[Federal Register: December 1, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 230)]
[Page 74740-74741]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2010-N224; 80220-1112-0000-F2]

Measure M2 Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat 
Conservation Plan/Master Streambed Alteration Agreement, Orange County, 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement 
and conduct public scoping.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), regarding an expected application from 
the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), for an incidental 
take permit (permit) authorizing incidental take of federally 
threatened and endangered wildlife species under the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). We and OCTA intend to gather information 
necessary to prepare a joint Environmental Impact Report (EIR)/EIS for 
the Measure M2 (M2) Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat 
Conservation Plan/Master Streambed Alteration Agreement (NCCP/HCP/
MSAA). We are furnishing this notice to announce the initiation of a 
public scoping period, during which we invite other agencies, Tribes, 
and the public to submit written comments providing suggestions and 
information on the scope of issues and alternatives to be addressed in 
the EIS.

DATES: Please send written comments on or before January 3, 2011. We 
will hold a public scoping meeting on Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 
from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

ADDRESSES: Comments: Please send written comments to Mr. James A. 
Bartel, Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Carlsbad, CA 92011. 
Alternatively, you may submit comments by fax to (707) 822-8411. 
Comments we receive will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 
a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the above address.
    Meeting: The public scoping meeting will be held at the Orange 
County Transportation Authority, 550 South Main Street, Conference Room 
103/104, Orange, CA 92863.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jonathan Snyder, Division Chief, 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, at the address above; by telephone 
at (760) 431-9440 extension 307; or by e-mail at jonathan_d_

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: OCTA is preparing a habitat conservation 
plan (HCP) and an application for a permit related to freeway 
improvements in Orange County, California. OCTA is proposing to cover 
22 species in the HCP. The purpose of the HCP is to provide protection 
to natural communities and sensitive species within the jurisdictional 
boundaries of Orange County, and to mitigation for the impacts on 
threatened and endangered and other sensitive species for 13 planned 
freeway improvement projects over 30 years.


    Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and Federal 
regulations prohibit the ``take'' of a fish or wildlife species listed 
as endangered or threatened. Under the ESA, the following activities 
are defined as take: To harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, 
trap, capture, or collect listed wildlife species, or attempt to engage 
in such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532). However, under section 10(a)(1)(B) of 
the ESA, permits may be issued to authorize ``incidental take'' of 
listed wildlife species. Incidental take is defined by the ESA as take 
that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an 
otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing permits for endangered 
and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32, 
    Section 10 of the ESA specifies the requirements for the issuance 

[[Page 74741]]

incidental take permits to non-Federal entities. Any proposed take must 
be incidental to otherwise lawful activities and cannot appreciably 
reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in 
the wild. The impacts of such take must also be minimized and mitigated 
to the maximum extent practicable. To obtain an incidental take permit, 
an applicant must prepare an HCP describing the impacts that will 
likely result from the proposed taking, the measures for minimizing and 
mitigating the impacts of the take, the funding available to implement 
such measures, alternatives to the taking, and the reason why such 
alternatives are not being implemented.
    Take of listed plant species is not prohibited under the ESA, and 
authorization under an ESA section 10 permit is not required. Plant 
species are proposed to be included on the OCTA permit in recognition 
of the conservation benefits provided for them under the HCP. All 
species included on the permit (``Covered Species'') would receive 
assurances under the Service's ``No Surprises'' regulation (50 CFR 
17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5)).).
    The proposed HCP will serve as an application for the issuance of 
take authorizations by the Service to OCTA pursuant to section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. The HCP will set forth a uniform and systematic 
conservation strategy that ensures that impacts to Covered Species and 
their habitats from activities covered by the HCP (``Covered 
Activities'') are minimized and mitigated to the maximum extent 
practicable. The plan area for the HCP includes all of Orange County 
(about 798 square miles, or 510,720 acres), and the permit may allow 
take of Covered Wildlife Species resulting from Covered Activities 
anywhere in the plan area.
    The HCP will be prepared to conserve the Covered Species and their 
natural habitats within Orange County for future generations. The HCP 
will address Covered Activities throughout Orange County that allow for 
freeway improvements while at the same time protecting the natural 
communities within the County.
    Covered Activities in the HCP will consist of 13 freeway 
improvement projects in Orange County, including improvements to 
portions of I-5, I-405, I-605, SR-22, SR-55, SR-57, and SR-91.
    Potential impacts to Covered Species will be addressed through a 
mitigation program that includes conservation and restoration of 
habitats for Covered Species in Orange County. Five percent of the 
Measure M2 revenue collected for the freeway projects will be allocated 
to the mitigation program. Habitat conservation and restoration 
projects appropriate to offset project-related impacts will be selected 
by OCTA in close coordination with the Service, California Department 
of Fish and Game, and California Department of Transportation.
    Currently, OCTA is proposing to cover 17 (4 listed and 13 unlisted) 
animal species and 5 plant species (1 listed and 4 unlisted) for 30 
years, with the opportunity to renew the permit for an additional 30 
years. Listed species proposed to be included are: (1) The endangered 
southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax trailii extimus), (2) the 
threatened coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica 
californica), (3) the endangered least Bell's vireo (Vireo bellii 
pusillus), (4) the threatened Santa Ana sucker (Catostomus santaanae), 
and (5) the endangered Braunton's milk-vetch (Astragulus brauntonii).
    The unlisted species proposed to be included are: (1) Coulter's 
matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri), (2) intermediate mariposa lily 
(Calochortus weedii var. intermedius), (3) many stemmed dudleya 
(Dudleya multicaulis), (4) southern tarplant (Centromadia parryi ssp. 
australis), (5) southern pacific pond turtle (Clemmys marmorata), (6) 
San Diego horned lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum blainvillei), (7) orange 
throated whiptail lizard (Cnemidophorus hyperythrus beldingi), (8) red 
diamond rattlesnake (Crotalus exsul), (9) coastal cactus wren 
(Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus cousei), (10) coastal rufous-crowned 
sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps), (11) arroyo chub (Gila orcuttii), (12) 
bobcat (Lynx rufus), (13) mountain lion (Felis concolor), (14) pallid 
bat (Antrozous pallidus), (15) small-footed myotis (Myotis cilioabrum), 
(16) long-eared myotis (Myotis evotis), and (17) Yuma myotis (Myotis 

Environmental Impact Statement

    Before deciding whether to issue permit, we will prepare a draft 
EIS to analyze the environmental impacts associated with the issuance 
of the requested permit and the implementation of the HCP by OCTA. The 
EIS will be prepared in compliance with NEPA under the supervision of 
the Service, which will be responsible for the scope and content of the 
document. The EIS will consider the proposed action, the issuance of a 
section 10(a)(1)(B) permit under the ESA, No Action (no permit), and a 
reasonable range of alternatives. A detailed description of the impacts 
of the proposed action and each alternative will be included in the 
    The proposed action and alternatives will be evaluated against the 
No Action alternative, which assumes that no permit will be issued. 
Several alternatives will be considered and analyzed, representing 
varying levels of conservation and impacts. The alternatives to be 
considered for analysis in the EIS may include: Variations in the scope 
of covered activities; variations in the location, amount, and type of 
conservation; variations in permit duration; or a combination of these 
elements. The EIS will also identify potentially significant direct, 
indirect, and cumulative impacts on biological resources, land use, air 
quality, water quality, water resources, socioeconomics, and other 
environmental issues that could occur with the implementation of the 
proposed action and alternatives. For all potentially significant 
impacts, the EIS will identify avoidance, minimization, and mitigation 
measures to reduce these impacts, where feasible, to a level below 

Public Comments

    Please direct any comments to the Service contact listed above in 
the ADDRESSES section, and any questions to the Service contact listed 
in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. All comments and 
materials we receive, including names and addresses, will become part 
of the administrative record and may be released to the public. Before 
including your address, phone number, email 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. This notice 
is provided under section 10(a) of the ESA and Service regulations for 
implementing NEPA (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: November 24, 2010.
Margaret Kolar,
Acting Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 2010-30202 Filed 11-30-10; 8:45 am]