[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 141 (Friday, July 22, 2011)]
[Pages 44036-44038]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-18509]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2011-N143; 1112-0000-81420-F2]

Proposed Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the California 
Tiger Salamander, AT&T Portable Generator Storage Facility, Yolo 
County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comment.


SUMMARY: We, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have received an 
application from the AT&T Services, Inc. (applicant) for a 10-year 
incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act). The application addresses the potential for ``take'' of 
one Federally listed animal, the California tiger salamander. The 
applicant would implement a conservation program to minimize and 
mitigate the project activities, as described in applicant's low-effect 
habitat conservation plan (Plan). We request comments on the 
applicant's application and plan, and the preliminary determination 
that the plan qualifies as a ``low-effect'' habitat conservation plan, 
eligible for a Categorical Exclusion under the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA). We discuss our basis for this 
determination in our environmental action statement (EAS), also 
available for public review.

DATES: We must receive written comments on or before August 22, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments to Jason Hanni, Fish and 
Wildlife Biologist, Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825. 
Alternatively, you may send comments by facsimile to (916) 414-6713.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Thomas, Chief, Conservation 
Planning Division, or Eric Tattersall, Deputy Assistant Field 
Supervisor/Division Chief, Conservation Planning and Recovery, at the 
address shown above or at (916) 414-6600 (telephone).


Availability of Documents

    You may obtain copies of the permit application, plan, and EAS from 
the individuals in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Copies of these 
documents are available for public inspection, by appointment, during 
regular business hours, at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (see 

Public Availability of Comments

    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.

Background Information

    Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and its implementing 
Federal regulations prohibit the ``take'' of fish or wildlife species 
listed as endangered or threatened. ``Take'' is defined under the Act 
to include the following activities: To harass, harm, pursue, hunt, 
shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect listed animal species, or 
to attempt to engage in such conduct. However, under section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Act, we may 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 

[[Page 44037]]

lawful activity. Regulations governing incidental take permits for 
endangered and threatened species, respectively, are in the Code of 
Federal Regulations (CFR) at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32. All species 
included in the incidental take permit would receive assurances under 
our ``No Surprises'' regulations (50 CFR 17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5)).
    The applicant seeks an incident take permit for indirect effects 
within 1.57 acres (1.24 acres permanent, plus 0.33 acres temporary) of 
grasslands associated with the construction of a portable generator 
storage facility located at 26120 County Road 6, Dunnigan, CA 95937, in 
Yolo County, California. AT&T would permanently convert 1.24 acres of 
upland grassland habitat for the California tiger salamander into a new 
storage facility for portable generators within the undeveloped portion 
of a 45-acre parcel. The Applicant currently owns and manages the 45-
acre parcel, including an existing cellular communications facility. 
The applicant is requesting a permit for take of one animal species 
Federally listed as threatened: The Central Distinct Population Segment 
(DPS) of the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) 
(salamander, or ``Covered Species'').
    The following action is proposed as the ``Covered Activities'' 
under the plan: Construction of the portable generator storage facility 
in order to store portable generators. The storage facility consists of 
a metal building, with approximate dimensions of 100 feet 6 inches by 
251 feet, immediately north and adjacent to the existing paved surface, 
to allow on-site storage of 50 portable 40-kw diesel generators and 175 
portable 5-kw diesel generators. These 225 generators would be stored 
on trailers, but would not be connected to a power source. The 
building, which would have an east-west orientation, would include 
vertical support columns spaced 25 feet apart on center along the 251-
foot dimension and at each corner, to support the roof. There would be 
open sidewalls to allow trailers to be easily moved in and out by 
forklifts or similar equipment. A 45-foot-wide asphalt driveway would 
surround the building on all four sides to provide access to the 
building by forklifts. The storage facility would be located within a 
45-acre parcel along side an existing telecommunications facility. The 
existing telecommunications facility occupies approximately 9 acres and 
includes several concrete buildings surrounded by a paved asphalt 
parking lot, storm water detention ponds, and an existing 
telecommunications array. The undeveloped portion of the 45-acre parcel 
(approximately 36 acres) consists mainly of disturbed annual grassland 
that is currently used for grazing. Three adult salamanders were 
observed on the developed portion of the AT&T facility on October 25 
and 29, 2010. In addition, several salamander larvae were observed in 
the seasonal wetland, west of the developed portion of the project 
site, on April 15 and 30, 2011.
    The applicant proposes to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the effects 
to the Covered Species associated with the Covered Activities by fully 
implementing the Plan. The following mitigation measures will be 
     Purchase of 3.72 upland salamander credits at a Service-
approved conservation bank;
     Installation of exclusion fencing during the winter of 
2011 with regular monitoring;
     Relocation of any salamanders trapped within the work zone 
to a safe area outside the development area;
     Mowing of all grassland vegetation within the project 
footprint prior to any grading, in order to uncover potential burrows 
that may be in use by salamanders;
     Survey of all potential burrows and crevices within the 
construction footprint, and hand excavation of any salamanders observed 
within these burrows;
     Environmental awareness training to all workers;
     Prohibition of night construction activities;
     Restricted speed limits on the main access road to less 
than 15 miles per hour during the salamander migration season;
     Implementation of standard erosion-control measures around 
seasonal wetlands down slope of the construction site; and
     Presence of an available qualified individual on site 
during the initial stages of construction and earthmoving activities to 
handle and relocate salamanders if any are found.


    Our proposed action is approving the applicant's plan and issuing 
an incidental take permit for the applicant's Covered Activities. As 
required by the Act, the applicant's plan considers alternatives to the 
take under the proposed action. The plan considers the environmental 
consequences of three alternatives to the proposed action: A No Action 
alternative, an Alternative Configuration Alternative, and an Off-Site 
    Under the No Action Alternative, we would not issue a permit, and 
the emergency generator storage facility would not be constructed. The 
proposed building site would remain undeveloped, although it lies 
immediately adjacent to the developed portion of the existing facility. 
AT&T would not be able to store all needed portable generators at this 
facility, which would result in delays in restoring telecommunications 
systems following a disaster. For these reasons, the No-Action 
Alternative has been rejected.
    The Alternative Configuration Alternative would have involved 
approximately 600 cubic yards (cy) of cut and 6,200 cy of fill, 
requiring the import of 5,600 cy of soil. This alternative would have 
resulted in greater impacts to the salamander over the Proposed Action, 
and was therefore rejected.
    Under the Off-Site Alternative, AT&T considered construction of the 
storage facility at three other sites in northern California. These 
include sites in Rocklin, Manteca, and Richmond, California. Both the 
Rocklin and Manteca sites were rejected due to the presence of other 
Federally listed species, including vernal pool fairy shrimp 
(Branchinecta lynchi) and California red legged frog (Rana draytonii), 
which have more restricted ranges than the salamander. AT&T had 
previously proposed plans for a fleet yard on the Richmond property; 
however, these were denied by local agencies due to noise and traffic 
concerns, making it likely that the Proposed Action would also be 
rejected. In addition, the Richmond site is not as centrally located as 
the Dunnigan property. For these reasons the Off-Site Alternative was 
    Under the proposed action alternative, we would issue an incidental 
take permit for the applicant's proposed project, which includes the 
activities described above and in more detail in the Plan. The proposed 
project is expected to result in the permanent loss of 1.24 acres of 
upland grassland habitat and temporary loss of 0.33 acres of grassland 
habitat for the California tiger salamander. To mitigate these effects, 
the applicant proposes to purchase 3.72 upland salamander credits at a 
Service-approved conservation bank.

National Environmental Policy Act

    As described in our EAS, we have made the preliminary determination 
that approval of the proposed plan and issuance of the permit would 
qualify as a categorical exclusion under NEPA (42

[[Page 44038]]

U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), as provided by Federal regulations (40 CFR Part 
1500, 5(k), 1507.3(b)(2), 1508.4) and the Department of the Interior 
Manual (516 DM 2 and 516 DM 8). Our EAS found that the proposed plan 
qualifies as a ``low-effect'' habitat conservation plan, as defined by 
our Habitat Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996). 
Determination of low-effect habitat conservation plans is based on the 
following three criteria: (1) Implementation of the proposed plan would 
result in minor or negligible effects on Federally listed, proposed, 
and candidate species and their habitats; (2) implementation of the 
proposed plan would result in minor or negligible effects on other 
environmental values or resources; and (3) impacts of the plan, 
considered together with the impacts of other past, present, and 
reasonably foreseeable similarly situated projects, would not result, 
over time, in cumulative effects to environmental values or resources 
that would be considered significant. Based upon the preliminary 
determinations in the EAS, we do not intend to prepare further NEPA 
documentation. We will consider public comments when making the final 
determination on whether to prepare an additional NEPA document on the 
proposed action.

Public Review

    We provide this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act and the 
NEPA public-involvement regulations (40 CFR 1500.1(b), 1500.2(d), and 
1506.6). We will evaluate the permit application, including the plan 
and comments we receive, to determine whether the application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. If the requirements are met, 
we will issue a permit to the applicant for the incidental take of the 
Central Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the California tiger 
salamander from the implementation of the Covered Activities described 
in the Low-effect Habitat Conservation Plan, for the California tiger 
salamander, for the AT&T Portable Generator Storage Facility, Yolo 
County, California. We will make the final permit decision no sooner 
than 30 days after the date of this notice.

    Dated: July 15, 2011.
Susan K. Moore,
Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 2011-18509 Filed 7-21-11; 8:45 am]