[Federal Register: November 21, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 224)]
[Page 67363-67364]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent To Conduct Public Scoping and Prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement Regarding the Southern Nye County 
Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, Nye County, NV

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 
U.S.C. 4321, et seq.), the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) as the 
lead agency, advises the public that we intend to gather information 
necessary to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) regarding 
the proposed Southern Nye County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation 
Plan (MSHCP) and issuance of an incidental take permit (Permit) for 
endangered and threatened species in accordance with section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). 
Nye County (Applicant) proposes to accommodate anticipated urban 
development within the Mojave Desert region of southern Nye County and 
implement conservation measures (Project). The Applicant intends to 
request a Permit for incidental take of several listed and unlisted 
species, including the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), a species 
federally listed as threatened under the Act. The Service plans to 
refine the species list as a part of the scoping process. In accordance 
with the Act, the Applicant will prepare an MSHCP containing proposed 
measures to minimize and mitigate incidental take that could result 
from the Project.
    The Service provides this notice to: (1) Describe the proposed 
action 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 30-day public scoping period; and 
(4) obtain suggestion and information on the scope of issues to be 
included in the EIS.

DATES: Public scoping meetings will be held: Monday, December 4, 2006, 
from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday, December 5, 2006, from 4 p.m. to 6 
p.m. Written comments from all interested parties must be received on 
or before December 21, 2006.

ADDRESSES: The public meeting will be held at the following location: 
Monday, December 4, 2006, at the Bob Ruud Community Center, 150 North 
Highway 160, Pahrump, NV 89060. Tuesday, December 5, 2006, at the 
Beatty Community Center, 100 A Avenue South, Beatty, NV 89003.
    Comments and requests for information related to the preparation of 
the EIS should be sent to Robert D. Williams, Field Supervisor, Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 1340 Financial 
Boulevard, Suite 234, Reno, Nevada 89502; or FAX 775-861-6301.
    Comments and materials received will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the above 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeri Krueger, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, Fish and Wildlife Service, Southern Nevada Field Office, 
4701 N. Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89130, at 702-515-5230.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Persons needing reasonable accommodations in 
order to attend and participate in the public meetings should contact 
Jim Marble, Nye County, Natural Resources Director, P.O. Box 153, 
Tonopah, Nevada, 89049 at 775-482-7238 as soon as possible. In order to 
allow sufficient time to process requests, please call no later than 
one week before the public meetings. Information regarding this 
proposed action is available in alternative formats upon request.
    The MSHCP described in this notice includes private, developable 
lands in southern Nye County only. Nye County is also in the process of 
developing a short-term desert tortoise Habitat Conservation Plan 
focusing specifically on Pahrump Valley in concert with the development 
of the MSHCP. The Applicant's intent is to complete the short-term 
Habitat Conservation Plan by the end of this year and then incorporate 
the document into the longer-term MSHCP.
    The Applicant has initiated discussions with the Service regarding 
preparation of an MSHCP and the potential issuance of a Permit for 
their activities, which includes planned development and maintenance 
activities, utility and infrastructure development and maintenance, 
roadway construction and maintenance, and recreation. The Applicant has 
also initiated discussions with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management 
(BLM) regarding implementation of conservation actions on adjacent 
federally owned lands. The planning area encompasses the southern 
portion of Nye County, Nevada, within the Mojave Desert region. It 
consists of approximately 850,900 acres of land administered by the 
BLM, and

[[Page 67364]]

approximately 131,890 acres of developable private land in Nye County. 
The area is bordered by the Nellis Air Force Range and Nevada Test Site 
to the north, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest to the east, and the 
California/Nevada state line to the west. The small amount of private 
land available for urban development is associated with the towns of 
Pahrump, Amargosa Valley, and Beatty. The surrounding land is primarily 
owned and managed by BLM.
    Some of the Applicant's future activities have the potential to 
impact species subject to protection under the Act. Section 10 
(a)(1)(B) permits non-Federal land owners to take endangered and 
threatened wildlife species, provided the take is incidental to 
otherwise lawful activities and will not appreciably reduce the 
likelihood for the survival and recovery of the species in the wild, as 
well as other permit conditions. An applicant for a Permit under 
section 10 must prepare and submit to the Service for approval a Plan 
containing a multifaceted strategy for minimizing and mitigating the 
impacts of all take associated with the proposed activities to the 
maximum extent practicable. The applicant must also ensure that 
adequate funding for the Plan will be provided.
    The Service will conduct an environmental review of the MSHCP and 
prepare an EIS. ENTRIX has been selected as the lead consultant to 
prepare the EIS under the supervision of the Service. NEPA requires 
that Federal agencies conduct an environmental analysis of their 
proposed actions to determine if the actions may significantly affect 
the human environment. Under NEPA, a reasonable range of alternatives 
to proposed projects is developed and considered in the environmental 
review. Alternatives considered for analysis in an EIS may include: 
variations in the scope of proposed activities; variations in the 
location, amount, and types of conservation measures; variations in 
activity duration; or a combination of these elements. In addition, the 
EIS will identify potentially significant direct, indirect, and 
cumulative impacts on biological resources, land use, air quality, 
water quality, water resources, socioeconomic conditions, and other 
environmental issues that could occur with implementation of the 
proposed action and alternatives. For all potentially significant 
impacts, the EIS identifies avoidance, minimization, and mitigation 
measures to reduce these impacts, where feasible, to a level below 
    The EIS will consider the proposed action, no action, and a 
reasonable range of alternatives. A detailed description of the impacts 
of the proposed action and each alternative will be included in the 
EIS. The alternatives to be considered for analysis in the EIS may 
address combinations of covered species, different permit effective 
periods, or a combination of elements.
    Written comments from interested parties are welcome to ensure that 
the issues of public concern related to the proposed action are 
identified. Comments and materials received will be available for 
public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
office listed in the ADDRESSES section of this notice. All comments and 
materials received, including names and addresses, will become part of 
the administrative record and may be released to the public. Public 
meetings will be held as noted in the DATES section above.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names, home addresses, 
home phone numbers, and email addresses of respondents, 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 
organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives of or officials of organizations or 
businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety.
    The Service requests that comments be specific. In particular, the 
Service is requesting information regarding (1) Potential direct, 
indirect, and cumulative impacts of implementation of the proposed 
action; (2) other possible alternatives that meet the purpose and need; 
(3) potential adaptive management and/or monitoring provisions; (4) 
existing environmental conditions in the area; (5) other plans or 
projects that might be relevant to this proposed project; and (6) 
potential minimization and mitigation efforts.
    The environmental review of this project will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the NEPA of 1969 as amended (42 
U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), Council on the Environmental Quality Regulations 
(40 CFR parts 1500-1518), other applicable Federal laws and 
regulations, and applicable policies and procedures of the Service. 
This notice is being furnished in accordance with 40 CFR 1501.7 to 
obtain suggestions and information from other agencies and the public 
on the scope of issues and alternatives to be addressed in the EIS.

    Dated November 8, 2006.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. E6-19633 Filed 11-20-06; 8:45 am]