[Federal Register: June 7, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 109)]
[Page 31603-31604]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Proposed Low Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Lytle Creek
Turnout, County of San Bernardino, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The West Valley Water District (applicant) has applied to the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for a 2-year incidental take
permit for one covered species pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The application
addresses the potential for ``take'' of the endangered San Bernardino
kangaroo rat (Dipodomys Merriami parvus) associated with the proposed
pipeline improvement and extension project of the City of Rialto and
unincorporated San Bernardino County, California. A conservation
program to minimize and mitigate for the project activities would be
implemented as described in the proposed Lytle Creek Turnout Low Effect
Habitat Conservation Plan (proposed HCP), which would be implemented by
the applicant.
    We are requesting comments on the permit application and on the
preliminary determination that the proposed HCP qualifies as a ``Low-
effect'' Habitat Conservation Plan, eligible for a categorical
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969,
as amended. The basis for this determination is discussed in the
Environmental Action Statement (EAS) and the associated Low Effect
Screening Form, which are also available for public review.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before July 9, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to the Field Supervisor, Fish
and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden
Valley Road, Carlsbad, California 92011. Written comments may be sent
by facsimile to (760) 918-0638.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Karen Goebel, Assistant Field
Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES);
telephone: (760) 431-9440.


Availability of Documents

    Individuals wishing copies of the application, proposed HCP, and
EAS should immediately contact the Service by telephone at (760) 431-
9440 or by letter to the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office. Copies of
the proposed HCP and EAS also are available for public inspection
during regular business hours at the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office


    Section 9 of the Act and its implementing Federal regulations
prohibit the take of animal species listed as endangered or threatened.
Take is defined under the Act as to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot,
wound, kill, trap, capture or collect listed animal species, or attempt
to engage in such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1538). However, under section
10(a) of the Act, the Service may issue permits to authorize incidental
take of listed species. ``Incidental take'' is defined by the Act as
take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an
otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing incidental take
permits for threatened and endangered species, respectively, are found
in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32.
    The applicant is seeking a permit for take of the San Bernardino
kangaroo rat during the life of the permit. This species is referred to
as the ``SBKR'' in the proposed HCP.

[[Page 31604]]

    The applicant proposes to replace and extend water pipeline service
on 1.7 acres of land located within the Lyle Creek Wash in the City of
Rialto and unincorporated San Bernardino County, California. The
purposes of the project are to (1) increase water delivery capacity of
untreated surface water (State Water Project Water) from the San
Gabriel Valley Water District's transmission pipeline system to the
West Valley Water District and Fontana Water Company by replacing two
12-inch-diameter pipelines with one 30-inch-diameter pipeline and one
36-inch-diameter pipeline, (2) install a pipeline to deliver water to a
CEMEX aggregate mining operation, and (3) install an emergency overflow
pipeline that will discharge into existing spreading basins for
groundwater recharge. We anticipate that some SBKR may be lost within
the 1.7 acres of SBKR occupied habitat. The project is within
designated critical habitat for the SBKR.
    The applicant proposes to minimize and mitigate the effects to the
SBKR associated with the covered activities by fully implementing the
HCP. The purpose of the proposed HCP's conservation program is to
promote the biological conservation of the SBKR. The HCP includes
measures to minimize impacts to SBKR by containing the project
footprint, minimizing activities that may directly impact individual
SBKR, and promoting recovery of impacted habitat. Impacts to SBKR
habitat would be temporary. The applicant proposes to mitigate impacts
to the SBKR through purchase of 2 acres of credit within the Cajon
Creek Conservation Bank in San Bernardino County, California.
    The Proposed Action consists of the issuance of an incidental take
permit and implementation of the proposed HCP, which includes measures
to minimize and mitigate impacts of the project on the SBKR. Three
alternatives to the taking of the listed species under the Proposed
Action are considered in the proposed HCP. Under the No Action
Alternative, no permit would be issued, and no construction or
conservation would occur. Under the Reduce Project Alternative, impacts
to SBKR and SBKR habitat would be reduced; however, the pipelines would
not properly convey water to the final destinations. Under the
Different Location Alternative, the pipelines would be relocated to
avoid or reduce impacts to SBKR. This Alternative was not chosen
because the project vicinity is generally occupied by SBKR and the cost
of acquiring appropriate rights-of-way and constructing the larger
project that would be necessary to reduce impacts to SBKR would be
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that approval of
the proposed HCP qualifies as a categorical exclusion under NEPA, as
provided by the Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM 2 Appendix 1
and 516 DM 6 Appendix 1) and as a ``low-effect'' plan as defined by the
Habitat Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996). Determination
of Low-effect Habitat Conservation Plans is based on the following
three criteria: (1) Implementation of the proposed HCP would result in
minor or negligible effects on federally listed, proposed, and
candidate species and their habitats; (2) Implementation of the
proposed HCP would result in minor or negligible effects on other
environmental values or resources; and (3) Impacts of the proposed HCP,
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.
    Based upon this preliminary determination, we do not intend to
prepare further NEPA documentation. We will consider public comments in
making the final determination on whether to prepare such additional
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be
able to do so.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act. We
will evaluate the permit application, the proposed HCP, and comments
submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets the
requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. If the requirements are met,
we will issue a permit to the West Valley Water District for the
incidental take of the San Bernardino kangaroo rat from water pipeline
improvements in the City of Rialto and unincorporated San Bernardino
County, California.

     Dated: June 1, 2007.
Jim A. Bartel,
Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, Carlsbad,
[FR Doc. E7-10976 Filed 6-6-07; 8:45 am]