[Federal Register: February 22, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 36)]
[Page 9776-9777]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine 
Fisheries Service


Fish and Wildlife Service

RIN 0648-XE42

Notice of Public Scoping and Intent to Prepare a Joint 
Environmental Impact Statement for Fruit Growers Supply Company's 
Multispecies Habitat Conservation Plan, Siskiyou County, California

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

ACTION: Notice of Intent.


SUMMARY: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and Fish and 
Wildlife Service (FWS) (together the Services) intend to gather 
information necessary for the preparation of a joint Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS will consider applications from the 
Fruit Growers Supply Company (FGS) for Incidental Take Permits (ITPs) 
for take of endangered and threatened species in accordance with the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). FGS's applications 
will include a multi-species Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), as 
required under the ESA. The HCP will address forest management and 
timber operations on FGS lands in Siskiyou County, California. The 
proposed 50 year HCP will encompass approximately 154,000 acres of 
lands owned by FGS on and after the granting date of the ITPs. The HCP 
will outline conservation programs for various aquatic species under 
the jurisdiction of NMFS and terrestrial species under the jurisdiction 
of FWS. For purposes of the issuance of the ITPs, NMFS and FWS are co-
lead agencies under National Environmental Policy Act.
    We provide this notice to describe the proposed action and possible 
alternatives; advise other Federal and State agencies, affected Tribes, 
and the public of our intent to prepare an EIS; announce the initiation 
of a public scoping period; and obtain suggestions and information on 
the scope of issues and possible alternatives to be included in the 

DATES: Submit written comments on or before April 7, 2008. The Services 
will conduct two public scoping meetings where oral and written 
comments can be submitted. These meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, 
March 11, 2008, in Yreka, CA, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Wednesday, 
March 12, 2008, in Happy Camp, CA, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Should winter 
conditions prevent conducting the Yreka meeting, it will occur one week 
later on March 18, 2008, in Yreka from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Should winter 
conditions prevent conducting the Happy Camp meeting, it will occur one 
week later on March 19, 2008, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

ADDRESSES: Comments regarding the scope of the EIS and requests for 
additional information should be addressed to Lisa Roberts, NMFS 1655 
Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 95521. Written comments may also be sent by 
facsimile to (707) 825-4840 or by e-mail to FGS-Scoping.SWR@noaa.gov. 
Public scoping meetings will be held at the Best Western Miners Inn 
Convention Center, 122 East Minor Street, Yreka, CA 96097 and the Karuk 
Tribe Housing Authority-Headway Building, 64101 Second Avenue, Happy 
Camp, CA 96039. Comments received will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours (Monday 
through Friday; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 
95521. All comments received, including names and addresses, will 
become part of the official administrative record and may be available 
to the public.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa Roberts, NMFS, 1655 Heindon Road, 
Arcata, CA 95521, (707) 825-5178.


Reasonable Accommodation

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meeting should contact Lisa Roberts, NMFS, at 
(707) 825-5178, 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.

Background Information

    Section 9 of the ESA prohibits the ''take'' of wildlife species 
listed as endangered or threatened by either the FWS or NMFS (16 USC 
1538). The ESA defines the term ''take'' as: harass, harm, pursue, 
hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect listed species, or 
attempt to engage in such conduct. Pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of 
the ESA, FWS and NMFS may issue ITPs to take listed species if such 
taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful 
    Take of listed plant species is not prohibited under the Act, and 
cannot be authorized under a section 10 permit. However, FGS proposes 
to include Yreka phlox (Phlox hirsute) in the HCP to extend the plan's 
conservation benefits to this species. All species included on an ITP 
would receive assurances under the Services' ``No Surprises'' 
regulations found in 50 CFR 17.22(b)(5), 17.32(b)(5), and 222.307(g).
    To receive an ITP under the ESA, an applicant must prepare an HCP 
that specifies the following: (1) the impact of the taking, (2) steps 
the applicant will take to minimize and mitigate the impact; (3) 
funding available to implement the steps; (4) what alternative actions 
to the taking the applicant considered and the reasons why they were 
not taken; and (5) any other measures NMFS or FWS may require as being 
necessary or appropriate for the purpose of the plan (16 USC 1539). To 
issue a permit, NMFS and FWS must find that: (1) the taking will be 
incidental, (2) the applicant will minimize and mitigate impacts of the 
take to the maximum extent possible; (3) the applicant will ensure 
adequate funding for the HCP; (4) the taking will not appreciably 
reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species; and 
the applicant has met other measures required by FWS and NMFS. 
Regulations governing issuance of FWS permits for endangered and 
threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, and at 50 CFR 222.301 
through 307 for NMFS-issued permits.
    FGS is developing a multi-species HCP in anticipation of applying 
for ITPs under the ESA. The HCP will apply to approximately 154,000 
acres of commercial timberland owned by FGS in Siskiyou County, 
California. The ownership consists of three management units as defined 
by FGS:

[[Page 9777]]

Klamath River, Scott Valley, and Grass Lake, covering about 65,000, 
39,000, and 50,000 acres, respectively. FGS's Klamath River and Scott 
Valley management units are located west of Interstate 5 and are 
adjacent to and intermixed with Klamath National Forest (KNF) lands. 
FGS's Grass Lake management unit (also adjacent to the KNF) lies east 
of Interstate 5 and predominantly north of State Highway 97. For the 
purposes of this HCP, all land owned by FGS in their Klamath River, 
Scott Valley, and Grass Lake Management Units as described above are 
referred to as the HCP Area.
    FGS intends to request coverage from FWS for northern spotted owl 
(Strix occidentalis caurina) and Yreka phlox (Phlox hirsute). 
Separately, FGS intends to request coverage from NMFS for the Southern 
Oregon/Northern California Coasts (SONCC) coho salmon (Oncorhynchus 
kisutch) Evolutionally Significant Unit (ESU). FGS also intends to 
request coverage under the ITP for the unlisted California Coastal 
Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) ESU and the Klamath Mountains Province 
steelhead (O. mykiss) ESU. Should 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.
    Activities that FGS may propose to cover under the ITPs include 
mechanized timber harvest; forest product transportation; road and 
landing construction, use, maintenance, and abandonment; site 
preparation; tree planting; certain types of vegetation management; 
silvicultural thinning and other silvicultural activities; fire 
suppression; rock quarry and borrow pit operations; aquatic habitat 
restoration and other forest management activities, miscellaneous and 
minor forest product collecting. The HCP is also expected to cover 
certain monitoring activities and scientific work in the HCP area.
    FWS and NMFS expect FGS's proposed HCP to address each of the 
activities, species, and area described above, as required by the ESA. 
The goal of this HCP will be to: (1) protect and improve habitats 
required by species covered by the HCP and (2) establish appropriate 
guidelines for continuing timber harvests and other forest management 
    During the preparation of the EIS, FWS and NMFS will consider a 
range of alternatives to the proposed HCP, including a No Action 
alternative and other project alternatives recommended during this 
scoping process. Alternatives may include HCPs with modified lists of 
covered species, land coverage areas, and permit terms. Different 
strategies for minimizing and mitigating the impacts of incidental take 
may also be considered. We invite comments and suggestions from all 
interested parties to ensure that a reasonable range of alternatives 
and issues related to them are addressed and that all significant 
issues are identified.
    Environmental review of the HCP will be conducted in accordance 
with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, as 
amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Council on Environmental Quality 
Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National 
Environmental Policy Act (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), other applicable 
laws such as the National Historic Preservation Act, and FWS and NMFS 
procedures for compliance with those regulations.
    The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) intends to use 
this EIS as a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Environmental 
Impact Report (EIR) equivalent document in its consideration and 
approval of a FGS master streambed alteration agreement. FGS will 
incorporate best management practices into the HCP that have been 
developed in cooperation with, and approved by, CDFG.

Request for Comments

    This notice is being furnished in accordance with 40 CFR 1501.7 and 
1508.22 to obtain suggestions and information from other agencies and 
the public on the scope of issues and alternatives that will be 
addressed in the EIS. The primary purpose of the scoping process is to 
identify important issues raised by the public related to the issuance 
of ITPs for the HCP. Interested persons are encouraged to attend the 
public scoping meeting and to identify and discuss issues and 
alternatives that should be addressed in the joint EIS. We invite 
written comments from interested parties to ensure that the full range 
of issues related to the development of the HCP and issuance of the 
ITPs are identified.
    To ensure all comments are fully considered, comments must be 
received no later than 45 days after the date of this notice. Comments 
provided during the scoping process, other than those received orally 
during the public meetings, will only be accepted in written form. All 
comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of 
the official administrative record and may be made available to the 
public. To facilitate comments are reviewed by the appropriate co-lead 
agency, NFMS and FWS encourage the public to specify which species 
their comments are addressing. Comments that do not identify a specific 
species will be reviewed by the co-lead agencies, and assigned for 
consideration by FWS, NFMS, or both.
    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.

    Dated: February 19, 2008.
Angela Somma,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service

    Dated: February 19, 2008.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Regional Director, California and Nevada Region, Fish and 
Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. E8-3365 Filed 2-21-08; 8:45 am]