[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 173 (Friday, September 6, 2013)]
[Pages 54906-54908]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-21721]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2013-N166: FXES11120800000F2-134-FF08ECAR00]

Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report/Environmental 
Impact Statement for a Proposed Amendment to the Coachella Valley 
Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Communities 
Conservation Plan, Riverside County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that we, the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (Service), have received applications for incidental 
take permits pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act), from the City of Desert Hot Springs and Mission Springs Water 
District (MSWD), Riverside County, California. The Service, in 
cooperation and coordination with the Coachella Valley Conservation 
Commission (CVCC), has prepared a joint draft Supplemental 
Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (draft 
Supplemental EIR/EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) for the proposed amendment to the Coachella Valley Multiple 
Species Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Communities Conservation Plan

[[Page 54907]]

(CVMSHCP, or Plan), to include Desert Hot Springs and MSWD as 
permittees to the Plan. The draft Supplemental EIR/EIS supplements the 
approved and certified September 2007 Final Recirculated EIR/EIS for 
the CVMSHCP (72 FR 63922; November 13, 2007) and considers the 
environmental effects associated with the approval of an amendment to 
the existing incidental take permit under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Act. The draft Supplemental EIR/EIS has been prepared to analyze the 
effects of the addition of Desert Hot Springs and MSWD as permittees to 
the CVMSHCP. The analyses provided in the draft Supplemental EIR/EIS 
are intended to inform the public of the proposed action, alternatives, 
and associated impacts; address public comments received during the 
scoping period for the draft Supplemental EIR/EIS; 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 

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
October 21, 2013. We will consider all written requests for public 
meetings. To accommodate scheduling of meetings and allow sufficient 
time to publicize them, all requests for meetings must be received 
within 15 days after publication in the Federal Register (see DATES, 
reasons why a meeting is desired (desired outcomes), desired format of 
the meeting, who is requesting the meeting (an individual, group, or 
groups), and desired meeting location(s).

ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: You may download copies of the draft 
Supplemental EIR/EIS to the approved and certified September 2007 Final 
Recirculated EIR/EIS for the CVMSHCP and amended Plan on the Internet 
at http://www.cvmshcp.org. Alternatively, you may use one of the 
methods below to request hard copies or a CD-ROM of the documents. 
Please send your requests or comments by any one of the following 
methods, and specify ``CVMSHCP'' in your request or comment.
    Submitting Comments: You may submit comments or requests for copies 
or more information by one of the following methods.
     Email: fw8cfwocomments@fws.gov. Include CVMSHCP in the 
subject line of the message.
     U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Palm Springs 
Fish and Wildlife Office, Attn: Mr. Kennon A. Corey, Assistant Field 
Supervisor, 777 East Tahquitz Canyon Way, Suite 208, Palm Springs, CA 
     In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Telephone 760-322-
2070, to make an appointment during regular business hours to drop off 
comments or view received comments at address identified above.
     Fax: Mr. Kennon A. Corey, Assistant Field Supervisor, 760-
322-4648, Attn: CVMSHCP.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jenness McBride, Division Chief, 
Coachella and Imperial Valleys, 777 East Tahquitz Canyon Way, Suite 
208, Palm Springs, CA 92262; telephone 760-322-2070. Persons who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339 to contact the above 
individual during normal business hours. The FIRS is available 24 hours 
a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question with the above 
individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), announce the availability of our draft Supplemental EIR/EIS 
to the approved and certified September 2007 Final Recirculated EIR/EIS 
for the CVMSHCP in accordance with the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; NEPA), and its 
implementing regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 
CFR 1506.6, as well as in compliance with section 10(c) of the 
Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.). The draft Supplemental EIR/EIS considers the environmental 
effects associated with adding Desert Hot Springs and MSWD as 
Permittees to the CVMSHCP and amending the existing incidental take 


    Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and Federal 
regulations at 50 CFR 17 prohibit the ``take'' of fish and wildlife 
species listed as endangered or threatened. Take of listed fish and 
wildlife is defined under the Act as to ``harass, harm, pursue, hunt, 
shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect listed animal species, or 
to attempt to engage in such conduct'' (16 U.S.C. 1538). Harm includes 
significant habitat modification or degradation that results in death 
or injury to listed species by significantly impairing essential 
behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 
17.3). Under limited circumstances, we may issue permits to authorize 
incidental take of listed wildlife species, which the Act defines as 
take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, the carrying out of 
otherwise lawful activities.
    Regulations governing incidental take permits for threatened and 
endangered species are at 50 CFR 17.32 and 17.22, respectively. In 
addition to meeting other criteria, activities covered by an incidental 
take permit must not jeopardize the continued existence in the wild of 
federally listed wildlife or plants.
    In February 2006, the Final CVMSHCP and associated Final EIR/EIS 
were released for review and approval by the participating 
jurisdictions and agencies as part of the application process to 
support the issuance of take authorizations by the Service. However, 
Desert Hot Springs voted to not approve the Plan in June 2006. 
Subsequently, the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) 
Executive Committee rescinded its approval of the Plan and directed 
that Desert Hot Springs be removed as a Permittee. A revised Plan and 
associated EIR/EIS were prepared and recirculated that removed Desert 
Hot Springs and made other modifications consistent with direction from 
the CVAG Executive Committee.
    The revised and recirculated CVMSHCP was approved and the 
associated Final Recirculated EIR/EIS was certified by CVAG and the 
CVCC in September 2007 and subsequently by all local Permittees by the 
end of October 2007. The state Permittees (Caltrans, Coachella Valley 
Mountains Conservancy, and California State Parks) approved the Plan 
and signed the Implementing Agreement in March 2008. The Final 
Recirculated CVMSHCP, which did not include Desert Hot Springs, 
received final State and Federal permits on September 9 and October 1, 
2008, respectively.
    In a reversal of their June 2006 decision, Desert Hot Springs City 
Council reconsidered their decision and unanimously approved a 
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in October 2007, to enter into 
negotiations for Desert Hot Springs to join the CVMSHCP as a Permittee. 
The MOU was subsequently approved by the CVCC, CVAG, and the County of 
Riverside in February 2008. Subsequent to Desert Hot Springs' decision, 
the MSWD has also made the decision to join the CVMSHCP as a Permittee. 
The addition of both entities as Permittees has been evaluated in the 
Supplemental EIR/EIS.

[[Page 54908]]

    The amendment to reinstate Desert Hot Springs proposes that the 
Plan provisions and boundaries be revised according to the February 
2006 CVMSHCP, with modifications as described in the September 2007 
Final Recirculated CVMSHCP, to provide for the Riverside County Flood 
Control and Water Conservation District's future flood control 
facility. Therefore, the current Conservation Area boundaries would be 
amended to include all of the private lands within Desert Hot Springs' 
city limits and restore the original boundaries of the Upper Mission 
Creek/Big Morongo Canyon and Whitewater Canyon Conservation Areas 
within Desert Hot Springs' city limits. Adding Desert Hot Springs as a 
Permittee requires a Major Amendment to the CVMSHCP in accordance with 
the requirements outlined in Section 6.12.4 of the Plan. The procedures 
outlined in Section 6.12.4 state that major amendments require the same 
process to be followed as the original CVMSHCP approval, including 
California Environmental Quality Act and NEPA compliance.
    In addition, MSWD, not previously a participating agency, has also 
applied to join the CVMSHCP as a Permittee. MSWD and Desert Hot Springs 
have proposed that a number of infrastructure projects be included as 
Covered Activities under the Plan. Covered Activities include certain 
activities carried out or conducted by Permittees, Participating 
Special Entities, Third Parties Granted Take Authorization, and others 
within the CVMSHCP Plan Area, as described in Section 7 of the CVMSHCP, 
that will receive Take Authorization under the Service's section 
10(a)(1)(B) permit and the State NCCP Permit, provided these activities 
are otherwise lawful. Examples of Desert Hot Springs proposed Covered 
Activities include roadway improvement projects. Examples of MSWD 
proposed Covered Activities include construction of wells, water 
storage facilities, water transmission lines, recycled water lines, and 
sewer lines. Refer to Table 2-1 and 2-2 in the Supplemental EIR/EIS for 
Desert Hot Springs and MSWD Covered Activities list, respectively.
    Covered activities will increase the existing permitted take by 34 
acres, but inclusion of Desert Hot Springs and MSWD will expand 
conservation area boundaries in Desert Hot Springs to include 770 acres 
of land to be managed consistent with the CVMSHCP's conservation goals 
and objectives. Fifteen of the 27 Covered Species and 5 of the 27 
Natural Communities will be affected by the Major Amendment. Additional 
take, in acres, for Covered Species and Natural Communities are listed 
in Table 4.1-1 and 4.1-2 in the Supplemental EIR/EIS, respectively.

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    We formally initiated an environmental review of the draft 
Supplemental EIR/EIS through publication of a notice of intent (NOI) to 
prepare a draft Supplemental EIR/EIS in the Federal Register on 
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 (76 FR 17666). That notice also announced a 
public scoping period, during which we invited interested parties to 
provide written comments expressing their issues or concerns related to 
the proposal. A public scoping meeting was held in Desert Hot Springs 
on April 4, 2011.
    Based on public scoping comments, we have prepared a draft 
Supplemental EIR/EIS for the proposed action and have made it available 
for public inspection (see ADDRESSES). NEPA requires that a range of 
reasonable alternatives to the proposed action be described. The draft 
Supplemental EIR/EIS analyzes the proposed action and a no action 
alternative, which were derived in response to scoping comments. 
Additionally, the alternatives from the 2007 Recirculated EIR/EIS were 
retained and analyzed as part of the proposed major amendment to 
determine if adding Desert Hot Springs and MSWD as permittees under the 
Plan would change any conclusions contained in each of the alternatives 
identified in 2007. The alternatives addressed include a Public Lands 
Alternative; Core Habitat with Ecological Processes Alternative; and an 
Enhanced Conservation Alternative.

Public Review

    The Service invites the public to comment on the permit 
applications, revised CVMSHCP, and draft Supplemental EIR/EIS during 
the public comment period. Copies of the documents will be available 
during a 45-day public comment period (see DATES). If you wish to 
comment, you may submit your comments to the address listed in 
ADDRESSES. 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 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 applications, associated documents, and 
comments submitted to prepare a Final EIR/EIS. A permit decision will 
be made no sooner than 30 days after the publication of the 
Environmental Protection Agency's Final EIS notice in the Federal 
Register and completion of the Record of Decision.

    Dated: August 28, 2013.
Alexandra Pitts,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 2013-21721 Filed 9-5-13; 8:45 am]