Tim Romanski, Project Biologist, 
FWS, 510 Desmond Drive. S.E., Suite 102, Lacey, Washington, 98503-1273, 
(360) 753-5823; or Mike Grady, Project Biologist, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point 
Way NE, Bldg. 1, Seattle, Washington, 98115-0070, (206) 526-4645.


Availability of Documents

    Copies of the Statement, and all associated documents are available 
for review at the following libraries:
    The Olympia Timberland Library, Reference Desk, 313 8th Avenue SE, 
Olympia, WA, (360)352-0595
    Tacoma Main Public Library, 1102 Tacoma Avenue South, Tacoma, WA, 
    Enumclaw City Library, 1700 1st Street, Enumclaw, WA, (360)825-
2938; Auburn Public Library, 808 9th Street SE, Auburn, WA, (253)931-
    The Seattle Public Library, Government Publications Desk, 1000 4th 
Avenue, Seattle, WA, (206)386-4636.
    The documents are also available electronically on the World Wide 
Web at http://www.r1.fws.gov/. Requests for documents or CD ROMs should 
be made by calling the FWS at (360)534-9330.
    Section 9 of the Act and Federal regulations prohibit the 
``taking'' of a species listed as endangered or threatened. The term 
take is defined under the Act to mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, 
shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage 
in any such conduct. Harm is defined by the FWS to include significant 
habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures 
wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns,

[[Page 1090]]

including breeding, feeding, and sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). The NMFS 
definition of harm includes significant habitat modification or 
degradation where it actually kills or injures fish or wildlife by 
significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including 
breeding, spawning, rearing, feeding, and sheltering (64 FR 60727, 
November 8, 1999).
    The Services may issue permits, under limited circumstances, to 
take listed species incidental to, and not for the purpose of, 
otherwise lawful activities. FWS regulations governing permits for 
endangered species are found at 50 CFR 17.22; and, regulations 
governing permits for threatened species are found at 50 CFR 17.32. 
NMFS regulations governing permits for threatened and endangered 
species are found at 50 CFR 222.307.


    Tacoma Water owns land and conducts management activities in the 
Green River Watershed in King County, WA. Management activities include 
the following: (1) operation of a water diversion dam and associated 
facilities (Headworks) on the Green River; (2) forest management on 
approximately 14,888 acres (approximately 6025 hectares)of land 
upstream of the Headworks diversion dam on both sides of the river; and 
(3) well field operations (North Fork Well Field) located approximately 
5 miles (8 kilometers) upstream of the Headworks. Tacoma Water operates 
and manages the Headworks, watershed lands, and the North Fork Well 
Field as the principal source of municipal and industrial water for the 
City of Tacoma and portions of Pierce and King Counties. Howard Hanson 
Dam (Dam) and Howard Hanson Reservoir (Reservoir), owned and operated 
by the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), are also located on the Green 
River, upstream of the Headworks. City lands in the watershed are 
adjacent to the Dam and Reservoir.
    Current trends in planned population growth within the Puget Sound 
region create a need for Tacoma Water to explore possibilities for 
increasing its water supply capabilities. To meet forecasted demands, 
Tacoma has developed two separate but related plans. The first of 
these, the Second Supply Project, involves improvements at the 
Headworks and the construction of a 33.5-mile (53.9 Kilometers) long 
pipeline from the Headworks to the City of Tacoma. Upstream fish 
passage around Tacoma's Headworks and the Dam would be provided by the 
City of Tacoma as partial mitigation for the Second Supply Project. 
This project is the subject of a State Environmental Policy Act review 
in a document entitled ``Final Supplemental Environmental Impact 
Statement for the Second Supply Project, October 18, 1994,'' prepared 
by Tacoma Water. The second related plan was developed in conjunction 
with the Corps (and in cooperation with the Services, the Washington 
Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Ecology, and 
the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe), to increase the volume of water stored 
behind the Dam during non-flood control periods (late spring, summer, 
and early fall). Known as the Additional Water Storage Project, this 
plan incorporates restoration and mitigation measures (including 
downstream fish passage) to alleviate the historical barrier to 
migrating salmon created by the Dam. The size of the Dam will not 
change as a result of the Additional Water Storage Project. This 
Additional Water Storage Project is the subject of a NEPA review in a 
document entitled ``Additional Water Storage Project, Final Feasibility 
Study Report and EIS, Howard Hanson Dam, Green River, Washington, 
August, 1998,'' prepared by the Seattle District of the Corps.
    Tacoma Water's activities associated with the Second Supply 
Project, the Additional Water Storage Project, and other management 
activities on the City's watershed lands have the potential to impact 
species subject to protection under the Act. Section 10 of the Act 
contains provisions for the issuance of Incidental Take Permits to non-
Federal landowners for the take of endangered and threatened species, 
provided the take is incidental to otherwise lawful activities, and 
will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery 
of the species in the wild. In addition, the applicant must prepare and 
submit to the Services for approval an Habitat Conservation Plan(HCP) 
containing a program for minimizing and mitigating, to the maximum 
extent practicable, all take associated with the proposed activities. 
The applicant must also ensure that adequate funding for the Plan will 
be provided.
    Tacoma Water has developed an HCP with technical assistance from 
the Services, to obtain permits for their activities in the Green River 
Watershed. Activities proposed for coverage under the permits include 
the following.
    (1) Water withdrawal at the Headworks for Municipal and Industrial 
Water Supply. This withdrawal would reduce flows, have concomitant 
habitat effects downstream, include the bypass of fish at the Headworks 
intake, and inundate the small impoundment area.
    (2) Water withdrawal from the North Fork Well Field for Municipal 
and Industrial Water Supply, which would potentially reduce flows in 
the North Fork Green River above the Reservoir.
    (3) Construction of Headworks improvements (anticipated to occur 
during a 2- year period).
    Such construction would cause:
    (a) bypassing of fish at the Headworks intake during construction;
    (b) raising the existing diversion dam by approximately 6.5 ft 
(approximately 2 meters) which would extend the inundation pool to 
about 2,570 ft (approximately 783 meters) upstream of the Headworks 
    (c) realigning and enlarging the existing intake and adding 
upgraded fish screens and bypass facilities for downstream passage;
    (d) reshaping the Green River channel downstream of the existing 
diversion to accommodate the installation of an efficient trap-and-haul 
facility for upstream fish passage;
    (e) installing a new trap-and-haul facility for upstream fish 
passage; and,
    (f) installation, monitoring, and maintenance of the instream 
structures in the impoundment for the Headworks dam raise fisheries 
    (4) Operating a downstream fish bypass facility at the Headworks.
    (5) Tacoma watershed forest management activities, consisting of:
    (a) watershed patrol and inspection;
    (b) forest road construction, maintenance, and use;
    (c) forest road culvert removal, replacement, and maintenance;
    (d) timber harvest and hauling; and,
    (e) silvicultural activities (e.g., planting, thinning, and 
inventorying trees).
    (6) Monitoring of downstream fish passage through a proposed fish 
passage facility at the Dam, associated with the Additional Water 
Supply Project.
    (7) Monitoring and maintenance of Additional Water Supply Project 
fish habitat restoration projects and Additional Water Supply Project 
fish and wildlife habitat mitigation projects.
    (8) Potential restoration of anadromous fish above the Dam by 
trapping and hauling adults returning to the Headworks, and possible 
planting of hatchery juveniles if found to be beneficial to 
    The Services formally initiated an environmental review of the 
project through a Federal Register notice on August 21, 1998 (63 FR 
44918). This notice also announced a 30-day public scoping period 
during which other agencies, tribes, and the public were invited to 
provide comments and suggestions regarding issues and

[[Page 1091]]

alternatives to be considered. A second Federal Register notice was 
published following the scoping period on January 20, 1999 (64 FR 
3066), announcing the decision to prepare an Environmental Impact 
Statement. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was 
subsequently produced and made available for a 60-day public comment 
period on January 14, 2000 (65 FR 2390). The comment period was 
extended for 17 days to March 14, 2000 (65 FR 13947), in direct 
response to requests from the public. This resulted in a total comment 
period of 77 days. Comments received on the DEIS and responses to those 
comments are included in the FEIS.
    The analyses in the FEIS are done in two parts; one covering the 
alternatives for water withdrawal activities, and the other covering 
alternatives for land management activities in the upper watershed. 
Three water withdrawal alternatives are analyzed in detail, including: 
(1) the no action alternative; (2) the proposed HCP alternative; and, 
(3) an alternative involving the construction of a new water withdrawal 
facility approximately 30 miles downstream of the existing Tacoma 
Headworks. Four additional water withdrawal options were identified 
during scoping, but they are not analyzed in detail as alternatives to 
the proposed action because they would not accomplish Tacoma's 
objective of meeting current and future water demands, and/or because 
highly speculative information would be required to adequately analyze 
    Three alternatives are analyzed for Tacoma Water's watershed 
management, including: (1) the no action alternative; (2) the proposed 
HCP alternative; and, (3) a no commercial timber harvest alternative. A 
fourth watershed management option was identified during public 
scoping, but it was not analyzed in detail as an alternative to the 
proposed action because it would not accomplish Tacoma's objective of 
managing its watershed lands to protect water quality. Lastly, a fifth 
alternative was identified during public review of the DEIS, involving 
the state Forests and Fish Report. However, this was not fully analyzed 
because the No Action and proposed conservation measures surpassed this 
report, due to agreements Tacoma Water has with other stakeholders.
    All water withdrawal and watershed land management alternatives 
(except the no action alternatives) would provide incidental take 
coverage for the same 32 fish and wildlife species. These include the 
following listed species: gray wolf, bald eagle, marbled murrelet, 
northern spotted owl, grizzly bear, Canada lynx, Puget Sound chinook 
salmon, and the bull trout. Coverage is also being requested for 24 
currently unlisted species (including anadromous and resident fish) 
under specific provisions of the permits, should these species be 
listed in the future. The duration of the proposed permits and Plan is 
50 years.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(a) of the Act, and 
NEPA regulations. The Services will evaluate the application, 
associated documents, and comments submitted thereon to determine 
whether the application meets the requirements of the Act and the NEPA. 
If it is determined that the requirements are met, permits will be 
issued for the incidental take of all covered species.

    Dated: December 28, 2000.
Daniel Diggs,
Acting Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1, 
Portland, Oregon.
    Dated: January 2, 2001.
Margaret Lorenz,
Acting Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 01-374 Filed 1-4-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE: 3510-22 -S, 4310-55 -S