[Federal Register: February 24, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 36)]
[Page 9093]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Permit Application and Availability of a Draft Safe 
Harbor Agreement for The Nature Conservancy (Aravaipa Property)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

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


SUMMARY: The Nature Conservancy (Applicant or TNC) has applied to the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for an enhancement of survival 
permit pursuant to Section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act 
(Act). The Applicant has been assigned permit number TE-099809-0. The 
requested permit, which is for a period of 20 years, would authorize 
take of the endangered Gila topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis 
occidentalis) and desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius) as a result of 
ongoing watershed improvement activities on TNC-owned property within 
the Aravaipa watershed identified in the application, Safe Harbor 
Agreement (TNC Agreement), and associated documents in Graham and Pinal 
counties, Arizona. Implementation of the TNC Agreement will reestablish 
Gila topminnow and desert pupfish in three south rim tributaries of 
Aravaipa Creek.

DATES: To be considered, written comments must be received on or before 
March 28, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application, TNC Agreement, 
and ``Low Effect'' determination may obtain copies by writing to the 
Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 1306, Room 
4102, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103, or by contacting the Field 
Supervisor, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 2321 West Royal 
Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, Arizona 85021-4951; phone: (602) 242-
0210. Documents relating to the application will be available for 
public inspection by written request, by appointment only, during 
normal business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, Phoenix, 
    Written data or comments concerning the application and TNC 
Agreement should be submitted to the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 2321 West 
Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, Arizona 85021-4951. Please refer 
to permit number TE-099809-0 (TNC) when submitting comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marty Tuegel at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 201 N. 
Bonita Avenue, Suite 141, Tucson, Arizona 85745; phone: (520) 670-6150 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background: The Applicant plans to 
reestablish populations of Gila topminnow and desert pupfish (covered 
species) on its properties within the approximately 537 mi\2\ (14,000 
km\2\) Aravaipa watershed, Graham and Pinal counties, Arizona. Gila 
topminnow and desert pupfish are native to the Gila River basin. Based 
upon extensive fish sampling within the watershed, neither species is 
known to be present in the watershed. The Applicant, in cooperation 
with the Service, has prepared the TNC Agreement to provide a 
conservation benefit to, and allow for take of, Gila topminnow and 
desert pupfish.
    Based upon guidance in the Service's June 17, 1999, Final Safe 
Harbor Policy, if an agreement and its associated permit are not 
expected to individually or cumulatively have a significant impact on 
the quality of the human environment or other natural resources, the 
agreement/permit may be categorically excluded from undergoing National 
Environmental Policy Act review. The TNC Agreement qualifies as a ``Low 
Effect'' agreement, thus, this action is a categorical exclusion. The 
``Low Effect'' determination for the TNC Agreement is also available 
for public comment. This notice is provided pursuant to Section 10(c) 
of the Act and National Environmental Policy Act regulations (40 CFR 
    The TNC Agreement as currently written is expected to provide a net 
conservation benefit to the Gila topminnow and desert pupfish. The TNC 
Agreement and its associated permit will also provide protection to the 
Applicant against further regulation under the Endangered Species Act 
for its ongoing private land management activities in not only areas 
where populations of covered species are reestablished, but also in 
habitat the covered species disperse into, as a result of 
implementation of the TNC Agreement.
    Section 9 of the Act prohibits the ``taking'' of threatened or 
endangered species. However, the Service, under limited circumstances, 
may issue permits to take threatened and endangered wildlife species 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities. 
Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened species are 
at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32, respectively.

Joy E. Nicholopoulos,
Acting Regional Director, Southwest Region, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. 05-3479 Filed 2-23-05; 8:45 am]