[Federal Register: January 23, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 15)]
[Page 3224-3225]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit for 
Silvicultural Activities, Gates County, North Carolina

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Mrs. Clarine Cooper and Mrs. Canzata Turner (Applicants) have 
applied for an incidental take permit (ITP) from the Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), as amended. The proposed 
permit would allow take of one group of the red-cockaded woodpecker 
(Picoides borealis), a federally-listed, endangered species, incidental 
to silvicultural activities on the applicants' property in Gates 
County, North Carolina (Project).
    The Applicants' Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) describes the 
mitigation measures proposed to address the effects of the Project to 
the protected species. These measures are outlined in the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section below. The Service has determined that the 
Applicant's proposal, including the proposed mitigation measures, will 
individually and cumulatively have a minor or negligible effect on 
these species covered in the HCP. Therefore, the ITP is a ``low-
effect'' project and would qualify as a categorical exclusion under the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as provided by the Department 
of Interior Manual (516 DM2, Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6, Appendix 1).
    The Service announces the availability of the HCP for the 
incidental take application. Copies of the HCP may be obtained by 
making a request to the Regional Office (see ADDRESSES). Requests must 
be in writing to be processed. This notice is provided pursuant to 
Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 
    The Service specifically requests information, views, and opinions 
from the public via this Notice on the federal action. Further, the 
Service specifically solicits information regarding the adequacy of the 
HCP as measured against the Service's ITP issuance criteria found in 50 
CFR parts 13 and 17.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit comments by any one of 
several methods. Please reference permit number TE048566-0 in such 
comments. You may mail comments to the Service's Regional Office (see 
ADDRESSES). You may also comment via the Internet to 
david_dell@fws.gov. Please submit comments over the internet as an 
ASCII file avoiding the use of special characters and any form of 
encryption. Please also include your name and return address in your 
internet message. If you do not receive a confirmation from the Service 
that we have received your internet message, contact us directly at 
either telephone number listed below (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
    Due to Court order, the Department of Interior has temporarily lost 
access to the internet and may not regain it by the time this notice is 
published. Commentors are encouraged to submit comments by mail or 
express courier, or to call (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT) to 
confirm whether our internet capability has been restored.
    Finally, you may hand deliver comments to either Service office 
listed below (see ADDRESSES). Our practice is to make comments, 
including names and home addresses of respondents, available for public 
review during regular business hours. Individual respondents may 
request that we withhold their home address from the administrative 
record. We will honor such requests to the extent allowable by law. 
There may also be other circumstances in which we would withhold from 
the administrative record a respondent's identity, as allowable by law. 
If you wish us to withhold your name and address, you must state this 
prominently at the beginning of your comments. We will not; however, 
consider anonymous comments. We will make all submissions from 
organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or 
businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety.

DATES: Written comments on the permit application, Determination of Low 
Effect and HCP should be sent to the Service's Regional Office (see 
ADDRESSES) and should be received on or before February 22, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application, HCP, and 
supporting documentation may obtain a copy by writing the Service's 
Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, Georgia. Documents will also be 
available for public inspection by appointment during normal business 
hours at the Regional Office, 1875 Century Boulevard, Suite 200, 
Atlanta, Georgia 30345 (Attn: Endangered Species Permits), or Raleigh 
Field Office, Post Office Box 33726, Raleigh, North Carolina 27636-3726 
(Attn: John Hammond). Written data or comments concerning the 
application, HCP, or supporting documents should be submitted to the 
Regional Office. Requests for the documentation must be in writing to 
be processed. Please reference permit number TE048566-0 in such 
comments, or in requests of the documents discussed herein.

Coordinator, (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/679-7313; or Mr. 
John Hammond, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, Raleigh Field Office, (see 
ADDRESSES above), telephone 919/856-4520, Ext 28.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The red-cockaded woodpecker is a 
territorial, non-migratory bird species once common in the southern 
Coastal Plain from east Texas to Florida and north to Maryland, 
Missouri, and Kentucky. Red-cockaded woodpeckers roost and nest in 
cavities excavated in large, living pine trees 60 years old or older. 
The red-cockaded woodpecker is a cooperative breeder that lives in 
family groups of one to nine birds, with each bird nesting in a 
separate cavity; the aggregate of cavity trees used by a group is 
called a cluster. Red-cockaded woodpeckers

[[Page 3225]]

prefer mature longleaf pine forests, but also inhabit loblolly, pond, 
slash, shortleaf, and Virginia pine stands. Without periodic fire to 
control hardwoods, red-cockaded woodpeckers abandon clusters as other 
cavity competitors and predators typical of hardwood habitats move in. 
The decline of the red-cockaded woodpecker is due primarily to loss of 
the old-growth, fire-maintained southern pine ecosystem as a result of 
logging, fire suppression, and conversion to non-forest land uses.
    Recovery activities for the red-cockaded woodpecker are focused on 
Federal lands. Private lands are also important in the Service's 
recovery strategy to supplement habitat where the Federal land base is 
insufficient to support recovery, to establish and maintain 
connectivity with populations on public lands, and to provide a donor 
source of juvenile red-cockaded woodpeckers for translocation into 
designated recovery populations. Red-cockaded woodpeckers have 
generally declined on private lands because of a lack of active habitat 
management, and habitat fragmentation. The Service considers that red-
cockaded woodpeckers geographically isolated on private lands, as on 
the Project site, will eventually cease to exist unless private 
landowners are encouraged to manage their lands for the species.
    The Applicants intend to harvest 86 acres of merchantable timber 
and reforest the Project site in loblolly pine. This would result in 
the take of one group of red-cockaded woodpeckers (in recent surveys, 
numbering 2 adults and 2 juveniles) through harm due to alteration of 
their habitat. The affected group of red-cockaded woodpeckers are not 
part of a larger population. The nearest known groups outside the 
applicants' property are about five miles away and do not regularly 
interact with the group in the project area. This demographic 
isolation, in a region of fragmented, discontinuous habitat 
availability, greatly limits any contribution to species' recovery by 
the red-cockaded woodpeckers affected by the project. The biological 
goal of the applicants' HCP is to create a new, or augment an existing, 
group of red-cockaded woodpeckers, via translocation of juveniles from 
a donor population, into an area of better habitat and thereby help to 
consolidate a more stable red-cockaded woodpecker population within the 
species' historic range. This would be accomplished by the applicants' 
contribution of $13,000 into an existing National Fish and Wildlife 
Foundation fund. This fund is dedicated to purposes consistent with the 
mitigation goal stated above. Expenditures from this fund would be made 
as potential donor and recipient populations of red-cockaded 
woodpeckers are identified in the future.
    The Applicants and the Service believe the biological goal of the 
HCP to augment or create a new group of red-cockaded woodpeckers at an 
area of better habitat which would help to consolidate a more stable 
red-cockaded woodpecker population at an opportune time in the future 
would offset project impacts while allowing the applicants profitable 
use of their property.
    Under section 9 of the Act and its implementing regulations, 
``taking'' of endangered and threatened wildlife is prohibited. 
However, the Service, under limited circumstances, may issue permits to 
take such wildlife if the taking is incidental to and not the purpose 
of otherwise lawful activities. The Service's regulations for approving 
such permit requests are contained in section 10(a)(2)(B) of the Act.
    As stated above, we have determined that the HCP is a low-effect 
plan that is categorically excluded from further NEPA analysis, which 
does not require the preparation of an EA or EIS. Low-effect HCPs are 
those involving: (1) Minor or negligible effects on federally listed or 
candidate species and their habitats, and (2) minor or negligible 
effects on other environmental values or resources. The Applicant's HCP 
qualifies for the following reasons:
    1. Approval of the HCP would result in minor or negligible effects 
on the red-cockaded woodpecker and its habitat. We do not anticipate 
significant direct or cumulative effects on this species as a result of 
this project.
    2. Approval of the HCP would not have adverse effects on known 
geographic, historic, or cultural sites, or involve unique or unknown 
environmental risks.
    3. Approval of the HCP would not result in any significant adverse 
effects on public health or safety.
    4. The project does not require compliance with Executive Order 
11988 (Floodplain Management), Executive Order 11990 (Protection of 
Wetlands), or the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, nor does it 
threaten to violate a federal, state, local, or tribal law or 
requirement imposed for protection of the environment.
    5. Approval of the HCP would not establish a precedent for future 
action or represent a decision in principle about future actions with 
potentially significant environmental effects.
    We will evaluate the HCP and public comments to determine whether 
the application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. We 
will also evaluate whether the issuance of the ITP complies with 
section 7 of the Act by conducting an intra-Service Section 7 
consultation to ensure the ITP will not jeopardize the continued 
existence of this species. We will use the results of this 
consultation, in combination with the above findings, to determine if 
the requirements of the ITP are met and whether or not to issue the 

    Dated: January 16, 2002.
John R. Lemon,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 02-1599 Filed 1-22-02; 8:45 am]