[Federal Register: May 7, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 89)]
[Page 25599-25600]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Proposed Safe Harbor Agreement for the Introduction of Nene to 
Piiholo Ranch, Maui, HI

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and receipt of application.


SUMMARY: Piiholo Ranch (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 of 1973, 
as amended (16 U.S.C. 1533 et seq.) (ESA). As part of that application 
package, a Safe Harbor Agreement (Agreement) is proposed by the 
Applicant and the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural 
Resources (DLNR). The proposed Agreement provides for the introduction 
of the endangered nene, or Hawaiian goose (Branta sandvicensis), and 
for management, habitat enhancement, and monitoring for nene within 
approximately 600 acres of short grass ranch lands on private property 
on the island of Maui, Hawaii. The duration of the proposed Agreement 
is 10 years, enabling introduction and establishment of a population of 
nene. The proposed permit duration is 50 years. At any time after the 
expiration of the Agreement and prior to expiration of the permit, the 
property owner may return the property to its original baseline 
condition described in the Agreement. The Agreement and permit 
application are available for public comment.
    The proposed Agreement and ESA enhancement of survival permit may 
be eligible for categorical exclusion under the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) (NEPA). This is evaluated 
in an Environmental Action Statement, which is also available for 
public review.

DATES: Written comments must be received by 5 p.m. on June 7, 2004.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Ms. Gina M. Shultz, Acting 
Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala 
Moana Blvd., PO Box 50088, Honolulu, Hawaii 96850, facsimile number 
(808) 792-9580 (see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION, Public Review and 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Arlene Pangelinan, Supervisory 
Fish and Wildlife Biologist, at the above address or by calling (808) 


Public Review and Comments

    Individuals wishing copies of the permit application, the 
Environmental Action Statement, or copies of the full text of the 
proposed Agreement, 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 NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). All comments received on the 
permit application and proposed Agreement, 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.


    The biological objective of the proposed Agreement is to introduce 
a population of nene to a mid-elevation site on Maui, Hawaii, and 
thereby establish a self-sustaining population. An additional 
objective, which benefits both the nene and the Applicant, is to assure 
regulatory stability to the Applicant by relieving him/her of any 
additional section 9 liability under the ESA beyond that which exists 
at the time the Agreement is signed (``regulatory baseline''). Safe 
Harbor Agreements encourage landowners to

[[Page 25600]]

conduct voluntary conservation activities and assure 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 Safe Harbor 
Agreements are found in 50 CFR 17.22(c). As long as the landowners 
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 nene or harm to nene habitat.
    The proposed Agreement was developed by the Applicant and the DLNR 
Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) with technical assistance 
from the Service. The Agreement proposes the introduction of nene to 
Piiholo Ranch by the DOFAW, in addition to allowing the DOFAW and the 
Service to monitor the nene and improve nene habitat. Under the 
proposed Agreement, the Applicant will: (1) Construct and maintain a 
release pen for the nene with the assistance of the DOFAW; (2) fence 
and maintain an area of several acres around the release pen to allow 
for planting of native food plants for nene; (3) conduct predator 
control in and around the nene release pen; (4) allow the DOFAW and the 
Service access to private property for monitoring and maintaining the 
nene at Piiholo Ranch; and (5) allow and perform habitat maintenance 
activities to ensure nene survival at Piiholo Ranch. The DOFAW will: 
(1) Introduce nene to Piiholo Ranch following an agreed upon protocol 
over the course of several introductions; (2) assist with construction 
of the release pen and with predator control; and (3) assist with 
managing and monitoring nene, including conducting an annual survey of 
nene on Piiholo Ranch.
    The proposed Agreement stipulates that nene nests will not be 
disturbed until after the birds have hatched their eggs and left the 
nest with their young to the maximum extent practicable and that nene 
will not be fed outside the release pen in order to maintain their 
    We anticipate that this proposed Agreement will result in the 
following benefits to nene: (1) Establish a new, self-sustaining 
population of nene on Maui in a mid-elevation site; (2) reduce the risk 
of catastrophic loss of nene due to their increased range in the wild; 
(3) increase the number of nene in the wild (it is anticipated that a 
population of 75 nene could become established within the term of the 
Agreement on Piiholo Ranch); (4) increase our understanding of the 
effectiveness of management techniques for nene; and (5) provide an 
additional source of nene for future management activities. Nene were 
likely extirpated from the island of Maui by around 1900 and there have 
been no known sightings of nene on Piiholo Ranch, therefore, the 
baseline for this proposed Agreement is zero.
    Consistent with the Safe Harbor policy (64 FR 32717), Piiholo Ranch 
has applied to the Service for issuance of an enhancement of survival 
permit under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA to authorize incidental 
take of nene introduced to the enrolled lands, and their progeny, as a 
result of lawful activities at Piiholo Ranch. These activities include 
unintentional take of nene from: (1) Cattle ranching; (2) tourism; (3) 
cultivation of agricultural crops; and (4) harvesting and processing 
non-native trees. We expect that the maximum level of incidental take 
authorized under the proposed Agreement will never be realized. Piiholo 
Ranch has no plans to change land uses. The Agreement provides that any 
nene taken when the Agreement expires will not be injured or harmed, 
but will be relocated, with permission from the landowners, to other 
suitable lands. We fully expect that the release of nene on Piiholo 
Ranch will result in the establishment of a self-sustaining population 
of nene. Therefore, the cumulative impact of the proposed Agreement and 
the activities it covers, which are facilitated by the allowable 
incidental take, will provide a net conservation benefit to the nene.
    We will evaluate the permit application, the proposed Agreement, 
and comments submitted thereon to determine whether the application 
meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA and NEPA 
regulations. If the requirements are met, the Service will sign the 
proposed Agreement and issue an enhancement of survival permit under 
section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA to the Applicant for take of the nene 
incidental to otherwise lawful activities of the project. The Service 
will not make a final decision without full consideration of all 
comments received during the comment period.

    Dated: May 3, 2004.
David J. Wesley,
Deputy Regional Director, Region 1, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 04-10425 Filed 5-6-04; 8:45 am]