[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 121 (Friday, June 22, 2012)]
[Pages 37656-37658]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-15353]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Fish and Wildlife Service

RIN 0648-XC011

Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce; Fish and Wildlife Service 
(FWS), Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of final environmental impact statement, 
multi-species habitat conservation plan, and implementing agreement.


SUMMARY: This document announces the availability of the Final 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the applications from the Fruit 
Growers Supply Company (FGS) for Incidental Take Permits (ITPs) and a 
multi-species Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for take of endangered 
and threatened species in accordance with the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (ESA). The National Marine Fisheries Service and the 
Fish and Wildlife Service (Services) and FGS have also developed an 
Implementing Agreement (IA) which details how the Services and FGS will 
work together to implement the HCP. The applicant seeks the ITPs to 
authorize incidental take of the covered species during forest 
management and timber harvest in Siskiyou County, CA, where FGS owns 
lands, during the term of the proposed 50-year ITPs and HCP. This 
document is provided under National Environmental Policy Act 
regulations to inform the public that the Final EIS and multi-species 
HCP, and the Services' responses to public comments are available for 
review, and that we have filed the Final EIS with the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for public notice. The Services 
will not make a decision on issuing ITPs to FGS sooner than 45 days 
after publication of EPA's notice.

[[Page 37657]]

DATES: Written comments must be received by 5 p.m. Pacific Time, August 
6, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be sent by any of the following methods:
     Mail: Address comments to: Lisa Roberts, NMFS, 1655 
Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 95521.
     Email: SWR.NCO.FGSHCP@noaa.gov. In the subject line of the 
email, include the document identifier: Final FGS HCP.
     Facsimile: (707) 825-4840. Please note: Attention: Lisa 
Roberts, NMFS.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information, or to receive 
a copy of the documents, please call Lisa Roberts, Fisheries Biologist, 
NMFS, at (707) 825-5178 or Brian Woodbridge, Wildlife Biologist, FWS, 
at (530) 841-3101.


Availability of Documents

    Copies of the Final EIS, HCP, applications for ITPs, and IA are 
available for public inspection during regular business hours at the 
Arcata National Marine Fisheries Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT) and at the Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office (1829 S. Oregon 
Street, Yreka, CA 96097).
    The documents are also available electronically for review on the 
NMFS Southwest Region Web site at: http://swr.nmfs.noaa.gov/nepa.html 
or the FWS Yreka office Web site at: www.fws.gov/yreka. Copies are also 
available for viewing in each of the following libraries:
    1. Siskiyou County Library, 719 4th St., Yreka, CA 96097.
    2. Humboldt County Library, 1313 3rd St., Eureka, CA 95501.
    3. Del Norte County Library, 190 Price Mall, Crescent City, CA 


    Section 9 of the ESA prohibits the ``take'' of wildlife species 
listed as endangered or threatened by either the FWS or NMFS (16 U.S.C. 
1538). The ESA defines the term ``take'' as: Harass, harm, pursue, 
hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect listed species, or 
attempt to engage in such conduct. ``Harm'' has been defined by FWS to 
include ``significant habitat modification or degradation where it 
actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential 
behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, and sheltering.'' 
Consistent with FWS, NMFS has defined ``harm'' as an act which actually 
kills or injures fish or wildlife, and emphasized that such acts may 
include ``significant habitat modification or degradation which 
actually kills or injures fish or wildlife by significantly impairing 
essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, spawning, rearing, 
migrating, feeding, or sheltering''. Pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of 
the ESA, FWS and NMFS may issue ITPs authorizing the take of listed 
species if, among other things, such taking is incidental to, and not 
the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities.
    Take of listed plant species is not prohibited under the ESA, and 
cannot be authorized under a section 10 permit. However, the applicant 
proposes to include Yreka phlox (Phlox hirsuta) in the HCP to extend 
the HCP's conservation benefits to this species. The applicant would 
receive assurances under the ``No Surprises'' regulations found in 50 
CFR 17.22(b)(5), 17.32(b)(5), and 222.307(g) for all proposed covered 
species in the ITP.
    To receive an ITP under the ESA, an applicant must first prepare an 
HCP that specifies the following: (1) The impact of the taking; (2) 
steps the applicant will take to minimize and mitigate the impact; (3) 
funding available to implement the steps; (4) what alternative actions 
to the taking the applicant considered and the reasons why these 
actions were not taken; and (5) any other measures NMFS or FWS may 
require as being necessary or appropriate for the purpose of the HCP 
(16 U.S.C. 1539(a)(2)(A)). To issue a permit, NMFS and FWS must find 
that: (1) The taking will be incidental; (2) the applicant will 
minimize and mitigate impacts of the take to the maximum extent 
practicable; (3) the applicant will ensure adequate funding for the 
HCP; (4) the taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the 
survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and (5) the applicant 
will meet other measures required by FWS and NMFS. Regulations 
governing issuance of FWS ITPs for endangered and threatened species 
are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, and for NMFS-issued permits at 50 CFR 
222.301 through 307.
    The applicant has requested coverage from FWS for northern spotted 
owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) and Yreka phlox (Phlox hirsuta), and 
from NMFS for the Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast coho salmon 
(Oncorhynchus kisutch) Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU). The 
applicant has also requested coverage under the ITP for the unlisted 
Klamath and Trinity Rivers Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) ESU and the 
Klamath Mountains Province steelhead (O. mykiss) ESU. Should these 
unlisted covered species become listed under the ESA during the term of 
the permit, take authorization for those species would become effective 
upon listing as long as the HCP is being properly implemented. The 
Final FGS HCP describes the habitat-based conservation approach, with 
species-specific objectives for their long-term conservation. This 
includes an Aquatic Species Conservation Program for salmonids and 
Terrestrial Species Conservation Program for the northern spotted owl 
and Yreka phlox.
    FGS activities proposed for coverage under the ITPs include 
mechanized timber harvest; forest product transportation; road and 
landing construction, use, maintenance, and abandonment; site 
preparation; tree planting; certain types of vegetation management; 
silvicultural thinning and other silvicultural activities; fire 
suppression; rock quarry and borrow pit operations; aquatic habitat 
restoration; minor forest management activities such as forest product 
collecting; and monitoring activities and scientific work in the HCP 
Plan Area.
    The duration of the ITPs and HCP is 50 years, though many aspects 
of the plan's conservation strategy are intended to benefit the covered 
species long after the expiration of the permit. The goals of this HCP 
are to: (1) Protect and improve habitats required by species covered by 
the HCP and (2) establish appropriate guidelines for continued timber 
harvest and other forest management activities.
    NMFS and FWS formally initiated an environmental review of the 
project through publication of a Notice of Intent to prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register on February 22, 
2008 (73 FR 9776). That document also announced a 30-day public scoping 
period during which interested parties were invited to provide written 
comments expressing their issues or concerns relating to the proposal 
and attend the public scoping meetings held in Yreka and Happy Camp, 
    On November 13, 2009, the Services published a Notice of 
Availability of the Draft Fruit Growers Supply Company Multi-Species 
Habitat Conservation Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement, 
Siskiyou County, California in the Federal Register (74 FR 58602). The 
public review period was scheduled for 90 days from November 13, 2009, 
to February 11, 2010. A total of 21 oral questions and comments were 
received from two speakers at a public meeting held in Yreka on 
December 2, 2009. Twenty-four comment letters were received, as well as 
two emails sent by 532 individuals. The oral comments, letters, and 
emails contained a total of

[[Page 37658]]

275 separate comments. A response to each of these comments is included 
in the Final EIS.
    The Final EIS is intended to accomplish the following: Inform the 
public of the proposed action and alternatives; disclose the direct, 
indirect, and cumulative environmental effects of the proposed action 
and each of the alternatives; and indicate any irreversible commitment 
of resources that would result from implementation of the proposed 


    The Final EIS analyzes the FGS proposal and three alternatives. 
Under the proposed action, the Services would issue the ITPs and FGS 
would implement its proposed HCP on approximately 152,178 acres of the 
FGS commercial timberlands. The ownership consists of three management 
units: Klamath River (65,339 acres), Scott Valley (39,153 acres), and 
Grass Lake (47,686 acres). Under the No Action Alternative, the ITPs 
would not be issued, there would be no HCP, and FGS would remain 
subject to the prohibition on unauthorized taking of listed species. 
Under Alternative A, the ITPs would be issued by both agencies, and 
northern spotted owl conservation areas would be based on the Northwest 
Forest Plan (NWFP) system of late-successional reserves (LSRs), and the 
Aquatic Species Conservation Program would be based on concepts 
outlined in the NWFP for the protection of aquatic habitats. Under 
Alternative B, FWS would issue an ITP for northern spotted owl, with 
spotted owl conservation based on management of foraging and dispersal 
habitat across the Plan Area. Under Alternative B, no ITP would be 
issued by NMFS and there would be no Aquatic Species Conservation 
Program implemented.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The proposed permit issuance triggers the need for compliance with 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and accordingly the 
Services have prepared a joint NEPA document. The Services are Co-Leads 
and are responsible for compliance under NEPA. As NEPA Co-Lead 
agencies, the Services are providing notice of the availability of the 
Final EIS and are making available for public review the responses to 
comments on the Draft EIS.

Public Review

    The Services invite the public to review the Final EIS, HCP and IA 
during a 45-day wait period from June 22, 2012 to August 6, 2012. Any 
comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of 
the administrative record and may be made available to the public. You 
may submit your comments to the address listed in the ADDRESSES section 
of this document. 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 may ask us to withhold your personal identifying information 
from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    The Services will evaluate the applications, associated documents, 
and comments submitted in preparation of the two Records of Decisions 
that the Services must prepare in response to the ITP applications. 
Permit decisions will be made no sooner than 45 days after the 
publication of EPA's notice of the Final EIS and completion of the 
Records of Decisions.

    Dated: June 18, 2012.
Angela Somma,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
    Dated: June 18, 2012.
Alexandra Pitts,
Deputy Regional Director, Region 8, Pacific Southwest Region, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-15353 Filed 6-21-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P; 3510-22-P