[Federal Register: March 19, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 53)]
[Page 13297-13299]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2010-N003; 80221-1112-0000-F2]

Southeastern Lincoln County Habitat Conservation Plan, Lincoln 
County, NV

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

[[Page 13298]]

ACTION: Notice of availability: final environmental impact statement 
and habitat conservation plan.


SUMMARY: Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), we, the 
Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), advise the public of the 
availability of the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the 
applications from Lincoln County, City of Caliente, and Union Pacific 
Railroad (UPRR) for three section 10(a)(1)(B) incidental take permits 
under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act).
    We also announce the availability of the Southeastern Lincoln 
County Habitat Conservation Plan (SLCHCP), which the three applicants 
have submitted with their incidental take permit applications and 
Implementing Agreement (IA). If issued, the permits would authorize 
incidental take of the threatened desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) 
and the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii 
extimus). The permits are needed because incidental take of these 
listed species could occur during proposed land development activities 
(including land use conversion from agriculture or grazing to urban 
development), flood control activities (within the City of Caliente), 
maintenance of Lincoln County roads and right-of-ways, UPRR activities, 
and/or conversion of grazing land to irrigated/cultivated agricultural 
land, on approximately 31,000 acres of private and local government 
property in southeastern Lincoln County, Nevada.

DATES: A Record of Decision will be signed no sooner than 30 days after 
the publication of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notice of 
the Final EIS in the Federal Register. We must receive any comments by 
5 p.m. on April 15, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments to Robert D. Williams, State Supervisor, by 
U.S. mail at Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 4701 N. Torrey Pines 
Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89130; by telephone at (702) 515-5230; or by fax 
at (702) 515-5231.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeri Krueger, Habitat Conservation 
Planning Coordinator, at the address or telephone or fax numbers above.


Availability of Documents

    You may download copies of the SLCHCP, EIS, and IA from the Nevada 
Fish and Wildlife Office Web site at: http://www.fws.gov/nevada/es/
hcp.html. Alternatively, you may contact us by telephone or visit 
during regular business hours to ask us how to obtain copies (see FOR 
    In addition, copies of all documents are available at the following 
library locations:
    (1) Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 
89119; (702) 507-3400;
    (2) Washoe County Library, Downtown Main Branch, 301 South Center 
Street, Reno, NV 89501; (775) 327-8300;
    (3) Mesquite Library, 121 West First North Street, Mesquite, NV 
89027; (702) 346-5224;
    (4) Alamo Branch Library, 100 N. First Street, Alamo, NV 89001; 
(775) 725-3343;
    (5) Lincoln County Library, 100 Depot Avenue, Caliente, NV 89008; 
(775) 726-3104; and
    (6) Lincoln County Library, 63 Main Street, Pioche, NV 89043; (775) 


    Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and Federal 
regulations prohibit the ``take'' of fish and wildlife species listed 
as endangered or threatened (16 U.S.C. 1538(a)(1)(B)). The term 
``take'' means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct (16 
U.S.C. 1532 (19)). We have further defined ``harm'' to mean significant 
habitat modification or degradation that actually kills or injures 
listed wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral 
patterns, including breeding, feeding, and sheltering (50 CFR 17.3(c)). 
Under limited circumstances, we may issue permits to authorize 
incidental take of listed fish or wildlife (i.e., ``take'' that is 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activity). 
Regulations governing incidental take permits for threatened and 
endangered species are found in 50 CFR 17.32 and 17.22, respectively. 
If we issue permits, the applicants would receive assurances for all 
species covered by the permits in accordance with our ``No Surprises'' 
regulations at 50 CFR 17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5) for all species 
covered by the permits.
    The EIS analyzes the impacts of the proposed implementation of the 
SLCHCP by the applicants. The applicants are seeking permits for the 
incidental take of desert tortoise and southwestern willow flycatcher 
for a term of 30 years. Incidental take of these species may occur on 
approximately 31,000 acres of habitat for the tortoise and the 
flycatcher within the SLCHCP planning area (covered area). The covered 
activities may result in the loss of up to 20,000 acres of desert 
tortoise habitat and up to 85 acres of southwestern willow flycatcher 
habitat during the term of the permit. The covered area includes the 
non-Federal lands on which the covered activities would occur, and 
Federal lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on 
which most of the mitigation would occur. The BLM, as a participant in 
the SLCHCP, would be responsible for reviewing and, if appropriate, 
authorizing the implementation of mitigation measures on BLM-
administered land.
    Proposed covered activities include: (1) Planned land development 
and maintenance activities (including land use conversion from 
agriculture or grazing to urban development), (2) utility and 
infrastructure development and maintenance activities, (3) flood 
control activities within the City of Caliente, (4) Lincoln County 
roadway construction and maintenance activities, (5) UPRR activities, 
and (6) land conversion activities (e.g., conversion of grazing land to 
irrigated/cultivated agricultural land).
    The SLCHCP's proposed conservation strategy is designed to minimize 
and mitigate the impacts of incidental take of the covered species 
resulting from covered activities, to maintain stable or increasing 
desert tortoise populations in the covered area, and to achieve no net 
loss of suitable southwestern willow flycatcher habitat within the 
covered area. The SLCHCP provides a mechanism to supply funding for a 
full range of conservation measures targeting desert tortoise, 
southwestern willow flycatcher, and the ecosystems that support them. 
Conservation measures proposed for the desert tortoise as part of the 
SLCHCP include pre-construction surveys, initiating and sustaining a 
desert tortoise ``Head Start'' program, translocation of desert 
tortoises, research on the ecological implications of fire to species' 
habitats, restoration of burned desert tortoise habitat areas, and 
public outreach and education. To minimize and mitigate the loss of 
suitable flycatcher habitat along the Meadow Valley Wash and Clover 
Creek resulting from the covered activities, UPRR and the City of 
Caliente will provide the funding necessary to create additional 
suitable flycatcher habitat or enhance the functional value of 
potentially suitable existing flycatcher habitat at a ratio of 2 acres 
for every 1 acre of native habitat removed, or at a ratio of 1 acre for 
every acre of non-native habitat removed. Private landowners with 
property located along these two waterways may volunteer to participate 
in the SLCHCP by signing a participation agreement provided by

[[Page 13299]]

Lincoln County that would extend take authorization under Lincoln 
County's permit to the participating landowner, provided the landowner 
agrees to implement the minimization and mitigation measures in the 

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    Our proposal to issue incidental take permits is a Federal action 
that triggers the need for compliance with NEPA. Accordingly, as the 
Federal agency responsible for compliance under NEPA, we have prepared 
an EIS that analyzes alternatives associated with issuance of the 
incidental take permits. In addition to the permit issuance 
alternative, other alternatives we considered in the EIS include the 
``No Action'' alternative (we would not issue the incidental take 
permits, ``take'' of the desert tortoise and southwestern willow 
flycatcher would not be authorized, and the SLCHCP would not be 
implemented), and ``Alternative A, Additional Lands for Development'' 
(we would issue incidental take permits for development and associated 
activities on up to 44,135 acres of private lands within the covered 
area as well as BLM land proposed for disposal over the next 30 years 
in the southeastern portion of Lincoln County).
    The final EIS includes all comments we received on the draft EIS 
and our responses to those comments. After the 30-day waiting period, 
we will complete a Record of Decision that announces our decision on 
the action that will be implemented and discusses all factors leading 
to the decision.

Public Involvement

    We published a notice of intent to prepare an EIS for this project 
in the Federal Register on July 5, 2001 (66 FR 35451), and held public 
workshops on June 25 and 26, 2001, in Alamo and Caliente. We held 
additional public workshops on July 5 and 6, 2006, in Caliente, Alamo, 
and Mesquite to update members of the public on the status of the 
SLCHCP. On December 5, 2008, we published a notice of availability of 
the draft SLCHCP, draft EIS, and draft IA in the Federal Register (73 
FR 74185). The draft documents were available for a 75-day public 
comment period ending on February 11, 2009.

Public Review

    Copies of the final EIS, SLCHCP, and IA are available for review 
(see Availability of Documents). Any comments we receive will become 
part of the administrative record and may be available to the public. 
Before submitting comments that include your address, phone number, e-
mail address, or other personal identifying information, 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.
    We will evaluate the applications, associated documents, and 
comments submitted to determine whether the applications meet the 
requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. A permit decision will be 
made no sooner than 30 days after the publication of the EPA's final 
EIS notice in the Federal Register and completion of the Record of 

Ken McDermond,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, 
 [FR Doc. 2010-5629 Filed 3-18-10; 8:45 am]