[Federal Register: June 5, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 108)]
[Page 33736-33737]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for Issuance of 
Incidental Take Permits Associated With a Habitat Conservation Plan for 
East Contra Costa County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 
1969, as amended, we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) are 
advising the public that we intend to gather information necessary to 
prepare, in coordination with the East Contra Costa County Habitat 
Conservation Plan Association (Association), a joint Environmental 
Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) on the East 
Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan (Plan), which is being 
prepared in conjunction with a Natural Community Conservation Plan. The 
Plan is being prepared under Section 10 (a)(1)(B) of the Federal 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, (ESA); whereas the Natural 
Community Conservation Plan is being prepared under the State of 
California's Natural Community Conservation Planning Act. The 
Association intends to request an ESA permit for 7 species federally 
listed as threatened or endangered and 18 unlisted species that may 
become listed during the term of the permit. The permit is needed to 
authorize take of listed species that could occur as a result of 
activities implemented under the Plan.
    We provide this notice to obtain suggestions and information from 
other agencies and the public on the scope of issues and alternatives 
to be addressed in the EIS/EIR. We invite written comments from 
interested parties to ensure that the full range of issues related to 
the permit request are identified.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before August 4, 2003. 
Public meetings will be held on: July 17, 2003, 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m, 
and 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Pittsburg, CA.

ADDRESSES: The public meetings will be held at: Pittsburg City Hall, 65 
Civic Drive, Pittsburg, CA, 94565. Information, written comments, or 
questions related to the preparation of the EIS/EIR and the NEPA 
process should be submitted to Sheila Larsen, Conservation Planning, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 
2800 Cottage Way, W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825; FAX (916) 414-

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sheila Larsen, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office at (916) 414-


Reasonable Accommodation

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meeting should contact Sheila Larsen as soon 
as possible. In order to allow sufficient time to process requests, 
please call no later than one week before the public meeting. 
Information regarding this proposed action is available in alternative 
formats upon request.


    Section 9 of the ESA and its implementing Federal regulations 
prohibit the ``take'' of a species listed as endangered or threatened. 
Take is defined under the ESA 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 section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, we may issue permits to authorize ``incidental 
take'' of listed species. ``Incidental take'' is defined by the ESA as 
take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an 
otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing permits for threatened 
and endangered species are found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 
50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 17.22.
    We anticipate that the Association will request an ESA incidental 
take permit. The Association is a Joint Powers Authority consisting of 
seven member agencies: Contra Costa County; cities of Brentwood, 
Clayton, Oakley, and Pittsburg; Contra Costa Water District; and East 
Bay Regional Park District.
    Currently, 26 species are proposed for coverage under the Plan. 
These include the federally listed endangered San Joaquin kit fox 
(Vulpes macrotus mutica), longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta 
longiantenna), vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi), the 
threatened Alameda whipsnake (Masticophis lateralis euryxanthus), giant 
garter snake

[[Page 33737]]

(Thamnophis gigas), California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii), 
vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi), and the proposed 
California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense), and their 
habitats. The 18 unlisted species proposed to be covered under the Plan 
include the Townsend's western big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii 
townsendii), tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor), golden eagle 
(Aquila chrysaetos), western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia 
hypugea), Swainson's hawk (Buteo swainsoni), silvery legless lizard 
(Anniella pulchra pulchra), foothill yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii), 
midvalley fairy shrimp (Branchinecta mesovalliensis), Mount Diablo 
manzanita (Arctostaphylos auriculata), brittlescale (Atriplex 
depressa), San Joaquin spearscale (Atriplex joaquiniana), big tarplant 
(Blepharizonia plumosa), Mount Diablo fairy lantern (Calochortus 
pulchellus), recurved larkspur (Delphinium recurvatum), Diablo 
helianthella (Helianthella castanea), Brewer's dwarf flax (Hesperolinin 
breweri), showy madia (Madia radiata), and adobe navarretia (Navarretia 
nigelliformis spp. nigelliformis). Species may be added or deleted 
during the course of Plan development based on further analysis, new 
information, agency consultation, and public comment.
    The Plan area consists of approximately 170,000 acres in East 
Contra Costa County, California, including watersheds that drain the 
eastern flanks of Mount Diablo. The boundaries of the Plan area are 
generally defined by the Alameda-Contra Costa county line, the San 
Joaquin-Contra Costa county line, the Sacramento-Contra Costa county 
line, the Solano-Contra Costa county line, and the eastern flanks of 
Mount Diablo and adjacent foothills in the Diablo Range. Excluded areas 
include current and historic tidal areas, the City of Antioch, the 
community of Discovery Bay, and the Clifton Court Forebay.
    Implementation activities that may be covered under the Plan 
include urban development and associated infrastructure, and County 
and/or city projects related to road maintenance/construction, water 
delivery infrastructure, flood control, sanitary systems, and 
recreational opportunities. Under the Plan, the effects of covered 
activities are expected to be minimized and mitigated through 
participation in a conservation program, which will be fully described 
in the Plan. The focus of a conservation program is to provide long-
term protection of covered species by protecting biological communities 
in the Plan area. The Plan is also a Natural Community Conservation 
Plan, therefore it will provide protection at an ecosystem level while 
accommodating compatible land use and economic growth.
    Components of a conservation program are now under consideration by 
the Service and Association. These components will likely include: 
Avoidance and minimization measures, monitoring, adaptive management, 
research, and mitigation measures consisting of preservation, 
restoration and enhancement of habitat.

Environmental Impact Statement/Report

    The Association and the Service have selected Jones & Stokes to 
prepare the Draft EIS/EIR. The joint document will be prepared in 
compliance with NEPA and the California Environmental Quality Act 
(CEQA). Although Jones & Stokes will prepare the EIS/EIR, the Service 
will be responsible for the scope and content of the document for NEPA 
purposes, and the County will be responsible for the scope and content 
of the document for CEQA purposes.
    The EIS/EIR will consider the proposed action, the issuance of an 
incidental take permit, no action (no permit), and a reasonable range 
of alternatives. A detailed description of the proposed action and 
alternatives will be included in the EIS/EIR. We anticipate that 
several alternatives will be developed, which may vary by the level of 
conservation, impacts caused by the proposed activities, permit area, 
covered species, or a combination of these factors.
    The EIS/EIR will also identify potentially significant impacts on 
biological resources, land use, air quality, water quality, mineral 
resources, water resources, economics, and other environmental resource 
issues that could occur directly or indirectly with implementation of 
the proposed action and alternatives. For all potentially significant 
impacts, the EIS/EIR will identify mitigation measures where feasible 
to reduce these impacts to a level below significance.
    Environmental review of the EIS/EIR will be conducted in accordance 
with the requirements of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), its 
implementing regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), other applicable 
regulations, and Service procedures for compliance with those 
regulations. We are publishing this notice in accordance with Section 
1501.7 of NEPA to obtain suggestions and information from other 
agencies and the public on the scope of issues and alternatives to be 
addressed in the EIS/EIR. More specifically, we provide this notice: 
(1) To describe the proposed action and possible alternatives; (2) to 
advise other Federal and State agencies, affected Tribes, and the 
public of our intent to prepare an EIS/EIR; (3) to announce the 
initiation of a public scoping period; and (4) to obtain suggestions 
and information on the scope of issues to be included in the EIS/EIR. 
The primary purpose of the scoping process is to identify, rather than 
to debate, significant issues related to the proposed action. We invite 
written comments from interested parties to ensure that the full range 
of issues related to the permit request are identified. All comments 
received, including names and addresses, will become part of the 
official administrative record and may be made available to the public.

    Dated: May 23, 2003.
D. Kenneth McDermond,
Deputy Manager, Region 1, California/Nevada Operations Office, 
Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 03-14109 Filed 6-4-03; 8:45 am]