[Federal Register: October 11, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 198)]
[Page 63444-63445]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Gosnell Habitat Conservation Plan, San Luis Obispo County, 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Availability.


SUMMARY: Robert C. and Holly R. Gosnell (Applicants), have 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 (Act). The proposed permit would authorize take of the 
federally endangered Morro shoulderband snail (Helminthoglypta 
walkeriana) incidental to otherwise lawful activities. Such take would 
occur as a result of development of one single-family residence within 
a 27,273-square-foot parcel owned by the Applicants and located in Los 
Osos, San Luis Obispo County, California. Development will result in 
the loss of 12,245 square feet of degraded coastal sage scrub habitat. 
The parcel is known to support the Morro shoulderband snail.
    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). The HCP describes the proposed project 
and the measures that the Applicants would undertake to minimize and 
mitigate take of the Morro shoulderband snail, as required in section 
10 (a)(2)(B) of the Act.
    We also request comments on our preliminary determination that the 
HCP qualifies as a ``low-effect'' Habitat Conservation 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 should be received on or before November 12, 

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Ms. Diane Noda, Field Supervisor, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2493 Portola Road Suite B, Ventura, 
California 93003. Comments may be sent by facsimile to (805) 644-3958.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Steve Kirkland, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, at the above address or call (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 include kill, harm, or harass. 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, respectively.
    The Gosnell single-family residence project site is located at 1194 
Al Sereno Lane (APN 74-323-057), Los Osos, San Luis Obispo County. The 
Applicants are requesting a 25-year incidental take permit for the 
Morro shoulderband snail.
    The proposed project is development of a single-family residence on 
a 27,273-square-foot parcel. The project would disturb a 12,245-square-
foot area (development area) (44.9 percent of the lot) dominated by 
non-native veldt grass (Ehrharta calycina). The Applicants have 
submitted an HCP to minimize and mitigate for impacts to the Morro 
shoulderband snail. The project site also contains the federally 
threatened Morro Manzanita (Arctostaphylos morroensis). However, no 
Morro Manzanita plants will be impacted by the proposed project. No 
critical habitat for any listed species occurs on the project site. 
Approximately 15,022 square feet of the 27,273-square-foot parcel is 
characterized by the coastal sage scrub plant community, which is 
habitat for the Morro shoulderband snail.
    Under the HCP, the Applicants propose to implement measures to 
minimize and mitigate for the removal of habitat for the Morro 
shoulderband snail. Specifically, they propose to (1) dedicate a 
conservation easement for the 15,022 square feet of coastal sage scrub 
habitat (55.1 percent of the lot) to the County of San Luis Obispo; and 
(2) enhance and maintain the coastal sage scrub habitat by removing at 
least 95 percent of the veldt grass prior to any ground disturbing 
activities and by maintaining the plant cover at no more than 5 percent 
veldt grass. Furthermore, the Applicants propose to donate $15,325 
(equal to 17,820 square feet) toward the purchase of the 40-acre Powell 
II property, which contains Morro shoulderband snail habitat and is 
adjacent to protected lands within the Northeast Los Osos conservation 
planning area identified in the Recovery Plan for the snail.
    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 Morro 
shoulderband snail. Two alternatives to the taking of a listed species 
under the Proposed Action are considered in the HCP. Under the No-
Action Alternative, the project site would not be developed and no 
permit would be issued. Without the HCP, conservation measures for the 
Morro shoulderband snail, such as exotic weed eradication, would not be 
implemented, resulting in further degradation of habitat on the site 
for the snail. This alternative would also result in unnecessary 
economic burden on the Gosnell family.
    Under the Redesigned Project alternative, the development footprint 
for the project would be reduced or located to another portion of the 

[[Page 63445]]

However, the configuration and location of the development area was 
selected to minimize impacts to the portion of the property that is 
dominated by native species and which offers the best habitat for Morro 
shoulderband snails. Relocation of the development area would result in 
a greater disturbance to intact, coastal sage scrub habitat resulting 
in greater impacts to Morro shoulderband snails. A reduction in the 
size of the development area is not economically feasible because the 
proposed project has already been designed to meet the minimum needs of 
the Applicants. The Applicants also consider the proposed development 
area more desirable than elsewhere on the property.
    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 Habitat Conservation Plan for the Gosnell Project Site 
qualifies as a ``low-effect'' plan for the following reasons:
    1. Approval of the HCP would result in minor or negligible effects 
on the Morro shoulderband snail and its habitat. The Service does not 
anticipate significant direct or cumulative effects to the Morro 
shoulderband snail resulting from development of the Gosnell single-
family residence project.
    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 
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 Applicants for the incidental 
take of the Morro shoulderband snail from development of the Gosnell 
Project site. We will make the final permit decision no sooner than 30 
days from the date of this notice.

    Dated: October 4, 2002.
Miel R. Corbett,
Acting Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 02-25921 Filed 10-10-02; 8:45 am]