[Federal Register: February 1, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 21)]
[Page 5358-5359]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Proposed Candidate Conservation Agreement With Assurances for the 
Columbia Spotted Frog at Sam Noble Springs, Owyhee County, ID

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The State of Idaho (Idaho Department of Lands and the Idaho 
Department of Fish and Game) have applied to the Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service) for an enhancement of survival permit pursuant to 
section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). The permit application includes a proposed Candidate 
Conservation Agreement with Assurances for the Columbia spotted frog at 
Sam Noble Springs, Owyhee County, Idaho (Agreement) between the 
Service, and the State of Idaho. Also available is a draft 
environmental assessment evaluating the proposed Agreement and permit.
    Under the proposed Agreement, the parties would implement 
conservation measures for Columbia spotted frogs (Rana luteiventris; 
CSF) over approximately 680 acres (275 ha) in Owyhee County, Idaho. The 
intent of the proposed Agreement would be to conserve CSFs by 
protecting and enhancing habitat and populations, in a manner that is 
consistent with the State's land use activities and the Agreement. The 
proposed term of the Agreement and the permit is 22 years. The Service 
has prepared a draft Environmental Assessment for approval of the 
Agreement and issuance of the permit.
    We request comments from the public on the permit application, 
proposed Agreement, and the draft Environmental Assessment. All 
comments we receive, including names and addresses, will become part of 
the administrative record and may be released to the public.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before March 3, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Carmen Thomas, Project 
Biologist, Fish and Wildlife Service, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Room 368, 
Boise, Idaho 83709 (telephone: 208/378-5243; facsimile: 208/378-5262).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carmen Thomas at the above address or 
telephone 208/378-5243.


Document Availability

    You may obtain copies of the documents for review by contacting the 
individual named above. You also may make an appointment to view the 
documents at the above address during normal business hours.


    Under a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances, 
participating landowners voluntarily implement conservation activities 
on their property to benefit species that are proposed for listing 
under the Act, or other sensitive species. Candidate Conservation 
Agreements with Assurances encourage private and other non-Federal 
property owners to implement conservation efforts, and reduce threats 
to unlisted species by assuring them they will not be subjected to 
increased property use restrictions, beyond those identified in the 
agreement, if the species is listed in the future under the Act. 
Application requirements and issuance criteria for enhancement of 
survival permits through Candidate Conservation Agreements with 
Assurances are found in 50 CFR 17.22(d) and 17.32(d).
    Populations of the CSF are found from Alaska and British Columbia 
to Washington east of the Cascades, eastern Oregon, Idaho, the Bighorn 
Mountains of Wyoming, the Mary's, Reese, and Owyhee River systems of 
Nevada, the Wasatch Mountains, and

[[Page 5359]]

the western desert of Utah (Green et al. 1997). Genetic evidence (Green 
et al. 1997) indicates that CSFs may be a single species with three 
subspecies, or may be several weakly-differentiated species. The 
Service currently recognizes four populations based on disjunct 
distribution: Northern, Great Basin, Wasatch, and West Desert. CSFs are 
believed to be abundant within the Northern population of the species' 
range from Alaska to Wyoming (Gomez 1994). The other three disjunct 
populations (Great Basin, Wasatch, and West Desert) received candidate 
status in 1993 based on the loss of subpopulations in a number of areas 
in Nevada (58 FR 27260). At that time, the Great Basin population was 
given a listing priority of 9; in 2001 the priority was raised to 3 
(the highest listing rank possible for a subspecies), based upon the 
discovery of Chytridiomycosis in the Owyhee subpopulation, declining 
numbers, and the imminence of threats. The CSF is known to occur in 
Owyhee and Twin Falls counties, Idaho.
    Columbia Spotted Frogs at Sam Noble Springs are part of the Great 
Basin Population of frogs, which is a candidate for listing under the 
Act. Threats to this population mainly include impacts to, or loss of, 
habitat--specifically, the loss of perennial wetlands used for feeding, 
breeding, hibernating, and migrating. Improperly managed livestock 
grazing practices and water use in areas where frogs occur may 
contribute to habitat loss. The State of Idaho has an opportunity at 
Sam Noble Springs to address effects of livestock grazing on CSF 
habitat while continuing to meet their management needs. By entering 
into the proposed Agreement with the Service, the State of Idaho would 
help ensure long-term protection of a population of a species that is a 
candidate for listing under the Act, by significantly reducing the risk 
of impacts to CSF habitat, while reducing any long-term regulatory risk 
to their ability to generate funds from those lands if CSFs were listed 
and take prohibitions limited their ability to lease those lands for 
livestock grazing.
    As a result of this conservation opportunity and potential 
regulatory concern, the State of Idaho developed the proposed Candidate 
Conservation Agreement with Assurances for the CSF at Sam Noble 
Springs, Owyhee County, Idaho, in cooperation with the Service, and is 
applying to the Service for a permit under section 10(a) of the Act, 
authorizing incidental take of CSFs.
    Under the proposed Agreement and permit, the State of Idaho and the 
Service would implement various conservation measures on the Sam Noble 
Springs parcel. The conservation measures under the proposed Agreement 
are intended to reduce all threats to the CSF that are controllable by 
the State of Idaho within the project area. Conservation measures that 
would be implemented within the project area include: (1) Altered 
timing and intensity of livestock grazing; (2) installation of grazing 
management structures; (3) creation of additional livestock watering 
ponds; (4) installation and operation of a water collection facility 
serving a livestock watering trough; (5) maintenance of existing 
livestock watering ponds; (6) management of vegetation in and adjacent 
to occupied CSF habitat; and (7) monitoring of CSF populations and 
habitat condition to determine effectiveness and compliance with the 
Agreement. If issued, the permit would authorize incidental take of 
CSFs as a result of specified land management practices related to 
agriculture, livestock management, and CSF habitat restoration.
    We provide this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the Endangered 
Species Act and implementing regulations for the National Environmental 
Policy Act (40 CFR 1506.6), in order to solicit public review and 
comments on the permit application and a related environmental 
assessment. Comments received will be considered in the course of our 
evaluation of the proposed permit under section 10(a) of the Endangered 
Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act. We will not make our 
final decision on the application until after completion of the comment 
period and will fully consider all comments received during the comment 

    Dated: January 26, 2006.
David J. Wesley,
Deputy Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon.
 [FR Doc. E6-1302 Filed 1-31-06; 8:45 am]