[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 171 (Wednesday, September 4, 2013)]
[Pages 54478-54479]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-21438]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-ES-2013-N201; FF06E23000-134-FXES11120600000]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permits; Low-
Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Utah Prairie Dog in Iron 
County, Utah

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), received a 
permit application from the Iron County Commission and are announcing 
the availability of a Draft Low-effect Habitat Conservation Plan for 
the Utah prairie dog in Iron County, Utah, for review and comment by 
the public and Federal, Tribal, State, and local governments. We 
request comment on the draft low-effect HCP.

DATES: Written comments must be submitted by October 4, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments by U.S. mail to Laura Romin, Deputy 
Field Supervisor, Utah Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 2369 W Orton Circle, Suite 50, West Valley City, UT 
84119, or via email to utahfieldoffice_esa@fws.gov. You also may send 
comments by facsimile to 801-975-3331. The draft low-effect HCP is 
available on our Mountain-Prairie Region Ecological Services Web site 
at http://www.fws.gov/utahfieldoffice/LatestNews.html. You also may 
review a copy of this document during regular business hours at the 
Utah Ecological Services Field Office (see address above). If you do 
not have access to the Web site or cannot visit our office, you may 
request copies by telephone at 801-975-3330 ext. 142 or by letter to 
the Utah Field Office.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura Romin, 801-975-3330, ext. 142; 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We announce availability for review and 
comment of the Draft Low-effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Utah 
prairie dog in Iron County, Utah. The Iron County Commission has 
prepared a draft low-effect habitat conservation plan (HCP) for 
residential, commercial, and industrial developments in Iron County, 
Utah, that may result in incidental take of the federally threatened 
Utah prairie dog. The intent of this low-effect HCP is to serve as an 
interim mechanism to authorize

[[Page 54479]]

incidental take anticipated from development in the short term while a 
more comprehensive long-term or range-wide habitat conservation plan is 
prepared for the species. We request public comment on the draft low-
effect HCP.
    Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (16 U.S.C. 1538) and 
its implementing regulations prohibit take of species listed as 
endangered or threatened. The definition of take under the ESA includes 
to ``harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or 
collect listed species or to attempt to engage in such conduct'' (16 
U.S.C. 1532(19)). Section 10 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1539) establishes a 
program whereby persons seeking to pursue activities that are otherwise 
legal, but could result in take of federally protected species, may 
receive an incidental take permit (ITP). Applicants for ITPs must 
submit a HCP that meets the section 10 permit issuance criteria. ``Low-
effect'' incidental take permits are those permits that, despite their 
authorization of some small level of incidental take, individually and 
cumulatively have a minor or negligible effect on the species covered 
in the HCP.


    In 1998, we issued an incidental take permit to Iron County 
(County) under the Iron County HCP for take of Utah prairie dogs from 
development activities. In the meantime, we have been working with all 
counties within the range of the species to develop a comprehensive 
rangewide HCP that would contribute to recovery of the species. The 
Iron County commissioners are concerned that projected increases in 
economic development in the county during the next couple of years may 
result in exceeding the amount of take authorized under the 1998 Iron 
County HCP.
    As a bridge to cover additional take anticipated before a range-
wide or long-term plan can be completed, Iron County has submitted a 
draft low-effect HCP that would authorize the take of no more than 600 
acres (243 hectares) of occupied Utah prairie dog habitat over a 
maximum 3-year period. The take would be distributed into two zones (a 
green zone, which primarily encompasses parcels within already 
developed areas of the cities, and a red zone, which is on the 
outskirts of the developing communities). The low-effect HCP's 
minimization and mitigation measures in the green zone and, for small, 
low-quality colonies, in the red zone would essentially mimic those of 
the 1998 Iron County HCP. Within the red zone, large colonies and 
medium- or high-quality Utah prairie dog habitats would be avoided 
under this low-effect HCP, but could be mitigated through the 1998 Iron 
County HCP and the use of conservation banks. Under this low-effect 
HCP, developers would apply to the County for their individual take 
permits or letters of authorization.

Our Preliminary Determination

    We have made a preliminary determination that the HCP qualifies as 
a ``low-effect'' habitat conservation plan as defined by our Habitat 
Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996).
    We base our determination on the following information:
    (1) The size and scope of the incidental take of Utah prairie dogs 
is relatively small, and limited to maximum of 600 ac (243 ha) of Utah 
prairie dog occupied habitats over three years;
    (2) The total amount of take amounts to only 3.6 percent of the 
total mapped Utah prairie dog habitat in the West Desert Recovery Unit; 
    (3) Most of the take is limited to already developed areas or those 
areas projected for development in the near future. These areas do not 
serve to support current or future metapopulations and objectives for 
recovery of the species in the wild.
    Overall we conclude that implementation of the plan would result in 
overall minor or negligible effects on the Utah prairie dog and its 
habitats. We may revise this preliminary determination based on public 
comments submitted in response to this notice.

Public Availability of Comments

    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.

    Dated: August 28, 2013.
Larry Crist,
Field Supervisor, Utah Ecological Services Field Office.
[FR Doc. 2013-21438 Filed 9-3-13; 8:45 am]