[Federal Register: March 27, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 58)]
[Page 15213-15215]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of a Proposed Safe Harbor Agreement for the Valley 
Elderberry Longhorn Beetle for Landowners Restoring Riparian Habitat in 
the Lower Mokelumne River Watershed in San Joaquin County, California

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; receipt of application


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the California Association 
of Resource Conservation Districts (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 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (Act). The permit application 
includes a proposed Safe Harbor Agreement (Agreement) between the 
Applicant and the Service for the threatened valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle (VELB) (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus). The Agreement and 
permit application are available for public comment.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before April 26, 2006.

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) 414-6711.

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


[[Page 15214]]

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, encourage 
private and other non-Federal property owners to implement conservation 
efforts for listed species by assuring property owners that they will 
not be subjected to increased property use restrictions as a result of 
their efforts to attract listed species to their property, or to 
increase the numbers or distribution of listed species already 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 
Agreement for the conservation of the VELB on private properties in the 
lower Mokelumne River watershed in San Joaquin County, California. For 
purposes of the Agreement, the lower Mokelumne River watershed extends 
from the confluence with the Cosumnes River, upstream to the Camanche 
Dam, exclusive of lands within the watershed of Dry Creek upstream of 
its crossing with Highway 99.
    This Agreement provides for the creation of a Program in which 
private landowners (Program Participants), who enter into written 
cooperative agreements with the Applicant pursuant to the terms of the 
Agreement, will restore, enhance, and maintain riparian habitat 
suitable for the VELB. Such cooperative agreements will be for a term 
of at least 10 years. The proposed duration of the Agreement is 50 
years, and the proposed term of the enhancement of survival permit is 
52 years. The permit would run the additional two 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 Program, management activities 
to be undertaken by Program Participants, and the conservation benefits 
expected to be gained for the VELB.
    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 Applicants 
authorizing take of VELB 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, or to return to pre-Agreement 
    To benefit the VELB, Program Participants will agree to undertake 
management activities specified in their written cooperative agreements 
with the Applicant. Such management activities include the planting of 
elderberry (Sambucus sp.) bushes; the planting of other native species 
typical of the canopy, subcanopy, shrub, and herbaceous layers found in 
Valley Foothill Riparian habitats, as defined in the California 
Department of Fish and Game's ``California Wildlife Habitat 
Relationships System,'' and certain limitations on the use of 
pesticides or herbicides in or near restored areas. In addition, 
cooperative agreements may include certain additional management 
activities, such as removing non-native invasive species, implementing 
prescribed burns, and special monitoring activities. Take of VELB 
incidental to the aforementioned activities is unlikely, however, it is 
possible that in the course of such activities, a Program Participant 
could incidentally take a VELB, thereby necessitating take authority 
under the permit.
    Elderberry bushes are the exclusive host plants for the larval 
VELB, which develops inside the stems of the bush. Pre-Agreement 
conditions (baseline), consisting of the number of elderberry bushes 
having one or more stems that are one-inch or greater in diameter at 
the base, shall be determined for each enrolled property as provided in 
the Agreement. In order to receive the above assurances regarding 
incidental take of VELB, a Program Participant must maintain baseline 
conditions 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 52-year 
permit, if so desired by the Applicants.
    Consistent with the Service's Safe Harbor Policy (64 FR 32717 et 
seq.), 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 50-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

[[Page 15215]]

determine whether the permit application meets the requirements of 
section 10(a) of the Act and NEPA regulations. 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 VELB 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 
    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: March 21, 2006.
Susan Moore,
Acting Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife 
Office,Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. E6-4384 Filed 3-24-06; 8:45 am]