[Federal Register: November 22, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 226)]
[Page 70453-70454]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Assessment and 
Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit for the 
Briargate Development, El Paso County, CO

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and receipt of application.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that La Plata Investments, LLC 
(Applicant) has applied to the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for 
an Incidental Take Permit pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973 as amended (Act). The Service proposes 
to issue a 30-year permit to the Applicant that would authorize the 
incidental take of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse (Preble's) (Zapus 
hudsonius preblei), federally-listed as threatened, and loss and 
modification of its habitat associated with construction of a 
residential and commercial development in El Paso County, Colorado. 
Construction of the proposed project will result in the temporary loss 
of approximately 10.68 hectares (26.38 acres) and the permanent loss of 
23.29 hectares (57.55 acres) that provide potential foraging and 
hibernation habitat for Preble's. The permit application includes a 
combined Environmental Assessment/Habitat Conservation Plan (Plan), 
which is available for public review and comment. The Plan fully 
describes the proposed project and the measures the Applicant will 
undertake to minimize and mitigate project impacts to Preble's.
    The Service requests comments on the Plan for the proposed issuance 
of an Incidental Take Permit. We provide this notice pursuant to 
section 10(a) of the Act and National Environmental Policy Act 
regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). All comments on the Plan and permit 
application will become part of the administrative record and will be 
available to the public.

DATES: Written comments on the permit application and Plan should be 
received on or before December 23, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Comments regarding the permit application or the Plan should 
be addressed to LeRoy Carlson, Field Supervisor, Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Colorado Field Office, 755 Parfet Street, Suite 361, Lakewood, 
Colorado 80215. Comments may be sent by facsimile to (303) 275-2371.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Kathleen Linder, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, Colorado Field Office, telephone (303) 275-2370.


Document Availability

    Individuals wishing copies of the Plan and associated documents for 
review should immediately contact the above office. Documents also will 
be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal 
business hours at the above address.


    Section 9 of the Act and Federal regulation prohibits the ``take'' 
of a species listed as endangered or threatened, respectively. (Take is 
defined under the Act, in part, as to harm, or harass a listed 
species.) However, the Service may issue permits to authorize 
``incidental take'' (defined by the Act as take that is incidental to, 
and not the purpose of, the carrying out of an otherwise lawful 
activity) of listed species under limited circumstances. Regulations 
governing permits for threatened species are promulgated in 50 CFR 
17.32; regulations governing permits for endangered species are 
promulgated in 50 CFR 17.22.
    The proposed action is the issuance of a permit under section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Act to allow the incidental take of Preble's during 
the construction of a residential and commercial development at the 
site. The project will directly affect approximately 33.97 hectares 
(83.93 acres), of which 10.68 hectares (26.38 acres) are temporary 
impacts and the remaining 23.29 hectares (57.55 acres) are permanent 
impacts to potential habitat for Preble's. A Plan has been developed as 
part of the preferred alternative.
    The Preble's is the only federally-listed species that occurs on 
site and has the potential to be directly affected by the proposed 
project. The Applicant has agreed to implement the following measures 
to minimize and mitigate the impacts that may result from project 
    1. Enhance 4.41 hectares (10.90 acres) of Preble's habitat along 
the North Fork

[[Page 70454]]

of Pine Creek. Enhancement will include transplanting native shrubs 
from areas of impact to protected habitat, over-seeding of native 
grasses, and noxious weed control.
    2. Restoration of 10.68 hectares (26.38 acres) along the main 
branch of Pine Creek, and the North and South forks of Pine Creek. 
Restoration will include the immediate revegetation of the site with 
native grass seed and clumps of native shrubs.
    3. Preservation of 64.13 hectares (158.48 acres) of Preble's 
habitat by the placement of deed restrictions over the property. This 
is the result of protecting all remaining Preble's habitat within the 
project area. An additional 7.75 hectares (19.14 acres) of natural open 
space adjacent to Preble's habitat also will be protected.
    4. Off-site enhancement and restoration of approximately 75 
hectares (186 acres) along Kettle Creek, an area known to have a 
healthy population of Preble's. Enhancement will include transplanting 
native shrubs from areas of impact to protected habitat, over-seeding 
of native grasses, and noxious weed control. Existing horse trails 
along the creek bottom will be restored by stabilizing the immediate 
area, then seeding with native grass species.
    5. Off-site preservation of the 75-hectare (186-acre) Kettle Creek 
Preserve. Initially the property will be protected by deed 
restrictions. After that, the deed to the entire property will be 
turned over to the Trust for Public Lands, who is in the process of 
forming a new not-for-profit organization to take control of these 
types of properties and manage them for the sole purpose of endangered 
species habitat.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act. The 
Service will evaluate the permit application, the Plan and comments 
submitted therein to determine whether the application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. If it is determined that 
those requirements are met, a permit will be issued for the incidental 
take of Preble's. The final permit decision will be made no sooner than 
30 days from the date of this notice.

    Dated: November 6, 2002.
John A. Blackenship,
Deputy Regional Director, Denver, Colorado.
[FR Doc. 02-29732 Filed 11-21-02; 8:45 am]