[Federal Register: November 13, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 218)]
[Page 58602-58603]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Fish and Wildlife Service

RIN 0648-XS76

Multi-species Habitat Conservation Plan

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce; Fish and Wildlife Service, 

ACTION: Notice of availability of draft environmental impact statement, 
multi-species habitat conservation plan, and receipt of application; 
notice of public meeting.


SUMMARY: This notice announces the availability of a Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), proposed Multi-Species Habitat 
Conservation Plan (HCP), and associated Implementation Agreement (IA), 
for public review and comment. Fruit Growers Supply Company has 
submitted separate applications to the National Marine Fisheries 
Service (NMFS) and to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for 50-
year incidental take permits under section 10 of the Endangered Species 
Act (ESA) of 1973, as amended.

DATES: Written comments on the proposed HCP, IA, and DEIS must be 
received by 5 p.m. Pacific Time on February 11, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments concerning the proposed HCP and DEIS to 
Lisa Roberts, and send by any one of the following methods, U.S. Mail: 
National Marine Fisheries Service, Arcata Area Office, 1655 Heindon Rd, 
Arcata, CA 95521; Fax: (707) 825-4840; E-mail: FGSHCP.SWR@noaa.gov. In 
the subject line of the e-mail, include the document identifier: FGS 
    A public meeting will be held on December 2, 2009, 6-8 p.m. at the 
Best Western Miners Inn Convention Center, 122 East Miner Street, 
Yreka, CA 96097.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information, or to receive 
a copy of the documents, please contact Lisa Roberts, Fisheries 
Biologist, National Marine Fisheries Service, (707) 825-5178. The HCP 
and DEIS are also available electronically for review on the NMFS 
Southwest Region website at: http://swr.nmfs.noaa.gov, or the FWS Yreka 
office website at: www.fws.gov/yreka/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The documents being made available include 
(1) the proposed HCP, (2) the IA, and (3) the DEIS. This notice is 
provided pursuant to the ESA and the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) as amended. NMFS and FWS are furnishing this notice to allow 
other agencies and the public an opportunity to review and comment on 
these documents. All comments received will become part of the public 
record for this action. Hard bound copies of the HCP, IA, and DEIS are 
available for viewing, or for partial or complete duplication, at the 
following locations:
    1. Siskiyou County Library, 719 4th St., Yreka, CA 96097.
    2. Humboldt County Library, 1313 3rd St., Eureka, CA 95501.
    3. Del Norte County Library, 190 Price Mall, Crescent City, CA 
    4. National Marine Fisheries Service, 1655 Heindon Rd., Arcata, CA 
    5. Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office, 1829 South Oregon St., Yreka, CA 


    Section 9 of the ESA prohibits the ''take'' of wildlife species 
listed as endangered or threatened by either the FWS or NMFS (16 USC 
1538). The ESA defines the term ''take'' as to harass, harm, pursue, 
hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect listed species, or 
attempt to engage in 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, spawning, migrating, rearing, 
and sheltering (64 FR 60727). Pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
ESA, FWS and NMFS may issue ITPs authorizing the take of listed species 
if, among other things, such taking is incidental to, and not the 
purpose of, otherwise lawful activities.
    Take of listed plant species is not prohibited under the ESA, and 
cannot be authorized under a section 10 permit. However, the applicant 
proposes to include Yreka phlox (Phlox hirsuta) in the HCP to extend 
the plan's conservation benefits to this species. The applicant would 
receive assurances under the ``No Surprises'' regulations found in 50 
CFR 17.22(b)(5), 17.32(b)(5), and 222.307(g) for all proposed covered 
species in the ITP.
    To receive an ITP under the ESA, an applicant must prepare an HCP 
that specifies the following: (1) the impact of the taking; (2) steps 
the applicant will take to minimize and mitigate the impact; (3) 
funding available to implement the steps; (4) what

[[Page 58603]]

alternative actions to the taking the applicant considered and the 
reasons why these actions were not taken; and (5) any other measures 
NMFS or FWS may require as being necessary or appropriate for the 
purpose of the plan (16 USC 1539(a)(2)(A)). To issue a permit, NMFS and 
FWS must find that: (1) the taking will be incidental; (2) the 
applicant will minimize and mitigate impacts of the take to the maximum 
extent practicable; (3) the applicant will ensure adequate funding for 
the HCP; (4) the taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of 
the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and (5) the 
applicant will meet other measures required by FWS and NMFS. 
Regulations governing issuance of FWS permits for endangered and 
threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, and for NMFS-issued 
permits at 50 CFR 222.301 through 307.
    The applicant has prepared a multi-species HCP and has applied for 
ITPs under the ESA. The HCP applies to 152,163 acres of commercial 
timberland owned by Fruit Growers Supply Company in Siskiyou County, 
California. The ownership consists of three management units: Klamath 
River (64,867 acres), Scott Valley (38,814 acres), and Grass Lake 
(48,482 acres). The Klamath River and Scott Valley management units are 
located west of Interstate 5, adjacent to and intermixed with Klamath 
National Forest (KNF) lands. The Grass Lake management unit (also 
adjacent to the KNF) lies east of Interstate 5 and predominantly north 
of State Highway 97. These lands are referred to as the Plan Area.
    The applicant has requested coverage from FWS for northern spotted 
owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) and Yreka phlox (Phlox hirsuta), and 
from NMFS for the Southern Oregon/Northern California Coasts coho 
salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU). 
The applicant also has requested coverage under the ITP for the 
unlisted Klamath and Trinity Rivers Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) ESU 
and the Klamath Mountains Province steelhead (O. mykiss) ESU. Should 
these unlisted covered species become listed under the ESA during the 
term of the permit, take authorization for those species would become 
effective upon listing. The HCP describes the habitat-based 
conservation approach, with species-specific objectives. This includes 
an Aquatic Species Conservation Program for salmonids and Terrestrial 
Species Conservation Program for the northern spotted owl and Yreka 
    Activities proposed for ITPs coverage include mechanized timber 
harvest; forest product transportation; road and landing construction, 
use, maintenance, and abandonment; site preparation; tree planting; 
certain types of vegetation management; silvicultural thinning and 
other silvicultural activities; fire suppression; rock quarry and 
borrow pit operations; aquatic habitat restoration; minor forest 
management activities such as forest product collecting; and monitoring 
activities and scientific work in the Plan Area.
    The proposed duration of the ITPs and HCP is 50 years, though many 
aspects of the plan's conservation strategy are intended to benefit the 
covered species long into the future. The goals of this HCP are to: (1) 
protect and improve habitats required by species covered by the HCP and 
(2) establish appropriate guidelines for continuing timber harvests and 
other forest management activities.

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    NMFS and FWS formally initiated an environmental review of the 
project through publication of a Notice of Intent to prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register on February 22, 
2008 (73 FR 9776). That document also announced a public scoping period 
during which interested parties were invited to provide written 
comments expressing their issues or concerns relating to the proposal 
and attend one of two public scoping meetings held in Yreka and Happy 
Camp, California.
    NMFS and FWS have jointly prepared a DEIS to analyze the effects of 
alternatives on the human environment. Proposed issuance of the 
associated ITPs from both NMFS and FWS for covered species and 
applicant implementation of the HCP make up the Proposed Alternative in 
the DEIS. The other alternatives analyzed in the DEIS include: (1) the 
No Action Alternative (ITPs would not be issued and there would not be 
an HCP); (2) Alternative A (ITPs would be issued by both agencies, and 
northern spotted owl conservation areas would be based on the Northwest 
Forest Plan (NWFP) system of late-successional reserves (LSRs), and the 
Aquatic Species Conservation Program would be based on concepts 
outlined in the NWFP for the protection of aquatic habitats); and (3) 
Alternative B (FWS would issue an ITP for northern spotted owl, with 
spotted owl conservation based on management of foraging and dispersal 
habitat across the Plan Area).

Public Comments

    If you wish to comment on the permit application, the HCP, IA, or 
DEIS, you may submit your comments to the address listed in the 
ADDRESSES section of this document. 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.

Special Accommodations

    The public meeting is physically accessible to people with 
disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other 
auxiliary aids should be directed to Lisa Roberts, National Marine 
Fisheries Service (707) 825-5178, at least 5 working days prior to the 
meeting date.

Next Steps

    NMFS and FWS will evaluate the applications, associated documents, 
and comments submitted to them to prepare a final EIS. A permit 
decision will be made no sooner than 30 days after the publication of 
the final EIS and completion of the Record of Decision.

    Dated: November 5, 2009.
Alexandra Pitts,
Acting Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service.

    Dated: November 9, 2009.
Angela Somma,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E9-27318 Filed 11-12-09; 8:45 am]