[Federal Register: June 21, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 119)]
[Page 34271-34273]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Habitat Conservation Plan, Town of Marana, AZ

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement
(EIS); announcement of public scoping meeting; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), advise the
public that we intend to prepare an EIS to evaluate the impacts of, and
alternatives to, the proposed issuance of an incidental take permit
(ITP), pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of
1973 (Act), as amended, to the Town of Marana (Applicant), in Pima
County, Arizona. The Town of Marana intends to apply for an ITP through
the development and implementation of a Habitat Conservation Plan
(HCP), as required by the Act. We also announce a public scoping
meeting and public comment period.

DATES: We must receive written comments on alternatives and issues to
be addressed in the EIS on August 20, 2007. We will hold public scoping
meetings on July 9, 2007 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Marana Operations
Center (5100 W. Ina Road, Tucson, Arizona, 85743), July 11, 2007 from 6
p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Marana Municipal Complex (11555 W. Civic Center
Dr., Marana, Arizona, 85653), and on July 24, 2007 from 6 p.m. to 8
p.m. at the Marana Municipal Complex. We will accept written comments
at these meetings.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be sent to Mr. Steven L. Spangle,
Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2321 West Royal Palm
Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021.

[[Page 34272]]

Public Availability of Comments

    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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information on the EIS,
contact Mr. Scott Richardson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tucson
Suboffice, 201 N. Bonita Ave., Suite 141, Tucson, Arizona 85745, at
520-670-6150 x 242.
    For further information on the HCP, contact Ms. Jennifer
Christelman, Town of Marana, 11555 W. Civic Center Dr., Marana, Arizona
85653 or Ms. Lori Woods, RECON, 525 West Wetmore Road, Suite 111,
Tucson, Arizona 85705.
    Information regarding the HCP can also be obtained on the Internet
at http://www.marana.com/hcp.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice advises the public that the
Service intends to gather information necessary to determine the
impacts and formulate alternatives for the EIS related to the issuance
of a proposed ITP to the Town of Marana and the development and
implementation of the HCP, which will provide measures to minimize and
mitigate the effects of incidental take of federally listed species.
    Section 9 of the Act and its implementing regulations prohibit the
``taking'' of threatened and endangered species. However, the Service,
under limited circumstances, may issue permits to take listed wildlife
species incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful
    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Act (16 U.S.C.
1531 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22), and the
National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.) (NEPA) and
its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).
    Background: The Town of Marana in southern Arizona, including its
recent annexation of 21,500 acres of State Trust lands along the
Tortolita Fan, contains unique natural resource values within much of
its undeveloped lands, including ironwood-dominated Arizona Upland and
xeroriparian plant communities along the bajadas (fans) and slopes of
the Tortolita Mountains and along portions of the Santa Cruz River
    The Town of Marana is also one of the fastest growing communities
in Arizona and recognizes the need to provide a solid economic base and
desirable quality of life for its citizens. Given the Town of Marana's
rapid growth rate and desire to develop its economic interests, the
Town leaders have acknowledged the need to balance economic,
environmental, and human interests by implementing a community-wide
conservation planning effort. The overall goals of this conservation
planning effort are to: identify federal, State Trust, county, and
private lands that merit inclusion within a scientifically-based
conservation reserve designed to provide long-term protection for
multiple species of concern and key natural communities; identify
appropriate mechanisms to best conserve these lands over the long-term;
provide for regional economic objectives including the orderly and
efficient development of certain private and State Trust lands and
associated public and private infrastructure; contribute to regional
conservation planning efforts in eastern Pima County; and facilitate
compliance with the Act's Section 10(a)(1)(B) permit requirements.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose for which this EIS is being prepared is to respond to
the Town of Marana's application for an ITP for the proposed covered
species related to activities that have the potential to result in take
of species listed pursuant to the Act. The Town of Marana's proposed
HCP will mitigate to the maximum extent practicable the anticipated
effects of the covered activities, while striving to balance the
protection and conservation of Marana's unique natural resources with
on-going economic development and urbanization. The Town of Marana
recognizes that the quality of life of its citizens is dependent upon
an integrated environment which balances the needs of listed species
and their habitats with human needs. The HCP will protect and conserve
the covered species and their habitats for the continuing benefit of
the people of the United States and provide a means and take steps to
conserve the ecosystems depended on by the covered species. The HCP
will ensure the long-term survival of the covered species through
protection and management of the species and their habitats and ensure
compliance with the Act, NEPA, and other applicable laws and
    The need for this action is based on the potential that activities
proposed by the Town of Marana on lands under their jurisdiction could
result in take of covered species, thus requiring an ITP. The proposed
permit would allow approved incidental take that is consistent with the
conservation guidelines in the Town of Marana's HCP.
    Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act contains provisions for issuing ITPs
to non-federal entities for take of endangered and threatened species,
provided the following criteria are met: The taking will be incidental;
the applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize and
mitigate the impact of such taking; the applicant will ensure that
adequate funding for the Plan will be provided; the taking will not
appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the
species in the wild; and any other measures that the Service may
require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the HCP.
The development and implementation of the HCP will ensure that the Town
of Marana meets the provisions for issuance of the ITP.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action is the issuance of an ITP for listed and
sensitive species in Pima County, pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of
the Act. The Town of Marana will develop and implement the HCP, as
required by section 10(a)(2)(A) of the Act. The HCP will provide
measures to minimize and mitigate the effects of the taking on listed
and sensitive species and their habitats. The biological goal of the
HCP is to provide long-term protection for multiple species of concern
and key natural communities through maintaining or improving the
habitat conditions and ecosystem functions necessary for their survival
and to ensure that any incidental take of listed species will not
appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of those
    The purpose of the scoping meetings are to brief the public on the
background of the HCP, alternative proposals under consideration for
the draft EIS, and the Service's role, as well as the steps that we
will take to develop the draft EIS for this conservation planning
effort. At the scoping meeting, there will be an opportunity for the
public to ask questions and also to provide written comments.
    Activities proposed for coverage under the proposed ITP include
lawful activities that would occur consistent with the Town of Marana's
General Plan and include, but are not limited to, maintenance of Town's
operations, implementation of capital improvement projects, and
issuance of land-use related permits, including those for

[[Page 34273]]

residential and commercial development.
    The Town of Marana is expected to apply for an ITP for 13
vulnerable species that would be protected within the proposed permit
area. The 13 species include the federally listed lesser long-nosed bat
(Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuenae) and the federally listed
southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus). In
addition, the Town of Marana will seek to address and cover the yellow-
billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus spp. Occidentalis), a candidate for
listing. The Town of Marana is also seeking to address and cover
additional rare and/or sensitive species that occur within the planning
area, including the cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl (Glaucidium
brasilianum cactorum), lowland leopard frog (Rana yavapaiensis), talus
snails (Sonorella spp.), Tucson shovel-nosed snake (Chionactis
occipitalis klauberi), ground snake (Sonora semiannulata), Sonoran
desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), Merriam's mouse (Peromyscus
merriami), Mexican garter snake (Thamnophis eques megalops), burrowing
owl (Athene cunicularia), and the pale Townsend's big-eared bat
(Corynorhinus townsendii). Unlisted species included in the list above
that are considered as if they were listed, and that the Service finds
are adequately conserved by the HCP, will be automatically permitted
for incidental take should they be listed as federally threatened or
endangered species in the future. Numerous other listed and sensitive
species for which the Town of Marana is not seeking permit coverage
will also benefit from the conservation measures provided in the HCP
through protection of similar or overlapping habitat conditions and
ecosystem functions.
    Alternatives--The proposed action and alternatives that will be
developed in the EIS will be assessed against the No Action/No Project
alternative, which assumes that some or all of the current and future
projects proposed in the Town of Marana would be implemented
individually (i.e, one at a time), and be in compliance with the Act.
    The No Action/No Project alternative implies that the impacts from
these potential projects on sensitive species and habitats would be
evaluated and mitigated on a project-by-project basis, as is currently
the case. For any activities involving take of listed species due to
non-Federal projects/actions, individual Section 10(a)(1)(B) permits
would be required. A coordinated, comprehensive ecosystem-based
conservation approach for the region would not be developed to more
efficiently address the conservation of listed species, and unlisted
candidate and sensitive species would not receive proactive action
intended to preclude the need to list them in the future. A landscape
level approach to conservation and mitigation would not occur to help
Federal and non-Federal agencies work toward recovery of listed
species. Current independent conservation actions would continue,
although some of these are not yet funded.
    Other alternatives that may be considered in the EIS include
issuance of an incidental take permit for some subset of proposed
covered species and/or covered activities. Voluntary participation in
the HCP to obtain ITP coverage for certain private development actions
that have no further discretionary action by Marana is being
considered. In addition, alternatives may consider varying levels of
take anticipated and amount, type, and location of mitigation.
    Additional Information: The Service anticipates that the Town of
Marana will request a permit duration of 25 years. Implementation of
the HCP will result in the establishment of measures that will provide
for the conservation of covered species and their habitats in
perpetuity. Monitoring and adaptive management will be used to
facilitate the accomplishment of these measures.
    We will conduct an environmental review that analyzes the proposed
action, as well as a range of reasonable alternatives and the
associated impacts of each. The EIS will be the basis for the Service's
evaluation of impacts to the species and the range of alternatives to
be addressed. The EIS is expected to provide biological descriptions of
the affected species and habitats and an analysis of the socioeconomic
effects of the proposed action.
    After the environmental review is complete, we will publish a
notice of availability and a request for comment on the draft EIS,
draft HCP, and the Town of Marana's permit application. The draft EIS
is expected to be completed and available to the public by December

C. Todd Jones,
Acting Regional Director, Region 2, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. E7-12009 Filed 6-20-07; 8:45 am]