[Federal Register: January 12, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 8)]
[Page 2183-2184]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Proposed Low Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for Westlake Ranch 
LLC in Clatsop County, OR

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; receipt of application.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that Westlake Ranch LLC and 
Randy and Tasha Curs (Applicants) have applied to the Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service) for an incidental take permit (ITP), pursuant to 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). The requested 50-year permit would authorize the incidental take 
of the threatened Oregon silverspot butterfly (Speyeria zerene 
hippolyta, ``butterfly''), associated with the construction and 
residential development of 75 lots on approximately 165 acres, five 
miles north of the city of Gearhart, in Clatsop County, Oregon.
    We are requesting comments on the permit application and on whether 
the proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) qualifies as a ``low 
effect'' HCP, eligible for a categorical exclusion under the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended. We explain the 
basis for this possible determination in a draft Environmental Action 
Statement (EAS), which is also available for public review.

DATES: Written comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. on February 11, 

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Kemper McMaster, State 
Supervisor, Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, 
2600 SE 98th Avenue, Suite 100, Portland, Oregon 97266, fax number 
(503) 231-6195 (for further information and instruction on the 
reviewing and commenting process, see Public Review and Comment section 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Richard Szlemp, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, Fish and Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES), or telephone 
(503) 231-6179.


Availability of Documents

    Individuals wishing copies of the application, proposed HCP, or 
EAS, should contact the Service by telephone (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT) or by letter (see ADDRESSES). Copies of the 
subject documents also are available for public inspection during 
regular business hours at the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office (see 


    Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and Federal 
regulations prohibit the ``take'' of a fish or wildlife species listed 
as endangered or threatened. Take of federally listed fish and wildlife 
is defined under section 3 of the ACT as including to ``harass, harm, 
pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect, or to 
attempt to engage in such conduct'' (16 U.S.C. 1538). The Service may, 
under limited circumstances, issue permits to authorize ``incidental 
take'' of listed species. ``Incidental take'' is defined by the ACT as 
take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an 
otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing permits for threatened 
species and endangered species, respectively, are at 50 CFR 17.32 and 
50 CFR 17.22. The Applicants are seeking a permit for the incidental 
take of the butterfly during the 50-year term of the permit.
    Proposed covered activities under this HCP include development of 
75 residential lots on approximately 165 acres by Westlake Ranch LLC 
and Randy and Tasha Curs. Incidental take of the butterfly would be 
likely only in areas containing its larval host plant, the early blue 
violet (Viola adunca). The proposed development area on Westlake Ranch 
LLC contains a total of 12 early blue violet patches. Eight of the 
proposed residential lots would impact early blue violets. One of the 
12 early blue violet patches is about 0.13 acre in size. The other 
eleven patches are no more than five meters square. Ten of the 11 
patches contain less than ten plants each. The remaining patch of the 
11 contains greater than 20 plants, but is located outside of the 
development footprint. No early blue violets would be impacted on the 
Curs' property.
    The proposed minimization and mitigation measures include setting 
aside a 6.5 acre area in perpetuity that contains a 0.5 acre patch of 
violets and a 0.55 acre patch of dune goldenrod (Solidago spathulata), 
which is a native plant that serves as an adult butterfly nectar 
source. The 6.5 acres would be protected under a conservation easement 
and be managed through annual mowing or other means to reduce 
competition from non-native plants. The Service would assist in the 
development of the annual mowing plan and be consulted regarding future 
management decisions. In addition, the Curs would continue to follow 
the terms of an existing agreement with the Service to manage a 1.5 
acre area for the maintenance of early blue violets for the life of the 
proposed 50-year permit.
    Approval of the HCP may qualify as a categorical exclusion under 
NEPA, as provided by the Departmental Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 and 
516 DM 6, Appendix 1) and as a ``low effect'' plan as defined by the 
Habitat Conservation Planning Handbook (Service, November, 1996). 
Determination of low effect HCPs is based upon the plan having: minor 
or negligible effects on federally-listed, proposed, or candidate 
species and their habitats; minor or negligible effects on other 
environmental values or resources; and, impacts that considered 
together with the impacts of other past, present, and reasonably 
foreseeable similarly situated projects would not result, over time, in 
cumulative effects to the environmental values or resources which would 
be considered significant. If it is found to qualify as a low-effect 
HCP, further NEPA documentation would not be required.

Public Review and Comment

    If you wish to comment on the permit application, draft 
Environmental Action Statement, or the proposed HCP, you may submit 
your comments to the address listed in the ADDRESSES section of this 
document. 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. 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. If we determine that 
the requirements are met, we will issue an incidental take permit under 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act to the Applicants for take of the 
butterfly, incidental to

[[Page 2184]]

otherwise lawful activities in accordance with the terms of the permit. 
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: January 6, 2005.
David Wesley,
Deputy Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 05-605 Filed 1-11-05; 8:45 am]