[Federal Register: March 2, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 39)]
[Page 9101-9103]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-ES-2008-N0317]; [20124-1112-0000-F2]

Town of Marana Habitat Conservation Plan, Pima County, AZ

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: draft environmental impact statement 
and draft habitat conservation plan in support of an incidental take 
permit application.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have 
received an application from the Town of Marana (Applicant) for an 
incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 
(Act). The Applicant has been assigned permit number TE-204887-0. If 
approved, the permit would be for a period of 25 years, and would 
authorize incidental take of two species currently listed under the 
Act, and 11 species that may become listed under the Act in the future 
(collectively ``covered species''). The proposed incidental take would 
occur in Pima County, Arizona, as a result of impacts on covered 
species and occupied habitat from specified actions conducted under the 
authority of the Town of Marana. We request public comments on the 
application and associated documents, and announce our plan to hold 
public meetings.

DATES: Public meetings: We will accept oral and written comments at two 
public meetings, which we will hold on April 2, 2009, April 15, 2009, 
and April 16, 2009, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. We must receive any requests 
for additional public meetings, in writing, at the address shown in the 
ADDRESSES section by April 1, 2009.
    Comment-period end: To ensure consideration, we must receive any 
comments on or before May 1, 2009.

ADDRESSES: For where to review documents and submit comments, and 
public meeting locations, see ``Reviewing Documents and Submitting 

Tucson Suboffice, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 201 N. Bonita Ave., 
Suite 141, Tucson, AZ 85745; 520/670-6150 x 242.
    Application and Draft HCP: Ms. Jennifer Christelman or Ms. Janine 
Spencer, Town of Marana, 11555 W. Civic Center Dr., Marana, AZ 85653 or 
Mr. Colby Henley, RECON, 525 West Wetmore Road, Suite 111, Tucson, AZ 
85705. Information regarding the HCP can also be obtained on the 
Internet at http://www.marana.com/hcp.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA), we announce that we have gathered the information necessary to: 
(1) Determine the impacts and formulate alternatives for the EIS, 
related to the potential issuance of an ITP to the Applicant; and (2) 
approve the HCP, which provides measures to minimize and mitigate the 
effects of the proposed incidental take of federally listed species to 
the maximum extent practicable, pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).
    If we approve it, the 25-year permit would authorize the proposed 
incidental take of 13 covered species, including species currently 
listed under the Act, as well as species that may become listed under 
the Act in the future: (1) Lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris 
curasoae yerbabuenae); (2) Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax 
traillii extimus); (3) Yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus 
occidentalis); (4) Cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl (Glaucidium brasilianum 
cactorum); (5) Lowland leopard frog (Rana yavapaiensis); (6) Talus 
snails (Sonorella spp.); (7) Tucson shovel-nosed snake (Chionactis 
occipitalis klauberi); (8) Ground snake (Sonora semiannulata); (9) 
Sonoran desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii); (10) Merriam's mouse 
(Peromyscus merriami); (11) Mexican garter snake (Thamnophis eques 
megalops); (12) Burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia); and (13) Pale 
Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii).
    The proposed incidental take would occur within the Town of Marana 
in Pima County, Arizona, as a result of impacts from actions occurring 
under the authority of the Applicant. The Applicant has completed a 
draft HCP as part of the application package, as required by the Act. 
The application and associated documents provide measures to minimize 
and mitigate to the maximum extent practicable the effects of the 
proposed incidental take of covered species and effects to the

[[Page 9102]]

habitats upon which they depend. We have issued a draft EIS to evaluate 
the impacts of and alternatives for the possible issuance of an ITP.


    The Town of Marana in southern Arizona, including its recent 
annexation of 21,500 acres of State Trust lands along the Tortolita 
Fan, contains unique natural resource values within much of its 
undeveloped lands, including ironwood-dominated Arizona Upland and 
xeroriparian plant communities along the bajadas (fans) and slopes of 
the Tortolita Mountains and portions of the Santa Cruz River Corridor. 
One of the fastest growing communities in Arizona, the town recognizes 
the need to provide a solid economic base and desirable quality of life 
for its citizens. Subsequently, town leaders have acknowledged the need 
to balance economic, environmental, and human interests by implementing 
a community-wide conservation planning effort. The overall goals of 
this conservation planning effort are to: (1) Identify Federal, State 
Trust, County, and private lands that merit inclusion within a 
scientifically based conservation reserve designed to provide long-term 
protection for multiple species of concern and key natural communities; 
(2) identify appropriate mechanisms to best conserve these lands over 
the long-term; (3) provide for regional economic objectives, including 
the orderly and efficient development of certain private and State 
Trust lands and associated public and private infrastructure; (4) 
contribute to regional conservation planning efforts in eastern Pima 
County; and (5) facilitate compliance with the Act's Section 
10(a)(1)(B) permit requirements.

Purpose and Need for Action

    The purpose for which we prepared the draft EIS is to respond to 
the Applicant's request for an ITP for the proposed covered species 
related to activities that have the potential to result in incidental 
take. The Applicant's proposed HCP will balance the protection and 
conservation of the Town of Marana's unique natural resources with 
ongoing economic development and urbanization. The Applicant recognizes 
that the quality of life of its citizens is dependent upon an 
integrated environment which balances the needs of listed species and 
their habitats with human needs. The HCP will protect and conserve the 
covered species and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the 
people of the United States and provide a means and take steps to 
conserve the ecosystems depended on by the covered species. The HCP 
will ensure the long-term survival of the covered species through 
protection and management of the species and their habitats and ensure 
compliance with the Act, NEPA, and other applicable laws and 
regulations, pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act and its 
implementing regulations and policies.
    The need for this action is based on the potential that activities 
proposed by the Applicant on lands under their jurisdiction could 
result in the incidental take of covered species, thus requiring an 
ITP. Section 9 of the Act prohibits the ``taking'' of threatened and 
endangered species. However, we are authorized, under limited 
circumstances, to issue permits to take federally listed species, when 
such a taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise 
lawful activities. Regulations governing permits for endangered and 
threatened species are in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 50 
CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively. The term ``take'' under the Act 
means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, 
or collect endangered and threatened species, or to attempt to engage 
in any such conduct. Our regulations define ``harm'' as significant 
habitat modification or degradation that results in death or injury to 
listed species by significantly impairing essential behavioral 
patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). The 
proposed ITP would allow approved incidental take that is consistent 
with the conservation guidelines in the Applicant's HCP. The 
development and implementation of the HCP will ensure that the 
Applicant meets the provisions for issuance of the ITP.

Proposed Action

    The requested duration of the ITP is 25 years. The areas covered by 
the proposed ITP include those areas within the boundaries of the Town 
of Marana, approximately 76,500 acres. Activities proposed for coverage 
under the ITP include lawful activities that would occur consistent 
with Marana's General Plan and include, but are not limited to, 
maintenance of Marana operations, implementation of capital improvement 
projects, and issuance of land-use related permits, including those for 
residential and commercial development. Specific covered activities 
include road construction, public water infrastructure, parks and 
trails, airport infrastructure, and residential/commercial/industrial 
    The proposed action is the issuance of an ITP for listed and 
sensitive species within the Town of Marana in Pima County, Arizona, 
under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. Incidental take anticipated under 
this ITP application is species and location specific, but may include 
direct take of individuals, as well as take in the form of habitat loss 
or modification. Habitat impacts for covered species range from 
approximately 100 acres for riparian species to approximately 8,000 
acres for species using upland Sonoran desertscrub. The Applicant will 
develop and implement the HCP, as required by section 10(a)(2)(A) of 
the Act. The HCP will provide measures to minimize and mitigate the 
effects of the proposed incidental take on listed and sensitive species 
and their habitats. The biological goal of the HCP is to provide long-
term protection for multiple species of concern and key natural 
communities through maintaining or improving the habitat conditions and 
ecosystem functions necessary for their survival and to ensure that any 
incidental take of listed species will not appreciably reduce the 
likelihood of the survival and recovery of those species. Mitigation 
measures include conservation of undisturbed open space, species 
surveys, habitat restoration, and implementation of conservation 
guidelines for all types of development and capital improvement 


    Three alternatives were considered in the development of the draft 
EIS and draft HCP:
    1. No Action/No Permit Alternative--No issuance of an ITP by the 
Service. This alternative would require the Applicant to evaluate each 
project or action on a case-by-case basis to address issues under the 
Act and avoid take of federally listed species. This alternative is the 
baseline against which the effects of the other alternatives are 
    2. Town Projects and Actions Only--This alternative would seek ITP 
coverage for only the Applicant's own actions. Covered activities would 
only include the Town of Marana's public works and capital improvement 
projects. Private actions could be covered only through voluntary 
adoption of the HCP.
    3. Town Actions, Discretionary Private Actions, and Voluntary 
Inclusion--This alternative is the proposed action for which the 
Applicant is seeking coverage through an ITP. Town actions and projects 
would be covered, as well as private actions where the Town maintains 
discretionary authority for approval. As in Alternative 2, private 
actions not subject to discretionary approval could

[[Page 9103]]

also be covered through voluntary inclusion.

Reviewing Documents and Submitting Comments

    Please refer to TE-204887-0-0 when requesting documents or 
submitting comments.
    Persons wishing to review the application, draft Habitat 
Conservation Plan (HCP), and draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) 
may obtain copies by calling or faxing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service Tucson Suboffice, 201 N. Bonita Ave, Suite 141, Tucson, AZ 
85745 (520/670-6144, voice; 520/670-6155, fax). The application, draft 
HCP, and draft EIS will also be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the 
Tucson office. During the public comment period (see DATES), submit 
your written comments or data to the Assistant Field Supervisor at the 
Tucson address. Comments will also be accepted by fax at the fax number 
above, as well as by e-mail to scott_richardson@fws.gov.
    Public comments submitted are available for public review at the 
Tucson address listed above. This generally means that any personal 
information you provide us will be available to anyone reviewing the 
public comments (see the Public Availability of Comments section below 
for more information).
    Read-only downloadable copies of the application, draft HCP, and 
draft EIS are available on the internet at http://www.fws.gov/
southwest/es/arizona and http://www.marana.com. A printed or CD copy of 
these documents is available upon request to Ms. Janine Spencer, Town 
of Marana, 11555 W. Civic Center Dr., Marana, AZ 85653; (520) 382-2600; 
jspencer@marana.com. Copies of the application, draft HCP, and draft 
EIS are also available for public inspection and review at the 
locations listed below (by appointment only at government offices):
     U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 201 N. Bonita Ave., Suite 
141, Tucson, AZ 85745;
     U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, 
Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021;
     Nanini Public Library, 7300 N. Shannon Road, Tucson, AZ 
     Pima County Main Library, 101 North Stone Ave., Tucson, AZ 
     Marana Branch Library, 13370 North Lon Adams Road, Marana, 
AZ 85653; and
     Oro Valley Public Library, 1305 West Naranja Drive, Oro 
Valley, AZ 85737.

Public Meetings

    Three public meetings will take place, on April 2, 2009, at the 
Marana Municipal Complex, 11555 W. Civic Center Dr., Marana, AZ 85653, 
from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., on April 15, 2009, at the Wheeler Taft-Abbett 
Sr. Library, 7800 N. Schisler Drive, Tucson, AZ 86743, from 6 p.m. to 8 
p.m., and on April 16, 2009, at the Heritage Highlands Clubhouse 
Ballroom, 4949 W. Heritage Club Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85658, from 6 p.m. to 
8 pm.

Public Availability of Comments

    Written comments we receive become part of the public record 
associated with this action. Before including your address, phone 
number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in 
your comment, you should be aware that the 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.


    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22) and NEPA 
(42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 

Thomas L. Bauer,
Acting Regional Director, Region 2, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. E9-4319 Filed 2-27-09; 8:45 am]