[Federal Register: November 26, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 226)]
[Page 65980-65981]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Habitat Conservation Plan for Chevron's North American 
Exploration and Production Unit in the Lokern Area of the Southern San 
Joaquin Valley, Kern County, CA

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), we, 
the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), advise the public that we 
intend to gather information necessary to prepare, in coordination with 
the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), and Kern County, a 
joint Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/
EIR) on the Chevron Lokern Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The HCP is 
being prepared under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended, (Act). Chevron intends to apply for a 
50-year incidental take permit from the Service. The permit is needed 
to authorize the incidental take of threatened and endangered species 
that could result from oil and gas development and operation activities 
covered under the HCP.
    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 December 26, 2007. One 
public meeting will be held on: Thursday, November 29, 2007, from 4 
p.m. to 6 p.m.

ADDRESSES: The public meeting will be held at Kern County Public 
Services Building, Room 1A, 2700 M Street, Bakersfield, CA 93301. 
Submit written comments to Lori Rinek, Chief, Conservation Planning and 
Recovery Division, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825. 
Comments may also be sent by facsimile to 916-414-6713.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lori Rinek, Chief, Conservation 
Planning and Recovery Division, 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 Lori Rinek 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.


    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.
    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 a habitat conservation plan. All species 
included on the permit would receive assurances under the Service's 
``No Surprises'' regulations found in 50 CFR 17.22(b)(5) and 
    Species proposed for coverage in the HCP are species that are 
currently listed as federally threatened or endangered or have the 
potential to become listed during the life of this HCP 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. Six plant species and 11 animal species 
would be covered by the HCP. Species may be added or deleted during the 
course of the development of the HCP based on further analysis, new 
information, agency consultation, and public comment. Currently the 
following listed plant and animal species are included within the plan: 
Giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens), Tipton kangaroo rat (Dipodomys 
nitratoides nitratoides), blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila), 
San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica), California jewelflower 
(Caulanthus californicus), Kern mallow (Eremalche kernensis), and San 
Joaquin woolly-threads (Monolopia congdonii). Unlisted species proposed 
as covered species are the following: San Joaquin antelope squirrel 
(Ammospermophilus nelsoni), Western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia 
hypugea), short-nosed kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides brevinasus), 
loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus), California horned lizard 
(Phrynosoma coronatum frontale), American badger (Taxidea taxus), Le 
Conte's thrasher (Toxostoma lecontei), heartscale (Atriplex cordulata), 
Lost Hills crownscale (Atriplex vallicola), and Hoover's woolly-star 
(Eriastrum hooveri).
    The HCP area includes both a permit area and credit area. The 
permit area consists of those lands where Chevron's covered activities 
would occur. The permit area is subdivided into three subsections 
including (a) 13,333 acres of Chevron owned lands (Chevron Lokern 
Lands) in western Kern County; (b) 239,207 acres encompassing and 
surrounding five active oil and gas fields (Five Fields--Buena Vista, 
Cymric-McKittrick, Kern River, Lost Hills, Midway Sunset) in central 
and western Kern County; and (c) 14,441 acres adjacent to the Lokern 
area (Lokern Contiguous Area) in western Kern County. Chevron proposes 
to mitigate for impacts to covered species that occur on permit lands 
within the mitigation bank to be established on Chevron Lokern Lands. 
Additionally, Chevron proposes to sell unused mitigation credits to 
other parties for their separately approved projects within the credit 
area, which encompasses approximately 3,100 square miles in central and 
western Kern County, as well as a small portion of southwestern Kings 
    The HCP 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 HCP area, and 
the formation and management of a conservation program for covered 
species. Activities that may be covered under the HCP within the permit 
area include: Oil and

[[Page 65981]]

gas exploration and development; emergency response; livestock grazing; 
recreational and educational activities; and scientific research. In 
addition, all existing activities on developed lands would be 
authorized as permitted activities within the HCP permit area. However, 
the aforementioned permitted activities would not be authorized within 
the credit area. Under the HCP, the effects on covered species from the 
permitted activities are expected to be minimized and mitigated through 
participation in a conservation program. This conservation program 
would focus on providing long-term protection of covered species by 
protecting biological communities in the HCP area.
    Components of this conservation program are now under consideration 
by the Service and Kern County. These components would likely include: 
Avoidance and minimization measures, monitoring, adaptive management, 
and mitigation measures consisting of preservation, restoration, and 
enhancement of habitat.

Environmental Impact Statement/Report

    The EIR/EIS will consider the proposed action (i.e., the issuance 
of a section 10a(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 EIR/EIS. The alternatives to be considered for analysis in the EIR/
EIS may include: Modified lists of covered species, land coverage 
areas, and intensity of development. The EIR/EIS will also identify 
potentially significant impacts on biological resources, land use, air 
quality, water quality, water resources, 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 EIR/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 EIR/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 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 organizations or 
businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as 
representatives of or officials of organizations or businesses, 
available for public inspection in their entirety.

    Dated: November 19, 2007.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. E7-22934 Filed 11-23-07; 8:45 am]