[Federal Register: June 10, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 111)]
[Page 34584-34586]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

[I.D. 050103A]

Notice of Intent To Conduct Public Scoping and Prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement Related to the King County, WA, Habitat 
Conservation Plan

AGENCIES: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce; U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (USFWS), Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and 
in accordance with the Washington State Environmental Policy Act, this 
notice advises the public that the USFWS and NMFS (collectively, the 
Services) intend to gather information necessary to prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS is for the potential 
approval of a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and issuance of two 
incidental take permits (from NMFS and from the USFWS) to take seven 
endangered and threatened species and 22 unlisted species in accordance 
with the Endangered Species Act, as amended (ESA). The permit applicant 
is King County, WA, Department of Natural Resources and Parks, 
Wastewater Treatment Division (King County). The application is related 
to construction, operation, and maintenance activities associated with 
a regional wastewater conveyance and treatment system in western King, 
Snohomish, and Pierce Counties, WA (permit activities).
    The Services provide this notice to: (1) advise other agencies and 
the public of our intentions; and (2) obtain suggestions and 
information on the scope of issues to include in the EIS.

DATES: Written comments are encouraged, and should be received on or 
before August 11, 2003. The Services will jointly hold public scoping 
meetings on the following dates:

                 Date                     Time           Location
June 17, 2003.........................    3 - 6  King Street Center, 201
                                           p.m.   S. Jackson Street, 8th
                                                        Floor Conference
                                                     Center, Seattle, WA
June 24, 2003.........................    6 - 8        Kohlwes Education
                                           p.m.       Center, 300 SW 7th
                                                      Street, Renton, WA
June 26, 2003.........................    6 - 8       Northshore Utility
                                           p.m.  District, 6830 NE 185th
                                                     Street, Kenmore, WA

ADDRESSES: Address comments and requests for information related to 
preparation of the EIS, or requests to be added to the mailing list for 
this project, to Jon Avery, USFWS, 510 Desmond Drive S.E., Suite 102, 
Lacey, WA 98503-1273; facsimile 360-753-9518; or to Phyllis Meyers, 
NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115-6349.

Phyllis Meyers, NMFS, 206-526-4506.



    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 anticipated from the King County 
Wastewater Treatment Division. 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 
    Section 9 of the ESA and implementing regulations prohibit the 
``taking'' of a 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 (16 U.S.C. 1532 (19)). Harm is defined by the USFWS 
to include significant habitat modification or

[[Page 34585]]

degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by 
significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including 
breeding, feeding, and sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). NMFS' 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, feeding, spawning, 
migrating, rearing, and sheltering (64 FR 60727, November 8, 1999).
    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 that all permit issuance 
criteria are met, including the requirement that 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, an HCP 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 HCP will be provided.
    King County needs permits because some its activities have the 
potential to take listed species. Therefore, King County intends to 
request permits from NMFS and FWS for Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus 
tshawytscha), bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus), and five other 
listed species (see table below). King County also plans to seek 
coverage for approximately 22 currently unlisted fish and wildlife 
species including Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma), proposed for listing 
under the ESA's similarity of appearance provisions, and the Western 
yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus), a candidate for listing 
under the ESA under specific provisions of the proposed incidental take 
permits, should these species be listed in the future.

                                 Federally Listed Species Proposed for Coverage
                    Common Name                            Scientific Name            Status          Agency
Chinook salmon.....................................     Oncorhynchus tshawytscha      Threatened            NMFS
Bull trout.........................................       Salvelinus confluentus      Threatened           USFWS
Leatherback sea turtle.............................         Dermochelys coriacea      Endangered      USFWS/NMFS
Marbled murrelet...................................     Brachyramphus marmoratus      Threatened           USFWS
Bald eagle.........................................     Haliaeetus leucocephalus      Threatened           USFWS
Steller's sea lion.................................           Eumetopias jubatus      Endangered            NMFS
Humpback whale.....................................       Megaptera novaeangliae      Endangered            NMFS

    King County owns and operates a regional wastewater conveyance and 
treatment system that serves 1.3 million people in the greater Seattle 
area. The system receives wastewater from a 420-square-mile area in 
King County and parts of Snohomish and Pierce Counties. Using an 
extensive network of pipes and pumps, King County currently conveys 
wastewater collected from local sewer districts to one of two regional 
treatment plants, where it undergoes both primary and secondary 
treatment before it is discharged into Puget Sound through outfalls 
located offshore of West Point and Duwamish Head.
    In response to projected population growth within the Puget Sound 
region, King County has developed the Regional Wastewater Services Plan 
(RWSP), which enumerates the new and expanded facilities that King 
County will need throughout its three-county service area to meet 
increased demand for its wastewater conveyance and treatment services 
over the next 40 years. The RWSP is the subject of a Washington State 
Environmental Policy Act document entitled ``Final Environmental Impact 
Statement for the Regional Wastewater Services Plan, April 1998,'' 
prepared by the Wastewater Treatment Division of the King County 
Department of Natural Resources. Construction, operation, and 
maintenance activities associated with some new or expanded facilities 
called for in the RWSP, as well as those same activities associated 
with some existing King County facilities, have the potential to impact 
species subject to protection under Section 9 of the ESA.
    King County has initiated discussions with the Services regarding 
the possibility of receiving permits that would cover take of listed 
species incidental to the following otherwise lawful activities:
    (1) King County's existing and proposed secondary treated effluent 
discharges permitted under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination 
    (2) Construction, operation, and maintenance activities associated 
with King County's existing and proposed effluent discharge outfalls;
    (3) Construction, operation, and maintenance activities associated 
with King County's existing and proposed wastewater treatment 
    (4) Construction, operation, and maintenance activities associated 
with King County's existing and proposed conveyance facilities;
    (5)King County habitat restoration projects, water quality 
improvement projects, water quality and fish habitat monitoring 
programs, and adaptive management activities intended to avoid, 
minimize, and mitigate the impacts of King County activities (1)- (4) 
on the proposed covered species, to the maximum extent practicable.
    The King County Wastewater Treatment Division is currently 
considering the following types of conservation measures for the 
proposed Habitat Conservation Plan:
    (a) A program of land conservation for the preservation, 
enhancement, or creation of suitable habitats for species addressed in 
the HCP to mitigate impacts associated with proposed construction 
    (b) Development of new construction best management practices to 
avoid or minimize construction impacts on species addressed in the HCP;
    (c) Commitment to continuing certain wastewater source control 
activities that are currently voluntary, targeted at reducing potential 
environmental risks by removing wastes before they are discharged into 
the sewer system;
    (d) Implementation of an adaptive management program with ongoing 
monitoring and adjustment of covered activities.
    Under NEPA, a reasonable range of alternatives to a proposed 
project must be developed and considered in the Services' environmental 
review. At a minimum, the alternatives developed must include: (1) A No 
Action alternative, and (2) the Proposed Action, with thorough 
descriptions of its management features and anticipated resource 
conservation benefits and potential impacts. For the present 

environmental review, the Services

[[Page 34586]]

intend to review the HCP and to prepare an EIS. The environmental 
review will analyze King County's proposed HCP, a ``No Action'' 
alternative reflecting the baseline conditions in King, Pierce, and 
Snohomish Counties under current wastewater treatment practices, as 
well as a full range of reasonable alternatives and the associated 
impacts of each. The Services are currently in the process of 
developing alternatives for analysis. Additional project alternatives 
may be developed based on input received from this and future scoping 
notices during development of the EIS.
    Comments and suggestions are invited from all interested parties to 
ensure that the full range of issues related to this proposed action 
and all significant issues are identified. The Services request that 
comments be as specific as possible. In particular, we request 
information regarding: the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts 
that implementation of the proposed HCP could have on endangered and 
threatened and other covered species and their communities and 
habitats; other possible alternatives; potential adaptive management 
and/or monitoring provisions; funding issues; baseline environmental 
conditions in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties; other plans or 
projects that might be relevant to this proposed project; and 
minimization and mitigation efforts.
    In addition to considering potential impacts on listed and other 
covered species and their habitats, the EIS could include information 
on potential impacts resulting from alternatives on other components of 
the human environment. These other components could include air 
quality, water quality and quantity, geology and soils, cultural 
resources, social resources, economic resources, and environmental 
    Comments or questions concerning this proposed action and the 
environmental review should be directed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service or NMFS at the address or telephone numbers provided above. All 
comments and materials received, including names and addresses, will 
become part of the administrative record and may be released to the 
    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 USC 4321 et seq.), National Environmental 
Policy Act Regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508), other appropriate Federal 
laws and regulations, and policies and procedures of the Services for 
compliance with those regulations.

    Dated: May 5, 2003.
David Wesley,
Deputy Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1, 
Portland, Oregon

    Dated: June 4, 2003.
Phil Williams,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 03-14580 Filed 6-9-03; 8:45 am]