[Federal Register: July 15, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 135)]
[Page 42447-42449]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Environmental Review of Proposed Incidental Take Permit and 
Habitat Conservation Plan for the Kaua'i Island Utility Cooperative, 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent; notice of scoping meeting.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is advising the public that we 
intend to gather information necessary to prepare, in coordination with 
the Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), a joint 
Federal/State environmental document (Environmental Assessment or 
Environmental Impact Statement) for a proposed habitat conservation 
plan (HCP) that is being prepared by the Kaua'i Island Utility 
Cooperative (KIUC). The proposed HCP is being prepared under section 
10(a) of the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and section 195D-21 
of the Hawai'i Revised Statutes (HRS). The KIUC intends to apply for an 
incidental take permit under the ESA and a State section 195D-21 
incidental take license to authorize take of the federally endangered 
Hawaiian petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis), the federally threatened 
Newell's shearwater (Puffinus auricularis newelli), and the band-rumped 
storm-petrel (Oceanodroma castro), a federal candidate that may become 
listed under the ESA during the term of the permit. We provide this 
notice to advise other Federal and State agencies, affected Tribes, and 
the public of our intentions; to announce the initiation of a 30-day 
public scoping period; and to request suggestions and information on 
the scope of issues and alternatives to be addressed in the 
environmental document. We invite oral or written comments from 
interested parties to ensure that the full range of issues related to 
the permit request is identified.

DATES: Oral and written comments will be accepted at a public scoping 
meeting held on Thursday, 16 September 2004 from 7-9 p.m. Written 
comments from all interested parties must be postmarked by August 16, 

ADDRESSES: The public meeting will be held in Lihu'e, Kaua'i, at the 
Planning Commission Conference Room, Mo'ikeha Building, 4444 Rice 
Street, Lihue, Hawai'i. Information, written comments, or questions 
related to the NEPA process, or requests to be added to the mailing 
list, should be submitted to the Acting Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, PO Box 
50088, Honolulu, Hawai'i 96850 (facsimile: 808-792-9581)

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Arlene Pangelinan, Conservation 
Planning and Permits Program Leader (see ADDRESSES), or at 808-792-


Reasonable Accommodation

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meeting should contact Jenness McBride, Fish 
and Wildlife Biologist, as soon as possible (see ADDRESSES), or at 
(808) 792-9400. 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 


    Federal agencies are required to conduct National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) analyses of their proposed 
actions to determine if the actions may affect the human environment. 
The Service anticipates that the KIUC will request an ESA (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) incidental take permit. Therefore, we are seeking public 
input on the scope of NEPA analysis required, including the range of 
reasonable alternatives and the associated impacts of those 
    Section 9 of the ESA and its implementing Federal regulations 
prohibit the ``take'' of species listed as threatened or endangered. 
Take is defined under the ESA to include actions that 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). 
Harm includes significant habitat modification or degradation where it 
actually kills or injures listed wildlife by significantly impairing 
essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, and 
sheltering (50 CFR 17.3(c)). Under limited circumstances the Service 
may issue permits to take listed species incidental to, and not the 
purpose of, carrying out otherwise lawful activities. Section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA and regulations governing permits for threatened 
and endangered species at 50 CFR 17.32 contain provisions for issuing 
incidental take permits to non-Federal entities for the take of 
endangered and threatened species, provided the Service determines the 
following criteria are met: (1) The taking will be incidental; (2) the 
applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize and 
mitigate the impacts of such taking; (3)

[[Page 42448]]

the applicant will ensure that adequate funding for the HCP will be 
provided; (4) the taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of 
the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and (5) any other 
measures that the Service may require as being necessary or appropriate 
for the purposes of the HCP will be met.
    The KIUC is a not-for-profit, member-owned utility cooperative that 
generates and distributes electricity to the entire island of Kaua'i, 
Hawai'i. It intends to apply for a incidental take permit for three 
seabird species to be covered under an HCP, the endangered Hawaiian 
petrel, the threatened Newell's shearwater, and the band-rumped storm-
petrel, a candidate for Federal listing. Species may be added or 
deleted during the course of the HCP's development based on further 
analysis, new information, agency consultation, and public comment.
    These seabird species breed on the island of Kaua'i and feed on the 
open ocean. Thus they spend a large part of the year at sea. Adults 
generally return to their colonial nesting grounds in the interior 
mountains of Kaua'i beginning in March and April, and depart beginning 
in September. Fledglings (i.e., young birds learning how to fly) make 
their first journey from nesting colony to the sea in the fall. Both 
adults and fledglings are known to occasionally collide with tall 
buildings, towers, powerlines, and other structures while flying at 
night between their nesting colonies and at-sea foraging areas. These 
birds, and particularly fledglings, are also attracted to bright 
lights. Disoriented birds are commonly observed circling repeatedly 
around exterior light sources until they fall exhausted to the ground 
or collide with structures.
    The proposed HCP will cover the KIUC activities within all areas on 
Kaua'i where their facilities (e.g., generating stations, powerlines, 
utility poles, and lights) are located, including operation, 
maintenance, and repair of these and other existing facilities, and 
construction, operation, maintenance, and repair of new facilities, 
during the term of the incidental take permit. Under the proposed HCP, 
the effects of covered activities associated with the KIUC facilities 
and operations are expected to be minimized and mitigated through a 
fully described conservation program. The biological goals of the 
proposed HCP are to avoid and minimize the incidental take of listed 
seabirds associated with construction, operation, maintenance, and 
repair of the KIUC structures and facilities; and to mitigate any 
unavoidable incidental take by improving seabird survival and breeding 
success. The proposed HCP will analyze minimizing the impacts of 
existing and future facilities and operations through a variety of 
measures, such as shielding lights (primarily streetlights mounted on 
utility poles), installing powerline marker balls, and implementing 
certain design features to reduce the risk of seabird collisions, such 
as installing powerlines below seabird flight altitudes, modifying 
powerline arrays, and placing certain powerline segments underground. 
The conservation program also will include efforts to rescue and 
rehabilitate birds grounded by collisions or light-attraction effects, 
monitor trends in the number and locations of downed seabirds, and 
conduct research needed to investigate information gaps that limit 
options for minimizing or mitigating incidental take.
    Since November 2002, the KIUC has been working with the Service 
under a Memorandum of Agreement to implement certain interim 
conservation measures to benefit listed seabird species on Kaua'i, 
while the proposed HCP is being developed. The KIUC has shielded all 
streetlights on their utility poles to reduce light-attraction impacts, 
placed powerline marker balls where needed in areas of concentrated 
seabird flight paths, contributed funds to partially support the 
State's program to rescue and rehabilitate downed seabirds, and is 
initiating a nesting colony habitat improvement program in partnership 
with a third-party landowner for control of non-native mammalian 
predators. These measures and additional off-site mitigation activities 
will be included in the conservation program described in the proposed 

Environmental Review

    The Service and the DLNR are proposing to conduct an environmental 
review of the proposed issuance of Federal and State incidental take 
permits and the associated proposed HCP, and to prepare a joint 
Federal/State environmental document to assess potential impacts 
related to the ecosystem and the human environment. The KIUC, the 
Service, and the DLNR have selected Planning Solutions, Inc., of 
Honolulu, Hawai'i, to prepare the draft environmental document. The 
joint Federal/State document will be prepared in compliance with NEPA 
and the HRS Chapter 343. Although Planning Solutions, Inc., will 
prepare the environmental document, the Service will be responsible for 
the scope and content of the document for NEPA purposes, and the DLNR 
will be responsible for the scope and content of the document for the 
HRS Chapter 343 purposes.
    The Service's proposed action is the issuance of an incidental take 
permit and implementation of the associated HCP, which will include 
measures to minimize and mitigate incidental take of the covered 
    The environmental review will consider the proposed action, no 
action (i.e., no permit issuance), a reasonable range of alternatives, 
and the associated impacts of each alternative. A detailed description 
of the proposed action and alternatives (including no action) will be 
included in the environmental document. We anticipate that several 
alternatives will be developed, which may vary by the level of impacts 
caused by the proposed activities, their specific locations, and the 
conservation measures involved. Potential alternatives may include 
various methods of minimizing take through modifications of existing 
powerlines, structures, and lights; placing powerline segments 
underground; implementing design standards for new facilities; and 
developing and implementing various approaches for improving seabird 
survival and breeding success.
    The environmental document also will identify potentially 
significant impacts on other biological resources, land use, air 
quality, water quality, mineral resources, water resources, cultural 
and archeological resources, socio-economic conditions, and other 
ecosystem and human environment issues that could result directly or 
indirectly from implementation of the proposed action and alternatives. 
For potentially significant impacts, the environmental document may 
identify mitigation measures to reduce those impacts to a level below 
significance. We anticipate the final environmental document will be 
completed by spring 2005.
    The Service will conduct the proposed environmental review in 
accordance with the requirements of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), its 
implementing regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), other appropriate 
Federal laws and regulations, and policies and procedures of the 
Service for compliance with those regulations. We are publishing this 
notice in accordance with Section 1501.7 of the NEPA regulations to 
obtain suggestions and information from other agencies and the public 
on the scope of issues and alternatives to be addressed in the 
environmental document. The primary purpose of the scoping process is 
to identify, rather than to debate, significant issues related to the

[[Page 42449]]

proposed action. We invite comments and suggestions from all interested 
parties to ensure that a reasonable range of alternatives is addressed 
and that all potentially significant issues 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. We will fully consider all comments received during the comment 

    Dated: June 14, 2004.
David J. Wesley,
Deputy Regional Director, Region 1, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 04-16095 Filed 7-14-04; 8:45 am]