[Federal Register: November 2, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 212)]
[Page 62254-62256]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Coyote Springs Investment Multi-Species Habitat Conservation 
Plan, Clark County and Lincoln County, NV

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and receipt of application.


SUMMARY: This notice announces the availability of the draft Coyote 
Springs Investment Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan (Plan), 
draft Implementing Agreement (IA), and draft Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) for public review and comment. In response to receipt 
of an application from Coyote Springs Investment LLC (CSI; Applicant), 
we, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are considering the 
proposed action of issuing a 40-year permit for five species. The 
proposed permit would authorize the take of individual species listed 
under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The 
permit is needed because take of species could occur during proposed 
urban development activities located in a 21,454-acre area in southern 
Lincoln County, Nevada. In addition, take of species could occur during 
recreational and resource management activities within the 13,767-acre 
proposed Coyote Springs Resource Management Area (CSRMA), an area 
leased by the Applicant from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), 
which would be managed for the conservation of the desert tortoise 
(Gopherus agassizii) and other covered species pending BLM approval, 
located in Clark and Lincoln counties, Nevada.

DATES: Written comments must be received by 5 p.m. on January 2, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Robert D. Williams, Field 
Supervisor, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 1340 Financial Boulevard, 
Suite 234, Reno, Nevada 89502-7147, fax number (775) 861-6301.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert D. Williams, Field Supervisor, 
Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 4701 N. Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, 
Nevada 89130, telephone (702) 515-5230 and fax number (702) 515-5231.


Availability of Documents

    Copies of the draft Plan, draft IA and draft EIS are available for 
public review during regular business hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 
the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office in Las Vegas (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT). Individuals wishing copies of the draft Plan, 
draft IA, and draft EIS should contact the Service by telephone (see 
documents also are available on the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office Web 
site at http://www.fws.gov/nevada/highlights/comment/public_comment.html

Background Information

    Section 9 of the Federal ESA of 1973, as amended, and Federal 
regulations prohibit the take of fish and wildlife species listed as 
endangered or threatened (16 U.S.C. 1538). The term ``take'' means to 
harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or 
collect, or to attempt to engage in any 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)]. Under limited circumstances, we may issue 
permits to authorize incidental take of listed fish or wildlife; i.e., 
take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful 
activity. Regulations governing incidental take permits for threatened 
and endangered species are found in 50 CFR 17.32 and 17.22, 
    Although take of listed plant species is not prohibited under the 
Federal ESA, and therefore cannot be authorized under an incidental 
take permit, plant species may be included on a permit in recognition 
of the conservation benefits provided to them under a habitat 
conservation plan. All species included on an incidental take permit 
would receive assurances under the Services ``No Surprises'' regulation 
50 CFR 17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5).
    We have received an application for an incidental take permit for 
implementation of the Coyote Springs Investment Multi-Species Habitat 
Conservation Plan. The application has been prepared and submitted by 
Coyote Springs Investment LLC (Applicant). The Applicant has prepared 
the Plan to satisfy the application requirements for a section 
10(a)(1)(B) permit under the Federal ESA, of 1973, as amended.

[[Page 62255]]

    The Applicant seeks a 40-year incidental take permit for covered 
activities within a proposed 21,454-acre development area located in 
southern Lincoln County, Nevada. The development area extends 
approximately 9 miles north of the Lincoln County-Clark County line. 
The Plan also would cover approximately 13,767 acres of land leased 
from the BLM (approximately 7,548 acres) in Lincoln County and 
(approximately 6,219 acres) in Clark County. The leased lands would be 
managed for the conservation of the desert tortoise and other covered 
species pending BLM approval, and designated as the Coyote Springs 
Resource Management Area (CSRMA).
    Land leased and owned by the Applicant occupies most of the eastern 
portion of Coyote Spring Valley straddling the Pahranagat Wash and the 
Kane Springs Wash in Lincoln County. This area is bordered by the 
Delamar Mountains to the north, the Meadow Valley Mountains to the 
east, and U.S. Highway 93 to the west. The leased land in Clark County 
is bordered by State Route 168 to the south. The surrounding land is 
primarily owned by the United States and is managed by either the BLM 
or Service. South of the development area, CSI privately-owned lands 
are being developed in Clark County and are covered under the existing 
Clark County Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan.
    The Applicant has requested a permit for five animal species, two 
of which are currently listed as threatened or endangered under the 
Federal ESA. Proposed covered species include two animal species, the 
federally listed as threatened desert tortoise (Mojave population) and 
endangered Moapa dace (Moapa coriacea). Proposed covered species also 
include three animal species that are not listed under the Federal ESA 
at the current time: banded Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum cinctum), 
Virgin River chub (Gila seminuda) (Muddy River population), and the 
Western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugea).
    If the proposed Plan is approved and the permit issued, take 
authorization of covered listed species would be effective at the time 
of permit issuance. Take of the currently non-listed covered species 
would be authorized concurrent with the species' listing under the 
Federal ESA, should they be listed during the duration of the permit.
    The proposed Plan is intended to be a comprehensive document, 
providing for regional species conservation and habitat planning, while 
allowing the applicant to better manage growth of the proposed 
community, as development build-out would be phased in over time. The 
proposed Plan also is intended to provide a coordinated process for 
permitting and mitigating the take of covered species as an alternative 
to a project-by-project approach.
    In order to comply with the requirements of the Federal ESA, the 
proposed Plan addresses a number of required elements, including: 
species and habitat goals and objectives; evaluation of the effects of 
covered activities on covered species, including indirect and 
cumulative effects; a conservation strategy; a monitoring and adaptive 
management program; descriptions of changed circumstances and remedial 
measures; identification of funding sources; and an assessment of 
alternatives to take of listed species.
    The proposed development would be phased over a number of years. Up 
to 2,000 acres would be developed for the first eight years. A report 
would be due every two years that included an assessment of the level 
of take in relation to the amount requested in the Plan, and the 
implementation of conservation measures as outlined in the Plan. Every 
ten years until the expiration of the permit, a comprehensive 
assessment would be conducted of the expected effects to covered 
species and implementation of existing conservation measures. If the 
expected potential effects to covered species are significantly greater 
than the level assessed in the Plan, the Service will notify the 
Applicant of the need to implement additional conservation measures.
    Proposed covered activities and projects within the Plan fall 
within six categories: community development and construction 
activities; recreational facilities and open space; utility 
infrastructure; water supply infrastructure; flood control structures 
development and maintenance (including stormwater management); and 
resource management features.
    The Plan's conservation strategy was designed to minimize and 
mitigate the impacts of covered activities, contribute to the recovery 
of listed covered species, and protect and enhance populations of non-
listed covered species, as proposed. The proposed conservation strategy 
provides for the establishment of the CSRMA on approximately 13,767 
acres of leased land by the Applicant from the BLM (99-year lease with 
an automatic 99-year extension) in Clark and Lincoln counties. The 
proposed CSRMA would be managed for the conservation of the desert 
tortoise and other covered species. The CSRMA would also serve to 
achieve other complementary goals such as creation and use of walking 
and equestrian trails and a site to conduct research of covered 
species, as long as the primary biological goals of the Plan are met 
and not compromised. Other conservation measures include: (1) Develop 
and implement a long-term protection plan for the Moapa dace and Virgin 
River chub and secure associated funding for implementation of the 
plan; (2) payment of mitigation fees, based on a $800 per acre of 
disturbance, for the development of private land which would be used to 
fund research on the covered species and management of the CSRMA, and 
other mitigation measures as described in the Plan; and (3) creation of 
a wash buffer zone easement within the development area.

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    Proposed permit issuance triggers the need for compliance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). As lead agency, the Service 
has prepared a draft EIS which analyzes alternatives associated with 
issuance of the Permit. The draft EIS also addresses issuance of a 
section 404 permit under the Clean Water Act by the U.S. Corps of 
Engineers (Corps) for the proposed urban development on 21,454-acre 
land and development of flood control facilities on approximately 3,331 
acres of the utility corridor on BLM land west of U.S. Highway 93. The 
proposed flood control facilities on BLM-administered land is not 
included as a covered activity in the Plan but would be subject to a 
section 7 formal consultation under ESA. In addition, the draft EIS 
addresses the BLM's reconfiguration of the land holdings, the creation 
of the CSRMA, and, in consultation with the Service, entering into a 
management agreement with the Applicant covering the CSRMA. Cooperating 
agencies to the draft EIS include the Corps, BLM, and the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency.
    The draft EIS analyzes three alternatives including the proposed 
Plan, described above. The proposed Plan is considered the Preferred 
Alternative (Restricted and Phased Development of a New Town Consisting 
of a Planned Community with Resource Management Features). Two other 
alternatives being considered by the Service include the following:
    No Action Alternative: Under the No Action Alternative, the Service 
would not issue an incidental take permit for implementation of the 
Coyote Springs Investment Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan in 
Clark and Lincoln counties, Nevada. As a result, the Applicant's 
private lands in Lincoln

[[Page 62256]]

County would likely be sold to individual landowners, who would be 
responsible for obtaining individual incidental take permits pursuant 
to section 10 under ESA and individual section 404 permits under the 
Clean Water Act. Leased lands would remain an island within the 
privately-owned land. Land leased by CSI from BLM in Lincoln County 
(7,548 acres) would continue to be available for the full suite of 
activities authorized in the Land Lease Agreement.
    Alternative 1--Full and Immediate Development of a New Town 
Consisting of a Planned Community without Resource Management Features: 
This alternative would result in the issuance of an incidental take 
permit pursuant to section 10 of the ESA by the Service and a section 
404 permit under the Clean Water Act by the Corps that would allow 
development of the entire CSI-owned private and leased lands in Lincoln 
County. The Applicant's private land would be available for 
development, while lands leased by the Applicant from BLM would be 
available for activities specified in the Land Lease Agreement. All 
land owned and leased by the Applicant would be available for 
development activities immediately upon issuance of an incidental take 
permit and other required regulatory permits.

Public Involvement

    A Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS was published in the 
Federal Register for this project on December 4, 2001 (66 FR 63065). 
The Plan described in the 2001 NOI included privately-owned, 
developable lands and leased land in Lincoln and Clark counties, 
Nevada. A second notice was published on September 12, 2006 (71 FR 
53704) because the amount of land included in the Plan was modified. 
The Plan described in the second NOI includes private, developable 
lands in Lincoln County only, as well as leased land to be used for 
conservation in Clark and Lincoln counties. Public scoping meetings 
were held on September 26 and 27, 2006, in Alamo and Moapa, Nevada, 
respectively. A NOI to reopen the public comment period and to correct 
inaccurate contact information provided in the September 12, 2006 
notice was published on November 2, 2006 (71 FR 64555).

Public Comments

    The Service and Applicant invite the public to comment on the draft 
Plan, draft IA, and draft EIS during a 60-day public comment period 
beginning on the date of this notice. 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 may 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.
    The Service will evaluate the application, associated documents, 
and comments submitted to them to prepare a final EIS. A permit 
decision will be made no sooner than 30 days after the publication of 
the final EIS and completion of the Record of Decision.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(a) of the Federal 
ESA and Service regulations for implementing NEPA, as amended (40 CFR 

    Dated: October 17, 2007.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, CA.
[FR Doc. E7-21504 Filed 11-1-07; 8:45 am]