[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 125 (Wednesday, June 29, 2011)]
[Pages 38204-38206]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-16336]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-ES-2011-N065; 10120-1112-0000-F3]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed 
Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement for the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout in 
Southeastern Oregon

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; receipt of permit application.


SUMMARY: The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has applied 
to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for an enhancement of 
survival permit pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (ESA). The permit application includes a proposed Programmatic 
Safe Harbor Agreement (Agreement) between the ODFW and the Service. The 
requested permit would authorize the ODFW to extend incidental take 
coverage with assurances to eligible landowners who are willing to 
carry out habitat management measures that would benefit the threatened 
Lahontan cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki henshawi) by enrolling 
them under the Agreement as Cooperators through issuance of 
Certificates of Inclusion. The covered area or geographic scope of this 
Agreement includes the Quinn River, Coyote Lake, and Alvord basins 
located in Harney and Malheur Counties, Oregon. The Service is making 
the permit application, proposed Agreement, and related documents 
available for public review and comment.

DATES: All comments must be received from interested parties on or 
before July 29, 2011.

[[Page 38205]]

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments to Nancy Gilbert, Field 
Supervisor, Bend Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 20310 
Empire Ave., Ste. A-100, Bend, OR 97701. Alternatively, you may send 
comments by facsimile to (541) 383-7638. Please include your name and 
return address in your comments and refer to the ``Lahontan Cutthroat 
Trout Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nancy Gilbert, Field Supervisor, Bend 
Field Office (see ADDRESSES above); telephone (541) 383-7146. Persons 
who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the 
Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at (800) 877-8339, 24 hours a 
day, 7 days a week.


Availability of Documents

    You may obtain copies of the documents for review by contacting the 
Service's Bend Field Office (see ADDRESSES above), or by making an 
appointment to view the documents at the above address during normal 
business hours. These documents are also available electronically for 
review on the Service's Bend Field Office Web site at http://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/FieldOffices/Bend/. Comments and materials we 
receive, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing the 
Agreement, will become part of the public record and will be available 
for public inspection, by appointment, during normal 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.


    The Lahontan cutthroat trout was listed as an endangered species by 
the Service in 1970 (35 FR 16047; October 13, 1970) and reclassified as 
threatened in 1975 (40 FR 29863; July 16, 1975). The primary threats 
affecting Lahontan cutthroat trout include habitat degradation, habitat 
fragmentation, and hybridization with and competition from introduced 
nonnative salmonids. On March 30, 2009, the Service completed a 5-year 
status review of the Lahontan cutthroat trout that determined that 
``Lahontan cutthroat trout populations have been and continue to be 
impacted by nonnative species interactions, habitat fragmentation and 
isolation, degraded habitat conditions, drought, and fire.'' 
Furthermore, the status review found that ``[t]he present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of [the] Lahontan cutthroat 
trout's habitat and range continues to be a significant threat and in 
some instances is increasing in magnitude and severity.''
    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 ESA (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 ESA, encourage private and other non-Federal property owners to 
implement conservation efforts for listed species by assuring the 
landowners that they will not be subjected to increased property use 
restrictions as a result of their efforts to either 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 for Safe 
Harbor Agreements are found in 50 CFR 17.22(c). These permits allow any 
necessary future incidental take of any covered species above the 
mutually agreed upon baseline conditions for those species in 
accordance with the terms of the permit and accompanying agreement.

Proposed Agreement

    We jointly developed the proposed Agreement with the ODFW for the 
conservation of the Lahontan cutthroat trout. The proposed term of the 
permit and Agreement is 30 years. The area covered by this Agreement 
includes all non-Federal land portions of the Quinn River, Coyote Lake, 
and Alvord basins located in Harney and Malheur Counties, Oregon; these 
areas comprise the estimated historical and current distribution of the 
species in Oregon. Sites within basins not currently occupied by the 
Lahontan cutthroat trout will have a baseline condition of zero unless 
a landowner is willing to accept a baseline greater than zero to 
support an enhanced level of conservation after the Agreement expires. 
Sites within basins currently occupied by the Lahontan cutthroat trout 
will have their baseline conditions determined on a case-by-case basis, 
with landowner consent.
    The purpose of this Agreement is to enhance the reintroduction and 
long-term recovery of the Lahontan cutthroat trout within the Northwest 
Geographic Management Unit that includes the Quinn River, Coyote Lake, 
and Alvord basins in southeastern Oregon, by encouraging private 
landowners to voluntarily create, enhance, maintain, or restore 
Lahontan cutthroat trout habitat. Under this Agreement, private lands 
may be enrolled through individual Cooperative Agreements between the 
ODFW and cooperating landowners (Cooperators). The duration of the 
Cooperative Agreements will be a minimum of 10 years. Cooperators will 
be issued a Certificate of Inclusion, which will allow activities on 
the enrolled properties to be covered by ODFW's section 10(a)(1)(A) 
Enhancement of Survival permit. Cooperators may renew their Cooperative 
Agreements to remain in effect for the 30-year duration of the permit.
    Cooperators will avoid conducting activities that could adversely 
affect the Lahontan cutthroat trout's habitat during the term of their 
Cooperative Agreement. Using site-specific Cooperative Agreements, ODFW 
intends to enroll landowners who are willing to allow the introduction 
or expansion of Lahontan cutthroat trout within streams on their 
private lands. Landowners would also voluntarily commit to engage in 
conservation practices that may include: Control of herd stocking rates 
and seasons, livestock exclusion, off-site water development, 
alternative haying, crop selection modification, fertilizer management, 
and modification of irrigation practices. Several additional 
conservation measures that may be implemented include: Road or trail 
management, including improved stream crossings or fish passage 
structures; riparian vegetation plantings and rehabilitation projects; 
and stream habitat improvement projects.
    Without the regulatory assurances provided through the Agreement 
and permit, landowners may be unwilling or reluctant to engage in 
activities that would place federally listed species such as the 
Lahontan cutthroat trout onto their properties. The proposed Agreement 
is expected to provide a net conservation benefit to the Lahontan 
cutthroat trout in Oregon by expanding and possibly creating new 
populations through translocations or by enhancing the quality, 
quantity, or connectivity of existing habitat for naturally occurring 
populations, thereby increasing the distribution and abundance of the 

[[Page 38206]]

    The Service has made a preliminary determination that the proposed 
Agreement and permit application are eligible for a categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 
U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; NEPA). We explain the basis for this determination 
in an Environmental Action Statement that is also available for public 
review (see Availability of Documents section above). The Service will 
evaluate the permit application, associated documents, and comments 
submitted thereon to determine whether the permit application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA and NEPA regulations.
    If we determine that all requirements are met, we will sign the 
Agreement and issue an enhancement of survival permit under section 
10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA to ODFW for the take of Lahontan cutthroat 
trout, incidental to otherwise lawful activities in accordance with the 
terms of the Agreement. This notice is provided pursuant to section 
10(c) of the ESA and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: June 21, 2011.
Paul Henson,
State Supervisor, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2011-16336 Filed 6-28-11; 8:45 am]