[Federal Register: August 16, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 159)]
[Page 53567-53568]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Fish and Wildlife Service

[I.D. 052102B]

Availability of the Simpson Resource Company Aquatic Habitat 
Conservation Plan/Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances and 
Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Del Norte and Humboldt Counties, 

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

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: Simpson Resource Company (Simpson), has submitted applications 
to NMFS and FWS (together, the Services) for an incidental take permit 
and an enhancement of survival permit (together, Permits) pursuant to 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA).Simpson has also 
prepared an Aquatic Habitat Conservation Plan/Candidate Conservation 
Agreement with Assurances (Plan) and a proposed Implementation 
Agreement.The Services also announce the availability of a draft 
Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) for the Permit 
applications.The Permit applications are related to forest management 
and timber harvest in Del Norte and Humboldt Counties, CA, where 
Simpson owns lands or harvesting rights.The duration of the proposed 
Permits and Plan is 50 years.
    The Services are furnishing this notice in order to allow other 
agencies and the public an opportunity to review and comment on these 
documents.All comments received will become part of the public record 
and will be available for review pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA.

DATES: Public meetings will be held on September 4, 2002, from 1 p.m. 
to 3 p.m.and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Eureka, CA.Written comments on the 
Permit application, Draft EIS, Plan, and Implementation Agreement must 
be received on or before November 14, 2002.

ADDRESSES: The public meetings will be held at the Red Lion Inn, 1929 
4th Street, Eureka, CA 95501.Oral and written comments will be received 
at the meetings.Written comments may also be directed to Ms. Amedee 
Brickey (FWS) or Mr. James F. Bond (NMFS), both located at 1655 Heindon 
Road, Arcata, CA 95521 or sent by facsimile to (707) 822-8411.Requests 
for documents should be made by calling FWS at (707) 822-7201.Hardbound 
copies are also available for viewing, or partial or complete 
duplication, at the following libraries:(1) Eureka Main Library, 1313 
3rd Street, Eureka, CA; Telephone:(707) 269-1900; (2) Fortuna Branch, 
Humboldt County Library, 775 14th Street, Fortuna, CA; Telephone:(707) 
725-3460; (3) Arcata Branch, Humboldt County Library, 500 7th Street, 
Arcata, CA; Telephone:(707) 822-5924; and (4) Crescent City Library, 
190 Price Mall, Crescent City, CA; Telephone:(707) 464-9793.The 
documents are also available electronically on the Internet at http://

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Amedee Brickey (FWS) at 707-822-
7201 or Mr. James F. Bond (NMFS), at (707) 825-5176.



    Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulations prohibit the taking of 
an animal species listed as endangered or threatened.The term take is 
defined under the ESA to mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, 
kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such 
conduct.Harm has been defined by FWS to include ``significant habitat 
modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife 
by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including 
breeding, feeding, and sheltering.''Consistent with FWS, NMFS has 
defined harm as an act which actually kills or injures fish or 
wildlife, and emphasizes that such acts may include ``significant 
habitat modification or degradation which actually kills or injures 
fish or wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral 
patterns, including breeding, spawning, rearing, migrating, feeding, or 
    The Services may issue two types of permits under section 10(a) of 
the ESA to non-federal landowners to take listed species, under certain 
terms and conditions.FWS's regulations governing permits for threatened 
and endangered species are promulgated in 50 CFR 17.32. and 50 CFR 
17.22; NMFS' regulations governing permits for threatened and 
endangered species are promulgated at 50 CFR 222.307.The first of these 
two types of permits is the Incidental Take Permit, which is authorized 
under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA.A proposed Incidental Take Permit 
must be accompanied by a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that shows: 
(1) the taking will be incidental; (2) the applicants will, to the 
maximum extent practicable, minimize and mitigate the impacts of such 
taking; (3) the applicants will ensure that adequate funding for the 
conservation plan will be provided; (4) the taking will not appreciably 
reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the species in the 
wild; (5) such other measures the Services may require as necessary or 
appropriate for the purposes of the HCP.HCPs can address both listed 
and currently unlisted species.
    The second of these two types of permits is the Enhancement of 
Survival Permit, which is authorized under section 10 (a)(1)(A) of the 
ESA.To implement this provision of the ESA, the Services issued a joint 
policy for developing Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances 
(CCAA) for unlisted species on June 17, 1999 (64 FR 32726).The FWS 
simultaneously issued regulations for implementing CCAAs on June 17, 
1999 (64 FR 32706).A correction to the FWS final rule was announced on 
September 30, 1999 (64 FR 52676).CCAAs are intended

[[Page 53568]]

to help conserve proposed and candidate species, and species likely to 
become candidates, by giving non-federal landowners incentives to 
implement conservation measures for declining species.The primary 
incentive for CCAAs is an assurance that no further land, water, or 
resource use restrictions would be imposed should the species later 
become listed under the ESA.Prior to the Services entering into the 
CCAA and issuing a permit, the Services must determine that the 
benefits of the conservation measures to be implemented, when combined 
with the benefits that would be achieved if it is assumed that 
conservation measures were also to be implemented on other necessary 
properties, would preclude any need to list the covered species.
    Though the names of these two permitting tools are different, the 
goals are similar, and the strategies for achieving those goals can 
overlap.Conservation strategies can, therefore, be developed to fulfill 
CCAA and HCP requirements in a single conservation plan.

Current Proposal

    Simpson owns and manages approximately 457,000 acres of commercial 
timberland in Del Norte, Humboldt, and Trinity counties, 
CA.Approximately 413,000 acres of 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.Some forest management and timber 
harvest activities have the potential to impact species subject to 
protection under the ESA.
    Simpson has developed a Plan, with technical assistance from the 
Services, to obtain Permits for their activities on approximately 
413,000 acres of their commerical timberlands.Activities proposed for 
Permit coverage include the following: all aspects of timber harvest; 
forest product transportation; road and landing construction, use, 
maintenance and abandonment; site preparation; tree planting; 
silvicultural thinning; controlled burns; rock quarries and borrow pit 
operations; aquatic habitat restoration; and the management, harvest, 
and sale of minor forest products.The Permits and Plan would also cover 
certain monitoring activities and related scientific experiments in the 
Plan area.The duration of the proposed Permits and Plan is 50 years.
    The proposed Incidental Take Permit would authorize the take of 
fish in three Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESUs) that are listed 
as threatened, incidental to otherwise lawful management activities: 
California Coastal chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) ESU, 
Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast coho salmon (O. kisutch) ESU, 
and Northern California steelhead (O. mykiss) ESU.Simpson is also 
seeking coverage of fish in three other unlisted ESUs (Klamath 
Mountains Province steelhead ESU, Upper Klamath/Trinity Rivers chinook 
salmon ESU , Southern Oregon and Northern California Coastal chinook 
salmon ESU) under specific provisions of the Permit, should these 
species be listed in the future.
    The proposed Enhancement of Survival Permit would address coastal 
cutthroat trout (O. clarki clarki), rainbow trout (O. mykiss), southern 
torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus), and tailed frog (Ascaphus 
truei) under specific provisions of the Permit, should these species be 
listed in the future.
    The Services formally initiated an environmental review of the 
project through a Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS in the Federal 
Register on July 11, 2000 (65 FR 42674).The project proponent was 
Simpson Timber Company.In October of 2001, Simpson Timber Company 
announced that it planned to establish a separate company called 
Simpson Resource Company that would include all of the company's 
timberlands and directly related operations.The timberlands were 
transferred to Simpson Resource Company in December of 2001, and 
Simpson Resource Company is now the project proponent.The Notice of 
Intent also announced a 30-day public scoping period, during which 
other agencies, tribes, and the public were invited to provide comments 
and suggestions regarding issues and alternatives to be included in the 
EIS.Following this scoping period a Draft EIS was prepared which 
considers the No Action Alternative, the Proposed Action, and three 
additional action alternatives.
    Under the No Action Alternative, Permits would not be issued and 
Simpson would remain subject to the prohibition on unauthorized taking 
of listed species.Under the Proposed Action, the Services would issue 
the Permits and Simpson would implement their proposed Plan on 413,000 
acres of Simpson's California timberlands.Under a Listed Species Only 
Alternative (Alternative A), the Services would issue Permits only for 
currently listed species.The Simplified Prescriptions Alternative 
(Alternative B) would provide coverage for the same species as the 
Proposed Action, with modified management obligations.The Expanded 
Species/Geographic Area Alternative (Alternative C) would expand the 
area of coverage and the number of species covered under the 
Permits.The No Action, Proposed Action, and other action alternatives 
are analyzed in detail in the Draft EIS.
    Other alternatives were considered by the Services but not carried 
forward for detailed analysis during preparation of this EIS.The 
alternatives considered but not carried forward were:(1) broad 
application of generic management prescriptions; (2) extensive permit 
coverage for terrestrial species (in addition to those considered in 
Alternative C above); and (3) alternative permit terms.These 
alternatives were not selected for detailed analysis because they do 
not meet the Services' purposes and needs or the applicant's 
objectives, or they are beyond the scope of the EIS.
    The Services invite the public to comment on the Plan and Draft EIS 
during a 90-day public comment period.This notice is provided pursuant 
to section 10(c) of the ESA and the Services' regulations for 
implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 (40 
CFR 1506.6).The Services are furnishing this notice in order to allow 
other agencies and the public an opportunity to review and comment on 
these documents.All comments received will become part of the public 
record and will be available for review pursuant to section 10(c) of 
the ESA.

    Dated: July 30, 2002.
Phil Williams,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.

    Dated: July 30, 2002.
D. Kenneth McDermond,
 Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Region 1, Portland, Oregon
[FR Doc. 02-20739 Filed 8-15-02; 8:45 am]