[Federal Register: August 29, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 166)]


[Page 51088-51089]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]




Fish and Wildlife Service


Notice of Availability of a Proposed Amendment to Environmental 

Defense, Inc.'s Safe Harbor Agreement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and 30-day public comment period.


SUMMARY: Environmental Defense, Inc. (ED) has submitted to the U.S. 

Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) a request to amend their Safe 

Harbor Agreement (SHA) and associated Endangered Species Act (Act) 

Section 10(a)(1)(A) Safe Harbor Enhancement of Survival permit (Permit) 

for habitat restoration activities on private lands for the endangered 

Black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla) (BCVI) and Golden-cheeked 

warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia) (GCWA) in the Hill Country of Texas to 

include twelve additional counties, along with amending language in 

Attachment 2 of their SHA. The amendment would allow the Safe Harbor 

program to expand onto additional private lands in Texas, thus 

furthering the conservation of BCVIs and GCWAs.

DATES: To ensure consideration, written comments must be received on or 

before September 28, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application may obtain copies 

by calling or faxing a request to the Service at the U.S. Fish and 

Wildlife Service Austin Office, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, 

Texas 78758, (512/490-0057 voice, 512/490-0974 fax). The amendment 

request will also be available for public inspection, by appointment, 

during normal business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the Fish and 

Wildlife Service Austin Office. During the 30-day public comment 

period, written comments or data should be submitted to the Field 

Supervisor at the above address. Please refer to the amendment to ED's 

SHA in the Texas Hill Country (TE-024875-1). All comments received, 

including names and addresses, will become a part of the official 

administrative record and may be made available to the public.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christina Williams at the Fish and 

Wildlife Service Austin Office, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, 

Texas 78758, (512/490-0057 voice, 512/490-0974 fax).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In addition to the 25 counties covered under 

their current permit, habitat enhancement activities could now occur in 

any or all of the following additional counties: Bexar, Callahan, Coke, 

Concho, Hamilton, Hood, Kinney, McLennan, Palo Pinto, Runnels, Taylor, 

and Tom Green. Habitat enhancement activities could include, but are 

not limited to, prescribed burning, selective Ashe juniper thinning, 

rotational grazing, cowbird trapping, and hardwood regeneration.

[[Page 51089]]

    Currently, ED is prevented by the terms and conditions of their 

original SHA from enrolling non-habitat within 300 feet of GCWA 

habitat, which would create and maintain a strip of non-habitat between 

two patches of habitat. Therefore, ED is requesting that language in 

Attachment 2 of the SHA be amended to allow for the creation of habitat 

for BCVIs or GCWAs within 300 feet of GCWA habitat, so long as no 

alteration of existing habitat occurs.

    BCVI and GCWA were listed as endangered in November 1987 and May 

1990, respectively. The BCVI and GCWA are migratory songbirds that 

occupy breeding habitat in Texas from about March 1-August 31. The BCVI 

requires an early successional stage, patchy island habitat of wooded 

areas with shrubs up to about 6 feet tall surrounded by grasslands. 

GCWA habitat is mixed closed canopy woodland of mature Ashe juniper and 


    Approximately 98 percent of the land in Texas is privately owned, 

with a substantial majority of existing and restorable BCVI and GCWA 

habitat falling into this category. Therefore, the participation of 

private landowners in the recovery of these two species is highly 


    Landowners having currently unoccupied or unsuitable, but 

restorable habitat and thus a zero baseline condition for the Safe 

Harbor, would be eligible for Certificates of Inclusion. Exceptions to 

the zero baseline may also be included for certificates under very 

limited circumstances with concurrence from the Service. Upon 

completion and maintenance of the habitat improvements for at least 

four breeding seasons, the landowners would be permitted to conduct any 

otherwise lawful activity on their property, including activities that 

result in the partial or total elimination of the restored habitat and 

the incidental taking of either of these species as a result of such 

habitat elimination (return to baseline).

    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 

1973, as amended, through its permitting provisions (50 CFR part 17). 

The amendment request is available for public review, and subject to 

the requirements of the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act, by 

any party who submits a written request for a copy of such document 

within the comment period to the address specified below (43 CFR part 


Joy E. Nicholopoulos,

Acting Regional Director, Region 2, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

[FR Doc. 05-17063 Filed 8-26-05; 8:45 am]