[Federal Register: August 4, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 149)]
[Page 45850-45851]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for Mount Diablo 
State Park, Contra Costa County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the 
Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) advises the public that we intend 
to gather information necessary to prepare, in coordination with the 
California Department of Parks and Recreations (State Parks), a joint 
Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) on 
the impacts of the proposed Mount Diablo State Park Habitat 
Conservation Plan (Plan). The Plan is being prepared under section 10 
(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act (Act). The Plan proposes an 
18,000-acre planning area covering the administrative area, including a 
1-mile buffer, of Mount Diablo State Park, Contra Costa County, 
California. The State Parks intends to request an incidental take 
permit under the Act for two species federally listed as threatened and 
seven non-listed species that may become listed during the term of the 
permit. The permit is needed to authorize incidental take of listed 
species that could occur as a result of implementation activities 
covered under the Plan.
    The Service provides this notice to: (1) Describe the proposed 
action and possible alternatives; (2) advise other Federal and State 
agencies, affected Tribes, and the public of our intent to prepare an 
EIS/EIR; (3) announce the initiation of a public scoping period; and 
(4) invite public participating in offering suggestions and information 
on the scope of issues to be included in the EIS/EIR.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before September 3, 
2003, and will be accepted at the public meeting. The meeting date is: 
Tuesday, August 19, 2003, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Walnut Creek, California.

ADDRESSES: Written comments or questions related to the preparation of 
the EIS/EIR and NEPA process should be submitted to Sheila Larsen, 
Conservation Planning, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish 
and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W-2605, Sacramento, California 
95825; FAX (916) 414-6713. The meeting location is: Shadelands Art 
Center, 111 North Wiget Lane at Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek, 
California, 94596.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sheila Larsen, 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 meeting should contact Sheila Larsen as soon 
as possible (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). To allow sufficient 
time to process requests, please call no later than one week before the 
public meeting. Information regarding this proposed action is available 
in alternative formats upon request.


    Section 9 of the Act and its implementing Federal regulations

[[Page 45851]]

prohibit the ``take'' of a species listed as endangered or threatened. 
Take is defined under the Act as including to harass, harm, pursue, 
hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or to collect listed animal 
species, or to attempt to engage in such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1538). 
However, under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act, we may issue permits to 
authorize ``incidental take'' of listed species. ``Incidental take'' is 
defined by the Act as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose 
of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing 
permits for threatened and endangered species are found in the Code of 
Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.32, and 17.22.
    Currently, two species federally listed as threatened, and seven 
species that are not listed, are proposed for coverage under the 
proposed Plan. The listed species are Alameda whipsnake (Masticophis 
lateralis euryxanthus) and California red-legged frog (Rana aurora 
draytonii). The non-listed species are: California tiger salamander 
(Ambystoma californiense), foothill yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii), 
Swainson's hawk (Buteo swainsoni), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus 
anatum), burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia), Mount Diablo bird's-beak 
(Cordylanthus nidularius), and rock sanicle (Sanicula saxatilis). 
Species may be added or deleted during the course of Plan development 
based on further analysis, new information, agency consultation, and 
public comment.
    The proposed Plan area includes approximately 18,000 acres in west 
Contra Costa County. The boundaries of the Plan area are generally 
defined as a 1-mile buffer around Mount Diablo State Park, including 
the park.
    Possible implementation activities that may be covered under the 
proposed Plan include road and trail development and maintenance, 
natural resource management, park facilities development and associated 
infrastructure, park operation and maintenance projects, and special 
events. For proposed road and trail development and maintenance, 
activities such as grading roads, repairs due to erosion, minor re-
alignment of roads and trails, repaving of existing primary road 
system, and management of roadside and trail vegetation may occur. For 
proposed natural resource management, activities such as exotic plant 
and animal control, habitat restoration and enhancement, and cultural 
resource surveys and protection may occur. Proposed covered activities 
under park operation and maintenance projects may include construction 
or expansion of existing and new park facilities; repair and 
replacement of fences, water and sewer system; and normal park 
operation activities such as trash removal, hazard tree removal, 
maintaining fuel breaks, and snow plowing. Special event activities may 
include company picnics, stargazing, and athletic events. Under the 
proposed Plan, the effects of covered activities are expected to be 
minimized and mitigated through participation in a conservation 
program, which will be fully described in the Plan. The proposed need 
of a conservation program is to provide long-term protection of covered 
species by protecting biological communities in the Plan area.
    Components of a proposed conservation program are now under 
consideration by the Service and State Parks. These components will 
likely include: Avoidance and minimization measures, monitoring, 
adaptive management, and mitigation measures consisting of 
preservation, restoration, and enhancement of habitat.

Environmental Impact Statement/Report

    State Parks has selected Shaw E&I, Inc. (Shaw), to prepare the 
Draft EIS/EIR. The joint document will be prepared in compliance with 
NEPA and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Although Shaw 
will prepare the EIS/EIR, the Service will be responsible for the scope 
and content of the document for NEPA purposes, and State Parks will be 
responsible for the scope and content of the document for CEQA 
    The EIS/EIR will consider a proposed action (issuance of section 
10(a)(1)(B) permit), no action (no permit) alternative, and a 
reasonable range of other alternatives. A detailed description of the 
proposed action and other alternatives will be included in the EIS/EIR. 
It is anticipated that several alternatives will be developed during 
scoping, 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, air quality, water quality, mineral 
resources, water resources, economics, and other environmental resource 
issues that could occur directly or indirectly with implementation of 
the proposed action and other 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 and alternatives to be 
addressed in the EIS/EIR. 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 request 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: July 29, 2003.
D. Kenneth McDermond,
Deputy Manager, Region 1, California/Nevada Operations Office, 
Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 03-19776 Filed 8-1-03; 8:45 am]