[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 193 (Friday, October 3, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 57644-57646]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-23403]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-ES-2008-N0222; 81440-1112-0000 ABC Code F2]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Incidental Take 
Permits in Santa Cruz County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of receipt of applications for permit.

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SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of five Incidental Take Permit applications and Habitat 
Conservation Plans (HCPs) under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The applicants collectively 
anticipate removing a total of approximately 2.04 acres of Mount Hermon 
June beetle (Polyphylla barbata) occupied habitat, and one HCP also 
includes the federally endangered Ben Lomond spineflower (Chorizanthe 
pungens var. hartwegiana) as a covered species. We are requesting 
comments on the permit applications and on our preliminary 
determination that the proposed HCPs qualify as ``low effect'' HCPs, 
eligible for a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, as amended.

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before November 3, 
2008.

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments to Diane Noda, Field 
Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, California 93003. You may 
also send comments by facsimile to (805) 644-3958. To obtain copies of 
draft documents, see ``Availability of Documents'' under SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jen Lechuga, HCP Coordinator (see 
ADDRESSES), telephone: (805) 644-1766 extension 224.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Availability of Documents

    You may obtain copies of the applications and HCPs by contacting 
the HCP Coordinator (see FOR FURTHER

[[Page 57645]]

INFORMATION CONTACT). Documents will also be available for review by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the Ventura Fish and 
Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES), or via the Internet at: http://
www.fws.gov/ventura.

Background

    Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and Federal 
regulations prohibit the ``take'' of fish or wildlife species listed as 
endangered or threatened, respectively. Take of listed fish or wildlife 
is defined under the Act to mean to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any 
such conduct. However, the Service, under limited circumstances, may 
issue permits to cover incidental take, i.e., take that is incidental 
to, and not the purpose of, the carrying out of an otherwise lawful 
activity. Regulations governing incidental take permits for threatened 
and endangered species are found at 50 CFR 17.32 and 17.22, 
respectively. Among other criteria, issuance of such permits must not 
jeopardize the existence of federally listed fish, wildlife, or plants.
    We announce the availability of five Incidental Take Permit (ITP) 
applications and Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) from the following 
five applicants: Blake Lane LLP, Larry Busch, Jim Sisk, Richard and 
Carolyn Tinkess, and Ed and Lita West. Blake Lane LLP, Larry Busch, and 
Jim Sisk each request an ITP for a duration of 5 years; Richard and 
Carolyn Tinkess and Ed and Lita West each request an ITP for a duration 
of 3 years, under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. The applicants 
collectively anticipate removing a total of approximately 2.04 acres of 
Mount Hermon June beetle (Polyphylla barbata) occupied habitat 
incidental to constructing six condominiums, nine single-family homes, 
one single-family home relocation, and an addition to an existing 
single-family home in Santa Cruz County, California (Projects).
    The applicants' HCPs describe the mitigation and minimization 
measures the applicants propose to address the effects of the Projects 
on the Mount Hermon June beetle. In addition, the Richard and Carolyn 
Tinkess HCP includes the federally endangered Ben Lomond spineflower 
(Chorizanthe pungens var. hartwegiana) as a covered species, and their 
HCP describes mitigation and minimization measures for this species as 
well.
    The Projects are located on soils known as ``Zayante sands.'' These 
soils support the Zayante sandhills ecosystem that occurs exclusively 
in the Santa Cruz Mountains near the city of Scotts Valley and the 
communities of Ben Lomond, Mount Hermon, Felton, Olympia, Corralitos, 
and Bonny Doon. The Mount Hermon June beetle is restricted to Zayante 
sands soils in the Scotts Valley-Mount Hermon-Felton-Ben Lomond area 
and is found in association with vegetation of the Zayante sandhills, 
which is characterized by a mosaic of ponderosa pines (Pinus 
ponderosa), silverleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos silvicola), and areas 
that are sparsely vegetated with grasses and herbs.
    The five applicants are requesting to remove approximately 2.04 
acres of combined Mount Hermon June beetle habitat incidental to 
construction of the Projects. Residential construction of the six 
condominiums for Blake Lane LLP would occur within parcel 022-172-47 in 
Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz County, California. Residential construction 
of two single-family homes and a single-family home relocation for Mr. 
and Mrs. Larry Busch would occur within parcel 067-041-24 near the city 
of Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz County, California. Residential 
construction of six single-family homes for Jim Sisk would occur within 
parcels 021-231-09 and 021-071-02 near the city of Scotts Valley in 
Santa Cruz County, California. Residential construction of one single-
family home for Richard and Carolyn Tinkess would occur within parcel 
067-411-39 near the city of Scotts Valley in Santa Cruz County, 
California. Residential construction of a room addition to a single-
family home for Ed and Lita West would occur within parcel 072-273-34 
in Ben Lomond, Santa Cruz County, California.
    The parcels combined encompass about 3.54 acres, and the footprints 
of the homes, infrastructure, and landscaping would eliminate 2.04 
acres of Mount Hermon June beetle habitat. To mitigate for incidental 
take on the project sites, the applicants propose to purchase a total 
of 2.33 acres of conservation credits for the Mount Hermon June beetle 
at the recently approved Ben Lomond Sandhills Preserve of the Zayante 
Sandhills Conservation Bank operated by PCO, LLC. In addition, the 
applicants will implement a number of minimization and mitigation 
measures intended to reduce impacts from the proposed Projects on the 
Mount Hermon June beetle.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We are requesting comments on the permit applications and on our 
preliminary determination that the proposed Habitat Conservation Plans 
(HCP) qualify as ``low effect'' HCPs, eligible for a categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, 
as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). We explain the basis for this 
possible determination in draft Environmental Action Statements (EAS) 
and associated Low Effect Screening Forms. The Applicants' Low Effect 
HCPs describe the mitigation and minimization measures they would 
implement, as required in section 10(a)(2)(B) of the Act, to address 
the effects of the Projects on the Mount Hermon June beetle. The draft 
HCPs and EASs are available for public review.
    We have made a preliminary determination that the HCPs qualify as 
``low-effect'' plans as defined by our Habitat Conservation Planning 
Handbook (November 1996). Our determination that an HCP qualifies as a 
low-effect plan is based on the following criteria: (1) Implementation 
of the plan would result in minor or negligible effects on federally 
listed, proposed, and candidate species and their habitats; (2) 
implementation of the plan would result in minor or negligible effects 
on other environmental values or resources; and (3) impacts of the 
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 the environmental values or 
resources that would be considered significant. As more fully explained 
in our EASs and associated Low Effect Screening Forms, the Applicants' 
proposals for residential construction qualify as ``low effect'' plans 
for the following reasons:
    (1) Approval of the HCPs would result in minor or negligible 
effects on the Mount Hermon June beetle and Ben Lomond spineflower and 
their habitat. The Service does not anticipate significant direct or 
cumulative effects to the Mount Hermon June beetle or Ben Lomond 
spineflower resulting from the proposed Projects.
    (2) Approval of the HCPs would not have adverse effects on unique 
geographic, historic, or cultural sites, or involve unique or unknown 
environmental risks.
    (3) Approval of the HCPs would not result in any cumulative or 
growth-inducing impacts and would not result in significant adverse 
effects on public health or safety.
    (4) The Projects do not require compliance with Executive Order 
11988 (Floodplain Management), Executive Order 11990 (Protection of 
Wetlands), or the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, nor do they 
threaten to violate a Federal, State, local, or tribal law or 
requirement

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imposed for the protection of the environment.
    (5) Approval of the HCPs would not establish a precedent for future 
actions or represent a decision in principle about future actions with 
potentially significant environmental effects.
    The Service, therefore, has made a preliminary determination that 
approvals of the HCPs qualify as categorical exclusions under NEPA, as 
provided by the Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 
and 516 DM 6, Appendix 1). Based upon this preliminary determination, 
we do not intend to prepare further NEPA documentation. The Service 
will consider public comments in making its final determination on 
whether to prepare such additional documentation.

Public Review and Comment

    We will evaluate the permit applications, HCPs, and comments 
submitted thereon to determine whether the applications meet the 
requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. If we determine that the 
applications meet those requirements, we will issue the ITPs for 
incidental take of the Mount Hermon June beetle. We will also evaluate 
whether issuance of the section 10(a)(1)(B) ITPs complies with section 
7 of the Act by conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation. We 
will use the results of this consultation, in combination with the 
above findings, in the final analysis to determine whether or not to 
issue the ITPs.
    If you wish to comment on the permit applications, draft 
Environmental Action Statements or the proposed HCPs, you may submit 
your comments to the address listed in the ADDRESSES section of this 
document. Our practice is to make comments, including names, home 
addresses, etc., of respondents available for public review. Individual 
respondents may request that we withhold their names and/or home 
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 provide a rationale demonstrating and 
documenting that disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted 
invasion of privacy. In the absence of exceptional, documented 
circumstances, this information will be released. All submissions from 
organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or 
businesses, are available for public inspection in their entirety.
    The Service provides this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the 
Act and pursuant to implementing regulations for NEPA (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: September 29, 2008.
Diane K. Noda,
Field Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, Ventura, 
California.
 [FR Doc. E8-23403 Filed 10-2-08; 8:45 am]
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