[Federal Register: September 7, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 174)]
[Page 46808-46809]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 46808]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Environmental Assessment for a Major Amendment to the County of 
San Diego Subarea Plan of the Multiple Species Conservation Program 
Plan, California

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The County of San Diego (County) has requested a major 
amendment to its Subarea Plan of the Multiple Species Conservation 
Program (MSCP) and has forwarded this request to the Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service) for approval. Our proposed action would include the 
Cielo Ridge and Rancho de Lusardi properties into the MSCP for 
incidental take authorization (including harm, injury and harassment), 
if necessary, of species listed as threatened or endangered pursuant to 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. Take authorization may 
be needed during the development of homes on these properties should 
unlisted species covered by the MSCP become listed during the 50-year 
term of the permit. The County's existing incidental take permit (PRT-
840414) does not apply to these amendment areas until the amendment 
process has been completed. These amendment lands include key core 
habitat areas within the County's jurisdiction that are vital to the 
continued existence of many of the species covered for take 
authorization under the County's permit. Upon completion of the 
amendment process, Cielo Ridge and Rancho Cielo de Lusardi would be 
annexed into the County's Subarea Plan, and if necessary, these 
properties would then be afforded take authorization pursuant to the 
County's permit and implementing agreement (legal contact).
    This notice announces the availability of the Environmental 
Assessment (EA), dated January, 2001, and the Major Amendment proposed 
by the County. These documents describe the proposed action and 
possible alternatives.

DATES: Written comments should be received by the Service on or before 
October 9, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Mr. Jim Bartel, Field 
Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 2730 Loker Avenue West, 
Carlsbad, California 92008. Written comments may be sent by facsimile 
to (760) 431-9618.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Patrice Ashfield, Fish and 
Wildlife Biologist, [see ADDRESSES]; telephone (760) 431-9440.


Document Availability

    Individuals interested in obtaining copies of the Proposed Major 
Amendment and Environmental Assessment for review should immediately 
contact the aforementioned office [see ADDRESSES]. Documents will also 
be available for public inspection by appointment during normal 
business hours (8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.) Monday through 
Friday at the above address.


    Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act and Federal regulation 
prohibit the ``taking'' of a species listed as endangered or 
threatened. The term ``take'' means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, 
shoot, wound, kill, capture or collect listed wildlife, or attempt to 
engage in such conduct. Harm includes habitat modification that kills 
or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral 
patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering. Under limited 
circumstances, the Service may issue permits for take of listed species 
that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful 
activities. Regulations governing permits for threatened and endangered 
species are found in 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 17.22.
    When the County completed its Subarea Plan of the MSCP, the status 
of several sites within the South County and Lake Hodges segments was 
not resolved, and these lands were designated as major or minor 
amendment areas. The County's take authorization does not apply to 
these amendment areas until the amendment process has been completed.
    The County has requested a major amendment to include Cielo Ridge 
and Rancho Cielo de Lusardi properties into its Subarea Plan of the 
MSCP for incidental take authorization of species, should it be needed, 
during development of 11 Cielo Ridge homes and 13 Rancho Cielo de 
Lusardi homes. These properties are located north of the Del Dios 
Highway in the Santa Fe Valley, County of San Diego, California. Lands 
designated as major amendment areas include several properties that did 
not initially participate in the MSCP as the regional habitat 
conservation plan was being formulated. The inclusion of the proposed 
housing subdivisions, Cielo Ridge and Rancho Cielo de Lusardi, into the 
MSCP County Subarea Plan would incorporate these projects into the 
County of San Diego's subregional planning efforts. To this end, these 
proposed subdivisions have been reviewed under the County of San 
Diego's Biological Mitigation Ordinance and the County Subarea Plan for 
the MSCP and have been found by the County to be in conformance with 
relevant criteria and regulations.
    These amendment lands include key core habitat areas within the 
County's jurisdiction that are vital to the continued existence of many 
of the species included on the County's permit. A request for a major 
amendment area must be processed by the Service and the California 
Department of Fish and Game Agencies in conformity with all applicable 
laws and regulations (including National Environmental Policy Act, 
California Environmental Quality Act, and the Endangered Species Act). 
Upon completion of the amendment process, Cielo Ridge and Rancho Cielo 
de Lusardi would be annexed into the County's Subarea Plan, and if 
necessary, these properties would then be afforded take authorization 
pursuant to the County's permit and implementing agreement.
    Together Cielo Ridge and Rancho Cielo de Lusardi properties would 
add 87.5 acres of land into the San Diego County MSCP Subarea Plan. 
Approximately 36.4 acres of habitat would be impacted by the 
construction of 24 homes, including 30.2 acres of southern mixed 
chaparral, 5.3 acres of disturbed habitat, 0.1 acre of non-native 
grassland and 0.8 acre of eucalyptus woodland. No state or federally 
threatened or endangered species have been identified onsite; however, 
unlisted rare species occur onsite that could be listed during the 50-
year term of the permit. Proposed mitigation to offset project impacts 
include 41.2 acres of dedicated open space, along with 10.0 acres of 
open space to be contained within the proposed housing lots for a total 
of 51.2 acres of permanent open space dedicated to the County of San 
    The inclusion of 51.2 acres of open space would enhance the 
regional preserve in this area by creating a corridor at the southern 
portion of the proposed residential development which extends southward 
to the San Dieguito River. The two sites are predominantly covered with 
mixed chaparral vegetation with several sensitive plant and animal 
species, including wart-stemmed ceanothus (Ceanothus verrucosus) and 
ashy spike-moss (Selaginella cinerascens). Proposed mitigation measures 
include onsite preservation of 71 percent of the habitat on Cielo Ridge 
and 45 percent of

[[Page 46809]]

the habitat on Rancho Cielo de Lusardi. Approximately 81 percent of the 
wart-stemmed ceanothus and 50 percent of the ashy spike-moss 
populations would be preserved within the proposed open space 
    An addendum to the previously certified Environmental Impact 
Report/Environmental Impact Statement has been prepared in accordance 
with California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines Section 15164. The 
County of San Diego has determined that the proposed amendment is in 
conformance with the California Environmental Quality Act, the MSCP 
Plan, and the Biological Mitigation Ordinance.
    Alternatives to the Service's proposed action include the Preferred 
Project Alternative which would include Cielo Ridge and Rancho Cielo de 
Lusardi into the MSCP and result in construction of 27 homes on 87.55 
acres. The total acreage of open space from both properties under this 
alternative would be 48.9 acres. The No Action Alternative would result 
in no development of either property.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(a) of the Endangered 
Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 
regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). All comments received, including names and 
addresses, will become part of the official administrative record and 
may be made available to the public. We will evaluate the proposed 
amendment, associated documents, and submitted comments to determine 
whether the proposed amendment meets the requirements of the National 
Environmental Policy Act regulations and section 10(a) of the 
Endangered Species Act. If it is determined that the requirements are 
met, the County Subarea Plan of the MSCP Plan will be amended to 
include the Cielo Ridge and Rancho Cielo de Lusardi subdivisions. We 
will make a final decision no sooner than 30 days from the date of 
publication of this notice.

    Dated: August 21, 2001.
Daniel S. Walsworth,
Acting Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 01-22505 Filed 9-6-01; 8:45 am]