[Federal Register: December 10, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 236)]
[Page 65548-65549]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2009-N255; 81420-1113-0000-F3]

Proposed Pacific Gas and Electric Safe Harbor Agreement for 
Interior Dune Species Located in Antioch Dunes in Contra Costa County, 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; receipt of application.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that Pacific Gas and Electric 
(Applicant) has applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
for an Enhancement of Survival permit under 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 federally endangered Lange's metalmark butterfly (Apodemia 
mormo langei), Antioch Dunes evening primrose (Oenothera deltoids ssp. 
howellii), and the Contra Costa wallflower (Erysimum capitatum var. 
angustatum) (collectively referred to as the Covered Species). The 
Agreement is available for public comment.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
January 11, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Send comments to Mr. Rick Kuyper, via U.S. mail at U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage 
Way, W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825, or via facsimile to (916) 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Rick Kuyper, Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES); telephone: (916) 414-6600.


Availability of Documents

    You may obtain copies of the document for review by contacting the 
individual named above. You may also make an appointment to view the 
document at the above address during normal business hours.


    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 (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.). Safe Harbor Agreements, and the subsequent enhancement 
of survival permits that are issued pursuant to Section 10(a)(1)(A) of 
the Act, encourage private and other non-Federal property owners to 
implement conservation efforts for listed species by assuring property 
owners that they will not be subjected to increased property use 
restrictions as a result of their efforts to attract listed species to 
their property, or to increase the numbers or distribution of listed 
species already 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 17.32(c). These 
permits allow any necessary future incidental take of covered species 
above the mutually agreed upon baseline conditions for those species in 
accordance with the terms and conditions of the permits and 
accompanying agreements.
    The Agreement would cover two 6-acre parcels (Enrolled Property) 
that are located along the south shore of the San Joaquin River in 
Contra Costa County, California, in an area that was once part of an 
expanse of riverine sand dunes. The two parcels are located adjacent 
to, and on either side of, the 14-acre Sardis Unit of the Antioch Dunes 
National Wildlife Refuge (``Refuge''). Two transmission towers are 
located on the Enrolled Property--one 115 kV tower on the west parcel 
and one 230 kV tower on the east parcel. The Applicant relies on 
graveled and dirt access roads to reach all of its facilities on the 
Enrolled Property. Each tower has an established work area that is 
utilized for maintenance and operation activities.
    The purpose of this Agreement is for the Service and the Applicant 
to collaborate and implement conservation measures for the Covered 
Species. This will be accomplished by restoring and maintaining 
suitable habitat within the Enrolled Property within the Antioch Dunes 
system. Restoration actions will primarily involve controlling invasive 
plant species. Such eradication techniques employed by the Applicant 
may involve the use of herbicides to be applied around host plants for 
the Lange's metalmark butterfly, as well as Antioch Dunes evening 
primrose and Contra Costa wallflower. The Service will provide the 
Applicant with a list of chemicals that are safe to use around host 
plants and that are not harmful to Lange's metalmark butterflies. Other 
weed eradication techniques may

[[Page 65549]]

include manual removal. Once nonnative plants are removed by the 
Applicant, the Service will be responsible for restoration of 
endangered and native plants to the Enrolled Parcels. The Service will 
enhance areas located away from the transmission towers by planting or 
seeding appropriate native plants, including Contra Costa wallflower, 
Antioch Dunes evening primrose, and host plants for the Lange's 
metalmark butterfly. Other natives may be planted or seeded into the 
sites as well. The majority of native plant restoration activities will 
occur in areas away from the two transmission towers such that when it 
is necessary for the Applicant to conduct maintenance on the towers, 
the overall damage to the habitat and probable take of endangered 
species will be minimized.
    The Service expects that the proposed restoration activities will 
result in an increase in host plants for the Lange's metalmark 
butterfly throughout the Enrolled Property thus resulting in a net 
conservation benefit for this species. Additionally, the restoration 
activities will decrease threats to the Contra Costa wallflower and the 
Antioch Dunes evening primrose by reducing the amount of invasive, 
nonnative plants that outcompete the federally endangered plants.
    The proposed duration of the Enhancement of Survival permit would 
be for 5 years, and would authorize the incidental taking of the 
Covered Species associated with: The restoration, enhancement, and 
maintenance of suitable habitat for the Covered Species; routine 
activities associated with maintenance and operation of the two 
transmission towers; and the potential future return of the Enrolled 
Property to baseline conditions. The Agreement also contains a 
monitoring component that will provide information on the success of 
weed eradication and will also assist the Refuge in early detection of 
new invasive plant species. Results of these monitoring efforts will be 
provided to the Service by the Applicant in an annual report.
    Upon approval of this Agreement, and consistent with the Service's 
Safe Harbor Policy (64 FR 32717), the Service would issue an 
Enhancement of Survival permit to the Applicant. This permit will 
authorize the Applicant to take the Covered Species incidental to the 
implementation of the management activities specified in the Agreement, 
incidental to other lawful uses of the property including normal, 
routine land management activities, and incidental to return to 
baseline conditions if desired. Although take of listed plant species 
is not prohibited under the Act, and therefore cannot be authorized 
under an enhancement of survival permit, plant species may be included 
on a permit in recognition of the net conservation benefit provided to 
them under a safe harbor agreement. An applicant would receive 
assurances under our ``No Surprises'' regulations (50 CFR 17.22(c)(5) 
and 17.32(c)(5)) for all species included in the Enhancement of 
Survival permit. In addition to meeting other criteria, actions to be 
performed under an Enhancement of Survival permit must not jeopardize 
the existence of federally listed fish, wildlife, or plants.

Public Review and Comments

    The Service has made a preliminary determination that the proposed 
Agreement and permit application are eligible for categorical exclusion 
under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). We explain 
the basis for this determination in an Environmental Action Statement 
that is also available for public review.
    Individuals wishing copies of the our Environmental Action 
Statement, and/or copies of the full text of the Agreement, including a 
map of the proposed permit area, should contact the office and 
personnel listed in the ADDRESSES section above.
    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.
    The Service will evaluate this permit application, associated 
documents, and comments submitted thereon to determine whether the 
permit application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the Act 
and NEPA regulations. If the Service determines that the requirements 
are met, we will sign the proposed Agreement and issue an enhancement 
of survival permit under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act to the 
Applicant for take of the Covered Species incidental to otherwise 
lawful activities in accordance with the terms of the Agreement. The 
Service will not make our final decision until after the end of the 30-
day comment period and will fully consider all comments received during 
the comment period.
    The Service provides this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the 
Act and pursuant to implementing regulations for NEPA (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: December 3, 2009.
Susan K. Moore,
Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. E9-29434 Filed 12-9-09; 8:45 am]