[Federal Register: March 26, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 58)]
[Page 14581-14583]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of Tagshinney Tree Farm Conservation Plan, Lewis 
County, WA

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

[I.D. 012103G]

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: Tom and Sherry Fox, and the co-owners of the Tagshinney Tree 
Farm (Applicants), have applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
and National Marine Fisheries Service (together, the Services) for 
Enhancement of Survival Permits and an Incidental Take Permit (Permits) 
pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The 
permit applications include a proposed Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) and 
Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) between the 
Applicants and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and a proposed 
low effect Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) between the Applicants and 
the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). These three documents are 
combined into one document entitled the ``Tagshinney Tree Farm 
Conservation Plan'' (Plan). The Permits and Plan would have a duration 
of 80 years, and would address forest management, timber harvest, and 
fish and wildlife habitat needs on five separate land parcels that 
together form the 144-acre Tagshinney Tree Farm in Lewis County, WA. 
The Services have made a preliminary determination that this proposed 
action is eligible for categorical exclusion under the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The Services explain the basis for 
this determination in an Environmental Action Statement, which is also 
available for public review.
    The Services are furnishing this notice to allow other agencies and 
the public an opportunity to review and comment on these documents, 
including the proposed permit applications, the Plan, and National 
Environmental Policy Act categorical exclusion documentation. All 
comments received will become part of the public record and will be 
available for review pursuant to the Act.

DATES: Written comments from all interested parties must be received on 
or before April 25, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Requests for documents and comments should be addressed to: 
Craig Hansen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 510 Desmond Drive SE, 
Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503, telephone (360) 534-9330, fax (360) 753-
9518; and/or Mike Parton, National Marine Fisheries Service, 510 
Desmond Drive SE, Suite 103, Lacey, WA 98503, telephone (360) 753-4650, 
fax (360) 753-9517.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Hansen or Mike Parton at the 
above address or telephone number.

    Section 9 of the Act and Federal regulations prohibit the 
``taking'' of a species listed as endangered or threatened. The term 
take is defined under the Act to mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, 
shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage 
in any such conduct. Harm is defined by the FWS to include 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 NMFS'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 two types of permits under section 10(a) of 
the Act to non-Federal landowners to take listed species, under certain 
terms and conditions. FWS's regulations governing permits for 
threatened and endangered species are promulgated in 50 CFR 17.32 and 
50 CFR 17.22; NMFS regulations governing permits for threatened and 
endangered species are promulgated at 50 CFR 222.307.
    The first of these two types of permits is the Enhancement of 
Survival Permit, which is authorized under section 10 (a)(1)(A) of the 
Act. Enhancement of Survival Permits may be issued for activities that 
enhance the propagation or survival of the affected species that would 
otherwise be prohibited by section 9 of the Act. To implement this 
provision of the Act, the Services issued a joint policy for developing 
SHAs for listed species and CCAAs for unlisted species on June 17, 1999 
(64 FR 32726). The FWS simultaneously issued regulations for 
implementing SHAs and CCAAs on June 17, 1999 (64 FR 32706). A 
correction to the FWS final rule was

[[Page 14582]]

announced on September 30, 1999 (64 FR 52676). On September 13, 2002, 
NMFS issued regulations to allow transfers of certain incidental take 
permits and enhancement of survival permits associated with SHAs, and 
    SHAs provide private landowners that undertake voluntary 
conservation actions on their land assurances that their future land-
use activities will not be restricted further as a result of these 
proactive conservation efforts. If a landowner voluntarily enters into 
a SHA to manage his or her lands in a manner that attracts endangered 
or threatened species or otherwise increases their presence, the Safe 
Harbor assurances guarantee that no additional regulatory requirements 
for those lands will be imposed on the landowners as a result of the 
proactive conservation measures. The purpose of the Safe Harbor 
approach is to reduce the disincentives (e.g., fear of regulatory 
restrictions) that often cause landowners to avoid or prevent land use 
practices that would otherwise benefit endangered species.
    CCAAs are intended to help conserve proposed, candidate species, 
and species likely to become candidates by giving non-Federal 
landowners incentives to implement conservation measures for declining 
species. The primary incentive for CCAAs is an assurance that no 
further land, water, or resource use restrictions would be imposed 
should the species later become listed under the Act.
    The second of these two types of permits is the Incidental Take 
Permit, which is authorized under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. A 
proposed Incidental Take Permit must be accompanied by a Habitat 
Conservation Plan (HCP) that shows: (1) The taking will be incidental; 
(2) the applicants will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize 
and mitigate the impacts of such taking; (3) the applicants will ensure 
that adequate funding for the conservation plan will be provided; (4) 
the taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and 
recovery of the species in the wild; and (5) such other measures the 
Services may require as necessary or appropriate for the purposes of 
the HCP. HCPs can address both listed and currently unlisted species.
    Though the names of these three permitting tools are different, the 
goals are similar, and the strategies for achieving those goals can 
overlap. Conservation strategies can, therefore, be developed to 
fulfill SHA, CCAA, and HCP requirements in a single conservation plan.

The Current Proposal

    Tom and Sherry Fox, Gary Davis, and Jim and Tricia Murphy, have 
applied to the Services for Enhancement of Survival Permits and an 
Incidental Take Permit under sections 10(a)(1)(A) and 10(a)(1)(B), 
respectively, of the Act. Currently listed species under FWS 
jurisdiction are addressed in the SHA portion of the Plan for an 
Enhancement of Survival Permit and include the threatened northern 
spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), marbled murrelet 
(Brachyramphus marmaratus), and bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus).
    Currently unlisted species under FWS jurisdiction are addressed in 
the CCAA portion of the Plan for an Enhancement of Survival Permit and 
include one species that is a candidate for Federal listing, the Oregon 
spotted frog (Rana pretiosa). Other CCAA species include the coastal 
cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki), northern goshawk 
(Accipiter gentilis), olive-sided flycatcher (Contoupus borealis), 
long-eared myotis (Myotis evotis), long-legged myotis (Myotis volans) 
the Pacific Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorthinus townsendii), Van 
Dyke's salamander (Plethodon vandykei), the northwestern pond turtle 
(Clemmys marmorata), great blue heron (Ardea herodias), pileated 
woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), and osprey (Pandion haliaetus).
    Both currently listed and unlisted species under NMFS jurisdiction 
are addressed in the HCP portion of the plan for an incidental take 
permit and include the threatened Lower Columbia River steelhead 
(Oncorhynchus mykiss), and a Federal candidate species, the Lower 
Columbia coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch).
    The Applicants are proposing to manage their timberlands in Lewis 
County, WA for a period of 80 years under the Plan. The forest 
management actions proposed by the applicants will maintain long-term 
economic viability of the forest management operations. This proposal 
will also provide better habitat conditions for the covered species 
than managing under current State Forest Practices Regulations. The 
conservation provided in this 80-year Plan is intended to improve 
habitat conditions by maintaining and enhancing habitat, minimize the 
impacts of forest management activities to species addressed in the 
plan, contribute to the recovery of the species in the wild and, if 
undertaken by other property owners similarly situated on the 
landscape, preclude the need to list the unlisted species in the 
future. Forest management activities are planned to enhance the health 
and vigor of the forest, reduce incidence of insect and disease in the 
forest, and enhance the structural characteristics of the forests to 
provide functional fish and wildlife habitat for the species addressed 
in the Plan, and other wildlife species found on the applicants' 
    This action would occur in an environment where the lands 
surrounding the Tagshinney Tree Farm are increasingly being utilized 
for non-forest management activities. For example, chicken farms, dairy 
farms and associated pastureland, and housing developments are located 
within one-half mile of the applicants' parcels. Landowners in Lewis 
County near the major highways are often solicited to sell their lands 
for use in developing housing projects. If issued, the Permits would 
remove the regulatory disincentives associated with providing habitat 
for listed and declining species. Thus, the Applicants are more likely 
to keep their property in a forested condition that functions as fish 
and wildlife habitat, and would be less likely to convert their forest 
lands to another use such as a housing development.

Permit Evaluation Process

    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act, and 
National Environmental Policy Act regulations. The Services will 
evaluate the application, associated documents, and comments submitted 
thereon to determine whether the application meets the requirements of 
the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act. The 
criteria by which our decisions will be made are listed and discussed 
in the draft Plan at sections II(B) Regulatory Planning Environment, 
and II(E) Proposed Action and Decisions Needed. We ask that commenters 
focus their comments on the merits of the Plan, the permit issuance 
requirements, and the Environmental Action Statement which will assist 
us in our decision of whether to issue the permits or not. Comments on 
issues other than the these will be considered to be beyond the scope 
of the decision associated with the Plan.
    If the Services ultimately determine that the requirements are met, 
the requested Enhancement of Survival Permits and Incidental Take 
Permit will be issued. The final permit decisions will be made no 
sooner than 30 days from the date of this notice.

[[Page 14583]]

    Dated: March 20, 2003.
Rowan Gould,
Acting Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1, 
Portland, Oregon

    Dated: March 20, 2003.
Phil Williams,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 03-7256 Filed 3-25-03; 8:45 am]