[Federal Register: November 14, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 219)]
[Page 66341-66343]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for 
the Ginn Company Battle Mountain Habitat Conservation Plan

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) advises the public that we intend 
to gather information necessary to prepare, in coordination with the 
Ginn Company (Applicant), an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for 
the Battle Mountain Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in accordance with 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act. The Service provides 
this notice to--(1) Describe the proposed actions and possible 
alternatives; (2) advise other Federal and State agencies, affected 
Tribes, and the public of our intent to prepare an EIS; (3) announce 
the initiation of a public scoping period; and (4) obtain suggestions 
and information on the scope of issues and alternatives to be included 
in the EIS.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before December 14, 

ADDRESSES: Information, written comments, or questions related to the 
preparation of the EIS and the NEPA process should be submitted to Al 
Pfister, Western Colorado Field Office, 764 Horizon Drive, Building B, 
Grand Junction, Colorado 81506-3964 or via fax to (970) 245-6933. 
Comments may be submitted by e-mail to the following address: 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Al Pfister, Western Colorado Project 
Leader, at the above address, or telephone 970-243-2778, extension 29.



    Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1538) and 
Federal regulations prohibit the ``take'' of a fish or wildlife species 
listed as threatened or endangered. Under the Act, the following 
activities are defined as take: to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture or collect listed animal species, or to 
attempt to engage in such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532). However, under 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act, we may issue permits to authorize 
``incidental take'' of listed species. ``Incidental take'' is defined 
by the regulations that

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implement the Act as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose 
of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing 
permits for threatened species and endangered species are at 50 CFR 
17.32 and 50 CFR 17.22, respectively.
    The EIS would analyze the Service's potential issuance of an 
Incidental Take Permit (ITP) to the Applicant for its proposed Battle 
Mountain development. Should a permit be issued, the permit may include 
assurances under the Service's ``No Surprises'' regulations.
    The Applicant's proposed development project for private land on 
Battle Mountain includes a resort and an accompanying private ski area 
between the towns of Minturn and Red Cliff in Eagle County, Colorado. 
The project area encompasses approximately 1,943 hectares (ha) (4,800 
acres (ac)). The residential development will include approximately 480 
single and multiple family homes and 250 condo-style units. The ski 
area will include trails for all ability levels, creating approximately 
445 ha (1,100 ac) of skiing, and will include skier services and 
amenities. The project is divided into three character areas for 
purposes of a conceptual plan.
    The Holy Cross Character Area consists of approximately 512 ha 
(1,265 ac). It will principally contain single-family homes on 0.4- and 
0.8-ha (1- and 2-ac) lots and will interface with the ski area 
development to create ski in/out lodging. Approximately 62 dwelling 
units are proposed in this area. Approximately 438 ha (1,081 ac) of 
land in this character area will be designated recreation open space, 
which allows for year-round activities, including hiking, biking, and 
    The Rock Creek Character Area consists of approximately 522 ha 
(1,290 ac) and is proposed to contain primarily single-family homes (up 
to 306 units) on varying lot sizes that also will interface with ski 
area development. This area will contain the Bolts Lake Gondola 
terminal for the top of the mountain, which will be utilized for 
services and passenger transport. This building will be associated with 
some skier services and amenities. Approximately 327 ha (807 ac) of 
this character area will be designated recreation open space, which 
allows for year-round activities, including hiking, biking, and skiing.
    The Willow Creek Character Area consists of approximately 457 ha 
(1,130 ac) and is proposed to contain primarily multiple-family units 
(up to 265), with approximately 84 single-family homes on 0.2-ha (0.5-
ac) lots. This area will contain the resort core buildings that also 
will interface with ski area development. The Bolts Lake gondola will 
terminate at the icon building in Willow Creek, which contains the 
majority of skier services and amenities, including restaurants and the 
beginner ski area with teaching terrain. Approximately 392 ha (968 ac) 
of this character area will be designated recreation open space, which 
allows for year-round activities, including hiking, biking, and skiing.
    The following four species are proposed to be addressed in the HCP: 
Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), bald eagle (Haliaetus leucocephalus), 
boreal toad (Bufo boreas boreas) (not a listed species), and slender 
moonwort (Botrychium lineare). Each of these species may be directly or 
indirectly affected by the Applicant's proposed development.
    The proposed HCP and ITP would cover incidental take associated 
with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Battle 
Mountain residential resort and ski area, including--(1) Vegetation 
clearing in areas of suitable Canada lynx habitat; (2) construction and 
increased human activity within the project area; and (3) increased 
vehicle traffic on both I-70 and Highway 24, as well as within the 
project area.
    The draft HCP, prepared by the Applicant in support of the ITP 
application, will describe the impacts of take on proposed covered 
species, and will propose a conservation strategy to minimize and 
mitigate those impacts to the maximum extent practicable. The Applicant 
will develop habitat conservation measures for these species, with 
assistance from the Service.
    The Applicant is currently considering the following conservation 
measures as part of the HCP--(1) Creation of suitable winter forage 
habitat for lynx; (2) designing and implementing a traffic management 
plan to address increased vehicular traffic; (3) creating a fund for 
habitat protection and enhancement opportunities in the Eagle River 
Basin; and (4) financial support of Canada lynx reintroduction programs 
by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The Applicant and the Service 
will assess the implementation of these conservation measures for the 
duration of the HCP and term of the ITP. Implementation of the HCP 
would include monitoring compliance and regular reporting to the 

Environmental Impact Statement

    The Service and the Applicant will select an environmental 
consulting firm to prepare the draft EIS to be prepared in accordance 
with NEPA. Although consultants will prepare the EIS, we will supervise 
the scope and content of the document for NEPA purposes. The EIS will 
consider the proposed action and a reasonable range of alternatives. A 
detailed description of the proposed action and alternatives will be 
included in the EIS. It is anticipated that several alternatives will 
be developed, which may vary by level of conservation, impacts caused 
by the proposed activities, permit area, or a combination of these 
factors. These alternatives will address alternative actions that can 
achieve some or all of the proposed action's purposes and needs. 
Additionally, we will evaluate a No-Action alternative. Under the No-
Action alternative, we would not issue a section 10(a)(1)(B) permit.
    The EIS also will evaluate potentially significant impacts on 
biological resources, land use, and socioeconomic and other 
environmental issues that could occur directly or indirectly with 
implementation of the proposed action and alternatives. For all 
potential impacts, the EIS will identify mitigation measures, where 
feasible, to reduce these impacts to a level below significance.
    We will conduct an environmental review of the EIS in accordance 
with the requirements of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), its 
implementing regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), other applicable 
regulations, and our procedures for compliance with those regulations. 
We are furnishing this notice in accordance with 40 CFR 1501.7 of the 
NEPA implementing regulations, to obtain suggestions and information 
from other agencies and the public on the scope of issues and 
alternatives to be addressed in the EIS. The primary purpose of the 
scoping process is to identify important issues raised by the public 
that are related to the proposed action. We invite written comments 
from interested parties to help us identify the full range of issues 
related to the proposed action. You may submit written comments by mail 
or facsimile transmission (see ADDRESSES). All comments received, 
including names and addresses, will become part of the official 
administrative record and may be made available to the public.
    The Service requests that comments be specific. In particular, we 
request information regarding--direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts 
that implementation of the proposed HCP or other alternatives could 
have on endangered and threatened and other covered species, and their 
communities and habitats; other possible alternatives that meet the 
purpose and need of the proposed HCP; potential adaptive management 
and/or monitoring

[[Page 66343]]

provisions; funding issues; existing environmental conditions in the 
plan area; other plans or projects that might be relevant to this 
proposed project; permit duration; maximum acreage that should be 
covered; specific species that should or should not be covered; 
specific landforms that should or should not be covered; and 
minimization and mitigation efforts. The Service estimates that the 
draft EIS will be available for public review in the spring of 2007.

    Dated: October 4, 2006.
James J. Slack,
Deputy Regional Director, Region 6.
[FR Doc. E6-19142 Filed 11-13-06; 8:45 am]