[Federal Register: October 24, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 204)]
[Page 61469-61470]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of a Proposed Safe Harbor Agreement for the 
California Red-Legged Frog and Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle for 
the Burrows and Big Bluff Ranches in Tehama County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; receipt of application.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the owners of the Burrows 
Ranch and Big Bluff Ranch (Applicants) have applied to the 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. 1531 et seq.) (Act). The permit application 
includes a proposed Safe Harbor Agreement (Agreement) between the 
Applicants and the Service for the threatened California red-legged 
frog (CRLF, Rana aurora draytonii) and the valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle (VELB, Desmocerus californicus dimorphus). The Agreement and 
permit application are available for public comment.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before November 23, 

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Catrina Martin, Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage 
Way, W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825. Written comments may be sent 
by facsimile to (916) 414-6711.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Catrina Martin, Sacramento Fish 
and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES); telephone: (916) 414-6600.


Availability of Documents

    You may obtain copies of the documents for review by contacting the 
individual named above. You may also make an appointment to view the 
documents at the above address during normal business hours.


    Under a Safe Harbor Agreement, participating landowners voluntarily 
undertake management activities on their property to enhance, restore, 
or maintain habitat benefiting species listed under the Act. Safe 
Harbor Agreements encourage private and other non-Federal property 
owners to implement conservation efforts for listed species by assuring 
property owners they will not be subjected to increased property use 
restrictions as a result of their efforts to attract listed species to 
their property or increase the numbers or distribution of listed 
species already on their property. Application requirements and 
issuance criteria for enhancement of survival permits through Safe 
Harbor Agreements are found in 50 CFR 17.22(c). We have worked with the 
Applicants to develop the proposed Agreement for the conservation of 
covered species on their Ranches in Tehama County, California.
    This Agreement allows for management and conservation of the CRLF 
and VELB (covered species) on 7,450 acres of private land, owned by the 
Applicants in Tehama County, California. The proposed duration of the 
Agreement is 15 years, and the proposed term of the enhancement of a 
survival permit is 17 years. The permit would run the additional 2 
years upon a determination by the Service that the actions identified 
in the Agreement were implemented prior to its 15 year expiration. This 
Agreement will allow the Applicants to return to baseline condition 
after 15 years, if so desired by the Applicants.
    The Applicants also will receive incidental take authorization, 
should take of the covered species occur while conducting otherwise 
lawful activities. While unlikely, it is possible that in the course of 
normal activities, the Applicants could take a covered species. The 
Agreement fully describes the proposed project, management actions, and 
the conservation benefits that will be gained for the CRLF and the 
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that the proposed 
Agreement and permit application are eligible for categorical exclusion 
under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). We explain 
the basis

[[Page 61470]]

for this determination in an Environmental Action Statement, which is 
also available for public review.
    The presence of both CRLF and VELB on the enrolled properties is 
uncertain at this time due to lack of detailed survey information. For 
the purposes of the Agreement, the Service and Applicants have set the 
baseline for CRLF and VELB as the habitat that existed on the ranches 
prior to wetland creation activities. Therefore, the CRLF baseline is 
18 reservoirs comprising approximately 45 acres. Sixteen of the 
reservoirs occur on the Burrows Ranch and two on the Big Bluff Ranch. 
For the VELB, the baseline is 65 naturally occurring elderberry bushes, 
of which 39 occur on the Burrows Ranch and 25 occur on the Big Bluff 
    Under the Agreement, the Applicants would or have undertaken 
activities to benefit the CRLF. The Applicants have fenced nine 
existing reservoirs and six newly created ponds and installed watering 
troughs in order to exclude livestock from the reservoirs. The 
Applicants propose to: (1) Manage existing wetlands (through the use of 
livestock or light equipment) to maintain open water and wetland 
vegetation to benefit CRLF; (2) where practical and feasible for the 
Applicants and where it does not interfere with the operation of the 
Ranches, undertake bullfrog eradication efforts in ponds where 
bullfrogs are present; and (3) where practical and feasible for the 
Applicants and where it does not interfere with the operation of the 
Ranches, fence additional reservoirs and newly created ponds to exclude 
livestock. In addition to this, Burrows Ranch has created approximately 
5.7 acres of ponds. These ponds were developed through a cooperative 
agreement with the Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife program.
    To benefit the VELB the Applicants propose to: (1) Manage 
vegetation and activity around the elderberry plants following the most 
current guidelines and measures developed and approved by the Service; 
(2) allow for recruitment of elderberry plants within riparian areas 
near existing elderberry plant communities by allowing all newly 
established elderberry plants within 50 feet of existing elderberry 
plants to grow and mature; and (3) work with the Service to identify 
suitable habitat areas and once funding is secured, plant elderberry 
bushes in areas amenable to the Applicants.
    Under the Agreement, consistent with the Service's Safe Harbor 
Policy published in the Federal Register on June 17, 1999 (64 FR 
32717), the Service would issue a permit to the Applicants authorizing 
incidental take as a result of normal land management activities on the 
Ranches' 7,450 acres. The properties subject to this Agreement range in 
elevation from approximately 800 feet to 1,760 feet and have 
traditionally been used for agricultural production, including cattle 
grazing and farming for dry land crops. Some of the land use activities 
that the Applicants have completed to further their land stewardship 
goals and to increase income from hunting and livestock grazing include 
creating wildlife habitat ponds for waterfowl, amphibians, game 
species, and others; fencing existing reservoirs and installing 
watering troughs in order to exclude livestock from the reservoirs to 
improve habitat for waterfowl; maintaining and monitoring wood duck 
nest boxes; clearing decadent brush and reseeding to annual clovers and 
perennial grasses to provide wildlife food and cover; planting grains 
and alfalfa for wildlife; and holding annual Stewardship Days in which 
neighbors, college students, resource agency employees, and others 
learn about sustainable ranch management and wildlife habitat 
improvement techniques, conduct vegetation and wildlife monitoring, and 

Public Review and Comments

    Individuals wishing copies of the permit application, copies of our 
preliminary Environmental Action Statement, and/or copies of the full 
text of the 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 above.
    If you wish to comment on the permit application or the Agreement, 
you may submit your comments to the address listed in the ADDRESSES 
section of this document. Comments and materials received, including 
names and addresses of respondents, will be available for public 
review, by appointment, during normal business hours at the address in 
the ADDRESSES section above and will become part of the public record, 
pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act. Individual respondents may 
request that we withhold their home address from the record, which we 
will honor to the extent allowable by law. There also may be 
circumstances in which we would withhold from the record a respondent's 
identity, as allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name 
and/or address, you must state this prominently at the beginning of 
your comment. Anonymous comments will not be considered. 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.
    We will evaluate this permit application, associated documents, and 
comments submitted thereon to determine whether the permit application 
meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the Act and NEPA 
regulations. If we determine that the requirements are met, we will 
sign the proposed Agreement and issue an enhancement of survival permit 
under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act to the Applicants for take of the 
CLRF and the VELB incidental to otherwise lawful activities in 
accordance with the terms of the Agreement. We will not make our final 
decision until after the end of the 30-day comment period and will 
fully consider all comments received during the comment period.
    The Service provides this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the 
Act and pursuant to implementing regulations for NEPA (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: October 18, 2005.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 05-21172 Filed 10-21-05; 8:45 am]