[Federal Register: May 8, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 89)]
[Page 30948-30949]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of the Proposed Safe Harbor Agreement for Robert 
Mondavi Winery, San Luis Obispo County, California

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that Robert Mondavi Winery 
(Applicant) has applied to the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for 
an enhancement of survival permit pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The permit 
application includes a proposed Safe Harbor Agreement (Agreement) 
between the Applicant and the Service. The Agreement provides for 
management measures to aid in the conservation of the threatened 
California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii), the endangered 
least Bell's vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus), and the endangered 
Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) on a 
vineyard property operated by the Applicant in San Luis Obispo County, 
California. The proposed duration of both the Agreement and permit is 
33 years.
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that the proposed 
Agreement and permit application are eligible for categorical exclusion 
under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). The basis 
for this determination is contained in an Environmental Action 
Statement, which also is available for public review.

DATES: Written comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. on June 7, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Field Supervisor, Ventura 
Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Ventura, California 93003, 
facsimile number (805) 644-3958 (see Public Review and Comment section 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Valary Bloom, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, at the above address or by calling (805) 644-1766.



    Under a Safe Harbor Agreement, participating landowners voluntarily 
undertake management activities on their property to enhance, restore, 
or maintain habitat benefitting species listed under the Act. Safe 
Harbor Agreements encourage private and other non-Federal property 
owners to

[[Page 30949]]

implement conservation efforts for listed species by assuring property 
owners they will not be subjected to increased property use 
restrictions if their efforts attract listed species to their property 
or increase the numbers or distribution of listed species already on 
their property. Application requirements and issuance criteria for 
enhancement of survival permits through Safe Harbor Agreements are 
found in 50 CFR 17.22(c). The Applicant has developed the proposed 
Agreement for the conservation of the California red-legged frog, least 
Bell's vireo, and Southwestern willow flycatcher on Mondavi's Cuesta 
Ridge Vineyard in San Luis Obispo County, California. The Agreement 
calls for the implementation of a riparian restoration project along an 
approximately 2-kilometer segment of an ephemeral stream known as Taco 
    The proposed riparian restoration program consists of efforts to 
reduce or eliminate yellow starthistle and other non-native vegetation, 
establish native riparian vegetation in which least Bell's vireos and 
Southwestern willow flycatchers may nest, and enhance pools to create 
desirable breeding conditions for the California red-legged frog. The 
Agreement also contemplates the possibility of measures to reduce 
competition from non-native bullfrogs and nest parasitism by brown-
headed cowbirds.
    Although no least Bell's vireos, Southwestern willow flycatchers, 
or California red-legged frogs are currently known to be in the 
immediate vicinity of the project area, the proposed project is 
designed to produce a conservation benefit for each of these species. 
The least Bell's vireo and Southwestern willow flycatcher are both 
threatened with loss and degradation of the riparian habitats with 
which they are obligatorily (vireo) and strongly (flycatcher) 
associated. Both species are likely to benefit through the provision of 
suitable habitat into which dispersing individuals from expanding 
populations elsewhere can move. The California red-legged frog is 
threatened by the loss or degradation of native riparian habitat, and 
predation by or competition with non-native species, most especially 
the bullfrog. The Agreement is likely to result in enhanced breeding 
habitat for the frog, improved cover in and near that habitat, and 
reduced threats from bullfrogs.
    The conservation measures set forth in the Agreement are expected 
to result in the following net conservation benefits to the covered 
species: (1) Increased availability of suitable breeding and foraging 
habitat through planting of native riparian vegetation and control of 
non-native weedy species; (2) reduced fragmentation, and increased 
connectivity of populations in the general area; (3) reduced numbers of 
non-native bullfrogs in the general vicinity of the project; (4) 
reduced threat of nest parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds; (5) 
likelihood of increased population sizes of the covered species in the 
general area; and (6) insurance against the loss of these species in 
the general area as a result of habitat loss or other factors 
    Consistent with the Service's Safe Harbor policy and regulations, 
the Service proposes to issue a permit to the Applicant authorizing 
incidental take as a result of normal viticultural activities on the 
enrolled property. Normal viticultural activities include planting, 
harvesting, weed and insect control, pruning, mowing, discing, 
operation of vehicles and farm equipment, and similar activities. The 
permit would also authorize take incidental to the habitat restoration 
and maintenance activities planned for the Taco Creek project area, 
including weed control and planting of native vegetation, pool 
enhancement, bullfrog control, etc.
    This Agreement and permit will also allow the Applicant to remove 
the habitat improvements and return the area to its prior, or baseline 
condition at the end of the term of the Agreement, if so desired by the 
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that approval of 
the Agreement qualifies as a categorical exclusion under the NEPA, as 
provided by the Department of Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 and 
516 DM 6, Appendix 1) based on the following criteria: (1) 
Implementation of the Agreement would result in minor or negligible 
effects on federally listed, proposed, and candidate species and their 
habitats; (2) implementation of the Agreement would result in minor or 
negligible effects on other environmental values or resources; and (3) 
impacts of the Agreement, considered together with the impacts of other 
past, present and reasonably foreseeable similarly situated projects 
would not result, over time, in cumulative effects to environmental 
values or resources which would be considered significant. This is more 
fully explained in our Environmental Action Statement.
    Based upon this preliminary determination, we do not intend to 
prepare further NEPA documentation. The Service will consider public 
comments in making its final determination on whether to prepare such 
additional documentation.

Public Review and Comments

    Individuals wishing copies of the permit application, the 
Environmental Action Statement, or copies of the full text of the 
Agreement, including a map of the proposed permit area, references, and 
legal descriptions of the proposed permit area, should contact the 
office and personnel listed in the ADDRESSES section above. Documents 
also will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during 
normal business hours at the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office 
(ADDRESSES section above).
    The Service provides this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the 
Act and pursuant to implementing regulations for NEPA (40 CFR 1506.6). 
All comments received on the permit application and Agreement, 
including names and addresses, will become part of the Administrative 
record and may be released to the public. If you wish us to withhold 
your name and/or address, you must state this prominently at the 
beginning of your comment. Anonymous comments will not be considered. 
All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations 
or businesses, are available for public inspection in their entirety.
    We will evaluate the permit application, the Agreement, and 
comments submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets 
the requirements of section 10(a) of the Act and NEPA regulations. If 
the requirements are met, the Service will sign the proposed Agreement 
and issue an enhancement of survival permit under section 10(a)(1)(A) 
of the Act to the Applicant for take of the three covered species 
incidental to otherwise lawful activities of the project. The Service 
will not make a final decision until after the end of the 30-day 
comment period and will fully consider all comments received during the 
comment period.

    Dated: May 1, 2002.
Mary Ellen Mueller,
Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 02-11340 Filed 5-7-02; 8:45 am]