[Federal Register: January 10, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 7)]
[Page 1893-1894]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service


Proposed Safe Harbor Agreement for the Guam Rail on Cocos Island, 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Receipt of application; notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have 
received applications for enhancement of survival permits pursuant to 
section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(ESA), from Cocos Island Resort and the Guam Department of Agriculture 
(Applicants). The permit applications include a proposed Safe Harbor 
Agreement (SHA) among the Applicants and the Service. Implementation of 
the proposed SHA provides for voluntary habitat restoration, 
maintenance, enhancement, or the creation of activities to enhance the 
habitat and recovery of the Guam rail (Gallirallus owstonii) (``Covered 
Species'') on 83.1 acres of non-Federal lands on Cocos Island, Guam. 
The proposed duration of both the SHA and permits is 10 years.
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that the proposed 
SHA and permit application are eligible for categorical exclusion under 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). The basis for 
this determination

[[Page 1894]]

is contained in an Environmental Action Statement which also is 
available for public review.

DATES: All comments from interested parties must be received on or 
before February 11, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments to Patrick Leonard, Field 
Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana 
Boulevard, Room 3-122, Honolulu, HI 96850. You may also send 
comments by facsimile at (808) 792-9580.

Supervisor (see ADDRESSES), telephone (808) 792-9400.


Availability of Documents

    Copies of the draft documents and permit applications are available 
for public inspection, by appointment between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 
p.m. at the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES). 
You may also request copies of the documents by contacting the 
Service's Pacific Island Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT). We are furnishing this notice to provide the 
public, other state and Federal agencies, and tribes an opportunity to 
review and comment on these documents. Before including your address, 
phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information 
in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment--
including your personal identifying information--may be made publicly 
available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold 
your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot 
guarantee that we will be able to do so.


    A SHA encourages private landowners to conduct voluntary 
conservation activities and assures them that they will not be 
subjected to increased listed species restrictions should their 
beneficial stewardship efforts result in increased numbers of listed 
species. As long as enrolled landowners maintain agreed-upon baseline 
responsibilities, they may make any other lawful use of the enrolled 
property during the permit term, even if such use results in the take 
of individuals of the Federally listed species named within the permit. 
Application requirements and issuance criteria for enhancement of 
survival permits and SHAs are found in 50 CFR 17.22(c). The primary 
objective of this proposed SHA is to establish a breeding population of 
Guam rails on Cocos Island by providing a predator-controlled habitat.
    The private lands subject to this proposed SHA and permit consist 
of 83.1 acres of mixed forest and beach strand habitat on Cocos Island, 
Guam. Current land use practices include the operation of a day resort 
for tourists and overnight camping. Habitat conditions vary from 
manicured lawn surrounding the buildings to mixed native forest with 
invasive vines. The Guam rail was last observed in the wild on Northern 
Guam in the mid-1980s; therefore, the baseline for the species is zero, 
and there are no prohibitions on the use of the property or 
responsibilities for protecting existing individuals of the Guam rail 
or its habitat. However, management activities by the Applicants and 
other cooperators to encourage the establishment and survival of Guam 
rails on the enrolled lands during the term of the proposed SHA and the 
permit include: (1) Eradicating rats and mice and control monitor 
lizard population on Cocos Island prior to release of Guam rail; (2) 
reducing likelihood of reintroduction of rats, mice, and the 
introduction of the brown treesnake; (3) developing and implementing a 
forest enhancement plan to reduce invasive plant species and increase 
native plant species on Cocos Island; (4) releasing Guam rails and 
monitoring survivorship, breeding behavior, habitat preference, and 
nesting success; and (5) creating materials to promote understanding of 
wildlife recovery and invasive species issues for Cocos Island staff 
and visitors.
    Based upon the probable species' response, we estimate it will take 
10 years of implementing the planned conservation measures to fully 
reach a net conservation benefit for the Guam rail; some level of 
benefit is expected within a shorter period of time as a result of 
predator control and habitat restoration effort. The duration of the 
SHA and permits will be for a term of 10 years, although both may be 
renewed upon approval by the Service.
    We believe that approval of the proposed SHA may qualify for a 
categorical exclusion under NEPA, as provided by the Department of 
Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6, Appendix 1) Based 
on the following criteria: (1) Implementation of the SHA would result 
in minor or negligible effects on federally listed, proposed, and 
candidate species and their habitats; (2) implementation of the SHA 
would result in minor or negligible effects on other environmental 
values or resources; and (3) impacts of the SHA, considered together 
with the impacts of other past, present and reasonably foreseeable 
similarly situated projects, would not result, over time, in cumulative 
effects to environmental values or resources which would be considered 
significant. This is more fully explained in our draft EAS. We will 
consider public comments in making its final determination on whether 
to prepare such additional NEPA documentation.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA and 
NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). The Service will evaluate the permit 
application, associated documents, and comments submitted thereon to 
determine whether the proposed Agreement and permit application meets 
the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA and NEPA regulations. The 
final NEPA and permit determinations will not be completed until after 
the end of the 30-day comment period and will fully consider all 
comments received during the comment period.

    Dated: December 31, 2007.
Jeff Newman,
Acting Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 
Honolulu, Hawaii.
 [FR Doc. E8-254 Filed 1-9-08; 8:45 am]