[Federal Register: February 13, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 30)]
[Page 7385-7387]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Safe Harbor Agreement for the Urban Wildlands Group, Inc., Los 
Angeles County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

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ACTION: Notice of availability, receipt of application.


SUMMARY: The Urban Wildlands Group, Inc. (Applicant) has applied to the 
Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for an enhancement of survival 
permit pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (Act). The permit application includes a proposed Safe 
Harbor Agreement (SHA) between the Applicant and the Service. The SHA 
provides for habitat enhancement and creation for the El Segundo blue 
butterfly (Euphilotes bernardino allyni) on approximately 2 acres of 
bluff habitat on private property in Los Angeles County, California. 
The proposed duration of both the SHA and permit is 30 years.
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that the proposed 
SHA and permit application are eligible for categorical exclusion under 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). The basis for 
this determination is contained in an Environmental Action Statement, 
which also is available for public review.

DATES: Written comments must be received by 5 p.m. on March 17, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Jim Bartel, Field 
Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, 
Carlsbad, California 92009, facsimile number (760) 918-0638 (see 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION, Public Review and Comment).

Supervisor, at the above address or by calling (760) 431-9440.



    The primary objective of this SHA is to encourage voluntary habitat 
restoration or enhancement activities to benefit El Segundo blue 
butterfly by relieving a landowner, who enters into the provisions of a 
Cooperative Agreement with the Applicant, from any additional Section 9 
liability under the Endangered Species Act beyond that which exists at 
the time the Cooperative Agreement is signed (``regulatory baseline''). 
A SHA encourages landowners to conduct voluntary conservation 
activities and assures them that they will not be subjected to 
increased endangered species restrictions should their beneficial 
stewardship efforts result in increased endangered species populations. 
Application requirements and issuance criteria for enhancement of 
survival permits through SHAs are found in 50 CFR 17.22(c). As long as 
enrolled landowners allow the agreed upon habitat improvements to be 
completed on their property and maintain their baseline 
responsibilities, they may make any other lawful use of the property 
during the permit term, even if such use results in the take of 
individual El Segundo blue butterflies or harm to their habitat.
    Landowners within the Torrance Recovery Unit identified by the El 
Segundo Blue Butterfly Recovery Plan may be enrolled with the Applicant 
under the SHA. They will receive a Certificate of Inclusion when they 
sign a Cooperative Agreement. The Cooperative Agreement will include: 
(1) A map of the property; (2) delineation of the portion of the 
property to be enrolled and its acreage; (3) a description of the 
vegetation of the enrolled area of the property; (4) a description of 
the habitat improvements that will be completed, and; (5) the 
responsibilities of the Cooperator and the Applicant.
    The Applicant will provide draft copies of Cooperative Agreements 
to the Service for an opportunity to review and concur with the 
recommended habitat management activities. The Service will have a 
period of 30 days in which to make comments. If no comments are 
received within 30 days, the Applicant may proceed to finalize the 
Cooperative Agreement. The Applicant, as the permittee, will be 
responsible for annual monitoring and reporting related to 
implementation of the SHA and Cooperative Agreements and fulfillment of 
their provisions. Upon request by the Service, the Applicant will make 
available records and materials related to implementation of the 
    Each Cooperative Agreement will cover restoration activities to 
create or enhance habitat for El Segundo blue butterfly and achieve 
species' recovery goals. These actions, where appropriate, could 
include (but are not limited to): (1) Removal of exotic vegetation to 
allow for native plant revegetation or to reduce the adverse effect on 
existing habitat; (2) revegetation with food plant for El Segundo blue 
butterfly as part of a native dune scrub or bluff scrub community; (3) 
repair or installation of fences to protect existing or created habitat 
from human disturbance; and (4) facilitation of the implementation of 
other objectives recommended by the El Segundo Blue Butterfly Recovery 
Plan. None of the Cooperative Agreements entered into under this SHA 
will allow conversion of native habitat into another habitat type.
    Each Cooperative Agreement will stipulate that the habitat 
improvement measures be maintained for a period that is expected to 
result in the maturation of plants used in revegetation and for a 
period of 5 years beyond. Most Cooperative Agreements are expected to 
last at least 13 years. Based on experience elsewhere, this term is 
more than adequate to allow native plant revegetation to mature to a 
point usable by the butterflies for nectaring and egg-laying, as well 
as multiple seasons for dispersal to and from adjacent occupied habitat 
    After maintenance of the restored/created/enhanced El Segundo blue 
butterfly habitat on the property for the agreed-upon term, Cooperators 
may then conduct otherwise lawful activities on their property that 
result in the partial or total elimination of the restored habitat and 
the incidental taking of El Segundo blue butterfly as a result of such 
habitat elimination. However, the restrictions on returning a property 
to its original baseline condition include: (1) El Segundo blue 
butterflies may not be captured, killed, or otherwise directly 
``taken''; (2) the Applicant and the Service will be notified a minimum 
of 60 days prior to the activity and given the opportunity to capture, 
rescue, and/or translocate any El Segundo blue butterflies, if 
necessary and appropriate; and (3) return to baseline conditions must 
be completed within the 30-year term of the permit issued to the 
Applicant. Cooperative Agreements may be extended if the Applicant's 
permit is renewed and that renewal allows for such extension.
    In emergency situations, such as storm-related geological 
instability, the Service may authorize a Cooperator to carry out an 
action likely to result in incidental taking of El Segundo blue 
butterfly before the end of the agreed-upon duration of habitat 
maintenance, as identified in the Cooperative Agreement, provided the 
landowner notifies the parties to the Agreement in writing at least 14 
days prior to the action, with the nature of the emergency, and an 
explanation of the extenuating circumstances.
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that approval of 
the SHA qualifies as a categorical exclusion under the NEPA, as 
provided by the Department of Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 and 
516 DM 6, Appendix 1) based on the following criteria: (1) 
Implementation of the SHA would result in minor or negligible effects 
on federally listed, proposed, and candidate species and their 
habitats; (2) implementation of the SHA would result in minor or 
negligible effects on

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other environmental values or resources; and (3) impacts of the SHA, 
considered together with the impacts of other past, present and 
reasonably foreseeable similarly situated projects would not result, 
over time, in cumulative effects to environmental values or resources 
which would be considered significant. This is more fully explained in 
our Environmental Action Statement.
    Based upon this preliminary determination, we do not intend to 
prepare further NEPA documentation. The Service will consider public 
comments in making its final determination on whether to prepare such 
additional documentation.

Public Review and Comments

    Individuals wishing copies of the permit application, the 
Environmental Action Statement, or copies of the full text of the SHA, 
including a map of the proposed permit area, references, and legal 
descriptions of the proposed permit area, should contact the office and 
personnel listed in the ADDRESSES section. Documents also will be 
available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business 
hours at this office (see ADDRESSES).
    The Service provides this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the 
Act and pursuant to implementing regulations for NEPA (40 CFR 1506.6). 
All comments received on the permit application and SHA, including 
names and addresses, will become part of the administrative record and 
may be released to the public. If you wish us to withhold your name 
and/or address, you must state this prominently at the beginning of 
your comment. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and 
from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials 
of organizations or businesses, are available for public inspection in 
their entirety.


    We will evaluate the permit application, the SHA, and comments 
submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a) of the Act and NEPA regulations. If the 
requirements are met, the Service will sign the proposed SHA and issue 
an enhancement of survival permit under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act 
to the Applicant for take of the El Segundo blue butterfly incidental 
to otherwise lawful activities of the project. The Service will not 
make a final decision until after the end of the 30-day comment period 
and will fully consider all comments received during the comment 

    Dated: February 5, 2003.
David G. Paullin,
Acting Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 03-3549 Filed 2-12-03; 8:45 am]