[Federal Register: August 26, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 165)]
[Page 46703-46705]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent To Prepare Environmental Assessments or 
Environmental Impact Statements for Permit Applications To Incidentally 
Take the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse in Boulder, Douglas, Elbert, El 
Paso, and Jefferson Counties, Colorado

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent and announcement of meetings.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are issuing 
this notice to advise the public that one or more Environmental 
Assessments (EA) and/or Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) will be 
prepared regarding applications for permits under section 10(a) of the 
Endangered Species Act to allow the incidental take of the Preble's 
meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) in those counties with 
an accompanying Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). Public scoping 
meetings will be held as identified below.

DATES: See ``Supplementary Information'' section for times and places 
of Public scoping meetings to discuss the proposed action as it affects 
each county identified with each meeting date. Additional dates may be 
announced in the future for meetings sponsored by other local 

ADDRESSES: Kathleen Linder, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 755 Parfet 
Street, Suite 361, Lakewood, Colorado 80215.

Supervisor, (see ADDRESSES above), or telephone (303) 275-2370.


[[Page 46704]]

Public Participation

    1. October 18, 1999, 6:00 p.m., Boulder County--County Courthouse, 
County Commissioners' Hearing Room, Third Floor, 1325 Pearl Street, 
Boulder, Colorado 80306.
    2. September 29, 1999, 9:00 a.m., Douglas County--Phillip S. Miller 
County Building, Commissioners' Hearing Room, 100 Third Street, Castle 
Rock, Colorado 80104.
    3. September 21, 1999, 7:00 p.m., Elbert County--County Courthouse, 
215 Comanche Street, Kiowa, Colorado 80117.
    4. October 13, 1999, 6:00 p.m., El Paso County--Pikes Peak 
Community College, Rampart Range Campus, 11195 Highway 83, Colorado 
Springs, Colorado 80921.
    5. September 30, 1999, 6:00 p.m., Jefferson County--County 
Courthouse, 100 Jefferson County Parkway, Golden, Colorado 80419.
    Each meeting will include a presentation about the Preble's meadow 
jumping mouse, the background and history of the HCP development 
process, the information available on the presence of this species in 
the county, activities that may be affected by their presence, and 
strategies to conserve the species while allowing land use activities 
to continue. Submission of written and oral comments and questions will 
be accepted at the meeting. Written comments regarding EA or EIS 
scoping also may be submitted by October 30, 1999, to the address 
    The Preble's meadow jumping mouse was listed as a threatened 
species on May 11, 1998. Because of that listing, the species is 
protected by the Act's prohibition against ``taking.'' The Act defines 
``take'' to mean--to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, 
trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to engage in such conduct. 
``Harm'' is further defined by regulation as any act that kills or 
injures wildlife including significant habitat modification or 
degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by 
significantly impairing essential behavior patterns, including 
breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). However, we may issue 
permits to carry out prohibited activities involving threatened species 
under certain circumstances. Regulations governing permits for 
endangered and threatened wildlife are at 50 CFR 17.22.
    Each of the Colorado counties listed above is preparing to apply to 
the Service for an incidental take permit pursuant to section 
10(a)(1)(b) of the Act, which authorizes the issuance of incidental 
take permits to non-Federal landowners. Each permit would authorize the 
incidental take of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, and possibly 
other threatened or endangered species listed in the HCP(s), during the 
course of conducting otherwise lawful land use or development 
activities in the county. Although public and private entities or 
individuals have participated in development of the HCP(s) and may 
benefit by issuance of the incidental take permit, each county 
government listed above has accepted the responsibility of coordinating 
preparation of an HCP, submission of the permit application, and 
coordination of the preparation and processing of an EA or EIS for 
Service review and approval.
    The action to be described in each HCP is a program that will 
ensure the continued conservation of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse 
in the county for which the HCP(s) is prepared, while resolving 
potential conflicts that may arise from the otherwise lawful activities 
that may involve this species and its habitat on non-Federal lands in 
that county. The environmental impacts that may result from 
implementation of a conservation program described in the HCP(s) or as 
a result of implementing other alternatives will be evaluated in the EA 
or EIS. The county governments listed above, the Colorado Department of 
Natural Resources (CDNR), and numerous other entities are engaged in 
gathering information and developing HCP(s), section 10(a)(1)(B) permit 
applications, and related EA's and/or EIS's in the counties listed 
above. In this case, the HCP(s), section 10(a)(1)(B) permit 
application, and EA or EIS materials are being developed concurrently.
    Development of the HCP has involved, and will continue to involve, 
an open process coordinated by CDNR. A total of 15 open meetings have 
been held on February 4, February 13, February 18, February 19, 
February 20, March 10, March 11, March 17, April 15, September 1, 
September 3, September 8, and September 15, 1998, and June 21, 1999. 
Those involved in this effort to date include other State and Federal 
agencies, counties, cities, towns, industry representatives, 
agricultural representatives, environmental representatives, and 
biologists. It is anticipated that implementation of the conservation 
strategies identified in the HCP(s) may be through purchases of 
habitat, voluntary management agreements, county staff actions, 
implementing agreements with property owners, and other techniques.


    1. County HCP(s) and Incidental Take Permit(s) (Proposed Action)--
This action, which is the proposed action, seeks to address lands that 
constitute potential Preble's meadow jumping mouse habitat within each 
county, whether publicly or privately owned or large or small in size. 
Such lands may include publicly owned lands, (such as Federal 
facilities, State land board lands, State park lands, and other State-
owned lands; utility, highway, and railroad rights-of-ways; facilities, 
parks, and open spaces owned by local governments; facilities and lands 
owned by municipal utilities; and other lands owned by local 
governments) as well as private and publicly owned land being used for 
other land uses, such as agriculture or development. Individual 
conservation strategies of landowners may include:
    a. Avoiding disturbance of floodplains or nearby areas;
    b. Engaging in agricultural practices designed to maintain habitat;
    c. Revegetating riparian corridors between significant habitat 
    d. Participating in Federal or State land conservation incentive 
    e. Creating conservation easements with tax benefits;
    f. Creating habitat banks and selling conservation credits to 
    g. Mitigating lost habitat through the creation or enhancement of 
habitat off site;
    h. Participating in existing local government development review 
    i. Avoiding the grazing of large numbers of animals on small 
acreage tracts;
    j. Engaging in other practices or strategies designed to maintain 
habitat, or possibly to enhance habitat, as science confirms their 
    k. Creating an individual HCP if participation in the county HCP(s) 
and incidental take permit(s) is not attractive or feasible for the 
    This alternative seeks authority for long-term incidental take 
permit(s). The HCP(s) will assure continued conservation measures as 
well as monitoring and reporting procedures, as required by the Service 
for the issuance of an incidental take permit. Service issuance of the 
incidental take permit will authorize certain activities to proceed in 
each county without violating the Act. Individual landowners may 
participate in the HCP(s) through voluntary management programs, 
implementing agreements with the county government, certificates of 
inclusion in a county permit, sale or

[[Page 46705]]

donation of lands to a public or private conservation organization, 
participation in State or Federal incentive programs for land 
conservation, partnerships with other participants in the HCP effort, 
agreement to the terms of the HCP(s) and the incidental take permit(s), 
exemption from regulation based on the terms of the HCP or permit, or 
other methods.
    2. Multiple Individual HCP(s) and Incidental Take Permits for 
Individual Landowners--This alternative would involve individual 
landowners, or groups of landowners, preparing individual HCP(s) for 
individual land use or development projects as the need arises. Any 
conservation strategy listed in the proposed action could be applied to 
similar facts or circumstances in an individual HCP. Conservation 
strategies not discussed earlier also could be developed. This 
alternative would involve separate HCP development and application 
processes. In addition, it would require separate permit review 
processes by the Service with the necessity of conducting separate EA 
or EIS review procedures and documents. Implementation and oversight 
would probably not involve the county government or CDNR, but would 
require oversight and implementation as described in separate 
implementation agreements and the permits themselves.
    3. Single Statewide HCP and Incidental Take Permit--This 
alternative would involve the development of a single HCP for the seven 
Colorado counties listed, and a single incidental take permit related 
to that HCP. Individual public and private landowners, including 
county, town, and city governments, might participate in the HCP 
through voluntary management programs, implementing agreements, 
certificates of inclusion in the single incidental take permit, sale or 
donation of lands to a public or private conservation organization, 
participation in State or Federal incentive programs for land 
conservation, partnerships with other participants in the HCP effort, 
agreement to the terms of the HCP and the incidental take permit, 
exemption from regulation based on the terms of the HCP or permit, or 
other methods. Implementation of the terms of the HCP might require an 
intergovernmental agreement with each local government whose boundaries 
include a participating landowner.
    Alternatives 1, 2, and 3 also incorporate the concept of ``adaptive 
management.'' As science and conservation strategies evolve or 
demonstrate a need to change, the landowner could modify the 
conservation strategies as needed. Therefore, as science and 
information progress, so may the conservation strategies and activities 
under the HCP(s) and permit(s).
    4. No Action Alternative--Under the No Action Alternative, no 
section 10(a)(1)(B) permit would be issued and activities involving the 
take of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse would remain prohibited under 
section 9 of the Act. Activities that would avoid the take of the 
species could continue. Proposed activities on non-Federal land that 
may affect the Preble's meadow jumping mouse would require submitting 
an individual section 10(a)(1)(B) permit to the Service. If a Federal 
action (such as construction of a proposed road or interchange with 
Federal funds) would affect the species, incidental take could be 
allowed through the consultation process outlined in section 7 of the 
Act, and through the development of an incidental take statement if the 
proposed action were determined to not jeopardize the continued 
existence of the species.

Issue Resolution and Environmental Review

    The primary issue to be addressed through the scoping and planning 
process for the HCP(s) and related EA or EIS documents is how to 
resolve potential conflicts between development and land management 
practices and listed species in each county. A tentative list of 
issues, concerns, and opportunities has been developed. There will be 
discussion of the potential effects of each alternative, which will 
include the following areas:
    a. The Preble's meadow jumping mouse and its habitat in each 
    b. Other federally listed threatened or endangered species in each 
    c. State listed species in the State of Colorado.
    d. Effects on other species of plants and animals.
    e. Socioeconomic effects.
    f. The use of Federal, State, county, or local public lands for 
conservation of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse.
    g. The use of privately owned lands for conservation of the 
Preble's meadow jumping mouse.
    h. Need for adequate funding.
    i. Effects on species recovery.
    Environmental review of the proposed action will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), National 
Environmental Policy Act regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), other 
appropriate Federal regulations, and our procedures for compliance with 
those regulations. This notice is being furnished in accordance with 
section 1501.7 of the National Environmental Policy Act to obtain 
suggestions from other agencies, tribes, and the public on the scope of 
issues to be addressed in the EA or EIS.

Public Comments Solicited

    We solicit written comments on the information described above. All 
comments received by the date specified in the DATES section above will 
be considered.

    Authority: National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended 
(42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.).

    Dated: August 17, 1999.
Terry Terrell,
Regional Director, Denver, Colorado.
[FR Doc. 99-21891 Filed 8-25-99; 8:45 am]