[Federal Register: December 13, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 239)]
[Page 70888-70890]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent To Conduct a Public Scoping Meeting and Perform 
an Environmental Review for the Kaua`i Island Utility Cooperative 
Habitat Conservation Plan, Kaua`i Island, HI

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent; scoping meeting.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the 
Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) intends to conduct public scoping 
necessary to gather information to prepare an environmental assessment 
(EA) or environmental impact statement (EIS) (collectively referred to 
as ``environmental document'') for a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) 
being prepared by the Kaua`i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). The 
draft HCP is being prepared under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered 
Species Act (ESA). KIUC intends to apply for an incidental take permit 
under the ESA to authorize take of the federally endangered Hawaiian 
Petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis), the federally threatened Newell's 
Shearwater (Puffinus auricularis newelli), and the Band-rumped Storm-
Petrel (Oceanodroma castro), a Federal candidate for listing that could 
become listed during the term of the permit (collectively referred to 
as the ``Covered Species''). This notice is provided 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 environmental document; (3) announce the initiation of a 
public scoping period and the holding of a public scoping meeting; (4) 
obtain information to assist the Service in determining whether to 
prepare an EA or EIS; and (5) obtain suggestions and information on the 
scope of issues and alternatives to be addressed in the environmental 
document. Written comments will be accepted at a public meeting. In 
addition, written comments may be submitted by mail, facsimile 
transmission, or e-mail.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before February 8, 2008. 
Oral or written comments may be submitted at a public scoping meeting 
to be held on January 23, 2008, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

ADDRESSES: The public scoping meeting will be held at the Planning 
Commission Conference Room, Mo'ikeha Building, 4444 Rice Street, 
Lihu`e, Kaua`i, HI. Written comments, or questions related to the 
preparation of the environmental document, should be submitted to Jeff 
Newman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Fish and 
Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, [or P.O. Box 
50088], Honolulu, HI 96850-5000, fax (808) 792-9580, e-mail 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Newman, Pacific Islands Fish and 
Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES), or phone (808) 792-9400.


Reasonable Accommodation

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meeting should contact Jeff Newman 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 

Statutory Authority

    Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1538) and the implementing 
regulations prohibit the take of animal species listed as endangered or 
threatened. The term ``take'' is defined under the ESA (16 U.S.C. 
1532(19)) as to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 

capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. 
``Harm'' is defined by Service regulation (50 CRF 17.3) to include 
significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills 
or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral 
patterns, including breeding, feeding, and sheltering. However, under 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, the Service may issue permits to 
authorize ``incidental take'' of listed species. ``Incidental take'' is 
defined by the ESA as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose 
of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing 
permits for threatened and endangered species are found in the Code of 
Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 17.22.
    Section 10 of the ESA specifies the requirements for the issuance 
of incidental take permits to non-Federal entities. Any proposed take 
must be incidental to otherwise lawful activities and cannot 
appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the 
species in the wild. The impacts of such take must also be minimized 
and mitigated to the maximum extent practicable. To obtain an 
incidental take

[[Page 70889]]

permit, an applicant must prepare an HCP describing the impact that 
will likely result from the proposed taking, the measures for 
minimizing and mitigating the take, the funding available to implement 
such measures, alternatives to the taking, and the reason why such 
alternatives are not being implemented.
    NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) requires that Federal agencies 
conduct an environmental analysis of their proposed actions to 
determine if the actions may significantly affect the human 
environment. Under NEPA, a reasonable range of alternatives to the 
proposed action is developed and considered in the Service's 
environmental review. Alternatives considered for analysis in an 
environmental document may include: Variations in the scope of covered 
activities; variations in the location, amount, and type of 
conservation; variations in permit duration; or a combination of these 
elements. In addition, the environmental document will identify 
potentially significant direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on 
biological resources, land use, air quality, water quality, water 
resources, socioeconomics, and other environmental issues that could 
occur with the implementation of the proposed action and alternatives. 
For potentially significant impacts, the environmental document may 
identify avoidance, minimization and mitigation measures to reduce 
these impacts, where feasible, to a level below significance.


    KIUC is a utility cooperative that generates and distributes 
electricity to the entire island of Kaua`i, Hawai`i. KIUC is developing 
a draft HCP in anticipation of applying for an incidental take permit. 
The proposed HCP will address the incidental take of three Covered 
Species associated with the operation and maintenance of KIUC's 
existing and anticipated facilities over a period of 50 years.
    The three Covered Species are seabird species that breed on Kaua`i 
and feed on the open ocean. Each of the covered species spends a large 
part of the year at sea. Adults generally return to their colonial 
nesting grounds in the interior mountains of Kaua`i beginning in March 
and April, and depart beginning in September. Fledglings (i.e., young 
birds learning how to fly) fly from the nesting colony to the sea in 
the fall. Both adults and fledglings are known to occasionally collide 
with tall buildings, towers, powerlines, and other structures while 
flying at night between their nesting colonies and at-sea foraging 
areas. These birds, and particularly fledglings, are also attracted to 
bright lights. Disoriented birds are commonly observed circling 
repeatedly around exterior light sources until they fall exhausted to 
the ground or collide with structures.
    To address the issue that existing facilities currently impact the 
Covered Species, the Service and KIUC entered into a Memorandum of 
Agreement (MOA) in November 2002, and again in January 2005. Under the 
MOAs KIUC agreed to implement certain defined interim conservation 
measures (ICMs) to reduce the impacts of its facilities on seabirds 
while more long-term conservation actions are being developed in a HCP. 
Examples of ICMs implemented to date include: Shielding streetlights on 
KIUC power poles to minimize lighting disorientation of seabirds; and 
funding, enhancing and taking the lead on implementing the state's 
``Save Our Shearwaters'' (SOS) program to rescue downed fledglings.

Proposed Plan

    Since November 2002, KIUC has been working with the Service to 
develop a draft HCP, and also to simultaneously implement certain 
interim conservation measures to benefit the Covered Species. (Because 
the Covered Species are also subject to protection under the State of 
Hawai`i's own endangered species law, KIUC has also coordinated with 
the State's Department of Land and Natural Resources concerning the 
proposed HCP and the requirements for obtaining an incidental take 
license under state law.) Pursuant to NEPA, the Service conducted a 
public scoping meeting on the proposed HCP on September 16, 2004. 
Several comments received during that initial scoping period requested 
that additional information be made available regarding the proposed 
HCP, and that a second scoping meeting be convened after such 
additional information was provided. Since that time, KIUC has made 
progress in developing the draft HCP, based in part on consultations 
with the Service and the Hawai`i Department of Land and Natural 
Resources. As a result, the Service is now able to provide additional 
information about the likely scope and contents of the proposed HCP, 
and has determined that it is appropriate to conduct an additional 
round of public scoping under NEPA at this time.
    The proposed HCP would cover KIUC activities within all areas on 
Kaua`i where its facilities (e.g., generating stations, power lines, 
utility poles, lights) are located. These activities include the 
continuing operation, maintenance, and repair of these and other 
existing facilities, and the construction, operation, maintenance and 
repair of certain new facilities, during the term of the incidental 
take permit.
    The proposed HCP will describe the impacts of take associated with 
those activities on the Covered Species, and will propose a program to 
minimize and mitigate these impacts of that take on each of the Covered 
Species. Minimization measures in the proposed HCP may include: (i) 
Shielding KIUC's streetlights and facility lighting; (ii) installing 
bird diverter devices on certain power lines; (iii) developing and 
implementing lighting and power line performance standards; and (iv) 
implementing design modifications that minimize or eliminate the risk 
of seabird collisions (e.g., installing power lines below seabird 
flight altitudes, modifying power line arrays, or installing bird 
diverter devices). Mitigation measures may include implementation of an 
expanded SOS program--a program begun by the State of Hawai`i in the 
late 1970's to retrieve, evaluate, rehabilitate and release back to the 
wild downed seabirds during the fall fledging season. KIUC's proposed 
mitigation program may also include: breeding colony management actions 
aimed at reducing predation by invasive mammalian species; public 
education and outreach designed to reduce actions that contribute to 
bird downings; and additional scientific research.

Environmental Review

    The Service will prepare an environmental document to analyze the 
environmental impacts associated with the potential issuance of the 
requested incidental take permit, and the associated implementation by 
KIUC of the HCP. A private contractor, Planning Solutions, Inc., will 
help to prepare the environmental document. The Service will supervise 
and be responsible for directing the consultant's work and for the 
scope and content of the document.
    The environmental document will consider the proposed action and a 
reasonable range of alternatives. The Service currently anticipates 
that the alternatives may consist of the following: (1) A ``no action'' 
alternative, in which the requested incidental take permit would not be 
issued and the conservation program in the proposed HCP would not be 
implemented. However, this action is not considered to be viable 
because a permit for incidental take of the Covered Species is needed; 
(2) an ``under-grounding'' alternative in which some of KIUC's

[[Page 70890]]

power lines would be placed underground, thereby eliminating several 
sources of take of the Covered Species; and (3) a conservation program 
alternative that in addition to the proposed minimization measures 
would implement a mitigation program aimed principally at actively 
managing multiple seabird breeding colonies with the biological goal of 
increasing reproductive success and colony size. We invite comments and 
suggestions from all interested parties to ensure that the 
environmental document addresses a reasonable range of alternatives and 
that all significant issues related to them are identified and 
    Our environmental review will be conducted in accordance with the 
requirements of NEPA, its implementing regulations (40 CFR Parts 1500-
1508), other applicable Federal laws and regulations, and applicable 
policies and procedures of the Service. This notice is being furnished 
in accordance with 40 CFR 1501.7 of the NEPA regulations to obtain 
suggestions and information from other agencies and the public on the 
scope of issues and alternatives to be addressed in the environmental 
    The public scoping meeting will allocate time for presentations by 
the Service and KIUC; this will be followed by a period for the 
submission of oral and/or written comments. All comments and materials 
received, including names and addresses of those presenting them, will 
become part of the administrative record and may be released to the 

     Dated: December 3, 2007.
David J. Wesley,
Deputy Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
 [FR Doc. E7-24149 Filed 12-12-07; 8:45 am]