[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 241 (Tuesday, December 15, 2020)]
[Pages 81215-81216]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-27582]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-ES-2020-N126; FXES11140200000-201-FF02ENEH00]

Draft Amendment to the Environmental Assessment/Habitat 
Conservation Plan Previously Associated With the 440-acre Schlumberger 
Property for Concordia University, Texas

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for public comments.


SUMMARY: Concordia University has applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service for an amended incidental take permit (ITP) under the 
Endangered Species Act. The requested amended ITP, if granted, would 
authorize incidental take of the Jollyville Plateau salamander, in 
addition to the already existing ITP for golden-cheeked warbler. The 
proposed incidental take would result from activities associated with 
otherwise lawful activities, including construction, operation, and 
maintenance of Concordia University, that result in water quality and 
habitat degradation. Under the National Environmental Policy Act, we 
invite public comment on the draft environmental assessment on the 
proposed amended habitat conservation plan and application.

DATES: To ensure consideration, written comments must be received or 
postmarked on or before January 14, 2021. We may not consider any 
comments we receive after the closing date in the final decision on 
this action.

ADDRESSES: Accessing Documents:
    Internet: The dEA and HCP: You may obtain electronic copies of 
these documents at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/AustinTexas/.
    U.S. Mail: You may obtain the documents by writing to the following 
addresses. In your request for documents, please reference Concordia 
University HCP and ITP Amendment (TE827597-4).
     DEA and HCP: A limited number of CD-ROM and printed copies 
of the dEA and HCP are available, by request, from Mr. Jacob Ogdee; 
Austin Ecological Services Field Office; U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service; 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200; Austin, TX 78758; telephone 512-
490-0057; fax 512-490-0974.
     ITP application: The ITP application is available from the 
Assistant Regional Director--Ecological Services; U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service; P.O. Box 1306, Room 6034; Albuquerque, NM 87103; 
Attention: Environmental Review Branch.
    Submitting Comments: Regarding any of the three documents available 
for review, you may submit written comments by one of the following 
methods. In your comments, please reference Concordia University HCP 
and ITP Amendment (TE-827597-4).
    Email: FW2_AUES_Consult@fws.gov.
    U.S. Mail: Mr. Adam Zerrenner, Austin Ecological Services Field 
Office, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758-4460; telephone 
512-490-0057; fax 512-490-0974.
    We request that you send comments by only one of the methods 
described above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Adam Zerrenner Field Supervisor, by 
mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, 
Austin, TX 78758; via phone at 512-490-0057 or via the Federal Relay 
Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), make available a draft environmental assessment (dEA) under 
the National Environmental Policy Act for the Habitat Conservation Plan 
for an Endangered Species Act Section 10(a)(1)(B) Incidental Take 
Permit for the Golden-cheeked Warbler Previously Associated with the 
440-acre Schlumberger Property to Include Incidental Take of the 
Jollyville Plateau Salamander Due to Activities Associated with the 
Construction, Operation, and Maintenance of Concordia University Texas, 
in Travis County, Texas. Concordia University applied for an amendment 
to their existing HCP and incidental take permit (ITP) under the 
Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) that would add 
authorization for incidental take of the Jollyville Plateau salamander 
(Eurycea tonkawae) to the already permitted incidental take of golden-
cheeked warbler (Setophaga chrysoparia). The dEA evaluates the impacts 
of, and alternatives to, implementation of the proposed HCP.


    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 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 such take of endangered and threatened species, respectively, 
are found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 


Proposed Action

    The proposed action involves the issuance of an amended ITP by the 
Service for the covered activities in the permit area, under section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. The ITP would cover ``take'' of the covered 
species associated with construction, operation, and maintenance of 
Concordia University within the permit area. An application for an ITP 
must include a HCP that describes the conservation measures the 
applicant has agreed to undertake to minimize and mitigate for the 
impacts of the proposed taking of covered species to the maximum extent 
practicable. The applicant will fully implement the HCP if approved by 
the Service. The terms of the HCP and ITP will also ensure that 
incidental take will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of

[[Page 81216]]

the survival and recovery of the species in the wild.

No Action Alternative

    We have considered one alternative to the proposed action as part 
of this process: No Action. Under a No Action alternative, the Service 
would not issue the requested amended ITP, and applicant either would 
not continue with the construction, operation, and maintenance of 
Concordia University or would conduct those activities in a manner that 
avoids incidental take. Therefore, the applicant would not implement 
the conservation measures described in the HCP.

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the EA, 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 an ESA 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 applicant.

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 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 section 10(c) of the ESA and its 
implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32) and the National 
Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing 
regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

Amy L. Lueders,
Regional Director, Southwest Region, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. 2020-27582 Filed 12-14-20; 8:45 am]