[Federal Register: September 29, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 188)]
[Page 58181-58183]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Document for 
Issuance of an Incidental Take Permit Associated With a Habitat 
Conservation Plan at the Fort Ord Military Installation, Monterey 
County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 
U.S.C. 4321, et seq.), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
advises the public that we intend to perform a scoping process to 
gather information necessary to help develop a NEPA document and 
determine whether to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposed Habitat 
Conservation Plan (HCP) for the former Fort Ord Federal military 
installation in Monterey County, California. The decision to prepare an 
EIS or EA is, in part, contingent upon the complexity of issues 
identified during and following the scoping phase of the NEPA process. 
The proposed Fort Ord HCP is being prepared in compliance with the 
Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA) (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.).
    The HCP is meant to support the issuance of incidental take permits 
to the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA), State Parks, University of 
California at Santa Cruz, California State University at Monterey Bay, 
and the County of Monterey (the Applicants) from the Service under 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA and from the California Department of 
Fish and Game (CDFG) under section 2081 of the California Fish and Game 
Code in compliance with the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).
    We provide this notice to:
    (1) Advise other Federal and State agencies, affected tribes, and 
the public of our intent to prepare an EA or an EIS;
    (2) Announce the initiation of a 30-day public scoping period; and
    (3) Obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues and 
alternatives to be considered in the scoping process.

DATES: Public scoping meetings will be held on: Wednesday, October 13, 
2004, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Written comments 
should be received on or before October 29, 2004.

ADDRESSES: The public meeting will be held in the FORA Conference 
Facility/Bridge Center, 13th Street, Building 2925, Marina, CA 93933. 
Information, written comments, or questions related to the preparation 
of the EA or EIS and the NEPA process should be submitted to the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 
Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, California 93003; or FAX (805) 644-

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Diane Steeck at the above Ventura 
address, or at (805) 644-1766.


[[Page 58182]]

Reasonable Accommodation

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meeting should contact Marilyn Bishop of the 
Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office at 805-644-1766 as soon as possible. 
In order to allow sufficient time to process requests, please call no 
later than 1 week before the public meeting. Information regarding this 
proposed action is available in alternative formats upon request.


The Former Fort Ord

    The former Fort Ord military installation spans 28,000 acres near 
the cities of Seaside, Sand City, Monterey, Del Rey Oaks and Marina in 
Monterey County, California. Fort Ord was established in 1917 as a 
training for infantry troops. It was expanded for use as a maneuver and 
training ground for field artillery and cavalry troops stationed at the 
Presidio of Monterey. The 1991 Defense Base Realignment and Closure 
Commission recommended that Fort Ord be closed. The base was closed in 
September 1994.
    Closure, disposal and reuse of former Fort Ord required 
consultation between the U.S. Department of the Army (Army) and the 
Service under section 7 of the ESA because the Army's actions 
potentially affected several species listed as threatened or endangered 
or proposed for listing under the ESA. As a result of that 
consultation, the Service issued a biological opinion on October 19, 
1993, and subsequent biological and conference opinions in 1997, 1999, 
and 2002, finding that no jeopardy to federally listed plant and animal 
species or plants and animals proposed for listing would result from 
the Army's actions. A key provision of the Army's project description 
was the development and implementation of a habitat management plan 
(HMP) to minimize incidental take of listed species and their habitat 
and to mitigate for impacts to vegetation and wildlife resources 
resulting from the Army's actions. In the 1993 biological opinion, the 
Service also recommended that the Army's HMP consider all proposed and 
candidate species for Federal listing and other special-status species.
    In response to this requirement, the Army developed the HMP with 
input from Federal, State, and local agencies and organizations 
concerned with the natural resources and reuse of Fort Ord. The 
Service, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), CDFG, the California 
Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks), the University of 
California (UC), the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) and other members 
of the local Monterey Bay area community were all active participants 
in the development of the HMP. The HMP thus describes a cooperative 
Federal, State, and local conservation program for plant and animal 
species and habitats of concern known to occur at Fort Ord.
    The HMP's conservation program establishes land use categories and 
habitat management requirements for all lands on the former base. 
Developable lands and habitats reserve areas are defined along with 
habitat corridors and restricted development areas. Resources 
conservation and management requirements are described and responsible 
parties for each designated habitat area on the former base are 
    While the conservation program established by the HMP is intended 
to be a comprehensive program for the former base, it stems form an 
agreement between the Army and the Service and does not exempt other 
landowners (existing or future) of transferred property from ESA 
section 9 prohibitions against take of listed species or from 
compliance with the provisions of CESA. Under the ESA, the following 
activities are defined as take: 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, the HMP was also 
produced with the intent of benefiting all parties involved in the 
reuse of the former base by establishing a basis for regulatory 
compliance for other landowners of transferred property. The HMP was 
intended to serve as the basis for the proposed HCP and to support the 
possible issuance of incidental take permits under section 10(a)(1)(B) 
of the ESA to non-Federal land recipients.

Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP)

    The Service has recommended that all non-Federal entities acquiring 
lands at the former Fort Ord apply for section 10(a)(1)(B) incidental 
take permits for all species covered in the HMP (Covered Species). In 
addition, CDFG requires non-Federal entities to obtain incidental take 
permits pursuant to section 2081 of the California Fish and Game Code 
if State-listed species will be taken. Seven animal species that are 
either listed, candidates, or designated species of concern are 
proposed Covered Species under the HCP, including: Smith's blue 
butterfly (Euphilotes enoptes smithi), California linderiella 
(Linderiella occidentalis), California red-legged frog (Rana aurora 
draytoni), California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense), 
California black legless lizard (Anniella pulchra nigra), Western snowy 
plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus), and Monterey ornate shrew 
(Sorex ornatus salarius). Eleven plant species that are either listed, 
candidate, or species of concern are also proposed Covered Species 
under the HCP, including: Sand gilia (Gilia tenuiflora ssp. arenaria), 
Monterey spineflower (Chorizanthe pungens var. pungens), Robust 
spineflower (Chorizanthe robusta var. robusta), Seaside bird's-beak 
(Cordylanthus rigidus var. littoralis), Toro manzanita (Arctostaphylos 
montereyensis), Sandmat manzanita (Arctrostaphylos pumila), Monterey 
ceanothus (Ceanothus cuneatus var. rigidus), Eastwood's ericameria 
(Ericameria fasciculate), Coast wallflower (Erysimum ammophilum), 
Yadon's piperia (Piperia yadoni), and Hooker's manzanita 
(Arctostaphylos hookeri). To apply for such permits, applicants must 
submit a conservation plan along with their applications. The HCP, 
integrating key components of the HMP with additional elements required 
of an HCP (pursuant to 50 CFR 17.22(b)) is being prepared to provide a 
stand-alone HCP that is satisfactory to the Service and CDFG.
    Incidental take of Covered Species is proposed to occur as the 
former base is redeveloped consistent with the HCP. The proposed 
activities covered in the draft HCP include rehabilitation and 
construction of roads, utilities and other infrastructure to support 
new research/educational, residential, commercial, light industrial, 
recreational and other development, generating approximately 18,000 
jobs. Management activities on non-federal lands such as weed control, 
fencing, and burning will also be included as proposed covered 
activities in the HCP. About 12,000 housing units are anticipated to be 
constructed on the former base supporting a population of about 37,000 
people. To accommodate this growth and development, up to 6,000 acres 
of existing habitat on the former base will be removed. However, the 
base-wide program for habitat preservation and management of 
approximately 17,600 acres of lands on former Fort Ord is intended to 
minimize and fully mitigate losses to Covered Species and their 
habitats that would result from base redevelopment. The requested 
permit term is 50 years.

NEPA Document

    The EA or EIS will consider the proposed action, the issuance of a 
section 10(a)(1)(B) permit under the Act, and a reasonable range of 
alternatives. A detailed description of the impacts of

[[Page 58183]]

the proposed action and each alternative will be included in the EA or 
EIS. Several alternatives, including a No Action Alternative, will be 
considered and analyzed, representing varying levels of conservation, 
impacts, and permit area configurations. The No Action alternative 
means that the Service would not issue a section 10(a)(1)(B) permit.
    The EA or EIS will identify potentially significant direct, 
indirect, and cumulative impacts on biological resources, land use, air 
quality, water quality, water resources, economics, and other 
environmental issues that could occur with the implementation of the 
Service's proposed actions and alternatives. For all potentially 
significant impacts, the EA or EIS will identify avoidance, 
minimization, and mitigation measures to reduce these impacts where 
feasible, to a level below significance. Where possible, we intend to 
incorporate by reference applicable sections from existing documents, 
such as the Army's 1993 EIS and 1996 Supplemental EIS on Fort Ord 
disposal and reuse.
    Review of this project will be conducted in accordance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 
et seq.), NEPA regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508) found at (http://www.legal.gsa.gov
), other appropriate Federal laws, and Service 

policies and procedures for compliance with those regulations. This 
notice is being furnished in accordance with 40 CFR 1501.7 of NEPA to 
obtain suggestions and information from other agencies and the public 
on the scope of issues and alternatives to be addressed in the EA or 
EIS. The primary purpose of the scoping process is to identify 
important issues raised by the public, related to the proposed action. 
Written comments from interested parties are welcome to ensure that the 
full range of issues related to the permit request is identified. 
Written comments are encouraged, and we will accept written comments at 
the public meetings. In addition, you may submit written comments by 
mail or facsimile transmission (see ADDRESSES). All comments received, 
including names and addresses, will become part of the official 
administrative record and may be made available to the public.

    Dated: September 21, 2004.
Ron Cole,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 04-21813 Filed 9-28-04; 8:45 am]