[Federal Register: July 21, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 139)]
[Page 42088]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of an Environmental Assessment and Receipt of an 
Application for an Incidental Take Permit for the Hillcrest Travel 
Plaza in Fresno County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and receipt of application.


SUMMARY: The Hillcrest Travel Plaza (applicant) has applied to the Fish 
and Wildlife Service (Service) for an incidental take permit pursuant 
to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act). The Service is considering the issuance of a 10-year 
permit to the applicant that would authorize take of the endangered San 
Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) incidental to otherwise lawful 
activities. Such take would occur during the construction and operation 
of the applicant's proposed travel plaza in Fresno County, California. 
Construction of the proposed travel plaza would result in the loss of 
up to 9.27 acres of foraging and migration habitat for the San Joaquin 
kit fox.
    We request comments from the public on the permit application and 
an Environmental Assessment, both of which are available for review. 
The permit application includes the proposed Habitat Conservation Plan 
(Plan) and an accompanying Implementing Agreement. The Plan describes 
the proposed project and the measures that the applicant would 
undertake to minimize and mitigate take of the San Joaquin kit fox.

DATES: We must receive your written comments on or before September 19, 

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments to Lori Rinek, Chief, 
Conservation Planning and Recovery Division, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W-2605, 
Sacramento, California 95825. You also may send comments by facsimile 
to (916) 414-6713.

Biologist, or Lori Rinek, Chief, Conservation Planning and Recovery 
Division, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, at (916) 414-6600.


Availability of Documents

    You may obtain copies of these documents for review by contacting 
the individuals named above [see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.] 
Documents also will be available for public inspection, by appointment, 
during normal business hours at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office 


    Section 9 of the Act and Federal regulations prohibit the take of 
fish and wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened (16 U.S.C. 
1538). Take of federally listed fish and wildlife is defined under the 
Act to include the following activities: harass, harm, pursue, hunt, 
shoot, would, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage 
in any such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532). The Service may, under limited 
circumstances, issue permits to authorize incidental take (i.e., take 
that is incidental to, and not for the purpose of, the carrying out of 
an otherwise lawful activity). Regulations governing incidental take 
permits for endangered species are found in 50 CFR 17.22.
    The applicant proposes to construct and operate a travel plaza and 
freeway rest stop on a portion of a 38-acre parcel on the southwest 
side of the intersection of State Route 269 and Interstate 5 near the 
town of Avenal in Fresno County, California. The construction of the 
proposed plaza would result in the loss of 9.27 acres of suitable 
foraging and migration habitat for the San Joaquin kit fox.
    Although no San Joaquin kit foxes were observed, or evidence found 
of their denning, at the time of biological surveys, they may range 
through and periodically use the site for foraging and/or denning. The 
construction and operation of the facilities is unlikely to result in 
direct mortality or injury of San Joaquin kit foxes, but may result in 
take in the form of harassment.
    The applicant proposes to implement specific on-site measures to 
avoid and minimize take and associated adverse project impacts to San 
Joaquin kit fox. The applicant also proposes to mitigate for take by 
purchasing 9.27 acres of compensation credits at the Wildlands, Inc., 
Kreyenhagen Hills Conservation Bank, in Fresno County. These lands are 
occupied by the San Joaquin kit fox. The compensation includes funds 
supporting a management endowment to ensure the permanent management 
and monitoring of sensitive species and habitats within the area 
protected by the Conservation Bank.
    The Service's Environmental Assessment considers the environmental 
consequences of three alternatives. The Proposed Project Alternative 
(described above) consists of the issuance of the incidental take 
permit and implementation of the Plan and Implementing Agreement for 
the applicant's proposed project. The No Action Alternative consists of 
no permit issuance and no construction of the travel plaza at this 
time. Compared to the proposed project, the No Action Alternative would 
result in no take in an important migration corridor area, but less 
long-term conservation for the San Joaquin kit fox within Fresno 
County, and the applicant would not be able to develop the property. 
Under the 38-Acre Development Alternative, the entire project site 
would be developed with permanent structures, parking and access areas, 
and appurtenances. The project would result in the loss of 38 acres of 
San Joaquin kit fox foraging and migration habitat, and the applicant 
would purchase 38 acres of off-site preservation habitat in a 
conservation bank. Compared to the proposed project, the 38-Acre 
Development Alternative would result in greater loss of habitat in an 
important migration corridor area, but more long-term conservation for 
the San Joaquin kit fox. This alternative would be more costly to the 
applicant than the proposed project.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(a) of the Act and 
the regulations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 
(40 CFR 1506.6). All comments that we receive, including names and 
addresses, will become part of the official administrative record and 
may be made available to the public. We will evaluate the application, 
associated documents, and comments submitted thereon to determine 
whether the application meets the requirements of NEPA regulations and 
section 10(a) of the Act. If we determine that those requirements are 
met, we will issue a permit to the Applicant for the incidental take of 
the San Joaquin kit fox. We will make our final permit decision no 
sooner than 60 days from the date of this notice.

    Dated: July 15, 2005.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 05-14373 Filed 7-20-05; 8:45 am]