[Federal Register: March 8, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 45)]
[Page 10551-10552]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 10551]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of an Environmental Assessment and Receipt 
of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit for the Copper Mountain 
College Habitat Conservation Plan, San Bernardino, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The Copper Mountain Community College District (District) has 
applied to the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or ``we'') for an 
incidental take permit pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We are considering 
issuing a 16-year permit to the District that would authorize take of 
the federally threatened desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) 
incidental to otherwise lawful activities associated with the expansion 
of their existing campus onto 71.57 acres of their 156.53-acre 
    We are requesting comments on the permit application, Habitat 
Conservation Plan (Plan), Environmental Assessment (EA), and 
Implementing Agreement (IA). The District's Plan describes the 
mitigation and minimization measures they would implement, as required 
in Section 10(a)(2)(B) of the Act, to address the effects of the 
project on the desert tortoise (see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION). The EA 
describes the project's impacts on the human environment and analyzes 
the significance of those impacts. The IA describes the roles and 
responsibilities of District, the Service, and Joshua Tree National 
Park (Park) in implementation of the Plan. The draft Plan, EA, and IA 
are available for public review.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before May 7, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments to Diane K. Noda, Field 
Supervisor, Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife 
Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, California 93003. You may 
also send comments by facsimile to 805-644-3958.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Croft, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, (see ADDRESSES) telephone: 805-644-1766, extension 302.


Availability of Documents

    You may obtain copies of these documents for review by contacting 
the office under ADDRESSES. Documents also will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at our Ventura 
office (see ADDRESSES) and at the Joshua Tree Public Library. The 
address for the Joshua Tree Public Library is 6465 Park Blvd., Joshua 
Tree, California 92252. These documents are also available on the 
Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office internet site: http://www.fws.gov/ventura


    Section 9 of the Act and Federal regulations prohibit the ``take'' 
of fish or wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened, 
respectively. Take of listed fish or wildlife is defined under the Act 
to mean to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. 
However, the Service, under limited circumstances, may issue permits to 
cover incidental take, (i.e., take that is incidental to, and not the 
purpose of, the carrying out of an otherwise lawful activity. 
Regulations governing incidental take permits for threatened and 
endangered species are found at 50 CFR 17.32 and 17.22, respectively. 
Among other criteria, issuance of such permits must not jeopardize the 
existence of federally listed fish, wildlife, or plants.
    The proposed Copper Mountain College Expansion Project is 156.53 
acres in the unincorporated community of Joshua Tree, San Bernardino 
County, California. The District proposes to expand the Copper Mountain 
Community College campus from the existing 8.59 acres onto 71.57 acres 
that it owns in adjacent areas. It would begin the phased construction 
with a solar field immediately after permit issuance, followed by a 
multi-use sports complex, various roads, and a parking area in 2007. 
During the next 12 years, the District would construct additional 
parking lots, new sports fields, additional classroom facilities, and 
other buildings on the remaining portions of the 71.57-acre site.
    The District proposes to implement measures to minimize adverse 
effects to the desert tortoise during construction and operation of 
these facilities, additional measures to mitigate adverse effects, and 
post-construction measures to minimize indirect effects from ongoing 
use of the new facilities. To minimize adverse effects to the desert 
tortoise and its habitat, the District would provide on-site biological 
monitoring during construction, perform pre-project clearance surveys, 
conduct a desert tortoise education program for project personnel, and 
use desert tortoise exclusion fencing to prevent desert tortoises from 
entering work areas. In addition, the District would meet a schedule of 
reporting requirements and appoint a field contact representative to 
oversee compliance.
    After permit issuance, the District would also establish an 84.96-
acre desert tortoise translocation area (Translocation Area) on land 
that it owns immediately adjacent to the 71.57-acre project site. The 
District would manage this Translocation Area as a habitat preserve and 
fund the maintenance and monitoring of the desert tortoises that are 
translocated there during Project Site development.
    To mitigate adverse effects, the District would purchase an 80-acre 
private in-holding in the Thermal Canyon area of Joshua Tree National 
Park. The District would transfer this parcel to Joshua Tree National 
Park and provide funds to assure adequate management for desert 
tortoise conservation on the 80-acre site. The District would also 
implement one of the following mitigation measures within 12 months 
following permit issuance: (1) Provide funding to a designated 
management entity for the improved management of desert tortoise 
habitat on a 605-acre desert park near Coyote Hole Spring or (2) 
provide funding to the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee for the 
acquisition and management of 30-acres of desert tortoise habitat at 
the Desert Tortoise Natural Area. The District is providing this 
additional mitigation because habitat on the 80-acre Thermal Canyon 
parcel is of lower quality than habitat the District would disturb on 
the project site.
    The EA considers the environmental consequences of two 
alternatives, including: (1) The No Action Alternative, which consists 
of no campus expansion, no mitigation, and no permit issuance and (2) 
the Project Development Alternative to the taking, which consists of 
the development of the project site and implementation of the 
minimization and mitigation measures described in the previous 
paragraphs. Under the Project Development Alternative, a third party 
would be selected to work as the District's agent under their 
incidental take permit within 12 months of initial permit issuance. 
This would cover the third party for take during management of some 
mitigation lands described in the Plan.

Public Review and Comment

    We are providing this notice pursuant to section 10(a) of the Act 
and the regulations of the National

[[Page 10552]]

Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 (40 CFR 1506.6). All comments 
that we receive, including names and addresses, will become part of the 
official administrative record and may be made available to the public. 
We will evaluate the application, associated documents, and comments 
submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets the 
requirements of NEPA regulations and section 10(a) of the Act. If we 
determine that those requirements are met, we will issue a permit to 
the District for the incidental take of desert tortoises. We will make 
our final permit decision no sooner than 60 days from the date of this 
    If you wish to comment on the permit application, draft EA, Plan, 
or IA you may submit your comments to the address listed in the 
ADDRESSES section of this document. Our practice is to make comments, 
including names, home addresses, etc., of respondents available for 
public review. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their names and/or home addresses, etc., but if you wish us to consider 
withholding this information, you must state this prominently at the 
beginning of your comments. In addition, you must provide a rationale 
demonstrating and documenting that disclosure would constitute a 
clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy. In the absence of exceptional, 
documented circumstances, we will release this information. 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.

    Dated: March 2, 2007.
Polly Wheeler,
Acting Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
 [FR Doc. E7-4138 Filed 3-7-07; 8:45 am]