[Federal Register: September 6, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 172)]
[Page 51244-51245]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Restoration of Habitat for Utah Prairie Dogs on Private Land in 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: Safe harbor agreement and receipt of 
application for an enhancement of survival permit.


SUMMARY: The Panoramaland Resources Conservation and Development 
Council (applicant) has applied to the Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service, us) for an

[[Page 51245]]

enhancement of survival permit (permit) for the Utah prairie dog within 
the species' range in Utah under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act). This permit application includes a safe harbor agreement 
(SHA) between the applicant and us, with the ability for the applicant 
to issue certificates of inclusion to private landowners. We request 
information, views, and opinions from the public via this notice. 
Further, we are soliciting information regarding the adequacy of the 
SHA as measured against our Safe Harbor Policy and the regulations that 
implement it.

DATES: We must receive any written comments on the permit application 
and SHA on or before October 9, 2007.

     Mail: Utah Field Office, 2369 West Orton Circle, West 
Valley City, Utah 84119.
     Internet: http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/mammals/utprairiedog/
.     E-mail: utahprairiedogSHA@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Crist, Utah Field Supervisor 
(see ADDRESSES), telephone (801) 975-3330.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Utah prairie dog is the westernmost 
member of the genus Cynomys. The species' range, which is limited to 
the southwestern quarter of Utah, is the most restricted of all prairie 
dog species in the United States. Distribution of the Utah prairie dog 
has been greatly reduced due to disease (plague), poisoning, drought, 
and human-related habitat alteration. Protection of this species and 
enhancement of its habitat on private land will benefit recovery 
    The primary objective of this SHA is to promote conservation of a 
threatened species through voluntary conservation, enhancement, and 
management of the species on private land throughout the range of the 
species. Through this SHA, the applicant receives the ability to 
oversee a safe harbor program working under a permit. We will authorize 
the applicant to enroll willing individual landowners (cooperators) 
into the program, which will require that each cooperator enter a 
cooperative agreement with the Panoramaland Resource Conservation and 
Development Council, with associated management activities, in exchange 
for a certificate of inclusion under the permit. This certificate will 
provide relief from any additional section 9 liabilities under the Act 
beyond those which exist at the time the cooperative agreement is 
signed (``regulatory baseline'').
    All cooperative agreements shall include the following: (1) Use of 
pesticides within 100 feet (31 meters) of an active Utah prairie dog 
colony must be limited to only those approved for this purpose by the 
Service; (2) All applied practices (see below) must be planned and 
applied in a manner that will not adversely affect other wildlife, 
including threatened or endangered species; (3) Monitoring of habitat 
restoration activities (see below) must occur to assess the general 
condition of the habitat, use of the habitat by the Utah prairie dog, 
progress of ongoing management activities, and satisfaction of the 
cooperator with the project.
    In addition to the above management activities, at least two of the 
following activities must be included in all cooperative agreements: 
(1) Brush management to restore plant community balance, increase 
visual surveillance, and increase forage quantity and quality; (2) 
Prescribed grazing to increase visual surveillance, increase forage 
quantity and quality and deferment to create vegetative varies to limit 
expansion to undesirable locations; (3) Seeding to restore degraded 
rangelands or pasturelands and bare ground and increase forage quantity 
and quality; (4) Prescribed burning to increase forage quantity and 
quality; or (5) Noxious weed control to facilitate restoration of 
rangelands or pasturelands, increase visual surveillance, and increase 
forage quantity and quality. The habitat improvements will be 
maintained throughout the term of the cooperative agreement. The 
cooperator will receive a certificate of inclusion that authorizes 
implementation of the conservation actions and other provisions of the 
cooperative agreement and authorizes incidental take and limited 
control of the covered species above the cooperator's baseline 
responsibilities, as defined in the cooperative agreement. The SHA and 
permit would become effective upon signature of the SHA, and issuance 
of the permit and would remain in effect for 50 years.
    We have evaluated the impacts of this action under the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and determined that it warrants 
categorical exclusion as described in 516 DM 8.5, and/or 516 DM 2, 
Appendix 1. This notice is provided pursuant to NEPA, section 10 of the 
Act, and our Safe Harbor Policy (64 FR 32717, June 17, 1999). We will 
evaluate whether the issuance of the permit complies with section 7 of 
the Act by conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation. We will 
use the result of the biological opinion, in combination with our 
finding that will take into consideration any public comments, in the 
final analysis to determine whether or not to issue the requested 
permit, pursuant to the regulations that guide permit issuance.

Public Review of Documents

    Persons wishing to review the SHA and the application may obtain a 
copy by writing our Utah Field Office (see ADDRESSES) or by visiting 
during normal business hours. The SHA also will be posted on the 
Internet at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/mammals/utprairiedog/

Public Comments

    Send any written data or comments concerning the SHA or application 
to the Utah Field Office (see ADDRESSES). Comments must be submitted in 
writing to be adequately considered in the Service's decisionmaking 
process. Please reference permit number TE-155376 in your comments, or 
in the request for the documents discussed herein.

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.

    Authority: The authority for this action is the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: August 8, 2007.
James J. Slack,
Deputy Regional Director, Denver, Colorado.
[FR Doc. E7-17590 Filed 9-5-07; 8:45 am]