[Federal Register: May 26, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 102)]
[Page 30440-30441]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Environmental Assessment/Habitat Conservation Plan; 
Issuance of a Section 10(a)(1)(B) Permit for Incidental Take of the 
Golden-Cheeked Warbler and Black-Capped Vireo by TXU Electric Delivery 
During the Construction and Operation of a 16-Mile 138 kV Transmission 
Line in Portions of Bell and Coryell Counties, TX

AGENCY: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; receipt of application.


SUMMARY: TXU Electric Delivery (Applicant) has applied to the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service (Service) for an incidental take permit (TE-
125388-0) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act 
(Act) of 1973, as amended. The requested permit, which is for a period 
of five years, would authorize incidental take of the golden-cheeked 
warbler (Dendroica chyrosparia) and black-capped vireo (Vireo 
atricapilla). The proposed take would occur as a result of the 
construction and continued operation of a 16-mile (26-kilometer), 138 
kV transmission line within Bell and Coryell counties, Texas. We invite 
the public to review and comment on the permit application and 
associated draft Environmental Assessment/Habitat Conservation Plan 

DATES: To ensure consideration, written comments must be received on or 
before July 25, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application may obtain a copy 
by writing to the Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
P.O. Box 1306, Room 4102, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103. Persons 
wishing to review the draft EA/HCP may obtain a copy by contacting 
Scott Rowin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 
200, Austin, Texas 78758 (512/490-0057). Documents will be available 
for public inspection by written request, by appointment only,

[[Page 30441]]

during normal business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the Service's 
Austin office. Written data or comments concerning the application and 
draft EA/HCP should be submitted to the Supervisor, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, Texas 78758. 
Please refer to permit number TE-125388-0 when submitting comments. All 
comments received, including names and addresses, will become a part of 
the official administrative record and may be made available to the 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Rowin at U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service Austin office, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, Texas 
78758 (512) 490-0057 or by e-mail, Scott_Rowin@fws.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Applicant has applied to the Service for 
a section 10(a)(1)(B) incidental take permit for a period of five years 
in order to authorize incidental take of the golden-cheeked warbler and 
black-capped vireo.
    Section 9 of the Act prohibits the ``taking'' of endangered species 
such as the Houston toad. However, the Service, under limited 
circumstances, may issue permits to take endangered wildlife species 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities.
    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22), and the 
National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.) and its 
implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).
    As identified in the draft EA/HCP, two alternate alignments (A and 
B) exist along Sevenmile Mountain for a distance of approximately two 
miles. It is unknown at this time which alignment will be selected for 
the transmission line. However, the Applicant requests the issuance of 
the permit to authorize incidental take of the endangered golden-
cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo for either alignment. Regardless 
of which alignment is selected, the level of mitigation proposed in 
this permit is based on the maximum acreage of impacts that would 
result from the installation of the proposed transmission line. The 
proposed transmission line would be installed in response to increased 
demands for such services resulting from a growing population within 
the Applicant's service area.
    The addition of this transmission line would provide the capacity 
and flexibility needed to continue to provide reliable service to the 
Killeen--Copperas Cove loads.
    The action authorized under this permit, if issued, would include 
the installation of a 138 kV transmission line for a distance of 
approximately 16 miles between the existing TXU Electric Delivery 
Copperas Cove Substation and the Brazos Electric Power Cooperative Ding 
Dong Substation. The proposed right-of-way width of the Proposed 
Alternative would vary between 16 feet and 70 feet. The proposed area 
to be permitted encompasses 1,365 acres and would encompass all areas 
of direct and indirect impact.
    The alternative was selected by the Applicant and the Service as 
the preferred action as it would allow the development of the project 
while the HCP would minimize and offset the potential impact to the 
golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo by providing for offsite 
conservation measures, which would be utilized to better manage the 
recovery of the species.
    Applicant: TXU Electric Delivery has developed an HCP which has 
been included as part of the preferred alternative that would 
substantially avoid impacts to the golden-cheeked warbler and black-
capped vireo. Impacts that cannot be avoided would be minimized and 
mitigated to the maximum extent practicable. Mitigation efforts under 
the proposed HCP would include, contributing $1,690,000 to establish a 
non-wasting endowment for the golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped 
vireo management on the 4,500-acre Parrie Haynes Ranch (Ranch). Based 
on negotiations between TXU Electric Delivery, the Service, Texas Parks 
and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, 
and the Parrie Haynes Trust/Texas Youth Commission (landowner), which 
were initiated on November 15, 2005, this funding will be used for the 
establishment of the Ranch as an endangered species management site as 
mitigation for the affected golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped 
vireo habitat. Even though no endangered species management currently 
occurs on the Ranch, golden-cheeked warblers and black-capped vireos 
currently utilize significant amounts of habitat within the property, 
thus providing an ideal location for mitigation and enhanced species 
management. Additionally, the property is located adjacent to Fort 
Hood, creating an even larger block of actively managed habitat for 
both species.
    The mitigation funding proposal consists of the creation of a non-
wasting endowment fund to be maintained by the Texas Parks and Wildlife 
Foundation, a non-profit organization. As determined by Texas Parks and 
Wildlife Foundation, to maintain the endowment and management of the 
site in perpetuity, approximately three to four percent of the interest 
will be rolled back into the account each year for inflation. The 
remaining interest will be used for endangered species restoration/
enhancement activities and to fund a TPWD Wildlife Biologist/Technician 
position for endangered species management of the site. Once the 
endowment is established, TPWD will be responsible for on-going 
operations, management, and reporting.
    The mitigation proposal will enable the Service and TPWD to 
actively manage significantly more golden-cheeked warbler and black-
capped vireo habitat as opposed to acquiring habitat elsewhere. The 
proposal will assist the Service and TPWD in developing sound land 
management plans and practices, including but not limited to, assessing 
habitat conditions, developing land and wildlife/endangered species 
management plans, endangered species monitoring, vegetation management/
manipulation, cowbird management, livestock management, exotic species 
control, public education, and fencing and other access provisions.

Richard McDonald,
Acting Regional Director, Region 2, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. E6-8118 Filed 5-25-06; 8:45 am]