[Federal Register: August 29, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 168)]
[Page 45690-45691]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Roosevelt Habitat Conservation Plan (RHCP) for Gila and Maricopa 
Counties, Arizona

AGENCY: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement 
(EIS) and notice of public scoping meeting related to the Roosevelt 
Habitat Conservation Plan (RHCP).


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), this 
notice advises the public that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service) intends to prepare an EIS to evaluate the impacts of and 
alternatives for the possible issuance of an incidental take permit 
(ITP), pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (Act), to the Salt River Project (SRP). SRP proposes 
to be an applicant for an ITP, through development and implementation 
of the RHCP, as required by the Act for issuance of an ITP. The RHCP 
will provide the measures to minimize and mitigate the effects of the 
proposed taking of listed and sensitive species and the habitats upon 
which they depend.

DATES AND ADDRESSES: Written comments on alternatives and issues to be 
addressed in the EIS are requested by November 22, 2001, and should be 
sent to Mr. David Harlow, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021 at 
602/242-0210. Oral and written comments also will be accepted at a 
public scoping meeting to be held on October 22, 2001, 6-8 p.m. at the 
offices of the Salt River Project, 1521 Project Drive, Tempe, Arizona.
    Written comments received by the Service become part of the public 
record associated with this action. Those comments, as well as the 
names and addresses of anyone who provides comments may and can be 
disclosed to requesters of information associated with this notice 
under the Freedom of Information Act.

Sherry Barrett, Assistant Field Supervisor, Tucson Suboffice, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 300 West Congress, Room 6J, Tucson, AZ 85701 at 
520/670-4617, or Mr. Jim Rorabaugh, Arizona State Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 
85021 at 602/242-0210.
    For further information on the RHCP, Contact: Mr. John Keane, 
Executive Environmental Policy Analyst, Salt River Project, P.O. Box 
52025, PAB355, Phoenix, AZ 85072-2025 at 602/236-5087, or Mr. Steve 
Dougherty, Senior Ecologist, ERO Resources Corporation, 1842 Clarkson 
Street, Denver, CO 80218 at 303/830-1188.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice advises the public that the 
Service intends to gather information necessary to determine impacts 
and formulate alternatives for the EIS related to the potential 
issuance of an ITP to SRP and the development and implementation of the 
RHCP, which will provide measures to minimize and mitigate the effects 
of the incidental take of federally listed species.


    Roosevelt Dam and reservoir (Roosevelt) is operated by SRP in 
conjunction with three other reservoirs on the Salt River and two 
reservoirs on the Verde River as integral features of the Salt River 
Reclamation Project (Project), authorized by the Reclamation Act of 
1902, and pursuant to a 1917 contract with the United States. Since 
completion in 1911, Roosevelt has provided water for power generation, 
irrigation, municipal and other uses. Currently, the reservoir system 
supplies water to more than 1.6 million people in the cities of 
Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, Glendale, Gilbert, Scottsdale, 
Tolleson, and Avondale. In addition, water is provided to irrigate 
agricultural lands within the Project and for other uses. Also, water 
is delivered to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Fort 
McDowell Indian Community, Gila River Indian Community, Buckeye 
Irrigation Company, Roosevelt Irrigation District, Roosevelt Water 
Conservation District, and others. Roosevelt and the other SRP 
reservoirs also provide a variety of recreational uses and 
environmental benefits in central Arizona.
    Due to dry conditions in central Arizona for the past several 
years, the reservoir level behind Roosevelt Dam has been below normal. 
As a result, riparian vegetation has invaded and flourished in the 
portion of the storage space historically used by SRP to store water 
for use in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Animals that use riparian 
habitat have followed the vegetation growth and now occupy areas within 
the reservoir. In particular, a population of southwestern willow 
flycatchers (Empidonax traillii extimus), which is listed as endangered 
under federal law, now occupies habitat within the storage space at 
Roosevelt. Thus, periodic refilling of the reservoir may adversely 
affect habitat used by the southwestern willow flycatcher and other 
sensitive species.

Purpose and Need for Action

    Section 9 of the Act prohibits the ``taking'' of threatened and 
endangered species. The Service may, however, under limited 
circumstances, issue permits to take federally listed and candidate 
species, when such a taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, 
otherwise lawful activities. Regulations governing permits for 
endangered species are at 50 CFR 17.22. The term ``take'' under the Act 
means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, 
or collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct. The proposed 
permit would allow approved incidental take associated with SRP's 
filling of the reservoir space and continued operation of Roosevelt, 
consistent with its purpose as a water storage and power generation 
    Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act and regulations at 50 CFR 17.32 
contain provisions for issuing ITPs to non-

[[Page 45691]]

federal entities for the take of endangered and threatened species, 
provided the following criteria are met:
    1. The taking will be incidental;
    2. The applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize 
and mitigate the impacts of such taking;
    3. The applicant will develop a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and 
ensure that adequate funding for the HCP will be provided;
    4. The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the 
survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and
    5. Any other measures that the Service may require as being 
necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the HCP to be met.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action is the issuance of an ITP for listed and 
sensitive species for SRP's operation of Roosevelt, pursuant to section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. SRP will 
develop and implement the RHCP, as required by section 10(a)(1)(B) of 
the Endangered Species Act. The RHCP will provide measures to minimize 
and mitigate the effects of the proposed taking on listed and sensitive 
species and their habitats. The biological goal of the RHCP is to 
ensure that any take of listed species will not appreciably reduce the 
likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species.
    As proposed, the ITP would enable SRP to continue the operation of 
Roosevelt to store and release water and to generate power.
    SRP is expected to apply for an ITP for the following federally 
listed and candidate species: southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax 
traillii extimus), bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), and the 
yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus).
    SRP also is seeking to address and cover any other rare and/or 
sensitive species that may be affected by SRP's operation of Roosevelt. 
Unlisted species that are addressed as if they were listed, and that 
are found to be adequately conserved by the RHCP, will be automatically 
encompassed by the ITP should they be listed as federally threatened or 
endangered species at some time in the future. Other listed species for 
which SRP is not seeking permit coverage also may benefit from the 
conservation measures provided in the RHCP.


    Alternatives currently being considered by the Service include the 
    1. Proposed Action by the Service--Issuance of an ITP by the 
Service authorizing the continued operation of Roosevelt by SRP with 
implementation of the RHCP involving measures to minimize and mitigate 
the potential take of federally listed species.
    2. No Action by the Service--No issuance of an ITP by the Service; 
this would require SRP to do everything within its control to avoid any 
take of federally listed species associated with its continued 
operation of Roosevelt.
    3. Other Section 10 Alternatives--Issuance of an ITP by the Service 
for the RHCP involving modifications to operation of Roosevelt and 
SRP's other reservoirs on the Salt and Verde Rivers along with 
additional measures to minimize and mitigate the potential take of 
federally listed species. It is anticipated that the EIS will include 
one or two reservoir operation alternatives that fall in the range 
between the Proposed Action and the No Action by the Service.
    4. Section 7 Consultation--This alternative would involve 
reinitiation of consultation on Roosevelt under Section 7 of the Act. 
The Service completed a consultation with the Bureau of Reclamation in 
1996 involving the additional reservoir capacity created by 
construction at Roosevelt.

Additional Information

    It is anticipated that SRP will request a permit duration of 50 
years. Implementation of the RHCP will result in the establishment of 
measures that will provide for the conservation of covered species and 
their habitats in perpetuity. Research and monitoring, in combination 
with adaptive management, will be used to facilitate accomplishment of 
these goals.
    The Service will conduct an environmental review that analyzes the 
proposed action, as well as a range of reasonable alternatives and the 
associated impact of each. The EIS will be the basis for the Service's 
evaluation of impacts to the species and to the environment, and the 
range of alternatives to be evaluated. The EIS is expected to provide 
biological descriptions of species and habitats and the effects of the 
proposed action on: vegetation, wetlands, wildlife, threatened or 
endangered species and species of concern, geology and soils, visual 
resources, air quality, water resources, flood control, water quality, 
archaeology, historic structures, traditional cultural properties, land 
use, recreation, hydropower, water use, local economy, and 
environmental justice.
    Comments and suggestions are invited from all interested parties to 
ensure that a range of issues and alternatives related to the proposed 
action are identified. The review of this project will be conducted 
according to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act 
of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), National Environmental 
Policy Act Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), and other appropriate 
federal laws, regulations, policies and guidance.

Related Project Documentation

    It is anticipated that the EIS process will make full use 
(including incorporation by reference, as appropriate, pursuant to 
NEPA) of documents prepared by other entities regarding the 
environmental and socioeconomic issues in the project area, copies of 
which will be available for public inspection at the office of Mr. John 
Keane, Executive Environmental Policy Analyst, Salt River Project, P.O. 
Box 52025, PAB355, Phoenix, AZ 85072-2025 at 602/236-5087.
    After the environmental review is completed, the Service will 
publish a notice of availability and a request for comment on the draft 
EIS and SRP's permit application, which will include the RHCP.
    The draft EIS is expected to be completed by January 2002.

    Dated: August 21, 2001.
Bryan Arroyo,
Acting Regional Director, Southwest Region, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. 01-21743 Filed 8-28-01; 8:45 am]