[Federal Register: December 16, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 241)]
[Page 70027-70028]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Environmental Assessment/Habitat Conservation Plan and 
Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit for Elizabeth 
Cross Roads Property, Town of Elizabeth, Elbert County, CO

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and receipt of application.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that Elizabeth Cross Roads LLC 
(Applicant) has applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
for an incidental take permit pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, as amended. The proposed permit 
would authorize the incidental take of the Preble's meadow jumping 
mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) (Preble's), federally-listed as 
threatened, through loss and modification of its habitat associated 
with construction of the Elizabeth Cross Roads Business Park, a 
commercial development, and an associated utility line in Elizabeth, 
Elbert County, Colorado. The duration of the permit would be 10 years 
from the date of issuance.
    We announce the receipt of the Applicant's incidental take permit 
application, which includes a combined Environmental Assessment/Habitat 
Conservation Plan (EA/HCP) for the Preble's for the Elizabeth Cross 
Roads Property. The proposed EA/HCP is available for public review and 
comment. It fully describes the proposed project and the measures the 
Applicant would undertake to minimize and mitigate project impacts to 
the Preble's.
    The Service requests comments on the EA/HCP and associated 
documents for the proposed issuance of the incidental take permit. All 
comments on the EA and permit application will become part of the 
administrative record and will be available to the public. We provide 
this notice pursuant to section 10(a) of the Act and the National 
Environmental Policy Act regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

DATES: Written comments on the permit application and EA/HCP should be 
received on or before February 17, 2004.

ADDRESSES: Comments regarding the permit application and EA/HCP should 
be addressed to Susan Linner, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Colorado Field Office, 755 Parfet Street, Suite 361, Lakewood, 
Colorado 80215. Comments also may be submitted by facsimile to (303) 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Kathleen Linder, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, Colorado Field Office, telephone (303) 275-2370.


Document Availability

    Individuals wishing copies of the EA/HCP and associated documents 
for review should immediately contact the above office. Documents also 
will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal 
business hours at the above address.


    Section 9 of the Act and Federal regulations prohibit the ``take'' 
of a species listed as endangered or threatened. Take is defined under 
the Act, in part, as to kill, harm, or harass a federally listed 
species. However, the Service may issue permits to authorize 
``incidental take'' of listed species under limited circumstances. 
Incidental take is defined under the Act as take of a listed species 
that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, the carrying out of an 
otherwise lawful activity under limited circumstances. Regulations 
governing permits for threatened species are promulgated in 50 CFR 
    The Elizabeth Cross Roads Property is located at the northwest 
corner of Highway 86 and County Road 17, along Running Creek, in the 
Town of Elizabeth, Elbert County, Colorado. The

[[Page 70028]]

project site is 8.1 hectares (20 acres), but the proposed project will 
directly impact a maximum of 1.7 hectares (4.2 acres) that may result 
in incidental take of the Preble's. Of the total amount of impacted 
acreage, 0.6 hectare (1.4 acres) will be temporarily disturbed and will 
be revegetated. An HCP has been developed as part of the preferred 
alternative. The proposed HCP will allow for the incidental take of the 
Preble's by permitting a commercial development and associated 
utilities to be constructed in an area that may be periodically used as 
foraging, breeding or hibernation habitat.
    In addition to the Proposed Action, alternatives considered 
included--(a) Waiting for the Elbert County Regional HCP to be 
approved, (b) developing the site without avoidance of Preble's 
habitat, (c) developing the portion of the site that will have no 
impacts to Preble's habitat, and (d) no action. The draft EA analyzes 
the onsite, offsite, and cumulative impacts of the proposed project and 
all associated development and construction activities and mitigation 
activities on the Preble's, and also on other threatened or endangered 
species, vegetation, wildlife, wetlands, geology/soils, land use, water 
resources, air and water quality, and cultural resources. All of the 
proposed permanent impacts are in upland areas outside of the 100-year 
floodplain. The Applicant, using the Service's definition of Preble's 
habitat, has determined that the proposed project would impact 
approximately 1.7 hectares (4.2 acres) of potential Preble's habitat. 
The mitigation will likely provide a net benefit to the Preble's and 
other wildlife by planting of native shrubs and protecting existing 
habitat along Running Creek from any future development.
    Only one federally-listed species, the threatened Preble's, occurs 
onsite and has the potential to be adversely affected by the project. 
To mitigate impacts that may result from incidental take, the HCP 
provides mitigation for the commercial site by protecting and enhancing 
2.1 hectares (5.3 acres) of the Running Creek corridor onsite and its 
associated riparian areas from all future development. Approximately 
0.6 hectare (1.41 acres) of temporarily disturbed grassland will be 
enhanced prior to construction by fencing to eliminate grazing and an 
additional 1.6 hectares (3.9 acres) will be enhanced native shrub 
planting and native grass reseeding. Measures will be taken during 
construction to minimize impact to the habitat, including the use of 
silt fencing to reduce the amount of sediment from construction 
activities that reaches the creek. All of the proposed mitigation area 
is within the boundaries of the Elizabeth Cross Roads property, all of 
which is included in the drainage basin of Running Creek.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act. We 
will evaluate the permit application, the EA/HCP, and comments 
submitted therein to determine whether the application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. If it is determined that 
those requirements are met, a permit will be issued for the incidental 
take of the Preble's in conjunction with the construction of Elizabeth 
Cross Roads Business Park. The final permit decision will be made no 
sooner than 60 days after the date of this notice.

    Dated: Novemeber 14, 2003.
Ralph O. Morgenweck,
Regional Director, Denver, Colorado.
[FR Doc. 03-30957 Filed 12-15-03; 8:45 am]