[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 191 (Thursday, October 1, 2020)]
[Pages 61964-61966]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-21738]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2020-0041; FF08ESMF00-FXES11140800000-201]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Tracy Hills 
Project, San Joaquin County, California; Draft Environmental Assessment 
and Draft Habitat Conservation Plan

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of permit application; request for 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the 
availability of a draft environmental assessment under the National 
Environmental Policy Act. We also announce receipt of an application 
for an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 
and receipt of a draft habitat conservation plan. The Tracy Hills 
Project Owner, LLC (THPO) has applied for an

[[Page 61965]]

incidental take permit under the ESA for the Tracy Hills Project in San 
Joaquin County, California. The permit would authorize the take of 
three species incidental to the development, construction, and 
conservation area management of the project. We invite the public and 
local, State, Tribal, and Federal agencies to comment on the 
application. Before issuing the requested permit, we will take into 
consideration any information that we receive during the public comment 

DATES: We must receive your written comments on or before November 2, 

ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: The incidental take permit (ITP) 
application, draft environmental assessment (draft EA), draft habitat 
conservation plan (HCP), and any comments and other materials that we 
receive are available for public inspection at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-HQ-ES-2020-0041.
    Submitting Comments: To send written comments, please use one of 
the following methods, and note that your information request or 
comments are in reference to the draft EA, draft HCP, or both.
     Internet: Submit comments at http://www.regulations.gov 
under Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2020-0041.
     U.S. Mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. 
FWS-R8-ES-2020- 0041; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: 
PRB/3W; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
    For more information, see Public Comments and Public Availability 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Timothy Ludwick, Senior Wildlife 
Biologist, or Patricia Cole, Chief, San Joaquin Valley Division, 
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, by phone at 916-414-6600 or via 
the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), announce the availability of a draft environmental 
assessment (EA), prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and its 
implementing regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 
CFR 1506.6. This notice also announces the receipt of an application 
from the Tracy Hills Project Owner, LLC (applicant), for a 15-year 
incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 
as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Application for the permit 
requires the preparation of an HCP with measures to avoid, minimize, 
and mitigate the impacts of incidental take to the maximum extent 
practicable. The applicant prepared the draft Tracy Hills Habitat 
Conservation Plan (draft HCP) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
ESA. The purpose of the EA is to assess the effects of issuing the 
permit and implementing the draft HCP on the natural and human 


    Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544 et seq.) prohibits the 
taking of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered under the ESA; 
by regulation, take prohibitions are also applied to certain threatened 
species. Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened 
species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32. For more about the Federal 
habitat conservation plan (HCP) program, go to http://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/hcp.pdf.

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    The proposed permit issuance triggers the need for compliance with 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA; 42 
U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). The draft EA was prepared to analyze the impacts 
of issuing an ITP based on the draft HCP and to inform the public of 
the proposed action, any alternatives, and associated impacts, and to 
disclose any irreversible commitments of resources.

Proposed Action Alternative

    Under the Proposed Action Alternative, the Service would issue an 
ITP to the applicant for a period of 15 years for certain covered 
activities (described below). The applicant has requested an ITP for 
three covered species (described below), which are listed under the 
Habitat Conservation Plan Area
    The geographic scope of the draft HCP encompasses 3,876 acres (ac) 
in western San Joaquin County, California, including the 1,148-ac 
proposed Development Area and the 2,730-ac Conservation Easement Area 
that will be used to mitigate impacts from this development.
Covered Activities
    The proposed section 10 ITP would allow take of three covered 
species from covered activities in the proposed HCP area. The applicant 
is requesting incidental take authorization for covered activities 
including site preparation, infrastructure development, construction of 
the proposed project, and management of the conservation easement area. 
The applicant is proposing to implement a number of project design 
features, including best management practices, as well as general and 
species-specific avoidance and minimization measures to minimize the 
impacts of the take from the covered activities.
Covered Species
    The following three federally listed species are proposed to be 
included as covered species in the proposed HCP:
     San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica)--federally 
listed as endangered;
     California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytoni)--
federally listed as threatened;
     California tiger salamander--Central Valley Distinct 
Population Segment (Ambystoma californiense)--federally listed as 

No-Action Alternative

    Under the No-Action Alternative, the Service would not issue an ITP 
to the applicant, and the draft HCP would not be implemented. Under 
this alternative, the applicant may choose not to develop the project, 
or would do so in a manner designed not to result in the take of ESA-
listed species.

Public Comments

    We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the 
public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific 
community, Tribes, industry, or any other interested party on this 
notice, the draft EA, and the draft HCP. We particularly seek comments 
on the following:
    1. Biological information concerning the species;
    2. Relevant data concerning the species;
    3. Additional information concerning the range, distribution, 
population size, and population trends of the species;
    4. Current or planned activities in the area and their possible 
impacts on the species;
    5. The presence of archeological sites, buildings and structures, 
historic events, sacred and traditional areas, and other historic 
preservation concerns, which are required to be considered in project 
planning by the National Historic Preservation Act; and
    6. Any other environmental issues that should be considered with 
regard to the proposed development and permit action.

[[Page 61966]]

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, or other personal 
identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your 
entire comment--including your personal identifying information--might 
be made publicly available at any time. While you can 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

    Issuance of an incidental take permit is a Federal proposed action 
subject to compliance with NEPA and section 7 of the ESA. We will 
evaluate the application, associated documents, and any public comments 
we receive as part of our NEPA compliance process to determine whether 
the application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. If 
we determine that those requirements are met, we will conduct an intra-
Service consultation under section 7 of the ESA for the Federal action 
for the potential issuance of an ITP. If the intra-Service consultation 
confirms that issuance of the ITP will not jeopardize the continued 
existence of any endangered or threatened species, or destroy or 
adversely modify critical habitat, we will issue a permit to the 
applicant for the incidental take of the covered species.


    We publish this notice under the National Environmental Policy Act 
of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347 et seq.), and its implementing 
regulations at 40 CFR 1500-1508, as well as in compliance with section 
10(c) of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544 et seq.) and 
its implementing regulations at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32.

Michael Senn,
Acting Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 2020-21738 Filed 9-30-20; 8:45 am]