[Federal Register: July 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 133)]
[Page 42674-42676]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Fish and Wildlife Service

[I.D. 063000D]

Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement 
Regarding Issuance of an Incidental Take Permit and Enhancement of 
Survival Permit to Simpson Timber Company, California Timberlands, for 
Forest Management in Del Norte and Humboldt Counties, California

AGENCIES: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce; Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to conduct public scoping and prepare an 
environmental impact statement.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as 
amended (NEPA), we, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and 
the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) intend to prepare an Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS) regarding an expected application from the 
Simpson Timber Company, California Timberlands (Simpson) for an 
incidental take permit for take of threatened salmonid species and an 
enhancement of survival permit for coverage of an unlisted fish species 
and unlisted amphibian species, in accordance with section 10(a) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). As required by the 
ESA, Simpson is preparing a Habitat Conservation Plan/Candidate 
Conservation Agreement (Plan/Agreement) and applications for an 
incidental take permit and an enhancement of survival permit (Permits) 
related to forest management and timber operations on a portion of its 
lands in Del Norte and Humboldt Counties, California. Simpson expects 
to apply for an incidental take permit pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) 
of the ESA from NMFS for the coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and 
chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha), and may also seek coverage for one 
currently unlisted species, coastal steelhead (O. mykiss irideus) under 
the incidental take permit should this species be listed in the future. 
Simpson is also preparing an application for an enhancement of survival 
permit under the Candidate Conservation Agreement with

[[Page 42675]]

Assurances Policy of the FWS for the coastal cutthroat trout (O. clarki 
clarki), southern torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus) and 
tailed frog (Ascaphus truei).
    We are furnishing this notice in order to advise other agencies and 
the public of our intentions and to announce the initiation of a public 
scoping period during which other agencies and the public are invited 
to provide written comments on the scope of issues to be included in 
the EIS.

DATES: We request comments be received on or before August 10, 2000. 
Public scoping meetings, at which oral and written comments can be 
submitted, are scheduled for July 11, 2000, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. 
and from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the Cultural Center Atrium, 1001 
Front Street, Crescent City, CA, and July 12, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 
p.m. and from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the Double Tree Hotel, 1929 
4<SUP>th</SUP> Street, Eureka, CA.

ADDRESSES: Comments regarding the scope of the EIS and requests for 
additional information should be addressed to Mr. James Bond, NMFS, or 
Ms. Amedee Brickey, FWS, both located at 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 
95521. Written comments may also be sent by facsimile to (707) 822-
8411. Comments received will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours (Monday through Friday; 8:00 
a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) at the above address. All comments received, 
including names and addresses, will become part of the official 
administrative record and may be available to the public.

Brickey, or Mr. John Hunter FWS, at the address above, or telephone 
(707) 822-7201.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Simpson owns and manages approximately 
457,000 acres of commercial timberland in Del Norte, Humboldt and 
Trinity Counties, California. This property occurs in watersheds with 
habitat important to the conservation of salmonid species in the North 
Coast region of California, including, but not limited to, the Winchuck 
River, Smith River, Klamath River and its tributaries, Redwood Creek, 
Little River, Mad River, tributaries to Humboldt Bay, Eel River, the 
Van Duzen River and others. Many of these streams are listed as water 
quality limited under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act. Some of 
Simpson's management activities have the potential to impact salmonid 
and other species subject to protection under the ESA. Section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA contains provisions for the issuance of 
incidental take permits to non-Federal land owners for the take of 
endangered and threatened species, provided, in part, the take is 
incidental to otherwise lawful activities and will not appreciably 
reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in 
the wild. Simpson is preparing a 50-year Plan/Agreement that is 
intended to provide for management of approximately 431,000 acres of 
its California properties in Del Norte and Humboldt Counties in a 
manner that will minimize and mitigate the impacts of take of certain 
salmonid species currently listed under the ESA or which may be listed 
during the life of the Plan/Agreement. Once completed, it is expected 
that Simpson will submit the Plan/Agreement to NMFS as part of an 
application for the permits.
    The Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances Policy (64 FR 
32706-32716 and 64 FR 32726-32736) contains provisions for the issuance 
of enhancement of survival permits (section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA) to 
non-Federal land owners to cover the take of currently unlisted species 
in the event that such species are listed in the future, provided, in 
part, that the take is incidental to otherwise lawful activities and 
will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery 
in the wild of any species. An applicant for an enhancement of survival 
permit must prepare and submit a permit application to the FWS for 
approval along with an Agreement containing a strategy for covered 
lands that demonstrates the applicant's appropriate contribution to 
precluding or removing the need to list the species as threatened or 
endangered under the ESA. The applicant must ensure that adequate 
funding for the Agreement will be provided. Once completed, it is 
anticipated that Simpson will submit its Plan/Agreement to the FWS as 
part of its application for an enhancement of survival permit.
    Activities that Simpson may propose for Permit coverage include 
mechanized timber harvest; forest product transportation; road and 
landing construction, use, maintenance and abandonment; site 
preparation; tree planting; certain types of vegetation management; 
fertilizer application; silvicultural thinning and other silvicultural 
activities; fire suppression; rock quarries and borrow pit operations; 
gravel extraction; aquatic habitat restoration and other forest 
management activities. The Plan/Agreement would also likely cover 
certain monitoring activities and scientific work in the Plan area.
    NMFS will evaluate the incidental take permit application and 
associated Plan in accordance with section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA and 
its implementing regulations. The FWS will evaluate the enhancement of 
survival permit application and associated Agreement in accordance with 
section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA, its implementing regulations and the 
Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances Policy.
    The environmental review will analyze the action as proposed by 
Simpson. Simpson's proposal is expected to seek authorization for take 
of the covered species incidental to the activities that are described 
above. The habitat conservation plan prepared by Simpson in support of 
the applications described above will describe the impacts of the 
taking for which authorization is sought. In addition, the HCP will 
propose a conservation strategy to minimize and mitigate those impacts 
to the maximum extent practicable and to satisfy other applicable 
requirements of the ESA and its implementing regulations. This 
conservation strategy is expected to include enhanced stream buffers, a 
sediment reduction program, a monitoring program, adaptive management 
measures and certain salmonid, fish and aquatic habitat restoration. 
The HCP will also identify alternatives to the conservation plan 
considered by Simpson and explain why those alternatives were not 
selected. Under Simpson's Plan alternative, we would issue the 
requested permits and Simpson would implement its Plan within the Plan 
    The environmental review will also analyze a full range of 
reasonable alternatives to the proposed action, including a No Action 
alternative, and the associated impacts of each. We are currently in 
the process of developing alternatives for analysis. In connection with 
developing alternative approaches, we will consider, for example, 
modified lists of covered species, modified permit coverage areas, 
i.e., portions of the landscape subject to permit coverage, modified 
permit terms and different mitigation/aquatic resource management 
strategies that would serve the purpose of minimizing and mitigating 
the impacts of incidental take. We will consider other project 
alternatives recommended during this scoping process in order to 
develop a full range of reasonable alternatives. We invite comments and 
suggestions from all interested parties to ensure that a reasonable 
range of alternatives and issues related to them are addressed and that 
all significant issues are identified.

[[Page 42676]]

    We will conduct an environmental review of the permit application 
and the Plan/Agreement and prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in 
accordance with NEPA requirements, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), 
and its implementing regulations (40 CFR parts 1500 through 1508) and 
in accordance with other applicable Federal laws and regulations and 
policies and procedures of the Services for compliance with those 
regulations. The Services estimate that the draft EIS will be available 
for public review during the fourth quarter of 2000.

    Dated: July 5, 2000.
Wanda L. Cain,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.

    Dated: June 30, 2000.
Elizabeth Stevens,
Acting California/Nevada Operations Manager, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 00-17509 Filed 7-10-00; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-F, 4310-55-F