[Federal Register: April 28, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 81)]
[Page 22410-22411]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement 
and Habitat Conservation Plan for the Natomas Basin, Sacramento and 
Sutter Counties, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public of the availability of the 
Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/
EIS) on the application by the City of Sacramento, Sutter County, and 
the Natomas Basin Conservancy (the ``applicants'') to the Fish and 
Wildlife Service (Service) for 50-year incidental take permits for 22 
covered species pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The applications address the 
potential for ``take'' of covered species associated with various 
activities within the Natomas Basin, a 53,537-acre area in the 
Sacramento Region. These activities (the ``covered activities'') 
include 15,517 acres of planned land development, and development and 
management of mitigation lands. A conservation program to minimize and 
mitigate for the covered activities would be

[[Page 22411]]

implemented as described in the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan 
(Plan), which would be jointly implemented by the applicants.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10 of the Act and 
National Environmental Policy Act Regulation (40 CFR 1506.6).

DATES: A Record of Decision and permit decision will occur no sooner 
than 30 days from the date of publication of the Environmental 
Protection Agency's notice of the Final EIS in the Federal Register.
    Availability of Documents: Copies of the Plan, Implementing 
Agreement and Final EIR/EIS are available for public inspection during 
regular business hours at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (see 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), the City of Sacramento Planning and 
Building Department, 1231 I Street, Room 300, Sacramento, California; 
State Library, 914 Capitol Mall, Sacramento, California; Central 
Library, 828 I Street, Sacramento, California; South Natomas Library, 
2901 Truxel Road, Sacramento, California; and Sutter County Library, 
750 Forbes Avenue, Yuba City, California.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Vicki Campbell, Chief, Division of 
Conservation Planning and Recovery, at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife 
Office; 2800 Cottage Way; Sacramento, California; telephone (916) 414-



    Section 9 of the Act and Federal regulation prohibit the ``take'' 
of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. Take is defined 
under the Act as harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture or collect listed animal species, or attempt to engage in such 
conduct (16 U.S.C. 1538). However, under limited circumstances, the 
Service may issue permits to authorize ``incidental take'' of listed 
animal species. ``Incidental take'' is defined by the Act as take that 
is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out of an otherwise 
lawful activity. Regulations governing permits for threatened species 
and endangered species, respectively, are at 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 
    The applicants are seeking permits for take of the following 
Federally listed species: the threatened giant garter snake (Thamnophis 
gigas), threatened valley elderberry longhorn beetle (Desmocerus 
californicus dimorphus), threatened vernal pool fairy shrimp 
(Branchinecta lynchi), and the endangered vernal pool tadpole shrimp 
(Lepidurus packardi). The proposed permits would also authorize future 
incidental take of the currently unlisted Swainson's hawk (Buteo 
swainsoni), Aleutian Canada goose (Branta canadensis leucopareia), bank 
swallow (Riparia riparia), tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor), 
northwestern pond turtle (Clemmys marmorata marmorata), white-faced 
ibis (Plegadis chihi), loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus), 
burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia), California tiger salamander 
(Ambystoma californiense), western spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus 
hammondii), and midvalley fairy shrimp (Branchinecta mesovallensis). 
Several listed and unlisted plant species are also included on the 
permits. Take of listed plant species is not prohibited under the Act 
and cannot be authorized under a section 10 permit. The following plant 
species are proposed to be included on the permits in recognition of 
the conservation benefits provided for them under the plan. These 
species would also receive no surprise assurances under the Service's 
``No Surprises'' regulation (63 FR 8859). The listed plant species 
proposed to be included on the permits are the threatened Colusa grass 
(Neostapfia colusana), endangered Sacramento Orcutt grass (Orcuttia 
viscida), and threatened slender Orcutt grass (Orcuttia tenuis). The 
following unlisted species are also proposed to be included on the 
permits: Boggs Lake hedge-hyssop (Gratiaola heterosepala), legenere 
(Legenere limosa), delta tule pea (Lathyrus jepsonii ssp. jepsonii) and 
Sanford's arrowhead (Sagittaria sanfordii), should any of these species 
become listed under the Act during the life of the permit. 
Collectively, the 22 listed and unlisted species are referred to as the 
``covered species'' in the Plan.
    The applicants propose to minimize and mitigate the effects to 
covered species associated with the covered activities by participating 
in the Plan. The purpose of this basin-wide conservation program is to 
promote biological conservation in conjunction with compatible economic 
and urban development within the Natomas Basin. Through the payment of 
development fees, one-half acre of mitigation land would be established 
for every acre of land developed within the various permit areas (a 
total of 7,759 acres of mitigation land to be acquired based on 15,517 
acres of urban development). The mitigation land would be acquired and 
managed by the Natomas Basin Conservancy. In addition to the 
requirement to pay mitigation fees, the Plan also includes take 
avoidance and minimization measures.
    On August 26, 2002, a notice was published in the Federal Register 
(67 FR 54819) announcing that the Service had received an application 
for an incidental take permit from the applicants based on the Plan and 
the availability of a Draft EIR/EIS for the application. The Draft EIR/
EIS analyzed the potential environmental impacts that may result from 
the Federal action of authorizing incidental take anticipated to occur 
as a result of urban development within the permit areas of the plan 
and as a result of the Plan's conservation program. The EIR/EIS also 
identified various alternatives to the Plan. Twenty-four comment 
letters were received on the Draft EIR/EIS. A response to each comment 
received has been included in the Final EIR/EIS.
    The Draft EIR/EIS considers four alternatives in addition to the 
Proposed Action and the No Action Alternative. Under the No Action 
Alternative, no section 10(a)(1)(B) permits would be issued for take of 
listed species associated with the covered activities; the applicants 
would address the potential for take of listed species on a case-by-
case basis. The Increased Mitigation Ratio Alternative would double the 
extent of required mitigation land relative to the Plan. The Habitat-
Based Mitigation Alternative would prescribe mitigation based on the 
value of habitat to be disturbed, rather than on a general ratio 
applied to all lands to be disturbed. The Reserve Zone Alternative 
would prioritize specific areas within the Natomas Basin for 
acquisition, in contrast to the general acquisition strategy described 
in the Plan. The Reduced Potential for Incidental Take Alternative 
would result in reduced urban development covered by the permits, and 
would therefore reduce the potential for incidental take associated 
with urban development.
    The analysis provided in the Final EIR/EIS is intended to 
accomplish the following: inform the public of the proposed action and 
alternatives; address public comments received on the Draft EIR/EIS; 
disclose the direct, indirect and cumulative environmental effects of 
the proposed action and each of the alternatives; and indicate any 
irreversible commitment of resources that would result from 
implementation of the proposed action.

    Dated: April 22, 2003.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Manager, Region 1, California/Nevada Operations Office, 
Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 03-10359 Filed 4-25-03; 8:45 am]