[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 56 (Wednesday, March 23, 2011)]
[Pages 16440-16442]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-6820]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2011-N005; 1112-0000-81440-F2]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permits, Town of 
Apple Valley, San Bernardino County, CA; Notice of Intent

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent; announcement of a public scoping meeting; 
request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
prepare either an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or an 
Environmental Assessment (EA) under the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) regarding an expected application from the Town of Apple 
Valley, CA, for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended. The decision to prepare an EIS 
or EA will be, in part, contingent upon the complexity of issues 
identified during and following the scoping phase of the NEPA process. 
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 or 

DATES: Please send written comments on or before April 22, 2011. We 
will hold a public scoping meeting Thursday, April 7, from 5:30 p.m. to 
7:30 p.m. For the public meeting address, see ``Meeting,'' below.

ADDRESSES: Comments: Send your comments to Diane 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.
    Meeting: We will hold a public meeting in the Town Hall Council 
Chambers, 14955 Dale Evans Parkway, Apple Valley, CA 92307.

ADDRESSES), telephone: (805) 644-1766, extension 224.


Reasonable Accommodations

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meeting should contact the Service at the 
address above

[[Page 16441]]

no later than 1 week before the public meeting. Information regarding 
this proposed action is available in alternative formats upon request.


    In accordance with section 10(a)(2)(A) of the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), the Town of 
Apple Valley, CA (Town) is preparing a MSHCP in support of an 
application for a permit from the Service to incidentally take listed 
species. Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1538) and the implementing 
regulations prohibit the take of animal species listed as endangered or 
threatened. The term ``take'' is defined under the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1532) 
as to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or 
collect or attempt to engage in such conduct. ``Harm'' is defined by 
Service regulation (50 CFR 17.3) to include significant habitat 
modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife 
by significantly impairing essential behavior patterns, including 
breeding, feeding, or sheltering. For certain circumstances, under 
Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA we may issue permits to authorize 
``incidental take'' of listed species. ``Incidental take'' is defined 
by the ESA as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carry 
out an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing permits for 
threatened and endangered species are found in the Code of Federal 
Regulations at 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 17. 22, respectively. If the 
permit is issued, the Town would receive assurances for all species 
included on the incidental take permit under the Service's ``No 
Surprises'' regulations (50 CFR 17.22 (b)(5) and 17.32 (b)(5)).
    Section 10 of the ESA specifies the requirements for the issuance 
of 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 a habitat 
conservation plan describing the impact that would likely result from 
the proposed taking, the measures for minimizing and mitigating the 
take, the funding available to implement such measures, alternatives to 
the taking, and the reason why such alternatives are not be 
    The Applicant is requesting a renewable 30-year permit to 
incidentally take listed species as a potential result of urban and 
rural development on approximately 60,500 to 65,300 acres within the 
Town and its sphere of influence (SOI) (i.e., the probable extent of 
the physical boundaries and service area of a local governmental 
agency), which totals approximately 170,000 acres. Of the areas 
affected, approximately 23,000 to 27,800 acres of development would 
occur within the Town under the Applicant's General Plan, and 
approximately 37,500 acres of development would occur within the Town's 
SOI under San Bernardino County's General Plan. The General Plans are 
State-mandated plans; each provides a statement of development 
policies, including diagrams and text that set forth objectives, 
standards, and plan proposals.
    Proposed covered activities would include low-density development 
(one home per 5 or more acres); mixed-use development (integrating 
residential, retail, and commercial uses); and industrial development; 
as well as development of public facilities, mineral resources, street 
rights of way, and open spaces. The proposed land uses provide for the 
development of approximately 60,900 housing units within the Town and 
approximately 21,500 housing units within the SOI, for a total of 
approximately 82,000 housing units. Potential development also 
includes: approximately 51.7 and 5.5 million square feet of commercial 
space in the Town and SOI, respectively; and approximately 58.6 and 
53.9 million square feet of industrial space in the Town and SOI, 
respectively. Covered activities would also include the operation and 
maintenance of all existing public facilities (approximately 3,200 
acres of the ground-disturbance total); all capital improvements of 
existing and future facilities and roads; construction of new public 
facilities (approximately 1,400 acres of the ground-disturbance total); 
and construction, operation, and maintenance of renewable energy 
projects, including solar energy projects covering up to 5,000 acres, 
and small-scale wind energy projects.
    At present, the applicant is proposing to address seven State and/
or Federally listed species and one sensitive species in the MSHCP for 
coverage under the ITP (See Table 1, below). The list of species 
proposed to be covered in the MSHCP may be modified to include 
additional threatened or endangered species, and species that may 
become listed as endangered or threatened during the life of the permit 
that occur within the project area and may be affected by the covered 
    The proposed MSHCP will identify actions necessary to conserve the 
covered species. The proposed minimization measures include incentives 
for infill development in previously developed/disturbed areas, and 
measures to control predators of covered species that include reducing 
access to residential and commercial waste. Proposed mitigation would 
conserve approximately 75,000 acres of public and private lands through 
various mechanisms, including purchase of land in fee title and 
establishment of permanent conservation easements. The Applicant also 
is considering establishing a non-wasting endowment (where the 
conservation actions are funded by the interest earned, not the 
principal) to fund conservation actions on conserved lands in the 
Desert Wildlife Management Areas.

                   Table 1--Species Proposed for Inclusion in the Town of Apple Valley's MSHCP
         Common name              Scientific name      Federal status                 State status
Burrowing owl................  Athene cunicularia...  None...........  State Species of Concern (SSC).
Least Bell's vireo...........  Vireo bellii pusillus  Endangered.....  Endangered.
Southwestern willow            Empidonax traillii     Endangered.....  Endangered.
 flycatcher.                    extimus.
Swainson's hawk..............  Buteo swainsoni......  None...........  Threatened.
Western yellow-billed cuckoo.  Coccyzus americanus    Candidate......  Endangered.
Mohave ground squirrel.......  Xerospermophilus       Under Review...  Threatened.

[[Page 16442]]

Desert tortoise..............  Gopherus agassizii...  Threatened.....  Threatened.
Mohave tui chub..............  Siphatales bicolor     Endangered.....  Endangered.

    The Applicant, in cooperation with the California Department of 
Fish and Game (CDFG) and the Service, will develop the MSHCP such that 
it also meets the State's requirements for a Natural Community 
Conservation Plan (NCCP). The Applicant will likewise serve as the lead 
agency for the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), pursuant to Section 
15168 of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines. 
Compliance with NEPA and CEQA may be done concurrently in a joint EIS/
EIR or EA/Negative Declaration.

Environmental Impact Statement or Environmental Assessment

    The EIS or EA will consider the proposed action (issuance of an ITP 
based on the MSHCP), a no-action alternative (a scenario where there 
would be no issuance of an ITP and no take of listed species), and a 
reasonable range of alternatives that fit within the purpose and need 
of the Service. The general purpose and need of the Service for the 
proposed action is to respond to an ITP application and to protect, 
conserve, and enhance fish and wildlife and their habitats for the 
continuing benefit of the people of California and the United States. A 
detailed description of the proposed action and alternatives will be 
included in the EIS or EA. The alternatives for analysis in the 
document may include, but not be limited to, variations in the covered 
activities and the footprint of development within the 170,000-acre 
planning area. It will also identify potentially significant impacts on 
biological resources, land use, air quality, cultural resources, water 
resources, socioeconomics, and other resources in the human environment 
that may occur directly, indirectly, and/or cumulatively as a result of 
implementing the proposed action or any of the alternatives. Various 
strategies for avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating the impacts of 
incidental take also will be considered.
    The Service is furnishing this notice in accordance with 40 CFR 
1501.7 and 1508.22 to obtain suggestions and information from other 
agencies and the public on the scope of issues and alternatives they 
believe need to be addressed in the EIS or EA. The primary purpose of 
the scoping process is to identify important issues raised by the 
public related to the proposed action. Written comments from interested 
parties are requested to ensure that the full range of issues related 
to the proposed action is identified. Comments will only be accepted in 
written form.

Request for Public Comments

    We seek comments concerning (i) The eight species proposed for 
inclusion in the applicant's proposed multispecies habitat conservation 
plan (MSHCP), including information regarding their ranges, 
distribution areas, population sizes and population trends; (ii) 
relevant data concerning the impacts of the proposed development on 
these species; (iii) any other environmental issues that should be 
considered with regard to the proposed development and permit action; 
and (iv) the range of alternatives to be included in the EIS or EA.

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, 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 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: March 17, 2011.
Alexandra Pitts,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region,Sacramento, CA.
[FR Doc. 2011-6820 Filed 3-22-11; 8:45 am]