[Federal Register: June 25, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 122)]
[Page 35663-35664]
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 
an Incidental Take Permit Associated With a Habitat Conservation Plan 
(HCP) for the Federally Endangered California Condor

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) advises the public that we 
intend to gather information necessary to prepare an Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposed habitat conservation plan (HCP) 
for the federally endangered California condor (Gymnogyps 
californianus) (Tejon Ranch Condor HCP). The proposed Tejon Ranch 
Condor HCP is being prepared under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act, as amended. The Tejon Ranch Corporation (Tejon 
Ranchcorp), located in Kern and Los Angeles Counties, California, 
intends to request a permit for the incidental take of the endangered 
California condor. The permit is needed to authorize the incidental 
take of this species as a result of implementing activities covered 
under the proposed HCP.
    We provide 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; (3) 
announce the initiation of a 30-day public scoping period; and (4) 
obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues and 
alternatives to be included in the EIS.

DATES: Public meetings will be held on: Tuesday, July 13, 2004, from 3 
p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Written comments should be received 
on or before July 26, 2004.

ADDRESSES: The public meetings will be held at Cuddy Hall, 335 Lakewood 
Place, Frazier Park, CA. Information, written comments, or questions 
related to the preparation of the EIS and the NEPA process should be 
submitted to Rick Farris, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish 
and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, California 
93003; fw1condorHCP@r1.fws.gov; or fax (805) 644-1766.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rick Farris at the above Ventura 
address, or at (805) 644-1766.


Reasonable Accommodation

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meeting should contact Jane Touth of the 
Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office at (805) 644-1766 as soon as possible. 
In order to allow sufficient time to process requests, please call no 
later than 1 week before the public meeting. Information regarding this 
proposed action is available in alternative formats upon request.


    Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act, as amended (Act) (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and Federal regulations prohibit the ``take'' of a 
fish or wildlife species

[[Page 35664]]

listed as endangered or threatened. Under the Act, the following 
activities are defined as take: harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture or collect listed animal species, or attempt 
to engage in such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1538). However, under section 
10(a) 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, respectively, are at 50 CFR 13 and 50 CFR 17.

California Condor

    The Tejon Ranchcorp is requesting a permit for incidental take of 
the California condor on lands included in the Tejon Ranch Condor HCP. 
The Tejon Ranch Condor HCP includes all lands within the boundaries of 
the Tejon Ranch that are owned by the Tejon Ranchcorp or its affiliates 
that lie outside the San Joaquin Valley floor area, and encompass 
approximately 340 square miles. For the purposes of the Tejon Ranch 
Condor HCP, the Ranch is divided into three major sections: the 
Antelope Valley Floor, the Tehachapi Mountain Uplands, and the Tunis 
and Winters Ridge Area. The Tunis and Winters Ridge Area is the area 
designated in the Tejon Ranch Condor HCP as the ``Condor Study Area.'' 
The Tejon Ranch Condor HCP is designed principally to avoid the take of 
the California condor, but includes provisions to minimize and mitigate 
the impacts of any take that may occur.
    Activities covered by the proposed Tejon Ranch Condor HCP (Covered 
Activities) include ranchwide activities, such as livestock grazing and 
range management, motion picture filming, construction and maintenance 
of all underground utilities including any oil, gas, water, or other 
pipelines and fiber optic cables; and recreational activities such as 
fishing, fishing-related construction, equestrian activities, bicycling 
events, boating, sailing, swimming, camping, hiking, four-wheel 
driving, bird watching, and other nature-based activities. Proposed 
Covered Activities that occur in the Antelope Valley Floor area include 
construction, maintenance, and operation of highway commercial 
facilities, general commercial facilities, heavy and light industrial 
facilities, antennae, high-tension power lines, resorts, indoor and 
outdoor entertainment and recreational facilities and parks, 
residential subdivisions, roads, and other infrastructure necessary to 
these activities. Proposed Covered Activities in the Condor Study Area 
include ranchwide activities and limited construction activities. 
Covered Activities that could occur in the Tehachapi Mountain Uplands 
include the possible future development of a recreational complex 
uphill of the Old Headquarters area of the Ranch. Low-density, low-
profile residential and destination resort development in the Tejon 
Lake-Beartrap Area of the Ranch would occur in this area as well.
    The Tejon Ranch Condor HCP describes how the effects of the Ranch's 
activities on the California condor will be minimized and mitigated 
through the implementation of take avoidance, minimization, mitigation, 
and monitoring measures. Under the proposed HCP, development on the 
Ranch over the proposed 50-year permit term, will occur in areas that 
are rarely used by the California condors and the development will be 
designed to maintain the value of areas used by California condors.

Environmental Impact Statement

    The Tejon Ranchcorp and the Service have selected LSA Associates, 
Inc. to prepare the EIS. The document will be prepared in compliance 
with the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321, et seq.). 
The LSA Associates, Inc. will prepare the EIS under the supervision of 
the Service, who is responsible for the scope and content of the 
    The EIS will consider the proposed action, the issuance of a 
section 10(a)(1)(B) permit under the Act, and a reasonable range of 
alternatives. A detailed description of the impacts of the proposed 
action and each alternative will be included in the EIS. Several 
alternatives will be considered and analyzed, representing varying 
levels of conservation, impacts, and permit area configurations. A No 
Action alternative will be included in the analysis of the alternatives 
considered. The No Action alternative means that the Service would not 
issue a section 10(a)(1)(B) permit.
    The EIS will also identify potentially significant direct, 
indirect, and cumulative impacts on biological resources, land use, air 
quality, water quality, water resources, economics, and other 
environmental issues that could occur with the implementation of the 
proposed actions and alternatives. For all potentially significant 
impacts, the EIS will identify avoidance, minimization, and mitigation 
measures to reduce these impacts, where feasible, to a level below 
    Review of the EIS will be conducted in accordance with the 
requirements of the NEPA Council on the Environmental Quality 
Regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508), the Administrative Procedures Act, 
other applicable regulations, and the Service's procedures for 
compliance with those regulations. This notice is being furnished in 
accordance with 40 CFR 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. The primary purpose of the 
scoping process is to identify important issues raised by the public, 
related to the proposed action. Written comments from interested 
parties are welcome to ensure that the full range of issues related to 
the permit request is identified. While written comments are 
encouraged, we will accept both written and oral comments at the public 
meetings. In addition, you may submit written comments by mail, e-mail, 
or facsimile transmission (see ADDRESSES). All comments received, 
including names and addresses, will become part of the official 
administrative record and may be made available to the public.

    Dated: June 18, 2004.
Paul Henson,
Acting Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 04-14314 Filed 6-24-04; 8:45 am]