[Federal Register: December 29, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 250)]
[Page 78452-78454]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of a Proposed Safe Harbor Agreement for Five Species 
of Birds in Kauai, Maui, HI, and Honolulu Counties, HI

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Receipt of application; notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (we, the Service) has 
received applications for enhancement of survival permits pursuant to 
section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(ESA), from four Resource Conservation and Development councils (RC&Ds, 
Applicants) in the State of Hawaii: Garden Island RC&D, Kauai County; 
Tri-Isle RC&D, Maui County; Big Island RC&D, Hawaii County; and Oahu 
RC&D, Honolulu County. The permit applications include a proposed 
programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) between the Applicants and the 
Service. The proposed SHA provides for

[[Page 78453]]

voluntary habitat restoration, maintenance, enhancement, or creation 
activities to enhance the habitat and recovery of Hawaiian goose 
(Branta sandvicensis), Hawaiian duck (Anas wyvilliana), Hawaiian 
moorhen (Gallinula chloropus sandvicensis), Hawaiian coot (Fulica 
alai), and Hawaiian stilt (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni) (collectively 
``Covered Species'') on non-Federal lands in the State of Hawaii. The 
proposed duration of both the SHA and permits is 50 years.
    The Service believes that the proposed SHA and permit applications 
may be eligible for categorical exclusion under the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). The basis for this is 
contained in a draft Environmental Action Statement, which also is 
available for public review.
    The Service and the State of Hawaii's Department of Fish and 
Wildlife (DOFAW) hold concurrent processes for the review of both 
Federal and State permit applications and draft Safe Harbor Agreements. 
As part of the DOFAW process, public meetings will take place to allow 
for discussion and comment. Dates and locations for which DOFAW has 
scheduled public meetings are: December 5, 2006, Lanai High School, 
Lanai City; December 7, 2006, Kalanimoku Building, Room 132, Honolulu; 
December 12, 2006, Lihue Neighborhood Community Center, Lihue; December 
13, 2006: Mitchell Pauole Community Center, Kaunakakai; December 19, 
2006, Velma McWayne Santos Community Center, Wailuku; December 21, 
2006, Hilo Division of Forestry and Wildlife Office, Hilo. All meetings 
are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

DATES: Written comments must be received by 5 p.m. on January 29, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Please address comments to Patrick Leonard, Field 
Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana 
Boulevard, Room 3-122, Honolulu, Hawaii, facsimile number 
(808) 792-9580.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Newman, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, (see ADDRESSES), telephone (808) 792-9400.


Document Availability

    Individuals wishing copies of the permit applications, the draft 
Environmental Action Statement, or copies of the full text of the 
proposed SHA, including a map of the proposed permit areas, references, 
and description of the proposed permit areas, should contact the office 
and personnel listed in the ADDRESSES section. Documents also will be 
available for public inspection at the Pacific Islands Fish and 
Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES), by appointment between the hours of 8 
a.m. and 5 p.m.
    We specifically request information, views, and opinions from the 
public on the proposed Federal action of issuing these permits, 
including the identification of any aspects of the human environment 
not already analyzed in our draft Environmental Action Statement. 
Further, we specifically solicit information regarding the adequacy of 
the proposed SHA as measured against our permit issuance criteria found 
in 50 CFR 17.22(c).
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their identity from the administrative record. We will honor such 
requests to the extent allowed by law. Respondents wishing us to 
withhold their identity (e.g., individual name, home address and home 
phone number) must state this prominently at the beginning of their 
comments. We will make all submissions from organizations, agencies or 
businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as 
representatives of officials of such entities, available for public 
inspection in their entirety.


    A SHA encourages private landowners to conduct voluntary 
conservation activities and assures them that they will not be 
subjected to increased listed species restrictions should their 
beneficial stewardship efforts result in increased numbers of listed 
species. Application requirements and issuance criteria for enhancement 
of survival permits and SHAs are found in 50 CFR 17.22(c). The primary 
objective of this proposed SHA is to encourage voluntary habitat 
restoration, maintenance or enhancement activities to benefit the 
Covered Species on private lands. Individual landowners who enter into 
the provisions of a Cooperative Agreement with Applicants are relieved 
from any additional ESA section 9 liability beyond that which exists at 
the time the Cooperative Agreement is signed and a Certificate of 
Inclusion is issued. As long as enrolled landowners allow the agreed-
upon conservation measures to be completed on their property and agree 
to maintain their baseline responsibilities, they may make any other 
lawful use of the property during the term of the Cooperative 
Agreement, even if such use results in the take of individuals of the 
Covered Species or harm to the Covered Species' habitat above the 
    As proposed in the SHA, landowners on non-Federal land in the State 
of Hawaii, as identified by the Draft Hawaiian Goose Recovery Plan and 
Draft Hawaiian Waterbird Recovery Plan, may be enrolled by the 
Applicants under the proposed SHA. Individual landowners, as 
Cooperators, would receive Certificate of Inclusions when they sign 
Cooperative Agreements. Each Cooperative Agreement would include: (1) A 
map of the property with a delineation of the portion of the property 
to be enrolled; (2) the property's baseline described as a population 
estimate (Hawaiian goose) or habitat acres or miles (Hawaiian duck, 
Hawaiian moorhen, Hawaiian coot, Hawaiian stilt); (3) documentation of 
the biological surveys conducted to determine the baseline; (4) a 
description of the specific conservation measures to be completed; and 
(5) the responsibilities of the Cooperator and the Applicants.
    The Applicants would provide draft copies of the Cooperative 
Agreements to the Service and DOFAW for an opportunity to review and 
concur with the recommended management activities and conservation 
measures. The Service and DOFAW would have a period of 30 days in which 
to make comments on the Cooperative Agreements. Upon address of 
comments from the Service and DOFAW, the Applicants would proceed to 
finalize the Cooperative Agreements. The Applicants, as the Permittees, 
would be responsible for annual monitoring and reporting related to 
implementation of the SHA and Cooperative Agreements and fulfillment of 
provisions by the Cooperators. As specified in the proposed SHA, the 
Applicants would issue yearly reports to the Service related to 
implementation of the program. As specified in the RC&D and USDA 
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Memorandum of 
Understanding (Exhibit 1 of SHA), NRCS would assist the RC&Ds with the 
completion of Cooperative Agreements, monitoring, and annual reports.
    Each Cooperative Agreement would cover conservation activities to 
create, maintain, restore, or enhance wetlands, uplands, or riparian 
habitat for one or more of the Covered Species and assist in 
achievement of the recovery goals of the species. These actions, where 
appropriate, could include (but are not limited to): (1) Restoration of 
habitat form and function; (2) installation of fences to exclude or 
control access by

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livestock and other domestic animals; (3) assessment and control of 
feral ungulates and introduced predators; (4) control of invasive 
plants and reestablishment of native plants that are beneficial to the 
Covered Species; (5) establishment of riparian buffers as well as 
facilitation of the implementation of other objectives recommended by 
the recovery plans for the Covered Species. The overall goal of 
Cooperative Agreements entered into under the proposed SHA is to 
produce conservation measures that are mutually beneficial to the 
Cooperators and the long-term existence of the Covered Species.
    Based upon the probable species' response time for the Covered 
Species to reach a net conservation benefit, the Service estimates it 
will take 5 years of implementing the planned conservation measures to 
fully reach a net conservation benefit; some level of benefit would 
likely occur within a shorter time period. Cooperative Agreements under 
the proposed SHA would have at least 10 years' duration.
    After maintenance of the restored/created/enhanced habitat for the 
Covered Species on the property for the agreed-upon term, Cooperators 
may then conduct otherwise lawful activities on their property that 
result in the partial or total elimination of the habitat improvements 
and the taking of the Covered Species. However, the restrictions on 
returning a property to its original baseline condition include: (1) 
The Cooperator must demonstrate that baseline conditions were 
maintained during the term of the Cooperative Agreement and the 
conservation measures necessary for achieving a net conservation 
benefit were carried out; (2) the Applicant and the Service will be 
notified a minimum of 60 days prior to the activity and given the 
opportunity to capture, rescue, and/or relocate any of the Covered 
Species; and (3) return to baseline conditions must be completed within 
the term of the Certificate of Inclusion issued to the Applicant. 
Cooperative Agreements could be extended if the Applicant's permit is 
renewed and that renewal allows for such an extension.
    The Service believes that approval of the proposed SHA may qualify 
for a categorical exclusion under NEPA, as provided by the Department 
of Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6, Appendix 1) 
based on the following criteria: (1) Implementation of the SHA would 
result in minor or negligible effects on federally listed, proposed, 
and candidate species and their habitats; (2) implementation of the SHA 
would result in minor or negligible effects on other environmental 
values or resources; and (3) impacts of the SHA, considered together 
with the impacts of other past, present and reasonably foreseeable 
similarly situated projects, would not result, over time, in cumulative 
effects to environmental values or resources which would be considered 
significant. This is more fully explained in our draft Environmental 
Action Statement. The Service will consider public comments in making 
its final determination on whether to prepare such additional NEPA 


    The Service provides this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the 
ESA and pursuant to implementing regulations for NEPA (40 CFR 1506.6).
    We will evaluate the permit application, the proposed SHA, and 
comments submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets 
the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA and NEPA regulations. If 
the requirements are met, we will sign the proposed SHA and issue an 
enhancement of survival permit under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA to 
the Applicants for take of the Covered Species incidental to otherwise 
lawful activities of the project. We will not make a final decision 
until after the end of the 30 day comment period and will fully 
consider all comments received during the comment period.

Patrick Leonard,
Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, Honolulu, 
 [FR Doc. E6-22385 Filed 12-28-06; 8:45 am]