[Federal Register: January 21, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 13)]
[Page 2792-2793]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Extension of 
Public Comment Period and 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, 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and receipt of application; extension of 
public comment period.


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 (Zapus hudsonius 
preblei) (Preble's), 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. The 
permit application includes a combined Environmental Assessment/Habitat 
Conservation Plan (Plan), which is available for public review and 
comment. We previously published a notice requesting comment on this 
proposal on November 22, 2002 (67 FR 70453). We received a request to 
extend the comment period and are hereby granting that request for an 
additional 30 days. Comments previously submitted need not be 
resubmitted as they have already been incorporated into the public 
record and will be fully considered in our final decision on the Plan. 
Comments submitted during this comment period also will be incorporated 
into the public record and will be fully considered. 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 February 20, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Comments regarding the permit application or the Plan should 
be addressed to LeRoy Carlson, Field Supervisor, Colorado Ecological 
Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 755 Parfet 
Street, Suite 361, Lakewood, Colorado 80215, or by facsimile to 303-
275-2371. Comments and materials received, as well as supporting 
documentation used in preparation of this proposed rule, may be viewed, 
by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service's Colorado Field Office.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kathleen Linder, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, Colorado Field Office, at the above address or telephone 


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. However, the Service 
may issue permits to authorize ``incidental take'' (defined by the Act 
as take that is

[[Page 2793]]

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 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.
    We previously published a notice requesting comment on this 
proposal on November 22, 2002 (67 FR 70453). On December 12, 2002, we 
received a request from Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund to extend the 
comment period an additional 60 days. Because the Plan and permit 
application have already been available for 30 days and the request did 
not contain sufficient rationale for unduly delaying a decision on the 
permit, we have determined that an additional 60 days is not warranted. 
However, we are hereby granting an extension for an additional 30 days.
    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: December 20, 2002.
John A. Blankenship,
Deputy Regional Director, Denver, Colorado.
[FR Doc. 03-1066 Filed 1-17-03; 8:45 am]