[Federal Register: July 20, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 138)]
[Page 42121-42125]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 42121]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-FHC-2010-N136; 81440-1351-8SSO-L5-FY10]

Marine Mammals; Incidental Take During Specified Activities

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of receipt of application and proposed incidental 
harassment authorization; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have 
received an application from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration Restoration Center, Southwest Region, for authorization 
to take small numbers of marine mammals by harassment incidental to 
construction of the Parson's Slough Project, a tidal wetlands 
restoration project on the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research 
Reserve in northern Monterey County, California. In accordance with 
provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA), as 
amended, we request comments on our proposed authorization for the 
applicant to incidentally take, by harassment, small numbers of 
southern sea otters for a period of 6 months beginning on September 1, 
2010, and ending on March 1, 2011. We anticipate no take by injury or 
death and include none in this proposed authorization, which would be 
for take by harassment only.

DATES: Comments and information must be received by August 19, 2010.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
    1. By U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Diane Noda, Field Supervisor, 
Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, 
CA 93003.
    2. By fax to: 805-644-3958, attention to Diane Noda, Field 
    3. By electronic mail (e-mail) to: R8_SSO-IHA_Comment@FWS.gov. 
Please include your name and return address in your message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To request copies of the application, 
the list of references used in this notice, and other supporting 
materials, contact Lilian Carswell at the address in ADDRESSES, or by 
e-mail at Lilian_Carswell@fws.gov.



    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA, as amended (16 U.S.C. 
1371 (a)(5)(A) and (D)), authorize the Secretary of the Interior to 
allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of 
small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a 
specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified 
geographical region, provided that we make certain findings and either 
issue regulations or, if the taking is limited to harassment, provide a 
notice of a proposed authorization to the public for review and 
    We may grant authorization to incidentally take marine mammals if 
we find that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or 
stock(s), and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses. As part 
of the authorization process, we prescribe permissible methods of 
taking and other means of affecting the least practicable impact on the 
species or stock and its habitat, and requirements pertaining to the 
monitoring and reporting of such takings.
    The term ``take,'' as defined by the MMPA, means to harass, hunt, 
capture, or kill, or to attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, any 
marine mammal. Harassment, as defined by the MMPA, means ``any act of 
pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [the MMPA calls this 
Level A harassment], or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine 
mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of 
behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, 
breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [the MMPA calls 
this Level B harassment].''
    The terms ``small numbers,'' ``negligible impact,'' and 
``unmitigable adverse impact'' are defined in 50 CFR 18.27, the 
Service's regulations governing take of small numbers of marine mammals 
incidental to specified activities. ``Small numbers'' is defined as ``a 
portion of a marine mammal species or stock whose taking would have a 
negligible impact on that species or stock.'' ``Negligible impact'' is 
defined as ``an impact resulting from the specified activity that 
cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, 
adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates 
of recruitment or survival.'' ``Unmitigable adverse impact'' is defined 
as ``an impact resulting from the specified activity (1) that is likely 
to reduce the availability of the species to a level insufficient for a 
harvest to meet subsistence needs by (i) causing the marine mammals to 
abandon or avoid hunting areas, (ii) directly displacing subsistence 
users, or (iii) placing physical barriers between the marine mammals 
and the subsistence hunters; and (2) that cannot be sufficiently 
mitigated by other measures to increase the availability of marine 
mammals to allow subsistence needs to be met.'' The subsistence 
provision does not apply to southern sea otters.
    Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA established an expedited process 
by which U.S. citizens can apply for an authorization to incidentally 
take small numbers of marine mammals where the take will be limited to 
harassment. Section 101(a)(5)(D)(iii) establishes a 45-day time limit 
for Service review of an application, followed by a 30-day public 
notice and comment period on any proposed authorizations for the 
incidental harassment of marine mammals. Within 45 days of the close of 
the comment period, we must either issue or deny issuance of the 
authorization. We refer to these authorizations as Incidental 
Harassment Authorizations (IHAs).

Summary of Request

    On April 27, 2010, we received a request from the National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration Restoration Center, Southwest Region 
(Applicant) for MMPA authorization to take by harassment southern sea 
otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) incidental to construction activities 
associated with the Parson's Slough Project. The Parson's Slough 
Project is a tidal wetlands restoration project on the Elkhorn Slough 
National Estuarine Research Reserve in northern Monterey County, 
    Under the proposed action, the Applicant would construct a 
partially submerged tidal barrier (a sill) at the mouth of Parson's 
Slough Channel. The Parson's Slough Channel leads to the Parson's 
Slough study area, which consists of the 254-acre (1-square-kilometer) 
Parson's Slough Complex and the 161-acre (0.7-square-kilometer) South 
Marsh Area. The sill would be a fixed structure, consisting of steel 
sheet piles extending 270 feet (82 meters) across the mouth of the 
channel. A span of 100 feet (30 meters) at the center of the structure 
would remain submerged more than 99 percent of the time, allowing for 
the exchange of water between Parson's Slough and Elkhorn Slough. 
Within this span, a notch 25 feet (7.6 meters) wide would permit the 
passage of water at all tide levels and allow for the movement of fish 
and wildlife between Parson's Slough and Elkhorn Slough. The top 
elevation of the notch would be -5 feet (-1.5 meters) North American 
Vertical Datum

[[Page 42122]]

(NAVD), whereas the remainder of the central span would have a top 
elevation of -2 feet (-0.6 meters) NAVD.
    The purpose of the proposed action is to reduce tidal scour within 
the Elkhorn Slough action area in general and the Parson's Slough study 
area in particular. Conversion of wetlands to pasture during the 1900s 
by means of diking and draining caused the subsidence of land to an 
elevation too low to support marsh vegetation (Elkhorn Slough Tidal 
Wetland Project Team 2007). Since the mid-20th century, tidal erosion 
and the inundation of interior marsh areas have caused a reversal of 
the proportion of salt marsh habitat to mudflat habitat within Elkhorn 
Slough. The Parson's Slough Complex, historically characterized by 
tidal marsh and tidal creeks, now consists primarily of mudflats 
intersected by subtidal channels. The average land elevation in the 
Parson's Slough Complex is now approximately 2.4 feet (0.7 meters) 
below the level that can support tidal marsh vegetation. Without 
intervention, excessive erosion will continue to widen tidal channels 
and convert salt marsh to mudflat, resulting in a significant loss of 
habitat function and a decrease in estuarine biodiversity.
    A detailed description of the proposed action is contained in a 
Biological Assessment prepared by Vinnedge Environmental Consulting for 
the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and the 
Applicant (Vinnedge 2010a). The general impacts associated with the 
design and construction phases of the Parson's Slough Project are 
described in the Community-Based Restoration Program (CRP) Programmatic 
Environmental Assessment (PEA) and the Supplemental Programmatic 
Environmental Assessment (SPEA). The Applicant will complete a Targeted 
Supplemental Environmental Assessment (TSEA) to include all project-
specific impacts not described in the CRP PEA/SPEA. The Applicant has 
requested formal consultation with the Service under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973 (ESA), as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

Description of the Activity

Parson's Slough Project, Monterey County, California

a. Timing of Construction
    Construction of the sill would commence as early as September 1, 
2010, and continue approximately 12-17 weeks.
b. Geographic Location of Action
    The site of construction is the mouth of the Parson's Slough 
Channel, in the vicinity of the Union Pacific Railroad bridge (railroad 
bridge), milepost 103.27, Coast Subdivision. Parson's Slough is located 
on the southeast side of the Elkhorn Slough Estuary, which is situated 
90 miles (145 kilometers) south of San Francisco and 20 miles (32 
kilometers) north of Monterey, in Monterey County, California.

Description of Habitat and Marine Mammals Affected by the Activity

    Approximately 100 sea otters currently use Elkhorn Slough for 
foraging, resting, and other activities. In recent years, sea otters 
have increasingly utilized protected side channels of the slough and 
the Parson's Slough Complex. Detailed pre-project monitoring of marine 
mammal use of the Parson's Slough area was conducted by Okeanis 
researchers under contract to the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine 
Research Reserve from October, 2009, to January, 2010. In the course of 
19 daytime counts and 6 nighttime monitoring sessions, during which the 
number of sea otters entering and exiting the Parson's Slough Complex 
was counted, researchers observed sea otters using 3 main areas near 
the site of the proposed sill. One of these areas (used by up to 20 
animals) was located within the Parson's Slough Complex. The two other 
areas (used by approximately 10 animals each) were located on Yampah 
Island, outside but adjacent to the Parson's Slough Complex. These 
areas appeared to be centered on three male territories. At least some 
of the associated females used multiple male territories and the Seal 
Bend area in the main channel of Elkhorn Slough (Maldini et al. 2010).
    Sea otters using the Parson's Slough Complex regularly transited 
into and out of the complex via the channel below the railroad bridge 
to forage in the main channel of Elkhorn Slough. At least two other 
male sea otters were detected accessing the Parson's Slough Complex via 
land and using the channel to the northeast of the railroad bridge. 
Hourly scans of the complex during daylight hours revealed that sea 
otters using the complex spent most of their time resting in water (62 
percent) and the remainder of their time resting on land (10 percent), 
foraging (15 percent), grooming (3 percent), traveling into and out of 
the complex (7 percent), and interacting with other sea otters (3 
percent). Sea otters using the Yampah Island area tended to access it 
via land from the main channel of Elkhorn Slough and spent a large 
proportion of time hauled out on pickleweed (Salicornia virginica) 
during low tides, dispersing into Elkhorn Slough at high tides (Maldini 
et al. 2010). A detailed description of the habitat, status, and 
distribution of southern sea otters in Elkhorn Slough in general and 
Parson's Slough in particular is included in Vinnedge (2010a) and 
Maldini et al. (2010).

Status and Distribution of Affected Species

    Southern sea otters are listed as threatened under the ESA (42 FR 
2965; January 14, 1977) and, because of their threatened status, are 
automatically considered ``depleted'' under the MMPA. The State of 
California also recognizes the southern sea otter as a fully protected 
mammal (Fish and Game Code section 4700) and as a protected marine 
mammal (Fish and Game Code section 4500). All members of the southern 
sea otter population are descendants of a small group that survived the 
fur trade near Big Sur, California. Historically ranging from at least 
as far north as Oregon (Valentine et al. 2008) to Punta Abreojos, Baja 
California, Mexico in the south, southern sea otters currently occur in 
only two areas of California. The mainland population ranges from San 
Mateo County to Santa Barbara County and numbers approximately 2,800 
animals (the 3-year running average for spring 2009 is 2,813) (http://
www.werc.usgs.gov/Project.aspx?ProjectID=91). A small, translocated 
population occurs at San Nicolas Island, numbering 39 animals as of 
2009 (USGS unpublished data). Data from recent years suggest that 
southern sea otter population numbers are stable or slightly declining.

Potential Impacts of Sill Construction on Sea Otters

    The proposed activities have the potential to disturb resting, 
foraging, and other activities of sea otters in the vicinity of 
construction activities. Disturbance would be due primarily to 
construction noise and activity. Construction of the sill would entail 
driving 2 rows of 7 end-bearing piles to an elevation of approximately 
-80 feet (-24 meters) and a single row of sheetpile (between the end-
bearing piles) using a vibratory hammer and, if necessary, an impact 
hammer to complete the driving. An additional 14 temporary end-bearing 
sheet piles would be installed in the main channel of Elkhorn Slough at 
a staging site near Kirby Park, where sea otter presence has 
historically been minimal (1 or

[[Page 42123]]

occasionally 2 animals) and limited to foraging activity (D. Maldini, 
Okeanis, pers. comm.).
    Little is known regarding the effects of sound on sea otters. Sea 
otters have not been reported as particularly sensitive to sound 
disturbance, especially in comparison to other marine mammals such as 
pinnipeds (Riedman 1983; Riedman 1984; Efroymson and Suter 2001). 
However, observed sea otter responses to disturbance are highly 
variable, probably reflecting the level of noise and activity to which 
they have been exposed and become acclimated over time and the 
particular location and social or behavioral state of that individual 
(G. Bentall, Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Research and Conservation 
Program, pers. comm.). Ambient sound levels within the action area are 
generally low, with the notable exception of the Union Pacific Railroad 
tracks, which are located within the project footprint and accommodate 
approximately 15-10 trains per day (Vinnedge 2010b). Noise and 
disturbance associated with construction will likely cause sea otters 
utilizing the Parson's Slough Complex and Yampah Island area to 
disperse into the main channel of Elkhorn Slough, and may discourage 
the use of areas near the construction site even when construction 
activities are not under way. The temporary displacement of sea otters 
due to construction activity is not expected to result in effects on 
individual fitness because of the general availability in Elkhorn 
Slough of suitable habitat for resting, foraging, and other activities.
    Other potential impacts on sea otters include disturbance due to 
light during periods of nighttime construction and the risk of oiling/
ingesting oil in the event of a spill of petroleum hydrocarbon products 
used in construction equipment. Disturbance due to artificial light is 
not expected to cause additional effects beyond those caused by 
construction noise and activity. The risk of accidental release of 
construction-related fluids will be minimized by means of measures 
outlined in ``Mitigation Measures'' below.

Potential Effects on Habitat

    Construction of the Parson's Slough Project would entail the 
placement of approximately 2,000 cubic yards (1,529 cubic meters) of 
rock and sheetpile and would result in the loss of approximately 0.75 
acres (4047 square meters) of subtidal habitat within the project 
footprint. However, operation of the proposed sill is expected to 
result in the conversion of approximately 11 acres (0.045 square 
kilometers) of intertidal mudflat habitat to subtidal habitat. The 
increase in soft sediments within the Parson's Slough Complex resulting 
from reduced tidal scour would likely result in a beneficial effect on 
sea otters by increasing the availability of soft sediment habitat for 
burrowing prey. However, muted tidal flows could also result in a small 
(5-percent) increase in hypoxic (lack of oxygen) conditions, which may 
decrease habitat suitability for benthic (bottom-dwelling) 
    Other potential effects on habitat include the introduction of a 
barrier to movement into and out of the Parson's Slough Complex (either 
by direct physical means or by means of increased water velocities 
flowing over the sill during ebb and flood tides) and changes in 
concentrations of pathogens and contaminants. Noise and activity may 
deter animals from entering the Parson's Slough Complex during sill 
construction, but in the long term the sill would not likely present a 
physical barrier to sea otter movement, because a central span of 100 
feet (30 meters) would remain submerged more than 99 percent of the 
time, within which a notch of 25 feet (7.6 meters) would remain 
submerged at all times. Water flows across the sill would not prevent 
access to the Parson's Slough Complex, because the modeled peak tidal 
velocities across the sill--7-12 feet/second (2.1-3.7 meters/second) 
(Ducks Unlimited et al. 2010)--are much slower than average wave 
velocities in the turbulent waters regularly negotiated by sea otters, 
and because most sea otter movements into and out of the complex occur 
during slack tides (Maldini et al. 2010), during which flows across the 
sill would remain unchanged from current conditions.
    Effects of the proposed sill on levels of pathogens or contaminants 
in Parson's Slough or Elkhorn Slough are unclear because their sources 
and transport are not well understood. If pathogens or contaminants are 
entering the Elkhorn Slough system by means of Parson's Slough, then 
the sill would tend to concentrate them by means of decreased flushing 
in the upper slough. However, if they are entering Elkhorn Slough by 
means of the Gabilan/Tembladero watershed or the Old Salinas River 
channel, then construction of the sill would lead to lower 
concentrations of pathogens and contaminants within the Parson's Slough 
Complex (McCarthy 2009). Levels of exposure of sea otters to pathogens 
and contaminants may not be appreciably different under either 
scenario, because animals using the Parson's Slough Complex also 
regularly enter and utilize Elkhorn Slough proper.

Potential Impacts on Subsistence Needs

    The subsistence provision of the MMPA does not apply to southern 
sea otters.

Mitigation Measures

    As described in Vinnedge (2010) and in correspondence between the 
Applicant and the Service, the following measures would be implemented 
to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the effects of the proposed action on 
southern sea otters:

a. Timing of Construction Must Avoid the Birth Peak for Sea Otters in 
Elkhorn Slough

    Construction activities will be timed to avoid peak pupping periods 
for marine mammals. A birth peak generally occurs in California from 
late February to early April, although sea otters may reproduce at any 
time of year (Siniff and Ralls 1991), and the birth peak may not be 
synchronous in all parts of California (Riedman et al. 1994). In 
Elkhorn Slough, the birth peak appears to occur in March and April 
(Maldini 2010). Construction activities will begin as early as 
September 1, 2010, and cease on or before March 1, 2011.

b. Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Must Provide 
Construction Awareness Training Specific to Marine Mammals for All 

    Before the onset of construction activities, a qualified biologist 
will conduct an education program for all construction personnel. At a 
minimum the training will include a description of southern sea otters 
and their habitat, the occurrence of the species within the project 
action area, an explanation of the status of the species and its 
protection under the ESA and MMPA, the measures that are being 
implemented to minimize disturbance to sea otters and their habitat as 
they relate to the construction, and the authority given to the 
biological monitor to stop construction at any point. A fact sheet 
conveying this information will be prepared for distribution to the 
construction personnel and other project personnel who may enter the 
project area. Upon completion of the program, personnel will sign a 
form stating that they attended the program and understand all the 
avoidance and minimization measures and requirements of the ESA and 

[[Page 42124]]

c. Construction Activities Causing Noise-Related Disturbance Must Be 
Conducted at High Tide to the Maximum Extent Practicable

    The occurrence of hauled-out sea otters near the proposed 
construction site is lowest at high tide (Maldini et al. 2010). 
Construction activities causing noise-related disturbance, such as 
pile-driving, will be conducted at high tide to the maximum extent 

d. Ramp-Up Procedures Must Be Used

    In order to avoid startling animals with sudden loud noises, noise-
producing construction activities will begin gradually. Biological 
monitors will be present 30 minutes before construction begins and will 
have the authority to halt operations if animals appear unduly harassed 
or in danger of injury.

e. Fuel Storage and All Fueling and Equipment Maintenance Activities 
Must Be Conducted at Least 100 Feet (30 Meters) From Subtidal and 
Intertidal Habitat

    Sea otters are susceptible to the adverse effects of oiling due to 
fuel spills because they depend on the insulation of their dense fur to 
keep warm. They may also ingest oil during grooming and feeding. Fuel 
storage and all fueling and equipment maintenance activities will be 
conducted at least 100 feet (30 meters) from subtidal and intertidal 
habitat. Implementation of the proposed action will require approval 
and implementation or a site-specific Storm Water Pollution Prevention 
Plan, which will include a hazardous spill prevention plan.


    We propose the following findings regarding this action:

Small Numbers Determination and Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment

    For small take analysis, the statute and legislative history do not 
expressly require a specific type of numbers analysis, leaving the 
determination of ``small'' to the agency's discretion. Factors 
considered in our small numbers determination include the following:
    (1) The number of southern sea otters utilizing the affected area 
is small relative to the size of the southern sea otter population. The 
mainland southern sea otter population numbers approximately 2,800 
animals. The number of southern sea otters that could potentially be 
taken by harassment in association with the proposed project, 
approximately 40 animals, is less than 1.5 percent of the estimated 
population size.
    (2) Monitoring requirements and mitigation measures are expected to 
limit the number of incidental takes. Biological monitors would be 
present 30 minutes before and during all construction activity and 
would have the authority to stop construction if sea otters appeared to 
be unduly harassed or in danger of injury. Conducting noise-producing 
construction activities at high tide, to the maximum extent 
practicable, would further reduce the number of sea otters that may be 

Negligible Impact

    The Service finds that any incidental take by harassment that is 
reasonably likely to result from the proposed project would not 
adversely affect the southern sea otter through effects on rates of 
recruitment or survival, and would, therefore, have no more than a 
negligible impact on the stock. In making this finding, we considered 
the best available scientific information, including: (1) The 
biological and behavioral characteristics of the species; (2) the most 
recent information on distribution and abundance of sea otters within 
the area of the proposed activity; (3) the potential sources of 
disturbance during the proposed activity; and (4) the potential 
response of southern sea otters to disturbance.
    The mitigation measures outlined above are intended to minimize the 
number of sea otters that may be disturbed by the proposed activity. 
Any impacts to individuals are expected to be limited to Level B 
harassment of short-term duration. Response of sea otters to 
disturbance would most likely be common behaviors such as diving and/or 
swimming away from the source of the disturbance. No take by injury or 
death is anticipated. We find that the anticipated harassment caused by 
the proposed activities is not expected to adversely affect the species 
or stock through effects on annual rate of recruitment or survival.
    Our finding of negligible impact applies to incidental take 
associated with the proposed activity as mitigated through this 
authorization process. This authorization establishes monitoring and 
reporting requirements to evaluate the potential impacts of the 
authorized activities, as well as mitigation measures designed to 
minimize interactions with, and impacts to, southern sea otters.

Impact on Subsistence

    The subsistence provision of the MMPA does not apply to southern 
sea otters.

Marine Mammal Monitoring

    The Applicant would be required to conduct marine mammal monitoring 
during construction of the Parson's Slough Project in order to 
implement the mitigation measures that require real-time monitoring and 
to satisfy monitoring required under the MMPA. Project personnel would 
be required to record information regarding location and behavior of 
all sea otters observed during operations. When conditions permit, 
information regarding age (pup, adult) and any tagged animals would 
also be required to be recorded.

Monitoring and Reporting

    The Applicant must implement the following monitoring and reporting 
program to increase knowledge regarding the species, and to assess the 
level of take caused by the proposed action:

a. Pre-Construction Monitoring

    Pre-construction monitoring will begin up to 2 weeks before 
construction activities begin, and end no sooner than 24 hours before 
construction activities begin. The purpose of pre-construction 
monitoring is to document sea otter numbers and distribution in the 
surrounding areas shortly before the onset of disturbance. Observation 
methods will be approved by the Service.

b. Construction Monitoring

    A biological monitor will be present daily. Monitoring will begin 
30 minutes before construction activity begins and continue until 
construction personnel have left the site. The biological monitor will 
maintain a log that documents numbers of marine mammals present before, 
during, and at the conclusion of daily activities. The monitor will 
record basic weather conditions and marine mammal behavior and will 
have the authority to stop construction if sea otters appear to be 
unduly harassed or in danger of injury.

c. Post-Construction Monitoring

    Post-construction monitoring will consist of surveys during peak 
occupational time and tidal cycles for 4 weeks following completion of 
sill construction. If sea otters demonstrate the ability to move freely 
across the sill and resume normal behavior, monitoring may end before 4 
weeks with concurrence of the Service.

d. Reporting

    The applicant will submit a report to the Service within 30 days of 
the conclusion of monitoring efforts. The report will include a summary 
of the

[[Page 42125]]

daily log maintained by the biological monitor during construction and 
information from pre- and post-construction monitoring.

Endangered Species Act

    The proposed activity will occur within the range of the southern 
sea otter, which is presently listed as threatened under the ESA. The 
Applicant has initiated consultation under section 7 of the ESA with 
the Service's Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office. We will complete intra-
Service section 7 consultation prior to finalization of the IHA.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    The design and construction phases of the Parson's Slough Project 
are described in the CRP PEA and/or SPEA prepared by the Applicant. The 
Applicant is currently preparing a TSEA to include all project elements 
not described in the CRP PEA/SPEA. If we find it to be adequate and 
appropriate, we will adopt the TSEA as the foundation of the Service's 
Environmental Assessment (EA) of whether issuance of the IHA will have 
a significant effect on the human environment. These analyses will be 
completed prior to issuance or denial of the IHA and will be available 
at http://www.fws.gov/ventura/speciesinfo/so_sea_otter/. To obtain a 
copy of the CRP PEA or SPEA, contact the individual identified in the 

Government-to-Government Relations With Native American Tribal 

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, 
``Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments'' (59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175, Secretarial Order 
3225, and the Department of the Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we 
readily acknowledge our responsibility to communicate meaningfully with 
Federally recognized Tribes on a Government-to-Government basis. We 
have evaluated possible effects on Federally recognized Indian Tribes 
and have determined that there are no effects.

Proposed Authorization

    The Service proposes to issue an IHA for small numbers of southern 
sea otters harassed incidentally by the Applicant while the applicant 
is constructing the Parson's Slough Project, beginning September 1, 
2010, and ending March 1, 2011. Authorization for incidental take 
beyond this period would require a request for renewal.
    The final IHA will incorporate the mitigation, monitoring, and 
reporting requirements discussed in this proposal. The Applicant will 
be responsible for following those requirements. These authorizations 
will not allow the intentional taking of southern sea otters.
    If the level of activity exceeds that described by the Applicant, 
or the level or nature of take exceeds those projected here, the 
Service will reevaluate its findings. The Secretary may modify, 
suspend, or revoke an authorization if the findings are not accurate or 
the conditions described in this notice are not being met.

Request for Public Comments

    The Service requests interested persons to submit comments and 
information concerning this proposed IHA. Consistent with section 
101(a)(5)(D)(iii) of the MMPA, we are opening the comment period on 
this proposed authorization for 30 days (see DATES).
    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.

    Dated: July 14, 2010.
Ren Lohoefener,
Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2010-17674 Filed 7-19-10; 8:45 am]