[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 244 (Friday, December 19, 2014)]
[Pages 75832-75834]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-29751]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-ES-2014-0051; FXES111205000000-156-FF05E00000]

Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit for 
Piping Plover, From the Town of Orleans, MA, and Availability of 
Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or ``we''), 
announce the availability of an application for an Incidental Take 
Permit (ITP) and a proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) from the 
Town of Orleans (Town) for public review and comment. We received the 
permit application from the Town for incidental take of the threatened 
piping plover (Charadrius melodus) resulting from the Town's 
authorization and management of over-sand vehicle (OSV) activities over 
the next 3 years. Our preliminary determination is that the proposed 
HCP qualifies as low-effect under our final Handbook for Habitat 
Conservation Planning and Incidental Take Permitting Process. To make 
this determination, we used our Low-Effect HCP Screening Form/
Environmental Action Statement (EAS), the preliminary version of which 
is also available for review.
    We provide this notice to (1) seek public comments on the proposed 
HCP and application; (2) seek public comments on our preliminary 
determination that the HCP qualifies as low-effect and is therefore 
eligible for a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA); and (3) advise other Federal and State agencies, 
affected Tribes, and the public of our intent to issue an ITP.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by January 20, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Written comments may be submitted electronically by any one 
of the following methods:
    Electronically: www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for 
submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-R5-ES-2014-0051.
    U.S. mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R5-ES-2014-0051; 
Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service; MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls Church, Virginia 22041-

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susi vonOettingen, by U.S. mail at 
U.S. Fish

[[Page 75833]]

and Wildlife Service, New England Field Office, 70 Commercial Street, 
Suite 300, Concord, NH 03301; or via phone at 603-223-2541.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We received an application from the Town of 
Orleans for an ITP for take of the federally listed threatened piping 
plover (Charadrius melodus) resulting from the Town's authorization and 
management of OSV activities over the next 3 years. To minimize and 
mitigate for the incidental take, the Town will implement a 
conservation program as described in its proposed HCP.
    We prepared a preliminary EAS to comply with NEPA. The Service will 
evaluate whether the proposed action, issuance of an ITP to the Town of 
Orleans, is adequate to support a categorical exclusion.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act (ESA) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and NEPA (42 
U.S.C. 4321, et seq.).
    We are requesting comments on the proposed HCP and our preliminary 
determination that the plan qualifies as low effect under NEPA.

Availability of Documents

    The proposed HCP and preliminary EAS are available on the New 
England Field Office's Web site at http://www.fws.gov/newengland/, or 
at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket Number FWS-R5-ES-2014-0051. 
Copies of the proposed HCP, subsequently filed addendum to the HCP, and 
preliminary EAS will also be available for public review during regular 
business hours at the New England Field Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT). Those who do not have access to the Web site or 
cannot visit our office may request copies by telephone at 603-223-
2541, or by letter to the New England Field Office.


    Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and its implementing 
regulations prohibit the ``take'' of animal species listed as 
endangered or threatened. Take is defined under the ESA 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. 1538). However, 
under section 10(a) of the ESA, we may issue permits to authorize 
incidental take of listed 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 ITPs for 
threatened and endangered species, respectively, are found in the Code 
of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32.
    The Town of Orleans is seeking a permit for the incidental take of 
piping plover for a term of 3 years. Incidental take of this species 
may occur as a result of the Town's authorization and management of OSV 
activities along Nauset Beach South.
    Proposed covered activities include authorization and 
implementation of the Town of Orleans OSV use program. The Town's 
proposed management of OSV activities would in one limited respect 
deviate from established State and Federal guidelines for managing 
recreational beaches to avoid the take of piping plovers. The Town 
proposes to add a late-breeding season OSV escort program across 
limited areas where OSVs would otherwise not be allowed due to nesting 
plovers' presence. The HCP and addendum explain how the escort program 
has been designed to minimize the potential to take unfledged plover 
chicks. It also contains a variety of on-site and off-site predator 
management measures developed to mitigate for the impact of the 
anticipated taking, and improve piping plover productivity.
    The proposed action consists of the issuance of an ITP and 
implementation of the proposed HCP. One alternative to the proposed 
action was considered in the HCP: No action (i.e., operation of the 
project without an ITP and without avoidance, minimization, or 
mitigation of piping plover impacts). This alternative was deemed not 
practicable by the Town because the project would not have the 
important protections of the ITP and would not have the conservation 
benefits proposed by the Town.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have made a preliminary determination that the Town of Orleans 
proposed HCP, including the proposed minimization and mitigation 
measures, will have a minor or negligible effect on the species covered 
in the plan, and that the plan qualifies as a ``low-effect'' HCP as 
described in the Service's HCP Handbook (61 FR 63854, December 2, 
    As further explained in the preliminary EAS, included for public 
review, our preliminary determination that the plan qualifies as a low-
effect HCP is based on the following three criteria:
    (1) Implementation of the plan would result in minor or negligible 
effects on federally listed, proposed, and candidate species and their 
    (2) Implementation of the plan would result in minor or negligible 
effects on other environmental values or resources prior to 
implementation of the mitigation measures; and
    (3) Impacts of the plan, considered together with the impacts of 
other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable similarly situated 
projects, would not result, over time, in cumulative effects to 
environmental values or resources that would be considered significant.
    Therefore, we initially conclude that the proposed ITP would 
qualify for a categorical exclusion under the NEPA, as provided by the 
Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM 2 Appendix 1 and 516 DM 8). 
Based on our review of public comments that we receive in response to 
this notice, we may revise this preliminary determination.

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the proposed HCP and comments we receive to 
determine whether the permit application meets the requirements of 
section 10(a) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). We will also 
evaluate whether issuance of a section 10(a)(1)(B) permit would comply 
with section 7 of the ESA 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 to issue a permit. If the requirements are met, we will issue 
the permit to the applicant.

Public Comments

    The Service invites the public to comment on the proposed HCP and 
preliminary EAS during a 30-day public comment period (see DATES). You 
may submit written comments by one of the methods in the ADDRESSES 
    We will post all public comments and information received 
electronically or via hard copy on http://www.regulations.gov. All 
comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of 
the administrative record and will be available to the public. 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--will 
be publicly available.
    If you submit a hard copy comment that includes personal 
identifying information, you may request at the top of your document 
that we withhold this information from public review. However, we 
cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

[[Page 75834]]


    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).

Martin Miller,
Acting Assistant Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 2014-29751 Filed 12-18-14; 8:45 am]