[Federal Register: July 8, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 131)]
[Page 39026-39027]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2008-N0098; 11120-0008-0221-F2]

Safe Harbor Agreement for the Northern Spotted Owl for Fred M. 
van Eck Forest Foundation, Humboldt County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and receipt of application.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the Fred M. van Eck Forest 
Foundation (Applicant) has applied to the 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 
northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caruina). The proposed 
Agreement and permit would remain in effect for 90 years. We request 
comments from the public on the permit application and an Environmental 
Action Statement that has been prepared to comply with the National 
Environmental Policy Act.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before August 7, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Mr. Michael Long, Field Supervisor, 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, California 95521. 
You also may send comments by facsimile to (707) 822-8411.




    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 (15 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 subject to increased land use 
restriction 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) and 
    We have worked with the Fred M. van Eck Forest Foundation to 
develop a Safe Harbor Agreement for the creation and enhancement of 
habitat for the northern spotted owl on four Fred M. van Eck Forest 
Foundation properties totaling 2,163 acres in Humboldt County, 
California. The term of the proposed Agreement is 90 years. Currently 
the properties support 1,730 acres of northern spotted owl nesting and 
roosting habitat and one northern spotted owl activity center. We 
anticipate that under the northern spotted owl habitat creation and 
enhancement timber management regime proposed in the Agreement, 
approximately 1,947 acres of nesting and roosting habitat and 
potentially up to five northern spotted owl activity centers could 
exist on the property at the end of 90 years. The proposed Safe Harbor 
Agreement does not provide for a return to baseline conditions at the 
end of the Agreement term. Instead, the Agreement provides that if more 
than five northern spotted owl activity centers should become 
established on the property during the 90 year term, the Applicant 
would be allowed to remove such additional activity centers during the 
Agreement period. Under the Agreement, Fred M. van Eck Forest 
Foundation will: (1) Conduct surveys annually to determine the 
locations and

[[Page 39027]]

reproductive status of any northern spotted owls; (2) protect up to 
five activity centers (locations where owls are observed nesting or 
roosting) with a no-harvest area that buffers the activity center by no 
less than 100 feet; (3) utilize selective timber harvest methods such 
that suitable nesting habitat is maintained within 300 feet of each 
activity center; (4) limit noise disturbance from timber harvest 
operations within 1,000 feet of an active nest during the breeding 
season; and (5) manage all second growth redwood timber on the property 
in a manner that maintains or creates suitable nesting and roosting 
habitat over time.
    Consistent with our Safe Harbor Policy, we propose to issue a 90 
year permit to Fred M. van Eck Forest Foundation authorizing take of 
northern spotted owls incidental to timber harvest operations carried 
out in accordance with the habitat management provisions in the 
Agreement. Specifically, if more than five northern spotted owl 
activity centers become established on the property, take of northern 
spotted owls associated with the effects of timber harvest on such 
additional northern spotted owl activity centers would be authorized 
under the incidental take permit during the 90 year permit term. At the 
end of the 90 year Agreement and permit term, no further take of 
northern spotted owls would be allowed unless the Safe Harbor Agreement 
and incidental take permit are renewed or extended. The development and 
maintenance of high-quality habitat in a matrix of private timberland 
subject to even-aged management regimes will provide a relatively 
stable habitat condition that we believe will provide high productivity 
for multiple generations of spotted owls. Therefore, the cumulative 
impact of the Agreement and the activities it covers, which are 
facilitated by the allowable incidental take, is expected to provide a 
net conservation benefit to the northern spotted owl.

Public Review and Comments

    Individuals wishing copies of the permit application, the 
Environmental Action Statement, or copies of the full text of the Safe 
Harbor 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. 
Documents will also be available for public inspection, by appointment, 
during normal business hours at this office (see ADDRESSES).
    We invite the public to review the Safe Harbor Agreement and 
Environmental Action Statement during a 30-day public comment period 
(see DATES). 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 may 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.
    We provide this notice pursuant to Section 10(c) of the Act. We 
will evaluate the permit application, associated documents, and 
comments submitted therein to determine whether the permit application 
meets the requirements of Section 10(a) of the Act and NEPA 
regulations. If, upon completion of the 30-day comment period, we 
determine that the requirements are met, we will sign the Agreement and 
issue an enhancement of survival permit under Section 10(a)(1)(A) of 
the Act to Fred M. van Eck Forest Foundation for take of northern 
spotted owls incidental to otherwise lawful activities in accordance 
with the terms of the Agreement.

    Dated: June 12, 2008.
Michael M. Long,
Field Supervisor, Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, Arcata, California.
 [FR Doc. E8-15365 Filed 7-7-08; 8:45 am]