[Federal Register: December 15, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 240)]
[Page 75045-75046]
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. 100104A]

Notice of Intent to Conduct Public Scoping and Prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement

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

ACTION: Notice of intent to conduct public scoping and prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statment related to the Sequim-Dungeness Valley 
Agricultural Water Users Association's Conservation Plan.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 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 will analyze the 
potential approval of a Conservation Plan (CP) and issuance of two 
incidental take permits (ITP); one issued by NFMS and one by the USFWS. 
The ITP applicant is the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Agricultural Water 
Users Association (the Association) of Sequim, Washington. The ITP 
would allow take of four threatened species and nine unlisted species 
that may be affected by the Association's activities in accordance with 
section 10(a) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA).

DATES: Written comments are encouraged, and should be received on or 
before February 14, 2005.

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 Tim Romanski, USFWS, 510 Desmond Drive S.E., Suite 
102, Lacey, WA 98503-1263; facsimile (360)753-9518; or to Matt 
Longenbaugh, NMFS, 510 Desmond Drive S.E., Suite 103, Lacey, WA 98503-
1273; facsimile (360)753-9517. Comments may be submitted by e-mail to 
the following address: SDVAWUA-CP.nwr@noaa.gov. In the subject line of 
the e-mail, include the document identifier: The Sequim Association CP 
- EIS. Comments and materials received will be available to public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Romanski, USFWS, (360)753-5823; or 
Matt Longenbaugh, NMFS, (360)753-7761.



    The National Environmental Policy Act (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 Association. 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 alternatives.
    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 as to mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, 
shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or 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 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 an 
ITP 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, a CP 
containing a strategy for minimizing and mitigating the take associated 
with the proposed activities to the maximum extent practicable. The 
applicant must also ensure that adequate monitoring and funding for the 
CP will be provided.
    To pursue regulatory certainty of its existing and future water 
supplies, the Association is seeking an ITP that would provide long-
term assurances for the reliability of water supplies. The Association 
needs an ITP because some of its activities have the potential to take 
listed species. The Association is composed of seven irrigation 
districts and private irrigation companies in the Sequim-Dungeness 
Valley area. The seven irrigation districts include Agnew Irrigation 
District, Clallam Ditch Company, Cline Irrigation District, Dungeness 
Irrigation Company, Dungeness Irrigation District, Highland Irrigation 
District, and Sequim-Prairie Tri-Irrigation Company. These seven 
irrigation districts divert water primarily from intakes in the 
Dungeness River and deliver water to users throughout the area.
    The ITP application is related to the operation and maintenance of 

[[Page 75046]]

diversions and conveyance facilities on the Dungeness River (covered 
activities) near the City of Sequim in Clallam County, Washington. 
These covered activities can be summarized as follows:
     Water diversion and conveyance;
     Operation and maintenance of diversion facilities such as 
diversion intakes, intake channels, headgates, fish screens, and bypass 
     Maintenance of canals and laterals;
     Discharge of tailwater (including both irrigation water 
and intercepted stormwater);
     Releases of intercepted stormwater into selected creeks at 
points other than tailwater discharge points when stormwater flows 
exceed ditch capacity; and
     Construction activities related to capital projects 
provided in the CP.
    The Association has a board of directors representing respective 
districts and companies, and appoints a Water Coordinator to assist in 
overall water resource management. The Association has the ability to 
adopt policies, rules, and regulations that apply to all of its 
members, and retains the authority to enter into agreements with 
outside organizations.
    The Association has informed the Services of its proposal to submit 
a conservation plan (CP) and application for an ITP under section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. The proposed CP and ITP would cover various 
activities relating to the Association's continued diversion and 
delivery of water from the Dungeness River, Washington, and other 
sources, as well as planned infrastructure improvements intended to 
conserve listed and unlisted species. The geographic areas to be 
covered are located in eastern Clallam County, Washington. More 
information on the geographic area can be found at an Internet site 
maintained by Clallam County:http://www.clallam.net/Maps/html/mapindex_e.htm

    Species for which the Association seeks ITP coverage include four 
ESA-listed threatened species (Coastal-Puget Sound bull trout, Puget 
Sound chinook salmon, Hood Canal summer-run chum salmon, bald eagle) 
and nine unlisted species that may be affected by the Association's 
activities in the Dungeness River Watershed.
    To obtain an ITP, the Association must prepare a CP that meets the 
issuance criteria established by the Services (50 CFR 17.22 and 
222.307). Federal approval of an ITP and associated CP require 
environmental review under the NEPA. The Services will complete an EIS 
evaluating the environmental effects of the Association's operations 
under its proposed CP.
    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) No 
Action alternative, and (2) the Proposed Action, with thorough 
descriptions of its management features and anticipated resource 
conservation benefits and potential impacts.
    The Services are currently in the process of developing 
alternatives for analysis, and have considered analyzing the following:
    Alternative 1: No Action: Under the No Action Alternative, an ITP 
would not be issued by the Services, there would not be a commitment to 
implement the CP (although it is expected that improvements will be 
made on an uncertain schedule), and ESA assurances under section 10 
would not be provided to the Association;
    Alternative 2: The Proposed Action - Implement the CP: There would 
be full implementation of the CP, which includes a variety of 
infrastructure improvement projects, and operation and maintenance 
procedures to improve in-stream flow and to reduce other impacts from 
irrigation structures and practices;
    Alternative 3: Certain water conservation projects contained under 
the Proposed Action (potentially impacting certain wetlands) would not 
be implemented (i.e., partially implementing the CP);
    Alternative 4: The CP would be modified by adding the piping of 
nearly all of the ditches in the Association members' irrigation 
systems, approximately 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of small portions of 
    Additional project alternatives may be developed based on input 
received from this and future scoping during development of the EIS.
    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. The Services 
are considering whether there is sufficient interest to schedule 
scoping meetings. If meetings are held, details of where and when will 
be provided by future notice so the public will be able to plan to 
participate. 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 CP could have on endangered 
and threatened and other covered species, and their communities and 
habitats; other possible alternatives that meet the purpose and need; 
potential adaptive management and/or monitoring provisions; funding 
issues; existing environmental conditions in the City of Sequim area of 
Clallam County; 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, socioeconomic resources, vegetation, and environmental 
    Comments or questions concerning this proposed action and the 
environmental review should be directed to the USFWS or NMFS at the 
addresses or telephone numbers provided above. All comments and 
material received, including names and addresses, will become part of 
the administrative record and may be released to the public.
    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. U.S.C. 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: November 30, 2004.
David J. Wesley,
Deputy Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1, 
Portland, Oregon.

Nancy K. Daves,
Acting Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 04-27433 Filed 12-14-04; 8:45 am]