Notice of Availability for General Conservation Plans and Notice of Intent To Prepare Environmental Assessments, 78243-78245 [2011-32287]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 242 / Friday, December 16, 2011 / Notices permit application request relating to Pacific salmon and the southern distinct population segment of Pacific eulachon. The proposed research is intended to increase knowledge of species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to help guide management and conservation efforts. The application may be viewed online at: https://apps.nmfs.noaa.gov/preview/ preview_open_for_comment.cfm DATES: Comments or requests for a public hearing on the applications must be received at the appropriate address or fax number (see ADDRESSES) no later than 5 p.m. Pacific standard time on January 17, 2012. ADDRESSES: Written comments on the applications should be sent to the Protected Resources Division, NMFS, 1201 NE Lloyd Blvd., Suite 1100, Portland, OR 97232–1274. Comments may also be sent via fax to (503) 230– 5441 or by email to nmfs.nwr.apps@noaa.gov. Rob Clapp, Portland, OR (ph.: (503) 231– 2314), Fax: (503) 230–5441, email: Robert.Clapp@noaa.gov. Permit application instructions are available from the address above, or online at https://apps.nmfs.noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Species Covered in This Notice The following listed species are covered in this notice: Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha): threatened upper Willamette River (UWR); threatened lower Columbia River (LCR); endangered upper Columbia River (UCR); threatened Snake River (SR) spring/sum (spr/sum); threatened SR fall; Steelhead (O. mykiss): threatened UWR, threatened LCR; threatened UCR; threatened SR; threatened middle Columbia River (MCR). Chum salmon (O. nerka): threatened CR. Coho salmon (O. kisutch): threatened LCR. Eulachon: the southern Distinct Populations Segment (SDPS) of Pacific eulachon (Thaleichthys pacificus). jlentini on DSK4TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Authority Scientific research permits are issued in accordance with section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et. seq) and regulations governing listed fish and wildlife permits (50 CFR 222–226). NMFS issues permits based on findings that such permits: (1) Are applied for in good faith; (2) if granted and exercised, would not operate to the disadvantage of the listed species that are the subject of the permit; and (3) are consistent with the purposes and policy of section 2 of the ESA. The authority to take listed species is subject to conditions set forth in the permits. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:42 Dec 15, 2011 Jkt 226001 Anyone requesting a hearing on an application listed in this notice should set out the specific reasons why a hearing on that application would be appropriate (see ADDRESSES). Such hearings are held at the discretion of the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NMFS. Applications Received Permit 1461–5R The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is seeking to renew for five years a research permit that would allow them to take all fish species covered in this notice while conducting research at Crims Island and the Julia Butler Hanson National Wildlife Refuge in the lower Columbia River. The purpose of the research is to determine fish species composition, habitat use, and diet in the areas sampled. The data gathered would be used to guide and determine the effectiveness of habitat restoration activities in the lower Columbia River. The species would benefit from wellplanned and monitored habitat restoration activities as well as (ultimately) the restored habitat itself. Permit 1461 has been in place since 2004; the USGS is requesting that the permit be issued for an additional five years. Juvenile salmonids would be collected (using beach seines, Fyke nets, backpack electrofishing, and boat electrofishing), and variously anesthetized, measured for length and weight, sampled for stomach contents and scales, marked (using fluorescent elastomers, Pan-jet needle-less inocculators, or batchmarked with a flourochrome dye), PIT tagged, allowed to recover from the anesthesia, and released. Not all fish would undergo all these procedures, but all would be anesthetized. The USGS does not intend to kill any fish, but a small number may die as an unintended result of the activities. This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA. NMFS will evaluate the applications, associated documents, and comments submitted to determine whether the applications meet the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA and Federal regulations. The final permit decisions will not be made until after the end of the 30-day comment period. NMFS will publish notice of its final action in the Federal Register. Dated: December 12, 2011. Lisa Manning, Acting Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2011–32286 Filed 12–15–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 78243 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XA853 Notice of Availability for General Conservation Plans and Notice of Intent To Prepare Environmental Assessments National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of Availability of General Conservation Plans; and Notice of Intent To prepare Environmental Assessments; announcement of a public scoping meeting; request for comments. AGENCY: We, NMFS, announce our intent to conduct public scoping necessary to gather information to prepare General Conservation Plans (GCPs) for the Penobscot Bay, Merrymeeting Bay, and Downeast Coastal Salmon Habitat Recovery Units (SHRUs) and Environmental Assessments (EAs) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The GCPs will provide a streamlined process by which dam owners that are not regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) can obtain an incidental take permit (ITP) by conforming to specific measures in their respective GCP that minimize and mitigate impacts to Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment (GOM DPS) of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). The GCP will be implemented cooperatively by participating dam owners and NMFS. The EAs will analyze the environmental effects of the proposed issuance of ITPs under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), as amended. We provide this notice to announce the initiation of a public scoping period, during which other Federal and State agencies, Tribes, and the public can provide suggestions and information on the scope of issues and range of alternatives to be addressed in the GCPs and EAs. DATES: Please send written comments on or before February 14, 2012. A formal Public scoping meeting will be held on January 11, 2011. For the public meeting locations, see ‘‘Meeting’’ below. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2011–0291, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov. To submit SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\16DEN1.SGM 16DEN1 78244 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 242 / Friday, December 16, 2011 / Notices comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ‘‘submit a comment’’ icon, then enter NOAA–NMFS–2011–0291 in the keyword search. Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and click on the ‘‘Submit a Comment’’ icon on the right of that line. • Mail or hand-delivery: Assistant Regional Administrator, NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only. The GCPs and other pertinent information are also available electronically at the NMFS Web site at http://www.nero.noaa.gov/prot_res/ altsalmon/conservationplan and http:// www.nero.noaa.gov. Meeting: A public meeting will be held on January 11, 2011, from 12:30– 5 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 250 Haskell Road, Bangor, ME. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Bean, NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, Maine Field Station, 17 Godfrey Drive, Orono, ME 04473; (207) 866– 4172. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: jlentini on DSK4TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Reasonable Accommodations Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and participate in the public meeting should contact the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) at the address above no later than one week before the public meeting. Information regarding this proposed action is available in alternative formats upon request. Background In accordance with section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, we are preparing three VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:42 Dec 15, 2011 Jkt 226001 individual GCPs to provide a streamlined process by which dam owners within the GOM DPS can obtain an incidental take permit. Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1538) and the implementing regulations prohibit the take of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. The term ‘‘take’’ is defined under the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1532) as to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect or attempt to engage in such conduct. ‘‘Harm’’ is defined by Service regulation (50 CFR 17.3) to include significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavior patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering. Under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, NMFS may issue permits to authorize ‘‘incidental take’’ of listed species, where the take is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing permits for threatened and endangered species are found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 17.22, respectively. If a permit is issued, participating dam owners would receive assurances for all species included on the ITP under the Service’s ‘‘No Surprises’’ regulations (50 CFR 17.22 (b)(5) and 17.32 (b)(5)). Section 10 of the ESA specifies the requirements for the issuance of ITPs to non-Federal entities. Any proposed take cannot appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild. The impacts of such take must also be minimized and mitigated to the maximum extent practicable. Typically, to obtain an ITP, an applicant must prepare a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) describing the impact that would likely result from the proposed taking, the measures for minimizing and mitigating the take, the funding available to implement such measures, alternatives to the taking, and the reason why such alternatives are not being implemented. NMFS is preparing three individual GCPs that describe the required protective measures and provides a regulatory structure for these specific conditions to occur. Individual private dam owners could receive ITPs by participating in the GCP process. The specific objectives of the GCPs are to (1) Provide for safe, timely, and effective passage for all relevant life stages of Atlantic salmon at each facility covered in the GCPs to promote recovery of the species; (2) provide full access to critical habitat with a habitat quality score of 2 or 3 (74 FR 29300; June 19, 2009) in the GOM DPS; (3) provide a mechanism for which authorized incidental take can be PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 mitigated by requiring the applicant to provide additional funds which can be used to improve access to quality habitat within the GOM DPS; and (4) provide a regulatory and permitting process for qualified dam owners to receive take authorization that minimizes time requirements for the applicant. Owners of dams not regulated by FERC that are located within the GOM DPS would be eligible for participation in the GCPs. We are proposing to address only the federally endangered GOM DPS Atlantic salmon in the GCP for ITP coverage, although other Federally listed and special-status species are expected to benefit from activities conducted through the GCPs. Under the GCPs, ITPs would be issued to cover otherwise legal activities necessary to maintain or improve Atlantic salmon passage. Such activities include, but are not limited to: Demolishing and removing a dam; rehabilitating riparian vegetation after dam removal; sediment removal upstream of a dam prior to removal; reconstructing the river channel after dam removal; and, constructing and maintaining upstream or downstream fishways. The GCPs would not allow for coverage of activities that are not specifically related to maintaining or improving Atlantic salmon passage. Participating dam owners in the GCPs would have two options to minimize take of Atlantic salmon: (1) Remove the dam; or (2) modify the dam such that it allows for upstream migration of adult Atlantic salmon during times of salmon migration. Dam owners utilizing minimization option two would also be required to pay a mitigation fee for ongoing impacts to fish passage that will result from continued dam presence. Specifically, dam owners would be assessed an annual mitigation fee which would be allocated to an individual GCP Adaptive Management Fund that would be used to improve fish passage at high priority locations in the respective SHRU. The annual fee would be calculated based on general information regarding the impacts of dams to Atlantic salmon passage and the quantity and quality of habitat upstream of the dam. We intend for the GCPs to be effective for 50 years. For projects pursuing Minimization Option 1 (dam removal), individual ITPs would be valid for the duration of the GCPs if necessary, though in most cases all take should be eliminated by dam removal and longterm take issuance should not be needed. For projects pursuing Minimization Option 2 (modify dam to allow for fish passage), individual ITPs E:\FR\FM\16DEN1.SGM 16DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 242 / Friday, December 16, 2011 / Notices jlentini on DSK4TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES would be valid for 20 years and may be extended for additional terms if we determine that a dam has been, and remains, in compliance with the GCP’s requirements. Environmental Assessment NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) requires that Federal agencies conduct an environmental analysis of their proposed actions to determine if the actions may significantly affect the human environment. Under NEPA, a reasonable range of alternatives to proposed projects is developed and considered in the environmental review. Alternatives considered for analysis in an environmental document may include: variations in the scope of covered activities; Variations in the location, amount, and type of conservation; variations in permit duration; or, a combination of these elements. The EAs will consider the proposed action (issuance of ITPs through the GCP process), a no-action alternative (a scenario where there would be no issuance ITPs and dam owners would remain in violation of the ESA), and a reasonable range of alternatives that fit within the purpose and need as described by NMFS. The purpose of the proposed action is to provide a process for authorizing take of Atlantic salmon incidental to the removal of dams and the installation and maintenance of fish passage improvements for dams not regulated by FERC. The need for the proposed action is to provide a mechanism by which participating dam owners can comply with section 9 of the ESA, which prohibits the take of ESA listed fish, wildlife, or plant species. A detailed description of the proposed action and alternatives will be included in each of the EAs. The alternatives for analysis in the EAs may include, but are not limited to, development of individual HCPs for dam owners to receive take authorization for Atlantic salmon and development of regional HCPs developed by the State of Maine or local agencies (e.g., counties) to provide opportunities for dam owners to receive take authorization. The EAs will also identify potentially significant impacts on biological resources, land use, air quality, cultural resources, water resources, socioeconomics, and other resources in the human environment that may occur directly, indirectly, and/ or cumulatively as a result of implementing the proposed action or any of the alternatives. Various strategies for avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating the impacts of incidental take will be considered. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:42 Dec 15, 2011 Jkt 226001 We are furnishing this notice in accordance with 40 CFR 1501.7 and 1508.22 to obtain suggestions and information from other agencies and the public on the scope of issues and alternatives they believe need to be addressed in the EAs. The primary purpose of the scoping process is to identify important issues raised by the public related to the proposed action. Written comments from interested parties are requested to ensure that the full range of issues related to the proposed action is identified. Comments will only be accepted in written form. Request for Public Comments We seek comments concerning: (1) Atlantic salmon proposed for inclusion in the proposed GCPs, including information regarding its range, distribution, population size and population trends within the GOM DPS; (2) relevant data concerning the impacts of the proposed actions on Atlantic salmon; (3) any other environmental issues that should be considered with regard to the proposed permit action; and (4) the information and range of alternatives to be included in the EAs. Authority We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). Dated: December 13, 2011. Marta Nammack, Acting Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2011–32287 Filed 12–15–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XA727 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Fishery; South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Fishery National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of agency action. AGENCY: NMFS, under the authority granted to the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) under section 304(f) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), has designated the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (South Atlantic Council) as the SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 78245 responsible council to manage Nassau grouper in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) under the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (SnapperGrouper FMP). Prior to this designation, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council) was the responsible council to manage Nassau grouper from the fishery management unit in the FMP for Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (Reef Fish FMP). This action is effective on December 16, 2011. DATES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Branstetter, (727) 824–5305; email: Steve.Branstetter@noaa.gov. The Gulf Council has submitted a Generic Annual Catch Limits/Accountability Measures Amendment for the Gulf Council’s Red Drum, Reef Fish, Shrimp, and Coral and Coral Reefs FMPs (Generic ACL Amendment) for purposes of review by the Secretary under the MagnusonStevens Act. A Notice of Availability for the Generic ACL Amendment was published in the Federal Register on September 26, 2011 (76 FR 59373). A proposed Rule to implement the actions in the Generic ACL Amendment was published in the Federal Register on October 25, 2011 (76 FR 66021). As part of this amendment, the Gulf Council has selected to remove Nassau grouper from the Reef Fish FMP. This proposed action is based on an October 20, 2010, letter from the South Atlantic Council informing the Gulf Council of its willingness to accept responsibility for managing Nassau grouper throughout South Atlantic and Gulf Federal waters. Prior to this designation, the South Atlantic Council solely managed Nassau grouper in its area of jurisdiction, in the South Atlantic, through the SnapperGrouper FMP. In accordance with section 304(f) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, on September 16, 2011, the Gulf Council formally requested, through a letter, that the Secretary designate the South Atlantic Council as the responsible Council for the continued management of Nassau grouper in the Federal waters of the South Atlantic region and to manage the species in the Federal waters of the Gulf. NMFS agrees with designating management of Nassau grouper in the South Atlantic and Gulf Federal waters to the South Atlantic Council. Therefore, on October 18, 2011, NMFS published a notice in the Federal Register (76 FR 64327) requesting public comment on the proposed action through November 17, 2011, on the Gulf Council’s proposal. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\16DEN1.SGM 16DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 242 (Friday, December 16, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 78243-78245]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-32287]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XA853


Notice of Availability for General Conservation Plans and Notice 
of Intent To Prepare Environmental Assessments

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of Availability of General Conservation Plans; and 
Notice of Intent To prepare Environmental Assessments; announcement of 
a public scoping meeting; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We, NMFS, announce our intent to conduct public scoping 
necessary to gather information to prepare General Conservation Plans 
(GCPs) for the Penobscot Bay, Merrymeeting Bay, and Downeast Coastal 
Salmon Habitat Recovery Units (SHRUs) and Environmental Assessments 
(EAs) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The GCPs will 
provide a streamlined process by which dam owners that are not 
regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) can obtain 
an incidental take permit (ITP) by conforming to specific measures in 
their respective GCP that minimize and mitigate impacts to Gulf of 
Maine Distinct Population Segment (GOM DPS) of Atlantic salmon (Salmo 
salar). The GCP will be implemented cooperatively by participating dam 
owners and NMFS. The EAs will analyze the environmental effects of the 
proposed issuance of ITPs under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 
(ESA), as amended. We provide this notice to announce the initiation of 
a public scoping period, during which other Federal and State agencies, 
Tribes, and the public can provide suggestions and information on the 
scope of issues and range of alternatives to be addressed in the GCPs 
and EAs.

DATES: Please send written comments on or before February 14, 2012. A 
formal Public scoping meeting will be held on January 11, 2011. For the 
public meeting locations, see ``Meeting'' below.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2011-0291, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov. To 
submit

[[Page 78244]]

comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ``submit a 
comment'' icon, then enter NOAA-NMFS-2011-0291 in the keyword search. 
Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and 
click on the ``Submit a Comment'' icon on the right of that line.
     Mail or hand-delivery: Assistant Regional Administrator, 
NMFS, Northeast Regional Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, 
MA 01930.
    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above 
methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and 
considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public 
record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the 
sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will 
accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you 
wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be 
accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file 
formats only.
    The GCPs and other pertinent information are also available 
electronically at the NMFS Web site at http://www.nero.noaa.gov/prot_res/altsalmon/conservationplan and http://www.nero.noaa.gov.
    Meeting: A public meeting will be held on January 11, 2011, from 
12:30-5 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 250 Haskell Road, Bangor, ME.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Bean, NMFS, Northeast Regional 
Office, Maine Field Station, 17 Godfrey Drive, Orono, ME 04473; (207) 
866-4172.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Reasonable Accommodations

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meeting should contact the National Marine 
Fisheries Service (NMFS) at the address above no later than one week 
before the public meeting. Information regarding this proposed action 
is available in alternative formats upon request.

Background

    In accordance with section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, we are preparing 
three individual GCPs to provide a streamlined process by which dam 
owners within the GOM DPS can obtain an incidental take permit. Section 
9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1538) and the implementing regulations prohibit 
the take of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. The term 
``take'' is defined under the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1532) as to harass, harm, 
pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect or attempt 
to engage in such conduct. ``Harm'' is defined by Service regulation 
(50 CFR 17.3) to include significant habitat modification or 
degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by 
significantly impairing essential behavior patterns, including 
breeding, feeding, or sheltering. Under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA, 
NMFS may issue permits to authorize ``incidental take'' of listed 
species, where the take is incidental to, and not the purpose of, 
carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing 
permits for threatened and endangered species are found in the Code of 
Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 17.22, respectively. If 
a permit is issued, participating dam owners would receive assurances 
for all species included on the ITP under the Service's ``No 
Surprises'' regulations (50 CFR 17.22 (b)(5) and 17.32 (b)(5)).
    Section 10 of the ESA specifies the requirements for the issuance 
of ITPs to non-Federal entities. Any proposed take cannot appreciably 
reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in 
the wild. The impacts of such take must also be minimized and mitigated 
to the maximum extent practicable. Typically, to obtain an ITP, an 
applicant must prepare a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) describing the 
impact that would likely result from the proposed taking, the measures 
for minimizing and mitigating the take, the funding available to 
implement such measures, alternatives to the taking, and the reason why 
such alternatives are not being implemented. NMFS is preparing three 
individual GCPs that describe the required protective measures and 
provides a regulatory structure for these specific conditions to occur. 
Individual private dam owners could receive ITPs by participating in 
the GCP process.
    The specific objectives of the GCPs are to (1) Provide for safe, 
timely, and effective passage for all relevant life stages of Atlantic 
salmon at each facility covered in the GCPs to promote recovery of the 
species; (2) provide full access to critical habitat with a habitat 
quality score of 2 or 3 (74 FR 29300; June 19, 2009) in the GOM DPS; 
(3) provide a mechanism for which authorized incidental take can be 
mitigated by requiring the applicant to provide additional funds which 
can be used to improve access to quality habitat within the GOM DPS; 
and (4) provide a regulatory and permitting process for qualified dam 
owners to receive take authorization that minimizes time requirements 
for the applicant.
    Owners of dams not regulated by FERC that are located within the 
GOM DPS would be eligible for participation in the GCPs. We are 
proposing to address only the federally endangered GOM DPS Atlantic 
salmon in the GCP for ITP coverage, although other Federally listed and 
special-status species are expected to benefit from activities 
conducted through the GCPs. Under the GCPs, ITPs would be issued to 
cover otherwise legal activities necessary to maintain or improve 
Atlantic salmon passage. Such activities include, but are not limited 
to: Demolishing and removing a dam; rehabilitating riparian vegetation 
after dam removal; sediment removal upstream of a dam prior to removal; 
reconstructing the river channel after dam removal; and, constructing 
and maintaining upstream or downstream fishways. The GCPs would not 
allow for coverage of activities that are not specifically related to 
maintaining or improving Atlantic salmon passage.
    Participating dam owners in the GCPs would have two options to 
minimize take of Atlantic salmon: (1) Remove the dam; or (2) modify the 
dam such that it allows for upstream migration of adult Atlantic salmon 
during times of salmon migration. Dam owners utilizing minimization 
option two would also be required to pay a mitigation fee for ongoing 
impacts to fish passage that will result from continued dam presence. 
Specifically, dam owners would be assessed an annual mitigation fee 
which would be allocated to an individual GCP Adaptive Management Fund 
that would be used to improve fish passage at high priority locations 
in the respective SHRU. The annual fee would be calculated based on 
general information regarding the impacts of dams to Atlantic salmon 
passage and the quantity and quality of habitat upstream of the dam.
    We intend for the GCPs to be effective for 50 years. For projects 
pursuing Minimization Option 1 (dam removal), individual ITPs would be 
valid for the duration of the GCPs if necessary, though in most cases 
all take should be eliminated by dam removal and long-term take 
issuance should not be needed. For projects pursuing Minimization 
Option 2 (modify dam to allow for fish passage), individual ITPs

[[Page 78245]]

would be valid for 20 years and may be extended for additional terms if 
we determine that a dam has been, and remains, in compliance with the 
GCP's requirements.

Environmental Assessment

    NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) requires that Federal agencies 
conduct an environmental analysis of their proposed actions to 
determine if the actions may significantly affect the human 
environment. Under NEPA, a reasonable range of alternatives to proposed 
projects is developed and considered in the environmental review. 
Alternatives considered for analysis in an environmental document may 
include: variations in the scope of covered activities; Variations in 
the location, amount, and type of conservation; variations in permit 
duration; or, a combination of these elements.
    The EAs will consider the proposed action (issuance of ITPs through 
the GCP process), a no-action alternative (a scenario where there would 
be no issuance ITPs and dam owners would remain in violation of the 
ESA), and a reasonable range of alternatives that fit within the 
purpose and need as described by NMFS. The purpose of the proposed 
action is to provide a process for authorizing take of Atlantic salmon 
incidental to the removal of dams and the installation and maintenance 
of fish passage improvements for dams not regulated by FERC. The need 
for the proposed action is to provide a mechanism by which 
participating dam owners can comply with section 9 of the ESA, which 
prohibits the take of ESA listed fish, wildlife, or plant species. A 
detailed description of the proposed action and alternatives will be 
included in each of the EAs.
    The alternatives for analysis in the EAs may include, but are not 
limited to, development of individual HCPs for dam owners to receive 
take authorization for Atlantic salmon and development of regional HCPs 
developed by the State of Maine or local agencies (e.g., counties) to 
provide opportunities for dam owners to receive take authorization. The 
EAs will also identify potentially significant impacts on biological 
resources, land use, air quality, cultural resources, water resources, 
socioeconomics, and other resources in the human environment that may 
occur directly, indirectly, and/or cumulatively as a result of 
implementing the proposed action or any of the alternatives. Various 
strategies for avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating the impacts of 
incidental take will be considered.
    We are furnishing this notice in accordance with 40 CFR 1501.7 and 
1508.22 to obtain suggestions and information from other agencies and 
the public on the scope of issues and alternatives they believe need to 
be addressed in the EAs. The primary purpose of the scoping process is 
to identify important issues raised by the public related to the 
proposed action. Written comments from interested parties are requested 
to ensure that the full range of issues related to the proposed action 
is identified. Comments will only be accepted in written form.

Request for Public Comments

    We seek comments concerning: (1) Atlantic salmon proposed for 
inclusion in the proposed GCPs, including information regarding its 
range, distribution, population size and population trends within the 
GOM DPS; (2) relevant data concerning the impacts of the proposed 
actions on Atlantic salmon; (3) any other environmental issues that 
should be considered with regard to the proposed permit action; and (4) 
the information and range of alternatives to be included in the EAs.

Authority

    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: December 13, 2011.
Marta Nammack,
Acting Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-32287 Filed 12-15-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P