[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 155 (Monday, August 14, 2017)]
[Pages 37896-37898]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-17082]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-ES-2017-N097; FXES11140100000-178-FF01E00000]

Proposed Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Olympia 
Subspecies of the Mazama Pocket Gopher, Thurston County, Washington

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), received an 
application from Mr. Steven McLain (applicant) for an Incidental Take 
Permit (ITP) pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(ESA). The applicant requests an ITP that would authorize ``take'' of 
the threatened Olympia subspecies of the Mazama pocket gopher 
incidental to otherwise lawful construction of a single-family home in 
Thurston County, Washington. The application includes a draft Habitat 
Conservation Plan (HCP) with measures to minimize and mitigate the 
impacts of the taking on the covered species. We have also prepared a 
draft Environmental Action Statement (EAS) for our preliminary 
determination that the HCP and permit decision may be eligible for 
categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act

[[Page 37897]]

(NEPA). We invite comments from all interested parties regarding the 
permit application, draft HCP, and the draft EAS.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please submit written comments by 
September 13, 2017.

ADDRESSES: You may view or download copies of the draft HCP and obtain 
additional information on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/wafwo/. To 
request further information or submit written comments, please use one 
of the following methods, and note that your information request or 
comments are in reference to ``The McLain HCP'':
     Electronic: [email protected].
     U.S. Mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R1-ES-
2017-N097; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Washington Fish and Wildlife 
Office, 510 Desmond Drive SE., Suite 102; Lacey, Washington 98503.
     In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call 360-753-5823 
to make an appointment (necessary for viewing or picking up documents 
only) during normal business hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Romanski, Conservation Planning 
and Hydropower Branch Manager, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES), telephone: 360-753-
5823. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, please call 
the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.



    Section 9 of the ESA prohibits ``take'' of fish and wildlife 
species listed as endangered or threatened. Under the ESA, the term 
``take'' means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct (16 
U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term ``harm,'' as defined in our regulations, 
includes significant habitat modification or degradation that results 
in death or injury to listed species by significantly impairing 
essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or 
sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). The term ``harass'' is defined in our 
regulations as to carry out actions that create the likelihood of 
injury to listed species to such an extent as to significantly disrupt 
normal behavioral patterns, which include, but are not limited to, 
breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3).
    Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA contains provisions that authorize 
the Service to issue permits to non-federal entities for the take of 
endangered and threatened species caused by otherwise lawful 
activities, provided the following criteria are met: (1) The taking 
will be incidental; (2) the applicant will, to the maximum extent 
practicable, minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking; (3) the 
applicant will ensure that adequate funding for the plan will be 
provided; (4) the taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of 
the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and (5) the 
applicant will carry out any other measures that the Service may 
require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the plan. 
Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened species are 
found in 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively.
    We received an application from the applicant for an ITP pursuant 
to Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. The applicant requests an ITP having 
a 2-year term that would authorize ``take'' of the threatened Olympia 
subspecies of the Mazama pocket gopher (Thomomys mazama pugetensis), 
hereafter referred to as Olympia pocket gopher, incidental to otherwise 
lawful construction of one single-family home on land he owns in 
Thurston County, Washington. The application includes a draft HCP that 
describes actions the applicant will take to minimize and mitigate the 
impacts of the taking on covered species.

Proposed Action

    The Service proposes to issue the requested 2-year ITP based on the 
applicant's commitment to implement the draft HCP, if permit issuance 
criteria are met. Covered activities include construction of the 
single-family home. The area covered under the draft HCP consists of an 
approximately one-half acre project development site and an 
approximately one acre conservation site on land owned by the 
applicant. Take of the Olympia pocket gopher would occur within the 
half-acre development site and will be offset by permanently managing 
an acre of occupied habitat for the covered species on the applicant's 
land until and unless the take impacts are offset by purchasing 
equivalent credits from a Service-approved conservation bank for the 
Olympia pocket gopher.

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    The proposed issuance of an ITP is a Federal action that triggers 
the need for compliance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). Pursuant to 
NEPA, we prepared an Environmental Action Statement (EAS) to analyze 
the environmental impacts of the proposed Federal action of issuing the 
requested ITP and implementation of the conservation program under the 
proposed HCP.
    Based on the EAS, we have preliminarily determined that the 
applicant's proposal, including the proposed mitigation measures, would 
have minor or negligible effects on the species covered in the HCP. 
Therefore, we determined that the proposed HCP is eligible for ``low-
effect'' status and qualifies for categorical exclusion under NEPA, as 
provided by the Department of the Interior NEPA regulations (43 CFR 
part 46). A low-effect HCP is one involving (1) minor or negligible 
effects on federally listed or candidate species and their habitat, and 
(2) minor or negligible effects on other environmental values or 

Public Comments

    You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods 
listed in the ADDRESSES section. We specifically request information, 
views, and suggestions from interested parties regarding our proposed 
Federal action, including adequacy of the draft HCP pursuant to the 
requirements for permits at 50 CFR parts 13 and 17 and adequacy of the 
EAS pursuant to NEPA.

Public Availability of Comments

    All comments and materials we receive become part of the public 
record associated with this action. Before including your address, 
phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable 
information in your comments, you should be aware that your entire 
comment--including your personally identifiable information--may be 
made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your 
comment to withhold your personally identifiable 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 
entirety. Comments and materials we receive will be available for 
public inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at our 
Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES).

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the permit application, the HCP, and any comments 
received to determine whether the permit application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. We will also evaluate 
whether issuance of the requested permit would comply with section 7 of

[[Page 37898]]

the ESA by conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation on 
anticipated ITP actions. We will use the results of this consultation, 
in combination with the above findings, in our final analysis to 
determine whether to issue the ITP. If we determine that all 
requirements are met, we will issue an ITP under section 10(a)(1)(B) of 
the ESA to the applicant for the take of the covered species, 
incidental to otherwise lawful covered activities. We will make the 
final permit decision no sooner than 30 days after the date of this 


    We provide this notice in accordance with the requirements of 
section 10 of the ESA and NEPA and their implementing regulations (50 
CFR 17.32 and 40 CFR 1506.6, respectively).

    Dated: June 20, 2017.
Theresa E. Rabot,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2017-17082 Filed 8-11-17; 8:45 am]