[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 61 (Wednesday, March 30, 2011)]
[Pages 17664-17666]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-7426]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2011-N038; 1112-0000-81440-F2]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permits, City of 
Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have 
received applications from the County of Santa Cruz (County) and the 
City of Scotts Valley (City) (applicants) for incidental take permits 
under section the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We 
are considering issuing permits that would authorize the applicants' 
take of the Federally endangered Mount Hermon June beetle (Polyphylla 
barbata) incidental to otherwise lawful activities that would result in 
the permanent loss of 139 acres of habitat for the species in Santa 
Cruz County, California. The permits would also include the Federally 
endangered Ben Lomond spineflower (Chorizanthe pungens var. 
hartwegiana) as a covered species. We invite comments from the public 
on the applications, which include an Interim Programmatic Habitat 
Conservation Plan (IPHCP) and an Implementing Agreement (IA) that 
describe the proposed project and measures the applicants would 
undertake to minimize and mitigate anticipated take of the species. We 
also invite comments from the public on the draft environmental 
assessment (EA) prepared to comply with the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA).

DATES: Please send your written comments by May 31, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments to Diane K. Noda, Field 
Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003. You may 
alternatively send comments by facsimile to (805) 644-3958.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jen Lechuga, HCP Coordinator, 2493 
Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003, or by telephone at (805) 644-
1766, extension 224.


Availability of Documents

    You may download a copy of the IPHCP, IAs and related documents on 
the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/ventura/, or you may request 

[[Page 17665]]

by U.S. mail or phone. Individuals wishing copies of the Draft IPHCP, 
Draft EA, and/or Draft IAs, should contact the Service by telephone 


    The Service designated the Ben Lomond spineflower and Mount Hermon 
June beetle as Federally endangered in 1994 and 1997, respectively, 
under the Act (59 FR 5499, February 4, 1994; 62 FR 3616, January 24, 
1997). Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and our 
implementing Federal regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations 
(CFR) at 50 CFR part 17 prohibit the ``take'' of fish or wildlife 
species listed as endangered or threatened. Take of listed fish or 
wildlife is defined under the Act as ``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). However, under limited 
circumstances, we issue permits to authorize incidental take (i.e., 
take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, the carrying out of 
an otherwise lawful activity). Regulations governing incidental take 
permits for threatened and endangered species are at 50 CFR 17.32 and 
17.22, respectively. The Act's take prohibitions do not apply to 
Federally listed plants on private lands. In addition to meeting other 
permit issuance criteria, the applicant's proposed covered activities 
must not jeopardize the existence of Federally listed fish, wildlife, 
or plants.

Project Location

    The Project is located on soils known as Zayante sands. These soils 
support the Zayante sandhills ecosystem, which occurs exclusively in 
the Santa Cruz Mountains near the City of Scotts Valley and the 
communities of Ben Lomond, Mount Hermon, Felton, Olympia, Corralitos, 
and Bonny Doon. The Mount Hermon June beetle is restricted to Zayante 
sands soils in the Scotts Valley-Mount Hermon-Felton-Ben Lomond area 
and is found in association with vegetation of the Zayante sandhills, 
which is characterized by a mosaic of ponderosa pines (Pinus 
ponderosa), silverleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos silvicola), and areas 
that are sparsely vegetated with grasses and herbs.

Project Information

    In the Zayante Sandhills region, numerous private landowners within 
the City or County are interested in applying for ITPs to allow for the 
take of the Mount Hermon June beetle incidental to small development 
projects (e.g., single-family dwelling, garage, house remodel, deck, 
etc.) on private parcels and to address associated impacts to Ben 
Lomond spineflower. The Service recommended that the City and County 
coordinate ITP applications and develop a regional programmatic habitat 
conservation plan (HCP) for the Sandhills. Completion and 
implementation of a regional HCP would provide conservation benefits 
for these and other rare species associated with this habitat and would 
streamline the process for landowners to comply with the Act and local 
and State permits.
    The City and County propose to extend their take authorization 
issued by the Service to project proponents through a certificate of 
inclusion. Individual projects on private land would be eligible for 
ITP coverage if the project meets specific criteria. Landowners would 
determine if their proposed project is eligible for ITP coverage (that 
is, whether their project is a Covered Activity under the ITP) based on 
a set of criteria and a checklist of eligibility requirements. These 
determinations by landowners would be reviewed by the City or County. 
The City or County would review individual projects based on the 
following criteria:
     Project is residential.
     Project is located on a parcel that is 1.5 acres or less 
in size.
     Project would result in ground disturbance of Zayante 
     Development envelope for the project, when combined with 
the development envelope for any project previously implemented on the 
same parcel using the proposed IPHCP and the relevant ITP, will not 
exceed 15,000 square feet (0.34 acre).
     Proposed development is one or more of the following 
project types that requires a City or County discretionary or building 
permit that involves ground disturbance. Examples include: (1) Single-
family dwelling; (2) guest cottage (or accessory dwelling unit); (3) 
attached or detached garage, shed, storage building; (4) room addition; 
(5) remodels that involve ground disturbance; and (6) septic system 
installations and upgrades that involve new ground disturbance.
     On a case-by-case basis, the Service and the appropriate 
local jurisdiction may also approve for coverage under the proposed 
IPHCP and ITPs other similar development projects that meet the 
eligibility requirements listed in the proposed IPHCP.
    Ten Project Units (Designated group of land parcels) within the 
IPHCP boundary were identified within the communities of Ben Lomond, 
Felton, Mount Hermon, and Scotts Valley. These Project Units range in 
size from 3.2 to 373 acres and encompass a total of 1,693.2 acres, 
including roads, common areas, and substantial areas containing prior 
development. Within these Project Units, a maximum of 139 acres of 
Sandhills habitat may be developed or otherwise disturbed under the 
proposed IPHCP as a result of Covered Activities. According to the 
proposed IPHCP, this acreage represents 5 percent of the estimated 
total amount (2,800 acres) of Sandhills habitat with documented 
occurrences of the Mount Hermon June beetle as of 2004.
    The IPHCP proposes to provide a process under which landowners may 
proceed with small development projects in areas where on-site 
avoidance of habitat for the Mount Hermon June beetle and Ben Lomond 
spineflower is not feasible. In such cases, landowners will first be 
required to minimize habitat loss and disturbance via the 
implementation of the following required minimization measures (see the 
IPHCP for additional details about these measures):
     Impacts to plants that are native to the Sandhills must be 
avoided to the greatest extent feasible, consistent with the purpose of 
the Covered Activity.
     Ground-disturbing activities associated with construction 
(e.g., vegetation clearance, grading, digging, etc.) must be minimized 
between May 15 and August 15 within the development envelope.
     If construction-related ground disturbance associated with 
Covered Activities cannot be scheduled to avoid the May 15 to August 15 
timeframe, participating landowners must ensure that areas that have 
been disturbed by construction activities during this timeframe are 
covered each evening during this timeframe with tarps, landscape 
fabric, or other similar material. Only the immediate areas that have 
been recently disturbed (i.e., with exposed dirt just before the 
species flight season) must be covered in this manner between May 15 
and August 15.
     Landscaping elements that degrade habitat must be 
minimized to the greatest extent feasible, as determined by the City or 
County, and consistent with the purpose of the Covered Activity.
     Indirect impacts to the Mount Hermon June beetle from 
project lighting must be minimized to the greatest extent feasible.

In addition to the above minimization measures, the impacts of Covered 
Activities must be mitigated and compensated for through the

[[Page 17666]]

implementation of the following mitigation measures (see the IPHCP for 
additional details about these measures):
     To the maximum extent feasible, the City and County will 
require that any revegetation or landscaping activities associated with 
Covered Activities are conducted using locally derived source material 
(i.e., seeds or cuttings) of plant species native to the Sandhills, 
with particular emphasis on the plant species identified in Appendix F 
of the IPHCP.
     Prior to beginning any ground-disturbing activities, the 
impacts of Covered Activities must be mitigated in one of the following 
ways: (1) The landowner must secure conservation credits for the Mount 
Hermon June beetle at a ratio of 1:1 in terms of acres of disturbance 
to numbers of credits (e.g., a project with a 0.1-acre disturbance 
envelope will mitigate by securing 0.1 acre of conservation credits for 
the Mount Hermon June beetle) at the Zayante Sandhills Conservation 
Bank; or (2) The landowner must secure conservation credits for the 
Mount Hermon June beetle at a ratio of 1:1 in terms of acres of 
disturbance to numbers of credits (e.g., a project with a 0.1-acre 
disturbance envelope will mitigate by securing 0.1 acre of conservation 
credits for the Mount Hermon June beetle) at another Service-approved 
conservation bank; this bank must also have an Operating Agreement with 
the County if the parcel is within the County's jurisdiction.

Environmental Assessment (EA)

    The Draft EA considers the effects on the human environment of: (1) 
Our proposed action of issuing ITPs to the City and County based on the 
IPHCP, (2) a Reduced-Take Alternative to the proposed action, and (3) 
No Action Alternative. Under the Reduced-Take Alternative, we would 
propose to issue ITPs to the City and County where the total amount of 
development that would be covered under the IPHCP and related ITPs 
would be 100 acres, instead of 139 acres as is currently proposed. The 
maximum disturbance footprint would remain at 15,000 square feet (0.34 
acre) per parcel. The boundaries of the 10 project units would remain 
unchanged as would the minimization and mitigation measures of the 
IPHCP's operating conservation plan. Under the No Action Alternative, 
the Service would not issue ITPs for the Mount Hermon June beetle to 
the City and County; thus, private landowners within the IPHCP area 
would have to apply to the Service individually to obtain an ITP.

Request for Comments

    We are requesting comments on our preliminary determination that 
the proposed project will not have significant effects on the 
environment, and suggestions for issues we should consider in our 
analysis. The Service will use the EA to determine whether its decision 
can result in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or if an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must be prepared.
    Based on our review of public comments that we receive in response 
to this notice, we may revise this preliminary determination.

Public Availability of Comments

    Please direct any comments to the Service contact listed above in 
the ADDRESSES section, and any questions to the Service contact listed 
in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. All comments and 
materials we receive, including names and addresses, will become part 
of the administrative record and may be released to the public. 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.

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the IPHCP and comments we receive to determine 
whether the permit applications meet the requirements of section 10(a) 
of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and complete our compliance with 
NEPA. If we determine that the applications meet these requirements, we 
will issue the permits for incidental take of the Mount Hermon June 
beetle. We will also evaluate whether issuance of section 10(a)(1)(B) 
permits would comply with section 7 of the Act by conducting an intra-
Service section 7 consultation. We will use the results of this 
consultation, in combination with the above findings, in our final 
analysis to determine whether or not to issue a permit. If the 
requirements are met, we will issue the permits to the applicants.


    We provide this notice under section 10 of the Act (U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: March 24, 2011.
Paul B McKim,
Acting Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 2011-7426 Filed 3-29-11; 8:45 am]