[Federal Register: January 26, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 15)]
[Page 4455-4456]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-ES-2008-N0342; 14420-1113-1SPB-F3]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permit 
Application; Safe Harbor Agreement for Northern Idaho Ground Squirrel, 
Adams County, ID

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Receipt of application; notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces the receipt 
of an application for an enhancement of survival permit (Permit) 
pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 
as amended (Act). The Permit application includes a proposed Safe 
Harbor Agreement (SHA) for the threatened northern Idaho ground 
squirrel (Spermophilus brunneus brunneus) between Hixon Properties 
Incorporated (applicant) and the Service. The term of the proposed SHA 
is 10 years, and the requested term of the permit is 15 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 
preliminary determination is contained in an Environmental Action 
Statement. The Service is accepting comments on the Permit application, 
the proposed SHA, and the Environmental Action Statement.

DATES: We will accept comments received on or before February 25, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Written comments concerning this notice should be addressed 
to Kendra Womack, Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office, 1387 S Vinnell 
Way, Room 368, Boise, ID 83709. You may also submit written comments by 
facsimile, at 208-378-5262, or by electronic mail to 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kendra Womack at 208-378-5243. If you 
use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call the 
Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.


Document Availability

    Copies of the Permit application, the draft SHA, and the 
Environmental Action Statement are available for public inspection, by 
appointment, at the Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office (see 
ADDRESSES), or they may be viewed on the internet at the following 
address: http://www.fws.gov/idaho. The Service is furnishing this 
notice to provide the public, other State and Federal agencies, and 
interested Tribes an opportunity to review and comment on the draft 
SHA, Permit application, and Environmental Action Statement.


    Under Safe Harbor Agreements, participating property owners 
voluntarily undertake management activities on their properties to 
enhance, restore, or maintain habitat benefitting species listed under 
the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Safe Harbor Agreements encourage 
private and other non-Federal property owners to implement conservation 
efforts for listed species by assuring property owners they will not be 
subjected to increased property use restrictions if their efforts 
attract listed species to their property or increase the numbers or 
distribution of listed species already on their property. Application 
requirements and issuance criteria for enhancement of survival permits 
through Safe Harbor Agreements can be found in 50 CFR 17.22(c).
    The area to be covered under the proposed SHA (Covered Area) is 
approximately 7,783 acres (ac) (3,150 hectares (ha)) and is located 
just north of Bear, Adams County, Idaho. Northern Idaho ground 
squirrels currently occupy approximately 714-ac (289-ha) of the 7,783-
ac (3,150-ha) Covered Area. Due to normal population fluctuations and 
the difficulty of identifying current

[[Page 4456]]

population levels, the agreed upon baseline for the property is 714 
acres and the applicant would be allowed to return his property to this 
baseline condition at the end of the permit term.
    This proposed SHA is intended to result in a net conservation 
benefit by maintaining northern Idaho ground squirrel habitat within a 
714-ac (289-ha) baseline area, allowing access to researchers 
affiliated with the Service or Idaho Department of Fish and Game 
(IDFG); requiring notification of the Service and IDFG prior to 
activities that will result in ``take'' of the species so that they may 
capture and relocate affected individuals if appropriate; allowing the 
Service and IDFG personnel access to the property to conduct ground 
squirrel conservation activities approved by the applicant such as 
habitat maintenance and enhancement, ground squirrel surveys, and 
translocation of ground squirrels; and establishing some limits on the 
conduct of chemical rodent control in the squirrel management area. In 
addition, the applicant may also work with the Service and others to 
implement timber-related habitat enhancement measures that will 
potentially increase habitat for squirrels within the covered area.
    The biological goal of ground squirrel conservation measures in the 
SHA is to expand the northern Idaho ground squirrel population at this 
site within and beyond the 714-ac (289-ha) baseline area by reducing 
threats and enhancing habitat for the species. The proposed SHA is 
intended to contribute to the recovery of the northern Idaho ground 
squirrel by reducing threats, expanding and increasing the viability of 
the ground squirrel population at this site, improving habitat 
conditions, and potentially facilitating translocation of ground 
squirrels to other sites in need of population supplementation, as 
    Consistent with the Service's Safe Harbor policy, under the 
proposed SHA and the proposed Permit, we would authorize incidental 
take of northern Idaho ground squirrels as a result of the following 
covered activities within the Covered Area provided they are carried 
out in accordance with the terms of the SHA: livestock husbandry; 
farming operations; logging; recreation; construction of buildings and 
roads that does not diminish the baseline area; existing residential 
use; and fire management activities.
    We provide this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act and the 
implementing regulations for NEPA (40 CFR 1506.6). We will evaluate the 
Permit application, associated documents, and comments submitted 
thereon to determine whether the Permit application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a) of the Act and to ensure adequate NEPA 
compliance. If we determine that all of these requirements are met, we 
will sign the proposed SHA and issue an enhancement of survival permit 
under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act to the applicant for take of 
northern Idaho ground squirrels incidental to otherwise lawful 
activities in accordance with the terms of the SHA. We will not make 
our final decision until after the end of the 30-day public comment 
period and will fully consider all comments received during the public 
comment period.

    Dated: December 19, 2008.
Jeffery L. Foss,
Field Supervisor, Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office, Boise, Idaho.
[FR Doc. E9-1604 Filed 1-23-09; 8:45 am]