[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 204 (Tuesday, October 22, 2013)]
[Pages 62646-62647]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-24602]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-ES-2013-N226; FF06E23000-145-FXES11110600000]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permits; Low-
Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Utah Prairie Dog in Garfield 
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 Garfield County Commission and are 
announcing the availability of a Draft Low-effect Habitat Conservation 
Plan (HCP) for the Utah prairie dog in Garfield 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 November 21, 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 Garfield County, Utah. The Garfield County Commission 
has prepared a draft low-effect habitat conservation plan (HCP) for the 
translocation of Utah prairie dogs away from human developed areas or 
where construction is occurring in and adjacent to Panguitch, Utah, and 
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 incidental take 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.


    The USFWS and Iron County began work on a Rangewide HCP (to include 
Iron, Garfield, and Wayne Counties) in 2006; however, efforts to 
complete the Rangewide HCP have stalled, due largely to concerns 
regarding funding mechanisms. Garfield County has committed to proceed 
with completing a new long-term Garfield County HCP. However, it is 
likely that completion of a new HCP will require 2-3 years. Therefore, 
this low-effect HCP will provide a bridge, authorizing incidental take 
of the Utah prairie dog until a new long-term HCP can be completed.
    As a bridge to cover additional take anticipated before a range-
wide or long-term plan can be completed, Garfield County has submitted 
a draft low-effect HCP that would authorize the take of no more than 
220 acres (89 hectares) of occupied Utah prairie dog habitat over a 
maximum 3-year period. Incidental take could occur as a result of (1) 
translocations of prairie dogs away from the town of Panguitch, Utah, 
to Federal or other protected lands in Garfield County or (2) ongoing 
and future residential and commercial development in occupied Utah 
prairie dog habitat in Panguitch, Utah. Minimization and mitigation 
measures will include the translocations of Utah prairie dogs to 
Federal or other protected habitat in Garfield County or the payment of 
a mitigation fee to a conservation fund for Utah prairie dogs. 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 220 ac (89 ha) of Utah 
prairie dog occupied habitats over three years;
    (2) The total amount of take amounts to only 1.4 percent of the 
total mapped

[[Page 62647]]

Utah prairie dog habitat in the Paunsaugunt Recovery Unit; and
    (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: September 30, 2013.
Larry Crist,
Field Supervisor, Utah Ecological Services Field Office.
[FR Doc. 2013-24602 Filed 10-21-13; 8:45 am]