[Federal Register: September 8, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 174)]
[Page 53130-53131]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Proposed John W. Starr Memorial Forest, Mississippi State 
University Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Safe Harbor Agreement, Oktibbeha and 
Winston Counties, MS

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Mississippi State University (MSU or Applicant) has applied to 
the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for an enhancement of survival 
permit (ESP) under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (Act). The ESP application includes a proposed Safe 
Harbor Agreement (Agreement) for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker 
(Picoides borealis) (RCW) for a period of 20 years. If approved, the 
Agreement would allow the Applicant to establish and enhance RCW 
habitat on the John W. Starr Memorial Forest (JSMF).
    We announce the opening of a 30-day comment period and request 
comments from the public on the Applicant's ESP application, the 
accompanying proposed Agreement, and the supporting Environmental 
Action Statement (EAS) Screening Form.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before October 10, 

ADDRESSES: You may obtain a copy of the information available by 
contacting the Field Supervisor, Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological 
Services Field Office, 6578 Dogwood View Parkway, Suite A, Jackson, 
Mississippi 39213. Alternatively, you may set up an appointment to view 
these documents during normal business hours. Written data or comments 
should be submitted to the Service's Regional Safe Harbor Coordinator, 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 1875 Century Boulevard, Suite 200, Atlanta, 
Georgia 30345. Note that requests for any documents must be in writing 
to be processed. When you are requesting or reviewing the information 
provided in this notice, please reference ``Proposed Mississippi State 
University Red-cockaded Woodpecker Safe Harbor Agreement'' in any 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Kathy Lunceford, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, Mississippi Ecological Services Field Office (see 
ADDRESSES), telephone: (601) 321-1132; or Mr. Rick Gooch, Regional Safe 
Harbor Program Coordinator at the Service's Southeast Regional Office 
(see ADDRESSES), telephone: (404) 679-7124.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under a Safe Harbor Agreement, participating 
property owners voluntarily undertake management activities on their 
property to enhance, restore, or maintain habitat benefiting species 
listed under the Act. Safe Harbor Agreements encourage private and 
other non-Federal property owners to implement conservation efforts for 
listed species by assuring property owners that they will not be 
subjected to increased property use restrictions if their efforts 
attract listed species to their property or increase the numbers or 
distributions of listed species already on their property. Application 
requirements and issuance criteria for ESPs through Safe Harbor 
Agreements are found in 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32.
    MSU's proposed Agreement is designed to allow for management 
activities for the RCW on the JSMF and

[[Page 53131]]

to provide regulatory assurance to MSU by relieving it from any 
additional responsibility under the Act beyond that which exists at the 
time it enters into the program, i.e., the Safe Harbor Agreement. 
Specifically, the Applicant will restore and enhance RCW habitat by the 
following actions: (1) Grow and maintain trees of sufficient size and 
quantity for suitable nesting /roosting habitat for three recruitment 
clusters; (2) Install artificial nesting cavity inserts; and (3) 
Control hardwood mid and under story vegetation and provide diverse 
herbaceous groundcover by thinning timber and prescribing frequent 
    No RCWs currently occupy the JSMF; therefore, MSU has a zero 
baseline. As a result of the specific conservation actions, however, it 
is expected that the RCW population on the JSMF will increase from this 
baseline. Under the Agreement, MSU may be allowed the opportunity to 
incidentally take RCWs at some point in the future if above-baseline 
RCWs are attracted to the enrolled property by the proactive management 
measures undertaken by MSU. The authorization for incidental take in 
the Agreement and ESP will have certain conditions. Further details on 
the topics described above are found in the aforementioned documents 
available for review under this notice.
    The geographic scope of the Applicant's Agreement is approximately 
8,136 acres of land (e.g., the JSMF), which is located in Oktibbeha and 
Winston Counties, Mississippi.
    We have made a preliminary determination that execution of the 
Agreement and associated issuance of the ESP will not result in 
significant environmental, economic, social, historical or cultural 
impacts and is, therefore, categorically excluded from review under the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended, pursuant 
to 516 Department Manual 2, Appendix 1 and 516 Department Manual 6 
Appendix 1. In addition, we have evaluated the proposed Agreement and 
ESP application under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation 
Act and have concluded that approval will not affect cultural resources 
on, or eligible for, the National Historic Register of Historic Places. 
We base our conclusions on our review of the process for protection and 
consideration of cultural resources included in the associated 
Agreement as well as on the scope of the voluntary management actions 
identified in the Agreement. We have consulted with the Mississippi 
State Historic Preservation Officer and have received concurrence with 
our conclusion.
    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531, et seq.) and under our implementing regulations for NEPA (40 CFR 
1506.6). We will evaluate the proposed Agreement, associated documents, 
and comments submitted thereon to determine whether the requirements of 
section 10(a) of the Act and NEPA have been met. If we determine that 
the requirements are met, we will issue an ESP under section 
10(a)(1)(A) of the Act to the Applicant in accordance with the terms of 
the Agreement and specific terms and conditions of the authorizing ESP. 
We will not make our final decision until after the end of the 30-day 
comment period and will fully consider all comments received during the 
comment period.

    Dated: August 30, 2006.
Ed Buskirk,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. E6-14868 Filed 9-7-06; 8:45 am]