[Federal Register: January 25, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 17)]
[Page 3731-3732]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Moorpark Highlands Habitat Conservation Plan, Ventura County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: Morrison-Fountainwood-Agoura (Applicant) has applied to the 
Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for an incidental take permit 
(Permit) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act 
of 1973, as amended. The Service proposes to issue a Permit to the 
applicant for a period of 10 years that would authorize take of the 
coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica) 
incidental to otherwise lawful activities at the northern terminus of 
Spring Road, Moorpark, California. Activities covered by the requested 
Permit and addressed by the proposed Plan include the construction and 
occupation of 570 residential units and appurtenant infrastructure on a 
445-acre site north of the City of Moorpark, Ventura County, 
    The Service requests comment from the public on the application and 
Environmental Assessment which are available for review. The 
application includes the proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and 
an accompanying Implementing Agreement (legal contract). The HCP 
describes the proposed project and the measures that the Applicant 
would undertake to minimize and mitigate take of the coastal California 
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(a) of the Endangered 
Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act regulations (40 CFR 
1506.6). All comments received, including names and addresses, will 
become part of the administrative record and may be made available to 
the public.

DATES: Written comments must be received no later than March 26, 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: Rick Farris, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, at the above address or by calling (805) 644-1766.


Document Availability

    You may obtain copies of these documents by contacting the Ventura 
Fish and Wildlife Office at the above address and telephone number. 
Documents also will be available for public inspection, by appointment, 
during normal business hours at the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office.

Background Information

    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 Applicant has proposed to construct 570 residential units and 
appurtenant infrastructure on a 445-acre site. The project site is 
located at the northern terminus of Spring Road, north of the city of 
Moorpark, Ventura County, California. Typical land uses in the area 
surrounding the project site include agriculture, residential 
development, commercial buildings, and undeveloped shrublands. 
Biologists surveyed the project site for special-status plants and 
wildlife in 1996, 1997, and periodically between 1998 and 2001. Based 
on these surveys, the Service concluded that the project may result in 
the take of two pairs of the threatened coastal California gnatcatcher.
    The Applicant proposes to implement numerous measures to minimize 
and mitigate take of the coastal California gnatcatchers. These 
measures include: (1) Purchase of mitigation credits equivalent to the 
territories of two pairs at a mitigation bank; (2) placement into 
permanent open space 94 acres of the site as the Habitat Conservation 
Plan Conservation Area; (3) creation and implementation of a habitat 
enhancement program to preserve and improve habitat values within the 
conservation area; (5) establishment of a non-wasting endowment for 
funding of the habitat maintenance program; (6) controlling human 
access into the conservation area; (7) construction of the Spring Road 
extension to minimize impacts to habitat and the coastal California 
gnatcatcher; and (8) revegetation of disturbed areas with coastal sage 
scrub plant species. Other measures are defined in the Plan and 
implementing agreement.
    The Environmental Assessment considers the environmental 
consequences of three alternatives in addition to the Proposed Project 
Alternative. The Proposed Project Alternative consists of the issuance 
of an incidental take permit and implementation of the Plan and its 
Implementing Agreement, which include measures to minimize and mitigate 
impacts of the project to the coastal California gnatcatcher. Under the 
No Action Project Alternative, the Permit would not be issued and no 
take of the coastal California gnatcatcher would occur. The Reduced 
Intensity Alternative would decrease the total number of dwelling 
units; however impacts to the coastal California gnatcatcher would be 
the same and the project would become economically infeasible. The No 
Development Alternative would still involve the construction of the 
Spring Road extension by the City of Moorpark and the loss of one pair 
of coastal California gnatcatchers; however, the second pair would not 
be taken because the residential development would not be built. 
Because the applicant would not be involved, it would suffer economic 
loss, and the City of Moorpark would have to apply for the Permit. In a 
single alternative, the EA also examines several variations on the 
proposed Spring Road alignment. All but the preferred alignment are 
deemed infeasible due to topography, circulation needs, fire department 
regulations, and impacts to the coastal California gnatcatcher.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(a) of the Act and 
regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 
(40 CFR 1506.6). The Service 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 Act. If it is determined that 
the requirements are met, a permit will be issued to the Applicant for 
the incidental take of the coastal California gnatcatcher. The final 
permit decision will be made no sooner than 60 days from the date of 
this notice.

[[Page 3732]]

    Dated: January 16, 2002.
Miel R. Corbett,
Acting Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 02-1849 Filed 1-24-02; 8:45 am]