[Federal Register: November 27, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 227)]
[Page 68555-68557]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Fish and Wildlife Service

[I.D. 110206F]

Notice of Availability of Final Environmental Impact Statement 
for the Final Green Diamond Resource Company Aquatic Habitat 
Conservation Plan/Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances, Del 
Norte and Humboldt Counties, CA

AGENCIES: National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration, Commerce; Fish and Wildlife Service, 

ACTION: Notice of Availability of Final Environmental Impact Statement 


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the 
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Fish and Wildlife 
Service (FWS) (together, the Services) advise the public of the 
availability of the Final EIS on the applications by Simpson Resource 
Company, now Green Diamond Resource Company

[[Page 68556]]

(Green Diamond), for a Section 10 incidental take permit and an 
enhancement of survival permit (together, the Permits), and a Final 
multi-species Aquatic Habitat Conservation Plan/ Candidate Conservation 
Agreement with Assurances (AHCP/CCAA, or Plan) pursuant to the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). The Services and 
Green Diamond also have developed an Implementation Agreement. The 
applicant seeks the Permits to authorize incidental take of specified 
covered species, including some that may become listed during the term 
of the Permits. The Permits are sought to authorize incidental take of 
the covered species during forest management and timber harvest in Del 
Norte and Humboldt Counties, CA, where Green Diamond owns lands or 
harvesting rights, during the term of the proposed 50 year Permits and 
    This notice is provided pursuant to applicable NEPA regulations (40 
CFR 1506.6) to inform the public of the proposed action, and to make 
available for 30 days' review the Final EIS, Plan, and Implementation 
Agreement. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also is publishing 
a similar notice.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before December 27, 

ADDRESSES: Comments may be sent by any of the following methods:
     Mail: Please sed comments to Mr. John Clancy, National 
Marine Fisheries Service, Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, 1655 Heindon 
Road, Arcata, California 95521.
     E-mail: Comments can be submitted by e-mail to 

     Fax: You may fax comments to (707) 822-8411.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Amedee Brickey, Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 
95521, (707) 822-7201; or Mr. John P. Clancy, National Marine Fisheries 
Service, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 95521, (707) 825-5175.


Availability of Documents

    Copies of the Final EIS, Plan, Applications for Permits and 
Implementation Agreement are available for public inspection during 
regular business hours at the Arcata National Marine Fisheries Office 
and Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
    The documents can also be downloaded from the World Wide Web at 
http://swr.nmfs.noaa.gov. Copies are also available for viewing in each 

of the following libraries:
    1. Eureka Main Library, 1313 3rd Street, Eureka, CA; Telephone: 
(707) 269-1900
    2. Fortuna Branch, Humboldt County Library, 775 14th Street, 
Fortuna, CA; Telephone: (707) 725-3460
    3. Arcata Branch, Humboldt County Library, 500 7th Street, Arcata, 
CA; Telephone: (707) 822-5924
    4. Crescent City Library, 190 Price Mall, Crescent City, CA; 
Telephone: (707) 464-9793

Background Information

    Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulation prohibit the taking of 
an animal species listed as endangered or threatened. The term ``take'' 
is defined under the ESA to mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any 
such conduct. ``Harm'' has been defined by FWS to include ``significant 
habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures 
wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, 
including breeding, feeding, and sheltering.'' Consistent with FWS, 
NMFS has defined ``harm'' as an act which actually kills or injures 
fish or wildlife, and emphasizes that such acts may include 
``significant habitat modification or degradation which actually kills 
or injures fish or wildlife by significantly impairing essential 
behavioral patterns, including breeding, spawning, rearing, migrating, 
feeding, or sheltering.''
    The Services may issue two types of permits under section 10(a) of 
the ESA to non-federal landowners to take listed species, under certain 
terms and conditions. FWS' regulations governing permits for threatened 
and endangered species are promulgated at 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 
17.22; NMFS' regulations governing permits for threatened and 
endangered species are promulgated at 50 CFR 222.307. Green Diamond has 
prepared their Plan to satisfy the application requirements for a 
section 10(a)(1)(B) incidental take permit under the ESA for, listed 
and non-listed, covered species under the jurisdiction of NMFS. Green 
Diamond's Plan was also prepared to satisfy the application 
requirements for a section 10(a)(1)(A) enhancement of survival permit 
under the ESA for non-listed covered species under the jurisdiction of 
the FWS.
    Though the names of these two permitting tools are different, the 
goals are similar, and the strategies for achieving those goals can 
overlap. Green Diamond's conservation strategy was designed to fulfill 
section 10(a)(1)(A) and section 10(a)(1)(B) permit requirements in a 
single Plan. If the Plan is approved and the Permits issued, take 
authorization of covered listed species would be effective at the time 
of permit issuance. Take of the currently non-listed species would be 
authorized concurrent with species' listing under the ESA, should they 
be listed during the duration of the Permits.
    Green Diamond owns and manages approximately 439,000 acres of 
commercial timberland in Del Norte and Humboldt Counties, CA. 
Approximately 417,000 acres of this property occurs in watersheds with 
habitat important to the conservation of salmonid species in the North 
Coast region of California, including, but not limited to, the Winchuck 
River, Smith River, Klamath River and its tributaries, Redwood Creek, 
Little River, Mad River, tributaries to Humboldt Bay, Eel River, the 
Van Duzen River and others. Some forest management and timber harvest 
activities have the potential to impact species subject to protection 
under the ESA.
    Green Diamond has developed a Plan, with technical assistance from 
the Services, to obtain Permits for take incidental to specified 
covered activities on approximately 417,000 acres of its commercial 
timberlands. Activities proposed for Permit coverage include the 
following: timber-product harvest; forest product transportation; road 
and landing construction, use, maintenance and decommissioning; site 
preparation; tree planting; silvicultural thinning; controlled burns; 
rock quarries and borrow pit operations; aquatic habitat restoration; 
and the management, harvest, and sale of minor forest products. The 
Plan also covers certain monitoring activities and related scientific 
experiments in the Plan area. The proposed duration of the Plan is 50 
    Green Diamond seeks a section 10(a)(1)(B) incidental take permit 
from NMFS that would authorize the take of fish in two Evolutionarily 
Significant Units (ESUs) and one Distinct Population Segment (DPS), 
which are listed as threatened, incidental to otherwise lawful 
management activities: California Coastal Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus 
tshawytscha) ESU, Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast coho salmon 
(O. kisutch) ESU, and Northern California steelhead (O. mykiss) DPS. 
Green Diamond also is seeking coverage of fish in three unlisted ESUs 
(Klamath Mountains Province steelhead ESU, Upper Klamath/Trinity Rivers 
Chinook salmon ESU, and Southern Oregon and Northern California Coastal 

[[Page 68557]]

salmon ESU) under specific provisions of the incidental take permit, 
should these species be listed in the future.
    Green Diamond also has requested a section 10(a)(1)(A) enhancement 
of survival permit from FWS that would authorize the take of the non-
listed coastal cutthroat trout (O. clarki clarki), rainbow trout (O. 
mykiss), southern torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus), and 
tailed frog (Ascaphus truei) under specific provisions of the 
enhancement of survival permit, should these species be listed in the 
    On July 11, 2000, the Services formally initiated an environmental 
review of the project through a Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS in 
the Federal Register (65 FR 42674). The project proponent was Simpson 
Timber Company. In December of 2001, Simpson Timber Company transferred 
all of its timberlands to Simpson Resource Company, and Simpson 
Resource Company became the project proponent. The Notice of Intent 
also announced a 30-day public scoping period, during which other 
agencies, tribes, and the public were invited to provide comments and 
suggestions regarding issues and alternatives to be included in the 
EIS. Four public scoping meetings were held over a two-day period on 
July 11 and July 12, 2000, in Eureka and Crescent City, California, and 
a series of six informational meetings with cooperating agencies and 
local tribal groups also were held in August and September 2000.
    On August 16, 2002, the Services published a Notice of Availability 
of the Draft Simpson Resource Company Aquatic Habitat Conservation 
Plan/Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances and Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement, Del Norte and Humboldt Counties, 
California in the Federal Register (67 FR 53567). The public review 
period was scheduled for 90 days from August 16, 2002, to November 14, 
2002. Two public meetings were held on September 4, 2002, in Eureka, 
California. A total of 20 oral questions and comments were received 
from two public meetings, and 25 comment letters were received, 
comprising 1,267 separate comments. A response to each of these 
comments is included in the Final EIS.
    Effective May 1, 2004, Simpson Resource Company, the project 
proponent, changed its name to Green Diamond Resource Company, and the 
Final EIS reflects that change.
    The Final EIS is intended to accomplish the following: Inform the 
public of the proposed action and alternatives; disclose the direct, 
indirect, and cumulative environmental effects of the proposed action 
and each of the alternatives; and indicate any irreversible commitment 
of resources that would result from implementation of the proposed 


    The Final EIS analyzes Green Diamond's proposal and four 
alternatives. Under the Proposed Action, the Services would issue the 
Permits and Green Diamond would implement their proposed Plan on 
approximately 417,000 acres of Green Diamond 's California timberlands. 
Under the No Action Alternative, Permits would not be issued and Green 
Diamond would remain subject to the prohibition on unauthorized taking 
of listed species. Under a Listed Species Only Alternative (Alternative 
A), the Services would issue Permits only for currently listed species. 
The Simplified Prescriptions Alternative (Alternative B) would provide 
coverage for the same species as the Proposed Action, with modified 
management obligations. The Expanded Species/Geographic Area 
Alternative (Alternative C) would expand the area of coverage and the 
number of species covered under the Permits.

National Environmental Policy Act

    Proposed permit issuance triggers the need for compliance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and accordingly the Services 
have prepared a joint NEPA document. The Services are Co-Leads 
responsible for compliance under NEPA. As NEPA Co-Lead agencies, the 
Services are providing notice of the availability of the Final EIS and 
are making available for public review the responses to comments on the 
Draft EIS.

Public Review

    The Services invite the public to review the Final EIS, Plan, and 
Implementing Agreement during a 30-day waiting period [see DATES]. Any 
comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of 
the administrative records and may be made available to the public.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names, home addresses, 
home phone numbers, and email addresses of respondents, available for 
public review. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their names and /or homes addresses, etc., but if you wish us to 
consider withholding this information you must state this prominently 
at the beginning of your comments. In addition, you must present a 
rationale for withholding this information. This rationale must 
demonstrate that disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted 
invasion of privacy. Unsupported assertions will not meet this burden. 
In the absence of exceptional, documentable circumstances, this 
information will be released. We will always make submissions from 
organization or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves 
as representatives of or officials of organizations or businesses, 
available for public inspection in their entirety.
    The Services will evaluate the application, associated documents, 
and comments submitted to them in preparation of the two Records of 
Decision. Permit decisions will be made no sooner than 30 days after 
the publication of the Final EIS and completion of the Records of 
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(a) of the Federal 
ESA and the applicable regulations for implementing NEPA, as amended 
(40 CFR 1506.6). We provide this notice in order to allow the public, 
agencies, or other organizations the opportunity to review these 

    Dated: November 16, 2006.
Angela Somma,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.

    Dated: November 7, 2006.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Operations Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 06-9408 Filed 11-24-06; 8:45 am]