[Federal Register: June 6, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 109)]
[Page 38932-38934]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Fish and Wildlife Service

[I.D. 051602C]

Notice of Public Scoping and Preparation of an Environmental 
Impact Statement and Environmental Impact Report for Mendocino Redwood 
Company's Habitat Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation 

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

ACTION: Notice of Intent.


SUMMARY: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Fish and 
Wildlife Service (FWS), and California Department of Fish and Game 
(CDFG) intend to gather information necessary for the preparation of an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Environmental Impact Report 
(EIR). The EIS/EIR will consider an application from the Mendocino 
Redwood Company (MRC) for an incidental take permit for take of 
endangered and threatened species in accordance with the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA), and an incidental take 
authorization in accordance with the Natural Community Conservation 
Planning Act (NCCPA), (California Fish and Game Code). MRC's 
application will include a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), as required 
under the ESA, and Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) as 
required under the NCCPA. The joint HCP/NCCP will address forest 
management and timber operations on MRC lands in Mendocino and Sonoma 
Counties, California. The proposed 80-year HCP/NCCP will encompass 
220,000 to 240,000 acres of lands owned by MRC on and after the 
granting date of the incidental take permits, and may cover up to 19 
fish and wildlife species and up to 59 plant species.
    We will prepare the EIS/EIR pursuant to the National Environmental 
Policy Act and the California Environmental Quality Act. The EIS/EIR 
will analyze MRC's proposed action and alternatives to the proposed 
action. We expect MRC to present the HCP/NCCP as the proposed action. 
To satisfy both National Environmental Policy Act and California 
Environmental Quality Act requirements, NMFS, FWS, and CDFG

[[Page 38933]]

are conducting a joint scoping process for the preparation of the EIS/
EIR. This notice describes the proposed action and possible 
alternatives, notifies the public of scoping meetings, invites public 
participation in the scoping process for preparing the joint EIS/EIR, 
solicits written comments, and identifies the NMFS and FWS officials to 
whom questions and comments concerning the proposed action and the 
joint EIS/EIR may be directed.

DATES: Written comments from all interested parties must be received on 
or before July 8, 2002. Public scoping meetings where oral and written 
comments can be submitted, are scheduled for June 25, 2002, from 7 p.m. 
to 9 p.m. in Santa Rosa, CA, June 26, 2002; from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in 
Ukiah, CA; and for June 27, 2002, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Fort Bragg, 

ADDRESSES: Comments regarding the scope of the EIS/EIR and requests for 
additional information should be addressed to Eric Shott, NMFS, 777 
Sonoma Ave, Room 325, Santa Rosa, CA 95404 or John Hunter, FWS, 1655 
Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 95521. Written comments may also be sent by 
facsimile to (707) 822-8411. However, comments will not be accepted if 
submitted via e-mail or the internet. Public scoping meetings will be 
held at the State of California Justice Joseph A. Rattigan Building, 50 
D Street, Santa Rosa, CA, 95404, Ukiah Valley Conference Center, 200 
South School Road Street, Ukiah, CA, 95482 and the Fort Bragg Town 
Hall, 363 North Main Street, Fort Bragg, CA, 95437. Comments received 
will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal 
business hours (Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 5 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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric Shott, NMFS, at (707) 575-6089 or 
John Hunter, FWS, at (707) 822-7201.



    Section 9 of the ESA prohibits the ``take'' of wildlife species 
listed as endangered or threatened by either the FWS or NMFS (16 USC 
1538). The ESA defines the term ``take'' as: harass, harm, pursue, 
hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect listed species, or 
attempt to engage in such conduct. Pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of 
the ESA, FWS and NMFS may issue an ``incidental take permit'' to take 
listed species if such taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, 
otherwise lawful activities.
    The take prohibitions of the ESA generally do not apply to listed 
plants on private land unless their destruction on private land is in 
violation of State law or regulation. To the extent that particular 
plants are protected by state law, we expect that MRC will request 
permits for, and will consider, plants in their HCP/NCCP. Another 
reason for the company to consider plants is that the FWS cannot issue 
a permit for wildlife species that would jeopardize listed plant 
    To receive an incidental take permit under the ESA, an applicant 
must prepare an HCP that specifies the following: (1) The impact of the 
taking, (2) steps the applicant will take to minimize and mitigate the 
impact; (3) funding available to implement the steps; (4) what 
alternative actions to the taking the applicant considered and the 
reasons why they were not taken; and (5) any other measures NMFS or FWS 
may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purpose of the 
plan (16 USC 1539). To issue a permit, NMFS and FWS must find that: (1) 
the taking will be incidental, (2) the applicant will minimize and 
mitigate impacts of the take to the maximum extent possible; (3) the 
applicant will ensure adequate funding for the HCP; (4) the taking will 
not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of 
the species; and the applicant met other measures required by FWS and 
NMFS. Regulations governing issuance of FWS permits for endangered and 
threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, and at 50 CFR 222.301 
through 307 for NMFS-issued permits.
    The California Endangered Species Act prohibits the 
take of wildlife species listed as endangered or 
threatened by the California Fish and Game Commission (California Fish 
and Game Code, section 2080). The California Endangered Species Act 
defines the term take as: hunt, pursue, catch, 
capture or kill, or attempt to engage in such conduct (California Fish 
and Game Code, section 86). Pursuant to section 2835 of the NCCPA 
(California Fish and Game Code section 2835), CDFG may issue a permit 
that authorizes the take of any California Endangered Species Act 
listed species or other species whose conservation and management is 
provided for in a CDFG approved NCCP. MRC is expected to pursue an 
incidental take authorization in accordance with section 2835 of the 
    MRC is developing a HCP/NCCP in anticipation of applying for an 
incidental take permit under the ESA and the NCCPA. The HCP/NCCP will 
apply to 220,000 to 240,000 acres of commercial timberland owned by MRC 
in Mendocino and Sonoma counties, California. This property occurs in 
87 planning watersheds with habitat important to the conservation of 
threatened and endangered species in the central California coast and 
northern California region. The HCP/NCCP area includes, but is not 
limited to, MRC lands in the following watersheds; Hollow Tree Creek, 
Cottoneva Creek, Rockport coastal streams (Hardy, Juan, and Howard), 
Noyo River, Albion River, Big River, Navarro River, Upper Russian, 
Greenwood Creek, Garcia River, Alder Creek/Schooner Creek/Mallo Pass, 
Elk Creek, Doyle Creek, Buckhorn Creek, Gualala River, and Willow/
Freezeout Creeks.
    Based on the HCP, MRC intends to request an incidental take permit 
from FWS for the marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus), northern 
spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), Point Arena mountain beaver 
(Aplodontia rufa nigra), California freshwater shrimp (Syncaris 
pacifica), California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii), Sonoma 
alopecurus (Alopectris aequalis var. sonomensis), Humboldt milkvetch 
(Astragalus agnicidus), white sedge (Carex albida), Pennell's bird-beak 
(Cordylanthus tenuis ssp. capillaris), Baker's larkspur (Delphinium 
bakeri), Kellogg's buckwheat (Eriogonum kelogii), Roderick's Fritillary 
(Fritillaria roderickii), Burke's goldfields (Lasthenia burkei), and 
showy Indian clover (Trifolium amoenum). MRC intends to request an 
incidental take permit from NMFS for the California Coastal chinook 
salmon Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) (Oncorhynchus 
tshawytscha), Central California Coast and Southern Oregon/Northern 
California Coasts coho salmon ESUs (Oncorhynchus kisutch), and Central 
California Coast and Northern California steelhead ESUs (Oncorhynchus 
mykiss). MRC intends to request an incidental take permit from CDFG for 
all of these species listed above.
    MRC may also seek coverage in the incidental take permits for 
unlisted species including 51 species of plants, four species of 
amphibians, three species of birds, and two species of mammals. Should 
unlisted covered species become listed under the ESA during the term of 
the permit, take authorization for those species will become effective 
upon listing.
    Activities that MRC may propose for incidental take permit coverage 
include mechanized timber harvest; forest product transportation; road 

[[Page 38934]]

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, miscellaneous and minor forest product 
collecting; recreation; cell- and repeater-site development and 
maintenance; and grazing leases. The HCP/NCCP is also expected to cover 
certain monitoring activities and scientific work in the HCP/NCCP area.
    FWS and NMFS expect MRC's proposed action to include an 80-year 
HCP/NCCP to provide for management of California properties in 
Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. The HCP/NCCP is expected to address each 
of the areas enumerated above, as required by the ESA and the NCCPA. 
The goal of the HCP/NCCP will be to: (1) protect and improve habitats 
required by species covered by the HCP/NCCP, (2) establish appropriate 
guidelines for continuing timber harvests and other forest management 
activities, and (3) improve the native biodiversity present on MRC 
lands so it more closely resembles its historical richness and 
abundance. The conservation strategy is expected to include enhanced 
wildlife habitat and stream buffers, a sediment reduction program, a 
monitoring program, adaptive management, and wildlife and aquatic 
habitat restoration measures.
    FWS, NMFS and CDFG will consider a range of alternatives to the 
proposed HCP/NCCP, including a No Action alternative, and other project 
alternatives recommended during this scoping process. We expect the 
alternatives to include HCP/NCCPs with modified lists of covered 
species, land coverage areas, and permit terms. Different strategies 
for minimizing and mitigating the impacts of incidental take may also 
be considered. 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 
    Environmental review of the HCP/NCCP will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Council on Environmental 
Quality Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the 
National Environmental Policy Act regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), 
and FWS and NMFS procedures for compliance with those regulations. This 
notice is being furnished in accordance with 40 CFR Section 1501.7 and 
1508.22 to obtain suggestions and information from other agencies and 
the public on the scope of issues to be addressed in the joint EIS/EIR.
    You are invited to submit comments and to participate in the 
scoping process. We request comments be received no later than 30 days 
after the date of this notice.
    The primary purpose of the scoping process is to identify the 
significant issues related to issuance of incidental take permits for 
activities covered in the HCP/NCCP. Interested persons are encouraged 
to attend the public scoping meeting to identify and discuss issues and 
alternatives that should be addressed in the joint EIS/EIR. The 
proposed agenda for this facilitated meeting includes a summary of the 
range of activities that may be authorized in the incidental take 
permits; status of and threats to subject species; and tentative 
issues, concerns, opportunities, and alternatives. Additional public 
meetings will be conducted on later dates to provide more opportunities 
to comment on the draft EIS/EIR.

    Dated: May 31, 2002.
D. Kenneth McDermott
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Sacramento, California

    May 31, 2002.
Phil Williams,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 02-14234 Filed 6-5-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODES 3510-22-S, 4310-55-S