[Federal Register: June 10, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 112)]
[Page 32729-32732]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2008-N0106; 1112-0000-81420-F2]

Habitat Conservation Plan for South Sacramento, Sacramento 
County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement/
Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) and notice of public scoping 


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 County of Sacramento (the County), a joint Environmental Impact 
Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR). The EIS/EIR will 
analyze the environmental effects of the Service's proposed issuance of 
an incidental take permit under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Federal 
Endangered Species Act of 1973 as amended (ESA), for a habitat 
conservation plan (HCP) within a portion of south Sacramento County, 
California. The County, along with their local partners (the cities of 
Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, Galt, the Sacramento Regional County 
Sanitation District, and the Sacramento County Water Agency), is 
facilitating the preparation of the South Sacramento HCP (SSHCP) in 
compliance with section 10(a)(2) of the ESA. The County and their local 
partners intend to apply to the Service for a 30-year permit that would 
authorized the incidental take of 40 species due to ground-disturbing 
private activities implemented under the SSHCP. The County, in 
accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and 
with 40 CFR 1506.6(b)(3), has published a similar notice of preparation 
for this EIS/EIR with the State Clearinghouse.
    We provide this notice to (1) Describe the proposed action and 
possible alternatives; (2) announce the initiation of a public scoping 
period, including when and where scoping meetings will be held; (3) 
advise other interested Federal, State, and local agencies, affected 
Tribes, and the public of our intent to prepare an EIS/EIR and invite 
their participation in the scoping process and; (4) obtain suggestions, 
comments, and useful information from interested parties and other 
agencies on the range of actions, the significant issues, range of 
alternatives, and impacts to be considered in the EIS/EIR document. We 
invite written comments on this notice from any interested party.

DATES: Submit written comments on or before July 30, 2008. Four public 
scoping meeting will be held on:
    1. Tuesday, July 8, 2008, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Galt, CA.
    2. Friday, July 11, 2008, from 10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Sacramento, 
    3. Tuesday, July 15, 2008, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Rancho 
Cordova, CA.
    4. Wednesday, July 16, 2008, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Elk 
Grove, CA.

ADDRESSES: The public meetings will be held at the following locations:
    1. Tuesday, July 8, 2008, at the Anthony Pescetti Community Room, 
Galt Police Facility, 455 Industrial Drive, Galt, CA 95632.
    2. Friday, July 11, 2008, at the Sixth Floor Meeting Room, 
Sacramento County Administration Building, 700 H Street, Sacramento, CA 
    3. Tuesday, July 15, 2008, at the American River Room, Rancho 
Cordova City Hall, 2729 Prospect Park Drive, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670.
    4. Wednesday, July 16, 2008, at the City Council Chambers, Elk 
Grove City Hall, 8400 Laguna Palms Way, Elk Grove, CA 95758.
    Submit written comments to Nina Bicknese, Conservation Planning 
Branch, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, Fish and Wildlife Service, 
2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605,

[[Page 32730]]

Sacramento, CA 95825. Comments may also be sent by facsimile to (916) 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nina Bicknese, Senior Fish and 
Wildlife Biologist, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office at (916) 414-
6600. Additional details of the County's proposed South Sacramento 
Habitat Conservation Plan are available at http://


Reasonable Accommodation

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in a public meeting should contact Nina Bicknese 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.


    The County and their local partners anticipate that landowners and 
individuals will continue to request their discretionary or ministerial 
approval of ground-disturbing land development projects in portions of 
south Sacramento County where species listed as threatened or 
endangered under the ESA are present. The County and their local 
partners intend to apply for a permit from the Service for the 
incidental take of listed species resulting from their approval of 
otherwise lawful land-use changes within portions of south Sacramento 
County over the next 30 years. Pursuant to the ESA and federal 
regulations governing incidental take permits (ITPs), the County and 
their local partners are in the process of preparing a habitat 
conservation plan titled South Sacramento HCP (SSHCP). Development of 
the SSHCP involved a public process that has included open meetings of 
a stakeholder Steering Committee.
    Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1538) and Federal regulations (50 
CFR 17.21 and 17.31) prohibit the ``take'' of wildlife species listed 
as endangered or threatened. The term ``take'' means 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'' in the definition of ``take'' includes significant habitat 
modifications or degradations (50 CFR 17.3). Pursuant to section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, the Service may permit authorized take of 
species other wise prohibited by Section 9 of the ESA if such taking is 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful 
activity (16 U.S.C. 1539). Federal regulations governing ITPs for 
threatened and endangered wildlife species, respectively, are 
promulgated in 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 17.22 and in Section 10(a)(2) of 
the ESA. Pursuant to these regulations, no permit authorizing 
incidental take may be issued unless the applicant prepares a Habitat 
Conservation Plan (HCP). An HCP must include: a description of the 
activities sought to be authorized; the names of the species sought to 
be covered by the ITP; the impacts that will likely result from the 
proposed taking; steps the applicant will take to minimize and mitigate 
such taking to the maximum extent practicable; the funding that will be 
available to implement such steps; biological goals and objectives; a 
monitoring plan; an adaptive management plan; alternatives to the 
proposed taking the applicant considered and reasons why such 
alternatives are not proposed for implementation; other measures that 
may be necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the HCP; and the 
procedures the applicant will use to deal with unforeseen circumstances 
over the term of the ITP.
    The SSHCP Planning Area--the area in which all impacts would be 
evaluated and all conservation actions will be implemented--is 
approximately 341,000-acres within south Sacramento County. The 
approximate geographical boundary of the SSHCP Planning Area is the 
area bound by U.S. Highway 50 in the north, the county line dividing 
Sacramento County with San Joaquin County on the south, the county line 
dividing Sacramento County with Amador and El Dorado counties in the 
east, and Interstate 5 on the west. The SSHCP's 341,000-acre Planning 
Area includes a 123,000-acre Urban Development Area (UDA) where most 
ground-disturbing development and infrastructure projects would be 
approved by the County and its local partners over the next 30 years. 
The 123,000-acre UDA includes lands within Sacramento County's Urban 
Service Boundary, lands within the city limits of Rancho Cordova, Elk 
Grove, and Galt, and lands within Galt's adopted sphere of influence 
area. The County and its partners propose that approximately 43,500 
acres within the 123,000-acre UDA would be developed or otherwise 
disturbed, while approximately 8,000 acres of the UDA would be 
permanently preserved or restored. The County and its partners also 
propose that approximately 40,500 acres of the Planning Area outside 
the UDA would be permanently preserved or restored, and only 
approximately 2,000 acres of the Planning Area outside the UDA would be 
developed or otherwise disturbed.
    The species proposed for coverage in the SSHCP are those that occur 
within the SSHCP Planning Area and are currently listed as federally 
threatened or endangered, or that may become federally listed during 
the term of the proposed permit. The County intends to request an ESA 
section 10(a)(1)(B) permit to authorize the incidental take of 40 
species (7 federally listed and 33 unlisted). The proposed SSHCP would 
provide for the long-term conservation and management of these 40 
covered-species and their habitats within the SSHCP Planning Area. 
Species may be added or deleted during the course of the SSHCP 
development based on public comment, new information, further analysis, 
and agency consultation. Listed animal species proposed to be covered 
under the SSHCP permit are the federally-endangered vernal pool tadpole 
shrimp (Lepidurus packardi), the federally-threatened California tiger 
salamander (Ambystoma californiense), the federally-threatened giant 
garter snake (Thamnophis gigas), the federally-threatened valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus), and the 
federally-threatened vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi). 
Listed plant species proposed to be covered are the federally 
endangered Sacramento Orcutt grass (Orcuttia viscida) and the federally 
endangered slender Orcutt grass (Orcuttia tenuis).
    The 33 unlisted species (27 animal and 6 plant species) proposed to 
be covered under the SSHCP permit are the mid-valley fairy shrimp 
(Branchinecta mesovallensis), Ricksecker's water scavenger beetle 
(Hydrochara rickseckeri), western pond turtle (2 sub-species) 
(Actinemys marmorata marmorata and Actinemys marmorata pallida), 
western spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus hammondii), the white-tailed kite 
(Elanus leucurus), Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii), the ferruginous 
hawk (wintering) (Buteo regalis), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), the 
state-threatened Swainson's hawk (Buteo swainsoni), bald eagle 
(Haliaeetus leucocephalus), loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus), 
northern harrier (nesting) (Circus cyaneus), sharp-shinned hawk 
(Accipiter striatus), the state-endangered American peregrine falcon 
(wintering) (Falco peregrinus anatum), tricolored blackbird (nesting) 
(Agelaius tricolor),

[[Page 32731]]

western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea), long-eared owl 
(Asio otus), merlin (Falco columbarius), short-eared owl (Asio 
flammeus), white-faced ibis (Plegadis chihi), yellow breasted chat 
(Icteria virens) the state-threatened greater sandhill crane (Grus 
canadensis tabida), American badger (Taxidae taxus), pallid bat 
(Antrozous pallidus), ringtail (Bassariscus astutas), western red bat 
(Lasirus blossevilli),Yuma myotis bat (Myotis yumanensis), Ahart's 
dwarf rush (Juncus leiospermus var. ahartii), dwarf downingia 
(Downingia pusilla), legenere (Legenere limosa), pincushion navarretia 
(Navarretia myersii), Sanford's arrowhead (Sagittaria sanfordii) and 
the state-endangered Bogg's Lake hedge-hyssop (Gratiola heterosepala). 
Should any of these unlisted covered-species become listed under the 
ESA during the term of the permit, take authorization for those species 
would become effective upon listing. The County proposes to include 8 
plant species (2 listed and 6 unlisted) in the SSHCP. The ESA does not 
prohibit the incidental take of federally listed plants on private 
lands unless the take is a violation of state law or regulation. We 
propose to include these plant species on the ITP in recognition of the 
conservation benefits that would be provided for these plant species 
under the SSHCP and to meet regulatory obligations under Section 7 of 
the ESA and the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). All wildlife 
and plant species included on the proposed ITP would receive assurances 
under the Service's ``No Surprises'' regulations found in 50 CFR 
17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5).
    The activities proposed for coverage in the SSHCP are wide-ranging, 
but are generally related to urban-suburban development on city and 
unincorporated lands. Proposed covered-activities presently include the 
construction, installation, extension, or removal of: (1) Private and 
commercial developments, (2) transportation facilities, (3) surface 
water and groundwater supply and delivery facilities, (4) water 
treatment facilities, (5) flood control facilities, (6) sanitation 
facilities (landfills, transfer stations, recycling stations), (7) 
public facilities (fire stations, police stations, hospitals, schools, 
community centers, cemeteries, and administration centers), (8) outdoor 
and indoor recreation facilities, (9) utility facilities, (10) 
aggregate mining activities, and (11) conservation activities (habitat 
restoration, creation, and enhancement; preserve management and 
monitoring). These covered activities are expected to impact 18 
existing habitat and agricultural land-cover types within the 341,000-
acre Planning Area. Approximately 43,500 acres of the existing natural 
habitat and agricultural land-cover in the Planning Area would be 
converted to a developed condition under the proposed SSHCP.
    The proposed SSHCP Conservation Strategy would provide a regional 
approach for the conservation of the 40 covered-species and their 18 
habitat types so as to aid recovery of the species and to minimize and 
mitigate impacts of the covered activities on the species and their 
habitats within the Planning Area. The 18 species habitat types include 
vernal pools and associated uplands, valley grasslands, other wetlands, 
woodlands, riparian habitats, and several agricultural land-cover 
types. The proposed SSHCP Conservation Strategy would protect a total 
of approximately 47,000 acres and restore or create a total of 
approximately 1,500 acres within the 341,000-acre Planning Area. The 
SSHCP Planning Area would be divided into a system of 12 conservation 
zones with an explicit amount of species habitat preservation directed 
to specific zones. The County and its partners anticipate that large 
landscape preserves and linkage corridors would be established outside 
of the UDA, and that these habitat preserves would be established 
within a matrix of open space and agricultural land uses. The proposed 
Conservation Strategy also includes approximately 8,000 acres of 
habitat preserves within the UDA, but these UDA habitat preserves would 
be much smaller and would eventually be surrounded by urban or suburban 
development. Components of the proposed SSHCP conservation program are 
now under consideration by the Service and the County. These components 
may include monitoring, adaptive management, species avoidance 
measures, and species mitigation measures including the preservation, 
restoration, and enhancement of suitable habitat. It is anticipated the 
SSHCP would be implemented through a section 10(a)(1)(B) incidental 
take permit and an Implementation Agreement.

Environmental Impact Statement/Report

    The proposed EIS/EIR will consider (1) The proposed action (i.e. 
the Service issues an ITP for the SSHCP proposed by the County and its 
partners), (2) a no-action alternative (i.e. the Service does not issue 
an ITP and a SSHCP is not implemented) and, (3) reasonable alternatives 
to the proposed action (i.e. the Service considers alternative versions 
of the SSHCP, and then permits alternative). We anticipate that several 
alternatives will be developed for analysis in the EIS/EIR. These 
alternatives might vary by the number of covered species; the covered 
activities, different strategies for avoiding, minimizing, and 
mitigating the impacts of incidental take; the amount of land preserved 
or restored, the type of future conservation efforts; or a combination 
of these factors. A detailed description of all reasonable 
alternatives, including the proposed action, will be included in the 
    The EIS/EIR will analyze in depth all significant environmental 
issues identified through this scoping process. These issues may 
include biological resources, agricultural resources, land use, 
housing, hydrology and water resources, cultural resources, aesthetics, 
transportation and circulation, mineral resources, recreation, air 
quality, noise and vibration, or other components of the human 
environment that could be directly, indirectly, or cumulatively 
impacted by the proposed action or by the alternatives.
    We anticipate that a draft EIS/EIR and the draft SSHCP will be 
available in late 2009 and will have a 60-day public review period. The 
environmental review of the EIS/EIR will be conducted in accordance 
with the requirements of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), its 
implementing regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508), other applicable 
regulations, and Service policy and guidance on compliance with those 
regulations. We expect to complete the final EIS/EIR in the middle of 
2010 and to make the decision on issuing a section 10(a)(1)(B) permit 
for a SSHCP in late 2010.
    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) will be a NEPA Cooperating 
Agency on the proposed EIS/EIR pursuant to 40 CFR 1501.6, 1506.3(c), 
and 1508.5. The County and their partners expect to apply to the Corps 
for a Programmatic General Permit (PGP) under Section 404 of the Clean 
Water Act (CWA). Section 404 of the CWA regulates and requires Corps 
authorizations for discharges of dredged or fill material into waters 
of the United States. A PGP is among the types of general permits which 
can be issued for any category of activities involving discharges of 
dredged or fill material if the Corps makes certain determinations (33 
U.S.C. 1344(e)). Corps regulations promulgated under the CWA define 
dredged or fill material in detail at 33 CFR 323.2 and regulations 
concerning processing of Corps permits are at 33 CFR part 325. The 
Corps may use the

[[Page 32732]]

EIS/EIR to inform their discretionary decision to issue to a PGP for 
certain components of the proposed SSHCP.
    The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) will be a NEPA 
Cooperating Agency on the proposed EIS/EIR pursuant to 40 CFR 1501.6 
and 1508.5. The County and their partners expect to apply to CDFG for 
an incidental take permit under Section 2081 of the California Fish and 
Game code and to apply for a Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement 
under Section 1600 of the California Fish and Game code. CDFG intends 
to use the EIS/EIR in conducting its review of the SSHCP as a CEQA 
Trustee Agency. CDFG will also use the EIS/EIR in makings its CEQA 
findings in their decision to issue an incidental take permit under 
Section 2081 of the California Fish and Game Code. As a CEQA 
Responsible Agency, CDFG may also use the EIS/EIR during their 
consideration to approve a Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement under 
Section 1600 of the California Fish and Game Code. The SSHCP will 
incorporate best management practices that have been developed in 
cooperation with, and approved by, CDFG.
    This notice of intent is being furnished in accordance with 40 CFR 
Sections 1501.2, 1501.7, 1506.6, and 1508.22 to obtain suggestions, 
comments, and useful information from other agencies and the public on 
the scope of the proposed EIS/EIR, including the significant 
environmental issues deserving of study, the range of actions, the 
range of alternatives, and the range of impacts to be considered. 
Written comments from interested parties are invited to ensure that all 
issues related to the proposed section 10(a)(1)(B) incidental-take 
permit application are 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 will 
become part of the official administrative record. Our practice is to 
make comment letters (including names, home addresses, home phone 
numbers and email addresses of respondents) available for public 
review. You may request that we withhold personal information, if so, 
please state this prominently at the beginning of your comments. 
However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

    Dated: June 4, 2008.
John Engbring,
Deputy Regional Director, California and Nevada Region, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. E8-12963 Filed 6-9-08; 8:45 am]