[Federal Register: March 21, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 55)]
[Page 13944-13945]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Low Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Folsom 
Professional Centre, Sacramento County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: Catlin Folsom Crossing, L.P. (the ``applicant'') has applied 
to the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for a 3-year incidental take 
permit for one covered species pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The application 
addresses the potential for ``take'' of the threatened valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle (Desmoncerus californicus dimorphus) 
(beetle) associated with construction of a two-story office condominium 
building within a 5.59-acre undeveloped parcel located on Blue Ravine 
Road, in Folsom, Sacramento County, California. This project is known 
as the Folsom Professional Centre. A conservation program to minimize 
and mitigate for the project activities would be implemented as 
described in the Folsom Professional Centre Low Effect Habitat 
Conservation Plan (Plan), which would be implemented by the applicant.
    We are requesting comments on the permit application and on the 
preliminary determination that the Plan qualifies as a ``Low-effect'' 
Habitat Conservation Plan, eligible for a categorical exclusion under 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended. The 
basis for this determination is discussed in the Environmental Action 
Statement (EAS), which is also available for public review.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before April 21, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to the Field Supervisor, Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage 
Way, W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825. Written comments may be sent 
by facsimile to (916) 414-6711.

Conservation Planning Division, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office; 
telephone: (916) 414-6600.


Availability of Documents

    Individuals wishing copies of the application, Plan, and EAS should 
immediately contact the Service by telephone at (916) 414-6600 or by 
letter to the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. Copies of the Plan, 
and EAS also are available for public inspection, during regular 
business hours, at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (see 
ADDRESSES); Catlin Properties, 3620 Fair Oaks Blvd., Suite 150, 
Sacramento, California 95864; and City of Folsom, Planning, Zoning, and 
Development Department, 50 Natomas Street, Folsom, California 95630-

Background Information

    Section 9 of the Act and its implementing Federal regulations 
prohibit the take of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. 
Take is defined under the Act as harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture or collect listed animal species, or attempt 
to engage in such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1538). However, under section 
10(a) of the Act, we may issue permits to authorize incidental take of 
listed species. ``Incidental take'' is defined by the Act as take that 
is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise 
lawful activity. Regulations governing incidental take permits for 
threatened and endangered species, respectively, are found in the Code 
of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32.
    The applicant is seeking a permit for take of the beetle during the 
life of the permit. This species is referred to as the ``covered 
species'' in the Plan.
    The project encompasses construction of a two-story office building 
and parking lot on the 5.59-acre project site. The building would 
consist of individual condominium office units. The resident elderberry 
shrubs would be removed to accommodate the new office building and 
parking lot. The project

[[Page 13945]]

site contains habitat (e.g., elderberry shrubs) for the beetle. 
Construction of the proposed project would result in the removal of 6 
elderberry shrubs, with 24 stems greater than 1-inch diameter at ground 
level, which have been determined to be habitat for the beetle. One 
beetle exit hole was found in these six shrubs. The project site does 
not contain any other rare, threatened, or endangered species or 
habitat. No critical habitat for any listed species occurs on the 
project site.
    The applicant proposes to minimize and mitigate the effects to the 
covered species associated with the covered activities by fully 
implementing their Plan. The purpose of the Plan's conservation program 
is to promote the biological conservation of the covered species, the 
beetle. The applicant will minimize and mitigate the impacts of taking 
the beetle by transplanting the six elderberry shrubs that are 
currently on the construction site, and purchasing between 6 to 20 
credits at a Service approved Conservation Bank. Each credit includes 
an established ratio of elderberry seedlings and native riparian plant 
seedlings. The number of credits purchased will be based upon the date 
that the applicant would transplant the six elderberry shrubs to the 
Conservation Bank. Transplanting outside of the dormant period for 
elderberry shrubs, November 16th to February 15th, would increase 
impacts to the beetle. The adult beetles and larvae have a greater 
likelihood of being killed or injured as a result of the elderberry 
shrubs increased risk of mortality due to transplanting during the 
active growing season. Therefore, if the elderberry shrubs are 
transplanted during the active growing season, the number of credits 
purchased by the applicant would be toward the higher end of the 6 to 
20 credit range.
    The Proposed Action consists of the issuance of an incidental take 
permit and implementation of the Plan, which includes measures to 
minimize and mitigate impacts of the project on the beetle. Two 
alternatives to the taking of listed species under the Proposed Action 
are considered in the Plan. Under the No Action Alternative, no permit 
would be issued and the office building and parking lot would not be 
built. Under the Reduced Take Alternative, the office building and 
parking lot would be built but the size and scope would be reduced and 
fewer elderberry shrubs would be transplanted.
    We have made a preliminary determination that the Plan qualifies as 
a ``low-effect'' plan as defined by the Habitat Conservation Planning 
Handbook (November 1996). Determination of Low-effect Habitat 
Conservation Plans is based on the following three criteria: (1) 
Implementation of the Plan would result in minor or negligible effects 
on federally listed, proposed, and candidate species and their 
habitats; (2) implementation of the Plan would result in minor or 
negligible effects on other environmental values or resources; and (3) 
impacts of the Plan, 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. As more 
fully explained in our EAS, the Plan qualifies as a ``low-effect'' plan 
for the following reasons:
    1. Approval of the Plan will result in minor or negligible effects 
on the beetle and its habitat. We do not anticipate significant direct 
or cumulative effects to the beetle resulting from development of the 
Folsom Professional Centre.
    2. Approval of the Plan will not have adverse effects on unique 
geographic, historic or cultural sites, or involve unique or unknown 
environmental risks.
    3. Approval of the Plan will not result in any cumulative or growth 
inducing impacts and, therefore, will not result in significant adverse 
effects on public health or safety.
    4. The project does not require compliance with Executive Order 
11988 (Floodplain Management), Executive Order 11990 (Protection of 
Wetlands), or the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, nor does it 
threaten to violate any Federal, State, local or tribal laws or 
requirement imposed for the protection of the environment.
    5. Approval of the Plan will not establish a precedent for future 
action or represent a decision in principle about future actions with 
potentially significant environmental effects.
    We, therefore, have preliminarily determined that approval of the 
Plan qualifies as a categorical exclusion under the NEPA, as provided 
by the Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 and 516 
DM 6, Appendix 1). Based upon this preliminary determination, we do not 
intend to prepare further NEPA documentation. We will consider public 
comments in making the final determination on whether to prepare such 
additional documentation.
    We are providing this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act. 
We will evaluate the permit application, the Plan, and comments 
submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. If the requirements are met, 
we will issue a permit to Catlin Folsom Crossing, L.P. for the 
incidental take of the beetle from development of the Folsom 
Professional Centre. We will make the final permit decision no sooner 
than 30 days from the date of this notice.

    Dated: March 14, 2003.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Manager, Region 1, California/Nevada Operations Office, 
Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 03-6771 Filed 3-20-03; 8:45 am]