[Federal Register: September 6, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 172)]
[Page 51247-51248]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Habitat Conservation Plan for the Santa Clara Valley, Santa Clara 
County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement/
Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) and notice of public meeting.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), we, 
the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), advise the public that we 
intend to gather information necessary to prepare, in coordination with 
Santa Clara County, a joint Environmental Impact Statement/
Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) on the Habitat Conservation Plan 
for the Santa Clara Valley (Plan). The Plan is being prepared under 
Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended, (Act). Santa Clara County (County) is facilitating preparation 
of the Plan with local partners and is the lead agency under the 
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The County in accordance 
with CEQA is publishing a similar notice. The County and their local 
partners intend to apply for a 50-year incidental take permit from the 
Service and from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). These 
permits are needed to authorize the incidental take of threatened and 
endangered species that could result from activities covered under the 
    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/EIR; 
(3) announce the initiation of a public scoping period; and (4) obtain 
suggestions and information on the scope of issues and alternatives to 
be included in the EIS/EIR.

DATES: Submit written comments on or before October 22, 2007. One 
public scoping meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 
from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The public scoping meeting will be combined with 
a pre-scheduled community meeting for the Plan.

ADDRESSES: The public meeting will be held at the Morgan Hill Community 
and Cultural Center, 17000 Monterey Road, Morgan Hill, CA 95037. Submit 
written comments to Lori Rinek, Chief, Conservation Planning and 
Recovery Division, Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825. 
Comments may also be sent by facsimile to (916) 414-6713.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cori Mustin, Senior Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office at (916) 414-6600.


Reasonable Accommodation

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meeting should contact Cori Mustin at (916) 
414-6600 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 
alternative formats upon request.


    The Plan is both a habitat conservation plan (HCP), intended to 
fulfill the requirements of the Endangered Species Act, and a natural 
community conservation plan (NCCP), to fulfill the requirements of the 
California Natural Community Conservation Planning Act (NCCP Act). The 
Plan is being prepared under the combined efforts of eight local and 
state agencies: Santa Clara County, the City of San Jos[eacute], the 
City of Morgan Hill, the City of Gilroy, the Santa Clara Valley Water 
District (SCVWD), the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority 
(VTA), the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, and the California 
Department of Parks and Recreation, collectively referred to as the 
Local Partners. Furthermore, efforts have included coordination with 
the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) as a CEQA Responsible 
and Trustee Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration, NMFS is a Cooperating Agency under NEPA.
    Species proposed for coverage in the Plan are species that are 
currently listed as federally threatened or endangered or have the 
potential to become listed during the life of this Plan and have some 
likelihood to occur within the project area. Should any of these 
unlisted covered wildlife species become listed under the Act during 
the term of the permit, take authorization for those species would 
become effective upon listing. The Plan will provide long-term 
conservation and management of these species. Species may be added or 
deleted during the course of the development of the Plan based on 
further analysis, new information, agency consultation, and public 
comment. The Plan addresses 30 listed and non-listed species: 15 
wildlife species and 15 plant species. Federally listed species 
proposed for coverage under the Plan include: the bay checkerspot 
butterfly (Euphydryas editha bayensis), south-central California 
coastal steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), central California coastal 
steelhead (O. mykiss), central valley fall-run Chinook salmon (O. 
tshawytscha), California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense), 
California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii), least Bell's vireo 
(Vireo bellii pusillus), San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica), 
Tiburon Indian paintbrush (Castilleja affinis ssp. neglecta), coyote 
ceanothus (Ceanothus ferrisae), Santa Clara Valley dudleya (Dudleya 
setchellii), and Metcalf Canyon jewelflower (Streptanthus albidus ssp. 
albidus). The unlisted species proposed for coverage under the Plan 
include: Pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentata), foothill yellow-legged 
frog (Rana boylii), western pond turtle (Clemmys marmorata), golden 
eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia 
hypugaea), tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor), Pacific Townsend's 
[=western] big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii townsendii), big 
scale balsamroot (Balsamorhiza macrolepis), chaparral harebell 
(Campanula exigua), Mount Hamilton thistle (Cirsium fontinale var. 
campylon), San Francisco collinsia (Collinsia multicolor), fragrant 

[[Page 51248]]

(Fritillaria liliacea), Loma Prieta hoita (Hoita strobilina), smooth 
lessingia (Lessingia micradenia var. glabrata), Hall's bush mallow 
(Malacothamnus hallii), robust monardella (Monardella villosa ssp. 
globosa), rock sanicle (Sanicula saxatilis), and most beautiful 
jewelflower (Streptanthus albidus ssp. peramoenus).
    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. Service regulations 
governing permits for threatened species and endangered species, 
respectively, are promulgated in 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 17.22. NMFS 
regulations governing permits for threatened and endangered species of 
salmonids that may be covered in the Plan are promulgated in 50 CFR 
    Take of listed plant species is not prohibited under the Act, and 
cannot be authorized under a Section 10 permit. We propose to include 
plant species on the permit in recognition of the conservation benefits 
provided for them under an HCP. For the purposes of the Plan, certain 
plant species are further included to meet regulatory obligations under 
Section 7 of the Act and the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). 
All species included on an incidental take permit would receive 
assurances under the Service's ``No Surprises'' regulations found in 50 
CFR 17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5).
    The Plan would result in take authorization for otherwise lawful 
actions, such as public and private development that may incidentally 
take or harm animal species or their habitats within the Plan area, and 
the formation and management of a conservation program for covered 
species. The Local Partners will request incidental take coverage for 
the following seven categories of covered activities: (1) Urban 
development, (2) in-stream capital projects, (3) in-stream operation 
and maintenance activities, (4) rural capital projects, (5) rural 
operations and maintenance activities, (6) rural development, and (7) 
conservation strategy implementation.
    The study area includes approximately 518,819 acres, or 
approximately 62 percent of Santa Clara County. The study area was 
defined as the area in which covered activities would occur, impacts 
would be evaluated, and conservation activities would be implemented. 
The boundary of the study area was based on political, ecological, and 
hydrologic factors. The study area includes the Pajaro River watershed 
within Santa Clara County including all or a portion of the Llagas, 
Uvas, Pescadero and Pacheco sub-watersheds and the Coyote Creek 
watershed with the exception of the Baylands region. A large portion of 
the Guadalupe watershed is within the study area, as well as small 
areas outside of each of these watersheds.

Environmental Impact Statement/Report

    The EIS/EIR will consider the proposed action (i.e., the issuance 
of a Section 10(a)(1)(B) permit under the Act), no action (no project/
no Section 10 permit), and a reasonable range of alternatives. A 
detailed description of the proposed action and alternatives will be 
included in the EIS/EIR. The alternatives to be considered for analysis 
in the EIS/EIR may include: Modified lists of covered species, land 
coverage areas, and extent of future conservation efforts. The EIS/EIR 
will also identify potentially significant impacts on biological 
resources, land use, air quality, water quality, economics, and other 
environmental resource issues that could occur directly or indirectly 
with implementation of the proposed action and alternatives. Different 
strategies for avoiding, minimizing and mitigating the impacts of 
incidental take may also be considered.
    Environmental review of the EIS/EIR 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/EIR. 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 email addresses of respondents available for 
public review. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their names and/or home 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: August 30, 2007.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. E7-17588 Filed 9-5-07; 8:45 am]