[Federal Register: June 26, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 122)]
[Page 30617-30619]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-ES-2009-N0107; 61411-0000-1115-F4]

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation; Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement Availability and Public Meetings

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice and request for comment.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the Montana Department of 
Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), on behalf of the State of 
Montana, has submitted an incidental take permit (ITP) application to 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service, US) under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). As the ESA requires, DNRC has 
also prepared a proposed habitat conservation plan (HCP) designed to 
minimize and mitigate any such take of endangered or threatened 
species. The ITP application includes the proposed HCP and draft 
Implementation Agreement (IA). We also announce the availability of a 
draft environmental impact statement (draft EIS) for the proposed 
action. The ITP application addresses forest management and timber 
harvest activities on approximately 221,970 hectares (548,500 acres) of 
forested State trust lands in western Montana. We request comments from 
the public on the ITP application, proposed HCP, IA, and draft EIS.

DATES: We must receive any comments no later than September 24, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Address all written comments to Kathleen Ports, by mail at 
Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, 2705 Spurgin 
Road, Missoula, MT 59802, or by facsimile at (406) 542-4274; or to Tim 
Bodurtha, by mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 780 Creston 
Hatchery Road, Kalispell, MT 59901, or by

[[Page 30618]]

facsimile at (406) 758-6877. Alternatively, submit comments by e-mail 
to dnrchcp@mt.gov. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION below for where 
documents are available for viewing.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information about the 
proposed action, to receive the documents on CD-ROM, or for further 
information about reasonable accommodations to attend and participate 
in the public meetings, please contact Kathleen Ports, (406) 542-4330, 
or Tim Bodurtha, (406) 758-6882. To allow sufficient time to process 
reasonable accommodation requests, please call no later than 1 week 
before the public meeting. Information regarding the proposed action is 
available in alternative formats upon request.


Availability of Documents

    The draft documents are available for public inspection and review 
on the internet at http://www.dnrc.mt.gov/HCP/default.asp and at the 
following Montana libraries:
     Missoula Public Library, 301 East Main Street, Missoula;
     Kalispell Public Library, 247 First Avenue East, 
     Whitefish Public Library, 9 Spokane Avenue, Whitefish; and
     Lewis and Clark Library, 120 South Last Chance Gulch, 
    Copies of the application and draft documents also are available 
for inspection and review, by appointment, at the DNRC and Service 
offices (see ADDRESSES) during normal business hours or by requesting 
copies on CD ROM from the Service (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 

Public Meetings

    The DNRC and Service will hold public meetings at 2 p.m.-8 p.m. at 
the following dates and locations:
     July 20, 2009--Flathead Valley Community College, Arts & 
Technology Building, Room 139, 745 Grand View Drive, Kalispell, MT 
     July 22, 2009--Best Western Great Northern Hotel, 835 
Great Northern Boulevard, Helena, MT 59601.
     July 23, 2009--Double Tree Hotel, 100 Madison Street, 
Missoula, MT 59802.
    Exact locations and any changes to locations and meeting times will 
be made available via media outlets and on the Internet at http://


    Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and Federal 
regulations prohibit the taking of a species listed as endangered or 
threatened. The term take is defined under the ESA to mean to harass, 
harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or 
to attempt to engage in any such conduct. Harm is defined 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.
    Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA and its implementing regulations 
specify the requirements for issuance of permits to non-Federal parties 
for the take of listed species. Any proposed take must be incidental 
to, and not the purpose of, 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. The Service's regulations 
governing permits for threatened and endangered species are in 50 CFR 
13 and 50 CFR 17, respectively.
    The DNRC Trust Lands Management Division manages more than 5.1 
million surface acres and more than 6.2 million subsurface acres of 
trust lands to produce revenues for the trust beneficiaries. 
Approximately 294,071 hectares (726,666 acres) of trust lands Statewide 
are managed for timber production and other forest products. Forested 
State trust lands are managed in accordance with the State Forest Land 
Management Plan (SFLMP) and the Forest Management Administrative Rules 
of Montana (Rules). The SFLMP and Rules directed DNRC to coordinate 
with the Service to develop habitat mitigation measures to address the 
needs of listed species.
    The HCP covers approximately 221,970 hectares (548,500 acres) of 
trust lands in western Montana in three of the six DNRC land offices. 
The DNRC manages scattered parcels of land as well as blocks of land in 
the Swan River State Forest and Stillwater State Forest.
    The DNRC prepared a 50-year HCP to address incidental take of 
grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), 
and bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus), all of which are listed as 
threatened under the ESA. Unlisted species included in DNRC's 
application are the westslope cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki 
lewisi) and Columbia redband trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri). The 
DNRC would receive incidental take authorization should these species 
be listed during the term of the permit.
    Activities proposed for coverage under the ITP include the 
following: (1) Timber harvesting (including salvage harvesting and 
silvicultural treatments such as thinning); (2) road construction, 
maintenance, use, and abandonment and associated gravel quarrying, as 
well as installation, removal, and replacement of stream crossing 
structures; (3) site preparation and reforestation of harvested areas 
(including piling and/or burning harvest debris and mechanical 
scarification); and (4) issuance of grazing licenses on classified 
forest trust lands.
    We formally initiated an environmental review of the project 
through publication of a notice of intent to prepare an EIS in the 
Federal Register on April 28, 2003 (68 FR 22412). That notice also 
announced a public scoping period during which we invited interested 
parties to provide written comments expressing their issues or concerns 
related to the proposal and to attend one of four public scoping 
meetings held in western Montana.
    Based on public scoping comments, we have prepared a draft EIS to 
analyze the effects of alternatives on the human environment. The 
proposed HCP, including issuance of the associated incidental take 
permit, is analyzed as Alternative 2 in the Draft EIS. The Draft EIS 
also includes analyses of a no-action alternative and two additional 
HCP alternatives.
    We provide this notice under the ESA and National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321). To determine 
whether the application meets the requirements of the ESA and NEPA, we 
will evaluate the application, associated documents, and public 
comments we receive.

Public Review and Comment

    We furnish this notice to allow other agencies and the public an 
opportunity to review and comment on these documents. For locations to 
review the documents, please see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.
    If you wish to comment on the permit application or the Agreement, 
you may submit your comments to the address listed under ADDRESSES. 
Before including your address, telephone 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 can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we

[[Page 30619]]

cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    We are particularly interested in comments pertaining to the 
application requirements under 50 CFR 17.22(b)(1). These include 
whether the HCP: Provides complete descriptions of the activities under 
which the incidental taking of covered species is likely to occur; 
describes the impacts to covered species that will likely result from 
the incidental taking; outlines the steps DNRC will take to monitor, 
minimize, and mitigate such impacts for each covered species and the 
available funding to implement such steps over the term of the ITP; and 
describes alternative actions to such taking and the reasons why such 
alternatives are not proposed to be utilized. As part of evaluating 
whether the permit issuance criteria are met, we specifically seek 
comment on whether the minimization and mitigation measures are being 
undertaken to the maximum extent practicable.

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the ITP application, including the proposed HCP 
and any comments we receive, to determine whether the application meets 
the requirements of section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. We will also 
evaluate whether issuance of the section 10(a)(1)(B) ITP complies with 
section 7 of the ESA by conducting an intra-Service section 7 
consultation. We will use the results of this consultation, in 
combination with the above findings, in our final analysis to determine 
whether or not to issue the ITP. If we determine that the requirements 
are met, we will issue the ITP for the incidental take of species.


    We provide this notice under section 10 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 
et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: June 11, 2009.
Sharon R. Rose,
Acting Deputy Regional Director.
[FR Doc. E9-15246 Filed 6-25-09; 8:45 am]