[Federal Register: September 6, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 172)]
[Page 51243-51244]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Proposed Low Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Bellota 
Landslide Repair and Shorecliffs Mobile Home Neighborhood Expansion, 
City of San Clemente, County of Orange, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: Seaview Repair LLC (applicant) has applied to the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service (Service) for a 10-year incidental take permit for 
one covered species pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The application addresses the 
potential for ``take'' of the threatened coastal California gnatcatcher 
(Polioptila californica californica, ``gnatcatcher'') associated with 
the proposed landslide remediation project in the City of San Clemente, 
Orange County, California. A conservation program to minimize and 
mitigate for the project activities would be implemented as described 
in the proposed Bellota Landslide Repair and Shorecliffs Mobile Home 
Neighborhood Expansion Low Effect Habitat Conservation Plan (proposed 
HCP), which would be implemented by the applicant.
    We are requesting comments on the permit application and on the 
preliminary determination that the proposed HCP qualifies as a ``Low-
effect'' Habitat Conservation Plan, eligible for a categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, 
as amended. The basis for this determination is discussed in the 
Environmental Action Statement (EAS) and the associated Low Effect 
Screening Form, which are also available for public review.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before October 9, 

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to the Field Supervisor, Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden 
Valley Road, Carlsbad, California 92011. Written comments may be sent 
by facsimile to (760) 918-0638.

[[Page 51244]]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Karen Goebel, Assistant Field 
Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES); 
telephone: (760) 431-9440.


Availability of Documents

    Individuals wishing copies of the application, proposed HCP, and 
EAS should immediately contact the Service by telephone at (760) 431-
9440 or by letter to the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office. Copies of 
the proposed HCP and EAS also are available for public inspection 
during regular business hours at the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office 


    Section 9 of the Act and its implementing Federal regulations 
prohibit the take of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. 
Take is defined under the Act as to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture or collect listed animal species, or attempt 
to engage in such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1538). However, under section 
10(a) of the Act, the Service 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 incidental take 
permits for threatened and endangered species, respectively, are found 
in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32.
    The applicant is seeking a permit for take of the coastal 
California gnatcatcher during the life of the permit.
    The applicant proposes to repair a landslide within a 16.33-acre 
project site that occurred on a slope adjacent to Via Bellota in the 
City of San Clemente, California. The proposed landslide remediation 
would involve remedial grading and construction of a landslide buttress 
at the westerly end of the canyon to stabilize the slide area. The 
slope would be graded and stabilized with shear pins every 10 feet. A 
collapsed underground stormdrain pipe that currently extends through 
the canyon bottom would be replaced to minimize the risk of pipe 
failures that could result in soil saturation and additional slope 
instability. An additional slope failure at the southwest end of the 
proposed landslide repair would be graded, excavated, filled, compacted 
and have hydroaugers (horizontal drains) installed which would outlet 
to the stormdrain being constructed for the landslide repair. 
Construction of a gunite terrace and down drains, which would outlet at 
the bottom of the slope, would occur on the surface of the finished 
slope. The repair of this slope failure would be concurrent with the 
stabilization of the landslide. Additionally, the proposed project 
would include the construction and sale of 20 graded lots within the 
Shorecliffs Mobile Home Park.
    The applicant proposes to minimize and mitigate the effects to the 
gnatcatcher associated with the covered activities by fully 
implementing the HCP. The purpose of the proposed HCP's conservation 
program is to promote the biological conservation of the gnatcatcher. 
The HCP includes measures to minimize impacts to gnatcatcher by 
scheduling vegetation removal outside of the breeding season (February 
15 to August 15). The project may result in take of one (1) pair of 
gnatcatchers and will permanently impact 5.36 acres of coastal sage 
scrub (CSS) and temporarily impact 6.71 acres of CSS. The applicant 
proposes to mitigate impacts to the gnatcatcher by revegetating 8.01 
acres of the disturbed CSS onsite and restoring 9.42 acres of CSS 
    The Proposed Action consists of the issuance of an incidental take 
permit and implementation of the proposed HCP, which includes measures 
to minimize and mitigate impacts of the project on the gnatcatcher. 
Three alternatives to the taking of the listed species under the 
Proposed Action are considered in the proposed HCP. Under the No Action 
Alternative, no permit would be issued, and no construction or 
conservation would occur. This alternative would not comply with the 
settlement agreement to repair the landslide. The Offsite Alternative 
is not feasible because the proposed project involves an existing 
landslide which occurs within the proposed project site. A Reduce 
Project Alternative is also not feasible because the proposed project 
represents the minimum grading and construction footprint necessary to 
reconstruct the slope and permanently stabilize the slide.
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that approval of 
the proposed HCP qualifies as a categorical exclusion under NEPA, as 
provided by the Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM8) and as a 
``low-effect'' plan as defined by the Habitat Conservation Planning 
Handbook (November 1996). Determination of Low-effect Habitat 
Conservation Plans is based on the following three criteria: (1) 
Implementation of the proposed HCP would result in minor or negligible 
effects on federally listed, proposed, and candidate species and their 
habitats; (2) Implementation of the proposed HCP would result in minor 
or negligible effects on other environmental values or resources; and 
(3) Impacts of the proposed HCP, 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 
    Based upon this preliminary determination, we do not intend to 
prepare further NEPA documentation. We will consider public comments in 
making the final determination on whether to prepare such additional 
    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 identifying 
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.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act. We 
will evaluate the permit application, the proposed HCP, and comments 
submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. If the requirements are met, 
we will issue a permit to Seaview Repair LLC for the incidental take of 
the coastal California gnatcatcher from landslide remediation in the 
City of San Clemente, Orange County, California.

    Dated: August 30, 2007.
Jim A. Bartel,
Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, Carlsbad, 
[FR Doc. E7-17592 Filed 9-5-07; 8:45 am]