[Federal Register: April 18, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 73)]
[Page 20163]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Safe Harbor Agreement and Receipt of Application for an 
Enhancement of Survival Permit Associated With the Restoration of 
Habitat and Reintroduction of Utah Prairie Dogs on a Ranch in Garfield 
County, UT

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: Mr. Allen Henrie (Applicant) has applied to the Fish and 
Wildlife Service (Service) for an Enhancement of Survival Permit (ESP) 
for the Utah prairie dog pursuant to section 10(a)1(A) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973 (U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), as amended (Act). 
This permit application includes a Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) between 
the Applicant, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR), and the 
Service. The proposed SHA and permit would become effective upon 
signature of the SHA and issuance of the permit and would remain in 
effect for 40 years. We have made the determination that the proposed 
activities described in the application and SHA will improve prairie 
dog habitat and potentially establish a colony of prairie dogs on 
private land and that, therefore, it is categorically excluded under 
516 DM 8.5 C. (1) of the Department of the Interior's Manual. This 
notice is provided pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) and section 10 of the Act and the Service's Safe Harbor Policy 
(64 FR 32717). The Service requests information, views, and opinions 
from the public via this notice. Further, the Service is soliciting 
information regarding the adequacy of the SHA as measured against the 
Service's Safe Harbor Policy and the regulations that implement it.

DATES: Written comments on the permit application must be received on 
or before July 18, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the SHA and the ESP application 
may obtain a copy by writing the Service's Mountain-Prairie Regional 
Office, Denver, Colorado. Documents also will be available for public 
inspection during normal business hours at the Regional Office, 134 
Union Boulevard, Denver Colorado 80228-1807, or the Utah Field Office, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2369 West Orton Circle, West Valley 
City, Utah 84119. Written data or comments concerning the SHA or ESP 
application should be submitted to the Regional Office and must be in 
writing to be processed. Comments must be submitted in writing to be 
adequately considered in the Service's decision-making process. Please 
reference permit number TE098809-0 in your comments, or in the request 
for the documents discussed herein.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Pat Mehlhop, Regional Safe Harbor 
Coordinator (see ADDRESSES), telephone, 303-236-4215, or Henry Maddux, 
Utah Field Supervisor (see ADDRESSES), telephone 801-975-3330.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Utah prairie dog (UPD) is the 
westernmost member of the genus Cynomys. The species' range, which is 
limited to the southwestern quarter of Utah, is the most restricted of 
all prairie dog species in the United States. Distribution of the UPD 
has been greatly reduced due to disease (plague), poisoning, drought, 
and human-related habitat alteration. Protection of this species and 
enhancement of its habitat on private land will benefit recovery 
    The primary objective of this SHA is to encourage voluntary 
conservation measures and translocation efforts to benefit the species 
and the landowner. Through this agreement, the landowner will receive 
relief from any additional section 9 liability under the Act beyond 
that which exists at the time the agreement is signed (``regulatory 
baseline''). To benefit the UPD, foraging and visual surveillance 
habitat will be enhanced by thinning decadent stands of brush and by 
increasing forage quantity and quality using mechanical and herbicidal 
treatments and reseeding native grasses and forbs. In cooperation with 
the UDWR, UPDs will be released on the property after the habitat 
improvements have been completed. The habitat improvements will be 
maintained throughout the term of the permit through managed grazing, 
additional brush treatments if necessary, and to some degree by the 
UPDs themselves. The Cooperator will receive an ESP that authorizes 
implementation of the conservation actions and other provisions of this 
Agreement and authorizes incidental take and limited direct take of the 
covered species above the Cooperator's baseline responsibilities, as 
defined in the SHA.
    The Service has evaluated the impacts of this action under NEPA and 
determined that it warrants categorical exclusion as described in 516 
DM 8.5 C.(1). The Service will evaluate whether the issuance of the ESP 
complies with section 7 of the Act by conducting an intra-Service 
section 7 consultation on the issuance of the permit. The result of the 
biological opinion, in combination with the above finding and any 
public comments will be used in the final analysis to determine whether 
or not to issue the requested ESP, pursuant to the regulations that 
guide issuance of the type of permit.

    Authority: The authority for this action is the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.).

    Dated: March 25, 2005.
Elliott Sutta,
Acting Regional Director, Denver, Colorado.
[FR Doc. 05-7676 Filed 4-15-05; 8:45 am]