[Federal Register: September 12, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 177)]
[Page 53747-53748]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of a Safe Harbor Agreement and Receipt of 
Application for an Enhancement of Survival Permit for Activities on the 
(Crosswhite) EC Bar Ranch, Apache County, AZ

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and 30-day public comment period.


SUMMARY: James W. Crosswhite (Applicant) has applied to the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service (Service) for an enhancement of survival permit 
pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act (Act). 
The permit application includes a proposed Safe Harbor Agreement 
between the Applicant and the Service. The Applicant has been assigned 
permit number TE-075891-0. The proposed Agreement and permit would 
become effective upon signature of the Agreement and both would remain 
in effect for 50 years. The requested permit would authorize take of 
two federally listed species--the endangered southwestern willow 
flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) and the threatened Little 
Colorado River spinedace (Lepidomeda vittata). The proposed take could 
occur as a result of conservation measures implemented on 2.5 miles of 
Nutrioso Creek in Apache County, Arizona.
    Based upon guidance in the Service's June 17, 1999, Final Safe 
Harbor Policy, if a Safe Harbor Agreement and associated permit are not 
expected to individually or cumulatively have a significant impact on 
the quality of the human environment or other natural resources, the 
Agreement/permit may be categorically excluded from undergoing National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review. We have made a preliminary 
determination that the proposed Agreement and permit application 
qualify as a ``Low Effect''

[[Page 53748]]

agreement, thus, these actions are eligible for categorical exclusion 
under NEPA. The ``Low Effect'' determination is available for review.

DATES: Written comments on the application should be received by 
October 14, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application may obtain a copy 
by writing to the Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, PO 
Box 1306, Room 4102, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103. Persons wishing to 
review the Agreement may obtain a copy by writing to the Field 
Supervisor, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 2321 West Royal 
Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, Arizona 85021-4951, (602) 242-0210. 
Documents relating to the application will be available for public 
inspection by written request, by appointment only, during normal 
business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, Phoenix, Arizona.
    Written data or comments concerning the application and Agreement 
should be submitted to the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 2321 West Royal Palm 
Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, Arizona 85021-4951. Please refer to permit 
number TE-075891-0 when submitting comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Field Supervisor at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 2321 West 
Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, Arizona 85021-4951 (602) 242-0210.



    Under a Safe Harbor Agreement, participating property owners 
voluntarily undertake management activities on their property to 
enhance, restore, or maintain habitat benefitting species listed under 
the Act. Safe Harbor Agreements encourage private and other non-Federal 
property owners to implement conservation efforts for listed species by 
assuring property owners they will not be subject to increased property 
use restrictions if their efforts attract listed species to their 
property or increase the numbers or distribution of listed species 
already on their property. Application requirements and issuance 
criteria for enhancement of survival permits through Safe Harbor 
Agreements are found in 50 CFR 17.22(c).
    James W. Crosswhite, owner of the 394-acre EC Bar Ranch, plans to 
implement conservation measures on 2.5 miles of Nutrioso Creek, located 
one mile north of Nutrioso, in Apache County, Arizona. The conservation 
measures will improve riverine, riparian, and upland habitat through 
establishment of native riparian vegetation. These measures have been 
shown to be effective in improving water quality, reducing 
sedimentation, and increasing stream bank stability. The measures that 
will be implemented include: planting 10,000 to 21,000 riparian trees, 
harvesting of cuttings of riparian vegetation in two to four years, 
planting of grasses and shrubs along the flood plain terrace, and 
repairing old and installing new livestock and elk fence exclosures.
    The Agreement is expected to provide a net conservation benefit for 
two federally listed species; the southwestern willow flycatcher and 
the Little Colorado spinedace. The baseline condition for the 
southwestern willow flycatcher is zero. This is because there is 
currently no habitat for this species in the project area. The Safe 
Harbor Policy states that the baseline can be described using 
measurements of available suitable habitat components. Because data 
from fish surveys can vary due to the monitoring methods used as well 
as fluctuations in natural conditions, actual population levels will 
not be used to quantify baseline conditions for the Little Colorado 
spinedace. Instead, the baseline conditions will use the number of 
woody riparian trees that are three feet or greater in height that are 
present either as individuals or as clumps along the 2.5 miles of 
Nutrioso Creek on the EC Bar Ranch at the signing of this Agreement. 
Currently there are approximately 100 individual or clumps of woody 
riparian trees consisting of coyote willow, shiny willow, strapleaf 
willow, narrowleaf cottonwood, and thin-leafed alder in the project 
area that are three feet or greater in height.
    The Agreement will provide protection to the Applicant against 
further regulation under the Endangered Species Act in the event that 
any of the covered species should be taken on his land as a result of 
implementation of the proposed conservation measures.
    The Service will evaluate the permit application, associated 
documents, and comments submitted to determine whether the permit 
application meets the issuance criteria of 50 CFR 17. If, upon 
completion of the 30-day comment period, the Service determines that 
the criteria are met, the Service will sign the Agreement and issue an 
enhancement of survival permit under section 10 (a)(1)(A) of the Act to 
James W. Crosswhite for take of southwestern willow flycatcher and 
Little Colorado spinedace incidental to otherwise lawful activities in 
accordance with the terms of the Agreement.
    Section 9 of the Act prohibits the ``taking'' of threatened or 
endangered species. However, the Service, under limited circumstances, 
may issue permits to take threatened and endangered wildlife species 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities. 
Regulations governing permits for endangered species are at 50 CFR 
17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32 for threatened species.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act and 
National Environmental Policy Act regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

Bryan Arroyo,
Acting Regional Director, Southwest Region, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. 03-23244 Filed 9-11-03; 8:45 am]