[Federal Register: March 5, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 44)]
[Page 11870-11871]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Fish and Wildlife Service

RIN 0648-XB90

Availability of a Draft Environmental Assessment/Habitat 
Conservation Plan, and Receipt of Applications for Incidental Take 
Permits from the Broughton Land Company, Columbia County, Washington

AGENCIES: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Interior; National 
Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration, Commerce.

ACTION:  Notice of Availability.


SUMMARY:  The FWS and the NMFS (collectively, the Services) announce 
the availability for public review of a combined draft Environmental 
Assessment/Habitat Conservation Plan (EA/HCP) pertaining to an 
application by the Broughton Land Company (BLC) for incidental take 
permits (ITPs) pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (ESA). The draft EA/HCP addresses the proposed issuance of ITPs 
by the Services to the BLC for land management activities in Columbia 
County, Washington, that are identified in the HCP portion of the draft 
document. The proposed ITPs would authorize take, incidental to 
otherwise lawful activities, of the following threatened fish species: 
the bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus); Snake River spring/summer 
Chinook salmon and the Snake River fall Chinook salmon (both 
Oncorhynchus tshawytscha); and the middle Columbia River steelhead 
trout and the Snake River steelhead trout (both O. mykiss).
    We request comments from the public on the permit applications and 
the draft EA/HCP, all of which are available for review. The EA/HCP 
describes the proposed action and the measures that the BLC will 
implement to minimize and mitigate take of the threatened fish species 
discussed above. To review the documents, see ``Availability of 
Documents'' in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below.

DATES:  All comments must be received on or before April 4, 2008.

ADDRESSES:  Please address written comments to the FWS Field 
Supervisor, Upper Columbia Fish and Wildlife Office, 11103 East 
Montgomery Drive, Spokane, WA 99206. You may also send

[[Page 11871]]

comments by facsimile to (509) 891-6748 or by e-mail to 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  For further information, please 
contact Michelle Eames, Project Manager, FWS, at (509) 893-8012, (509) 
893-8010, or Dennis Carlson, Project Manager, NMFS, at (360) 753-5828.


Availability of Documents

    Copies of the draft documents listed above are available for public 
inspection and review during normal business hours at the FWS's Upper 
Columbia Fish and Wildlife Office and at the Dayton Public Library, 111 
South 3rd Street, Dayton, WA 99382. You can also request copies by 
contacting the Services (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section 
above) or on the internet at: http://www.fws.gov/easternwashington. The 
Services are soliciting comments from state and other Federal agencies, 
Tribes, and the public on these documents. All comments received will 
become part of the public record for this proposed action.


    Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1538) and the implementing 
regulations prohibit the ``taking'' of endangered or threatened species 
without a special exemption. The term take is defined under the ESA (16 
U.S.C. 1532(19)) to mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, 
kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to engage in any such 
conduct. ``Harm'' is defined by FWS regulation to include significant 
habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures 
wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, 
including breeding, feeding, and sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). The NMFS 
definition of harm includes significant habitat modification or 
degradation where it actually kills or injures fish or wildlife by 
significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including 
breeding, feeding, spawning, migrating, rearing, and sheltering (50 CFR 
    Section 10 of the ESA and the implementing regulations specify the 
requirements for the issuance of ITPs to non-Federal parties for the 
take of endangered and threatened species. Any proposed take must be 
incidental to otherwise lawful activities, must not appreciably reduce 
the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild, 
and must minimize and mitigate the impact of such take to the maximum 
extent practicable. In addition, an applicant must prepare an HCP 
describing the impact that will likely result from such taking, the 
strategy for minimizing and mitigating the incidental take, the funding 
available to implement such steps, alternatives to such taking, and the 
reasons such alternatives are not being implemented. The FWS 
regulations governing permits for federally endangered and threatened 
species are found at 50 CFR 13.21. The NMFS regulations governing 
permits for federally endangered and threatened species are found at 50 
CFR 222.307.
    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.) requires that Federal agencies conduct an environmental analysis 
of their proposed actions to determine if the actions may significantly 
affect the human environment. Under NEPA, a reasonable range of 
alternatives to a proposed action must be developed and considered in 
the agencies' environmental review. Alternatives considered in an HCP 
environmental analysis may include: variations in the scope of covered 
activities; variations in the location, amount, and type of 
conservation; variations in permit duration; or a combination of these 
    The BLC applied to the Services for two ITPs, which would authorize 
take of several threatened fish species. The FWS would issue an ITP to 
cover incidental take of the bull trout, and NMFS would issue an ITP to 
cover incidental take of the Snake River spring/summer Chinook salmon, 
Snake River fall Chinook salmon, middle Columbia River steelhead trout, 
and the Snake River steelhead trout. The proposed ITPs would authorize 
the take of those species incidental to otherwise lawful activities, 
including: (1) agricultural practices, including dry land and irrigated 
crop production; (2) livestock grazing; and (3) timber harvest 
(including final and intermediate harvesting, pre-commercial thinning, 
and salvage harvest activities). Each of the alternatives described and 
analyzed in the EA portion of the draft HCP/EA cover approximately 
38,000 acres in various parcels in Columbia County, Washington. The 
proposed duration of the ITPs and HCP would be 25 years, although many 
aspects of the HCP's conservation strategy are intended to benefit 
aquatic species and their habitat beyond the term of the proposed 
permits. Should the permits be issued, they would include assurances 
under the Services' ``No Surprises'' regulations, which specify that as 
long as the terms of the HCP and the Permits are implemented, no 
additional conservation or mitigation measures will be required of the 
BLC, with respect to the covered species listed above, except as 
provided for in the HCP or required by a change in law. The draft EA/
HCP identifies HCP alternatives considered by the BLC, NEPA 
alternatives considered in the EA, and explains why those alternatives 
were not selected.
    The Services will evaluate the applications, associated documents, 
and public comments to determine whether the applications meet the 
requirements of NEPA regulations and section 10(a) of the ESA. 
Specifically, the applications will be evaluated to determine if they 
meet the following issuance criteria in section 10(a)(2)(B) of the ESA: 
the taking will be incidental; the applicant will, to the maximum 
extent practicable, minimize and mitigate the impacts of such taking; 
the applicant will ensure that adequate funding for the HCP will be 
provided; the taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the 
survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and any other 
measures that the Secretaries of Commerce or the Interior may require 
as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the HCP will be 
taken. If it is determined that the requirements are met, NMFS and the 
FWS will issue permits for the incidental take of the covered species 
under their respective jurisdictions. The final EA will not be 
completed and permit decisions will not be made until after the end of 
the 30-day comment period. The final EA and permit decisions will fully 
consider all public comments received during the comment period.

    Dated: February 28, 2008.
Angela Somma,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.

    Dated: February 28, 2008.
David J. Wesley,
Deputy Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1, 
Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. E8-4262 Filed 3-4-08; 8:45 am]