[Federal Register: September 20, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 182)]
[Page 55008]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 55008]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Safe Harbor Agreement and Receipt of Application for an 
Enhancement of Survival Permit Associated With the Restoration of 
Habitat for Utah Prairie Dogs on Private Land in Sevier County, UT

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: Mr. Harlow Brown (Applicant/Cooperator) has applied to the 
Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for an Enhancement of Survival 
Permit (ESP) for the Utah prairie dog (UPD) pursuant to section 
10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). 
This permit application includes a Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) between 
the Applicant and the Service. The Service requests information, views, 
and opinions from the public via this notice. Further, the Service is 
soliciting information regarding the adequacy of the SHA as measured 
against the Service's Safe Harbor Policy and the regulations that 
implement it.

DATES: Written comments on the permit application must be received on 
or before October 20, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the SHA and the ESP application 
may obtain a copy by writing the Service's Mountain-Prairie Regional 
Office, Denver, Colorado. Documents also will be available for public 
inspection during normal business hours at the Regional Office, 134 
Union Boulevard, Denver, Colorado 80228-1807, or the Utah Field Office, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2369 West Orton Circle, Suite 50, West 
Valley City, Utah 84119. Written data or comments concerning the SHA or 
ESP application should be submitted to the Regional office and must be 
in writing to be processed. Comments must be submitted in writing to be 
adequately considered in the Service's decision-making process. Please 
reference permit number TE120720-0 in your comments, or in the request 
for the documents discussed herein.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Pat Mehlhop, Regional Safe Harbor 
Coordinator (see Denver address above), telephone 303-236-4215, or 
Larry Crist, Acting Utah Field Supervisor (see West Valley City address 
above), telephone 801-975-3330.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The UPD is the westernmost member of the 
genus Cynomys. The species' range, which is limited to the southwestern 
quarter of Utah, is the most restricted of all prairie dog species in 
the United States. Distribution of the UPD has been greatly reduced due 
to disease (plague), poisoning, drought, and human-related habitat 
alteration. Protection of this species and enhancement of its habitat 
on private land will benefit recovery efforts.
    The primary objective of this SHA is to encourage voluntary 
conservation measures to benefit the species and the landowner. Through 
this agreement, the landowner will receive relief from any additional 
section 9 liability under the Act beyond that which exists at the time 
the agreement is signed (``regulatory baseline''). The property is 
currently used as irrigated pasture land and is bordered by other 
private land. At the present time, the property supports several active 
prairie dog colonies. Foraging and visual surveillance habitat will be 
further enhanced for the UPD by reducing the vegetation density and by 
seeding to improve the forage quality for UPD. The habitat improvements 
will be maintained throughout the term of this agreement through 
managed grazing. The Cooperator will receive an ESP that authorizes 
implementation of the conservation actions and other provisions of this 
Agreement and authorizes incidental take of the covered species above 
the Cooperator's baseline responsibilities, as defined in the SHA. The 
proposed SHA and permit would become effective upon signature of the 
SHA and issuance of the permit and would remain in effect for 25 years. 
We have made the determination that the proposed activities described 
in the application and SHA will increase available prairie dog habitat 
and potentially expand several colonies of Utah prairie dogs on the 
Brown property to the north and the south. The action is categorically 
excluded under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This 
notice is provided pursuant to the NEPA, section 10 of the Act, and the 
Service's Safe Harbor Policy (64 FR 32717).
    The Service has evaluated the impacts of this action under the NEPA 
and determined that it warrants categorical exclusion as described in 
516 DM 8, 8.5 C.(1). The Service will evaluate whether the issuance of 
the ESP complies with section 7 of the Act by conducting an intra-
Service section 7 consultation on the issuance of the permit. The 
result of the biological opinion, in combination with the above finding 
and any public comments, will be used in the final analysis to 
determine whether or not to issue the requested ESP, pursuant to the 
regulation that guide issuance of the type of permit.

    Authority: The authority for this action is the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.).

    Dated: August 21, 2006.
James J. Slack,
Acting Regional Director, Denver, Colorado.
[FR Doc. E6-15590 Filed 9-19-06; 8:45 am]