[Federal Register: July 25, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 142)]
[Page 40892-40893]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Section 10 Permit 
Application, Draft Horseshoe-Bartlett Habitat Conservation Plan, and 
Draft Implementing Agreement for Incidental Take by the Salt River 
Project, Maricopa and Yavapai Counties, Arizona

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for public comments; 
announcement of public hearing.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have 
received an application from the Salt River Project (SRP) (applicant) 
for an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 
1973, as amended. If approved, the permit would be for a period of 50 
years, and would authorize incidental take of 16 species currently 
listed under the Act, as well as of species that may become listed 
under the Act in the future. We request comments and plan to hold a 
public hearing on the application and associated documents.

DATES: We will accept written comments on the draft EIS and application 
until September 24, 2007. We will also accept oral and written comments 
at a public hearing on August 29, 2007, 6-9 p.m.

ADDRESSES: Comments: Send comments by one of the following means:
     E-mail: Horeshoe-BartlettHCP@fws.gov;
     Fax: 602/242-2513; or
     Hand delivery or U.S. Mail: Mr. Steve Spangle, Field 
Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, 
Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021.
    Public Hearing: We will hold our public hearing at the offices of 
the Salt River Project, 1521 Project Drive, Tempe, AZ 85281.
    For more information on submitting comments or requesting 

    Draft EIS: Ms. Debra Bills, Arizona State Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 
85021; 602/242-0210.
    Application: Mr. Charles Paradzick, Senior Ecologist, Salt River 
Project, P.O. Box 52025, PAB352, Phoenix, AZ 85072-2025; 602/236-2724, 
or Mr. Craig Sommers, President, ERO Resources Corporation, 1842 
Clarkson Street, Denver, CO 80218; 303/830-1188.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pursuant to the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA), this notice advises the public that we have gathered 
the information necessary to: (1) Determine impacts and formulate 
alternatives for the EIS, related to the potential issuance of an ITP 
to SRP; and (2) develop and implement the HCP, which provides measures 
to minimize and mitigate the effects of the incidental take of 
federally listed species to the maximum extent practicable, pursuant to 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act.
    If approved, the 50-year permit would authorize incidental take of 
16 species currently listed under the Act, as well as for species that 
may become listed under the Act in the future (covered species):
    1. Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) 
    2. Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus),
    3. Yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) (cuckoo),
    4. Razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus),
    5. Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius),
    6. Gila topminnow (Poeciliopsis o. occidentalis),
    7. Spikedace (Meda fulgida),
    8. Loach minnow (Tiaroga cobitis),
    9. Roundtail chub (Gila robusta),
    10. Longfin dace (Agosia chrysogaster),
    11. Sonora sucker (Catostomus insignis),
    12. Desert sucker (Catostomus clarki),
    13. Speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus),
    14. Llowland leopard frog (Rana yavapaiensis),
    15. Northern Mexican gartersnake (Thamnophis eques megalops), and
    16. Narrow-headed gartersnake (Thamnophis rufipunctatus).
    The proposed take would occur in Maricopa and Yavapai Counties, 
Arizona, as a result of impacts on occupied habitat from continued 
operation of Horseshoe Dam and Reservoir (Horseshoe) and Bartlett Dam 
and Reservoir (Bartlett). We have issued a draft Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) to evaluate the impacts of and alternatives for the 
possible issuance of an incidental take permit (ITP). SRP has completed 
the draft Horseshoe-Bartlett Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), along 
with a draft Implementing Agreement as part of the application package 
submitted to the Service (collectively, the ``Application'') as 
required by the Act, for consideration of issuance of an ITP. The 
Application provides measures to minimize and mitigate to the maximum 
extent practicable the effects of the proposed taking of covered 
species and effects to the habitats upon which they depend.

Public Availability of Comments

    Written comments we receive become part of the public record 
associated with this action. 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.
    Read-only downloadable copies of the draft EIS and Application 
documents are available on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona.
 A printed or CD copy of the documents is 

available upon request to Chuck Paradzick, Salt River Project, P.O. Box 
52025, Phoenix, AZ 85072-2025; (602) 236-2724; 
Charles.Paradzick@srpnet.com. Copies of the draft EIS and Application 

are also

[[Page 40893]]

available for public inspection and review at the locations listed 
    Copies of the draft EIS and Application are available for public 
inspection and review at the following locations (by appointment at 
government offices):
     Department of the Interior, Natural Resources Library, 
1849 C Street NW., Washington, DC 20240.
     U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 110 S. Church, Suite 3450, 
Tucson, AZ 85701.
     U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, 
Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021.
     Salt River Project, 1521 Project Drive, Tempe, AZ 85281.
     Flagstaff Public Library, 300 W. Aspen Ave., Flagstaff, AZ 
     Government Document Service, Arizona State University, 
Tempe, AZ 85287.
     Phoenix Public Library (Burton Barr Central), 1221 N. 
Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004.
     Cottonwood Public Library, 100 S. 6th St., Cottonwood, AZ 
     Camp Verde Public Library, 130 Black Bridge Loop Rd., Camp 
Verde, AZ 86322.
     Fountain Hills Library, 12901 N. La Montana Dr., Fountain 
Hills, AZ 85268.
    If you wish to comment by e-mail, please include your name and 
return address in the body of your message. If you do not receive a 
confirmation from the system that we have received your Internet 
message, contact us directly by calling our Arizona Ecological Services 
Field Office at 602/242-0210. Please note that at the end of the public 
comment period, we will close the e-mail address 


    SRP operates Horseshoe and Bartlett in conjunction with four 
reservoirs on the Salt River and one reservoir on East Clear Creek as 
integral features of the Salt River Federal Reclamation Project, 
authorized by the Reclamation Act of 1902, and pursuant to a 1917 
contract with the United States. Since completion in the 1930s and 
1940s, Horseshoe and Bartlett have provided water for irrigation, 
municipal, and other uses. Currently, SRP reservoirs supply much of the 
water for the population of more than 2.6 million people in the cities 
of Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, Glendale, Gilbert, Scottsdale, 
Tolleson, and Avondale. Water deliveries are also made pursuant to 
specific water rights in Horseshoe and Bartlett held by the City of 
Phoenix, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and the Fort 
McDowell Yavapai Nation. In addition, water is provided to irrigate 
agricultural lands within SRP and for satisfaction of the independent 
water rights of Buckeye Irrigation Company, Gila River Indian 
Community, Roosevelt Irrigation District, Roosevelt Water Conservation 
District, and others. Horseshoe, Bartlett, and the other SRP reservoirs 
also provide a variety of recreational uses in central Arizona.
    Due to dry conditions in central Arizona for the past 12 years, 
water levels in Horseshoe and Bartlett have been below normal. As a 
result, riparian trees and shrubs have grown in the Horseshoe storage 
space and have been colonized by a population of flycatchers, which are 
listed as endangered under the Act. Thus, periodic refilling of the 
reservoir may adversely affect the habitat and nesting of the 
flycatcher as well as the cuckoo, which uses similar habitat. Also, 
nonnative fish produced in Horseshoe and Bartlett can adversely impact 
covered fish, frog, and gartersnake species through predation, 
competition, and alteration of habitat in the Verde River and portions 
of its tributaries.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action is the issuance of an ITP for the covered 
species for SRP's continued operation of Horseshoe and Bartlett, 
pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. The requested duration of 
the permit is 50 years. The areas covered by the proposed permit would 
include Horseshoe up to an elevation of 2,026 feet, Bartlett up to an 
elevation of 1,748 feet, the Salt River from Granite Reef Dam to the 
Verde River, most of the Verde River upstream from the Salt River, and 
portions of the Verde River tributaries. The action area for the 
proposed permit also includes mitigation lands acquired as part of the 
    To meet the requirements of a section 10(a)(1)(B) permit, SRP has 
developed and would implement the HCP, which would provide modified 
operating objectives to support stands of tall riparian vegetation at 
the upper end of Horseshoe to minimize impacts to covered bird species, 
and to manage Horseshoe water levels to minimize impacts to covered 
native fish, frog, and gartersnake species. The HCP also includes a 
description of other measures to minimize and mitigate for incidental 
take of the covered species to the maximum extent practicable, and 
which ensures that incidental take of covered species will not 
appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of these 
species in the wild.


    Two other alternatives we are considering include the following:
    1. No Permit--No issuance of an ITP by the Service. This 
alternative would require SRP to do everything within its control to 
avoid any take of federally listed species associated with its 
continued operation of Horseshoe and Bartlett.
    2. Modified Historical Operation--Approval by the Service of an 
application for an ITP authorizing the continued full operation of 
Horseshoe and Bartlett by SRP using historical operating objectives for 
the reservoirs, along with additional measures to minimize and mitigate 
the potential take of covered species.
    Section 9 of the Act and its implementing regulations prohibit the 
``taking'' of threatened and endangered species. However, under limited 
circumstances, we may issue permits to take listed wildlife species 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities.
    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 NEPA 
(42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 

Christopher T. Jones,
Acting Regional Director, Region 2Albuquerque, New Mexico.
 [FR Doc. E7-14354 Filed 7-20-07; 8:45 am]