[Federal Register: September 27, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 187)]
[Page 54922-54923]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Virgin River Habitat Conservation and Recovery Program, Clark
County, NV

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement
(EIS) and notice of public meetings.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the
Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), advises the public that we intend
to gather information necessary to prepare an Environmental Impact
Statement (EIS) regarding the proposed Virgin River Habitat
Conservation and Recovery Program (VRHCRP) and issuance of an
incidental take permit (Permit) for endangered and threatened species
in accordance with section 10(a) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973,
as amended (Act). The intent of the VRHCRP is to provide a recovery
strategy for five species in the Lower Virgin River Basin. The VRHRCP
would be used as a tool when conducting future section 7 consultations,
implementing recovery actions and preparing habitat conservation plans
for new and existing development.
    We provide 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 suggestions and information on the scope of issues to be
included in the EIS.

DATES: Written comments from all interested parties must be received on
or before October 29, 2007. Public meetings will be held on October 16
and 17, 2007 from 4 to 6 p.m.

ADDRESSES: The public meetings will be held at the following locations:
October 16, 2007 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Federal Interagency Building,
4701 North Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89130; and October 17, 2007
from 4 to 6 p.m. at Mesquite City Hall, 10 East Mesquite Blvd.,
Mesquite, NV 89027.
    Information, written comments, or questions related to the
preparation of the EIS and NEPA process should be sent to Robert D.
Williams, Field Supervisor, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, Fish and
Wildlife Service, 4701 North Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89130; or
fax (702) 515-5231.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amy LaVoie, Nevada Fish and Wildlife
Office, Fish and Wildlife Service, 4701 North Torrey Pines Dr., Las
Vegas, Nevada 89130, or at (702) 515-5230.


Reasonable Accommodation

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and
participate in the public meeting should contact Amy LaVoie (See
ADDRESSES) at (702) 515-5230 as soon as possible. In order to allow
sufficient time to process requests, please call no later than one week
before the public meeting. Information regarding this proposed action
is available in other formats upon request.


    The Service together with the Bureau of Land Management, City of
Mesquite, Clark County, National Park Service, Nevada Department of
Wildlife, Southern Nevada Water Authority, and Virgin Valley Water
District propose to develop the VRHCRP. The intent of the VRHCRP is to
provide a recovery strategy for five species in the Lower Virgin River
Basin: Virgin River chub (Gila seminuda), woundfin (Plagopterus
argentissimus), southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii
extimus), Yuma clapper rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis), and
yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus). Species may be added or
deleted during the course of the development of the VRHCRP based on
further analysis, new information, agency consultation, and public
comment. The VRHRCP would be used by the participating agencies as a
tool when conducting future section 7 consultations, implementing
recovery actions and preparing habitat conservation plans.
    The area to be addressed within the proposed VRHCRP would be all
lands within the the 100-year floodplain of the Virgin River and its
tributaries (including ephemeral washes) from the Mesquite Diversion
(located approximately 2 miles upstream of the Nevada/Arizona border)
to the confluence of Lake Mead, as defined by a line from the southern
end of Lower Mormon Mesa, through Fish Island, to Little Bitter Wash.
In addition, some recovery actions may be expanded to include all land
within the 100-year floodplain of the Virgin River and its tributaries
from the Mesquite Diversion upstream to the base of the Virgin River
Gorge in Arizona or to the location of the future non-native fish
barrier to be established by the Virgin River Resource Management and
Recovery Program (Utah program).
    The VRHCRP would contain a habitat conservation plan (HCP) for the
City of Mesquite and Clark County (Permit Applicants). The HCP would
result in take authorization for otherwise lawful actions, such as
municipal and private development that may incidentally take or harm
animal species or their habitats within the HCP area. Conservation
measures to offset the effects on the covered species from proposed
development activities would be developed and implemented. The
applicants propose to expand the city limits of Mesquite and
unincorporated Clark County in and near the township or area of
Bunkerville and Riverside, and implement conservation measures for the
resulting development activities,

[[Page 54923]]

along with existing activities currently undertaken by the Permit
Applicants with the potential to affect federally listed species. These
activities may include new and existing development activities in
upland and riparian areas; ongoing water supply and flood control
activities; ongoing agricultural and livestock practices; and the
ongoing management of trails, parks, and open spaces. The Permit
Applicants intend to request a Permit for incidental take of federally
listed threatened or endangered species, as well as other species
identified in the VRHCRP.
    Section 9 of the Act and Federal regulations prohibit the ``take''
of wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened (16 U.S.C.
1538). The Act defines the term ``take'' as: To harass, harm, pursue,
hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect listed species, or
to attempt to engage in such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532). Harm includes
significant habitat modification or degradation that actually kills or
injures listed wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral
patterns, including breeding feeding, and sheltering [50 CFR 17.3(c)].
Pursuant to 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 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, respectively,
are at 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 17.22.

Environmental Impact Statement

    The EIS will consider the proposed action, no action, and a
reasonable range of alternatives. A detailed description of the
proposed action and alternatives will be included in the EIS.
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 and/or recovery actions;
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 or other alternatives. For all potentially significant
impacts, the EIS identifies avoidance, minimization, and mitigation
measures to reduce these impacts, where feasible, to a level below
    Environmental review of the EIS will be conducted 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 Service procedures for compliance with those
regulations. This notice is being furnished in accordance with 40 CFR
Section 1501.7 and 1508.22 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 related to the
proposed action. Written comments from interested parties are invited
to ensure that the full range of issues related to the permit
application is identified. Comments will only be accepted in written
form. You may submit written comments by mail, facsimile transmission,
or in person (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.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names, home addresses,
home phone numbers, and e-mail 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
organization or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves
as representatives of or officials of organizations or businesses,
available for public inspection in their entirety.

    Dated: September 21, 2007.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento,
[FR Doc. 07-4781 Filed 9-26-07; 8:45 am]