Contacts: Roger Root, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office
(805) 644-1766, x336; email@example.com
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the availability of a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Tehachapi Uplands Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) and Implementing Agreement (IA). The Final EIS and IA were prepared in response to an application from Tejon Ranch Corporation for a permit authorizing the incidental take of 27 plants and animals including four species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Tejon Ranch Corporation submitted the MSHCP to satisfy the requirements for an incidental take permit under the ESA. The permit would authorize the incidental take of species that could potentially result from plan-wide activities, including grazing, film production and other ongoing historic uses occurring throughout 141,886 acres, and from approximately 5,533 acres of mountain resort and other development adjacent to the Interstate 5 corridor and Lebec community, all lands proposed to be covered by the permit.
The MSHCP, authored by Tejon Ranch Corporation with input from the Service, proposes a conservation strategy to minimize and mitigate to the maximum extent practicable any impacts that could occur to covered species by on-going ranch activities and proposed low-density residential and commercial development activities on a portion of Tejon Ranch. Twenty-seven species would be covered by the MSHCP. Federally-listed and candidate species included in the proposed MSHCP include the California condor, least Bell's vireo, southwestern willow flycatcher, valley elderberry longhorn beetle, and western yellow-billed cuckoo. The proposed permit would not allow California condors to be killed, nor allow take caused by hunting or mineral extraction.
In the MSHCP, and consistent with the 2008 Ranchwide Agreement among Tejon Ranch Company, the Sierra Club, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Endangered Habitats League, and Planning and Conservation League, part of the mitigation for Tejon Ranch's activities would be the prohibition of development on 93,522 acres, including a 37,100-acre ridge-line area of the ranch used by condors and that is part of a Condor Study Area. Additionally, approximately 23,001 acres would be preserved as open space within the proposed Tejon Mountain Village, resulting in the permanent conservation of approximately 82 percent of the Covered Lands. Other mitigation includes a permanent ban on lead ammunition implemented by Tejon Ranch Company on Tejon Ranch's 270,000-acre property in January 2008. The ingestion of lead has been the leading cause of mortality in condors.
The notice of availability for the EIS will publish in the Federal Register on October 26, 2012, but an advance copy is available today for viewing at the Federal Register. Publication of the notice of availability in the Federal Register will initiate a 30-day public review and comment period.
The EIS and associated documents, including the MSHCP, can be viewed and downloaded at the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office's web site beginning on October 26, 2012, at: http://www.fws.gov/ventura, or can be obtained by writing to the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office at 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, California 93003. The documents are also available for public review during normal business hours at the Kern County Library, at 3732 Park Drive in Frazier Park, California.
Comments on the EIS and MSHCP can be sent via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Roger Root at the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office at the above address.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/cno. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel, and download photos from our Flickr page.
Editors: photos to support this story are available at: USFWS Pacfic Southwest Region's Photostream