[Federal Register: October 15, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 199)]
[Page 52446-52447]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of an Environmental Assessment and Receipt of an 
Application for an Incidental Take Permit for the Redhawk Communities, 
Inc. Development in Riverside County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and receipt of application.


SUMMARY: Redhawk Communities, Incorporated (the Applicant) 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. The Service is considering issuance of a 7-year 
permit to the Applicant that would authorize take of the endangered 
Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus woottoni) incidental to 
otherwise lawful activities. Such take would occur during the 
construction of 326 residential units and 84 condominium units on a 
previously graded site located near Temecula in southwestern Riverside 
County, California.
    We request comments from the public on the permit application, and 
an Environmental Assessment, both of which are available for review. 
The permit application includes the proposed Habitat Conservation Plan 
(HCP) and an accompanying Implementing Agreement (legal contract).

DATES: We must receive your written comments on or before December 14, 

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments to Mr. Jim Bartel, Field 
Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2730 Loker Avenue West, 
Carlsbad, California 92008. You also may send comments by facsimile to 
(760) 431-5902.

Conservation Plan Coordinator, at the above address or call (760) 431-


Availability of Documents

    You may obtain copies of these documents for review by contacting 
the above office. Documents also will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above 
address and at the Temecula Library located at 41000 County Center 
Drive, Temecula, California.


    Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act (Act) and Federal 
regulations prohibit the ``take'' of fish or wildlife species listed as 
endangered or threatened. Take of listed fish or wildlife is defined 
under the Act to include ``harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shot, wound, 
kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such 
conduct.'' The Service may, under limited circumstances, issue permits 
to authorize incidental take (i.e., take that is incidental to, and not 
the purpose of, the carrying out of an otherwise lawful activity). 
Regulations governing incidental take permits for threatened and 
endangered species are found in 50 CFR 17.32 and 17.22.
    The Applicant has proposed development of 326 residential units and 
84 condominium units on 102.81 acres. Surrounding land uses include 
residential development and a golf course.
    Biologists surveyed the project site for biological resources 
between 1998-2001. While no listed species had been found on Vesting 
Tentative Tracts 1, 2 and 3 and Tract 30246, issuance of a grading 
permit by the County was conditioned on surveys for Quino checkerspot 
butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino) and coastal California gnatcatcher 
(Polioptila californica californica) in the year immediately prior to 
construction. Surveys were conducted in 2001 by Pacific Southwest 
Biological Services. Neither Quino checkerspot butterfly nor coastal 
California gnatcatcher was found on the project site. During a break in 
pre-construction protocol surveys for the gnatctacher on March 23, 
2001, five fairy shrimp were observed and collected in two small 
temporary erosion control sedimentation basins on site.
    During additional 2001 surveys of the sedimentation basins, 
biologists found Riverside fairy shrimp in 11 of the 19 temporary 
sedimentation basins that still contained water. No shrimp were 
collected in two of the basins, and six basins were dry and not 
sampled. For purposes of this incidental take permit application, all 
19 of the temporary

[[Page 52447]]

sedimentation basins are considered to be occupied by Riverside fairy 
    Based on the survey results, the Service concluded that 
implementation of the proposed project would result in take of 
Riverside fairy shrimp habitat through the permanent removal of 1.01 
acres of temporary sedimentation basins. Environmental effects 
addressed in the HCP and Environmental Assessment include: (1) 
Potential loss of Riverside fairy shrimp cysts during salvage and 
translocation to the mitigation site; and (2) potential loss of 
Riverside fairy shrimp that could occupy a permanent sedimentation 
basin to be built and maintained on the project site in the future.
    The Applicant proposes to implement the following measures to 
mitigate and minimize take of Riverside fairy shrimp: (1) Restore, 
preserve, and manage in perpetuity a total of 1.5 acres of vernal pool 
habitat and 8 acres of the surrounding watershed on the Johnson Ranch 
northeast of the project site; (2) Avoid permanent loss of fairy shrimp 
individuals and temporal loss of their habitat by salvaging cysts from 
the Redhawk site and translocating them to the restored pools in the 
dry season (fall of 2001) to be ready for potential hydration and 
hatching during the winter rains of 2001-2002; (3) Store approximately 
one-fifth of the salvaged cysts at the San Diego Zoological Society's 
Center for the Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES) until the 
created pools meet their final success criteria. Storage at CRES would 
ensure that viable genetic material from the affected population 
remained in case the created pools were unsuccessful; and (4) Implement 
an adaptive management plan for the conserved areas. The Applicant 
proposes to endow the long-term management of the off-site mitigation 
of 1.5 acres of fairy shrimp basin habitat and surrounding watershed 
with a contribution of $25,000 to the California Department of Fish and 
Game (CDFG, the owner of the mitigation site) upon issuance of the 
incidental take permit. After success criteria stipulated in the HCP 
and mitigation plan are met, the conserved area would be protected and 
managed in perpetuity by the CDFG.
    The Environmental Assessment considers the environmental 
consequences of three alternatives including the Proposed Action. The 
Proposed Action consists of the issuance of an incidental take permit 
and implementation of the HCP and its Implementing Agreement, which 
include measures to minimize and mitigate impacts of the project on 
Riverside fairy shrimp. Under the ``No Action'' alternative, the 
Service would not issue a permit. Under this alternative, the Applicant 
could retain the property or sell it to somebody else who may choose to 
develop it. In either case, the temporary sedimentation basin habitat 
onsite would continue to be operated and maintained as a result of (1) 
Administrative Order No. 94-20 issued by the Regional Water Quality 
Control Board (RWQCB) in 1994 and (2) requirements of the Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA). The ``No Action'' alternative does not avoid 
take of Riverside fairy shrimp.
    Under the ``Avoidance of Temporary Sedimentation Basins'' 
alternative, complete redesign of the proposed development would be 
required to avoid the 1.01 acres of temporary erosion control basin 
habitat. The complete avoidance and preservation of the temporary 
erosion control sedimentation basins would result in the loss of about 
20 lots and make the proposed project economically infeasible. The 
temporary sedimentation basins were constructed along a central 
circulation road to provide easy access for maintenance and their 
avoidance would render the development infeasible. The benefits of the 
avoidance of the temporary sedimentation basins to Riverside fairy 
shrimp are not commensurate with the increased costs to the project. 
Additionally, the preservation of habitat in the middle of a 
residential development would result in a difficult management 
situation with marginal benefit for the species and the required 
operation and maintenance of the temporary sedimentation basins still 
would result in take of Riverside fairy shrimp and reduce the 
likelihood of their long-term survival on site. The significant costs 
for redesign would not result in improved conservation of the species.
    Under either of the alternatives, no HCP would be prepared. The 
alternatives would preclude the main conservation benefit of the HCP, 
the restoration of vestigial vernal pool habitat on the Johnson Ranch. 
Funds would not be contributed to provide for the management of the 
restored habitat in perpetuity.
    The alternatives to the Proposed Action would result in less 
habitat value for the Riverside fairy shrimp and contribute less to its 
long-term survival in the wild than the off-site mitigation measures 
under the Proposed Action.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(a) of the Endangered 
Species Act and the regulations of the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969 (40 CFR 1506.6). All comments that we receive, including 
names and addresses, will become part of the official administrative 
record and may be made available to the public. We will evaluate the 
application, associated documents, and comments submitted thereon to 
determine whether the application meets the requirements of the 
National Environmental Policy Act regulations and section 10(a) of the 
Endangered Species Act. If we determine that those requirements are 
met, we will issue a permit to the Applicant for the incidental take of 
Riverside fairy shrimp. We will make our final permit decision no 
sooner than 60 days from the date of this notice.

    Dated: October 5, 2001.
David Patte,
Acting Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 01-25786 Filed 10-12-01; 8:45 am]