[Federal Register: March 7, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 43)]
[Page 11022-11024]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Department of the Army; Corps of Engineers

Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for Issuance of 
an Incidental Take Permit Associated With a Habitat Conservation Plan 
for Western Placer County, CA

AGENCIES: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior; National Marine 
Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 
Commerce; Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers, Defense.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), we, 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are issuing this notice 
to advise the public that we intend to gather information necessary to 
prepare, in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration's Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA) and U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers (Corps), an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and 
Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed Placer County 
Conservation Plan (PCCP). The Service is the lead agency for this EIS, 
and NOAA and the Corps are cooperating agencies.
    Placer County Planning Department, the Resource Conservation 
District, the City of Lincoln, the Placer County Water Agency, and the 
South Placer Regional Transportation Authority (Applicants) intend to 
apply to the Service and NOAA for 50-year Endangered Species Act (ESA) 
permits. The permits are needed to authorize the incidental take of 
species that could occur as a result of implementation activities 
proposed to be covered under the PCCP.
    The Service, in cooperation with NOAA and the Corps, 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 and alternatives to be included in the EIS/EIR.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before April 6, 2005. 
Public meetings will be held on: Tuesday, March 15, 2005, from 6 p.m. 
to 8 p.m.; Wednesday, March 16, 2005, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and, 
Thursday, March 17, 2005, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

ADDRESSES: The public meetings will be held at the following locations: 
(1) Tuesday, March 15, 2005, at the City of Roseville Corporation Yard, 
Rooms 2 and 3, 2005 Hilltop Circle, Roseville, CA 95747; (2) Wednesday, 
March 16, 2005, at Placer County Planning Commission Chambers, 11414 B 
Avenue, Auburn, CA 95603; and, (3) Thursday, March 17, 2005, at City of 
Lincoln McBean Pavilion, 65 McBean Park Drive, Lincoln, CA 95648.
    Information, written comments, or questions related to the 
preparation of the EIS/EIR and NEPA process should be submitted to Lori 
Rinek, Chief, Conservation Planning and Recovery Division, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage 
Way, W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825; FAX (916) 414-6713.

Biologist, or Lori Rinek, Chief, Conservation Planning and Recovery 
Division 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 a fish and wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened. 
Under the ESA, the following activities are defined as take: Harass, 
harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect listed 
animal species, or attempt to engage in such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1538). 
However, under section 10(a) of the ESA, we may issue permits to 
authorize ``incidental take'' of listed species. ``Incidental take'' is 
defined by the ESA as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose 
of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations

[[Page 11023]]

governing permits for threatened species and endangered species, 
respectively, are at 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 17.22.
    Take of listed plant species is not prohibited under the ESA and 
cannot be authorized under a section 10 permit. We propose to include 
plant species on the permit in recognition of the conservation benefits 
provided for them under the PCCP. All species included on the permit 
would receive assurances under the Service's ``No Surprises'' 
regulation, if at the time of issuance of the incidental take permit 
the ``No Surprises'' regulation is in effect (63 FR 8859).
    Currently, the Applicants intend to request permits authorizing the 
incidental take of 29 animal species (8 federally listed and 21 
unlisted animal species) for 50 years during the course of conducting 
otherwise lawful land use or development activities on public and 
private land in Western Placer County. The permit would also cover 5 
currently unlisted plants. Listed species proposed to be covered that 
are administered by the Service are the federally-endangered vernal 
pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi); the federally-threatened bald 
eagle (wintering) (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), California red-legged 
frog (Rana aurora draytonii), California tiger salamander (Ambystoma 
californiense), giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas), valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus), and 
vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi). The listed species 
proposed to be covered that is administered by NOAA is the federally-
threatened central valley steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss).
    The 25 unlisted species (20 animal and 5 plant species) proposed to 
be covered under the PCCP that fall within the Service's jurisdiction 
are the State-threatened Swainson's hawk (Buteo swainsoni), California 
black rail (Laterallus jamaicensis), and bank swallow (nesting) 
(Riparia riparia); the State-endangered yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus 
americanus occidentalis) and Bogg's Lake hedge-hyssop (Gratiola 
heterosepala); and the American peregrine falcon (wintering) (Falco 
peregrinus anatum), Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii), ferruginous 
hawk (wintering) (Buteo regalis), grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus 
savannarum), loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus), Modesto song 
sparrow (Melospiza melodia mailliardi), northern harrier (nesting) 
(Circus cyaneus), rough-legged hawk (wintering) (Buteo lagopus), sharp-
shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus), tricolored blackbird (nesting) 
(Agelaius tricolor), western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia 
hypugaea), yellow warbler (nesting) (Dendroica petechia), yellow-
breasted chat (nesting) (Icteria virens), foothill yellow-legged frog 
(Rana boylii), northwestern pond turtle (Clemmys marmorata marmorata), 
western spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus hammondii), Ahart's dwarf rush 
(Juncus leiospermus var. ahartii), dwarf downingia (Downingia pusilla), 
legenere (Legenere limosa), and Red Bluff dwarf rush (Juncus 
leiospermus var. leiospermus). The currently unlisted species proposed 
to be covered that falls within NOAA's jurisdiction is the central 
valley fall/late fall-run chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). 
Species may be added or deleted during the course of PCCP development 
based on further analysis, new information, agency consultation, and 
public comment.
    The planning area that the PCCP proposes to cover consists of 
approximately 270,000 acres in Western Placer County, California. 
Western Placer County is bordered on the north by Yuba and Nevada 
Counties, on the west by Sutter County, on the south by Sacramento 
County, and on the east by the upper boundaries of the watersheds which 
contain the eastern limits of the City of Auburn. Excluded areas 
include the cities of Roseville, Rocklin, Loomis, and Auburn. Infill 
and new growth in these areas are not proposed to be covered by the 
permits based on the PCCP. The PCCP would be the first of three 
independently viable conservation plans that together encompass all of 
Placer County. We anticipate that planning for the two other 
conservation plans will be initiated beginning in Spring 2005; however, 
the conservation strategies in this PCCP will not rely on the other 
    Proposed implementation activities that may be covered under the 
PCCP include direct actions by Applicants and indirect actions by 
Applicants that would authorize or induce urban development and 
associated infrastructure, such as County and/or city projects related 
to road maintenance/construction, water delivery infrastructure, 
drainage, flood control, sanitary systems, solid waste management, and 
new capital facility construction. Other proposed covered activities 
may include fuel load management, resource management plan 
implementation, habitat restoration activities, and recreational 
projects (such as parks, trails, boat ramps). Impacts to agriculture 
may also be included in the EIS/EIR, because the agencies may be asked 
to cover some aspects of agricultural practices in the proposed permits 
if the actions are associated with those of the Applicants.

Service and NOAA Actions

    Under the PCCP, the effects of proposed covered activities on 
covered species are expected to be minimized and mitigated through 
participation in a conservation program, which would be fully described 
in the PCCP. Covered activities would be carried out in accordance with 
the PCCP which includes a program designed to ensure the continued 
conservation of natural communities and threatened and endangered 
species in Western Placer County, and to resolve potential conflicts 
between otherwise lawful activities and the conservation of habitats 
and species on non-Federal land in Western Placer County. Components of 
this conservation program are now under consideration by the Service, 
NOAA, and the Applicants. These components will likely include 
avoidance and minimization measures, monitoring, adaptive management, 
and mitigation measures consisting of preservation, restoration, and 
enhancement of habitat.
    Although other public and private entities or individuals have 
participated in development of the PCCP and may benefit by the issuance 
of incidental take permits, Placer County has accepted responsibility 
for coordinating the preparation of the PCCP, submission of the permit 
applications, and preparation of an EIS, under the Service's 
supervision, for Service and Cooperating Agency review and approval. As 
a Cooperating Agency, NOAA may use the EIS analysis for the purposes of 
supporting a decision as to whether to issue an incidental take permit 
to the Applicants based on the proposed PCCP. Development of the PCCP 
has involved a public input process that has included open meetings of 
a Biological Stakeholder Working Group and public workshops with the 
Placer County Board of Supervisors. It is anticipated that the PCCP 
will be implemented through the incidental take permit and an 
Implementation Agreement.

Corps Actions Included in PCCP

    The Applicants are expected to apply to the Corps for a Clean Water 
Act (CWA) Section 404 Programmatic General Permit (PGP). As a 
Cooperating Agency, the Corps may use the EIS analysis for the purposes 
of supporting the decision whether to issue the proposed PGP. Section 
404 of the CWA regulates and requires Corps authorization for certain 
discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States 
(33 CFR 323.3). A PGP is among the types of general permits

[[Page 11024]]

which can be issued for any category of activities involving discharges 
of dredged or fill material if the Corps makes certain determinations 
(33 U.S.C. 1344(e)). Regulations concerning processing of Corps permits 
are at 33 CFR part 325. Corps regulations promulgated under the CWA 
define dredged or fill material in detail at 33 CFR 323.2.

Non-Federal Actions Included in PCCP

    A Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) is being incorporated 
into the PCCP in coordination with the California Department of Fish 
and Game (CDFG) under the State of California's Natural Community 
Conservation Planning Act (NCCPA). The Applicants are expected to 
pursue an incidental take authorization from CDFG in accordance with 
section 2835 of the NCCPA. The California Endangered Species Act (CESA) 
prohibits the ``take'' of wildlife species listed as endangered or 
threatened by the California Fish and Game Commission (California Fish 
and Game Code, section 2080). The CESA defines the term ``take'' as: 
Hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill, or attempt to engage in such 
conduct (California Fish and Game Code, section 86). Pursuant to 
section 2835 of the NCCPA (California Fish and Game Code section 2835), 
CDFG may issue a permit that authorizes the take of any CESA listed 
species or other species whose conservation and management is provided 
for in a CDFG-approved NCCP.
    The Applicants are also expected to apply to CDFG for a Master 
Streambed Alteration Agreement (California Fish and Game Code, section 
1600); and to apply to the Regional Water Quality Control Board for CWA 
Section 401 water quality certification in compliance with the 
California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act.
    Although the EIS will analyze the environmental impacts associated 
with all of the activities in the PCCP, the focus of our decision based 
on this EIS will be effects to proposed covered species and the 
issuance of the Services' ESA permits. Pursuant to the California 
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a separate Notice of Preparation for 
the EIR will be posted by the County and issued through the California 
State Clearinghouse concurrently with this Notice.

Environmental Impact Statement/Report

    Jones and Stokes Associates has been selected to prepare the EIS/
EIR. The joint document will be prepared in compliance with NEPA and 
CEQA. Although Jones and Stokes Associates will prepare the EIS/EIR, 
the Service, as the NEPA Lead Agency, will be responsible for the 
purpose, need, scope and content of the document for NEPA purposes, and 
the Corps and NOAA will be Cooperating Agencies for NEPA. The County, 
as the CEQA Lead Agency, will be responsible for the scope and content 
of the document for CEQA purposes. Responsible Agencies for CEQA 
purposes include CDFG, the permitting entity pursuant to California 
Fish and Game Codes 1600 and 2835, and Regional Water Quality Control 
Board, the permitting entity pursuant to Section 401 of the CWA.
    The EIS/EIR will consider the proposed action, the issuance of an 
ESA incidental take permit, no action (no permit), and a reasonable 
range of alternatives. A detailed description of the proposed action 
and alternatives will be included in the EIS/EIR. The alternatives to 
be considered for analysis in the EIS/EIR may include: Variations of 
the geographical coverage of the permits, variations in the amount and 
type of conservation; variations of the scope or type of covered 
activities or covered species; variations in permit duration; 
variations on the types of Federal and State permits issued under the 
program; no project/no action; or, a combination of these elements.
    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 resource 
issues that could occur directly or indirectly with implementation of 
the proposed action and alternatives. For all potentially significant 
impacts, the EIS/EIR will identify mitigation measures where feasible 
to reduce these impacts to a level below significance.
    The following primary issues are to be addressed during the scoping 
and planning process for the PCCP and EIS/EIR: (1) The determination of 
potential effects of each alternative on species and natural 
communities covered under the proposed HCP/NCCP; (2) consideration of 
whether the level and extent of urban development defined under each 
alternative can be adequately mitigated within the lands in the 
conservation opportunity area; (3) consideration of whether an adequate 
system of reserves can be established in the conservation area and 
whether such a reserve system will support habitat of covered species 
equal to or greater than the habitat lost from urban development; (4) 
determination of whether the direct and indirect impacts of covered 
urban development and other activities will be adequately mitigated 
(issues to be addressed will include land use, traffic, air quality, 
cultural resources, water resources, and biological resources); and (5) 
consideration of cumulative impacts.
    Environmental review of the PCCP will be conducted in accordance 
with the requirements of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), its 
implementing regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508), other applicable 
regulations, and Service and NOAA 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. The primary purpose of the scoping process is 
to identify important issues raised by the public, related to the 
proposed action of issuing the ESA permit for the PCCP. Written 
comments from interested parties are invited to ensure that the full 
range of issues related to the permit request is identified. Comments 
will only be accepted in written form. You may submit written comments 
by mail, facsimile transmission, or in person (see ADDRESSES). All 
comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of 
the official administrative record and may be made available to the 

    Dated: March 1, 2005.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 05-4316 Filed 3-4-05; 8:45 am]