[Federal Register: December 5, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 235)]
[Page 74185-74187]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-2008-N0277; 1112-0000-80221-F2]

Southeastern Lincoln County Habitat Conservation Plan, Lincoln 
County, NV

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability and receipt of applications.


[[Page 74186]]

SUMMARY: This notice announces the availability of the draft 
Southeastern Lincoln County Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), draft 
Implementing Agreement (IA), and draft Environmental Impact Statement 
(EIS) for public review and comment. The Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service) is considering the issuance of three 30-year incidental take 
permits for two species in response to receipt of three applications 
prepared, pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act 
of 1973, as amended (Act). The applicants are Lincoln County, Nevada; 
the City of Caliente, Nevada; and the Union Pacific Railroad. The 
proposed permits would authorize incidental take of species listed 
under the Act. The permits are needed because take of species could 
occur during proposed urban development activities and construction of 
associated infrastructure; road and railroad construction, operation, 
and maintenance; flood control projects; and agricultural practices 
(covered activities). The covered activities would occur on 
approximately 31,000 acres of non-Federal property in southeastern 
Lincoln County, Nevada.

DATES: Written comments must be received by 5 p.m. on February 18, 

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Robert D. Williams, Field 
Supervisor, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 4701 North Torrey Pines 
Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada 89130, fax number (702) 515-5231 (for further 
information and instruction on the reviewing and commenting process, 
see Public Review and Comment section below).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeri Krueger, Habitat Conservation 
Planning Coordinator, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 4701 North 
Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada 89130, or telephone (702) 515-


Availability of Documents

    Individuals wishing copies of the application, draft HCP, draft 
EIS, and draft IA, should contact the Service by telephone (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Copies of the subject documents are also 
available for public inspection during regular business hours at the 
Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office in Las Vegas (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT), and may be downloaded from the Nevada Fish and 
Wildlife Office Web site at: http://www.fws.gov/nevada.
    In addition, copies of all documents are available at the following 
library locations: (1) Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road, Las 
Vegas, Nevada 89119, (702) 507-3400; (2) Washoe County Library, 
Downtown Main Branch, 301 South Center Street, Reno, Nevada 89501, 
(775) 327-8300; (3) Mesquite Library, 121 West First North Street, 
Mesquite, Nevada 89027, (702) 346-5224; (4) Alamo Branch Library, 100 
N. First Street, Alamo, Nevada 89001, (775) 725-3343; (5) Lincoln 
County Library, 100 Depot Avenue, Caliente, Nevada 89008, (775) 726-
3104; and (6) Lincoln County Library, 63 Main Street, Pioche, Nevada 
89043, (775) 962-5244.

Background Information

    Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and Federal 
regulations prohibit the take of fish and wildlife species listed as 
endangered or threatened. Take of federally listed fish or wildlife is 
defined under section 3 of the Act as including to ``harass, harm, 
pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to 
attempt to engage in such conduct'' (16 U.S.C. 1532). Harm includes 
significant habitat modification or degradation that actually kills or 
injures listed wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral 
patterns, including breeding, feeding, and sheltering (50 CFR 17.3(c)). 
Under limited circumstances, the Service may issue permits to authorize 
incidental take of listed fish or wildlife; i.e., take that is 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful 
activity. Regulations governing incidental take permits for threatened 
species and endangered species are at 50 CFR 17.32 and 17.22, 
    The Service has received three incidental take permit applications 
for implementation of the HCP. The applications have been prepared and 
submitted by Lincoln County, Nevada; the City of Caliente, Nevada; and 
the Union Pacific Railroad (collectively, the applicants). The 
applicants have prepared the HCP to satisfy the application 
requirements for permits issued under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act.
    The applicants are seeking permits for the incidental take of 
desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) and southwestern willow flycatcher 
(Empidonax traillii extimus) for a term of 30 years. Incidental take of 
these species may occur on approximately 31,000 acres of habitat for 
the tortoise and the flycatcher within the planning area for the HCP 
(covered area). The covered activities may result in the loss of up to 
20,000 acres of desert tortoise habitat, and up to 85 acres of 
southwestern willow flycatcher habitat during the term of the permit. 
The covered area includes the non-Federal lands on which the covered 
activities would occur, and Federal lands administered by the Bureau of 
Land Management (BLM), on which most of the mitigation is contemplated 
to occur. The BLM, acting as a participant in the HCP, will be 
responsible for reviewing and if considered appropriate, authorizing 
and assisting in the implementation of mitigation measures on BLM-
administered land.
    The covered area is situated in the southeastern corner of Lincoln 
County, and is approximately defined as the area north of the Clark 
County line, west of the Utah-Nevada border, south of Township 3 South, 
and east of Range 62 East, Mount Diablo Meridian. The covered area also 
includes approximately 4,000 acres of land west of Range 62 East 
identified for disposal by the BLM in the vicinity of the towns of 
Alamo and Hiko, and excludes private and leased lands in the Coyote 
Spring Valley. The Meadow Valley Wash and Clover Creek are two 
intermittently flowing streams that support riparian vegetation within 
the covered area. Clover Creek flows from the Nevada/Utah border east 
to its confluence with Meadow Valley Wash at Caliente, and the Meadow 
Valley Wash flows south through Caliente, crossing the Lincoln/Clark 
County line, and terminating at the confluence with the Muddy River in 
Glendale, Nevada.
    The majority of development activity will be focused in three 
locations within the covered area: (1) The 13,500-acre Lincoln County 
Land Act (LCLA) lands located in the extreme southeastern corner of the 
covered area; (2) approximately 4,000 acres of land identified for 
disposal by the BLM in the vicinity of the towns of Alamo and Hiko; and 
(3) the 103-acre Meadow Valley Industrial Park site located on the 
eastern edge of Caliente. A per-acre mitigation fee will be collected 
by Lincoln County for disturbance of desert tortoise habitat prior to 
the commencement of construction activities, which will be used to fund 
implementation of the HCP. Other planned activities that may result in 
take of the proposed covered species include flood control projects in 
the portion of the Meadow Valley Wash that flows through Caliente, 
operation and maintenance activities conducted by Union Pacific 
Railroad, and existing agricultural practices conducted by private 
landowners along the Meadow Valley Wash and Clover Creek. The City of 
Caliente and Union Pacific Railroad will provide the funding necessary 
to create additional suitable flycatcher habitat or enhance the 
functional value

[[Page 74187]]

of existing potentially suitable flycatcher habitat at a ratio of 2 
acres for every one acre of native habitat removed, or at a ratio of 
one acre for every one acre of non-native habitat removed, as a result 
of the covered activities. Private landowners with property located 
along these two waterways may volunteer to participate in the HCP by 
signing a Participation Agreement provided by Lincoln County, which 
would extend take authorization under Lincoln County's permit to the 
participating landowner provided the landowner agrees to implement the 
minimization and mitigation measures in the HCP.
    In order to comply with the ESA, the proposed HCP addresses a 
number of required elements, including: Species and habitat goals and 
objectives; evaluation of the direct and indirect effects of covered 
activities on covered species; a conservation strategy; a monitoring 
and adaptive management program; descriptions of changed circumstances 
and remedial measures; identification of funding sources; and an 
assessment of alternatives to take of listed species.
    The proposed conservation strategy provides for the restoration and 
enhancement of desert tortoise habitat on land administered by the BLM 
within the Mormon Mesa and Beaver Dam Slope Critical Habitat Units. 
Over 30,000 acres of desert tortoise critical habitat impacted by 
wildfires and other disturbances could benefit from restoration 
projects and research funded and implemented under the HCP by improving 
the functional value of desert tortoise critical habitat above existing 
conditions. The applicants are also proposing to replace and manage in 
perpetuity all suitable flycatcher habitat lost as a result of the 
covered activities at a ratio of 2 acres of native habitat for every 
one acre of native habitat lost, and at a ratio of one acre of native 
habitat for every one acre of non-native habitat lost.
    The proposed HCP is intended to be a comprehensive and multi-
jurisdictional document, providing for regional species conservation 
and habitat planning, while allowing the applicants to better manage 
anticipated growth and development, and to maintain the safety of roads 
and railroads within the covered area. The proposed HCP also intends to 
provide a coordinated process for permitting and mitigating the take of 
covered species as an alternative to a project-by-project approach.

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    Proposed permit issuance triggers the need for compliance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Accordingly, a NEPA document 
has been prepared by the Service as the Federal agency responsible for 
compliance under NEPA. The Service is providing notice of the 
availability of the draft EIS, which evaluates the impacts of proposed 
issuance of the permit and implementation of the HCP, as well as 
evaluating the impacts of a reasonable range of alternatives.
    The draft EIS analyzes two alternatives in addition to the proposed 
HCP, described above. The proposed HCP is considered the Preferred 
Alternative. Additional alternatives are described below.
    The No Action Alternative: Under the No Action Alternative, the 
Service would not issue an incidental take permit to the applicants and 
the HCP would not be implemented. Under this scenario, private land 
development or other activities on non-Federal land that may adversely 
affect listed species would require individual incidental take permits. 
As such, Lincoln County would lose the ability to plan for coordinated, 
controlled urban growth, and species conservation would be implemented 
on a project-by-project basis, rather than at a regional landscape-
    Alternative A--Additional Lands for Development: Alternative A 
would increase the acreage on which the covered activities would occur, 
thereby increasing the acreage of habitat that may be disturbed within 
the term of the permit. Covered activities would remain the same as 
those under the Preferred Alternative. Alternative A would require 
consideration of adding to the permit and HCP additional federally 
listed species that occur in the Pahranagat Valley. The general 
conservation strategy would remain the same as described for the 
Preferred Alternative.

Public Comments

    If you wish to comment on the permit application, draft HCP, draft 
EIS, or draft IA, you may submit your comments to the address listed in 
the ADDRESSES section of this document. 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 may 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.
    The Service will evaluate the application, associated documents, 
and comments submitted to them to prepare a final EIS. A permit 
decision will be made no sooner than 30 days after the publication of 
the final EIS and completion of the Record of Decision.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(a) of the Act and 
pursuant to implementing regulations for NEPA (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: November 20, 2008.
Richard E. Sayers, Jr.,
Acting Deputy Regional Director, California and Nevada Region, 
Sacramento, California.
 [FR Doc. E8-28704 Filed 12-4-08; 8:45 am]