[Federal Register: September 20, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 181)]
[Page 55159-55160]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Ohio Department of Natural Resources Candidate Conservation 
Agreement With Assurances and Enhancement of Survival Permit 
Application for the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has received an 
application from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (Applicant) 
for an enhancement of survival permit (ESP) pursuant to section 
10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.), as amended (Act). The Applicant proposes to implement 
conservation measures for the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus 
sistrurus catenatus) by removing the threats to the survival and 
protecting and managing its habitat within the Rome State Nature 
Preserve. The Service announces receipt of the ESP application as well 
as the availability of a proposed Candidate Conservation Agreement with 
Assurances (CCAA) intended to facilitate the implementation of 
conservation measures for the species by the Applicant. Compliance 
under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the proposed 
action was addressed in an Environmental Assessment (EA) approved July 
26, 2005. A copy of the final EA and Finding of No Significant Impact 
(FONSI) is available at: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/NEPA.

DATES: Written data or comments must be received on or before October 
20, 2005.

ADDRESSES: 1. Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 

[[Page 55160]]

Services, 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, Minnesota 55111-4056.
    2. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services Field 
Office, 6950 Americana Pkwy, Suite H, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068-4127.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Peter Fasbender, (612) 713-5343, 
or peter_fasbender@fws.gov.; or Ms. Angela Zimmerman, telephone: (614) 


Availability of Documents

    We provide this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act and 
pursuant to implementing regulations for the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) found at (40 CFR 1506.6). All comments received on 
the permit application and proposed Agreement, including names and 
addresses, will become part of the administrative record and may be 
released to the public. If you wish us to withhold your name and/or 
address, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your 
comment. All submissions from organizations or companies, or from 
individuals representing organizations or companies, are available for 
public inspection in their entirety.


    The eastern massasauga rattlesnake, also known as the swamp rattler 
or black snapper, is a resident of many glaciated areas of Ohio. The 
massasauga was once common throughout much of the Great Lakes basin, 
but now is restricted to scattered, often isolated populations. 
Extensive farming, draining of their wetland habitats, vegetation 
succession and other forms of habitat fragmentation has contributed to 
their reduced numbers. Loss of habitat and persecution by humans are 
thought to be the primary causes of decline. Current records from the 
Heritage Database (Division of Natural Areas and Preserves) place the 
snake in only 15 Ohio counties. At least eight of these populations 
occur on state-owned and/or managed land. The Division of Natural Areas 
and Preserves (the Division) manages three sites, the Division of 
Wildlife manages four sites and the Ohio Historical Society manages 
another. The massasauga was listed as an endangered species in Ohio in 
1996. In October 1999, the Service designated it a candidate species 
for Federal protection by the Endangered Species Act.
    The Rome State Nature Preserve is located within Ashtabula County, 
Ohio. Containing approximately 105 acres, the preserve is located 
between Rome and Hartsgrove Townships and lies within the Grand River 
watershed. Under the CCAA, the Applicant has agreed to implement 
several conservation measures that will reduce and/or eliminate 
potential threats to the species. The Applicant will: (1) Maintain and 
manage the Rome State Nature Preserve in a mosaic of habitats essential 
for the massasauga; (2) control the spread of invasive vegetation 
species; and (3) implement protective measures to reduce losses from 
human and natural predators.
    Implementation of the CCAA is expected to protect and conserve 
habitat for the covered species, eliminate unauthorized human 
disturbances within Rome State Nature Preserve that are believed to 
impact the covered species, and provide important monitoring data that 
can be used to develop and/or improve management strategies for the 
massasauga. These benefits will be obtained through restoration and 
protection of habitats on the enrolled property.
    We will make our final determination after the end of the 30-day 
comment period and will fully consider all comments received. If the 
final analysis shows the CCAA to be consistent with our policies and 
applicable regulations, we will sign the CCAA and issue the ESP. The 
proposed ESP would, in compliance with the CCAA policy, only become 
valid on such date as the eastern massasauga rattlesnake is listed as a 
threatened or endangered species under the Act.
    Written data or comments concerning the CCAA or ESP application 
should be submitted to the Regional Director. (see ADDRESSES section). 
Further, persons wishing to review the CCAA and ESP application may 
obtain copies by writing to the same address or they can be viewed on 
the Service's Regional Web site at: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/NEPA. 

Comments must be submitted in writing to be adequately considered in 
the Service's decision-making process. Please reference permit number 
TE-101451 in your comments, or in requests of the documents discussed 
herein. Documents will also be available for public inspection by 
appointment during normal business hours at the Reynoldsburg, Ohio, 
Ecological Services Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).

    Dated: August 29, 2005.
Wendi Weber,
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Region 3, Fort 
Snelling, Minnesota.
[FR Doc. 05-18683 Filed 9-19-05; 8:45 am]