[Federal Register: October 13, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 197)]
[Page 62850-62851]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-ES-2010-N130; 10120-1112-0000-F2]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permit; Habitat 
Conservation Plan for Operation and Maintenance of Existing and Limited 
Future Facilities associated With the Kaua`i Island Utility Cooperative 
on Kaua`i, Hawai`i

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of a draft habitat conservation plan, 
draft implementing agreement, draft environmental assessment, and a 
permit application; request for comments.


SUMMARY: The Kaua`i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) (Applicant) has 
submitted an application to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service) for an incidental take permit (permit) under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). The Applicant is requesting a 
permit to authorize incidental take of the federally endangered 
Hawaiian petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis), the federally threatened 
Newell's (Townsends) shearwater (Puffinus auricularis newelli), and the 
band-rumped storm-petrel (Oceanodroma castro), a Federal candidate 
species that could become listed during the term of the permit 
(collectively, these three species are hereafter referred to as the 
``Covered Species''). The permit application includes a draft Habitat 
Conservation Plan (HCP) that describes the Applicant's actions and the 
measures the Applicant will implement to minimize, mitigate, and 
monitor incidental take of the Covered Species, and a draft 
Implementing Agreement (IA). The Service also announces the 
availability of a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) that has been 
prepared to evaluate the permit application in accordance with the 
requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). We are 
making the permit application package and draft EA available for public 
review and comment.

DATES: All comments from interested parties must be received on or 
before November 29, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments to Loyal Mehrhoff, Project 
Leader, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, 
Honolulu, HI 96850. You may also send comments by facsimile to (808) 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Standley, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES above), 
telephone (808) 792-9400.


Availability of Documents

    You may request copies of the permit application, which includes 
the draft HCP, draft IA, and EA, by contacting the Service's Pacific 
Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
above). These documents are also available electronically for review on 
the Service's Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office Web site at 
http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands. Comments and materials we receive, 
as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing the NEPA 
document, will become part of the public record and will be available 
for public inspection, by appointment, during regular business hours. 
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.
    We specifically request information from the public on whether the 
application meets the statutory and regulatory requirements for issuing 
a permit, and identification of any impacts on the human environment 
that should have been analyzed in the draft EA. We are also soliciting 
information regarding the adequacy of the HCP to minimize, mitigate, 
and monitor the proposed incidental take of the Covered Species and to 
provide for adaptive management, as evaluated against our permit 
issuance criteria found in section 10(a) of the ESA, 16 U.S.C. 1539(a), 
and 50 CFR 13.21, 17.22, and 17.32. In compliance with section 10(c) of 
the ESA, we are making the permit application package available for 
public review and comment for 45 days (see DATES section above).


    Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and Federal 
regulations prohibit the take of fish and wildlife species listed as 
endangered or threatened. The term ``take'' means to harass, harm, 
pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to 
attempt to engage in any such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1538). However, under 
section 10(a) of the ESA, we may issue permits to authorize incidental 
take of listed fish and wildlife species. Incidental take is defined as 
take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an 
otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing incidental take 
permits for threatened and endangered species are found at 50 CFR 17.32 
and 17.22. If issued, the permittee would receive assurances under the 
Service's ``No Surprises'' regulations at 50 CFR 17.32(b)(5) and 50 CFR 
    KIUC is a utility cooperative that generates and distributes 
electricity to the entire island of Kaua`i, Hawai`i. KIUC developed a 
draft HCP that addresses incidental take of the three Covered Species 
caused by the operation and maintenance of KIUC's existing and 
anticipated facilities over a period of up to 5 years.
    The three Covered Species are seabirds that breed on Kaua`i and 
feed in the open ocean. Each of the Covered Species spends a large part 
of the year at sea. Adults generally return to their colonial nesting 
grounds in the interior mountains of Kaua`i beginning in March and 
April, and depart beginning in September. Fledglings (i.e., young birds 
learning how to fly) travel from the nesting colony to the sea in the 
fall. Both adults and fledglings are known to

[[Page 62851]]

collide with tall buildings, towers, power lines, and other structures 
while flying at night between their nesting colonies and at-sea 
foraging areas. These birds, and particularly fledglings, are also 
attracted to bright lights. Disoriented birds are commonly observed 
circling repeatedly around exterior light sources until they fall to 
the ground or collide with structures.
    In an effort to address some of the immediate impacts to the 
Covered Species by KIUC's existing facilities, the Service and KIUC 
entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in November 2002, and 
again in January 2005. Under the MOAs, KIUC agreed to implement interim 
conservation measures (ICMs) to reduce the impacts of its facilities on 
the Covered Species while long-term conservation actions are being 
developed in a HCP. The ICMs include shielding streetlights on KIUC 
power poles to minimize disorientation of seabirds caused by lights and 
funding the State's ``Save Our Shearwaters'' (SOS) program to rescue 
downed fledglings. The 2005 MOU expired in June 2006.

Proposed Plan

    The draft HCP covers KIUC activities within all areas on Kaua`i 
where its facilities (e.g., generating stations, power lines, utility 
poles, lights) are located. These activities include the continuing 
operation, maintenance, and repair of all existing facilities, and the 
construction, operation, maintenance, and repair of certain new 
facilities, during the term of the incidental take permit. The draft 
HCP describes the impacts of take incidental to those activities on the 
Covered Species, and proposes certain measures to minimize and mitigate 
the impacts of such take on each of the Covered Species. The Applicant 
has also applied for a State of Hawaii incidental take license under 
Hawaii state law.
    KIUC is proposing mitigation measures that include: (1) Fully 
funding implementation of the SOS Program; (2) funding Covered Species 
colony management and predator control in the Limahuli Valley; (3) 
funding Covered Species colony management and predator control in the 
Hono o Na Pali Natural Area Reserve; (4) updating estimates of at-sea 
Covered Species populations; (5) funding a 2-year auditory survey to 
locate additional Covered Species breeding colonies; (6) funding 
development and implementation of an under-line monitoring program 
aimed at better understanding the amount of take of Covered Species 
caused by overhead utility structures; and (7) funding Covered Species 
colony management and predator control in the Wainiha Valley or other 
suitable location during the fourth and fifth year of the permit. The 
work that KIUC proposes to carry out is intended to enhance our 
knowledge of the Covered Species' biology and distribution and improve 
these species' chances of reproductive success to offset the impacts of 
take caused by KIUC activities. The HCP also includes adaptive 
management provisions to allow for modifications to the mitigation and 
monitoring measures as knowledge is gained during their implementation.
    We invite comments and suggestions from all interested parties and 
request that comments be as specific as possible. In particular, we 
request information and comments regarding the following issues:
    (1) The direct, indirect, and cumulative effects that 
implementation of any reasonable alternatives could have on endangered 
and threatened species;
    (2) Other reasonable alternatives consistent with the purpose of 
the proposed HCP as described above, and their associated effects;
    (3) Measures that would minimize and mitigate potentially adverse 
effects of the proposed action;
    (4) Adaptive management or monitoring provisions that may be 
incorporated into the alternatives, and their benefits to listed 
    (5) Other plans or projects that might be relevant to this action;
    (6) The proposed term of the Incidental Take Permit and whether the 
proposed conservation program would sufficiently minimize and mitigate 
the incidental take that would be expected to occur over 5 years; and
    (7) Any other information pertinent to evaluating the effects of 
the proposed action on the human environment.
    The draft EA considers the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects 
of the proposed action of permit issuance, including the measures that 
will be implemented to minimize and mitigate such impacts. The EA 
contains an analysis of three alternatives: (1) No Action (no permit 
issuance and the status quo in terms of KIUC's actions with respect to 
incidental take of Covered Species); (2) issuance of an incidental take 
permit to KIUC on the basis of its proposed HCP; and (3) issuance of a 
3-year permit based on implementation of the proposed HCP.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA and 
NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). The public process for the proposed 
Federal action will be completed after the public comment period, at 
which time we will evaluate the permit application, the HCP and 
associated documents (including the EA), and comments submitted thereon 
to determine whether or not the proposed action meets the requirements 
of section 10(a) of the ESA and has been adequately evaluated under 

     Dated: September 17, 2010.
Theresa E. Rabot,
Acting Deputy Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 2010-25707 Filed 10-12-10; 8:45 am]