[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 128 (Thursday, July 3, 2014)]
[Page 38059]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-15703]

[[Page 38059]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-ES-2014-N132; 40120-1112-0000-F2]

Incidental Take Permit for Hydrocarbon Exploration Well Pad 
Construction; Lamar County, Mississippi

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: Under the Endangered Species Act, we, the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, announce the receipt and availability of a proposed 
low-effect habitat conservation plan and accompanying incidental take 
permit (ITP) for take of the gopher tortoise incidental to construction 
of a hydrocarbon exploration well pad in Lamar County, Mississippi. We 
invite public comments on these documents.

DATES: We must receive any written comments at our Mississippi Field 
Office (see ADDRESSES) on or before August 4, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: Documents are available for public 
inspection by appointment during normal business hours at the Fish and 
Wildlife Service's Mississippi Field Office, 6578 Dogwood View Parkway, 
Jackson, MS 39213. Please submit comments by U.S. mail to the Fish and 
Wildlife Service's Mississippi Field Office.
    Submitting Comments: For how to submit comments, see Public 
Comments in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. David Felder, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist (see ADDRESSES); telephone: 601-321-1131.



    We announce the availability of the proposed low-effect habitat 
conservation plan (HCP) which analyzes the take of the threatened 
gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) incidental to construction of a 
hydrocarbon exploration well pad. The applicant (Tellus Operating 
Group, LLC) requests a 5-year ITP under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act (Act; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). If we approve the 
ITP, the applicant anticipates the taking of up to two individual 
gopher tortoises over the 5-year span of the ITP.

Applicant's Proposal

    The applicant proposes to minimize and mitigate the take of two 
gopher tortoises by relocating the tortoises impacted by well pad 
construction to unoccupied burrows within the tortoise colony using 
Service-approved relocation methods. The relocated tortoises will be 
monitored for 6 months. The relocated tortoises will be on lands owned 
and managed by the applicant as a long-leaf pine forest, where 
prescribed burning is conducted on a one-to-two-year cycle. All fees 
associated with the relocation, monitoring, and future management of 
on-site tortoise habitat will be paid by Tellus Operating Group, LLC.

Service's Preliminary Determination

    The Service has made a preliminary determination that the 
applicant's project, including the proposed mitigation and minimization 
measures, will individually and cumulatively, have a minor or 
negligible effect on the species covered in the HCP. Therefore, 
issuance of the ITP is a ``low-effect'' action and qualifies as a 
categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) (40 CFR 1506.6), as provided by the Department of the Interior 
Manual (516 DM 2 Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6 Appendix 1), and as defined in 
our Habitat Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996).
    We base our determination that issuance of the ITP qualifies as a 
low-effect action on the following three criteria: (1) Implementation 
of the project would result in minor or negligible effects on federally 
listed, proposed, and candidate species and their habitats; (2) 
Implementation of the project would result in minor or negligible 
effects on other environmental values or resources; and (3) Impacts of 
the plan, considered together with the impacts of other past, present, 
and reasonably foreseeable similarly situated projects, would not 
result, over time, in cumulative effects to environmental values or 
resources that would be considered significant. As more fully explained 
in our environmental action statement and associated Low-Effect 
Screening Form, the applicant's proposed project qualifies as a ``low-
effect'' project. This preliminary determination may be revised based 
on our review of public comments that we receive in response to this 

Public 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.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit comments by any one of 
several methods. Please reference TE39407B-0 in such comments. You may 
mail comments to the Fish and Wildlife Service's Mississippi Field 
Office (see ADDRESSES). You may also comment via the internet to 
david_felder@fws.gov. Please include your name and return address in 
your internet message. If you do not receive a confirmation from us 
that we have received your internet message, contact us directly at 
either telephone number listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. 
Finally, you may hand-deliver comments to the office listed under 

Covered Area

    The area encompassed by the HCP and ITP application is the 4.85 
acre hydrocarbon exploration well pad, located at latitude 31.068518, 
longitude--89.616833, Lamar County, Mississippi.

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the ITP application, including the HCP and any 
comments we receive, to determine whether the application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. We will also evaluate 
whether issuance of a section 10(a)(1)(B) ITP complies with section 7 
of the Act by conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation. We 
will use the results of this consultation, in combination with the 
above findings, in our final analysis to determine whether or not to 
issue the ITP. If we determine that the requirements are met, we will 
issue the ITP for the incidental take of gopher tortoises.


    We provide this notice under Section 10 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 
et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: June 27, 2014.
Stephen Ricks,
Field Supervisor, Mississippi Field Office.
[FR Doc. 2014-15703 Filed 7-2-14; 8:45 am]