[Federal Register: November 10, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 217)]
[Page 68472-68473]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Environmental Assessment/Habitat Conservation Plan; 
Incidental Take Permit Amendment for the Struthers Ranch Property, 
Colorado Springs, El Paso County, CO

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and receipt of application.


SUMMARY: WL Homes, LLC, doing business as John Laing Homes (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 (Act) of 1973, as amended. The requested permit 
amendment would authorize the incidental take of the federally 
threatened Preble's meadow jumping mouse, Zapus hudsonius preblei 
(Preble's), through loss and modification of its habitat associated 
with the expansion and amendment of the Struthers Ranch Property 
Environmental Assessment/Habitat Conservation Plan (EA/HCP) in El Paso 
County, Colorado. The EA/HCP is available for public review and 
comment. It fully describes the proposed project and the measures the 
Applicant would undertake to minimize and mitigate project impacts to 
the Preble's.
    The Service requests comments on the EA/HCP and associated 
documents for the proposed issuance of the incidental take permit. All 
comments on the EA and permit amendment application will become part of 
the administrative record and will be available to the public.

DATES: Written comments on the permit amendment application and EA/HCP 
should be received on or before December 12, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Comments regarding the permit amendment application and EA/
HCP should be addressed Susan Linner, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Colorado Field Office, 755 Parfet Street, Suite 361, 
Lakewood, Colorado 80215. Comments also may be submitted by facsimile 
to (303) 275-2371. Individuals wishing copies of the EA/HCP and 
associated documents for review or public inspection should immediately 
contact the above office during normal business hours at the above 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Adam Misztal, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, Colorado Field Office (see ADDRESSES above), telephone (303) 



    Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and Federal 
regulations prohibit the ``take'' of a species listed as endangered or 
threatened. Take is defined under the Act, in part, as to kill, harm, 
or harass a federally listed species. However, the Service may issue 
permits to authorize ``incidental take'' of listed species under 
limited circumstances. Incidental take is defined under the Act as take 
of a listed species that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, the 
carrying out of an otherwise lawful activity under limited 
circumstances. Regulations governing permits for threatened species are 
promulgated in 50 CFR 17.32.
    The Applicant currently holds a permit for incidental take of 
Preble's at the Struthers Ranch Property (69 FR 1998). The permit was 
issued on December 12, 2003, to Struthers Ranch Development, LLC, then 
transferred to the Applicant on January 28, 2005, and expires on 
January 28, 2035. The Struthers Ranch Property is located along Black 
Forest Creek southeast of the Town of Monument, El Paso County, 
Colorado. The Applicant, using the Service's definition of Preble's 
habitat, has determined that the proposed amended project would impact 
approximately 0.2 hectare (0.5 acre) of potential Preble's habitat, in 
addition to the 6.6 hectares (16.4 acres) of impacts from the original 
project, and may result in incidental take of the Preble's in an area 
that may be periodically used as foraging, breeding or hibernation 
    An HCP has been developed as part of the preferred alternative. 
Three other alternatives to this action were considered and rejected 
because the environmental impacts would be greater than, or similar to, 
the proposed action, but would not provide as great a conservation 
benefit as the proposed action, and/or were not economically viable. 
The draft EA analyzes the onsite, offsite, and cumulative impacts of 
the proposed project and all associated development and construction 
activities and mitigation activities on the Preble's, and also on other 
threatened or endangered species, vegetation, wildlife, wetlands, 
geology/soils, land use, water resources, air and water quality, and 
cultural resources.
    Only the threatened Preble's occurs on site and has the potential 
to be adversely affected by the project. Activities proposed to be 
covered by the EA/HCP amendment are a larger box culvert crossing over 
Black Forest Creek, new road alignment, and relocation

[[Page 68473]]

and/or additional placement of rip-rap used to stabilize the drainage. 
Measures will be taken during construction to minimize impact to the 
habitat, including the use of silt fencing to reduce the amount of 
sediment from construction activities that reaches the creek. 
Mitigation is planned for approximately 0.2 hectare (0.5 acre) in 
addition to the 14.4 hectares (35.5 acres) of varying amounts of 
restoration, enhancement, and creation of on-site upland and riparian 
Preble's habitat as described in the original HCP. Limited enhancement 
has already occurred on 3.3 hectares (8.1 acres) of uplands from the 
removal of cattle grazing to encourage existing native grass recovery. 
This results in a mitigation ratio of 2.14:1 for temporary impacts as 
well as permanent impacts. The mitigation will likely provide a net 
benefit to the Preble's and other wildlife by improving and creating 
new riparian areas, planting of native shrubs and grasses, and 
protecting the habitat corridor along Black Forest Creek from any 
future development. All of the proposed mitigation area is within the 
boundaries of the Struthers Ranch property, all of which is included in 
the drainage basin of Black Forest Creek.
    We will evaluate the permit amendment application, the EA/HCP, and 
comments submitted therein to determine whether the application meets 
the requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. If it is determined that 
those requirements are met, a permit amendment will be issued for the 
incidental take of the Preble's in conjunction with the Struthers Ranch 
Property. The final permit decision will be made no sooner than 30 days 
after the date of this notice.

    Dated: October 14, 2005.
Ralph O. Morgenweck,
Regional Director, Region 6.
[FR Doc. 05-22439 Filed 11-9-05; 8:45 am]