[Federal Register: July 14, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 134)]
[Page 41558-41559]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Fish and Wildlife Service

[I.D. 060503A]

Notice of Intent To Conduct Public Scoping and Prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement for the Snohomish County, Washington, 
Habitat Conservation Plan

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce; U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (USFWS), Interior

ACTION: Notice of Intent


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, this notice 
advises the public that the USFWS and NMFS (collectively, the Services) 
intend to gather necessary information to prepare an environmental 
impact statement (EIS) related to the proposed approval of a Habitat 
Conservation Plan (HCP) and issuance of two incidental take permits 
(Permits) (one from NMFS and one from USFWS) to take endangered and 
threatened species in accordance with the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (ESA). The Permit applicant is Snohomish County, 
Washington, Department of Public Works (Department). The application is 
related to activities associated with the development and maintenance 
of transportation and drainage infrastructure, including substantial 
capital projects, in the North Lake Washington Watershed, in southwest 
Snohomish County. The Department intends to apply for the Permits for 
Puget Sound chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), bull trout 
(Salvelinus confluentus), and certain other federally listed species. 
To address potential future listings, the Department also plans to seek 
coverage for approximately 14 unlisted fish and wildlife species under 
specific provisions of the Permits. In accordance with the ESA, the 
Department will prepare an HCP that includes measures to minimize and 
mitigate any take that could occur incidental to the proposed Permit 
activities (development and maintenance of transportation and drainage 
    The Services are furnishing this notice: (1) to advise other 
agencies and the public of the Services' intent to prepare an 
environmental review document, and (2) to obtain suggestions and 
information on the scope of issues to include in the environmental 

DATES: Written comments from all interested parties must be received on 
or before August 13, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Comments and requests for information should be sent to Jo 
Ellen Henry, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, USFWS, 510 Desmond Drive, 
S.E., Suite 102, Lacey, Washington 98503-1263, facsimile (360) 753-
9518; or Chris Clemons, Fisheries Biologist, Habitat Conservation 
Division, NMFS, 503 Desmond Way, Suite 103, Lacey, WA 98503, facsimile 
(206) 526-6736.

(360) 753-7766; or Chris Clemons, NMFS, at telephone (360) 753-9595.



    Written comments and suggestions are invited from all interested 
parties to ensure that the full range of issues related to this 
proposed action are identified. Comments will not be accepted via e-
mail or the internet. All comments and materials received, including 
names and addresses, will become part of the administrative record and 
may be released to the public. Comments and materials received will be 
available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business 
hours at the above address.


    The Lake Washington Watershed (Watershed) encompasses approximately 
670 square miles [1,735 square Kilometers (Square Km)]. The Watershed 
boundary extends from southwest Snohomish County to south King County. 
The majority of the watershed (approximately 85 percent) lies within 
the boundaries of King County. The probable area covered by the 
proposed HCP lies within Snohomish County's portion of the watershed. 
Three sub-basins, North Creek, Swamp Creek, and Little Bear Creek, will 
be the focus of the HCP's covered area. While small segments are 
situated within King County, 95 percent of these sub-basins are within 
southwest Snohomish County (approximately 69 square miles (178 Square 
Km). The largest of these, North Creek, is nearly 29 square miles (75 
Square Km), with approximately 27 square miles (69 Square Km) located 
within Snohomish County (94 percent of the sub-basin). The second 
largest, Swamp Creek, is nearly 25 square miles (64 Square Km) in size, 
with approximately 23 square miles (59 Square Km) located within 
Snohomish County (92 percent of the sub-basin). The smallest of the 
targeted sub-basins, Little Bear Creek, is just over 15 square miles 
(38 Square Km), and has approximately 13 square miles (33 Square Km) 
located within Snohomish County (87 percent of the sub-basin).
    Snohomish County owns, and the Department maintains, an extensive 
system of roadways and drainage facilities within these basins. 
Departmentally maintained rights-of-way approach nearly 315 miles (506 
meters) in total length. The majority of this roadway (88 percent) lies 
within a state-designated Urban Growth Area (UGA), which is zoned for 
high-density residential and industrial development. A small portion of 
the road system and its attendant infrastructure is located outside of 
the UGA, primarily within the Little Bear Creek sub-basin.
    Presently, over 1.4 million people reside in the Greater Lake 
Washington Watershed. The population growth trend in the Puget Sound 
region demands an increasingly complex roadway and drainage facilities 
infrastructure. Snohomish County recognizes the need to maintain and 
upgrade its transportation system to

[[Page 41559]]

meet this demand, satisfy Washington State Growth Management Act 
requirements, and further improve transportation quality and safety. 
These proposed transportation system improvements include a series of 
substantial capital projects that would likely require construction 
near water bodies, habitat for Puget Sound chinook salmon, bull trout, 
and other listed and unlisted species. In addition, the Department has 
identified specific drainage improvement needs in the affected basins. 
These drainage improvements would also involve a series of substantial 
capital projects that are likely to affect water bodies, habitat for 
Puget Sound chinook salmon, bull trout, and other listed and unlisted 
species. The Services and Department agree that project-by-project ESA 
compliance decreases project certainty, increases expense, and can 
result in a fragmented and uncoordinated approach to species 
conservation. The Department's proposal is to develop an HCP, which 
will provide long-term assurances for constructing, upgrading, and 
maintaining Snohomish County's transportation and drainage systems 
while ensuring that the County's activities are conducted in a way that 
meets the conservation needs of 3 listed species and 15 unlisted fish 
and wildlife species (including Dolly Varden, Salvelinus malma, 
proposed for listing under the ESA's similarity of appearance 
provisions, and Coho salmon, Oncorhynchus kisutch, a candidate for 
listing under the ESA) with specific provisions in the Permits should 
these species be listed in the future.
    Snohomish County's transportation and drainage construction and 
maintenance activities can harm listed species. ESA section 10 provides 
for the issuance of incidental take permits to non-Federal entities 
whose otherwise lawful activities cause the take of endangered and 
threatened species. The issuance criteria for an incidental take permit 
require that the take is incidental to otherwise lawful activities, and 
will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery 
of the species in the wild. In addition, the applicant must prepare and 
submit to the Services for approval an HCP containing a strategy for 
minimizing and mitigating the effects of any incidental take to the 
maximum extent practicable. The applicant must also ensure that 
adequate funding will be provided for implementation of the HCP, and 
meet any other requirements that the Secretaries of Commerce and 
Interior might require.
    Snohomish County has initiated discussions with the Services 
regarding the possibility of receiving permits that would cover take of 
listed species incidental to the following otherwise lawful activities:
    (1) Construction of new transportation facilities (roads and 
bridges, drainage and stormwater facilities, mitigation sites);
    (2) Maintenance of existing transportation facilities (roads and 
bridges, drainage and stormwater facilities);
    (3) Construction of new drainage infrastructure and facilities 
(drainage and stormwater facilities, culverts, mitigation sites);
    (4) Maintenance of existing drainage facilities (drainage and 
stormwater facilities, culverts, mitigation sites); and
    (5) Construction and maintenance of bank stabilization projects 
associated with county road rights-of-way (bank hardening).
    The Snohomish County Public Works is currently considering the 
following types of conservation measures for the proposed HCP. These 
may include, but are not limited to:
    (1) A program of land conservation for the preservation, 
enhancement, and/or creation of suitable habitats for species addressed 
in the HCP to mitigate impacts associated with proposed construction 
and maintenance activities;
    (2) Development and implementation of construction and maintenance 
best management practices to avoid or minimize construction and 
maintenance impacts on species addressed in the HCP;
    (3) Commitment to continuing certain activities that are currently 
voluntary, targeted at reducing anthropogenic caused ecological 
conditions that limit the natural production of salmonids in the HCP 
Area (may include, but is not limited to, the following types of 
activities: impervious surface removal, stormwater retrofitting, and 
fish passage barrier removal);
    (4) Implementation of an adaptive management program with ongoing 
monitoring and adjustment of proposed covered activities; and
    (5) Continuing landowner outreach, education, and Water Resource 
Inventory Area planning participation.
    The Services will conduct an environmental review of the issuance 
of the proposed requested Permits and proposed HCP by preparing an EIS. 
The EIS will analyze the proposed action (issuing the requested 
Permits) and alternatives to the proposed action, by comparing the 
impacts of the action on the human and natural environment to those 
that would occur under each of a range of reasonable alternatives, 
including a No Action alternative. The Services will use the scoping 
process to develop alternatives to the proposed action. In addition to 
considering potential impacts on listed and other covered species and 
their habitats, the EIS could include information on potential impacts 
resulting from alternatives on other components of the human 
environment. Other components could include air quality, water quality 
and quantity, geology and soils, cultural resources, social resources, 
economic resources, and environmental justice.
    The environmental review of this project will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (42 USC 4321 et seq.), National Environmental 
Policy Act Regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508), other appropriate Federal 
laws and regulations, and policies and procedures of the Services for 
compliance with those regulations.

    Date: June 12, 2003.
William F. Shake,
 Acting, Deputy Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Region 1.
    Date: July 7, 2003.
Phil Williams,
Chief, Endangered Species Division Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 03-17750 Filed 7-11-03; 8:45 am]