[Federal Register: September 30, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 188)]
[Page 50239-50241]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2009-N141; 80221-1112-0000-F2]

Amendment of the Clark County Multiple Species Habitat 
Conservation Plan and Issuance of an Amended Incidental Take Permit, 
Clark County, NV

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement 
(EIS); and notice of public scoping meetings.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are advising 
the public that we intend to gather information necessary to prepare an 
EIS, under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), on the 
proposed amendment of the Clark County Multiple Species Habitat 
Conservation Plan (MSHCP) and Incidental Take Permit (ITP). The 
proposed amendment is being prepared under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. The Permittees are 
proposing to increase the amount of species habitat disturbance that is 
authorized under the existing MSHCP and ITP, expand the conservation 
program to minimize and mitigate for the increased disturbance, reduce 
the number of covered species, and revise the permit term of the MSHCP 
Amendment to 50 years. We provide this notice to obtain suggestions, 
comments, and useful information from other agencies and the public on 
the scope of the document, including the significant issues deserving 
of study, the range of alternatives, and the range of impacts to be 

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before October 30, 2009. 
Four public scoping meetings will be held on:
    1. Monday, October 19, 2009, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Las Vegas, NV.
    2. Wednesday, October 21, 2009, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Searchlight, 
    3. Thursday, October 22, 2009, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Henderson, 
    4. Monday, October 26, 2009, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Overton, NV.

ADDRESSES: Public meetings will be held at the following locations:
    1. Monday, October 19, 2009, at the Clark County Library, Jewel Box 
Theater, 1401 East Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89119.
    2. Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at the Searchlight Community 
Center, 200 Michael Wendell Way, Searchlight, NV 89046.
    3. Thursday, October 22, 2009, at the PBS&J, 2270 Corporate Circle, 
Henderson, NV 89074.
    4. Monday, October 26, 2009, at the Moapa Valley Community Center, 
320 North Moapa Valley Boulevard, Overton, NV 89040.
    Information, written comments, or questions related to the 
preparation of the EIS and the NEPA process should be submitted to 
Robert D. Williams, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 4701 North Torrey 
Pines Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89130, facsimile: 702-515-5231.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeri Krueger, Habitat Conservation 
Planning Coordinator, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 4701 North 
Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89130; telephone: 702-515-5230.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice advises the public that the 
Service intends to gather information necessary to determine the scope 
of issues and impacts, and to formulate alternatives for the EIS 
related to the issuance of an amended ITP to Clark County, Nevada; the 
cities of Boulder City, Henderson, Las Vegas, Mesquite, and North Las 
Vegas, Nevada (Cities); and the Nevada Department of Transportation 


    Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act, 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. Under the Act, 
the following activities are defined as take: To harass, harm, pursue, 
hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect listed wildlife 
species, or attempt to engage in such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532). 
However, under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act, we may issue permits to 
authorize ``incidental take'' of listed wildlife 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 endangered and threatened species are at 50 CFR 
17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32, respectively.
    Clark County, the Cities, and NDOT currently hold a permit for 
incidental take of 78 covered species (Permit  TE034927-0), 
including the Federally threatened desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) 
and the Federally endangered southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax 
traillii extimus), by the development of up to 145,000 acres in Clark 
County, Nevada. The Notice of Availability (65 FR 57366) for the Final 
HCP and EIS was published on September 22, 2000. The permit was 
effective as of February 1, 2001, and expires on January 31, 2031. 
Activities included in the MSHCP for the permitted projects include, 
but are not limited to, residential and commercial development, utility 
and transportation facilities and other capital improvements and 
operations activities, flood control, development of urban parks and 
recreation facilities.

Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan Amendment

    Clark County, the Cities, and NDOT intend to request a permit 
amendment for the incidental take of covered species on up to 215,000 
additional acres in Clark County, Nevada. Activities proposed to be 
covered by the MSHCP amendment are not likely to change from the 
existing MSHCP, and may include, but are not limited to, residential 
and commercial development, utility and transportation facilities and 
other capital improvements and operations activities, flood control, 
and development of urban parks and recreation facilities.
    Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act provides for permitting non-Federal 
entities to incidentally take threatened and endangered species when 
the entity submits a conservation plan that specifies:
    (i) The impact which will likely result from such taking;
    (ii) What steps the applicant will take to minimize and mitigate 
such impacts, and the funding that will be available to implement such 
    (iii) What alternative actions to such taking the applicant 
considered and the reasons why such alternatives are being utilized; 
    (iv) Such other measures the Service may require as being necessary 
or appropriate for purposes of the plan.
    If the Service finds, after opportunity for public comment, with 
respect to a permit application and the related conservation plan that:
    (i) The taking will be incidental;
    (ii) The applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, 
minimize and mitigate the impacts of such taking;
    (iii) The applicant will ensure that adequate funding for the plan 
will be provided;
    (iv) The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of 
survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and

[[Page 50240]]

    (v) The measures, if any, required under subparagraph (A)(iv) will 
be met; and the Service has received such other assurance as the 
Service may require that the plan will be implemented, the Service 
shall issue the permit. The permit shall contain such terms and 
conditions as the Service deems necessary or appropriate to carry out 
the purposes of this paragraph, including, but not limited to, such 
reporting requirements as the Service deems necessary for determining 
whether such terms and conditions are being complied with.
    The need for this action is based on the potential that activities 
proposed by Clark County, the Cities, and NDOT on lands under their 
respective jurisdictions could result in take of covered species, thus 
requiring an ITP. The proposed permit would allow authorized incidental 
take that is consistent with the conservation guidelines in the amended 
    Clark County, the Cities, and NDOT propose to develop and implement 
an amended MSHCP, as required by section 10(a)(2)(A) of the Act. The 
MSHCP would provide measures to minimize and mitigate the effects of 
the taking on the covered species and their habitats. The amended MSHCP 
would provide long-term protection for the covered species and key 
natural communities by maintaining or improving the habitat conditions 
and ecosystem functions necessary for their survival, and by ensuring 
that any incidental take of the covered species would not appreciably 
reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of those species in 
the wild. The purpose of the scoping meetings is to solicit input from 
the public on the issues and alternatives that should be addressed in 
the EIS. We will brief the public on the background of the MSHCP, 
alternative proposals under consideration for the draft EIS, and our 
role, as well as on the steps that we will take to develop the draft 
EIS for this conservation planning effort. At the scoping meeting, 
there will be an opportunity for the public to ask questions and also 
to provide written comments.
    Clark County, the Cities, and NDOT propose that the following 
species that may occur within the proposed planning area will be 
included as covered species: desert tortoise, southwestern willow 
flycatcher, Las Vegas buckwheat (Eriogonum corymbosum var. nilesii), 
Yuma clapper rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis), yellow-billed 
cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus), and Las Vegas bearpoppy (Arctomecon 
californica). Clark County, the Cities, and NDOT propose to reduce the 
total number of covered species, under the existing permit, but may 
also seek to address and cover additional rare and/or sensitive 
species, in addition to the six species listed above, that have some 
likelihood to occur within the planning area. The existing incidental 
take permit is for 78 species in Clark County, NV. Should any of the 
unlisted covered wildlife species become listed under the Act during 
the term of the permit, and the Service finds the species are 
adequately conserved by the amended MSHCP, take authorization for those 
species would become effective upon listing. Species may be added or 
deleted from the list of proposed covered species during the course of 
development of the MSHCP, based on further analysis, new information, 
agency consultation, and public comment. Numerous other listed and 
sensitive species for which Clark County, the Cities, and NDOT do not 
seek permit coverage may also benefit from the conservation measures to 
be included in the MSHCP through protection of similar or overlapping 
habitat conditions and ecosystem functions.
    The MSHCP Amendment planning area includes all of Clark County, 
which encompasses about 5 million acres. Approximately 87 percent of 
Clark County is Federally managed, 3 percent is managed by State and 
local governments, and 10 percent is privately owned.

Environmental Impact Statement

    An EIS will be prepared in compliance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) (NEPA). The EIS will 
consider the proposed action, the issuance of a section 10(a)(1)(B) 
permit amendment under the Act, No Action (no permit amendment), and a 
reasonable range of alternatives. A detailed description of the impacts 
of the proposed action and each alternative will be included in the 
    The proposed action and alternatives will be evaluated against the 
No Action alternative, which assumes that no changes or amendments will 
be made to the existing MSHCP and the existing permit will remain in 
effect. Several alternatives will be considered and analyzed, 
representing varying levels of conservation and impacts. The 
alternatives to be considered for analysis in the EIS may include: 
Variations in the scope of covered activities; variations in the 
location, amount, and type of conservation; variations in permit 
duration; or a combination of these elements. The EIS will also 
identify potentially significant direct, indirect, and cumulative 
impacts on biological resources, land use, air quality, water quality, 
water resources, socioeconomics, and other environmental issues that 
could occur with the implementation of the proposed actions and 
alternatives. For all potentially significant impacts, the EIS will 
identify avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures to reduce 
these impacts, where feasible, to a level below significance.

Public Comments

    The primary purpose of the scoping process is to identify important 
issues and alternatives raised by the public related to the proposed 
action. Written comments from interested parties are welcome to ensure 
that the full range of issues related to the permit request is 
identified. Comments will only be accepted in written form. You may 
submit written comments by mail or facsimile transmission (see 
ADDRESSES). 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.
    Review of the EIS will be conducted in accordance with the 
requirements of NEPA, Council on Environmental Quality Regulations (40 
CFR 1500-1508), the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 500 et 
seq.), other applicable regulations, and the Service's procedures for 
compliance with those regulations. This notice is being furnished in 
accordance with 40 CFR 1501.7 to obtain suggestions and information 
from other agencies and the public on the scope of issues and 
alternatives to be addressed in the EIS.

Reasonable Accommodation

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations to attend and participate 
in public meetings should contact Jeri Krueger (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT) as soon as possible. To allow sufficient time to 
process requests, please call no later than one week before the public 
meeting. Information regarding this

[[Page 50241]]

proposed action is available in alternative formats upon request.

Alexandra Pitts,
Pacific Southwest Region.
[FR Doc. E9-23556 Filed 9-29-09; 8:45 am]