[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 182 (Thursday, September 19, 2013)]
[Pages 57651-57653]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-22778]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2013-N167; FF08ESMF-FXES11120800000-134]

Habitat Conservation Plan for the Community of Los Osos, San Luis 
Obispo County, CA; Notice of Intent

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent; notice of public scoping meeting; request for 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, intend to prepare 
either an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act, as amended 
(NEPA), for the proposed Los Osos Community-wide Habitat Conservation 
Plan (LOHCP or plan). The LOHCP is being prepared by the County of San 
Luis Obispo (County or applicant) in support of its application for an 
incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act). The decision to prepare an EA or EIS will be, in part, 
contingent on the complexity of issues identified during, and 
following, the scoping phase of the NEPA process. The proposed permit 
would authorize the incidental take of threatened and endangered 
wildlife species that could result from the activities covered under 
the LOHCP and would include conservation measures to an endangered 
plant species that would also be covered under the plan. We announce 
meetings and invite comments from other agencies, Tribes, and the 

DATES: To ensure consideration of any written comments, please send by

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November 4, 2013. Two public scoping meetings will be held on Tuesday, 
October 8, 2013; the first from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., and the second from 
7 to 9 p.m. For the public meeting address, see ``Scoping Meetings'' 

ADDRESSES: To request further information or submit written comments, 
please use one of the following methods and note that your information 
request or comment is in reference to the Los Osos Community-wide 
Habitat Conservation Plan.
     U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish 
and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003.
     In Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pick-Up: Call 805-644-1766 
to make an appointment during regular business hours to drop off 
comments or view received comments at the U.S. mail address above.
     Facsimile: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 805-644-3958, 
Attn: Julie M. Vanderwier.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Julie M. Vanderwier, Senior Fish and 
Wildlife Biologist, or Douglass M. Cooper, Deputy Assistant Field 
Supervisor, by phone at 805-644-1766 or by U.S. mail at the above 
address. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, please 
call the Federal Information Relay Service at 800-977-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), publish this notice under the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; NEPA), and its 
implementing regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 
CFR 1506.6, as well as in compliance with section 10(c) of the Act. We 
intend to prepare either a draft EA or EIS, hereafter referred to as 
the NEPA document, to evaluate the impacts of several alternatives 
related to the potential issuance of an incidental take permit (ITP) to 
the applicant, as well as impacts of the proposed Los Osos Community-
wide Habitat Conservation Plan.
    The LOHCP is a comprehensive plan designed to provide long-term 
conservation and management of sensitive species and the habitats upon 
which those species depend within the Los Osos plan area, while 
accommodating other important land uses.


    Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and its implementing 
regulations prohibit the ``take'' of wildlife species listed as 
endangered or threatened. The Act defines the term ``take'' as to 
harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or 
collect listed wildlife species, or to attempt to engage in any such 
conduct. Harm includes significant habitat modifications or degradation 
where it actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing 
essential behavior patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering 
(50 CFR 17.3(c)). Pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act, we may 
issue permits to authorize ``incidental take'' of listed wildlife 
species. ``Incidental take'' is defined by the Act as take that is 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful 
activity. Service regulations governing permits for endangered and 
threatened species are promulgated at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32, 
    Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act contains provisions for issuing such 
ITPs to non-Federal entities for the take of endangered and threatened 
wildlife species, provided the following criteria are met:
     The taking will be incidental to an otherwise lawful 
     The applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, 
minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking;
     The applicant will develop a proposed habitat conservation 
plan (HCP) and ensure that adequate funding for the plan is provided;
     The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of 
the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and
     The applicant will carry out any other measures that the 
Service may deem necessary or appropriate for purposes of implementing 
the HCP.
    Thus, the purpose of the proposed ITP is to authorize the County of 
San Luis Obispo to incidentally take covered wildlife species 
associated with development and other covered activities within the Los 
Osos plan area provided such take is minimized and mitigated through an 
HCP (the LOHCP) that meets the requirements of the Act. Implementation 
of an HCP for multiple species can maximize the benefits of 
conservation measures and eliminate expensive and time-consuming 
efforts associated with processing of individual species ITPs. The 
Service expects the County will request a permit term of 25 years.

Plan Area

    The LOHCP plan area includes approximately 3,560 acres in the 
unincorporated community of Los Osos. It is largely coterminous with 
the Los Osos Urban Reserve Line--the boundary separating suburban and 
rural land uses in the region, within which land use is guided by the 
Estero Area Plan. The plan area borders the Morro Bay Estuary to the 
west, Morro Bay State Park to the north, Los Osos Creek to the east, 
and Montana de Oro State Park to the south. This area includes suitable 
habitat for the covered species that is anticipated to be impacted by 
the activities covered in the LOHCP.

Covered Activities

    Four main categories of covered activities were identified through 
the outreach conducted by the County to prepare the LOHCP:
     Private development: Commercial and residential 
development and redevelopment (including remodels) on privately owned 
     Capital Projects: Public and private utility company 
facility and infrastructure development projects, such as building or 
expanding roads, libraries, and parks;
     Facilities Operations and Maintenance: Public and private 
utility company activities to operate and maintain, including repair 
and replace, existing facilities, such as roads, drainage basins, and 
water systems; and
     Conservation Strategy Implementation: Activities conducted 
to implement the LOHCP conservation strategy, including restoration, 
management, maintenance, and monitoring of conservation lands used to 
mitigate the effects of the other covered activities.
    As the permittee, the County would have the ability to issue 
certificates of inclusion to confer take coverage to landowners and 
other entities for covered species and activities.
    The LOHCP will include measures necessary to avoid, minimize, and 
mitigate the effects of the taking for three wildlife species covered 
by the plan that result from private development, capital projects, 
facilities operation and maintenance, and implementation of the 
conservation strategy within plan area. The LOHCP will also include 
measures to conserve one endangered plant species covered by the plan.

Covered Species

    We anticipate that four federally listed species will be included 
as covered species in the proposed LOHCP: Morro Bay kangaroo rat 
(Dipodomys heermanni morroensis; federally endangered), Morro 
shoulderband snail (Helminthoglypta walkeriana; federally endangered), 
Indian Knob mountainbalm (Eriodictyon altissimum; federally 
endangered), and

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Morro manzanita (Arctostaphylos morroensis; federally threatened).
    ``Take'' under the Act does not apply to listed plant species. 
Consequently, the Act does not prohibit take of listed plant species, 
and take of listed plant species cannot be authorized under an ITP. The 
LOCHP proposes to include a listed plant species on the permit in 
recognition of the conservation benefits provided for them under the 
LOHCP. Additionally, inclusion of protections for federally listed 
plant species in an HCP assists us in meeting our regulatory 
obligations under section 7(a)(2) of the Act.
    The applicant would receive assurances under the Service's ``No 
Surprises'' regulations found in 50 CFR 17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5) for 
all species included on the ITP.

Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement

    Before deciding whether or not to issue the requested ITP, the 
Service will prepare a draft NEPA document to analyze the environmental 
impacts associated with issuance of this permit. In this document, we 
will consider the following alternatives: (1) The proposed action, 
which includes the issuance of take authorizations consistent with the 
proposed LOHCP under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act; (2) no-action (no 
permit issuance); and (3) a reasonable range of alternatives that could 
include variations in impacts, conservation, permit duration, covered 
species, covered activities, permit area, or a combination of these 
    The NEPA document will identify and analyze potentially significant 
direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of permit issuance and the 
implementation of the proposed LOHCP on biological resources, land 
uses, utilities, air quality, water resources, cultural resources, 
socioeconomics and environmental justice, recreation, aesthetics, 
climate change and greenhouse gases, and other environmental issues 
that could occur with the implementation of each alternative. The 
Service will also identify measures to avoid or minimize any 
significant effects of the proposed action on the quality of the human 
    Following completion of the environmental review, the Service will 
publish a notice of availability and a request for comment on the draft 
NEPA document and the applicant's permit application (which will 
include the proposed LOHCP.)

Public Comments

    We request data, comments, new information, and suggestions from 
the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific 
community, Tribes, industry, or any other party on this notice. We will 
consider these comments in developing a draft NEPA document and in the 
development of the LOCHP and ITP. We particularly seek comments on the 
    1. Biological information concerning the species proposed to be 
covered in the LOHCP, including information on range, distribution, 
population sizes, and population trends;
    2. Relevant information concerning impacts of proposed covered 
activities on these species;
    3. Information on other current or planned activities in the plan 
area and their possible impacts on the species;
    4. The presence of archaeological sites, buildings and structures, 
historic events, sacred and traditional areas, and other historic 
preservation concerns, which must be considered in project planning by 
the National Historic Preservation Act;
    5. A range of alternatives to be included in the NEPA document; and
    6. Any other environmental issues that should be considered with 
regard to the proposed development and permit action.
    You may submit your comments and materials by any one of the 
methods listed in the ADDRESSES section.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we use in preparing the draft NEPA document, will be 
available for public inspection by appointment, during normal business 
hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) at the Service's 
Ventura address (see ADDRESSES). Please note that 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, 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.

Scoping Meetings

    The scoping meeting will be held at the South Bay Community Center, 
located at 2180 Palisades Avenue, Los Osos, CA; see DATES for the dates 
and times of the meetings. The purpose of scoping meetings is to 
provide the public with a general understanding of the background of 
the proposed LOHCP and activities it would cover, alternative proposals 
under consideration for the draft EA or EIS, and the Service's role and 
steps to be taken to develop the draft NEPA document for the proposed 
LOHCP; and also to solicit suggestions and information on the scope of 
issues and alternatives for the Service to consider when drafting the 
EA or EIS. Written comments will be accepted at the meetings. Comments 
can also be submitted by the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. 
Once the draft NEPA document and proposed LOCHP are complete and made 
available for public review, there will be additional opportunity for 
public comments on the content of these documents.

Scoping Meetings Location Accommodations

    Persons needing reasonable accommodation in order to attend and 
participate in the public meetings should contact Julie M. Vanderwier 
at 805-664-1766 as soon as possible. In order to allow sufficient time 
to process requests, a request should be submitted no later than 1 week 
before the public meetings.


    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) and NEPA implementing regulations (40 CFR 1501.7, 40 CFR 
1506.6, and 40 CFR 1508.22).

    Dated: September 13, 2013.
Alexandra Pitts,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, CA.
[FR Doc. 2013-22778 Filed 9-18-13; 8:45 am]