[Federal Register: September 7, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 172)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 53141-53142]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 53141]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Notice of Receipt 
of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) and Availability 
and Opening of Comment Period for a Draft Environment Assessment (EA) 
Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the West Virginia Northern Flying 
Squirrel in Association With Snowshoe Mountain, Incorporated, 
Pocahontas County, WV

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and receipt of application.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that Snowshoe Mountain, 
Incorporated (SMI) has applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service) for an ITP pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973 (ESA), as amended. The application has been 
assigned permit number TE-102380. The proposed permit would authorize 
the incidental take of a federally endangered species, the West 
Virginia northern flying squirrel (WVNFS) (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus), 
known to occur throughout the property owned by the applicant at 
Snowshoe Mountain Resort, Pocahontas County, West Virginia. The 
proposed taking is incidental to a planned recreation and 
infrastructure expansion project on approximately 43 acres owned by 
SMI. The permit would be in effect for up to 10 years depending on 
completion of the proposed activities.
    The Service announces the receipt of the SMI ITP application and 
the availability of the proposed Recreation and Infrastructure 
Expansion at Snowshoe Mountain HCP which accompanies the ITP 
application, for public comment. In addition, the Service also 
announces the availability of a draft EA for the proposed issuance of 
the ITP. This notice is provided pursuant to the section 10(c) of the 
ESA and National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) regulations 
(40 CFR 1506.6).
    The Service will evaluate the application, associated documents, 
and comments submitted thereon to determine whether the application 
meets the requirements of NEPA regulations and section 10(a) of the 
ESA. If it is determined that the requirements are met, a permit will 
be issued for the incidental take of the WVNFS. The final NEPA and 
permit determinations will not be completed until after the end of the 
60-day comment period and will fully consider all public comments 
received during the comment period.

DATES: Written comments on the permit application, HCP, and EA should 
be sent to the Service's West Virginia Field Office (see ADDRESSES) and 
should be received on or before November 7, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the permit application, HCP, and 
draft EA may obtain a copy by writing to the Service's West Virginia 
Field Office, 694 Beverly Pike, Elkins, West Virginia 26241. Requests 
for the documentation must be in writing to be processed. Written data 
or comments concerning the permit application, draft EA and/or HCP 
should also be addressed to the Field Office Supervisor, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, West Virginia Field Office, at the address above. 
Please refer to permit TE-102380 when submitting comments. Documents 
will also be available for public inspection by written request, by 
appointment only, during normal business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Thomas Chapman or Shane Jones, 
West Virginia Field Office (see ADDRESSES), 304-636-6586.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulation 
prohibits the ``taking'' of a species listed as endangered or 
threatened. Under the ESA, the term ``take'' means to harass, harm, 
pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect listed 
wildlife, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. The Service may, 
under limited circumstances, issue permits to ``incidentally take'' 
listed species, if such taking is incidental to, and not the purpose 
of, otherwise lawful activities. Regulations governing permits for 
endangered species are promulgated in 50 CFR 17.22.


    SMI has applied to the Service for an ITP pursuant to section 10(a) 
of the ESA. The applicant proposes to implement an HCP for the WVNFS 
that will allow construction within WVNFS habitat. The applicant's 
proposed activities may result in take, as defined in the ESA and its 
implementing regulations, of listed species. Authorized take would only 
affect WVNFS; take of other federally listed species is specifically 
excluded from the proposed action. This permit would authorize the 
incidental take of WVNFS at Snowshoe Mountain Resort through otherwise 
lawful activities, specifically the recreation and infrastructure 
expansion, occurring in WVNFS habitat. The HCP and permit would be in 
effect for a maximum of 10 years upon issuance.
    The applicant proposes to construct additional downhill ski slopes 
and expand an existing trail at Snowshoe, to accommodate the projected 
increase in skiers, particularly beginners and intermediate skiers, and 
the demand for skiable terrain. In connection with ski slope expansion, 
SMI proposes to complete a parking area expansion to alleviate traffic 
congestion as a result of the projected increased recreational use of 
the resort. Finally, SMI is proposing to develop an area in which to 
store some equipment, including snowplows, bulldozers, buses, trucks, 
earth graders, backhoes, and landscaping equipment. It is necessary to 
house this equipment in a centrally located area to ensure that heavy 
equipment traffic on the main road is minimized. The proposed 
activities are expected to remove approximately 43 acres of forest.
    The anticipated incidental take will be limited to harm through 
habitat loss as the result of the permanent loss of 43 acres of 
suitable WVNFS habitat. SMI proposes to implement measures to minimize, 
mitigate, and monitor impacts to the WVNFS and include surveying for 
WVNFS, following seasonal clearing restrictions, allowing when 
possible, natural forest regeneration in temporary construction zones, 
and establishing a permanent conservation area to provide refuge for 
the WVNFS.
    The draft EA considers the environmental consequences of three 
alternatives, including a no-action alternative, the proposed action, 
and a reduced impact alternative.
    The Service provides this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the 
ESA. The Service will evaluate whether the issuance of a section 
10(a)(1)(B) ITP complies with section 7 of the ESA by conducting an 
intra-Service section 7 consultation. The results of the biological 
opinion, in combination with the evaluation of the permit application, 
the HCP, EA, and comments submitted thereon, will be used in the final 
analysis to determine whether the application meets the requirements of 
section 10(a) of the ESA. If the requirements are met, the Service will 
issue a permit to SMI for the incidental take of WVNFS during the 
proposed recreation and infrastructure expansion activities. We will 
make the final permit decision no sooner than 60 days from the date of 
this notice.

    Authority: The authority for this section is the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

[[Page 53142]]

    Dated: August 17, 2005.
Marvin E. Moriarty,
Regional Director, Region 5.
[FR Doc. 05-17672 Filed 9-6-05; 8:45 am]