[Federal Register: January 25, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 17)]
[Page 4619-4620]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Michigan DNR: Application for an Incidental Take Permit

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Availability of a Draft Habitat Conservation Plan and 
Draft Environmental Assessment for the Karner blue butterfly; receipt 
of application for an incidental take permit; request for comments.


SUMMARY: The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (Applicant) has 
applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for a 20-year 
incidental take permit (ITP) for the federally endangered Karner blue 
butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) (KBB) pursuant to section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). 
The ITP would allow the Applicant to engage in habitat management, 
right-of-way maintenance, and certain development activities in 
occupied KBB habitat on non-Federal land in Michigan. The permit 
application includes a draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and draft 
Environmental Assessment (EA) that describes the proposed action and 
measures the Applicant will undertake to minimize and mitigate take of 
KBB. Section 9 of the Act and its implementing regulations prohibit the 
take of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. The 
definition of take under the Act includes the following activities: to 
harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or 
collect listed animal species, or attempt to engage in such conduct (16 
U.S.C. 1538). Section 10 of the Act, 16 U.S.C. 1539, establishes a 
program whereby persons seeking to pursue activities that otherwise 
could give rise to liability for unlawful ``take'' of federally 
protected species may receive an ITP, which protects them from such 
liability. To obtain an ITP, an applicant must submit a HCP containing 
appropriate minimization and mitigation measures and ensure that the 
taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, an otherwise lawful 
activity (16 U.S.C. 1539(a)(1)(B) and 1539(a)(2)(A). Once we have 
determined the applicant has satisfied these and other statutory 
criteria, we may issue the ITP.
    This notice, provided pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act, as amended, advises the public and other 
agencies of the availability of the draft HCP and draft EA for review 
and comment.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
on or before March 25, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or request information by any of the 
following methods:
     U.S. Mail: Comments should be sent to the Regional 
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Ecological 
Services, 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, Minnesota 55111-4056.
     Facsimile: 612-713-5292.
     E-Mail: hcp_MichiganKBB@fws.gov.
    All comments received become part of the official public record. 
Public requests for comments submitted will be handled in accordance 
with the Freedom of Information Act and the Council on Environmental 
Quality's NEPA regulations [40 CFR 1506.6(f)]. Our practice is to make 
comments, including names and home addresses of respondents, available 
for public review during regular business hours. Individual respondents 
may request we withhold their home address from the record, which we 
will honor to the extent allowable by law. If a respondent

[[Page 4620]]

wishes us to withhold his/her name and/or address, this must be stated 
prominently at the beginning of the comment.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Fasbender at 612-713-5343 or 



Availability of Documents

    Individuals requesting copies of the draft EA and draft HCP should 
contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by telephone at (612) 713-
5343 or by letter (see ADDRESSES above). Copies of the draft EA and 
draft HCP also are available for public review during normal business 
hours (8-4:30) at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Regional Office, 
located at 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, Minnesota 55111, and at the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's East Lansing Field Office, located at 
2651 Coolidge Road, Suite 101, East Lansing, Michigan 48823. Both 
documents are also available for review at the Service's Regional Web 
site at: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/permits/hcp/index.html.

Draft Habitat Conservation Plan

    The purpose of the draft HCP is to manage habitat to promote 
recovery of the species and to minimize incidental take of KBB, 
mitigate the effects of any such take to the maximum extent 
practicable, and otherwise avoid any appreciable reduction in the 
likelihood of the survival and recovery of the KBB in the wild. The 
Applicant developed the draft HCP to facilitate conservation of oak 
savanna ecosystems (KBB habitat) and to help maintain occupied KBB 
habitat on both public and private land in Michigan. The goals of the 
HCP are to: (1) Support persistence of a functioning oak savanna 
ecosystem in Michigan; (2) support maintenance of oak-savanna habitats 
in a condition and configuration necessary to sustain existing 
populations of KBB and other associated species of concern; and (3) 
integrate diverse land uses with the conservation of the oak savanna 
ecosystem, KBB and other associated species of concern.
    Active management of KBB habitat is necessary for the conservation 
of KBB and oak savanna. However, some management practices (e.g., 
prescribed burning, mowing) necessary for maintaining early-
successional habitats may result in incidental take of KBB, and section 
9 of the ESA prohibits take of an endangered species. Therefore, to 
obtain the legal authority to manage KBB habitat with the potential 
resultant take of KBB, the Applicant has applied for an ITP which would 
allow habitat management, utility and transportation right-of-way 
maintenance, and certain development activities that avoid or minimize 
and mitigate take when conducted in occupied KBB habitat.
    The Applicant has applied for a statewide ITP and developed a 
statewide HCP with the intent that other land managers and/or 
landowners may participate as sub-permittees, subject to the conditions 
of the final permit, in the event their otherwise lawful activities 
result in take of KBB. Currently, land managers and landowners need to 
obtain authorization on a project-by-project basis to conduct legally 
the activities listed above. This situation results in a patchwork of 
projects conducted with little coordinated planning or consideration of 
range-wide impacts to KBB and other species of concern. By contrast, 
projects implemented under the HCP would be done according to 
consistent procedures in a highly coordinated effort. The HCP will 
facilitate efforts to evaluate and minimize the cumulative adverse 
impacts of individual projects to KBB populations.
    Actions conducted under the HCP are not intended or expected to 
either increase or decrease the amount of occupied KBB habitat in 
Michigan. Rather, management action will be conducted to help prevent 
the loss of occupied habitat on non-Federal land. Maintenance of 
existing populations is a critical component of the KBB conservation 
program in Michigan. It is also consistent with objectives of the 
Federal Recovery Plan, which outlines a strategy for ``maintaining 
extant populations'' and ``improving and stabilizing populations where 
the butterfly is imperiled.'' Nevertheless, other management actions 
may take place on non-federal lands in Michigan not occupied by KBB 
that result in an increase in occupied habitat. The ITP and HCP 
described herein also are intended to cover any occupied KBB habitat 
that may develop in the future.

Draft Environmental Assessment

    The purpose of the draft EA is to evaluate and publicly disclose 
the possible environmental consequences issuance of an ITP and 
implementation of the draft HCP could have on the quality of the 
physical, biological, and human environment, as required by the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
    Prior to issuing the ITP, the Service is required to analyze 
alternatives considered in the development of the HCP. This analysis is 
contained in the draft EA, as required by the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA), for the Federal action of issuing an ITP under 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. The draft EA considers two ``action'' 
alternatives and one ``no action'' alternative.
    The area encompassed by the HCP may contain facilities eligible to 
be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and other 
historical or archeological resources may be present. The National 
Historic Preservation Act and other laws require these properties and 
resources be identified and considered in project planning. The public 
is requested to inform the Service of concerns about archeological 
sites, buildings and structures, historic events, sacred and 
traditional areas, and other historic preservation concerns.


    The public process for the proposed Federal action will be 
completed after the public comment period, at which time the Service 
will evaluate the permit application (if appropriate to the selected 
alternative), the HCP, and comments submitted thereon to determine 
whether the application meets the requirements of 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Act. If the requirements are met, the Service will issue an ITP to the 
Applicant for incidental take of KBB.

    Dated: December 13, 2007.
Lynn Lewis,
Deputy Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Region 3.
[FR Doc. E8-1237 Filed 1-24-08; 8:45 am]