[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 194 (Thursday, October 6, 2011)]
[Pages 62087-62088]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-25759]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-ES-2011-N150; 20124-1115-0000-F4]

Draft Conservation Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment; Dunes 
Sagebrush Lizard, Texas

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; announcement of public meetings.


SUMMARY: The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (Applicant) has 
applied for an Enhancement of Survival Permit under the Endangered 
Species Act (Act) of 1973, as amended. The permit application includes 
the draft Texas Conservation Plan for the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (TCP). 
The draft TCP will function as a Candidate Conservation Agreement with 
Assurances between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the 
Applicant for the dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) 
throughout its range in Texas. The Applicant proposes to implement 
conservation measures for this species by removing threats to its 
survival and protecting its habitat. If the dunes sagebrush lizard 
becomes listed in the future, the draft TCP will also serve as a 
Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in support of future applications for 
Incidental Take Permits under the Act. The draft TCP and the draft 
Environmental Assessment (EA) are available for public review, and we 
seek public comment on the potential issuance of the above permits.

DATES: Public meetings: Public meetings are not required for this level 
of analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 
However, if the Applicant wishes to hold public meetings on the TCP, 
the Service will participate in these meetings and include any recorded 
comments on the draft EA in the final EA. This is provided that any 
public meeting is announced in local newspapers at least 14 days prior 
to the date of the meeting and the public meeting is held at least 14 
days prior to the close of the comment period.
    Comment-period end: To ensure consideration, please send your 
written comments by December 5, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application, the draft TCP, 
the draft EA, or other related documents may obtain copies by written 
or telephone request to Allison Arnold, Southern Edwards Plateau Sub-
Office, 512-203-5145 (U.S. mail address below). Electronic copies of 
these documents will also be available for review on the Austin 
Ecological Services Field Office Web site: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/AustinTexas/. The application and related documents will 
be available for public inspection, by appointment only, during normal 
business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the below San Antonio address.
    Comments concerning the application, the draft TCP, the draft EA, 
or other related documents should be submitted in writing, by one of 
the following methods:
    E-mail: dunessagebrushlizard@fws.gov.
    U.S. mail: Allison Arnold, Southern Edwards Plateau Sub-Office, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 12861 Galm Road, San Antonio, TX 78254. 
Please refer to Permit number TE-55322A-0 when submitting comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Allison Arnold at the U.S. Fish and

[[Page 62088]]

Wildlife Service, Southern Edwards Plateau Sub-Office (address above) 
or Allison_Arnold@fws.gov (e-mail).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: With the assistance of the Service, the 
Applicant proposes to implement conservation measures for the dunes 
sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) by removing threats to the 
survival of the species and protecting its habitat. The proposed 
conservation plan would be in effect for 30 years in west and northwest 
Texas. This area constitutes the TCP's Planning Area, with Covered 
Areas being private lands and State trust lands that provide suitable 
habitat or are being improved or restored to provide suitable habitat 
for the dunes sagebrush lizard. The Candidate Conservation Agreement 
with Assurances (CCAA) is in addition to a larger conservation effort 
for the dunes sagebrush lizard across its range within Texas and New 
Mexico. A combined Candidate Conservation Agreement and CCAA for the 
dunes sagebrush lizard, also known as the sand dune lizard, and the 
lesser prairie-chicken, among the Service, the Bureau of Land 
Management, and the Center of Excellence for Hazardous Materials 
Management, has been implemented to address conservation measures on 
Federal and non-Federal lands in New Mexico, since its signature on 
December 8, 2008. The TCP addressing conservation strategies across the 
dunes sagebrush lizard's range in Texas has been developed as a CCAA in 
support of a section 10(a)(1)(A) enhancement of survival permit and 
includes provisions to implement the TCP as an HCP in support of a 
potential section 10(a)(1)(B) incidental take permit should the species 
become listed in the future and a permit application is received under 
these provisions.
    If approved, participants who are fully implementing the CCAA 
provisions of the TCP and enhancement of survival permit will be 
provided assurances that, should the dunes sagebrush lizard be listed, 
the Service will not require them to provide additional land, water, or 
financial resources, nor will there be any further restrictions to 
their land, water, or financial resources than they committed to under 
the CCAA provisions of the TCP (50 CFR 17.22(d) and 17.32(d)). 
Furthermore, if the dunes sagebrush lizard is listed, participants 
would be provided incidental take authorization under the enhancement 
of survival permit, through certificates of inclusion, for the level of 
incidental take on the enrolled lands consistent with the activities 
under the CCAA provisions of the TCP. Similar assurances would be 
provided through the HCP provisions of the TCP for participants who are 
fully implementing the HCP provisions and are covered by a potential 
incidental take permit and certificates of participation, if applicable 
(50 CFR 17.22(b) and 17.32(b)).


    The dunes sagebrush lizard is native to a small area of 
southeastern New Mexico and west Texas. The species only occurs in sand 
dune complexes associated with shinnery oak. Oil and gas development 
near dunal complexes, along with shinnery oak removal for the 
enhancement of forage production for grazing, has increased 
fragmentation of dunes sagebrush lizard habitat and gaps in the 
species' range. In 2001, the Service determined that listing of the 
dunes sagebrush lizard was warranted but precluded because of other 
higher priority species, and the species was designated as a candidate 
for listing under the Act.
    The TCP was initiated in order to facilitate conservation and 
restoration of the dunes sagebrush lizard on private and State trust 
lands in Texas. Conservation benefits for the dunes sagebrush lizard 
are expected in the form of avoidance and minimization of potential 
incidental take, habitat enhancement and restoration, reduction of 
threats to the species, and mitigation of the effects of any incidental 
take, as appropriate. The Applicant also proposes to encourage creative 
partnerships among public, private, and government entities to conserve 
the dunes sagebrush lizard and its habitat. The Applicant has committed 
to guiding the implementation of the TCP and requests issuance of the 
enhancement of survival permit in order to address the take 
prohibitions of section 9 of the Act should the species become listed 
in the future.
    The draft TCP Texas Conservation Plan and application for the 
enhancement of survival permit are not eligible for categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. A 
draft Environmental Assessment has been prepared to further analyze the 
direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of the TCP on the quality of 
the human environment and other natural resources.


    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22 and 
17.32), and the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C 4371 et 
seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

Public Availability of Comments

    All comments we receive become part of the public record. Requests 
for copies of comments will be handled in accordance with the Freedom 
of Information Act, NEPA, and Service and Department of the Interior 
policies and procedures. 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 to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee we will be able to 
do so.

Joy E. Nicholopoulos,
Acting Regional Director, Region 2, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. 2011-25759 Filed 10-5-11; 8:45 am]