[Federal Register: October 20, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 202)]
[Page 61153-61155]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for 
Amendment of an Incidental Take Permit and the 1997 Habitat 
Conservation Plan for Kern County Waste Facilities, Kern County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the 
Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) advises the public that we intend 
to gather information necessary to prepare, in coordination with the 
Kern County Waste Management Department (KCWMD), a joint Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) on 
the Amendment to the Kern County Waste Facilities Habitat Conservation 
Plan and permit number 830963 (Amendment 1). Amendment 1 is being 
prepared under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended, (ESA). Amendment 1 addresses potential take of 
threatened and endangered species at Kern County waste facilities due 
to the proposed expansion of the permit area, new covered activities, 
and an increase in the number of species covered by Permit 830963. The 
term of Permit 830963 shall remain at 50 years, expiring in 2047. KCWMD 
intends to request an ESA permit amendment for 5 species federally 
listed as threatened or endangered and 14 unlisted species that may 
become listed during the term of the permit.
    The Service provides this notice to: (1) Describe the proposed 
action and possible alternatives; (2) advise other Federal and State 
agencies, affected Tribes, and the public of our intent to prepare an 
EIS/EIR; (3) announce the initiation of a public scoping period; and 
(4) obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to be 
included in the EIS/EIR. Written comments will be accepted at the 
public meeting. In addition, you may submit

[[Page 61154]]

written comments by mail or facsimile transmission.

DATES: Two public meetings will be held on: Wednesday, November 9, 2005 
from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursday, November 10, 2005 from 6 p.m. to 8 
p.m. Written comments should be received on or before November 21, 

ADDRESSES: The public meetings will be held at the following locations: 
Wednesday, November 9, 2005 at 2700 ``M'' Street, First Floor 
Conference Room, Bakersfield, CA 93301; and, Thursday, November 10, 
2005 at the Mojave Veterans Building, 15580 ``O'' Street, Mojave, CA 
93501. Written comments, or questions related to the preparation of the 
EIS/EIR and NEPA process should be submitted to Lori Rinek, Division 
Chief, Endangered Species Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W-2605, 
Sacramento, California 95825; FAX (916) 414-6713.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sheila Larsen, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, or Lori Rinek, Division Chief, Endangered Species Program, 
at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office at (916) 414-6600.


Reasonable Accommodation

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meeting should contact Lori Rinek as soon as 
possible (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). In order to allow 
sufficient time to process requests, please call no later than one week 
before the public meeting. Information regarding this proposed action 
is available in alternative formats upon request.


    Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulations prohibit the take of 
fish and wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened (16 U.S.C. 
1538). The term ``take'' means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any 
such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532). Harm includes significant habitat 
modification or degradation that actually kills or injures listed 
wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, 
including breeding, feeding, and sheltering [50 CFR 17.3(c)]. Under 
limited circumstances, the Service may issue permits to authorize 
incidental take of listed fish or wildlife; i.e., take that is 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activity. 
Regulations governing incidental take permits for threatened and 
endangered species are found in 50 CFR 17.32 and 17.22, respectively.
    Although take of listed plant species is not prohibited under the 
ESA, and therefore cannot be authorized under an incidental take 
permit, plant species may be included on a permit in recognition of the 
conservation benefits provided to them under a habitat conservation 
plan. All species included on an incidental take permit would receive 
assurances under the Services ``No Surprises'' regulation [50 CFR 
17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5)].
    Permit number 830963 (issued October 24, 1997) provides for 
incidental take of 5 federally-listed threatened or endangered animals: 
San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica), Tipton kangaroo rat 
(Dipodomys nitratoides nitratoides), giant kangaroo rat, (Dipodomys 
ingens), blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia silus), desert tortoise 
(Gopherus agassizii); one plant, the Hoover's eriastrum (Eriastrum 
hooverii); and, one unlisted animal, the San Joaquin antelope squirrel 
(Ammospermophilus nelsoni), should it be listed during the 50-year term 
of the permit. Incidental take was permitted at 17 KCWMD facilities, 
including active and closed sanitary landfills and solid waste transfer 
stations. The total permit area was 2,063 acres, of which 1,151 acres 
of habitat were expected to be impacted. Activities covered by the 
original permit included excavation and on-going operation of sanitary 
landfills, which included activities that would result in: inadvertent 
burial during waste handling; species contact with potentially toxic 
materials, such as contact with contaminant-laden surface and 
subsurface leachates from in-place refuse and exposure to toxic gas 
emissions from in-place refuse; traffic, noise, lights, and other 
disturbance; and exposures to substantially elevated bacterial levels 
in decomposing refuse. In addition, potential for habitat loss and 
direct take of individuals at solid waste transfer stations was 
    Amendment 1 to permit number 830963 is needed because: (a) KCWMD 
has been given responsibility for remediating numerous historical 
``burn dumps'' that were capped and abandoned several decades ago and 
must now be brought up to current regulatory standards; (b) KCWMD must 
acquire and manage large buffer zones around existing and new 
facilities; (c) KCWMD must expand facility capacity in some areas; and 
(d) there is a reasonable likelihood that additional species may be 
listed in the foreseeable future and would need to be addressed. Under 
Amendment 1, KCWMD proposes to add approximately 10,500 to 11,000 acres 
to the existing 2,063-acre permit area.
    KCWMD is not requesting coverage for Hoover's eriastrum under 
Amendment 1 as it has been delisted. However, KCWMD is still required 
to perform all of its obligations to protect and conserve Hoover's 
eriastrum as described in the original permit. Under Amendment 1, KCWD 
proposes to extend the geographic scope and scope of permitted 
activities for the remaining 5 species covered by the original permit. 
Under Amendment 1, KCWMD also requests coverage for 13 additional 
species that may be listed in the future: Le Conte's thrasher 
(Toxostoma lecontei lecontei), short-nosed kangaroo rat (Dipodomys 
nitratoides brevinasus), San Joaquin pocket mouse (Perognathus 
inornatus), Mohave ground squirrel (Spermophilis mohavensis), Tulare 
grasshopper mouse (Onychomys torridus tularensis), western burrowing 
owl (Athene cunicularia), loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus), 
California horned lizard (Phrynosoma frontalis coronata), Bakersfield 
smallscale (Atriplex tularensis), lesser saltscale (Atriplex 
minuscule), Lost Hills saltbush (Atriplex vallicola), heartscale 
(Atriplex cordulata), and desert cymopterus (Cymopterus deserticola). 
Species may be added or deleted during the course of the development of 
the Amendment 1 proposal based on further analysis, new information, 
agency consultation, and public comment.
    Under Amendment 1, KCWMD proposes to include up to 13,000 non-
contiguous acres at numerous locations in Kern County, including the 
2,063 acres covered by the original permit. The boundaries of the 
Amendment 1 area are generally defined as the area of KCWMD's 11 active 
and retired waste facilities, transfer stations, and burn dumps, 
including a 660 to 1320-foot buffer zone around these facilities. The 
proposed Amendment 1 area also includes a number of small (1 to 40-
acre) historical burn dumps which KCWMD is remediating and maintaining 
to meet current health and safety standards.
    Amendment 1 would address the following proposed covered 
activities: (a) Potential expansion of necessary facilities including 
transfer stations, landfills, and buffer zones; (b) construction of 
roads, drainage facilities, monitoring wells, temporary and permanent 
soil stockpiles, facilities for management of landfill gas, recycling 
facilities, waste transfer facilities, fences, and other operational 
facilities within the active and inactive

[[Page 61155]]

landfill area and buffer zones; (c) long-term operation of waste 
facilities, followed by closure of those facilities and long-term post-
closure maintenance of surrounding buffer areas; (d) remediation of 
burn dumps, primarily by re-capping and fencing; (e) monitoring, 
maintenance of facilities, management of dust and runoff, management of 
wind-blown trash, and other routine maintenance and management in 
buffer zones; and (f) the potential development of compatible 
facilities in buffer zones and remediated burn dumps (such as recycling 
or waste processing facilities, or other types of facilities compatible 
with the operation and zoning of sanitary landfills, transfer stations, 
and burn dumps). No new landfills would be sited.
    The effects of proposed covered activities are expected to be 
minimized and mitigated through participation in a conservation program 
that would be fully described in Amendment 1 to the original Habitat 
Conservation Plan. The focus of this proposed conservation program is 
to provide long-term protection of covered species by protecting 
biological communities in areas of high ecological value within Kern 
County. Components of the proposed conservation program are now under 
consideration by the Service and KCWMD. These components will likely 
include: avoidance and minimization measures, monitoring, adaptive 
management, and mitigation measures consisting of preservation, 
restoration and enhancement of habitat.

Environmental Impact Statement/Report

    KCWMD and the Service have selected Jud Monroe, Environmental 
Planning and Documentation (Monroe), to prepare the Draft EIS/EIR. The 
joint document will be prepared in compliance with NEPA and the 
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Although Monroe will 
prepare the EIS/EIR, the Service will be responsible for the scope and 
content of the document for NEPA purposes, and KCWMD will be 
responsible for the scope and content of the document for CEQA 
    The EIS/EIR will consider the proposed action of amending permit 
number 830963, no action (no permit amendment), and a reasonable range 
of alternatives, including operational alternatives for KCWMD 
facilities that would involve different levels of incidental take from 
those likely to occur under the proposed action. A detailed description 
of the proposed action and alternatives will be included in the EIS/
EIR. It is anticipated that several alternatives will be developed, 
which may vary by the level of conservation, impacts caused by the 
proposed activities, permit area, covered species, or a combination of 
these factors.
    The EIS/EIR will also identify potentially significant impacts on 
biological resources, land use, air quality, water quality, mineral 
resources, water resources, economics, and other environmental 
resources that could occur directly or indirectly with implementation 
of the proposed action or alternatives. For all potentially significant 
impacts, the EIS/EIR will identify mitigation measures, where feasible, 
to reduce these impacts to a level below significance.
    Environmental review of the EIS/EIR will be conducted in accordance 
with the requirements of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), its 
implementing regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), other applicable 
regulations, and Service procedures for compliance with those 
regulations. We are publishing this notice in accordance with Section 
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 EIS/EIR. More specifically, we provide this notice: 
(1) To describe the proposed action and possible alternatives; (2) to 
advise other Federal and State agencies, affected Tribes, and the 
public of our intent to prepare an EIS/EIR; (3) to announce the 
initiation of a public scoping period; and (4) to obtain suggestions 
and information on the scope of issues to be included in the EIS/EIR. 
The primary purpose of the scoping process is to identify, rather than 
to debate, significant issues related to the proposed action. We invite 
written comments from interested parties to ensure that the full range 
of issues related to the permit request is identified. All comments 
received, including names and addresses, will become part of the 
official administrative record and may be made available to the public.

    Dated: October 14, 2005.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 05-20967 Filed 10-19-05; 8:45 am]