[Federal Register: September 5, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 171)]
[Page 52337-52339]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Proposed Safe Harbor Agreement for the California Red-Legged Frog 
for Landowners Restoring Aquatic and Riparian Habitat in the Cottonwood 
Creek Watershed in Shasta and Tehama Counties, California

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; receipt of application.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the Cottonwood Creek 
Watershed Group (Applicant) 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 of 1973, as amended 
(Act). The permit application includes a proposed Safe Harbor Agreement 
(Agreement) between the Applicant and the Service for the threatened 
California red-legged frog (CRLF) (Rana aurora draytonii). The 
Agreement and permit application are available for public comment.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before October 5, 

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Shannon Holbrook, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage 
Way, W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825. Written comments may be sent 
by facsimile to (916) 414-6712.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Shannon Holbrook, Sacramento Fish 
and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES); telephone: (916) 414-6600.


Availability of Documents

    You may obtain copies of the documents for review by contacting the 
individual named above. You may also make an appointment to view the 
documents at the above address during normal business hours.


    Under a Safe Harbor Agreement, participating landowners voluntarily 
undertake management activities on their property to enhance, restore, 
or maintain habitat benefiting species listed under the Act. Safe 
Harbor Agreements, and the subsequent enhancement of survival permits 
that are issued pursuant to Section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.), encourage private and other non-Federal property owners 
to implement conservation efforts for listed species by assuring 
property owners that they will

[[Page 52338]]

not be subjected to increased land use restrictions as a result of 
efforts to attract or increase the numbers or distribution of a listed 
species on their property. Application requirements and issuance 
criteria for enhancement of survival permits through Safe Harbor 
Agreements are found in 50 CFR 17.22(c).
    We have worked with the Applicant to develop this proposed 
Programmatic Agreement for the conservation of the CRLF in the 603,854-
acre Cottonwood Creek Watershed in Shasta and Tehama Counties, 
California. The properties subject to this Agreement consist of 
approximately 500,000 acres of non-Federal properties within the 
boundaries of the Cottonwood Creek Watershed, on which habitat for the 
California red-legged frog will be restored, enhanced, and managed 
pursuant to a written agreement between the Cottonwood Creek Watershed 
Group (CCWG) and a property owner.
    This Agreement provides for the creation of a Program in which 
private landowners (Program Participants) enter into written 
cooperative agreements with the Applicant pursuant to the terms of the 
Agreement, to restore, enhance, and maintain aquatic and riparian 
habitat in ways beneficial to the CRLF. Such cooperative agreements 
will be for a term of at least 10 years. The proposed duration of the 
Agreement is 30 years, and the proposed term of the enhancement of 
survival permit is 32 years. The permit would run the additional 2 
years following a determination by the Service that the actions 
identified in the Agreement were implemented prior to the Agreement's 
expiration. The Agreement fully describes the proposed management 
activities to be undertaken by Program Participants and the 
conservation benefits expected to be gained for the CRLF.
    Upon approval of this Agreement, and consistent with the Service's 
Safe Harbor Policy published in the Federal Register on June 17, 1999 
(64 FR 32717), the Service would issue a permit to the Cottonwood Creek 
Watershed Group authorizing take of CRLF by Program Participants 
incidental to the implementation of the management activities specified 
in the cooperative agreements, incidental to other lawful uses of the 
properties, including normal routine land management activities, and/or 
to return to pre-Agreement conditions.
    To benefit the CRLF, Program Participants will agree to undertake 
site-specific management activities, which will be specified in their 
written cooperative agreements. Management activities that could be 
included in the Cooperative Agreements will provide for the 
enhancement, restoration, and/or maintenance of aquatic and riparian 
habitat. These activities have been designed to enhance populations of 
CRLF by improving breeding habitat, managing vegetation and grazing as 
appropriate, controlling non-native predators, and managing agriculture 
and recreation as appropriate to benefit populations of CRLF. Take of 
CRLF incidental to the aforementioned activities is unlikely; however, 
it is possible that in the course of such activities or other lawful 
activities on the enrolled property, a Program Participant could 
incidentally take a CRLF, thereby necessitating take authority under 
the permit.
    The CRLF relies on a variety of habitats for various stages of its 
life cycle, including pond and riparian habitat, upland habitat and 
moist refuges. Pre-Agreement conditions (baseline), consisting of a 
description and survey to determine the quantity and location of 
suitable CRLF habitat, shall be determined for each enrolled property 
as provided in the Agreement. In order to receive the above assurances 
regarding incidental take of CRLF, a Program Participant must maintain 
baseline on the enrolled property. The Agreement and requested 
enhancement of survival permit will allow each Program Participant to 
return to baseline conditions after the end of the term of the 10-year 
cooperative agreement and prior to the expiration of the 32-year 
permit, if so desired by the Applicants.
    Consistent with the Service's Safe Harbor Policy (64 FR 32717), the 
proposed Agreement and requested permit also extend certain assurances 
to those lands that are immediately adjacent to lands on which 
restoration activities occur. To receive such assurances, a neighboring 
landowner must enter into a written agreement with the Service that 
specifies the baseline conditions on the property. This written 
agreement remains in effect until the expiration of the 30-year 
Agreement between the Applicant and the Service and requires the 
neighboring landowner to maintain the baseline conditions established 
at the start of the agreement.

Public Review and Comments

    The Service has made a preliminary determination that the proposed 
Agreement and permit application are eligible for categorical exclusion 
under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). We explain 
the basis for this determination in an Environmental Action Statement, 
which is also available for public review.
    Individuals wishing copies of the permit application, copies of our 
preliminary Environmental Action Statement, and/or copies of the full 
text of the Agreement, including a map of the proposed permit area, 
references, and legal descriptions of the proposed permit area, should 
contact the office and personnel listed in the ADDRESSES section above.
    If you wish to comment on the permit application or the Agreement, 
you may submit your comments to the address listed in the ADDRESSES 
section of this document. Comments and materials received, including 
names and addresses of respondents, will be available for public 
review, by appointment, during normal business hours at the address in 
the ADDRESSES section above and will become part of the public record, 
pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act. 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.
    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 
at 40 CFR 1506.6. If we determine that the requirements are met, we 
will sign the proposed Agreement and issue an enhancement of survival 
permit under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act to the Applicants for take 
of the CRLF incidental to otherwise lawful activities in accordance 
with the terms of the Agreement. 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

[[Page 52339]]

pursuant to implementing regulations for NEPA (40 CFR 1506.6).

Susan Moore,
Acting Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 
Sacramento, California.
 [FR Doc. 06-7402 Filed 9-1-06; 8:45 am]