[Federal Register: March 22, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 56)]
[Page 13357-13358]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of a Safe Harbor Agreement for Forster-Gill, Inc., 
Blue Lake Properties, Humboldt County, California

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that Forster-Gill, Inc., has 
applied to the Fish and Wildlife Service (we, the Service) for an 
enhancement of survival permit pursuant to section 10 (a)(1)(A) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) for northern spotted 
owl (Strix occidentalis caurina). The permit application includes a 
Safe Harbor Agreement between Forster-Gill, Inc., and the Service. The 
proposed Agreement and permit would become effective upon signature of 
the Agreement and would remain in effect 80 and 90 years, respectively. 
We have made a preliminary determination that the proposed Agreement 
and permit application are eligible for categorical exclusion under the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). We explain the basis 
for this determination in an Environmental Action Statement, which is 
also available for public review.
    We announce the opening of a 30-day comment period to receive 
comments from the public on the Applicant's enhancement of survival 
permit application, the accompanying proposed Agreement, and 
Environmental Action Statement. For further information and instruction 
on the reviewing and comment process, see Public Review and Comment 
section below.

[[Page 13358]]

DATES: Written comments must be received by April 22, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Mr. Bruce Halstead, Project 
Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, 
California, 95521; facsimile (707) 822-8411. (See Public Review and 
Comments section below.)

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Ken Hoffman at the above address 
or telephone (707) 822-7201.



    Under a Safe Harbor Agreement, participating property owners 
voluntarily undertake management activities on their property to 
enhance, restore, or maintain habitat benefitting species listed under 
the Act. Safe Harbor Agreements encourage private and other non-Federal 
property owners to implement conservation efforts for listed species by 
assuring property owners they will not be subject to increased property 
use restrictions if their efforts attract listed species to their 
property or increase the numbers or distribution of listed species 
already on their property. Application requirements and issuance 
criteria for enhancement of survival permits through Safe Harbor 
Agreements are found in 50 CFR 17.22(c).
    We have worked with Forster-Gill, Inc., to develop a Safe Harbor 
Agreement for the creation and enhancement of habitat for the northern 
spotted owl on the Forster-Gill, Inc., properties in Blue Lake, 
California. There are two baseline conditions that will be maintained 
under this Agreement: (1) Protection of an 11.2-acre no-harvest area 
that will buffer the most recent active northern spotted owl nest site, 
but will also be maintained in the absence of a nest site; and (2) 
maintenance of 216 acres on the property such that the trees will 
always average 12 to 24 inch diameter at breast height with a canopy 
closure of 60 to 100 percent. The property is currently at the lower 
end of the diameter and canopy closure ranges. By the end of the 
Agreement, the property will be at the upper end of the diameter and 
canopy closure ranges. Under this Agreement, Forster-Gill, Inc., will: 
(1) Annually survey and monitor for the species location and 
reproductive status; (2) protect all active nest sites (locations where 
nesting behavior is observed during any of the previous 3 years) with a 
no-harvest area that buffers the nest site by no less than 300 feet and 
limits timber harvest operations, within 1,000 feet of an active nest 
site during the breeding season, to the use of existing haul roads; and 
(3) manage the second growth redwood timber on the property in a manner 
that maintains suitable northern spotted owl habitat while creating 
over time the multi-layered canopy structure with an older, larger tree 
component associated with high quality spotted owl habitat.
    We anticipate that this Agreement will provide, maintain, and 
enhance for the 80-year life of the Agreement over 200 acres of 
suitable northern spotted owl habitat within a matrix of private 
    Consistent with Safe Harbor policy, we propose to issue a permit to 
Forster-Gill, Inc., authorizing incidental take of northern spotted 
owls which may move on to the enrolled lands, and their progeny, as a 
result of lawful activities on the Forster-Gill, Inc., Blue Lake 
Properties, so long as baseline conditions are maintained and terms of 
the Agreement are implemented. These activities include unintentional 
take of northern spotted owls from long-term timber management and 
related activities including the felling, skidding and transport of 
timber and other related forest products. As the long-term timber 
management and related activities proposed under this Agreement will 
not result in the elimination of any currently suitable spotted owl 
habitat, it is unlikely that take would occur in this manner. However, 
in the event that an owl pair moves on to, or within 300 feet of the 
enrolled property, the application of uneven aged timber management 
using single tree selection silviculture between 300 and 500 feet from 
an active nest site, may result in incidental take through degradation 
of the habitat, e.g. alteration of the microclimate within the 
proximity of the nest site. The development and maintenance of high 
quality habitat in a matrix of private timberland subject to even aged 
management regimes will provide a relatively stable habitat condition 
that we believe will provide high productivity for multiple generations 
of spotted owls. Therefore, the cumulative impact of the Agreement and 
the activities it covers, which are facilitated by the allowable 
incidental take, is expected to provide a net benefit to the northern 
spotted owl.
    We provide this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act and 
pursuant to implementing regulations for NEPA (40 CFR 1506.6). We will 
evaluate the permit application, associated documents, and comments 
submitted therein to determine whether the permit application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a) of the Act and NEPA regulations. If, upon 
completion of the 30-day comment period, we determine that the 
requirements are met, we will sign the Agreement and issue an 
enhancement of survival permit under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act to 
Forster-Gill, Inc., for take of northern spotted owls incidental to 
otherwise lawful activities in accordance with the terms of the 

Public Review and Comments

    Individuals wishing copies of the permit application, the 
Environmental Action Statement, or copies of the full text of the 
Agreement, including a map of the proposed permit area, references, and 
legal descriptions of the proposed permit area, should contact the 
office and personnel listed in the ADDRESSES section above.
    If you wish to comment on the permit application, Environmental 
Action Statement, or the Agreement, you may submit your comments to the 
address listed in the ADDRESSES section of this document. Comments and 
materiels received, including names and addresses of respondents, will 
be available for public review, by appointment, during normal business 
hours at the address in the ADDRESSES section above and will become 
part of the public record, pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act.

    Dated: March 15, 2002.
John Engbring,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office., Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 02-6928 Filed 3-21-02; 8:45 am]