[Federal Register: September 8, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 174)]
[Page 53129-53130]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Proposed Joint Programmatic Candidate Conservation Agreement with 
Assurances and Safe Harbor Agreement for Select Species in the Upper 
Little Red River Watershed, Arkansas

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the Fish and Wildlife 
Service's Arkansas Ecological Service Field Office (ARFO), Arkansas 
Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), Natural Resources Conservation Service 
(NRCS), and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), have applied to the Fish and 
Wildlife Service (we or Service) for an enhancement of survival permit 
(permit) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act 
of 1973, as amended (Act). The permit application includes a proposal 
that combines a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) 
for the candidate yellowcheek darter (Etheostoma moorei; YCD) with a 
Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) for the federally endangered speckled 
pocketbook (Lampsilis streckeri; SPB)--jointly referred to as the 
``Agreement.'' The term of the Agreement will be 30 years. If approved, 
the Agreement would allow the Applicants to issue Certificates of 
Inclusion (CI) throughout the upper Little Red River Watershed in 
Arkansas to eligible non-Federal landowners that complete an approved 
Property Owner Management Agreement (POMA).
    We announce the opening of a 30-day comment period and request 
comments from the public on the Applicant's permit application, the 
accompanying proposed Agreement, and the supporting National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before October 10, 

ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the information available by 
contacting the Field Supervisor, Fish and Wildlife Service, Arkansas 
Ecological Services Field Office, 1500 Museum Road, Suite 105, Conway, 
Arkansas 72032. Alternatively, you may set up an appointment to view 
these documents during normal business hours. Written data or comments 
should be submitted to the Service's Regional Safe Harbor Coordinator, 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 1875 Century Boulevard, Suite 200, Atlanta, 
Georgia 30345. Note that requests for any documents must be in writing 
to be processed. When you are requesting or reviewing the information 
provided in this notice, please reference ``Programmatic CCAA and SHA 
in the Upper Little Red River'' in any correspondence.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Chris Davidson, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, Arkansas Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES 
above), telephone (501) 513-4481; or Mr. Rick Gooch, Regional Safe 
Harbor Program Coordinator, Regional Office (see ADDRESSES above), 
telephone (404) 679-7124.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under a CCAA, participating property owners 
voluntarily undertake management activities on their property to 
enhance, restore, or maintain habitat benefiting candidate species for 
listing under the Act. CCAAs encourage private and other non-Federal 
property owners to implement conservation efforts for candidate species 
by assuring property owners they will not be subjected to increased 
property use restrictions should the species become listed as 
threatened or endangered under the Act. Under a SHA, participating 
property owners voluntarily undertake management activities on their 
property to enhance, restore, or maintain habitat benefiting federally 
listed species under the Act. SHAs encourage private and other non-
Federal property owners to implement conservation efforts for federally 
listed species by assuring property owners they will not be subjected 
to increased property use restrictions under the Act. Application 
requirements and issuance criteria for SHAs and CCAAs are found in 50 
CFR 17.22(d) and 50 CFR 17.32(d), respectively. Because of the 
significant overlap between the two covered

[[Page 53130]]

species' habitat requirements and the anticipated beneficial effects 
from implementation of the voluntary conservation measures on both 
species, we believe that it is appropriate to combine the CCAA/SHA 
elements in a single Agreement for consideration in this notice.
    The ARFO, AFGC, NRCS, and TNC's proposed watershed wide joint 
Agreement is designed to encourage voluntary habitat restoration and/or 
enhancement actions to benefit either or both of the covered species. 
The geographic scope of the Agreement is approximately 558,615 acres of 
the upper Little Red River watershed in north central Arkansas. Lands 
potentially eligible for inclusion include all privately owned lands, 
State lands, and public lands owned by cities, counties, and 
municipalities, with potentially suitable habitat for the covered 
species in the upper Little Red River watershed. Simultaneous to 
implementation of voluntary management actions through the individual 
landowner agreements (the POMA), the Agreement will provide specific 
regulatory assurances.
    Under the Agreement's CCAA program element (covering the YCD), the 
landowner will not have any responsibility under the Act beyond that 
which exists at the time he or she enters into the program, even if the 
YCD becomes federally listed. The POMA will identify any existing YCD 
habitat and will describe the actions that the landowner commits to 
take (e.g., riparian revegetation, livestock fencing, etc.) or will 
allow to be taken to improve YCD habitat on the property, and the time 
period within which those actions are to be taken and maintained. When 
combined with actions of other landowners throughout the watershed, 
conservation actions taken by a specific landowner should preclude the 
need to list the YCD as threatened or endangered under the Act.
    Under the Agreement's SHA element (covering the SPB), each POMA 
will identify any existing SPB habitat on the landowner's property and 
will describe the actions that the landowner commits to take (e.g., 
riparian revegetation, livestock fencing, etc.) or will allow to be 
taken to improve SPB habitat on the property, and the time period 
within which those actions are to be taken and maintained. Under the 
POMA, the landowner will have the option of returning the enrolled 
lands to baseline conditions, even if such actions will result in the 
incidental taking of SPB.
    The proposed Agreement is being evaluated for Categorical Exclusion 
from the NEPA process. As a result, no other alternatives have been 
evaluated to implement conservation efforts for either the YCD or SPB 
at this time. Entering into a POMA is strictly voluntary for 
landowners. We do not foresee any detrimental effects to the human 
environment resulting from approval and implementation of this 
application and Agreement. We believe that the net effect of the 
Agreement will be to increase the amount of habitat available for the 
two covered species and improve overall water quality conditions 
throughout the watershed. It is therefore likely that the Agreement 
will meet the requirements to be categorically excluded from the NEPA 
    We provide this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the Endangered 
Species Act and pursuant to implementing regulations for the National 
Environmental Policy Act (40 CFR 1506.6). We will evaluate the proposed 
Agreement, associated documents, and comments submitted thereon to 
determine whether the requirements of section 10(a) of the Act and NEPA 
regulations have been met. If we determine that the requirements are 
met, we will issue a permit under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act to the 
Applicants in accordance with the applicable regulatory requirements. 
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.

    Dated: August 30, 2006.
Ed Buskirk,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. E6-14867 Filed 9-7-06; 8:45 am]