[Federal Register: August 20, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 160)]
[Page 42110-42111]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2009-N153; 1112-0000-80221-F2]

Proposed Low Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Pahrump
Valley General Store Shopping Center, Nye County, NV

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; receipt of application.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received an
application from Pahrump 194, LLC (Applicant) for an incidental take
permit (permit), under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended.
The requested 7-year permit would authorize the incidental take of the
threatened desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) on 60 acres of habitat
associated with the development of a shopping center complex within the
town limits of Pahrump, Nevada.
    We request comments on the permit application and on whether the
proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) qualifies as a ``low-effect''
HCP, eligible for a categorical exclusion under the National
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended. We explain the
basis for this possible determination in a draft Environmental Action
Statement (EAS), which is also available for public review.

DATES: We must receive comments in writing, no later than 5 p.m. on
September 21, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Address comments to Robert D. Williams, State Supervisor, by
U.S. mail at Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Fish and Wildlife
Office, 4701 North Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89130; or by fax
at (702) 515-5231 (for further information and instruction on the
reviewing and commenting process, see Public Review and Comment section

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeri Krueger, Habitat Conservation
Planning Coordinator, Fish and Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES),
telephone (702) 515-5230.


Availability of Documents

    Individuals wishing copies of the application, proposed HCP, or EAS
should contact us by telephone (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT) or
by letter (see ADDRESSES). Copies of the subject documents are also
available for public inspection during regular business hours at the
Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES).


    Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act;
16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and Federal regulations prohibit the ``take''
of a fish or 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. 1538). We may, under limited circumstances, issue permits to
authorize ``incidental take'' of listed species. ``Incidental take'' is
defined by the Act as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose
of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing
permits for threatened species and endangered species, respectively,
are at 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 17.22.
    The Applicant is seeking a permit with a 7-year term for the
incidental take of the desert tortoise. The Applicant proposes to
develop and carry out construction activities on 60 acres of land,
associated with the development of the shopping center, improvement of
adjacent roadways, installation of utility services, and construction
of flood control facilities. The shopping center complex is estimated
to occupy 300,000 square feet with a 175,000 square-foot retail anchor
tenant. The shopping center will be constructed within the General
Commercial Zoning District located on the east side of State Route 160
in the town of Pahrump. Construction is expected to take approximately
3 to 5 years to complete. The Applicant is requesting a 7-year
incidental take permit to include the estimated 5-year construction
period and an additional 2 years in the event that construction delays
occur. The entire 60-acre parcel will be developed, resulting in the
incidental take of any desert tortoises that may occupy the site and
the permanent loss of 60 acres of desert tortoise habitat.
    To minimize and mitigate adverse effects to desert tortoise from
the loss of

[[Page 42111]]

60 acres of desert tortoise habitat, the Applicant proposes to: (1)
Survey for and remove all tortoises from the project site prior to
surface disturbing activities; (2) install a temporary fence during
construction activities to ensure tortoises do not gain access to the
project site and wander into harm's way; (3) ensure trash and food
items are disposed of properly to avoid attracting predators; (4)
present a desert tortoise awareness program to all construction workers
on the site; and (5) provide funding in the amount of $550 per acre of
habitat disturbed to the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Clark
County, Nevada, to support development and implementation of
conservation and recovery actions for the tortoise under the guidance
of the Service's Desert Tortoise Recovery Office in Reno, Nevada.
    Approval of the HCP may qualify as a categorical exclusion under
NEPA, as provided by the Departmental Manual (516 DM 2 Appendix 1 and
516 DM 8) and as a ``low-effect'' plan as defined in the Habitat
Conservation Planning Handbook (Service, November, 1996). Determination
of low-effect HCPs is based upon the plan having: Minor or negligible
effects on federally listed, proposed, or candidate species and their
habitats; minor or negligible effects on other environmental values or
resources; and impacts that, considered together with the impacts of
other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable similarly situated
projects, would not result, over time, in cumulative effects to the
environmental values or resources which would be considered
significant. If it is found to qualify as a low-effect HCP, further
NEPA documentation would not be required.

Public Review and Comment

    If you wish to comment on the permit application, draft EAS, or
proposed HCP, you may submit your comments to the address listed in the
ADDRESSES section of this document. We will evaluate this permit
application, associated documents, and comments we receive to determine
whether the permit application meets the requirements of section 10(a)
of the Act and NEPA regulations. 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. If we determine that the
requirements are met, we will issue an incidental take permit under
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act to the Applicant for take of the desert
tortoise, incidental to otherwise lawful activities in accordance with
the terms of the permit. We will not make our final decision until
after the end of the 30-day comment period and will fully consider all
comments we receive during the comment period.


    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Act and NEPA
implementing regulations at 40 CFR 1506.6.

    Dated: August 14, 2009.
Robert D. Williams,
State Supervisor, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, Reno, Nevada.
[FR Doc. E9-20053 Filed 8-19-09; 8:45 am]