[Federal Register: September 25, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 185)]
[Page 55800-55801]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Proposed Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Offices at 
Parkshore, Folsom, Sacramento County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and receipt of an application.


SUMMARY: Mark III Engineering Contractors of Sacramento, California 
(the Applicant), has applied to the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
for a 5-year incidental take permit for one covered species pursuant to 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). The application addresses the potential for ``take'' of the 
threatened valley elderberry longhorn beetle (Desmocerus californicus 
dimorphus) associated with grading a 6.48-acre project site and 
construction of the Offices at Parkshore, a 9-building office complex 
off Parkshore Drive in the Lake Forest Technical Center, Folsom, 
Sacramento County, California. The Applicant would implement a 
conservation program to minimize and mitigate for the project 
activities, as described in the Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan 
for the Offices at Parkshore (Plan).
    We request comments on the permit application and Plan, and on the 
Service's preliminary determination that the Plan qualifies as a ``low-
effect'' habitat conservation plan, eligible for a Categorical 
Exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as 
amended (NEPA). The basis for the Categorical Exclusion determination 
is discussed in the Service's Environmental Action Statement (EAS), 
which is also available for public review.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before October 25, 

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments to Lori Rinek, Chief, 
Conservation Planning and Recovery Division, Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, 
Sacramento, California 95825. Written comments may be sent by facsimile 
to (916) 414-6713.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Holly Herod, Chief, Sacramento Valley 
Branch, or Nina Bicknese, Senior Biologist, at the Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office; telephone: (916) 414-6600.


Availability of Documents

    Copies of the permit application, Plan, and EAS can be obtained 
from the individuals named above (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). 
Copies of these documents are available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during regular business hours, at the Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES).

Background Information

    Section 9 of the Act and its implementing Federal regulations 
prohibit the ``take'' of fish or wildlife species listed as endangered 
or threatened. Take is defined under the Act to include the following 
activities: To harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture or collect listed animal species, or to attempt to engage in 
such conduct. However, under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act, the 
Service may issue permits to authorize incidental take of listed 
species. ``Incidental take'' is defined by the Act as take that is 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful 
activity. Regulations governing incidental take permits for endangered 
and threatened species, respectively, are found in the Code of Federal 
Regulations at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32.
    The Applicant is seeking a permit for take of one federally listed 
species, the threatened valley elderberry longhorn beetle, (Desmocerus 
californicus dimorphus), which is referred to as the ``covered 
species'' in the Plan. The Applicant would receive ``No Surprises'' 
assurances for this species under the Service's ``No Surprises'' 
regulations (50 CFR 17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5)). No other species are 
included in the Plan.
    The Applicant proposes to construct eight one-story office 
buildings and a single two-story office building, which would 
collectively provide 74,435 square feet of new office space. Site 
improvements would include two vehicular driveways, a 377-space asphalt 
parking lot, sidewalks, pedestrian walkways, underground utilities, and 
landscaping. The 6.48-acre project site is the last undeveloped portion 
of an established office park. The project site supports degraded 
remnants of scrub and oak woodland vegetation, including habitat (e.g., 
elderberry shrubs) for the beetle. Elderberry plants are present in 
three locations in the project site. Thirty-nine of these elderberry 
plants exhibit stems with basal diameters equal to or greater than one 
inch, which is a sufficient size to be habitat for the beetle. An 
inventory identified a single beetle exit-hole, indicating that the 
species is likely present in the project site. Resident elderberry 
plants would be permanently removed from the project site to 
accommodate the proposed project.
    The Applicant proposes to avoid and minimize take and associated 
adverse project impacts to the beetle by fully implementing their Plan. 
The Applicant will mitigate the impacts of taking the beetle by 
transplanting the 39 elderberry shrubs from the project site to a 
Service-approved conservation bank, and by purchasing 11 habitat 
credits for the beetle at the same conservation bank. Each habitat 
credit includes an established ratio of elderberry seedlings

[[Page 55801]]

and native riparian plant seedlings. Transplanting outside of the 
dormant period for elderberry shrubs, November 16 to February 15, would 
increase the likelihood of adult beetles and larvae being killed or 
injured. Therefore, the Applicant has agreed to purchase 12 additional 
habitat credits from the conservation bank (i.e., a total of 23 
credits) if the elderberry shrubs are transplanted during the active 
growing season. The Applicant's Plan also describes measures and 
funding sources that ensure the elements of the Plan would be 
implemented in a timely manner, actions to be taken if unforeseen 
events occur, and other required elements.
    The Service's proposed action consists of approving the Applicant's 
Plan and issuance of an incidental take permit for the Applicant's 
project. As required by the Act, the Applicant's Plan also considered 
alternatives to the take considered under the proposed action. Under 
the No Action Alternative, no permit would be issued, the office 
buildings and parking lot would not be built, and no take would occur. 
Under the Reduced Take Alternative, the office buildings and parking 
lot would be built, but the size and scope would be reduced. This 
alternative would allow some elderberry shrubs to remain on the project 
site with fewer elderberry shrubs transplanted to the Service-approved 
conservation bank, thus reducing take below the level anticipated for 
the proposed action.

National Environmental Policy Act

    As discussed in the EAS, the Service has made a preliminary 
determination that approval of the proposed Plan and issuance of the 
permit would qualify as a Categorical Exclusion under NEPA, as provided 
by Federal regulations (40 CFR 1500.5(k), 1507.3(b)(2), 1508.4) and the 
Department of Interior Manual (516 DM 2 and 516 DM8). The EAS found 
that the proposed Plan qualifies as a ``low-effect'' habitat 
conservation plan, as defined by the Service's Habitat Conservation 
Planning Handbook (November 1996). Determination of low-effect habitat-
conservation plans is based on the following criteria: (1) 
Implementation of the Plan would result in minor or negligible effects 
on federally listed, proposed, and candidate species and their 
habitats; (2) implementation of the Plan would result in minor or 
negligible effects on other environmental values or resources; (3) 
impacts of the Plan, considered together with the impacts of other 
past, present and reasonably foreseeable similarly situated projects 
would not result, over time, in cumulative effects to environmental 
values or resources which would be considered significant. Based upon 
the preliminary determinations in the EAS, the Service does not intend 
to prepare further NEPA documentation. The Service will consider public 
comments when making the final determination on whether to prepare an 
additional NEPA document on the proposed action.

Public Review

    The Service provides this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the 
Act and the NEPA public-involvement regulations (40 CFR 1500.1(b), 
1500.2(d), and 1506.6). The Service will evaluate the permit 
application, including the Plan, and comments submitted thereon to 
determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 
10(a) of the Act. If the requirements are met, the Service will issue a 
permit to Mark III Engineering Contractors for the incidental take of 
the beetle during construction of the Offices at Parkshore. The Service 
will make the final permit decision no sooner than 30 days from the 
date of this notice.

    Dated: September 19, 2006.
David L. Harlow,
Acting Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 
Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 06-8161 Filed 9-22-06; 8:45 am]