[Federal Register: July 23, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 140)]
[Page 36502-36503]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-ES-2009-N123; 14420-1115-1SGR-A2]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permit 
Application; Greater Sage-Grouse; Washington, Adams, Gem, and Payette 
Counties, Idaho

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Receipt of application for enhancement of survival permit; 
notice of availability of programmatic candidate conservation agreement 
with assurances and draft environmental assessment.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce 
receipt of an application for an enhancement of survival permit 
(permit) under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (ESA). The permit application includes a proposed 
programmatic candidate conservation agreement with assurances (CCAA) 
for the Greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter, 
sage-grouse) between us and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game 
(IDFG). The term of the proposed CCAA is 30 years, and the requested 
term of the permit is 30 years. Consistent with the requirements of the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), we have prepared a 
draft environmental assessment (EA) of the impacts of the proposed CCAA 
and permit application. We are accepting comments on the application, 
the proposed CCAA, and the draft EA.

DATES: We will consider comments we receive on or before August 24, 

ADDRESSES: Address any written comments concerning this notice to 
Kendra Womack, Idaho Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 1387 S Vinnell Way, Room 368, Boise, ID 83709. Alternatively, 
fax written comments to 208-378-5262, or e-mail comments to 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kendra Womack, 208-378-5243. If you 
use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call the 
Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.


Document Availability

    Copies of the permit application, the draft CCAA, and the draft EA 
are available for public inspection, by appointment, at the Idaho Fish 
and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES), or you may view them on the 
Internet at http://www.fws.gov/idaho. We furnish this notice to provide 
the public, other State and Federal agencies, and interested Tribes an 
opportunity to review and comment on the draft CCAA, permit 
application, and draft EA.

Public Availability of Comments

    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 can 
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.


    Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances encourage non-
Federal property owners to implement conservation efforts for candidate 
or at-risk species by assuring property owners they will not be 
subjected to increased property use restrictions if the covered

[[Page 36503]]

species becomes listed in the future. Application requirements and 
issuance criteria for enhancement of survival permits through CCAAs are 
in the Code of Regulations (CFR) at 50 CFR 17.22(d) and 17.32(d), 
respectively. See also our joint policy on CCAAs, which we published in 
the Federal Register with the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service (64 
FR 32726; June 17, 1999).
    The proposed CCAA is programmatic in nature, and, under it, 
individual property owners who wish to participate would enroll their 
properties under the IDFG's section 10(a)(1)(A) permit through the 
issuance of a Certificate of Inclusion. The individual property owner 
would work with IDFG and us to develop a mutually agreeable site-
specific management plan for the enrolled property. The site-specific 
plan will address known threats to sage-grouse through the 
implementation of identified conservation measures that are consistent 
with the participating landowner's land use activities and the CCAA. If 
a Certificate of Inclusion is signed and issued to a participating 
property owner, they would then be authorized to incidentally take 
sage-grouse if the species becomes listed under the ESA in the future, 
as long as the terms and conditions of the permit and the existing 
site-specific plan are followed.
    The area to be covered under this proposed CCAA (Covered Area) is 
approximately 930,000 acres (ac) located in the West Central Planning 
Area (WCPA) in Washington, Adams, Gem, and Payette Counties, Idaho. 
Within the Covered Area, approximately 590,707 ac is non-Federally 
owned and would potentially be eligible for enrollment under the 
proposed CCAA. Sage grouse use habitats throughout the WCPA, including 
lekking (breeding display) areas, and nesting, brood rearing, and 
wintering habitats. Accurate estimates of the number of sage-grouse in 
the WCPA are not available.
    The proposed CCAA identifies important sage-grouse use areas using 
a combination of known lek locations, and yearlong telemetry data 
identifying nesting, brood-rearing, and wintering habitats. The 
proposed CCAA also assumes that there are some areas where land uses or 
historic events have reduced habitat values so that they are no longer 
used by sage-grouse. However, the inherent physical factors and 
proximity to currently used habitat may make these areas candidates for 
restoration efforts.
    The proposed CCAA is intended to result in benefits to sage-grouse 
by reducing or eliminating threats to the species on enrolled 
properties, and creating or maintaining habitat conditions that are 
suitable for all life-history stages of the species through the 
implementation of conservation measures. The proposed CCAA describes 
all of the threats to sage-grouse that have been identified in the 
WCPA, and a suite of potential conservation actions that could be 
implemented to address those threats. The conservation measures that 
would be implemented on any enrolled property would be identified in a 
site-specific conservation plan for that property. Activities that are 
covered under the CCAA and may be included in a site-specific plan as 
applicable include range and livestock management, farming operations, 
recreational activities, and general ranch operation and maintenance. 
These activities are described in more detail in the proposed CCAA.
    Consistent with our CCAA Policy (64 FR 32726), the conservation 
goal of the proposed CCAA is to encourage enhancement and protection of 
suitable sage-grouse habitat on non-Federal lands by either maintaining 
or modifying existing land uses so that they are consistent with the 
conservation needs of sage-grouse. We can meet this conservation goal 
with the use of a CCAA by giving non-Federal landowners incentives to 
implement conservation measures, primarily through regulatory certainty 
concerning land-use restrictions that might otherwise apply should 
sage-grouse become listed under the ESA.
    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) and the implementing regulations for NEPA (40 CFR 
1506.6). We will evaluate the permit application, associated documents, 
and comments we receive to determine whether the permit application 
meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA and NEPA and its 
implementing regulations. If we determine that all requirements are 
met, we will sign the proposed CCAA and issue a permit under section 
10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA to the IDFG for take of sage-grouse. We will not 
make our final decision until after the end of the 30-day public 
comment period, and we will fully consider all comments we receive 
during the public comment period.

    Dated: July 15, 2009.
David J. Wesley,
Deputy Regional Director, Region 1, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. E9-17523 Filed 7-22-09; 8:45 am]