[Federal Register: August 14, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 156)]
[Page 45445-45446]
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 and the Giant Garter Snake for Landowners Restoring, Enhancing 
or Managing Native Riparian and Wetland Habitats in Yolo County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; receipt of application.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the National Audubon 
Society, Inc., doing business in California as Audubon California 
(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) 
and/or the giant garter snake (GGS) (Thamnopsis gigas). The Agreement 
and permit application are available for public comment.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before September 13, 

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) 414-6712.

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.

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.


    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 (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.), 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 land use 
restrictions as a result of efforts to attract or increase the numbers 
or distribution of a listed species 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 
Programmatic Agreement for the conservation of the VELB and the GGS in 
Yolo County, California. The properties subject to this Agreement 
consist of approximately 200,000 acres of non-Federal properties within 
the boundaries of Yolo County, on which habitat for the VELG and/or GGS 
will be restored, enhanced, and managed pursuant to a written agreement 
between Audubon California and a property owner.
    This Agreement provides for the creation of a Program in which 
private landowners (Program Participants) enter into written 
cooperative agreements with the Applicant pursuant to the terms of the 
Agreement, to restore, enhance, and maintain riparian and wetland 
habitat in ways beneficial to the VELB and/or GGS. Such cooperative 
agreements will be for a term of at least 10 years. The proposed 
duration of the Agreement is 30 years, and the proposed term of the 
enhancement of survival permit is 30 years. The Agreement fully 
describes the proposed management activities to be undertaken by 
Program Participants and the conservation benefits expected to be 
gained for the VELB and GGS.
    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 Audubon California 
authorizing take of VELG and GGS by Program Participants incidental to 
the implementation of the

[[Page 45446]]

management activities specified in the cooperative agreements, 
incidental to other lawful uses of the properties, including normal 
routine land management activities, and/or to return to pre-Agreement 
    To benefit the VELB and GGS, Program Participants will agree to 
undertake site-specific management activities, which will be specified 
in their written cooperative agreements. Management activities that 
could be included in the Cooperative Agreements will provide for the 
restoration, enhancement and management of native riparian and/or 
wetland habitats in Yolo County. The object of such activities is to 
enhance populations of VELB and/or GGS by creating healthy native 
riparian plant and/or wetland communities. Take of VELB and GGS 
incidental to the aforementioned activities is unlikely; however, it is 
possible that in the course of such activities or other lawful 
activities on the enrolled property, a Program Participant could 
incidentally take a VELB or GGS thereby necessitating take authority 
under the permit.
    Pre-Agreement conditions (baseline), consisting of a description 
and survey to delineate the locations of all elderberry bushes having 1 
or more stems that are 1 inch or greater in diameter at the base and to 
determine the quantity, quality, and location of suitable GGS habitat, 
shall be determined for each enrolled property as provided in the 
Agreement. In order to receive the above assurances regarding 
incidental take of VELB and/or GGS, a Program Participant must maintain 
baseline 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 30-year 
permit, if so desired by the Applicants.
    Consistent with the Service's Safe Harbor Policy (64 FR 32717), 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 30-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 determine whether the permit application 
meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the Act and NEPA regulations 
at 40 CFR 1506.6. 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 and/or GGS 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: August 8, 2007.
Susan K. Moore,
Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. E7-15893 Filed 8-13-07; 8:45 am]