[Federal Register: August 22, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 164)]
[Page 49647-49648]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XI26

Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and 
Habitat Conservation Plan, and Receipt of Applications for Incidental 
Take Permits

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior; National Marine Fisheries 
Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Commerce

ACTION: Notice of availability, receipt of applications.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the Oregon Department of 
Forestry (ODF), has submitted applications to the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) 
for incidental take permits (Permit(s)) pursuant to the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). As required by the ESA, ODF has 
also prepared a Habitat Conservation Plan (Plan) designed to minimize 
and mitigate any such take of endangered or threatened species. The 
Permit applications are related to forest management and timber harvest 
activities on the Elliott State Forest in Coos and Douglas Counties, 
Oregon. The FWS and NMFS (together, the Services) are co-lead agencies 
in this effort.
    The Permit applications include the proposed Plan and a draft 
Implementation Agreement (IA). The Services also announce the 
availability of a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the 
proposed action.
    The Services are requesting comments from the public on the Permit 
applications, the Plan, the IA, and DEIS, all of which are available 
for review. The Services are furnishing this notice to allow other 
agencies and the public an opportunity to review and comment on these 
documents. All comments received will become part of the public record 
and will be available for review pursuant to the ESA. For locations to 
review the documents, please see the \SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION\ 
section below. A 90-day comment period, rather then a standard 60-day 
comment period, is being provided to allow the public sufficient time 
to comment on the draft documents.

DATES: All comments must be received no later than November 20, 2008.

ADDRESSES: All written comments should be addressed to: Lee Folliard, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2600 SE 98\th\ Avenue, Suite 100, 
Portland, OR 97266, facsimile: (503) 231-6195; or Chuck Wheeler, 
National Marine Fisheries Service, 2900 NW Stewart Parkway, Roseburg, 
OR 97470-1274, facsimile: (541) 957-3386. Comments may also be 
submitted by e-mail to ElliottHCP@fws.gov or 
ElliottStateForest.nwr@noaa.gov. In the subject line of the email 
include the identifier Elliott State Forest HCP EIS.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information or to receive 
copies of the documents on CD ROM, please contact Lee Folliard at (503) 
231-6179; or Chuck Wheeler, (541) 957-3379.


Availability of Documents

    Copies of the draft documents are available for public inspection 
and review, by appointment, at the above addresses during normal 
business hours or by requesting copies on CD ROM by contacting the 
Services (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION section above). The documents are 
also available on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/
ToolsForLandowners/HabitatConservationPlans/ or at the following 
offices or libraries:
    Oregon Department of Forestry, 2600 State Street, Building C, 
Salem, OR 97310
    Oregon Department of Forestry, 63612 Fifth Road, Coos Bay, OR 97420
    Oregon State Library, 250 Winter Street NE, Salem, OR 97301-3950
    Coos Bay Public Library, 525 Anderson Avenue, Coos Bay, OR 97420
    North Bend Public Library, 1800 Sherman Avenue, North Bend, OR 
    Douglas County Library, 1409 NE Diamond Lake Boulevard, Roseburg, 
OR 97470.


    Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulations prohibits the taking 
of a species listed as endangered or threatened. The term take is 
defined under the ESA to mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, 
kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such 
conduct. Harm is defined 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.
    Section 10(a) of the ESA and its implementing regulations specify 
the requirements for issuance of permits to non-Federal parties for the 
take of listed species. Any proposed take must be incidental to, and 
not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities, must not appreciably 
reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in 
the wild, and must minimize and mitigate the impact of such take to the 
maximum extent practicable. FWS regulations governing permits for 
threatened and endangered species are promulgated in 50 CFR 13.21. NMFS 
regulations governing permits for threatened and endangered species are 
promulgated at 50 CFR 222.307.
    The Elliott State Forest encompasses approximately 93,000 acres of 
state-owned forestlands in Coos and Douglas Counties in Oregon's Coast 
Range. ODF manages the Elliott State Forest out of its Coos District 
Office, located in Coos Bay. The action area for this proposal focuses 
on a mostly contiguous block of land approximately 18 miles long from 
north to south, and about 16 miles wide from west to east. An 
additional 4,000 acres, scattered tracts in Coos, Douglas, and Curry 
Counties, were originally included as part of the action area, but have 
been removed from the proposal by the applicant.
    The Elliott State Forest is managed in accordance with the 1994 
Elliott State Forest Management Plan (FMP). ODF currently holds a 
section 10(a)(1)(B) Permit for potential incidental take of the 
northern spotted owl on the Elliott State Forest; the Permit and 
associated Plan went into effect in 1995. ODF is proposing to manage 
the forest according to a revised FMP that would go into effect 
concurrently with the proposed Plan. Some of the proposed forest 
management activities have the potential to affect the northern spotted 
owl, as well as other species subject to protection under the ESA, 
including the

[[Page 49648]]

marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) and Oregon Coast coho 
salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). As a result, ODF prepared a new, 50-year 
Plan, based on the revised FMP that would address incidental take of 
all these listed species, as well as 15 unlisted species (covered 
species). This new Plan forms the basis of ODF's current Permit 
applications, and is the proposed action in the Services' DEIS.
    The Permit application ODF submitted to the FWS addresses the 
potential take of northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet, which are 
listed as threatened under the ESA. Unlisted species under FWS's 
jurisdiction included in ODF's application, and which would receive 
incidental take allowance should they be listed during the term of the 
Plan, are the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), northern goshawk 
(Accipiter gentilis), olive-sided flycatcher (Contopus borealis), 
western bluebird (Sialia mexicana), coastal cutthroat trout 
(Oncorhynchus clarki clarki), Pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentatus), 
river lamprey (Lampetra ayresi), brook lamprey (Lampetra richardsoni), 
fisher (Martes pennanti), southern torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton 
variegates), red-legged frog (Rana aurora), and coastal tailed frog 
(Ascaphus truei). The fisher is currently a candidate for listing under 
the ESA.
    The Permit application ODF submitted to the NMFS addresses the 
potential take of Oregon Coast coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), 
which is listed as threatened under the ESA. Unlisted species under 
NMFS's jurisdiction included in ODF's application, and which would 
receive incidental take allowance should they be listed during the term 
of the Plan, are Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), chum salmon 
(Oncorhynchus keta), and steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).
    Activities that ODF is proposing for Permit coverage include:
    1. Mechanized timber harvest;
    2. Forest product transportation;
    3. Road and landing construction, use, maintenance, and 
    4. Site preparation and tree planting (excluding use of 
    5. Site Fertilization;
    6. Silvicultural practices;
    7. Fire suppression;
    8. Aquatic habitat restoration;
    9. Rock pit development; and
    10. Other management activities, including vertebrate control and 
harvesting of minor forest products, and
    11. Research and monitoring.
    The Services formally initiated an environmental review of the 
project through publication of a Notice of Intent to prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register on May 9, 2005 
(70 FR 24450). That notice also announced a public scoping period 
during which interested parties were invited to provide written 
comments expressing their issues or concerns relating to the proposal, 
and to attend public scoping meetings held in Roseburg, North Bend, and 
Salem, Oregon.
    Based on public scoping comments, the Services prepared a DEIS to 
analyze the effects of alternatives on the human environment. 
Alternative 2 in the DEIS is described as implementation of ODF's Plan, 
FWS issuance of a Permit for northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, 
and other unlisted species, and NMFS issuance of a Permit for Oregon 
Coast coho salmon, and other unlisted species, should they become 
listed during the term of the Plan. Two other alternatives are analyzed 
in the DEIS: Alternative 1, No-Action, under which ODF would continue 
operating under the existing FMP and incidental take permit for 
northern spotted owls only; and, Alternative 3, Increased Stream 
Buffers and Intensive Forestry, under which ODF would manage 
approximately one-half of the action area on a short rotation (40-50 
years), and the remainder of the lands would be designated conservation 
areas around core areas and riparian buffer areas.
    Note that at the time the Notice of Intent was published for this 
project (70 FR 24450), Oregon Coast coho salmon was proposed for ESA 
listing as a threatened species. The Notice of Intent indicated that 
ODF was expected to submit a Permit application to NMFS for incidental 
take of Oregon Coast coho salmon, and three unlisted fish species under 
NMFS' jurisdiction, should they become listed in the future. NMFS has 
since determined that the Oregon Coast coho salmon does warrant listing 
as a threatened species (73 FR 7816).
    This notice is provided pursuant to ESA and the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended. The Services will 
evaluate the applications, associated documents, and comments submitted 
thereon to determine whether the applications meet the requirements of 
the ESA and National Environmental Policy Act. The Services are 
particularly interested in comments pertaining to the application 
requirements under 50 CFR 17.22(b)(1). These include whether the Plan: 
provides complete descriptions of the activities under which the 
incidental taking of covered species is likely to occur; describes the 
impacts to covered species individuals that will likely result from the 
incidental taking; outlines the steps ODF will take to monitor, 
minimize, and mitigate such impacts for each covered species and the 
available funding to implement such steps over the term of the Permits; 
and, describes alternative actions to such taking and the reasons why 
such alternatives are not proposed to be utilized. As part of 
evaluating whether the permit issuance criteria are met, the Services 
specifically seek comment on whether the minimization and mitigation 
measures are being undertaken to the maximum extent practicable. In 
addition, the FWS is seeking comment on the assumptions regarding how 
suitable habitat is being defined for all the covered species, as well 
as assumptions about the development of those species habitat over 
    The Services will revise the DEIS in a Final Environmental Impact 
Statement (FEIS). The Services decision of whether to issue Permits 
will be made upon completion of the FEIS and the associated Record of 

    Dated: June 26, 2008.
David Patte,
Acting Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1, 
Portland, Oregon.

    Dated: August 13, 2008.
Angela Somma,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E8-19575 Filed 8-21-08; 8:45 am]