[Federal Register: September 29, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 189)]
[Page 57558-57560]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement for Nevada Department of 
Wildlife, Clark County, NV

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability, receipt of application.


SUMMARY: Nevada Department of Wildlife (Applicant) has 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 
programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) between the Applicant and the 
Service. The SHA provides for voluntary habitat restoration, 
maintenance, enhancement, or creation activities to enhance the 
reintroduction and long-recovery of razorback sucker (Xyrauchen 
texanus) and bonytail chub (Gila elegans) within Clark County, Nevada. 
The proposed duration of both the SHA and permit is 50 years.
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that the proposed 
SHA and permit application are eligible for categorical exclusion under 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). The basis for 
this determination is contained in an Environmental

[[Page 57559]]

Action Statement, which also is available for public review.

DATES: Written comments must be received by 5 p.m. on October 30, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Robert D. Williams, Field 
Supervisor, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 1340 Financial Boulevard, 
Suite 234, Reno, Nevada, facsimile number (775) 861-6301 (see 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION, Public Review and Comment).

Biologist, at the above address or (775) 861-6300.



    The primary objective of this SHA is to encourage voluntary habitat 
restoration, maintenance, or enhancement activities to benefit the 
razorback sucker and bonytail chub by relieving participating 
landowners, who enter into the provisions of a Cooperative Agreement 
with the Applicant, from any additional Section 9 liability under the 
Endangered Species Act beyond that which exists at the time the 
Cooperative Agreement is signed (``regulatory baseline''). A SHA 
encourages landowners to conduct voluntary conservation activities and 
assures them that they will not be subjected to increased listed 
species restrictions should their beneficial stewardship efforts result 
in increased listed species populations. Application requirements and 
issuance criteria for enhancement of survival permits through SHAs are 
found in 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32(c). As long as enrolled landowners 
allow the agreed upon conservation measures to be completed on their 
property and maintain their baseline responsibilities, they may make 
any other lawful use of the property during the permit term, even if 
such use results in the take of individual razorback sucker or bonytail 
chub or harm to their habitat.
    Landowners within Clark County, Nevada, that have suitable aquatic 
habitat for the rearing and long-term adult maintenance of razorback 
sucker and bonytail chub may be enrolled with the Applicant under the 
SHA. The landowner will receive a Certificate of Inclusion when they 
sign a Cooperative Agreement. The Cooperative Agreement will include: 
(1) A map of the property and its legal location; (2) a description of 
the existing biological community including nonnative aquatic species 
and sensitive or protected species if any; (3) the portion of the 
property to be enrolled and its acreage; (4) a description of the 
habitat types that occur on the portion of the property to be enrolled 
including an accurate description of ponds or other aquatic habitats 
and their characteristics; and (5) current land-use practices and 
existing development, and the characteristics of water supplies to 
aquatic habitats.
    The Applicant, as the Permittee, will be responsible for annual 
monitoring and reporting related to implementation of the SHA and 
Cooperative Agreements and fulfillment of their provisions. As 
specified in the SHA, the Applicant will issue yearly reports to the 
Service related to implementation of the program.
    Each Cooperative Agreement will cover conservation activities to 
create, maintain, restore, or enhance habitat for razorback sucker and 
bonytail chub and achieve species' recovery goals. Management 
activities that are undertaken through Cooperative Agreements will 
result in additional areas being available for the rearing of razorback 
sucker and bonytail chub in protected habitats, which will provide 
additional razorback sucker and bonytail chub of a suitable size for 
release into the wild, and for the maintenance of adult refuge 
populations. The overall goal of the Cooperative Agreements entered 
into under this SHA is to produce conservation measures that are 
mutually beneficial to the Cooperator and the long-term existence of 
razorback sucker and bonytail chub.
    The Service estimates it will take 2 years of implementing the SHA 
to fully reach a net conservation benefit, given the probable species 
response time for razorback sucker and bonytail chub to the planned 
conservation measures. However, some level of benefits will likely 
occur within a shorter time period. Each Cooperative Agreement will 
stipulate that the conservation measures be implemented to provide good 
habitat and positive stewardship for sites to be used for adult refuges 
and for the rearing of subadult razorback sucker and bonytail chub 
prior to their release to the wild.
    After maintenance of the restored/created/enhanced razorback sucker 
and bonytail chub habitat on the property for the agreed-upon term, 
Cooperators may then conduct otherwise lawful activities on their 
property that result in the partial or total elimination of the habitat 
improvements and the incidental taking of Razorback sucker and bonytail 
chub. However, the restrictions on returning a property to its original 
baseline condition include: (1) The Cooperator must demonstrate that 
baseline conditions were maintained and the conservation measures 
necessary for achieving a net conservation benefit were carried out; 
(2) the Applicant and the Service will be notified a minimum of 30 days 
prior to the activity and given the opportunity to capture, rescue, 
and/or relocate any Razorback sucker and bonytail chub; and (3) return 
to baseline conditions must be completed within the 50-year term of the 
permit issued to the Applicant. Cooperative Agreements may be extended 
if the Applicant's permit is renewed and that renewal allows for such 
an extension.
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that approval of 
this SHA qualifies as a categorical exclusion under the NEPA, as 
provided by the Department of Interior Manual (516 DM 2 Appendix 1 and 
516 DM 6 Appendix 1) based on the following criteria: (1) 
Implementation of the SHA would result in minor or negligible effects 
on federally listed, proposed, and candidate species and their 
habitats; (2) implementation of the SHA would result in minor or 
negligible effects on other environmental values or resources; and (3) 
impacts of the SHA, 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 that would be considered significant. This is more fully 
explained in our Environmental Action Statement.
    Based upon this preliminary determination, we do not intend to 
prepare further NEPA documentation. The Service will consider public 
comments in making its final determination on whether to prepare such 
additional documentation.

Public Review and Comments

    Individuals wishing copies of the permit application, the 
Environmental Action Statement, or copies of the full text of the SHA, 
including a map of the proposed permit area, references, and legal 
descriptions of the proposed permit area, should contact the office and 
personnel listed in the ADDRESSES section or obtain copies from the Web 
site at (http://www.fws.gov/nevada). Documents also will be available 

for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at 
this office (see ADDRESSES).
    The Service provides this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the 
Act and pursuant to implementing regulations for NEPA (40 CFR 1506.6). 
Our practice is to make comments, including names, home addresses, home 
phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of respondents,

[[Page 57560]]

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.


    We will evaluate the permit application, the SHA, and comments 
submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a) of the Act and NEPA regulations. If the 
requirements are met, the Service will sign the proposed SHA and issue 
an enhancement of survival permit under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act 
to the Applicant for take of the razorback sucker and bonytail chub 
incidental to otherwise lawful activities of the project. The Service 
will not make a final decision until after the end of the 30-day 
comment period and will fully consider all comments received during the 
comment period.

Robert D. Williams,
Field Supervisor, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, Reno, Nevada.
 [FR Doc. E6-16052 Filed 9-28-06; 8:45 am]