[Federal Register: February 15, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 32)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 7122-7123]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 7122]]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Parts 17 and 222

[I.D. 120301B]

Notice of Public Scoping and Preparation of an Environmental 
Review Document for a Proposed Incidental Take Permit and Habitat 
Conservation Plan Addressing Chewuch River Water Withdrawal and 

AGENCIES: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior; National Marine 
Fisheries Service, Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of intent to conduct public scoping and to prepare an 
environmental document.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act this 
document advises the public that the Fish and Wildlife Service and 
National Marine Fisheries Service (Services) intend to gather 
information necessary to prepare an environmental review document 
(environmental assessment or environmental impact statement) related to 
the proposed approval of a Habitat Conservation Plan (Plan) and an 
issuance of an incidental take permit (Permit) to take endangered and 
threatened species in accordance with the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (ESA). The Permit applicant is Chewuch Basin Council 
    The Services are furnishing this document in order to advise other 
agencies and the public of our intentions and to obtain suggestions and 
information on the scope of issues to include in the environmental 

DATES: Written comments from all interested parties must be received on 
or before March 18, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Comments and requests for information should be sent to Jon 
Hale, Chewuch Scoping Comments, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 510 
Desmond Drive, S.E., Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503-1273, telephone (360) 
753-4371, facsimile (360) 753-9518. Comments and materials received 
will be available for public inspection by appointment during normal 
business hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jodi Bush, Project Manager, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, (509) 665-3507; or Mike Grady, Project Manager, 
National Marine Fisheries Service, (206) 526-4645.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The CBC is comprised of the three primary 
irrigation companies operating in the Chewuch River Basin, including 
the Chewuch Canal Company, the Fulton Ditch Company, and the Skyline 
Ditch Company. The application is related to water withdrawals from the 
Chewuch River located in Okanogan County, WA. The applicant intends to 
request Permits for chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and bull trout. 
The CBC may also seek coverage for cutthroat trout and other currently 
unlisted fish and wildlife species under specific provisions of the 
Permit, should these species be listed in the future. In accordance 
with the ESA, the CBC will prepare a Plan for, among other things, 
minimizing and mitigating any such take that could occur incidental to 
the proposed Permit activities (water diversion and distribution 
activities within the irrigation reach).
    Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulations prohibit the 
``taking'' of a species listed as endangered or threatened. The term 
``take'' is defined under the ESA as to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, 
shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect or to attempt to engage 
in any such conduct. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's definition of 
harm includes significant habitat modification or degradation where it 
actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential 
behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, and sheltering (50 
CFR 17.3). The National Marine Fisheries Service's definition of harm 
includes significant habitat modification or degradation where it 
actually kills or injures fish or wildlife by significantly impairing 
essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, spawning, rearing, 
feeding, and sheltering (50 CFR 222.102).
    The Services may issue permits, under limited circumstances, to 
take listed species incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise 
lawful activities. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations governing 
permits for endangered species are promulgated in 50 CFR 17.22; and 
regulations governing permits for threatened species are promulgated in 
50 CFR 17.32. National Marine Fisheries Service regulations governing 
permits for threatened and endangered species are promulgated at 50 CFR 


    The CBC is composed of the Chewuch Canal Company, the Fulton Ditch 
Company, and the Skyline Ditch Company. These companies own and operate 
independent diversion structures, fish screens, irrigation ditches, 
pipes, canals, reservoirs, and related structures located on and 
adjacent to the Chewuch River in the vicinity to Winthrop, WA. Water 
from these water diversions is made available to individual 
shareholders for irrigation of agricultural, residential, and 
commercial properties and for stock use.
    Section 10 of the ESA contains provisions for the issuance of 
incidental take permits to non-Federal landowners for the take of 
endangered and threatened species, provided the take is incidental to 
otherwise lawful activities and will not appreciably reduce the 
likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild. In 
addition, the applicant must prepare and submit to the Services for 
approval a Plan containing a strategy for minimizing and mitigating all 
take associated with the proposed activities to the maximum extent 
practicable. The applicant must also ensure that adequate funding for 
the Plan will be provided.
    The CBC has initiated discussions with the Services regarding the 
possibility of developing a Plan and securing a Permit for their 
Chewuch River water diversion and distribution operations. Activities 
proposed for coverage under the Permit include the following:
    (1) Water diversions, conveyance, storage, and shared or commingled 
drought storage.
    (2) Conservation and mitigation actions including: (a) reduction of 
diversions during low-flow periods, (b) conveyance and on-farm water 
use efficiency measures, (c) seasonal use of groundwater resources, (d) 
habitat reclamation and enhancement projects, and (e) expansion and use 
of water storage facilities.
    (3) Periodic operational and maintenance activities including: (a) 
repair and maintenance of diversion headgates, fish passage structures, 
diversion dams, and other in-stream improvements; (b) maintenance and 
improvements in side, return, and tailwater channels and storage 
facilities; (c) activities set forth in ditch operating plans; and (d) 
plans for various activities developed as part of an ongoing monitoring 
and adaptive management approach to watershed management.
    The Services will conduct an environmental review of the Plan and 
prepare an environmental document. The environmental review will 
analyze the proposal, as well as a full range of reasonable 
alternatives and the

[[Page 7123]]

associated impacts of each. The Services are currently in the process 
of developing alternatives for analysis. Should information become 
available which indicates the likelihood of significant impacts from 
the proposed project, an Environmental Impact Statement will be 
prepared. Otherwise an Environmental Assessment will be prepared.
    Comments and suggestions are invited from all interested parties to 
ensure that the full range of issues related to this proposed action 
and to all significant issues are identified. Comments or questions 
concerning this proposed action and the environmental review should be 
directed to the Fish and Wildlife Service or to National Marine 
Fisheries Service at the address or telephone numbers provided above.
    The environmental review of this project will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), National 
Environmental Policy Act Regulations (40 CFR parts 15001-508), other 
appropriate Federal laws and regulations, and policies and procedures 
of the Services for compliance with those regulations.

    Dated: December 6, 2001.
Rowan W. Gould,
Deputy Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1, 
Portland, OR.

    February 11, 2002.
Phil Williams,
Acting Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 02-3815 Filed 2-14-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODES 3510-22-S, 4310-55-S