[Federal Register: February 25, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 37)]
[Page 8735-8736]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2010-N024; 1112-0000-81440-F2]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permit, San Luis 
Obispo County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service, us), have 
received from the California Department of Parks and Recreation 
(applicant) an application for an incidental take permit under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We are considering 
issuing a permit that would authorize the applicant's take of the 
Federally endangered Morro shoulderband snail (Helminthoglypta 
walkeriana) incidental to otherwise lawful activities that would result 
in the permanent loss of 0.2 acre of Morro shoulderband snail habitat 
within Morro Bay State Park, San Luis Obispo County, California. We 
invite comments from the public on the application, which includes a 
Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) fully describing the proposed project 
and measures the applicant would undertake to minimize and mitigate 
anticipated take of the species. We also invite comments on our 
preliminary determination that the HCP qualifies as a ``low-effect'' 
plan, eligible for a categorical exclusion under the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended. We explain the 
basis for this determination in our draft Environmental Action 
Statement and associated Low Effect Screening Form, both of which are 
also available for review.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
March 29, 2010.

ADDRESSES: You may download a copy of the permit application, plan, and 
related documents on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/ventura, or you 
may request documents by U.S. mail, e-mail, or phone (see below). 
Please address written comments to Diane K. Noda, Field Supervisor, 
Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2493 
Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003. You may alternatively send 
comments by facsimile to (805) 644-3958.

Ventura address above, or (805) 644-1766, extension 224 (telephone).



    The Morro shoulderband snail was listed as endangered on December 
15, 1994 (59 FR 64613). Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) 
and our implementing Federal regulations in the Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) at 50 CFR 17 prohibit the ``take'' of fish or 
wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened. Take of listed 
fish or wildlife is defined under the Act as ``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. 1532). However, under limited 
circumstances, we issue permits to authorize incidental take (i.e., 
take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, the carrying out of 
an otherwise lawful activity). Regulations governing incidental take 
permits for threatened and endangered species are at 50 CFR 17.32 and 
17.22, respectively. The Act's take prohibitions do not apply to 
Federally listed plants on private lands unless such take would violate 
State law. In addition to meeting other criteria, an incidental take 
permit's proposed actions must not jeopardize the existence of 
Federally listed fish, wildlife, or plants.
    The applicant proposes the construction and use of a boardwalk, 
overlook area, and trail project within a 10-acre site at the Morro Bay 
State Park marina peninsula, San Luis Obispo County, California, that 
will meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility 
guidelines. The 10-acre site contains a mixture of native and 
introduced plant species. Coastal dune scrub, the only native upland 
community, occupies the majority of the 10-acre permit area. Disturbed 
upland habitat is also present and includes illegal trails and areas 
dominated by nonnative plant species.
    The proposed project would result in impacts to a total of 0.41 
acre of habitat for the Morro shoulderband snail. Permanent impacts 
resulting from the construction of the trails, boardwalk, and viewing 
platforms would be 0.18 acre and 0.03 acre, respectively. Additionally, 
there would be temporary impacts to 0.2 acre. Both the permanent and 
temporary impacts are expected to result in take of Morro shoulderband 
    The applicant proposes to implement measures to minimize and 
mitigate for the take of Morro shoulderband snails within the permit 
area. Minimization measures include: (1) Restriction of activities to 
the dry season (April 15-November 15); (2) implementation of training 
sessions for all construction and park personnel involved in 
construction of the project; (3) performance of preconstruction surveys 
prior to each day of activity involving ground disturbance or 
vegetation disturbance to construct the boardwalk and peninsula spur 
trail; (4) relocation of any living Morro shoulderband snails that are 
found during preconstruction surveys or during construction into 
adjacent suitable habitat; (5) installation of fencing to delineate 
work and non-work areas; and (6) use of hand tools to the maximum 
extent possible.
    Mitigation for unavoidable take of Morro shoulderband snails would 
consist of the establishment and management of a permanent conservation 
area over approximately 9.6 acres adjacent to the ADA trail and 
boardwalk system, closure and restoration to native habitat of all 
volunteer trails and redundant trails in the project area, and 
nonnative plant species removal. The HCP also considers effects from 
covered activities on, as well as conservation measures for, the 
California seablite (Suaeda californica), a threatened plant species 
occurring in the estuarine habitat adjacent to the project area.
    In the proposed plan, the applicant considers three alternatives to 
the taking of listed species in the proposed project. The No Action 
Alternative would maintain current conditions, the project would not be 
implemented, and an incidental take permit application would not be 
submitted to the Service. The second alternative would involve a 
redesign of the Marina Peninsula Trail Project. Although a reduction in 
the development area would be possible on the property, it is 
anticipated that such a reduction would result in a trail

[[Page 8736]]

configuration that would encourage the continued use and expansion of 
volunteer trails, thus continuing and expanding impacts to coastal 
scrub and salt marsh habitats. The third alternative would involve the 
relocation of the project site within the Morro Bay State Park. 
However, the proposed Marina Peninsula Trail project offers an 
opportunity to use a long stretch of existing disturbed ground, former 
maintenance road, and existing trails, all of which could be improved 
to meet accessible guidelines, limit the removal of existing habitat, 
and provide substantial protection and improvement of habitat for 
sensitive species.
    We are requesting comments on our preliminary determination that 
the applicant's proposal will have a minor or negligible effect on the 
species covered in the plan, and that the plan qualifies as a ``low-
effect'' habitat conservation plan as defined by our Habitat 
Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996). We base our 
determination that the plan qualifies as a low-effect plan on the 
following three criteria: (1) Implementation of the plan would result 
in minor or negligible effects on Federally listed, proposed, and 
candidate species and their habitats; (2) implementation of the plan 
would result in minor or negligible effects on other environmental 
values or resources; and (3) impacts of the plan, considered together 
with the impacts of other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable 
similarly situated projects, would not result, over time, in cumulative 
effects to environmental values or resources that would be considered 
significant. As more fully explained in our Environmental Action 
Statement and associated Low Effect Screening Form, the applicant's 
proposed plan qualifies as a ``low-effect'' plan for the following 
    (1) Approval of the HCP would result in minor or negligible effects 
on the Morro shoulderband snail and California seablite and their 
habitat. The Service does not anticipate significant direct or 
cumulative effects to the Morro shoulderband snail or California 
seablite resulting from the proposed Project.
    (2) Approval of the HCP would not have adverse effects on unique 
geographic, historic, or cultural sites, or involve unique or unknown 
environmental risks.
    (3) Approval of the HCP would not result in any cumulative or 
growth-inducing impacts and would not result in significant adverse 
effects on public health or safety.
    (4) The project does not require compliance with Executive Order 
11988 (Floodplain Management), Executive Order 11990 (Protection of 
Wetlands), or the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, nor does it 
threaten to violate a Federal, State, local, or Tribal law or 
requirement imposed for the protection of the environment.
    (5) Approval of the HCP would not establish a precedent for future 
actions or represent a decision in principle about future actions with 
potentially significant environmental effects.
    We, therefore, have made a preliminary determination that the 
approval of the HCP and incidental take permit application qualifies 
for a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), as provided by the Department of the 
Interior Manual (516 DM 2 Appendix 1 and 516 DM 8). Based on our review 
of public comments that we receive in response to this notice, we may 
revise this preliminary determination.

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the plan and comments we receive to determine 
whether the permit application meets the requirements of section 10(a) 
of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). If we determine that the 
application meets these requirements, we will issue the permit for 
incidental take of the Morro shoulderband snail. We will also evaluate 
whether issuance of a section 10(a)(1)(B) permit would comply with 
section 7 of the Act by conducting an intra-Service section 7 
consultation. We will use the results of this consultation, in 
combination with the above findings, in our final analysis to determine 
whether or not to issue a permit. If the requirements are met, we will 
issue the permit to the applicant.

Public Comments

    If you wish to comment on the permit application, plan, and 
associated documents, you may submit comments by any one of the methods 

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comments, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. If you wish us 
to consider withholding this information you must state this 
prominently at the beginning of your comments. In addition, you must 
provide a rationale demonstrating and documenting that disclosure would 
constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy. 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. 
All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations 
or businesses, are available for public inspection in their entirety.


    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: February 19, 2010.
Diane K. Noda,
Field Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office.
[FR Doc. 2010-3850 Filed 2-24-10; 8:45 am]