[Federal Register: April 19, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 75)]
[Page 20123-20124]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Proposed Safe Harbor Agreement for the Valley Elderberry Longhorn 
Beetle for River Partners in Glenn County, California

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; receipt of application.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that River Partners (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 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 May 19, 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.


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 (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.). 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 the proposed Agreement 
for the conservation of the VELB on the Del Rio Wildland Preserve 
(Enrolled Property) in Butte City, Glenn County, California. The 259-
acre Del Rio Wildland Preserve subject to this Agreement is located in 
the southeastern corner of Glenn County just south of the Llano Seco 
Rancho. The property occupies flood-prone land between the Sacramento 
River Flood Control Project setback levee and Angel Slough. The 
property currently is divided into existing riparian habitat, an 
ongoing restoration project, and a walnut orchard.
    This Agreement provides for the restoration, enhancement, and 
management of riparian habitat suitable for the VELB on the Enrolled 
Property. The proposed duration of the Agreement is 20 years, and the 
proposed term of the enhancement of survival permit is 25 years, 
provided that the Service determines that the actions identified in the 
Agreement were implemented prior to the Agreement's expiration. When 
fully implemented, the Agreement and requested enhancement of survival 
permit will allow the Applicants to return to baseline after the end of 
the 20-year term of the Agreement and prior to the expiration of the 
25-year permit, if so desired by the Applicants. The Agreement fully 
describes the management activities to be undertaken by the Applicant, 
and the net conservation benefits expected to 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 the VELB incidental to the implementation of the 
management activities specified in the Agreement, incidental to other 
lawful uses of the Enrolled Property including normal, routine land 
management activities, and to return to pre-Agreement conditions 
    Under the Agreement, the Applicants would undertake management 
activities to benefit the VELB by planting over 1,500 elderberry plants 
in a matrix of native riparian plants that will benefit a variety of 
riparian dependent wildlife species including the VELB; completing 
restoration of 231 acres of agricultural land into riparian habitat 
with a diverse native plant community and high structural diversity; 
controlling invasive weeds; and increasing the connectivity of riparian 
forest within the Enrolled Property and along the Sacramento River.
    Elderberry bushes (Sambucus sp.) are the exclusive host plants for 
the larval

[[Page 20124]]

VELB, which develops inside the stems of the bush. In order to receive 
the above assurances regarding incidental take of the VELB, the 
Applicant must maintain baseline on the Enrolled Property. The Service 
and Applicants have determined that the measure of baseline for VELB 
will be the number of elderberry bushes having one or more stems that 
are 1 inch or greater in diameter at the base. Therefore, the Enrolled 
Property's baseline is one naturally occurring elderberry bush with 
nine stems each greater than 1 inch in diameter at the base.

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 
that is also available for public review.
    Individuals wishing copies of the permit application, copies of our 
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. 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 period.
    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: April 13, 2006.
Susan Moore,
Acting Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 
Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. E6-5850 Filed 4-18-06; 8:45 am]