[Federal Register: September 21, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 184)]
[Page 57170-57171]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 57170]]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Fish and Wildlife Service

[I.D. 091100I]

Notice of Availability of Final Environmental Impact Statement 
and Habitat Conservation Plan for Incidental Take

    Permits for Plum Creek Timber Company and Their Subsidiaries in the 
States of Montana, Idaho and Washington
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration, Commerce; Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), 

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: This notice announces the availability of a joint final 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Habitat Conservation Plan 
(HCP) relative to an Incidental Take Permit Application, intended to 
achieve the following: to protect, in accordance with the Federal 
Endangered Species Act (ESA), species listed as threatened or 
endangered, and to provide for sustained production of timber products, 
consistent with Federal and state laws, on lands owned by Plum Creek 
Timberlands, L. P., (and its partners Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc., 
and Plum Creek Timber I L. L.C., Plum Creek Marketing Inc., Plum Creek 
Land Company, Plum Creek Northwest Lumber, Inc., Plum Creek Northwest 
Plywood, Inc., and Plum Creek MDF, Inc., for Lands in Montana, Idaho, 
and Washington (hereafter collectively referred to as Plum Creek).

DATES: Decisions on the above actions will occur no sooner than October 
22, 2000.

    Comments regarding the final EIS or HCP should be addressed to Ted 
Koch, Project Biologist, FWS, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Room 368, Boise, 
Idaho 83709 (fax: 208/387-5262); or Bob Ries, Project Biologist, NMFS, 
10215 W. Emerald St., Suite 180, Boise, Idaho 83704 (fax: 208/378-

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ted Koch, Project Biologist, FWS, 1387 
S. Vinnell Way, Room 368, Boise, Idaho 83709 (fax: 208/387-5262); or 
Bob Ries, Project Biologist, NMFS, 10215 W. Emerald St., Suite 180, 
Boise, Idaho 83704 (fax: 208/378-5699).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice advises the public that Plum 
Creek Timberlands, L.P. and associated companies identified above (Plum 
Creek) have submitted an application to the Fish and Wildlife Service 
and the National Marine Fisheries Service (together, the Services) for 
an Incidental Take Permit (Permit) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). As required by 
section 10(a)(2)(B) of the Act, the applicant has also prepared an HCP 
designed to minimize and mitigate for any take of endangered or 
threatened species. The Permit application is related to forest 
management and other Plum Creek activities on approximately 1.7 million 
acres of Plum Creek land in western Montana, northern Idaho, and 
western Washington. Of the 1.7 million acres, approximately 90 percent 
occur in Montana, 5 percent occur in Idaho, and 5 percent occur in 

Species Affected by the Permit

    The proposed Permit would authorize the take of the following eight 
listed endangered or threatened species incidental to otherwise lawful 
activities: Columbia River distinct population segment (DPS) of bull 
trout (Salvelinus confluentus); Snake River steelhead evolutionarily 
significant unit (ESU) (Oncorhynchus mykiss); Mid-Columbia River 
steelhead ESU (Oncorhynchus mykiss); Lower Columbia River steelhead ESU 
(Oncorhynchus mykiss); Snake River spring/summer chinook salmon ESU 
(Oncorhynchus tshawytscha); Snake River fall chinook salmon ESU 
(Oncorhynchus tshawytscha); Lower Columbia River chinook salmon ESU 
(Oncorhynchus tshawytscha); Columbia River chum salmon ESU 
(Oncorhynchus keta).
    Plum Creek is also seeking coverage for nine currently unlisted 
anadromous and resident fish under specific provisions of the Permit, 
should these species be listed in the future.
    These species include: redband trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss); coastal 
rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss); westslope cutthroat trout 
(Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi); mountain whitefish (Prosopium 
williamsoni) pygmy whitefish (Prosopium coulteri); coastal cutthroat 
trout (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki), including the proposed Southwestern 
Washington/Columbia River coastal cutthroat trout DPS and populations 
above barriers; Upper Columbia River summer/fall chinook salmon ESU 
(Oncorhynchus tshawytscha); candidate Lower Columbia River/Southwest 
Washington coho salmon ESU (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and Mid-Columbia 
River spring chinook salmon ESU (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Six of the 
17 covered species are resident fish species, and eleven are anadromous 
fish species or have an anadromous life history form. The duration of 
the proposed Permit and Plan is 30 years.
    On December 12, 1997, a notice was published in the Federal 
Register (62 FR 65437) announcing the intent to prepare an EIS on the 
proposed issuance of incidental take permits under the Federal ESA, and 
inviting comments on the scope of the EIS. Comments were received and 
considered and were reflected in the draft EIS. By a Federal Register 
notice dated December 17, 1999 (64 FR 70695), the Services announced 
the availability for public review and comment of applications for 
Federal incidental take permits filed by Plum Creek under section 10(a) 
of the Federal ESA, as well as the availability of the draft EIS for 
public review and comment. The applications include a proposed HCP and 
a proposed Implementation Agreement (IA) that addressed species 
conservation and ecosystem management on approximately 1.7 million 
acres of land in Montana, Idaho, and Washington.
    In a subsequent February 16, 2000, Federal Register notice (65 FR 
7856), the Services announced that the public comment period on Plum 
Creek's proposed HCP, scheduled to close on February 15, 2000, had been 
extended until March 17, 2000.
    The Services received approximately 2,500 comments on the proposed 
HCP and draft EIS. Changes have been made to the documents in response 
to public comments and agency concerns.

The most notable changes are cited under the headings below.

Adaptive Management

    The greatest number of issues addressed by changes in the Native 
Fish HCP (NFHCP) were related to adaptive management.

These changes include the following:

    (1) Adding a significantly expanded and detailed description of the 
scientific studies to be conducted for effectiveness monitoring.
    (2) Clarifying that adaptive management decisions are an equal 
partnership. This responds to the public's concern that Plum Creek was 
retaining ``veto power'' over deciding whether any changes to the plan 
would be made.
    (3) Adding a new commitment to establish a process for adding Tier 
1 watersheds for any Permit species.

[[Page 57171]]

    (4) Providing a new commitment to monitor landslides.


    The next greatest number of issues were related to riparian 
management. Changes included the following:
    (1) Improving 8 out of 9 commitments with more specific language.
    (2) Adding more fish habitat protection for intermittent streams.
    (3) Extending perennial stream measures to intermittent streams 
that flow through unstable features on the landscape.
    (4) Adding measures to mitigate for impacts of stream side roads.
    (5) Incorporating a limitation on clearcutting in Interface Caution 
Areas Roads.
    The following changes were related to road management issues:
    (1) Improving 5 out of 8 commitments with more specific language.
    (2) Identifying specific watersheds for high priority treatment, 
and for Road Sediment Delivery Analyses.
    (3) Incorporating a requirement to avoid building new roads on 
steep slopes.
    (4) Developing a new, site-specific commitment to address landslide 
risk at Papoose Creek in the Lochsa River Planning Area basin.

Administration and Implementation

    A few issues were related to administration and implementation of 
the NFHCP. The greatest of these was a concern whether the Services 
would have sufficient resources to participate in the adaptive 
management process once the Permit is issued. The following changes 
resulted from these issues:
    (1) Improving 2 out of 6 commitments with more specific language to 
help ensure a self-implementing conservation plan.
    (2) Developing a specific protocol for third party audits.
    Financed by Plum Creek, this will provide objective oversight to 
verify compliance while streamlining the Services' involvement.
    Additionally, although not resulting from any input received during 
the public comment process, there were a number of land parcels added 
or removed from HCP coverage because of Plum Creek land sales, 
purchases, and other environmental considerations that are reflected in 
the final EIS. The most significant change was the sale of more than 
half the lands in Idaho.
    The final EIS analyzes the environmental impacts of the HCP 
submitted by Plum Creek and three alternatives to the HCP, including 
the ``no action'' alternative. The final EIS is intended to accomplish 
the following: (1) Inform the public of the final proposed action and 
alternatives; (2) address public comments received during the comment 
period; (3) disclose the direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental 
effects of the final proposed action and each of the alternatives; and 
(4) indicate any irreversible commitment of resources that would result 
from implementation of the final proposed action.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 102(2)(c) of the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as implemented by the 
Council on Environmental Quality regulations (40 CFR parts 1500 through 

Additional Addresses

    The FEIS will be available at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Snake River Basin Office website at http://www.fws.gov/r1srbo/SRBO/
PlumCk.htm. Or, a hard copy or a copy on CD-ROM may be obtained by 
contacting Mr. Ted Koch, U.S.
    Fish and Wildlife Service, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Boise, Idaho 83709, 
(208) 378-5293.

    Dated: September 12, 2000.
Anne Badgley,
Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1, Portland, 
    Dated: September 14, 2000.
Wanda Cain
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 00-24304 Filed 9-20-00; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODES 3510-22-S, 4310-55-S