[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 235 (Wednesday, December 7, 2011)]
[Pages 76432-76434]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-31427]



Fish and Wildlife Service


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Incidental Take 
Permit Application; Habitat Conservation Plan and Associated Documents; 
Meteorological Towers, Lanai, HI

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received 
an application from Castle and Cooke Resorts, LLC (applicant) to renew 
the incidental take permit number TE194350-0, associated with an 
existing habitat conservation plan (HCP), under the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). We request public comment on the permit 
renewal application and HCP, as well as on our preliminary 
determination that the action is covered under the environmental 
assessment completed for the initial permit issuance.

[[Page 76433]]

DATES: All comments from interested parties must be received on or 
before January 6, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments to Loyal Mehrhoff, Project 
Leader, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Honolulu, HI 
96850. You may also send comments by facsimile to (808) 792-9580.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Standley, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES above), 
telephone (808) 792-9400.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The applicant is requesting a six-year 
extension of an incidental take permit for incidental take of the 
endangered Hawaiian petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis), endangered 
Hawaiian stilt (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni), endangered Hawaiian 
hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus), and the threatened Newell's 
(Townsend's) shearwater (Puffinus auricularis newelli) on the island of 
Lanai, Hawaii. The applicant remains in compliance with all of the 
conditions and authorizations in the original permit and no take has 
been documented to date. The applicant is also applying to the Hawaii 
Department of Land and Natural Resources to extend their State 
incidental take license.

Availability of Documents

    You may request copies of the permit application, which includes 
the application and the original HCP, by contacting the Service's 
Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT above). The original HCP and environmental assessment are also 
available electronically for review on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office Web site at http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands.
    Comments and materials we receive will become part of the public 
record and will be available for public inspection by appointment, 
during regular business hours. Before including your address, phone 
number, email 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.


    Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1538) and Federal regulations 
prohibit the ``take'' of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered 
or threatened. 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. However, under section 10(a) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 
1539(a)), we may issue permits to authorize incidental take of listed 
fish and wildlife species. Incidental take is defined by the ESA as 
take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an 
otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing incidental take 
permits for threatened and endangered species are found at 50 CFR 17.32 
and 17.22. If the incidental take permit is renewed, the applicant 
would receive assurances under the Service's ``No Surprises'' 
regulations at 50 CFR 17.32(b)(5) and 50 CFR 17.22(b)(5).
    On September 26, 2008, we issued an incidental take permit to the 
applicant for incidental take of the endangered Hawaiian petrel, 
endangered Hawaiian stilt, endangered Hawaiian hoary bat, and the 
threatened Newell's (Townsend's) shearwater, pursuant to section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. As required by section 10(a)(2)(A) of the ESA, 
the applicant has an existing HCP designed to minimize and mitigate any 
such take of the covered species caused by the construction and 
operation of up to seven meteorological towers on the island of Lanai. 
The applicant constructed six of the seven meteorological towers that 
were covered under the incidental take permit on private land that they 
own. The meteorological towers are used to collect data on wind 
patterns. The data are being used to assess the suitability of the 
project site's wind regime to sustain a wind-turbine facility for 
electrical energy production. Each meteorological tower is 165-feet 
(50-meters) tall and each rests on a steel base plate approximately 9 
square feet (0.8 square meter) in size. Each tower is supported with 
aircraft cable guy wires in four directions at each of six guy levels. 
The guy wire radius is 100 feet to 110 feet (30.5 to 33.5 meters). The 
guy wires are anchored with standard dead-man type anchors to a depth 
of 5 to 8 feet (1.5 to 2.4 meters). No listed species are known to 
inhabit the area in the immediate vicinity of the tower locations; 
however, incidental take may occur if individual birds or bats flying 
through the project site air space collide with the towers and guy 
    Because of the uncertainty regarding the likelihood that listed 
species would collide with the meteorological towers and guy wires, the 
HCP established two tiers of mitigation that would be based on the take 
detected. The mitigation measures to offset the first tier of 
authorized take have been completed, and to date, no take of any listed 
species has been documented during the required monitoring program. The 
HCP included additional mitigation measures that would only be 
implemented should the first tier of take be exceeded. The completed 
mitigation included conducting predator control for a period of 2 years 
within the island's Hawaiian petrel colony, Newell's shearwater nesting 
habitat, and hoary bat habitat; conducting predator control for 2 years 
at the island's wastewater treatment plant, where Hawaiian stilts nest; 
and removing invasive plants, primarily strawberry guava (Psidium 
cattleianum), to facilitate the re-establishment of native vegetation 
within 3 acres of forest habitat adjacent to the Hawaiian petrel colony 
and within Newell's shearwater and hoary bat habitat.
    During the implementation of the HCP, the applicant demonstrated 
that it was possible to manage the vegetation at meteorological tower 
sites such that searchers have a high probability of detecting any 
wildlife carcasses present and that carcasses were not being removed 
from the sites by scavengers. Therefore, the Service approved the 
modification of the monitoring protocol such that surveys were 
conducted every 30 days rather than 10 days, provided the vegetation 
was managed and carcass removal rates did not increase.
    Prior to the expiration of the incidental take permit in March 
2010, the applicant requested that the permit be extended for 6 years 
(through March 1, 2016). In accordance with regulations at 50 CFR 
13.22(c), the applicant may continue the activities authorized by the 
expired permit until the Service has acted on the application for 
renewal. While the applicant has since removed five of the six towers 
originally constructed, the incidental take permit extension would 
cover the operation of all seven towers so that the applicant could 
reinstall and operate the meteorological towers without further 
amending the incidental take permit should additional wind data be 
needed. The applicant agreed to extend their Memorandum of 
Understanding with the State of Hawaii, which implemented the 
mitigation measures on behalf of the applicant, to ensure that the 
State continues to have access to manage and monitor the mitigation 
site for the full term of the incidental take permit. The

[[Page 76434]]

applicant also extended a Performance Bond secured to fund additional 
mitigation should it be required.

Preliminary Determination

    The Service has made a preliminary determination that the 
Biological Opinion, Environmental Assessment, Finding of No Significant 
Impact, and Set of Findings that were previously approved in support of 
issuance of the original incidental take permit do not require revision 
because there is no new information relating to the impacts of this 
action, no additional impacts expected beyond those originally 
assessed, the required mitigation actions have been implemented 
pursuant to the existing HCP, and no incidental take has been 


    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). The public 
process for the proposed Federal action will be completed after the 
public comment period, at which time we will evaluate the permit 
renewal application and comments submitted thereon to determine whether 
the application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA, 
applicable regulations, and NEPA requirements. If we determine that 
those requirements are met, we will renew the incidental take permit.

    Dated: October 28, 2011.
Richard R. Hannan,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Region, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2011-31427 Filed 12-6-11; 8:45 am]