[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 157 (Thursday, August 13, 2020)]
[Pages 49391-49392]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-17725]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-ES-2020-0028; FXES111X0500000-XXX-FF05E00000]

Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Proposed 
Habitat Conservation Plan for Karner Blue Butterfly and Frosted Elfin 
in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, Albany, Colonie and Guilderland, New 
York; Categorical Exclusion

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comment and information.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce receipt 
of an application from the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission 
(applicant) for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered 
Species Act. The applicant requests the ITP to take the federally 
listed endangered Karner blue butterfly incidental to otherwise lawful 
activities associated with expansion of an existing trail system and 
routine property maintenance and management activities within the 
Albany Pine Bush Preserve. The applicant also seeks take coverage for 
the frosted elfin butterfly, listed as threatened by the State of New 
York, should it become federally listed in the future. The applicant 
proposes a conservation program to minimize and mitigate the impacts of 
unavoidable incidental take of the two species, as described in its 
habitat conservation plan (HCP). We invite public comment on the 
application, which includes the applicant's proposed HCP, and the 
Service's preliminary determination that the covered actions and 
incidental take

[[Page 49392]]

which may occur under this proposed HCP, if implemented, qualifies as 
``low effect,'' and therefore our issuance of the requested ITP 
authorizing the take would be categorically excluded from further 
review under the National Environmental Policy Act. To make this 
determination, we used our environmental action statement and low-
effect screening form, both of which are also available for public 
review. We provide this notice to seek comments from the public and 
Federal, Tribal, State, and local governments.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
September 14, 2020.

    Reviewing documents: You may obtain copies of the application, 
including the HCP and the draft environmental action statement, in 
Docket No. FWS-R5-ES-2020-0028 at http://www.regulations.gov.
    Submitting Comments: You may submit comments by one of the 
following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-R5-
     U.S. Mail: Public Comments Processing; Attn: Docket No. 
FWS-R5-ES-2020-0028; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: 
PRB/3W; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
    For additional information about submitting comments, see Request 
for Public Comments and Public Availability of Comments under 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Noelle Rayman-Metcalf, by telephone at 
607-753-9334, or by email at Noelle_rayman@fws.gov. Hearing or speech 
impaired individuals may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339 
for TTY assistance.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 9 of the ESA and its implementing 
regulations prohibit the ``take'' of animal species listed as 
endangered or threatened (16 U.S.C. 1538). Take is defined under the 
ESA 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. 1532). 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 (16 U.S.C. 1539). Regulations governing incidental take 
permits for endangered and threatened species, respectively, are found 
in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32.

Applicant's Proposed Project

    The applicant requests a 20-year ITP to take two covered species, 
the endangered Karner blue butterfly and the frosted elfin (should it 
become federally listed in the future). The applicant determined that 
unavoidable take is reasonably certain to occur incidental to the 
proposed construction of 2.7 miles of trail and routine property 
maintenance and management activities that will affect approximately 
1.94 acres (ac) of occupied or suitable habitat for the covered 
    The conservation program in the applicant's proposed HCP is 
designed to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the impacts of covered 
activities on the covered species, and is intended to complement 
ongoing conservation efforts for the covered species in New York State. 
The HCP proposes establishment and ongoing maintenance of approximately 
6 ac of wild blue lupine to increase breeding and foraging habitat for 
the covered species to offset the anticipated impacts of the taking.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The issuance of an ITP is a Federal action that triggers the need 
for compliance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). The Service has made 
a preliminary determination that the impact of the covered actions and 
the incidental take likely to result from the applicant's project, 
including expansion of the existing trail system, routine property 
maintenance and management activities, and the proposed conservation 
program, would individually and cumulatively have a minor or negligible 
effect on the Karner blue butterfly, the frosted elfin, and the 
environment. Therefore, we have preliminarily concluded the covered 
actions and incidental take which may occur under this proposed HCP, if 
implemented, qualifies as ``low effect,'' and therefore our issuance of 
the requested ITP authorizing the take would be categorically excluded 
from further review under our NEPA regulations at 43 CFR 46.205 and 
46.210. A low-effect ITP is one in which covered actions and incidental 
take in accordance with the HCP would result in (1) minor or negligible 
effects on federally listed, proposed, and candidate species and their 
habitats; (2) minor or negligible effects on other environmental values 
or resources; and (3) impacts that, when considered together with the 
impacts of other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable similarly 
situated projects, would not over time result in significant cumulative 
effects to environmental values or resources.

Next Steps

    The Service will evaluate the application and the comments received 
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 conduct 
an intra-Service consultation pursuant to section 7 of the ESA to 
evaluate the effects of the proposed take. After considering the above 
findings, we will determine whether the permit issuance criteria of 
section 10(a)(l)(B) of the ESA have been met. If met, the Service will 
issue the requested ITP to the applicant.

Request for Public Comments

    The Service invites the public to comment on the proposed HCP and 
draft environmental action statement during a 30-day public comment 
period (see DATES). You may submit comments by one of the methods shown 

Public Availability of Comments

    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 
request in your comment that we withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and 
from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials 
of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public 
disclosure in their entirety.


    The Service provides this notice under section 10(c) of the ESA (16 
U.S.C. 1539(c)) and NEPA regulation 40 CFR 1506.6.

Sharon Marino,
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services.
[FR Doc. 2020-17725 Filed 8-12-20; 8:45 am]