[Federal Register: March 17, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 51)]
[Page 13228-13229]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of an Environmental Assessment and Receipt of an 
Application for a Permit to Allow Incidental Take of Threatened and 
Endangered Species in Connection With the North Peak Development 
Project in the City of Lake Elsinore, Riverside County, California

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Availability.


SUMMARY: North Peak Partners, L.P., (Partners) have applied to the Fish 
and Wildlife Service for an incidental take permit pursuant to the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The Partners request 
a 30-year permit authorizing incidental take of certain species in 
connection with the development of a master planned community, road 
improvements, ongoing management on open space and facilities, and 
implementation of conservation measures in the planning area located in 
the City of Lake Elsinore, Riverside County, California. The proposed 
permit would allow take in the form of harm or harassment of 3 
currently listed species [coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila 
californica californica), least Bell's vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus), 
and Stephens' kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi)] and 30 sensitive 
species that may be listed as threatened or endangered during the 
period permit. The proposed permit also would allow take in the form of 
harassment of 16 bird and mammal species, primarily raptors and bats 
that forage in the area. In addition, the Partners anticipate that 12 
additional species would need to be added to the permit (if found to be 
present and a taking would occur) and have proposed a streamlined 
amendment process to determine measures to avoid, minimize, mitigate, 
and authorize take of those species. As required under the Act, the 
Partners have prepared a habitat conservation plan (Plan) for the 
species that would be covered by the incidental take permit and have 
submitted the Plan to the Service, together with an Implementation 
Agreement. The Plan and Implementation Agreement are part of the permit 
    The Service announces the availability of the permit application 
and the Environmental Assessment for public review and comment. All 
comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of 
the administrative record and may be made available to the public.

DATES: Written comments on the permit application and the Environmental 
Assessment should be received on or before April 16, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Jim Bartel, Assistant Field 
Supervisor, Fish and Wildlife Service, 2730 Loker Avenue West, 
Carlsbad, California 92008. Comments may be sent by facsimile to 760-

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelle Shaughnessy, Branch Chief, or 
Dan Brown, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, at the above address 
(telephone: 760-431-9440).


Availability of Documents

    If you would like a copy of the documents, contact the Service's 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office at the above referenced address or 
telephone. Documents also are available for public

[[Page 13229]]

inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above 

Background Information

    Under section 9 of the Act and its implementing regulations, 
``taking'' of threatened or endangered wildlife species is prohibited. 
That is, no one may harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, 
trap, capture or collect listed animal species, or attempt to engage in 
such conduct (16 USC 1538). The Service, however, may issue permits to 
take such species if the taking is incidental to, and not the purpose 
of, otherwise lawful activities. Regulations governing such permits are 
in 50 CFR 17.32 for threatened species and 50 CFR 17.22 for endangered 
    The permit requested by the Partners would allow incidental take of 
up to 61 species in connection with direct and indirect effects of 
development and management activities identified in the Plan. The area 
covered by the proposed permit includes approximately 997 acres within 
a Specific Plan area and 23 acres along the road providing access to 
the site. It is estimated that 1 pair of California gnatcatchers, 1 
acre of potential least Bell's vireo habitat, and 220 acres of 
Stephens' kangaroo rat habitat would be harmed. Take of other species 
covered by the Plan is estimated in terms of habitat removal and would 
range from 1 to 621 acres depending on the habitat of the species. To 
avoid, minimize, and mitigate the effects of take, the Partners propose 
to limit direct harm to species, conserve 511 acres of natural habitats 
(including 340 acres of coastal sage scrub and 19 acres of riparian/
wetland habitats), provide for the ongoing management of onsite 
conserved habitat, and maintain wildlife corridors and habitat 
connections across the property and to other protected lands. 
Approximately 411 acres would be conserved onsite (including 36.6 acres 
revegetated with coastal sage scrub and 11 acres of created/enhanced 
riparian and wetland habitats). Onsite conserved habitat would include 
1 coastal California gnatcatcher use area, 6 acres of least Bell's 
vireo habitat, and 290 acres providing regionally significant habitat 
connections for Stephens' kangaroo rat. Two parcels totaling 100 acres 
would be dedicated to existing wildlife reserves in the region.
    The Environmental Assessment considers six alternatives, including 
No Action. The first alternative considers the effects of the 
development project on the species of concern assuming implementation 
of the Plan as proposed by the Applicant. The second alternative 
considers reduced habitat impacts and increased onsite conservation in 
the master planned community through elimination of one of two proposed 
golf courses. The third alternative considers preservation of the area 
proposed for the master planned community under a mitigation banking 
agreement. Two variations of the third alternative are presented: one 
that covers the plan area identified in the Partner's Plan, and one 
that would conserve an additional 773 acres in the Specific Plan area 
as part of the mitigation bank. The 773 acres that would be added under 
the second variation have already been proposed by the Partners as a 
mitigation bank. The fourth alternative considers additional 
residential development instead of two golf courses in the master 
planned community. The fifth alternative considers development and 
onsite conservation as proposed in the 1991 Specific Plan for the 
property. The sixth alternative (No Action) considers a continuation of 
existing conditions in the plan area.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10 (a) of the Act and 
Service regulations for implementing the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969 (40 CFR 1506.6). The Service will evaluate the application, 
associated documents, and comments submitted thereon to determine 
whether the application meets the requirements of law. If the Service 
determines that the requirements are met, a permit will be issued for 
the incidental take of the listed species. A final decision on permit 
issuance will be made no sooner than 30 days from the date of this 

    Dated: March 10, 1999.
Elizabeth H. Stevens,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operation Office, Region 1, 
Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 99-6438 Filed 3-16-99; 8:45 am]