[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 167 (Thursday, August 27, 2020)]
[Pages 53017-53018]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-18899]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-ES-2020-N020; FXES11140200000F2-201-FF02ENEH00]

Proposed American Burying Beetle Habitat Conservation Plan and 
Low-Effect Screening Form; NS-374 Bridge Over Leader Creek, Hughes 
County, OK

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the 
availability of several documents related to an incidental take permit 
(ITP) application under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. 
Circuit Engineering District #4 applied for the requested ITP, which 
would be in effect for a 3-year period in Hughes County, Oklahoma. If 
granted, the permit would authorize American burying beetle incidental 
take resulting from construction of a bridge and off-set alignment of 
the road over Leader Creek. The documents available for comment include 
the low-effect screening form that supports a categorical exclusion 
under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, a draft low-effect 
habitat conservation plan, and the ITP application.

DATES: To ensure consideration, written comments must be received or 
postmarked on or before 11:59 p.m. eastern time on September 28, 2020. 
We may not consider any comments we receive after the closing date in 
the final decision on this action.

ADDRESSES: Accessing Documents:
     Internet: NEPA screening form, HCP, and the permit 
application: You may obtain electronic copies of these documents at 
     U.S. Mail: You may obtain the documents at the following 
addresses. In your request for documents, please reference ``NS-374 
Bridge over Leader Creek HCP.''
    [cir] Draft CatEx form and HCP: A limited number of CD-ROM and 
printed copies of the Draft CatEx form and HCP are available, by 
request, from the Field Supervisor, Oklahoma Ecological Services Field 
Office (ES FO), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 9014 E 21st St., Tulsa, 
OK 74129; telephone 918-382-4504; fax 918-581-7467.
    [cir] ITP application: The ITP application is available by mail 
from the Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 
1306, Room 6034, Albuquerque, NM 87103, Attention: Environmental Review 
    Submitting Comments: Regarding any of the documents available for 
review, you may submit written comments by one of the following 
methods. In your comments, please reference ``NS-374 Bridge over Leader 
Creek HCP.''
     Email: OKES_NEPA@fws.gov.
     Fax: 918-581-7467.
     U.S. Mail: Field Supervisor, Oklahoma ES FO (see Accessing 
    We request that you send comments by only one of the methods 
described above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jonna Polk, by U.S. mail at the 
Oklahoma ES FO (see Accessing Documents), or by phone at 918-581-7458. 
Individuals who are hearing impaired or speech impaired may call the 
Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8337 for TTY assistance.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 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 listed animal species, or to attempt to engage in 
such conduct'' (16 U.S.C. 1538). However, under section 10(a) of the 
ESA, we may issue permits to authorize incidental take/the enhancement 
of survival of listed/candidate 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 such 
take of endangered and threatened/candidate species, respectively, are 
found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 


    Circuit Engineering District #4 has applied to the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (Service) for an ITP under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.). The requested ITP, which would be in effect for a period of 3 
years, if granted, would authorize incidental take of the American 
burying beetle. The proposed incidental take would result from 
activities associated with otherwise lawful activities, including 
building a new bridge and off-set road alignment of the road across 
Leader Creek.
    We have determined the proposed action qualifies as a low-effect 
habitat conservation plan (HCP) and is categorically excluded from the 
NEPA process. The proposed incidental take would occur along 1.88 acres 
(ac) where County Road NS-374 crosses Leader Creek near the town of 
Atwood in Hughes County, Oklahoma, as a result of activities associated 
with the applicant's construction activities. Such actions may require 
disturbance within potential American burying beetle habitat. Circuit 
Engineering District #4 has proposed to mitigate the impacts to 0.75 ac 
of suitable American burying beetle habitat, including 0.5 ac of 
permanent cover change impacts and 0.25 ac of permanent change. These 
habitat acres will be mitigated in perpetuity according to Service 
approved mitigation ratios through purchasing credits at an approved 
conservation bank. Avoidance and minimization measures to reduce 
impacts to the American burying beetle include reducing motor vehicle, 
machinery, and heavy equipment use areas, reducing soil erosion, 
increasing soil stability, providing education to on-site personnel, 
limiting the use of artificial lighting, and preventing invasive 
species establishment.

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the HCP and comments we receive to determine 
whether the ITP 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 an ITP. 
If all necessary requirements are met, we will issue the ITP to the 

Public Availability of Comments

    Written comments we receive become part of the public record 
associated with this action. 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

[[Page 53018]]

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 


    We provide this notice under the authority of section 10(c) of the 
ESA and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32) and NEPA 
(42 U.S.C 4371 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 

Amy L. Lueders,
Regional Director, Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-18899 Filed 8-26-20; 8:45 am]