[Federal Register: October 6, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 193)]
[Page 57702-57703]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Permit Application and Safe Harbor Agreement Between 
the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Malpai Borderlands Group

AGENCY: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

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


SUMMARY: The Malpai Borderlands Group (Applicant) has applied to the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for an incidental take permit 
pursuant to Section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act (Act). 
The Applicants have been assigned permit number TE-073684-0. The 
requested permit, which is for a period of 50 years, would authorize 
the take of the Threatened Chiricahua leopard frog (Rana 
chiricahuensis). The proposed take could occur as a result of 
conservation measures implemented on the approximately 1 million acres 
(404,700 hectares) identified in the application and associated 
documents in Cochise County, Arizona and Hidalgo County, New Mexico. 
Conservation measures consist of stock tank development and 
restoration, including modification of stock tanks to enhance their use 
by Chiricahua leopard frogs and renovation to remove bullfrogs and 
other non-native predators. Currently, within the Agreement area, 
Chiricahua leopard frogs are only known to occur in a few locations, 
including three populations on the Magoffin property. These three 
populations on the Magoffin property exist solely due to the 
extraordinary efforts of the landowners to establish and maintain them 
prior to listing of the species. Thus, they are excluded from the 
baseline for the purposes of this Safe Harbor Agreement (Agreement). 
The Applicants, in cooperation with the Service, have prepared the 
Agreement to provide a conservation benefit to the species and allow 
for the take of the species. Based upon guidance in the Service's June 
17, 1999, Final Safe Harbor Policy, if an 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 review. The Malpai 
Agreement qualifies as a ``Low Effect'' Agreement, thus, this action is 
a categorical exclusion. The ``Low Effect'' determination for the 
Malpai Agreement is also available for public comment. This notice is 
provided pursuant to Section 10(c) of the Act and National 
Environmental Policy Act regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

DATES: Written comments on the application should be received by 
November 5, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application, Agreement, and 
``Low Effect'' determination may obtain copies by writing to the 
Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 1306, Room 
4102, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103, or by contacting 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 to 4:30) 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-073684-0 (Malpai) when submitting comments.

[[Page 57703]]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Field Supervisor at the above U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 
Phoenix, Arizona (602) 242-0210.



    The Malpai Borderlands Group (Applicants) plan to implement 
conservation measures on approximately 1 million acres (404,700 
hectares) in Cochise County, Arizona, and Hidalgo County, New Mexico. 
The conservation measures will improve and maintain livestock tanks and 
other artificial waters and use them to establish Chiricahua leopard 
frog populations. The Agreement as currently written is expected to 
provide a net conservation benefit to the Chiricahua leopard frog. The 
Agreement will provide protection to the Applicants against further 
regulation under the Endangered Species Act in the event that the 
Chiricahua leopard frog naturally or artificially establishes 
populations in the area as a result of implementation of the proposed 
conservation measures.
    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.

Bryan Arroyo,
Acting Regional Director, Region 2, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. 03-25236 Filed 10-3-03; 8:45 am]