[Federal Register: April 7, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 67)]
[Page 17902-17903]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Application From the Nevada Department of Wildlife; Elko, Eureka, 
Lander, and Nye Counties, NV, for an Enhancement of Survival Permit

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and receipt of application.


SUMMARY: In response to an application from the Nevada Department of 
Wildlife (Applicant), the Fish and Wildlife Service (we, the Service) 
is considering issuance of an enhancement of survival permit pursuant 
to section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (ESA). The permit application includes a proposed programmatic 
Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) between the Applicant and the Service. The 
proposed SHA provides for voluntary habitat restoration, maintenance, 
enhancement, or creation activities to enhance the reintroduction and 
recovery of Lahontan cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki henshawi) 
within the Humboldt River Distinct Population Segment and the Interior 
Basin areas in 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 Action Statement, 
which also is available for public review.

DATES: Written comments must be received by 5 p.m. on May 8, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Please address comments to Robert D. Williams, Field 
Supervisor, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 1340 Financial Boulevard, 
Suite 234, Reno, Nevada, facsimile number (775) 861-6301.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Potter, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, (see ADDRESSES), telephone (775) 861-6300.


Document Availability

    Individuals wishing copies of the permit application, the 
Environmental Action Statement, or copies of the full text of the 
proposed SHA, including a map of the proposed permit area, references, 
and description of the proposed permit area, should contact the office 
and personnel listed in the ADDRESSES section. Documents also will be 
available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business 
hours at this office (see ADDRESSES).
    We specifically request information, views, and opinions from the 
public on the proposed Federal action of issuing a permit, including 
the identification of any aspects of the human environment not already 
analyzed in our Environmental Action Statement. Further, we 
specifically solicit information regarding the adequacy of the SHA as 
measured against our permit issuance criteria found in 50 CFR 17.22(c).
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their identity from the administrative record. We will honor such 
requests to the extent allowed by law. Respondents wishing us to 
withhold their identity (e.g., individual name, home address and home 
phone number) must state this prominently at the beginning of their 
comments. We will make all submissions from organizations, agencies or 
businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as 
representatives of officials of such entities, available for public 
inspection in their entirety.


    The primary objective of this proposed SHA is to encourage 
voluntary habitat restoration, maintenance or enhancement activities to 
benefit Lahontan cutthroat trout by relieving a landowner who enters 
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 and Certificate of Inclusion issued (``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 and SHAs are 
found in 50 CFR 17.22(c). As long as enrolled landowners allow the 
agreed-upon conservation measures to be completed on their property and 
agree to maintain their baseline responsibilities, they may make any 
other lawful use of the property during the term of the Cooperative 
Agreement, even if such use results in the take of individual Lahontan 
cutthroat trout or harm to this species' habitat.
    As proposed in the SHA, landowners within the Humboldt River 
Distinct Population Segment, as identified by the Lahontan Cutthroat 
Trout Recovery Plan, and the Interior Basin in Nevada, may be enrolled 
by the Applicant under the SHA. Landowners, as Cooperators, would 
receive a Certificate of Inclusion when they sign a Cooperative 
Agreement. The Cooperative Agreement would include: (1) A map of the 
property; (2) delineation of the portion of the property to be enrolled 
and its stream mileage/feet; (3) the property's baseline and biological 
assessment which would include a thorough stream analysis (with photos) 
of the enrolled

[[Page 17903]]

stream miles/feet; (4) a description of the specific conservation 
measures to be completed; and (5) the responsibilities of the 
Cooperator and the Applicant.
    The Applicant would provide draft copies of the Cooperative 
Agreement to the Service for an opportunity to review and concur with 
the recommended management activities and conservation measures. The 
Service would have a period of 15 business days in which to make 
comments on the Cooperative Agreement. If no comments were made within 
15 business days, the Applicant would proceed to finalize the 
Cooperative Agreement. The Applicant, as the Permittee, would be 
responsible for annual monitoring and reporting related to 
implementation of the SHA and Cooperative Agreements and fulfillment of 
provisions by the Cooperators. As specified in the proposed SHA, the 
Applicant would issue yearly reports to the Service related to 
implementation of the program.
    Each Cooperative Agreement would cover conservation activities to 
create, maintain, restore, or enhance habitat for Lahontan cutthroat 
trout and achieve species' recovery goals. These actions, where 
appropriate, could include (but are not limited to): (1) Restoration of 
riparian habitat and stream form and function; (2) control of stocking 
rates for livestock (number/density of animals per unit area); (3) 
repair or installation of fences to protect existing or created habitat 
from human disturbance; (4) establishment of riparian buffers; and (5) 
installation of screens on irrigation diversions as well as 
facilitation of the implementation of other objectives recommended by 
the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Recovery Plan. The overall goal of 
Cooperative Agreements entered into under the proposed SHA is to 
produce conservation measures that are mutually beneficial to the 
Cooperators and the long-term existence of Lahontan cutthroat trout.
    Based upon the probable species' response time for Lahontan 
cutthroat trout to reach a net conservation benefit, the Service 
estimates it will take 5 years of implementing the planned conservation 
measures to fully reach a net conservation benefit; some level of 
benefit would likely occur within a shorter time period. Most 
Cooperative Agreements under the proposed SHA are expected to have at 
least 10 years' duration.
    After maintenance of the restored/created/enhanced Lahontan 
cutthroat trout 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 taking of Lahontan cutthroat trout. However, the 
restrictions on returning a property to its original baseline condition 
include: (1) The Cooperator must demonstrate that baseline conditions 
were maintained during the term of the Cooperative Agreement 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 Lahontan cutthroat 
trout; and (3) return to baseline conditions must be completed within 
the term of the Certificate of Inclusion issued to the Applicant. 
Cooperative Agreements could 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 
the proposed SHA qualifies for a categorical exclusion under 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 which 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.


    The Service provides this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the 
ESA and pursuant to implementing regulations for NEPA (40 CFR 1506.6). 
We will evaluate the permit application, the proposed SHA, and comments 
submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA 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 ESA 
to the Applicant for take of the Lahontan cutthroat trout 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.

    Dated: March 22, 2006.
Robert D. Williams,
Field Supervisor, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, Reno, Nevada.
[FR Doc. E6-5091 Filed 4-6-06; 8:45 am]