[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 204 (Friday, October 21, 2011)]
[Pages 65527-65529]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-27266]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2011-N144; 80221-1112-81420-F2]

Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan for 
Yolo County, CA: Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent and notice of public meeting; request for 


SUMMARY: Under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, we, the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, advise the public that we intend to 
gather information necessary to prepare, in coordination with the Yolo 
County Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan 
Joint Powers Agency (Joint Powers Agency), a joint Environmental Impact 
Statement/Environmental Impact Report for the Yolo County Natural 
Heritage Program Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community 
Conservation Plan (Plan). This document is being prepared under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, and the California Natural 
Community Conservation Planning Act. The Joint Powers Agency and the 
local partners intend to apply for a 50-year incidental take permit 
from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. This permit is needed 
to authorize the incidental take of threatened and endangered species 
that could result from activities covered under the Plan. We announce 
meetings and invite comments.

DATES: We must receive written comments on or before December 5th, 
2011. Two public scoping meetings will be held on November 7th 2011, 
the first from 3 to 5 p.m., and the second from 6 to 8 p.m.

ADDRESSES: The public meetings will be held at the West Sacramento City 
Hall Galleria, 1110 West Capitol Avenue, West Sacramento, CA 95691. 
Submit written comments to Cori Mustin, Senior Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife 
Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825. Comments 
may alternatively be sent by facsimile to (916) 414-6713. In addition, 
a traveling information kiosk will be available to the public 
throughout the 45-day comment period. The kiosk will include a computer 
station, on which maps and related information will be available for 
viewing and comments can be submitted. For kiosk locations, dates, and 
times, see http://www.yoloconservationplan.org/kiosk/schedule.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cori Mustin, Senior Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, or Mike Thomas, Chief, Habitat Conservation Planning 
Division, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, by phone at (916) 414-
6600 or by U.S. mail at the above address.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Yolo County Habitat Conservation Plan/
Natural Community Conservation Plan Joint Powers Agency (Joint Powers 
Agency) is composed of members representing Yolo County; the cities of 
Davis, West Sacramento, Winters, and Woodland; and the University of 
California at Davis (local partners).
    The EIS will be a joint EIS/Environmental Impact Report (EIR), for 
which the Service, Joint Power Agency (JPA), and California Department 
of Fish and Game (CDFG), intend to gather information necessary for 
preparation. The Plan will be prepared to meet the requirements of 
section 10 of the Act and the Natural Community Conservation Planning 
(NCCP) Act. The Service will serve as the administrative lead for all 
actions related to this Federal Register notice for the EIS component 
of the EIS/EIR. The JPA will serve as the State lead agency under the 
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the EIR component.
    The Joint Powers Agency, in accordance with the California 
Environmental Quality Act, is publishing a similar notice.
    The Joint Powers Agency and the local partners intend to apply for 
a 50-year incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service. This permit is needed to authorize the incidental take of 
threatened and endangered species that could result from activities 
covered under the habitat conservation plan (Plan).
    The Fish and Wildlife Service provides this notice to (1) describe 
the proposed action and potential alternatives; (2) advise other 
Federal and State agencies, affected Tribes, and

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the public of our intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement/
Environmental Impact Report; (3) announce the initiation of a public 
scoping period; and (4) obtain suggestions and information on the scope 
of issues and alternatives to be included in the Environmental Impact 
Statement/Environmental Impact Report.


    The Plan is both a habitat conservation plan (HCP), intended to 
fulfill the requirements of the Act, and a natural community 
conservation plan, to fulfill the requirements of the NCCP Act. The 
Plan is being prepared under the combined efforts of Yolo County; the 
cities of Davis, West Sacramento, Winters, and Woodland; and the 
University of California at Davis, in coordination with the Service and 
    Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and Federal 
regulations prohibit the ``take'' of wildlife species listed as 
endangered or threatened. The Act defines the term ``take'' as: To 
harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or 
collect listed species, or to attempt to engage in such conduct (16 
U.S.C. 1532). Harm includes 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)]. Pursuant to 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 
otherwise lawful activity. Service regulations governing permits for 
threatened species and endangered species, respectively, are 
promulgated in 50 CFR sections 17.22 and 17.32.
    Section 10 of the Act specifies the requirements for the issuance 
of incidental take permits to non-Federal entities. Any proposed take 
must be incidental to otherwise lawful activities and cannot 
appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the 
species in the wild. The impacts of such take must also be minimized 
and mitigated to the maximum extent practicable. To obtain an 
incidental take permit, an applicant must prepare an HCP describing the 
impacts that will likely result from the proposed taking, measures for 
minimizing and mitigating the impacts of the take, funding available to 
implement such measures, alternatives to the taking, and reasons for 
not implementing the alternatives. Thus, the HCP sets forth a uniform 
and systematic conservation strategy that ensures that impacts to 
Covered Species and their habitats from activities covered by the HCP 
(Covered Activities) are minimized and mitigated to the maximum extent 
practicable. If a section 10 permit is issued, the permittee(s) would 
receive assurances for all plant and animal species covered by the HCP 
on non-Federal land and included on the permit under the Service's ``No 
Surprises'' regulation (50 CFR 17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5)).

Plan Area

    The plan area covers approximately 653,817 acres, which encompasses 
the entire extent of Yolo County. The boundary of the plan area is 
based on political, ecological, and hydrologic factors.

Covered Activities

    The proposed section 10 incidental take permit may allow take of 
wildlife Covered Species resulting from Covered Activities on non-
Federal land in the proposed plan area. The purpose of the Plan is to 
contribute to the conservation of Covered Species while streamlining 
endangered species permitting. The Joint Powers Agency and local 
partners intend to request incidental take authorization for Covered 
Species that could be affected by the following three general 
categories of Covered Activities: (1) Permanent development; (2) 
operation, maintenance, and other ongoing activities; and (3) 
implementation of the Plan's conservation strategy. Permanent 
development could include land conversion, public and private 
infrastructure, and new facilities associated with agricultural and 
livestock production. Examples of public infrastructure include, but 
are not limited to, roadways, bridges, utilities (i.e. natural gas), 
solar and wind power generation facilities, and water conveyance 
(including flood control). Operation, maintenance, and other ongoing 
activities could include operation and maintenance of permanent 
development described above as well as the operation and maintenance of 
recreational and mining facilities, and agricultural operations and 
processing. Implementation of the Plan's conservation strategy could 
include preservation, restoration, creation, enhancement, management, 
and monitoring activities.

Covered Species

    Covered Species are those species addressed in the proposed Plan 
for which conservation actions will be implemented and for which the 
Joint Powers Agency and local partners will seek incidental take 
authorizations for a period of up to 50 years. Proposed Covered Species 
are expected to include threatened and endangered species listed under 
the Act, species listed under the California Endangered Species Act, as 
well as currently unlisted species. Species proposed for coverage in 
the Plan are species that are currently listed as federally threatened 
or endangered or have the potential to become listed during the life of 
this Plan and have some likelihood to occur within the plan area. The 
Plan is currently expected to address 35 listed and nonlisted wildlife 
and plant species. The list of proposed Covered Species may change as 
the planning process progresses; species may be added or removed as 
more is learned about the nature of Covered Activities and their impact 
within the plan area.
    The following federally listed threatened and endangered wildlife 
species are proposed to be covered by the Plan: The endangered 
conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), threatened vernal 
pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi), endangered vernal pool tadpole 
shrimp (Lepidurus packardi), threatened valley elderberry longhorn 
beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus), threatened California tiger 
salamander (Central California Distinct Population Segment) (Ambystoma 
californiense), threatened California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii), 
threatened giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas), and endangered least 
Bell's vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus).
    The following unlisted wildlife species are proposed to be covered 
by the Plan: Midvalley fairy shrimp (Branchinecta mesovallensis), 
California linderiella (Linderiella occidentalis), western spadefoot 
toad (Spea hammondii), foothill yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii), 
western pond turtle (Clemmys marmorata), Swainson's hawk (Buteo 
swainsoni), northern harrier (Circus cyaneus), white-tailed kite 
(Elanus leucurus), mountain plover (Charadrius montanus), black tern 
(Chlidonias niger), western yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus), 
western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea), loggerhead shrike 
(Lanius ludovicianus), purple martin (Progne subis), bank swallow 
(Riparia riparia), yellow-breasted chat (Icteria virens), grasshopper 
sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum), tricolored blackbird (Agelaius 
tricolor), and Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii).
    Take of federally listed plant species is not prohibited on non-
Federal land under the Act, and authorization under

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a section 10 permit is not required. Section 9 of the Act does, 
however, prohibit the removal or malicious destruction of federally 
listed plants from areas under Federal jurisdiction and the removal or 
destruction of such plants in knowing violation of State law. In 
addition, section 7(a)(2) of the Act prohibits Federal agencies from 
jeopardizing the continued existence of any listed plant or animal 
species or destroying or adversely modifying the critical habitat of 
such species. The following federally listed plant species are proposed 
to be included in the Plan in recognition of the conservation benefits 
provided for them under the Plan and the assurances permit holders 
would receive if they are included on a permit: The endangered palmate-
bracted bird's-beak (Cordylanthus palmatus), threatened Colusa grass 
(Neostapfia colusana), and endangered Solano grass (Tuctoria 
mucronata). The following unlisted plant species are also proposed to 
be included in the Plan: alkali milkvetch (Astragalus tener var. 
tener), brittlescale (Atriplex depressa), San Joaquin spearscale 
(Atriplex joaquiniana), Heckard's pepper-grass (Lepidium latipes var. 
heckardii), and Baker's navarretia (Navarretia leucocephala ssp. 

Environmental Impact Statement

    Before deciding whether to issue the requested Federal incidental 
take permit, the Service will prepare a draft EIS as part of the EIS/
EIR, in order to analyze the environmental impacts associated with 
issuance of the incidental take permit. In the EIS component of the 
EIS/EIR, the Service will consider the following alternatives: (1) The 
proposed action, which includes the issuance of take authorizations 
consistent with the proposed Plan under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act; 
(2) no action (no permit issuance); and (3) a reasonable range of 
additional alternatives. The EIS/EIR will include a detailed analysis 
of the impacts of the proposed action and alternatives. The range of 
alternatives could include variations in impacts, conservation, permit 
duration, Covered Species, Covered Activities, permit area, or a 
combination of these elements.
    The EIS/EIR will identify and analyze potentially significant 
direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of our authorization of 
incidental take (permit issuance) and the implementation of the 
proposed Plan on biological resources, land uses, utilities, air 
quality, water resources, cultural resources, socioeconomics and 
environmental justice, recreation, aesthetics, climate change and 
greenhouse gases, and other environmental issues that could occur with 
implementation of each alternative. The Service will use all 
practicable means, consistent with NEPA and other essential 
considerations of national policy, to avoid or minimize significant 
effects of our actions on the quality of the human environment.

Reasonable Accommodation

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meetings should contact Cori Mustin at (916) 
414-6600 as soon as possible. In order to allow sufficient time to 
process requests, please call no later than one week before the public 
meeting. Information regarding this proposed action is available in 
alternative formats upon request.

Public 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.
    Material the Service receives will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours (Monday 
through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the Service's Sacramento 
address (see ADDRESSES).

    Authority: 40 CFR 1501.7.

Alexandra Pitts,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 2011-27266 Filed 10-20-11; 8:45 am]