[Federal Register: March 22, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 56)]
[Page 13354-13356]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Mayer Family Habitat Conservation Plan, Santa Cruz County, 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Availability.


SUMMARY: Geoffrey and Susan Mayer (Applicants) have applied to the Fish 
and Wildlife Service (Service) for an Incidental Take Permit pursuant 

[[Page 13355]]

section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). The proposed permit would authorize take of the federally 
endangered Mount Hermon June beetle (Polyphylla barbata) incidental to 
otherwise lawful activities associated with the development of a 0.35-
acre parcel (project site) near the City of Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz 
County, California. The Applicants have requested that the federally 
endangered Ben Lomond spineflower (Chorizanthe pungens var. 
hartwegiana) be included as a covered species on the permit.
    We request comments from the public on the permit application, 
which is available for review. The application includes a Low-Effect 
Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), that fully describes the proposed 
project and the measures that the Applicants would undertake to 
minimize and mitigate anticipated take of the Mount Hermon June beetle, 
as required in Section 10(a)(2)(B) of the Act. The HCP also addresses 
and adverse effects to the Ben Lomond spineflower.
    We also request comments on our preliminary determination that the 
HCP qualifies as a ``low-effect'' plan, eligible for a categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act. The basis for 
this determination is discussed in an Environmental Action Statement, 
which is also available for public review.

DATES: Written comments must be received no later than April 22, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be addressed to Diane Noda, Field 
Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, 
Ventura, California 93003. Comments may also be sent by facsimile to 
(805) 644-3958.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Colleen Sculley, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, at the above address or by calling (805) 644-1766.


Document Availability

    Please contact the above office if you would like copies of the 
application, HCP, and Environmental Action Statement. Documents also 
will be available for review by appointment, during normal business 
hours at the above address.


    Section 9 of the Act and Federal regulation prohibit the ``take'' 
of fish or wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened, 
respectively. Take of listed fish or wildlife 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. However, the 
Service, under limited circumstances, may 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 at 50 CFR 17.32 and 17.22, respectively. The taking 
prohibitions of the Act do not apply to federally listed plants on 
private lands unless such take would violate State law. Among other 
criteria, issuance of such permits must not jeopardize the existence of 
federally listed fish, wildlife, or plants. For these reasons, the 
Applicants have chosen to address the state and federally listed Ben 
Lomond spineflower in their HCP.
    The Applicants propose to construct a single-family dwelling and 
associated infrastructure, including driveways, sidewalks, retaining 
walls, lap pool, patio, and a concrete ditch, on a 0.35-acre parcel. 
The project site is located at 275 Bob's Lane in a residential 
neighborhood referred to as Whispering Pines in an unincorporated area 
of the County of Santa Cruz near the southwest boundary of the City of 
Scotts Valley. Zoning for this parcel and the surrounding residential 
neighborhood is R-1-10, indicating that one single-family residence is 
allowed on a minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet. Most of the 
Whispering Pines neighborhood has been built out, with less than 30 
lots remaining empty. The southwest and southeast boundaries of the 
parcel are bordered by existing homes, the northeast boundary borders 
Bobs Lane, and the northwest boundary borders an existing sand quarry. 
The project site is currently undeveloped and vegetated with a mixture 
of native and non-native species including ponderosa pine seedlings 
(Pinus ponderosa), live oaks (Quercus agrifolia and Q. wislizenii), 
liquidambars (Liquidambar sp.), silverleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos 
silvicola), cultivated grapes (Vitis sp.), bracken fern (Pteridium 
aquilinum var. pubescens), and non-native grasses.
    In 2000, biologists conducted surveys for special status plants and 
wildlife on the project site. Twenty-two adult males of the Mount 
Hermon June beetle were captured on the project site during one night 
of surveys. The Ben Lomond spineflower was observed growing in two 
areas totaling 1,406 square feet on the project site. Based on these 
surveys, the Service concluded that the development of the project site 
likely would result in take of the Mount Hermon June beetle, and 
adverse effects to the Ben Lomond spineflower.
    The Applicants propose to implement measures to minimize and 
mitigate for the removal of suitable habitat for the Mount Hermon June 
beetle and Ben Lomond spineflower from the project site. Specifically, 
they propose to (1) protect in perpetuity a one-acre mitigation parcel 
occupied by the Mount Hermon June beetle and Ben Lomond spineflower at 
an off-site location via a recorded conservation easement with the 
Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM); (2) provide funding for 
management and monitoring of the mitigation site in perpetuity in a 
manner that supports habitat for the Mount Hermon June beetle and Ben 
Lomond spineflower; and (3) undertake various measures during grading 
and construction activities at the project site to minimize impacts to 
both endangered species and their habitat.
    The Service's Proposed Action consists of the issuance of an 
incidental take permit and implementation of the HCP, which includes 
measures to minimize and mitigate impacts of the project on the Mount 
Hermon June beetle and Ben Lomond spineflower. Two alternatives to the 
taking of listed species under the Proposed Action are considered in 
the HCP. Under the No-Action alternative the project site would not be 
developed and the HCP would not be implemented. Without the HCP, 
habitat for the Ben Lomond spineflower and Mount Hermon June beetle on 
the project site likely would decline further as a result of threats 
from existing development surrounding the site. Furthermore, no off-
site habitat would be protected for the benefit of the Mount Hermon 
June beetle and Ben Lomond spineflower. This alternative would also 
result in an unnecessary economic burden on the Mayer family.
    Under the Redesigned Project alternative, the development footprint 
for the project would be reduced or relocated to another portion of the 
site, thus reducing or altering the area of destroyed habitat for the 
Mount Hermon June beetle and Ben Lomond spineflower. Given the small 
size of the project site (0.35 acres), a reduction in the development 
envelope would not significantly improve conditions for the Mount 
Hermon June beetle and Ben Lomond spineflower on the site. Adverse 
impacts from construction, on-going use of the site, and from 
surrounding residential development would threaten both species, 
regardless of the size or type of development that occurs on the 
project site. As the lot is small in size, and narrow and rectangular 
in shape, relocation of the house and associated infrastructure is not 
practical. This alternative would

[[Page 13356]]

also result in an unnecessary economic burden on the Mayer family.
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that the HCP 
qualifies as a ``low-effect'' plan as defined by its Habitat 
Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996). Our determination that 
a habitat conservation plan qualifies as a low-effect plan is based on 
the following three criteria: (1) Implementation of the plan would 
result in minor or negligible effects on federally listed, proposed, 
and candidate species and their habitats; (2) implementation of the 
plan would result in minor or negligible effects on other environmental 
values or resources; and (3) impacts of the plan, considered together 
with the impacts of other past, present and reasonably foreseeable 
similarly situated projects would not result, over time, in cumulative 
effects to environmental values or resources which would be considered 
significant. As more fully explained in our Environmental Action 
Statement, the Applicants' proposal to construct a single-family 
residence qualifies as a ``low-effect'' plan for the following reasons:
    1. Approval of the HCP would result in minor or negligible effects 
on the Ben Lomond spineflower and Mount Hermon June beetle and its 
habitat. The Service does not anticipate significant direct or 
cumulative effects to the Mount Hermon June beetle or Ben Lomond 
spineflower resulting from development of the project site.
    2. Approval of the HCP would not have adverse effects on unique 
geographic, historic or cultural sites, or involve unique or unknown 
environmental risks.
    3. Approval of the HCP would not result in any cumulative or growth 
inducing impacts and, therefore, would not result in significant 
adverse effects on public health or safety.
    4. The project does not require compliance with Executive Order 
11988 (Floodplain Management), Executive Order 11990 (Protection of 
Wetlands), or the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, nor does it 
threaten to violate a Federal, State, local or tribal law or 
requirement imposed for the protection of the environment.
    5. Approval of the HCP would not establish a precedent for future 
actions or represent a decision in principle about future actions with 
potentially significant environmental effects.
    The Service therefore has made a preliminary determination that 
approval of the HCP qualifies as a categorical exclusion under the 
National Environmental Policy Act, as provided by the Department of the 
Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6, Appendix 1). Based 
upon this preliminary determination, we do not intend to prepare 
further National Environmental Policy Act documentation. The Service 
will consider public comments in making its final determination on 
whether to prepare such additional documentation.
    The Service provides this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the 
Endangered Species Act. We will evaluate the permit application, the 
HCP, and comments submitted thereon to determine whether the 
application meets the requirements of section 10 (a) of the Act. If the 
requirements are met, the Service will issue a permit to the Mayers. We 
will make the final permit decision no sooner than 30 days from the 
date of this notice.

    Dated: March 15, 2002.
D. Kenneth McDermond,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 02-6927 Filed 3-21-02; 8:45 am]