[Federal Register: October 18, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 201)]
[Page 61502-61503]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit for the 
Sarment Parcel Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan, Monterey County, 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: Daniel Keig (applicant) has applied to the Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service or ``we'') for an incidental take permit pursuant to 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). We are considering issuing a 5-year permit to the applicant that 
would authorize take of the federally endangered Smith's blue butterfly 
(Euphilotes enoptes smithi) incidental to otherwise lawful activities 
associated with construction of a single family home, which would 
remove 0.3 acre of Smith's blue butterfly habitat within a 6.1-acre 
parcel in Carmel Highlands, Monterey County, California.
    We invite comments from the public on the permit application, which 
is available for review. The application includes a Habitat 
Conservation Plan (HCP), that fully describes the proposed project and 
the measures that the applicant would undertake to minimize and 
mitigate anticipated take of the Smith's blue butterfly, as required in 
Section 10(a)(2)(B) of the Act. These measures are outlined in the 
    We also invite comments on our preliminary determination that the 
HCP qualifies as a ``low-effect'' plan, eligible for a categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, 
as amended. We explain the basis for this possible determination in a 
draft Environmental Action Statement and associated Low Effect 
Screening Form, which are also available for public review.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before November 17, 

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be addressed to Diane Noda, Field 
Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite 
B, Ventura, California 93003. Comments may also be sent by facsimile to 
(805) 644-3958. To obtain copies of draft documents, see ``Availability 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jacob Martin, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist (see ADDRESSES), telephone: (805) 644-1766, extension 285.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Please contact the Ventura Fish and Wildlife 
Office (see ADDRESSES) if you would like copies of the application, 
HCP, and Environmental Action Statement. Documents will also be 
available for review by appointment, during normal business hours, at 
the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES) or via the 
Internet at http://www.fws.gov/ventura.


    Section 9 of the Act and Federal regulations prohibit the ``take'' 
of fish or wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened, 
respectively. Take of listed fish or wildlife is defined under the Act 
to mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, 
or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. However, the 
Service, under limited circumstances, may issue permits to cover 
incidental take, i.e., take that is incidental to, and not the purpose 
of, the carrying out of an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations 
governing incidental take permits for threatened and endangered species 
are found at 50 CFR 17.32 and 17.22, respectively. Among other 
criteria, issuance of such permits must not jeopardize the existence of 
federally listed fish, wildlife, or plants.
    The Sarment Parcel (Assessor's Parcel Number 241-221-005) (Parcel) 
has an area of 6.1 acres, is owned by the applicant, and is located 
east of California Highway 1, in Carmel Highlands, Monterey County, 
California. The applicant proposes to develop a single family home 
within the Parcel. Development activities would include grading; 
construction of the home, driveway, and septic system; and landscaping; 
which are expected to disturb up to 0.3 acre. Two native plant 
communities are found within the Parcel, coastal sage scrub and closed-
cone coniferous forest. Disturbed areas also exist within the Parcel, 
including an existing road and areas dominated by invasive plants.
    The areas of coastal sage scrub within the Parcel include seacliff 
buckwheat (Eriogonum parvifolium), a food plant used by all life stages 
of the Smith's blue butterfly. Surveys in July 2000, July

[[Page 61503]]

2003, and August 2005 revealed these areas to be occupied by the 
Smith's blue butterfly. The proposed development would remove an area 
(0.3 acre) of coastal sage scrub that includes approximately 650 
seacliff buckwheat plants. This removal is expected to result in take 
of Smith's blue butterflies. Additional seacliff buckwheat plants may 
be removed due to management activities, including invasive plant 
    The applicant proposes to implement measures to minimize and 
mitigate for take of the Smith's blue butterfly within the project 
site. Specifically, they propose to: (1) Protect in perpetuity 1.04 
acres, containing at least 2,000 seacliff buckwheat plants, via a deed 
restriction; (2) manage the protected area in perpetuity; (3) remove 
invasive plant species, especially iceplant (Carpobrotis sp.) 
throughout most of the Parcel; and (4) undertake various measures 
during grading and construction activities at the project site to 
minimize impacts to Smith's blue butterflies and their habitat.
    The impacts from proposed construction are considered to be minor 
to the species as a whole because the amount of habitat being disturbed 
is small relative to the amount of habitat available within the Carmel 
Highlands area and within the range of the species as a whole.
    The Service's proposed action is to issue an incidental take permit 
to the applicant who would then implement the HCP. Two alternatives to 
the taking of listed species under the proposed action are considered 
in the HCP. Under the No-Action alternative, the proposed expansion 
would not occur and the HCP would not be implemented. This would avoid 
effects of habitat removal due to the proposed development on the 
Smith's blue butterfly. However, this alternative would not meet the 
needs of the applicant. Also, the proposed deed restricted area would 
not be managed in perpetuity.
    Under the Redesigned Project alternative, the development footprint 
for the project would be relocated to another portion of the site, thus 
reducing or altering the area of impacted habitat for the Smith's blue 
butterfly. Alternate locations for new construction are limited within 
the Parcel due to the presence of steep slopes. An alternate 
construction site within the Parcel, adjacent to and uphill of the 
proposed site, was considered, but as this site was also occupied by 
seacliff buckwheat and Smith's blue butterflies, relocation of the 
project was not expected to substantially benefit the Smith's blue 
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that the HCP 
qualifies as a ``low-effect'' plan as defined by our Habitat 
Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996). Our determination that 
a habitat conservation plan qualifies as a low-effect plan is based on 
the following three criteria: (1) Implementation of the plan would 
result in minor or negligible effects on federally listed, proposed, 
and candidate species and their habitats; (2) implementation of the 
plan would result in minor or negligible effects on other environmental 
values or resources; and (3) impacts of the plan, 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 which would be considered 
significant. As more fully explained in our Environmental Action 
Statement and associated Low Effect Screening Form, the applicant's 
proposal to develop a single family home within the Parcel qualifies as 
a ``low-effect'' plan for the following reasons:
    (1) Approval of the HCP would result in minor or negligible effects 
on the Smith's blue butterfly. The Service does not anticipate 
significant direct or cumulative effects to the Smith's blue butterfly 
resulting from the proposed development of the project site.
    (2) Approval of the HCP would have minor or negligible effects on 
unique geographic, historic, or cultural sites, and would not involve 
unique or unknown environmental risks.
    (3) Approval of the HCP would not result in any cumulative or 
growth-inducing impacts and would not result in significant adverse 
effects on public health or safety.
    (4) The project does not require compliance with Executive Order 
11988 (Floodplain Management), Executive Order 11990 (Protection of 
Wetlands), or the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, nor does it 
threaten to violate a Federal, State, local, or tribal law or 
requirement imposed for the protection of the environment.
    (5) Approval of the HCP would not establish a precedent for future 
actions or represent a decision in principle about future actions with 
potentially significant environmental effects.
    The Service therefore has made a preliminary determination that 
approval of the HCP qualifies as a categorical exclusion under the 
National Environmental Policy Act, as provided by the Department of the 
Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6, Appendix 1). Based 
upon this preliminary determination, we do not intend to prepare 
further National Environmental Policy Act documentation. The Service 
will consider public comments in making its final determination on 
whether to prepare such additional documentation.

Public Review and Comment

    If you wish to comment on the permit application, draft 
Environmental Action Statement, or the proposed HCP, you may submit 
your comments to the address listed in the ADDRESSES section of this 
document. Our practice is to make comments, including names, home 
addresses, etc., of respondents available for public review. Individual 
respondents may request that we withhold their names and/or home 
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 provide a rationale demonstrating and 
documenting that disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted 
invasion of privacy. In the absence of exceptional, documented 
circumstances, this information will be released. All submissions from 
organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or 
businesses, are available for public inspection in their entirety.
    The Service provides this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the 
Endangered Species Act. We will evaluate the permit application, the 
HCP, and comments submitted thereon to determine whether the 
application meets the requirements of section 10 (a) of the Act. If the 
requirements are met, the Service will issue a permit to the applicant. 
We will make the final permit decision no sooner than 30 days after the 
date of publication of this notice.

    Dated: October 10, 2006.
Diane K. Noda,
Field Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, Ventura, 
 [FR Doc. E6-17329 Filed 10-17-06; 8:45 am]