[Federal Register: February 16, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 31)]
[Page 7958-7959]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for Issuance of 
an Incidental Take Permit Associated With a Habitat Conservation Plan 
for the California Department of Parks and Recreation's Operation of 
Certain San Luis Obispo Coast District Parks and the Oceano Dunes State 
Vehicular Recreation Area in San Luis Obispo County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 
U.S.C. 4321, et seq.), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or 
``we'') advises the public that we intend to gather information 
necessary to prepare, in coordination with the California Department of 
Fish and Game (CDFG) and the California Department of Parks and 
Recreation (CDPR), a joint Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental 
Impact Report (EIS/EIR) on the proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for 
the San Luis Obispo Coast District and Oceano Dunes State Vehicular 
Recreation Area (HCP). The proposed HCP is being prepared under section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 as amended, (ESA) (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The incidental take permit is needed to authorize 
the incidental take of listed species as a result of implementing 
activities covered under the proposed HCP.
    We provide this notice to: (1) Describe the proposed action and 
possible alternatives; (2) advise other Federal and State agencies, 
affected Tribes, and the public of our intent to prepare an EIS/EIR; 
(3) announce the initiation of a 30-day public scoping period; and (4) 
obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues and 
alternatives to be included in the EIS/EIR.

DATES: Public meetings will be held on: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 
from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Written comments should be 
received on or before March 18, 2005.

ADDRESSES: The public meetings on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 will 
both be held at the Morro Bay Natural History Museum, 20 State Park 
Road, Morro Bay, CA 93442. Information, written comments, or questions 
related to the preparation of the EIS/EIR and the NEPA process should 
be submitted to Diane Noda, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, 
Ventura, California 93003; fw1sloparks@fws.gov; or FAX (805) 644-3958.



Reasonable Accommodation

Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and
participate in the public meeting should contact Max Mora (see
ADDRESSES) at (805) 644-1766 as soon as possible. In order to allow
sufficient time to process requests, please call no later than one week
before the public meeting. Information regarding this proposed action
is available in alternative formats upon request.


Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulations prohibit the ``take''
of a fish or wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened. Under
the ESA, the following activities are defined as take: 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).
However, under section 10(a) of the ESA, we may issue permits to
authorize ``incidental take'' of listed species. Incidental take is
defined by the ESA as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose
of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing
permits for threatened and endangered species are at 50 CFR 13 and 50
CFR 17.
Take of listed plant species is not prohibited under the ESA and
cannot be authorized under an ESA section 10 permit. We propose to
include plant species on the permit in recognition of the conservation
benefits provided for them under the HCP. All species included on the
permit would receive assurances under the Service's ``No Surprises''
regulation, if at the time of issuance of the incidental take permit
the ``No Surprises'' regulation is in effect (63 FR 8859).
CDPR intends to request a permit authorizing the incidental take of
4 animal species for approximately 15

[[Page 7959]]

years during the course of conducting otherwise lawful land use
activities on public land. The permit would also cover 8 federally
listed plants and 2 currently unlisted plants. Listed species proposed
to be covered are the federally-endangered California least tern
(Sterna antillarum browni), Morro shoulderband snail (Helminthoglypta
walkeriana), marsh sandwort (Arenaria paludicola), La Graciosa thistle
(Cirsium loncholepis), salt marsh bird's-beak (Cordylanthus maritimus
ssp. maritimus), Indian Knob mountainbalm (Eriodictyon altissimum),
Nipomo Mesa lupine (Lupinus nipomoensis), Gambel's water cress (Rorippa
gambellii), California seablite (Suaeda californica); the federally-
threatened western snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus),
California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii), and Morro manzanita
(Arcotostaphylos morroensis). Unlisted species proposed to be covered
are the State-threatened surf thistle (Cirsium rhothophilum) and beach
spectacle pod (Dithyrea maritima).
Currently, CDPR is requesting a permit for incidental take of the
covered animal species on six park units, or portions thereof, in the
Estero Bay and Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes areas of San Luis Obispo County.
From north to south, the park units are: Estero Bluffs, Morro Strand
State Beach, Morro Bay State Park, Monta[ntilde]a De Oro State Park,
Pismo Dunes Natural Preserve (a subunit of Pismo State Beach), and
Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. Together, the covered
units encompass approximately 24 square miles. The proposed HCP would
be designed principally to avoid the take of the Covered Species, but
it also would include provisions to minimize and mitigate the impacts
of any take that may occur.
Activities proposed to be covered by the HCP (Covered Activities)
are generally activities that result from visitor use, ongoing
operations of the State Parks, or from the resource protection measures
needed to avoid and minimize the impacts of park use on the covered
species. Covered Activities fall into five broad categories: park
visitor activities, general park maintenance and operations, natural
resource management, special projects, and special events.
The proposed HCP would describe how the effects of the Covered
Activities would be minimized and mitigated under the conservation
program. Program components would likely include: avoidance and
minimization measures; monitoring; adaptive management; predator
control; and mitigation measures consisting of habitat restoration and

Environmental Impact Statement

CDPR and the Service have selected Thomas Reid Associates (TRA) to
prepare the EIS/EIR. The document will be prepared in compliance with
NEPA and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). TRA will
prepare the EIS/EIR under the supervision of the Service, which will be
responsible for the scope and content of the NEPA document. CDPR will
be responsible for the scope and content of the CEQA document.
The EIS/EIR will consider the proposed action, the issuance of a
Section 10(a)(1)(B) permit under the ESA, no action (no permit), and a
reasonable range of alternatives. A detailed description of the impacts
of the proposed action and each alternative will be included in the
EIS/EIR. The alternatives to be considered for analysis in the EIS/EIR
may include: variations in the scope of covered activities; variations
in the location, amount and type of conservation; variations in permit
duration; or, a combination of these elements.
The EIS will also identify potentially significant direct,
indirect, and cumulative impacts on biological resources, land use, air
quality, water quality, water resources, socioeconomics, and other
environmental issues that could occur with the implementation of the
proposed actions and alternatives. For all potentially significant
impacts, the EIS will identify avoidance, minimization, and mitigation
measures to reduce these impacts, where feasible, to a level below
Review of the EIS will be conducted in accordance with the
requirements of NEPA, Council on the Environmental Quality Regulations
(40 CFR 1500-1508), the Administrative Procedures Act, other applicable
regulations, and the Service's procedures for compliance with those
regulations. This notice is being furnished in accordance with 40 CFR
1501.7 of NEPA to obtain suggestions and information from other
agencies and the public on the scope of issues and alternatives to be
addressed in the EIS. The primary purpose of the scoping process is to
identify important issues and alternatives raised by the public,
related to the proposed action. Written comments from interested
parties are welcome to ensure that the full range of issues related to
the permit request is identified. Comments will only be accepted in
written form. You may submit written comments by mail, e-mail, or
facsimile transmission (see ADDRESSES). All comments received,
including names and addresses, will become part of the official
administrative record and may be made available to the public.

Dated: February 10, 2005.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 05-2965 Filed 2-15-05; 8:45 am]