[Federal Register: March 30, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 61)]
[Page 15148-15150]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of a Supplement to the Final Environmental 
Impact Statement for the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat 
Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation Plan, Riverside 
County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: This notice announces the availability of the Recirculated 
Draft Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan/
Natural Community Conservation Plan (MSHCP), Supplement to the Final 
Environmental Impact Statement/Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact 
Report (EIS/EIR), and Implementing Agreement for public review and 
comment. The Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG), 
Coachella Valley Conservation Commission, County of Riverside, 
Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, 
Riverside County Parks and Open Space District, Riverside County Waste 
Management District, Coachella Valley Water District, Imperial 
Irrigation District, California Department of Transportation, 
California Department of Parks and Recreation, Coachella Valley 
Mountains Conservancy, and the cities of Cathedral City, Coachella, 
Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, and Rancho 
Mirage (Applicants) applied to the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
for an incidental take permit pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The Applicants also 
seek a Section 2835 permit under the California Natural Community 
Conservation Planning Act of 2002. The Applicants are requesting a 
permit to incidentally take 22 animal species and seeking assurances 
for 5 plant species, including 17 unlisted species should any of them 
become listed under the Act during the proposed 75-year term of the 
permit. The permit is needed to authorize incidental take of listed 
animal species (including harm, injury, and harassment) during 
development in the approximately 1.10 million-acre (1,719-square mile) 
Plan Area in the Coachella Valley of Riverside County, California.
    The MSHCP also incorporates a Public Use and Trails Plan which 
includes proposals that address non-motorized recreation activities on 
Federal and non-Federal lands in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto 
Mountains. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is a Cooperating Agency 
in this planning process and will use this EIS/EIR to make decisions on 
BLM-administered public lands pertaining to trail use in the Santa Rosa 
and San Jacinto Mountains. The proposals constitute activity 
(implementation) level actions in furtherance of the California Desert 
Conservation Area Plan (1980), as amended, and the Santa Rosa and San 
Jacinto Mountains National Monument Management Plan (2004). The BLM 
will issue a separate Record of Decision regarding non-motorized 
recreation activities on public lands.
    A Supplement to the Final Environmental Impact Statement, which is 
the Federal portion of the EIS/EIR, has been prepared jointly by the 
Service and CVAG, along with the biological consultant, to analyze the 
impacts of the MSHCP and is also available for public review. The 
analyses provided in the EIS/EIR are intended to inform the public of 
the proposed action, alternatives, and associated impacts; disclose the 
direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental effects of the proposed 
action and each of the alternatives; and indicate any irreversible 
commitment of resources that would result from implementation of the 
proposed action. All of the alternatives in the EIS/EIR are the same as 
the alternatives identified in the Final MSHCP and Final EIS/EIS, dated 
February 6, 2006, with one exception: the Preferred Alternative without 
the City of Palm Springs is no longer included.
    The Service and the cooperating agency issued a notice of intent to 
prepare an EIS/EIR for the proposed MSHCP, on June 28, 2000 (65 FR 
39920); a notice of availability of the Draft EIS/EIR for the proposed 
MSHCP on November 5, 2004 (69 FR 64581); and a notice of availability 
of the Final EIS/EIR for the proposed MSHCP on April 21, 2006 (71 FR 
    The Service is issuing this notice to advise the public of 
revisions to the MSHCP and associated EIS/EIR which includes the 
following primary changes:
    (1) Removing the City of Desert Hot Springs as an Applicant;
    (2) including a Riverside County Flood Control/Water Conservation 
District flood control project as a Covered Activity within the Morongo 
Wash area, if the project meets the MSHCP's biological goals and 
objectives for the Covered Species and the biological goals and 
objectives for maintaining fluvial sand transport and providing an 
adequate corridor for habitat connectivity;
    (3) identifying the revised Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains 
Trails Plan as the chosen trails management alternative in the EIS/EIR. 
The Plan is structured to be consistent with larger recovery efforts 
for the bighorn sheep and takes an adaptive management approach to 
balancing its goals of: (a) Minimizing the risk of potential adverse 
impacts to Peninsular bighorn sheep from recreational activities, and 
(b) providing recreational opportunities for hikers, equestrians, and 
mountain bikers; and
    (4) identifying changes to conservation area boundaries to reflect 
``like exchanges'' approved by the applicants since the publication of 
the Final MSHCP, dated February 6, 2006. The ``like exchanges'' include 
Citrus Ranch, Lumkes Family Trust, Nott, Indio Water Authority 
Reservoirs, and the City of Cathedral City.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before May 29, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be sent to Mr. Jim Bartel, Field 
Supervisor, Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife 
Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Carlsbad, California 92011. You may 
also submit comments by facsimile to 760-431-9624.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Therese O'Rourke, Assistant Field 
Supervisor, at the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office above; telephone 


Availability of Documents

    Documents available for public review include the permit 
applications, the MSHCP and Appendices I (the Technical Appendix) and 
II (the Planning Agreement), the accompanying

[[Page 15149]]

Implementing Agreement, and the EIS/EIRs.
    Individuals wishing copies of the documents should contact the 
Service by telephone at 760-431-9440, or by letter to the Carlsbad Fish 
and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Copies of 
the MSHCP, EIS/EIRs, and Implementing Agreement also are available for 
public review, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office or at the Coachella Valley 
Association of Governments (see ADDRESSES). Copies are also available 
for viewing on the Internet at http://www.cvmshcp.org, in the Riverside 

County Planning Departments, and in each of the Applicant cities' 
public libraries:
    (1) Riverside County Planning Department: 4080 Lemon Street, 9th 
Floor Riverside, California 92502.
    (2) Riverside County Planning: 82675 Hwy 111, Room 209, Indio, 
California 92201.
    (3) U.S. Bureau of Land Management: 690 Garnet Avenue, North Palm 
Springs, California 92258.
    (4) City of Palm Springs: 3200 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm 
Springs, California 92262.
    (5) City of Cathedral City: 68-700 Avenida Lalo Guerrero, Cathedral 
City, California 92234.
    (6) City of La Quinta: 78-495 Calle Tampico, La Quinta, California 
    (7) City of Rancho Mirage: 69825 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage, 
California 92270.
    (8) City of Palm Desert: 73-510 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert, 
California 92260
    (9) City of Indio: 100 Civic Center Mall, Indio, California 92201
    (10) City of Indian Wells: 44950 El Dorado Drive, Indian Wells, 
California 92210
    (11) City of Coachella: 1515 Sixth Street, Coachella, California 
    (12) Cathedral City Public Library: 33520 Date Palm Drive, 
Cathedral City, California 92234
    (13) Coachella Branch Library: 1538 7th Street, Coachella Valley, 
California 92260
    (14) Indio Public Library: 200 Civic Center Mall, Indio, California 
    (15) Lake Tamarisk Branch Library: Lake Tamarisk Drive, Desert 
Center, California 92239
    (16) La Quinta Public Library: 78080 Calle Estado, La Quinta, 
California 92253
    (17) Mecca-North Shore Branch Library: 65250 Cahuilla, Mecca, 
California 92254
    (18) Palm Springs City Library: 300 South Sunrise Way, Palm 
Springs, California 92262
    (19) Rancho Mirage Public Library: 42-520 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho 
Mirage, California 92270
    (20) Riverside County Library: Palm Desert Branch, 73-300 Fred 
Waring Drive, Palm Desert, California 92260
    (21) Thousand Palms Library: 72-715 La Canada Way, Thousand Palms, 
California 92276

Background Information

    A permit is needed because section 9 of the Act and Federal 
regulations prohibit the ``take'' of animal species listed as 
endangered or threatened (16 U.S.C. 1538). Take of listed animal 
species is defined under the Act to include kill, harm, harass, pursue, 
hurt, shoot, wound, capture or collect, or attempt to engage in any 
such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532). Harm includes significant habitat 
modification or degradation that actually kills or injures listed 
animals by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, 
including breeding, feeding, and sheltering [50 CFR 17.3(c)]. Under 
limited circumstances, the Service may issue permits to authorize 
incidental take; i.e., take that is incidental to, and not the purpose 
of, otherwise lawful activity. Although take of plant species is not 
prohibited under the Act, and therefore cannot be authorized under an 
incidental take permit, plant species are proposed to be included on 
the permit in recognition of the conservation benefits provided to them 
under the MSHCP. Assurances provided under the No Surprises Rule at 50 
CFR 17.3, 17.22(b)(5), and 17.32(b)(5) would extend to all species 
named on the permit. Regulations governing incidental take permits for 
threatened and endangered species are found in 50 CFR 17.32 and 17.22, 
    The EIS/EIR analyzes the impacts of the proposed implementation of 
the MSHCP by the Applicants. The Applicants seek an incidental take 
permit and assurances to incidentally take 22 animal species and 
assurances for 5 plants. Collectively, the 27 listed and unlisted 
species are referred to as ``Covered Species'' by the MSHCP and include 
5 plant species (2 endangered, 3 unlisted); 2 insect species (both 
unlisted); 1 fish species (endangered); 1 amphibian species 
(endangered); 3 reptile species (2 threatened, 1 unlisted); 11 bird 
species (3 endangered, 8 unlisted); and 4 mammal species (1 endangered 
and 3 unlisted). [c1]
    The MSHCP is intended to protect and sustain viable populations of 
native plant and animal species and their habitats in perpetuity 
through the creation of a reserve system, while accommodating continued 
economic development and quality of life for residents of the Coachella 
Valley. The MSHCP plan area includes the following eight incorporated 
cities: Cathedral City, Coachella, Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, Palm 
Desert, Palm Springs, and Rancho Mirage. It is one of two large, 
multiple-jurisdictional habitat planning efforts in Riverside County, 
each of which constitutes a ``subregional'' plan under the State of 
California's Natural Communities Conservation Planning Act, as amended.
    The MSHCP identifies the proposed reserve system which will be 
established from lands within 21 conservation areas that are either 
adjacent or linked by biological corridors. When completed, the reserve 
system will include core habitat for Covered Species, essential 
ecological processes, and biological corridors and linkages to provide 
for the conservation of the proposed Covered Species.
    The Final MSHCP was approved by the CVAG's Executive Committee on 
February 6, 2006, and by all local Permittees except one between March 
and June 2006. No action was taken by State Permittees. The MSHCP is 
being revised at the direction of the Executive Committee, following 
the City of Desert Hot Springs' decision not to approve the MSHCP on 
June 20, 2006. After Desert Hot Springs declined to approve the MSHCP, 
the Executive Committee rescinded its approval. The Recirculated Draft 
MSHCP includes the Applicants identified above with the exception of 
Desert Hot Springs.

Public Comments

    The Service and CVAG invite the public to comment on the MSHCP, 
Implementing Agreement, and EIS/EIR during a 60-day public comment 
period beginning the date of this notice. Our practice is to make 
comments, including names, home addresses, home phone numbers, and 
email addresses of respondents, available for public review. Individual 
respondents may request that we withhold their names and /or homes 
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 present a rationale for withholding 
this information. This rationale must demonstrate that disclosure would 
constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy. Unsupported 
assertions will not meet this burden. In the absence of exceptional, 
documentable circumstances, this information will be released. We will 
always make submissions from organization or businesses, and from

[[Page 15150]]

individuals identifying themselves as representatives of or officials 
of organizations or businesses, available for public inspection in 
their entirety.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(a) of the Act and 
Service regulations for implementing NEPA. The Service will evaluate 
the application, associated documents, and comments submitted thereon 
to prepare a Final Supplemental EIS. A permit decision will be made no 
sooner than 30 days after the publication of the Final Supplemental 

    Dated: March 16, 2007.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
 [FR Doc. E7-5914 Filed 3-29-07; 8:45 am]