[Federal Register: September 7, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 172)]
[Page 53242-53243]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Safe Harbor Agreement and Receipt of Application for an 
Enhancement of Survival Permit Associated With the Restoration of 
Habitat and Reintroduction of Utah Prairie Dogs on Private Land in 
Sevier County, UT

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: Mr. Mitchel Pace (Applicant/Cooperator) has applied to the 
Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for an Enhancement of Survival 
Permit (ESP) for the Utah prairie dog pursuant to section 10(a)1(A) of 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), as amended 
(Act). This permit application includes a proposed Safe Harbor 
Agreement (SHA) between the Applicant and the Service. The proposed SHA 
and permit would become effective upon signature of the SHA and would 
remain in effect for 25 years. This notice is provided pursuant to the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), section 10 of the Act, and 
the Service's Safe Harbor Policy (64 FR 32717). The Service requests 
information, views, and opinions from the public via this notice. 
Further, the Service is soliciting information regarding the adequacy 
of the SHA as measured against the Service's Safe Harbor Policy and the 
regulations that implement it.

DATES: Written comments on the permit application must be received on 
or before October 7, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the proposed SHA and the permit 
application may obtain copies by writing the Service's Mountain-Prairie 
Regional Office, Denver, Colorado. Documents also will be available for 
public inspection during normal business hours at the Regional Office, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 134 Union Boulevard, Lakewood, Colorado 
80228-1807, or the Utah Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
2369 West Orton Circle, West Valley City, Utah 84119. Written data or 
comments concerning the proposed SHA and/or permit application must be 
submitted to the Regional Office and must be in

[[Page 53243]]

writing to be processed. Comments must be submitted in writing to be 
adequately considered in the Service's decision-making process. Please 
reference permit number TE-106063 in your comments, or in the request 
for the documents discussed herein.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Pat Mehlhop, Regional Safe Harbor 
Coordinator (see ADDRESSES), telephone (303) 236-4215, or Henry Maddux, 
Utah Field Supervisor (see ADDRESSES), telephone (801) 975-3330.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Utah prairie dog is the westernmost 
member of the genus Cynomys. The species' range, which is limited to 
the southwestern quarter of Utah, is the most restricted of all prairie 
dog species in the United States. Distribution of the Utah prairie dog 
has been greatly reduced due to disease (plague), poisoning, drought, 
and human-related habitat alteration. Protection of this species and 
enhancement of its habitat on private land will benefit recovery 
    The primary objective of this proposed SHA is to implement 
voluntary conservation measures to benefit the species and the 
landowner. Through this agreement, the landowner will receive relief 
from any section 9 liability under the Act beyond that which exists at 
the time the agreement is signed (``regulatory baseline''). The private 
land immediately to the south of the property contains an active Utah 
prairie dog colony approximately 2 hectares (5 acres) in size. This 
colony abuts the fence line, but does not extend onto the property to 
be addressed in the proposed SHA due to unsuitable habitat. To benefit 
the Utah prairie dog, foraging and visual surveillance habitat will be 
enhanced by thinning decadent stands of brush and by increasing forage 
quantity and quality using mechanical and herbicidal treatments and 
reseeding native grasses and forbs. The habitat improvements will be 
maintained throughout the term of the permit through managed grazing, 
additional brush treatments if necessary, and to some degree by the 
Utah prairie dogs themselves. The Cooperator will receive an ESP that 
authorizes incidental take of the covered species above the 
Cooperator's baseline responsibilities, as defined in the SHA.
    The Service has evaluated the impacts of this action under the NEPA 
and determined that it warrants categorical exclusion as described 516 
DM 6, Appendix 1, section 1.4 C.(1). The Service will evaluate whether 
the issuance of the ESP complies with section 7 of the Act by 
conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation on the issuance of 
the permit. The result of the biological opinion, in combination with 
the above finding and any public comments will be used in the final 
analysis to determine whether or not to issue the requested ESP, 
pursuant to the regulations that guide issuance of the type of permit.

    Authority: The authority for this action is the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.).

    Dated: July 26, 2005.
Elliott N. Sutta,
Regional Director, Denver, Colorado.
[FR Doc. 05-17668 Filed 9-6-05; 8:45 am]