[Federal Register: September 16, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 180)]
[Page 53440]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 53440]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-ES-2008-N0205; 20124-1113-0000-F2]

Williamson County Regional Habitat Conservation Plan, Williamson 
County, TX

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: Final Environmental Impact Statement 
and Final Regional Habitat Conservation Plan.


SUMMARY: Williamson County (Applicant) submitted an application (TE-
181840-0) for an incidental take permit (ITP) to cover four species 
currently listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). The proposed take would occur as a result of proposed road 
construction, maintenance, and improvement projects; utility 
construction and maintenance; school development and construction; 
public or private construction and development; and land clearing 
within western Williamson County, Texas. We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service), have issued a final Environmental Impact Statement 
(FEIS) to evaluate the impacts of and alternatives for the possible 
issuance of an ITP. The Applicant completed a final Regional Habitat 
Conservation Plan (RHCP), as required by the Act, which provides 
measures to minimize and mitigate the effects of the proposed taking of 
covered species and effects to the habitats upon which they depend.

DATES: A final decision on ITP issuance will be made October 16, 2008 
or later.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the FEIS and RHCP may obtain a 
copy by writing to Mr. Adam Zerrenner, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758; (512) 
490-0057. See also ``Public Review.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Bill Seawell at the address and 
phone in ADDRESSES.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We provide this notice under section 10(c) 
of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and its implementing regulations 
(50 CFR 17.22) and the National Environmental Policy Act NEPA (42 
U.S.C. 4371 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).
    Section 9 of the Act and Federal regulations prohibit the taking of 
fish and wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened (16 U.S.C. 
1538). Under limited circumstances, the Service may issue permits to 
authorize incidental take of listed fish or wildlife that is incidental 
to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities. Regulations 
governing incidental take permits for threatened and endangered species 
are found in 50 CFR 17.32 and 17.22, respectively.

Public Review

    Copies of the RHCP and FEIS are available for public review, by 
appointment, during regular business hours, at the Austin Ecological 
Services Field Office. The documents may be viewed on the World Wide 
Web at www.wilcogov.org/wccf.
    These documents may also be viewed during regular hours in the 
reference section of the following Williamson County libraries:

 Cedar Park Public Library--550 Discovery Blvd., Cedar Park, TX 
 Florence Public Library--207 E. Main St., Florence, TX 76527
 Georgetown Public Library--408 W. 8th St., Georgetown, TX 
 Leander Public Library--1011 S. Bagdad Rd., Leander, TX 78641
 Liberty Hill Public Library--355 Loop 332, Liberty Hill, TX 
 Round Rock Public Library--216 E. Main St., Round Rock, TX 
 Taylor Public Library--801 Vance St., Taylor, TX 76574
 Teinert Memorial Public Library--337 N. Hwy 95, Bartlett, TX 
 Frank Smith, Jr. Library Center, Southwestern University--1001 
E. University Ave., Georgetown, TX 78626
 Albert B. Alkek Library, Texas State University--1555 
University Blvd., Round Rock, TX 78665
 Cypress Creek Campus, Austin Community College--1555 Cypress 
Creek Rd., Cedar Park, TX 78613

    Copies may also be viewed during normal business hours at the 
following Williamson County offices:

 County Judge, Williamson County Courthouse, 710 Austin Ave., 
Georgetown, TX 78626
 Commissioner Pct. 1--401 West Main St., Suite 216, Round Rock, 
TX 78664
 Parks Department--350 Discovery Blvd., 207, Cedar 
Park, TX 78613
 Commissioner Pct. 3--3010 Williams Dr., Suite 153, Georgetown, 
TX 78628
 Commissioner Pct. 4--350 Exchange Blvd., Suite 100, Hutto, TX 

Background Information

    We received an application for an incidental take permit, which 
would be for a term of 30 years, from Williamson County and the 
Williamson County Conservation Foundation. The application included a 
draft RHCP to satisfy the application requirements for a section 
10(a)(1)(B) permit under the Act. The Applicant seeks an ITP for 
activities described in the RHCP and will implement conservation 
measures to minimize and mitigate for incidental take of golden-cheeked 
warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia), black-capped vireo (Vireo 
atricapilla), Bone Cave harvestman (Texella reyesi), and Coffin Cave 
mold beetle (Batrisodes texanus) to the maximum extent practicable, and 
ensure that incidental take will not appreciably reduce the likelihood 
of the survival and recovery of these species in the wild.
    On May 16, 2008, the Service published a notice in the Federal 
Register (73 FR 28498) announcing receipt of an application for an ITP 
from Williamson County and the availability of a draft EIS (dEIS) and a 
draft RHCP for the application. The dEIS analyzed the potential 
environmental impacts that may result from the Federal action of 
authorizing incidental take anticipated to occur with implementation of 
the RHCP, and identified various alternatives. We received a total of 6 
comments on the dEIS and draft RHCP. A response to each comment 
received in these letters has been included in the FEIS.


    The dEIS considered two alternatives in addition to the proposed 
project described above: (1) A No Action Alternative, under which no 
permit would be issued. This alternative would require individuals 
(rather than the Applicant) to seek authorization through section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Act to address incidental take resulting from their 
actions in Williamson County or to avoid taking actions that would 
result in incidental take; (2) A Modified (Reduced Take and Mitigation) 
RHCP, which would only cover take of the golden-cheeked warbler and 
Bone Cave harvestman. The amount of authorized take and mitigation 
would be reduced for both species.
    We will evaluate the application, associated documents, and 
comments submitted to them to prepare a Record of Decision. A permit 
decision will be made no sooner than 30 days after the publication of 
the FEIS and completion of the Record of Decision.

Thomas L. Baur,
Acting Regional Director, Southwest Region, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. E8-21547 Filed 9-15-08; 8:45 am]