[Federal Register: June 5, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 108)]
[Page 33737-33739]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for Issuance of 
Incidental Take Permits Associated With a Habitat Conservation Plan for 
Solano County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 
1969, as amended, we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) are 
advising the public that we intend to gather information necessary to 
prepare, in coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service 
(NMFS), as a cooperating agency, and the Solano County Water Agency, a 
joint Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/
EIR) on the Solano Habitat Conservation Plan (Plan), which is being 
prepared in conjunction with a Natural Community Conservation Plan. The 
Plan is being prepared under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Federal 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, (ESA); whereas the Natural 
Community Conservation Plan is being prepared under the State of 
California's Natural Community Conservation Planning Act.
    Solano County Water Agency, six of its eight member agencies, and

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Reclamation District No. 2068 (collectively, the Applicants) intend to 
request ESA permits from the USFWS and NMFS (collectively, the 
Services) for 76 species that are federally listed as threatened or 
endangered or that may become federally listed during the term of the 
permits. The permits are needed to authorize take of listed species 
that could occur as a result of activities implemented under the Plan.
    We provide this notice to obtain suggestions and information from 
other agencies and the public on the scope of issues and alternatives 
to be addressed in the EIS/EIR. We invite written comments from 
interested parties to ensure that the full range of issues related to 
the permit requests are identified.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before July 7, 2003. 
Public meetings will be held on:
    1. June 12, 2003, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Fairfield, CA.
    2. June 16, 2003, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Vacaville, CA.

ADDRESSES: The public meeting locations are:
    1. Fairfield--Fairfield City Council Chambers, 1000 Webster Street, 
Fairfield, CA 94533.
    2. Vacaville--Ulatis Cultural Center, 1000 Ulatis Drive, Vacaville, 
CA 95687.
    Information, written comments, or questions related to preparation 
of the EIS/EIR and the NEPA process should be submitted to Deblyn Mead, 
Conservation Planning, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish 
and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825; 
FAX (916) 414-6713.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Deblyn Mead, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, Conservation Planning, at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife 
Office at (916) 414-6600.


Reasonable Accommodation

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meetings should contact Deblyn Mead as soon 
as possible. In order to allow sufficient time to process requests, 
please call no later than one week before the meetings. Information 
regarding this proposed action is available in alternative formats upon 

Related Documents

    Persons wishing to obtain background materials on the proposed Plan 
should contact David Okita, General Manager, Solano County Water 
Agency, 508 Elmira Road, Vacaville, CA 95867 at (707) 451-2904. 
Information is also available on the Solano County Water Agency Web 
page at http://www.scwa2.com.


    NEPA requires Federal agencies to conduct an environmental analysis 
of their proposed actions to determine if the actions may affect the 
human environment. The Services expect to take action on ESA section 
10(a)(1)(B) permit applications expected from the Applicants. 
Therefore, the Services are seeking public input on the scope of the 
required NEPA analysis, including the range of reasonable alternatives 
and associated impacts of any alternatives.
    Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulation prohibit the ``take'' 
of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. Take is defined 
under the ESA as harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture or collect unlisted animal species, or attempt to engage in 
such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1538). However, under section 10(a)(1)(B) of 
the ESA, we may issue permits to authorize ``incidental take'' of 
listed species. ``Incidental take'' is defined by the ESA as take that 
is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out otherwise lawful 
activity. USFWS regulations governing permits for threatened species 
and endangered species, respectively, are at 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 
17.22. NMFS regulations governing permits for threatened and endangered 
species of salmonids that may be covered in the Plan are promulgated in 
50 CFR 222.22.
    In 1999, the Bureau of Reclamation renewed its Solano Project Water 
Service Contract with Solano County Water Agency for the continued 
delivery of 192,350 acre-feet of water per year to 7 public agencies 
within Solano County (City of Vacaville, City of Fairfield, City of 
Suisun City, City of Vallejo, Solano Irrigation District, Maine Prairie 
Water District, and the California Medical Facility/California State 
Prison, Vacaville) and the University of California at Davis, which is 
located partially in Yolo County, for a 25-year period. The water is to 
be used by these contracting agencies within Solano County Water 
Agency's contract service area for agricultural, municipal and 
industrial purposes. The USFWS completed its formal consultation on the 
water service contract renewal and issued a biological opinion on March 
19, 1999. To ensure that implementation of the Solano Project Water 
Service Contract renewal was not likely to jeopardize the continued 
existence of federally listed species or result in destruction or 
adverse modification of designated critical habitat, the Solano County 
Water Agency and its member agencies that contract for Solano Project 
water committed to completion of the Plan as part of their proposed 
project on which the USFWS consulted.
    We anticipate that the Applicants will request ESA incidental take 
permits. The Applicants include the Solano County Water Agencies member 
agencies, with the exception of the University of California at Davis 
and the California Medical Facility/State Prison in Vacaville. The 
University of California at Davis is independently developing a 
separate habitat conservation plan. The California Medical Facility/
State Prison in Vacaville will be included as part of the City of 
Vacaville's participation in the Plan. Reclamation District No. 2068, a 
public agency, has elected to participate in the Plan. Solano County 
may elect to participate in the Plan.
    Currently, up to 76 species are proposed for coverage under the 
Plan. The Solano County Water Agency and its member agencies committed 
to covering 36 species in the biological opinion for the Solano Project 
Water Service Contract renewal. Of these 36 species, 17 are federally 
listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA (1 mammal, 1 bird, 1 
reptile, 1 amphibian, 2 fish, 6 invertebrates, and 5 plants) and 19 are 
plant species that may become listed during the term of the permits. 
Also proposed to be covered under the Plan are 5 salmonid species, 4 of 
which are federally listed, one amphibian species that is a candidate 
for listing, and 34 species that are currently unlisted, but which may 
become listed during the term of the permits. Some of these species are 
listed as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered 
Species Act. Species may be added or deleted during the course of Plan 
development based on further analysis, new information, agency 
consultation, and public comment.
    The Plan area includes approximately 576,927 acres and consists of 
all of Solano County and a small part of Yolo County. The Yolo County 
portion of the Plan area includes approximately 2,500 acres within 
Reclamation District No. 2068's service area and a portion of the 
riparian zone on the Yolo County side of Putah Creek.
    The Plan area and the activities proposed to be covered by the Plan 
are organized into three zones. Zone 1 is proposed to consist of the 
planned growth areas of the cities. Proposed covered activities in this 
zone consist of residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, and 

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development, as well as development of public infrastructure such as 
roads and utilities. Zone 2 is proposed to consist of the service areas 
of Solano Irrigation District, Maine Prairie Water District, 
Reclamation District No. 2068, and the Solano County Water Agency flood 
control channels. Proposed covered activities in this zone consist of 
the inclusion, expansion or annexation of service areas by these 
districts, and ongoing operation, maintenance, and construction of new 
irrigation, flood control, and drainage facilities. Zone 3 consists of 
the remainder of the Plan area within Solano and Yolo counties. 
Proposed covered activities in Zone 3 consist primarily of activities 
related to implementation of the Plan conservation measures including 
habitat management, habitat enhancement, and habitat restoration and 
construction, monitoring, scientific collection, and associated 
compatible activities on designated reserves, mitigation sites, 
mitigation banks and open space lands, and lands adjacent to 
conservation areas. Zone 3 may also include non-agricultural activities 
carried out by the cities on lands outside of their respective 
jurisdictional boundaries, such as construction, operation and 
maintenance of communication facilities, water supply reservoirs and 
recreational facilities management. Activities proposed to be covered 
in Yolo County, as part of Zone 3, are those activities related to 
Reclamation District No. 2068 and the potential implementation of 
conservation measures in the Putah Creek riparian zone.
    Under the Plan, the effects of covered activities on the covered 
species are expected to be minimized and mitigated through 
participation in a conservation program, which will be fully described 
in the Plan. The focus of this conservation program is to provide long-
term protection of covered species by protecting biological communities 
in the Plan area, thereby providing protection at an ecosystem level 
while accommodating compatible land use and economic growth.
    Critical Habitat has been designated for one of the listed salmonid 
species, two other animal species, and a candidate salmonid species 
within the Plan area. Critical Habitat is proposed for several listed 
vernal pool invertebrate and vernal pool plant species proposed for 
coverage in the Plan.
    Components of a conservation program are now under consideration by 
the Services and the Applicants. These components will likely include: 
Avoidance and minimization measures, monitoring, adaptive management, 
research, and mitigation measures consisting of preservation, 
restoration and enhancement of habitat.

Environmental Impact Statement/Report

    The Solano County Water Agency and the Services have selected CH2M 
Hill to prepare the Draft EIS/EIR. The joint document will be prepared 
in compliance with NEPA and the California Environmental Quality Act 
(CEQA). Although CH2M Hill will prepare the EIS/EIR, the USFWS will be 
responsible for the scope and content of the document for NEPA 
purposes, and the Solano County Water Agency will be responsible for 
the scope and content of the document for CEQA purposes.
    The EIS/EIR will consider the proposed action (issuance of section 
10(a)(1)(B) ESA permits), no action (no permit), and a reasonable range 
of alternatives. A detailed description of the proposed action and 
alternatives will be included in the EIS/EIR. It is anticipated that 
several alternatives will be developed, which may vary by the level of 
conservation, impacts caused by the proposed activities, permit area, 
covered species, or a combination of these factors.
    The EIS/EIR will also identify potentially significant impacts on 
biological resources, land use planning (land use development 
patterns), air quality, water quality, mineral resources, water 
resources, economics, and other environmental issues that could occur 
directly or indirectly with implementation of the proposed action and 
alternatives. For all potentially significant impacts, the EIS/EIR will 
identify mitigation measures where feasible to reduce these impacts to 
a level below significance.
    Environmental review of the EIS/EIR will be conducted in accordance 
with the requirements of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.,) its 
implementing regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), other applicable 
regulations, and Service procedures for compliance with those 
regulations. We are publishing this notice in accordance with Section 
1501.7 of NEPA to obtain suggestions and information from other 
agencies and the public on the scope of issues to be addressed in the 
EIS/EIR and the alternatives to be considered. More specifically, we 
provide this notice: (1) To describe the proposed action and possible 
alternatives; (2) to advise other Federal and State agencies, affected 
Tribes, and the public of our intent to prepare an EIS/EIR; (3) to 
announce the initiation of a public scoping period; and (4) to obtain 
suggestions and information on the scope of issues to be included in 
the EIS/EIR. The primary purpose of the scoping process is to identify, 
rather than to debate, significant issues related to the proposed 
action. We invite written comments from interested parties to ensure 
that the full range of issues related to the permit requests are 
identified. All comments received, including names and addresses, will 
become part of the official administrative record and may be made 
available to the public.

    Dated: May 23, 2003.
D. Kenneth McDermond,
Deputy Manager, Region 1, California/Nevada Operations Office, 
Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 03-14111 Filed 6-4-03; 8:45 am]