[Federal Register: June 7, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 109)]
[Page 31604-31605]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Proposed Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) for Northern Idaho Ground
Squirrels, Adams County, ID

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: environmental action statement (EAS);
receipt of application for a permit to enhancement of survival (EOS)


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce
receipt of an application for a 20-year EOS permit pursuant to section
10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act),
from Bob Mack and Carolyn Williams (applicants). The permit application
includes a proposed 3-year SHA between the applicants and us. We are
accepting comments on the SHA, permit application, and EAS.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before July 9, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Address your comments to Carmen Thomas, Project Biologist,
Fish and Wildlife Service, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Room 368, Boise, ID
83709 (telephone: 208-378-5243; facsimile: 208-378-5262).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carmen Thomas at the above address or
by telephone at 208-378-5243.


Document Availability

    You may obtain copies of the documents for review by contacting the
individual named above. You also may make an appointment to view the
documents at the above address during normal business hours. The
documents are also available electronically on the World Wide Web at

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be
aware that your entire comment--including your personal information--
may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in
your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from
public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.


    Under SHAs, participating property owners voluntarily undertake

[[Page 31605]]

management activities on their properties to enhance, restore, or
maintain habitat benefitting species listed under the Act (16 U.S.C.
1531 et seq.). SHAs encourage private and other non-Federal property
owners to implement conservation efforts for listed species by assuring
property owners they will not be subjected to increased property use
restrictions if their efforts attract listed species to their property
or increase the numbers or distribution of listed species already on
their property. Application requirements and issuance criteria for EOS
permits through SHAs are in 50 CFR 17.22(c).
    This proposed SHA would allow for management and conservation of
the threatened northern Idaho ground squirrel (Spermophilus brunneus
brunneus) on approximately 9 acres (ac) (3.6 hectares (ha)) of private
land owned by the applicants approximately 5.5 miles (mi) (8.9
kilometers (km)) northwest of New Meadows, Idaho. Northern Idaho ground
squirrels currently occupy less than 2 of the 9 ac (3.6 ha). This 2-ac
(0.8-ha) protected area would have a baseline greater than zero (0),
and no incidental take would be authorized under the permit within this
area. The SHA allows us to carry out a variety of conservation measures
within the 2-ac (0.8-ha) protected area to benefit conservation of
northern Idaho ground squirrels. Within the 7 ac (3.6 ha) outside of
the 2-ac (0.8-ha) protected area, the permit would authorize the
applicants to return to the existing baseline conditions of zero (0)
northern Idaho ground squirrels. This SHA is intended to result in a
net conservation benefit by enhancing northern Idaho ground squirrel
habitat within the 2-ac (0.8-ha) protected area, and expanding the
northern Idaho ground squirrel population to lands outside the
protected area. Under the proposed SHA, the applicants would: (1)
Protect 2 ac (0.8 ha) of occupied, suitable northern Idaho ground
squirrel habitat from land use activities that may result in ``take''
of ground squirrels; (2) allow Service personnel access to the property
to conduct ground squirrel conservation activities such as habitat
enhancement, artificial feeding, ground squirrel surveys, and
translocation of excess ground squirrels, should the current population
expand beyond the 2-ac (0.8-ha) protected area; (3) if appropriate, in
cooperation with the Service, develop signs to discourage shooting of
ground squirrels; and (4) work cooperatively with the Service on other
issues necessary to further the purposes of the SHA.
    Threats to the northern Idaho ground squirrel include: habitat loss
due to seral forest encroachment into suitable meadow habitats,
competition from Columbian ground squirrels (Spermophilus columbianus),
land use changes, recreational shooting, and naturally occurring
events. The SHA is intended to provide a net conservation benefit to
northern Idaho ground squirrels by providing measures for ground
squirrel habitat protection and enhancement, managing competition from
Columbian ground squirrels, and controlling recreational shooting. The
biological goal of ground squirrel conservation measures in the SHA is
to expand the northern Idaho ground squirrel population at this site
beyond the 2-ac (0.8-ha) protected area by reducing threats to the
species. The SHA is intended to contribute to recovery of northern
Idaho ground squirrels by reducing threats and expanding the ground
squirrel population at this site. Recovery of the species is intended
to be enhanced by increasing the viability of the population at this
site and potentially allowing ground squirrels to be translocated to
other sites in need of population supplementation.
    Consistent with the Service's Safe Harbor policy, under the SHA, we
would issue a permit to the applicants authorizing incidental take of
northern Idaho ground squirrels, as a result of activities on 7-ac
(3.6-ha) of their property, outside the 2-ac (0.8-ha) protected area.
These activities include use and maintenance of the applicants' house
and garage; operation and maintenance of a well, underground power and
telephone lines, septic system/drainfield, and other required
utilities; and operation of cars and trucks on the driveway and all-
terrain vehicles on the property outside the protected area. The
maximum level of incidental take authorized under the proposed SHA may
never be realized. The level of incidental take would be dependent on
if, and how rapidly, northern Idaho ground squirrels expand beyond the
2-ac (0.8-ha) protected area.
    We have made a preliminary determination that the proposed SHA and
permit application are eligible for categorical exclusion under the
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. We explain the basis for
this determination in an EAS, which also is available for public
    We provide this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act and
pursuant to implementing regulations for the National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA) (40 CFR 1506.6). We will evaluate the permit
application, associated documents, and comments submitted thereon to
determine whether the permit application meets the requirements of
section 10(a) of the Act and NEPA regulations. If we determine that the
requirements are met, we will sign the proposed SHA and issue an EOS
permit under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act to the applicants for take
of northern Idaho ground squirrels incidental to otherwise lawful
activities in accordance with the terms of the SHA. We will not make
our final decision until after the end of the 30-day comment period and
will fully consider all comments received during the comment period.

    Dated: June 1, 2007.
Jeffery L. Foss,
Field Office Supervisor, Fish and Wildlife Service,Boise, Idaho.
[FR Doc. E7-10978 Filed 6-6-07; 8:45 am]