[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 246 (Friday, December 22, 2006)]
[Notices]
[Pages 77058-77059]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E6-21927]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service


Proposed Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for 93-129 Ltd in 
the City of Laguna Niguel, California

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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SUMMARY: 93-129 LTD (Applicant) has applied to the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (Service) for a 10-year incidental take permit for one 
covered species pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The application addresses the 
potential for ``take'' of the federally threatened coastal California 
gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica) associated with the 
proposed grading and infrastructure for Tentative Parcel Map 93-129. A 
conservation program to mitigate for the project activities would be 
implemented as described in the proposed Low-Effect Habitat 
Conservation Plan for Grading and Infrastructure for Tentative Parcel 
Map 93-129 (proposed Plan), which would be implemented by the 
Applicant.
    We are requesting comments on the permit application and on the 
preliminary determination that the proposed Plan qualifies as a ``low-
effect'' Habitat Conservation Plan, eligible for a categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, 
as amended. The basis for this determination is discussed in the 
Environmental Action Statement (EAS) and the associated Low Effect

[[Page 77059]]

Screening Form, which are also available for public review.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before January 22, 
2007.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to the Field Supervisor, Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden 
Valley Road, Carlsbad, California 92011. Written comments may be sent 
by facsimile to (760) 918-0638.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Karen Goebel, Assistant Field 
Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES); 
telephone: (760) 431-9440.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Availability of Documents

    Individuals wishing copies of the application, proposed Plan, and 
EAS should immediately contact the Service by telephone at (760) 431-
9440 or by letter to the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office. Copies of 
the proposed Plan and EAS also are available for public inspection 
during regular business hours at the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office 
[see ADDRESSES].

Background

    Section 9 of the Act and its implementing Federal regulations 
prohibit the take of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. 
Take is defined under the Act as harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture or collect listed animal species, or attempt 
to engage in such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1538). However, under section 
10(a) of the Act, the Service may issue permits to authorize incidental 
take of listed species. ``Incidental take'' is defined by the Act as 
take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an 
otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing incidental take 
permits 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 Applicant is seeking a permit for take of the coastal 
California gnatcatcher during the life of the permit. This species is 
referred to as the ``CAGN'' in the proposed Plan.
    The Applicant proposes to grade, subdivide, and construct 
infrastructure for four estate custom home parcels on the approximately 
50-acre parcel (Tentative Parcel Map 93-129) in Laguna Niguel, 
California. The proposed project will impact an estimated 4.3 acres of 
coastal sage scrub and up to two pairs of CAGN. The property is within 
designated critical habitat for CAGN. The project site does not contain 
any other rare, threatened or endangered species or habitat.
    The Applicant proposes to mitigate the effects to CAGN associated 
with the covered activities by fully implementing the Plan. The purpose 
of the proposed Plan's conservation program is to restore and conserve 
habitat for the CAGN. The Applicant proposes to mitigate impacts to 
CAGN through creation and restoration of 10.61 acres of coastal sage 
scrub and conservation of 12.8 acres of coastal sage scrub (including 
the created and restored habitat).
    The Proposed Action consists of the issuance of an incidental take 
permit and implementation of the proposed Plan, which includes measures 
to mitigate impacts of the project on CAGN. Two alternatives to the 
taking of the listed species under the Proposed Action are considered 
in the proposed Plan. Under the No Action Alternative, no permit would 
be issued, and no construction would occur. Under the Parcel by Parcel 
Alternative, each individual parcel owner would conduct grading and 
slope stabilization activities. This alternative would necessitate the 
construction of an additional road immediately adjacent to the CSS 
habitat conservation area on the north side of the property's ridgeline 
and would significantly increase the impacts to CSS habitat.
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that approval of 
the proposed Plan qualifies as a categorical exclusion under NEPA, as 
provided by the Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 
and 516 DM 6, Appendix 1) and as a ``low-effect'' plan as defined by 
the Habitat Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996). 
Determination of Low-effect Habitat Conservation Plans is based on the 
following three criteria: (1) Implementation of the proposed Plan would 
result in minor or negligible effects on federally listed, proposed, 
and candidate species and their habitats; (2) implementation of the 
proposed Plan would result in minor or negligible effects on other 
environmental values or resources; and (3) impacts of the proposed 
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 
which would be considered significant.
    Based upon this preliminary determination, we do not intend to 
prepare further NEPA documentation. We will consider public comments in 
making the final determination on whether to prepare such additional 
documentation.

Public Review

    Written comments from interested parties are welcome to ensure that 
the issues of public concern related to the proposed action are 
identified. Comments and materials received will be available for 
public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
office listed in the ADDRESSES section of this notice. All comments and 
materials received, including names and addresses, will become part of 
the administrative record and may be released to the public.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names, home addresses, 
home phone numbers, and email addresses of respondents, available for 
public review. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their names and /or homes addresses, etc., but if you wish us to 
consider withholding this information you must state this prominently 
at the beginning of your comments. In addition, you must present a 
rationale for withholding this information. This rationale must 
demonstrate that disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted 
invasion of privacy. Unsupported assertions will not meet this burden. 
In the absence of exceptional, documentable circumstances, this 
information will be released. We will always make submissions from 
organization or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves 
as representatives of or officials of organizations or businesses, 
available for public inspection in their entirety.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act. We 
will evaluate the permit application, the proposed Plan, and comments 
submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. If the requirements are met, 
we will issue a permit to 93-129 LTD for the incidental take of the 
coastal California gnatcatcher associated with the proposed grading and 
infrastructure for Tentative Parcel Map 93-129 in the City of Laguna 
Niguel, Orange County, California.

    Dated: December 18, 2006.
Jim A. Bartel,
Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, Carlsbad, 
California.
[FR Doc. E6-21927 Filed 12-21-06; 8:45 am]
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