[Federal Register: February 27, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 38)]
[Page 8765-8766]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Safe Harbor Agreement and Receipt of Application for an 
Enhancement of Survival Permit Associated With the Restoration of 
Habitat for Utah Prairie Dogs on Private Land in Piute County, UT

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: Mr. Verl Bagley (Applicant/Cooperator) has applied to the Fish 
and Wildlife Service (Service) for an Enhancement of Survival Permit 
(ESP) for the Utah prairie dog (UPD) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This permit 
application includes a Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) between the 
Applicant and the Service. The Service requests information, views, and 
opinions from the public via this notice. Further, the Service is 
soliciting information regarding the adequacy of the SHA as measured 
against the Service's Safe Harbor Policy and the regulations that 
implement it.

DATES: Written comments on the permit application must be received on 
or before March 29, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the SHA and the ESP application 
may obtain a copy by writing the Service's Mountain-Prairie Regional 
Office, Denver, Colorado. Documents also will be available for public 
inspection during normal business hours at the Regional Office, 134 
Union Boulevard, Denver, Colorado 80228-1807, or the Utah Field Office, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2369 West Orton Circle, Suite 50, West 
Valley City, Utah 84119. Written data or comments concerning the SHA or 
ESP application should be submitted to the Regional office and must be 
in writing to be processed. Comments must be submitted in writing to be 
adequately considered in the Service's decision-making process. Please 
reference permit number TE131544-0 in your comments, or in the request 
for the documents discussed herein.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Pat Mehlhop, Regional Safe Harbor 
Coordinator (see Denver address above), telephone 303-236-4215, or 
Larry Crist, Utah Field Office Supervisor (see West Valley City address 
above), telephone 801-975-3330.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The UPD is the westernmost member of the 
genus Cynomys. The species' range, which is limited to the southwestern 
quarter of Utah, is the most restricted of all prairie dog species in 
the United States. Distribution of the UPD has been greatly reduced due 
to disease (plague), poisoning, drought, and human-related habitat 
alteration. Protection of this species and enhancement of its habitat 
on private land will benefit recovery efforts.
    The primary objective of a SHA is to encourage voluntary 
conservation measures to benefit the species and the landowner. Through 
this agreement, the

[[Page 8766]]

landowner will receive relief from any additional section 9 liability 
under the Act beyond that which exists at the time the agreement is 
signed (``regulatory baseline''). The property is currently maintained 
as fallow land, native rangeland, and irrigated pastureland and is 
bordered by other private lands and Federal lands owned by the Bureau 
of Land Management. At the present time, the property supports several 
active prairie dog burrows that comprise a small colony. Several 
unoccupied burrows also occur on the property. Foraging habitat and 
habitat that offers visual surveillance for the prairie dogs will be 
further enhanced by implementing a prescribed grazing plan, seeding to 
improve the forage quality for UPD, and installing irrigation 
improvements. Additionally, reintroduction of UPDs will occur on the 
property once the vegetation conditions have improved.
    Habitat improvements will be occurring throughout the term of the 
agreement through managed grazing. The Cooperator will receive an ESP 
that authorizes implementation of the conservation actions and other 
provisions of this Agreement and authorizes incidental take of the 
covered species above the Cooperator's baseline responsibilities, as 
defined in SHA. The proposed SHA would become effective upon signature 
of the SHA and issuance of the permit, and would remain in effect for 
15 years. The requested permit would remain in effect for 35 years. We 
have made the determination that the proposed activities described in 
the application and SHA will increase available prairie dog habitat and 
will potentially expand an existing active colony and allow successful 
establishment of a reintroduced colony of Utah prairie dogs on the 
Bagley property. The action is categorically excluded under the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This notice is provided 
pursuant to section 10 of the Act, and the Service's Safe Harbor Policy 
(64 FR 32717).
    The Service has evaluated the impacts of this action under the NEPA 
and determined that it warrants categorical exclusion as described in 
516 DM 8, 8.5 C. (1). The Service will evaluate whether the issuance of 
the ESP complies with section 7 of the Act by conducting an intra-
Service section 7 consultation on the issuance of the permit. The 
result of the biological opinion, in combination with the above finding 
and any public comments, will be used in the final analysis to 
determine whether or not to issue the requested ESP, pursuant to the 
regulation that guide issuance of the type of permit.

    Authority: The authority for this action is the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: January 11, 2007.
James J. Slack,
Deputy Regional Director, Denver, Colorado.
[FR Doc. E7-3360 Filed 2-26-07; 8:45 am]