Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan for Western Butte County, CA: Environmental Impact Statement, 74500-74504 [2012-30182]

Download as PDF mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with 74500 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 241 / Friday, December 14, 2012 / Notices (2) FWS Form 3–2327 (Designated Hunter Permit Application, Permit, and Report). (3) FWS Form 3–2328 (Federal Subsistence Fishing Application, Permit, and Report). (4) FWS Form 3–2378 (Designated Fishing Permit Application, Permit, and Report). (5) FWS Form 3–2379 (Federal Subsistence Customary Trade Recordkeeping Form). We use the information collected to evaluate: • Eligibility of applicant. • Subsistence harvest success. • Effectiveness of season lengths, harvest quotas, and harvest restrictions. • Hunting patterns and practices. • Hunter use. The Federal Subsistence Board uses the harvest data, along with other information, to set future season dates and bag limits for Federal subsistence resource users. These seasons and bag limits are set to meet the needs of subsistence hunters without adversely impacting the health of existing animal populations. Also included in this ICR are three forms associated with recruitment and selection of members for regional advisory councils. (1) FWS Form 2321 (Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Council Membership Application/Nomination). (2) FWS Form 2322 (Regional Advisory Council Candidate Interview). (3) FWS Form 2323 (Regional Advisory Council Reference/Key Contact Interview). The member selection process begins with the information that we collect on the application. Ten interagency review panels interview all applicants and nominees, their references, and regional key contacts. These contacts are all based on the information that the applicant provides on the application form. The information that we collect through the application form and subsequent interviews is the basis of the Federal Subsistence Board’s recommendations to the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture for appointment and reappointment of council members. In addition to the above forms, our regulations at 50 CFR 100 and 36 CFR 242 contain requirements for the collection of information. We collect nonform information on: (1) Repeal of Federal subsistence rules and regulations (50 CFR 100.14 and 36 CFR 242.14). (2) Proposed changes to Federal subsistence regulations (50 CFR 100.18 and 36 CFR 242.18). (3) Special action requests (50 CFR 100.19 and 36 CFR 242.19). VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:41 Dec 13, 2012 Jkt 229001 (4) Requests for reconsideration (50 CFR 100.20 and 36 CFR 242.20). (5) Requests for permits and reports, such as traditional religious/cultural/ educational permits, fishwheel permits, fyke net permits, and under-ice permits (50 CFR 100.25–27 and 36 CFR 242.25– 27). Comments: On July 9, 2012, we published in the Federal Register (77 FR 40372) a notice of our intent to request that OMB renew approval for this information collection. In that notice, we solicited comments for 60 days, ending on September 7, 2012. We did not receive any comments in response to that notice. We again invite comments concerning this information collection on: • Whether or not the collection of information is necessary, including whether or not the information will have practical utility; • The accuracy of our estimate of the burden for this collection of information; • Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and • Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents. Comments that you submit in response to this notice are a matter of public record. 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 ask OMB in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that it will be done. Dated: December 6, 2012. Tina A. Campbell, Chief, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2012–30175 Filed 12–13–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P Notice of intent; notice of public scoping meeting; request for comments. ACTION: SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to prepare a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act for the proposed Habitat Conservation Plan/ Natural Community Conservation Plan for Western Butte County, hereafter referred to as the Butte Regional Conservation Plan (BRCP). This document is being prepared under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, and the California Natural Community Conservation Planning Act. The BRCP addresses State and Federal endangered species compliance requirements for the county of Butte and the cities of Oroville, Chico, Biggs, and Gridley (local agencies); the Butte County Association of Governments (BCAG); the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans); the Western Canal Water District; the Biggs West Gridley Water District, Butte Water District; and Richvale Irrigation District; and the BRCP implementing entity that will be established to implement the BRCP (permit applicants) for activities and projects in the BRCP plan area that they conduct or approve. The permit applicants intend to apply for a 50-year incidental take permit from the Service. This permit is needed to authorize the incidental take of threatened and endangered species that could result from activities covered under the BCRP. We announce meetings and invite comments. To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by January 28, 2013. Two public scoping meetings will be held on January 9th, 2013, the first from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Oroville City Council Chambers, located at 1735 Montgomery Street Oroville, CA 95965; and the second from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Butte County Association of Governments, at 2580 Sierra Sunrise Terrace Suite 100, Chico, CA 95928. DATES: To request further information or submit written comments, please use one of the following methods, and note that your information request or comment is in reference to the Butte Regional Conservation Plan (BRCP): • U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W– 2605, Sacramento, CA 95825. • In-Person Drop-Off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call 916–414–6600 to make an appointment during regular business hours to drop off comments or view ADDRESSES: DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R8–ES–2012–N226; FF08ESMF00– FXES11120800000–134] Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan/ Natural Community Conservation Plan for Western Butte County, CA: Environmental Impact Statement AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\14DEN1.SGM 14DEN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 241 / Friday, December 14, 2012 / Notices Project Summary the Service, and NMFS. In 2010, Western Canal Water District, Biggs West Gridley Water District, Butte Water District, Richvale Irrigation District and Caltrans became additional signatories to the planning agreement. The planning agreement set out the initial scope of the program and defined the roles and responsibilities of the parties in the development of the BRCP. The planning agreement has helped guide the BRCP planning process and to define the initial scope of the effort. BCAG served as the lead in coordination of the process and preparation of the BRCP. The BRCP’s conservation strategy proposes to provide a regional approach for the long-term conservation of covered species (see Covered Species, below) and natural communities within the BRCP plan area while allowing for compatible future land use and development under county and city general plan updates and the regional transportation plans. The BRCP identifies and addresses the covered activities carried out by the permittees that may result in take of covered species within the BRCP plan area. The proposed BRCP is intended to be consistent with and support compliance with other Federal and State wildlife and related laws and regulations, other local conservation planning efforts, and the city and county general plans. The BRCP was developed in coordination with the development of city and county general plans in the BRCP plan area, with feedback loops between the BRCP and general plan processes. These feedback loops identified opportunities and constraints and allowed for improvements in the general plans regarding the avoidance and minimization of impacts on biological resources and the development of open space and conservation elements that dovetail with the BRCP. The proposed BRCP is designed to streamline and coordinate existing processes for review and permitting of public and private activities that potentially affect protected species. To meet this goal, the BRCP will propose a conservation strategy that includes measures to ensure that impacts on covered species and habitats related to covered activities are avoided, minimized, or mitigated, as appropriate. Covered activities encompass the range of existing and future activities that are associated with much of the regional economy (see Covered Activities, below). In 2007, the BRCP planning agreement was entered into and by and among the local agencies, BCAG, CDFG, Background Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and Federal regulations prohibit received comments at the above U.S. mail address. • Fax: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 916–414–6713, Attn.: Mike Thomas. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Thomas, Chief, Conservation Planning Division, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, or Eric Tattersall, Deputy Assistant Field Supervisor, by phone at 916–414–6600 or by U.S. mail at the above address. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, please call the Federal Information Relay Service at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), publish this notice under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; NEPA), and its implementing regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 1506.6, as well as in compliance with section 10(c) of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; Act). We intend to prepare a draft EIS to evaluate the impacts of several alternatives related to the potential issuance of an Incidental Take Permit to the applicants, as well as impacts of the implementation of the supporting proposed Butte Regional Conservation Plan. The EIS will be a joint EIS/Environmental Impact Report (EIR), for which the Service, BCAG, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), intend to gather information necessary for preparation. The BRCP is a comprehensive, regional plan designed to provide longterm conservation and management of natural communities, sensitive species, and the habitats upon which those species depend, while accommodating other important uses of the land. It will serve as a habitat conservation plan pursuant to the federal Endangered Species Act (Act), and a natural community conservation plan (NCCP) under the California Natural Community Conservation Planning Act (NCCPA). The Service will serve as the administrative lead for all actions related to this Federal Register notice for the EIS component of the EIS/EIR. The BCAG will serve as the State lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act for the EIR component. BCAG, in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act, is publishing a similar notice. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:41 Dec 13, 2012 Jkt 229001 PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 74501 the ‘‘take’’ of wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened. The Act defines the term ‘‘take’’ as: to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect listed species, or to attempt to engage in such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532). Harm includes significant habitat modification or degradation that actually kills or injures listed wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, and sheltering [50 CFR 17.3(c)]. Pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act, we 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. Service regulations governing permits for threatened species and endangered species, respectively, are promulgated in 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act contains provisions for issuing such incidental take permits to non-Federal entities for the take of endangered and threatened species, provided the following criteria are met: • The taking will be incidental; • The applicants will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking; • The applicants will develop a proposed HCP and ensure that adequate funding for the plan will be provided; • The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and • The applicants will carry out any other measures that the Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the HCP. Thus, the purpose of issuing an ITP is to allow the applicants, under their respective regional authority, to authorize development while conserving the covered species and their habitats. Implementation of a multispecies HCP, rather than a speciesby-species or project-by-project approach, can maximize the benefits of conservation measures for covered species and eliminate expensive and time-consuming efforts associated with processing individual ITPs for each project within the applicants’ proposed Plan Area. The Service expects that the applicants will request ITP coverage for a period of 50 years. Plan Area The boundary of the BRCP plan area (or permit area) is based on political, ecological, and hydrologic factors. The BRCP plan area includes approximately 564,270 acres, including the western lowlands and foothills of Butte County. E:\FR\FM\14DEN1.SGM 14DEN1 74502 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 241 / Friday, December 14, 2012 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with The BRCP plan area is bounded on the west by county boundaries with Tehama, Glenn, and Colusa Counties; bounded on the south by boundaries with Sutter and Yuba Counties; bounded on the north by the boundary with Tehama County; and bounded on the east by the upper extent of landscape dominated by oak woodland natural communities. Specifically, the eastern oak woodland boundary is defined by a line below which landcover types dominated by oak trees comprise more than one half of the land cover present, plus a small portion of the City of Chico that extends above the oak zone. Covered Activities The proposed section 10 incidental take permit may allow take of covered wildlife species resulting from covered activities on non-Federal land in the proposed BRCP plan area. BCAG and local partners intend to request incidental take authorization for covered species that could be affected by activities identified in the BRCP. The activities within the BRCP plan area for which incidental take permit coverage is requested include construction and maintenance of facilities and infrastructure, both public and private, that are consistent with local general plans and local, State and Federal laws. The following is a summary of covered activities as proposed in the BRCP. Activities are grouped geographically (within Urban Permit Areas, outside urban permit areas, and within the system of conservation lands established in the BRCP), and are further grouped into activities that result in permanent development, and activities involving maintenance of existing or new facilities that are expected to occur over time during the permit duration. This following list is not intended to be exhaustive; rather, it provides an overview of the types of activities that would be expected to occur. 1. Activities within Urban Permit Areas (UPAs) are areas within the BRCP plan area for which the cities and County anticipate urban development under their respective general plan updates. a. Permanent Development: Covered activities within UPAs as a result of new construction and improvements to existing facilities are covered, including the following types of activities: residential, commercial, public facilities, and industrial construction; recreational activity–related construction; transportation facilities construction; pipeline installation; utility services (above and below VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:41 Dec 13, 2012 Jkt 229001 ground); waste and wastewater management activities; flood control and stormwater management activities; and in-water permanent development projects. b. Recurring Maintenance: Covered activities within UPAs include maintenance of existing and new facilities that results in temporary impacts, including the following types of activities: recreational activities; transportation facilities maintenance; pipeline maintenance; utility services; waste and wastewater facilities management activities; flood control and stormwater management activities; vegetation management; bridge and drainage structure maintenance; inwater recurring maintenance activities; and irrigation and drainage canal activities (Western Canal Water District, Biggs West Gridley Water District, Butte Water District, and Richvale Irrigation District). 2. Activities outside UPAs are areas of the county within the BRCP plan area and located outside of the UPAs. Covered activities include linear utilities, transportation construction and maintenance projects, and agricultural support services projects. Outside UPAs do not include areas that become part of BRCP conservation lands. a. Permanent Development: Covered activities of outside UPAs include new construction and improvements to existing facilities, including the following types of activities: waste management and wastewater facilities; rerouting of canals (Western Canal Water District, Biggs West Gridley Water District, Butte Water District, and Richvale Irrigation District); transportation facilities construction; BCAG Regional Transportation Plan and Caltrans projects; county rural bridge replacement projects; Butte County rural intersection improvement projects; Butte County rural roadway improvement projects; in-water permanent development projects; and agricultural services. b. Recurring Maintenance: Covered activities of outside UPAs include maintenance of existing and new facilities, including the following types of activities: waste and wastewater management activities; irrigation and drainage canal activities (Western Canal Water District, Biggs West Gridley Water District, Butte Water District, and Richvale Irrigation District); transportation facilities maintenance; flood control and stormwater management activities; vegetation management; in-water maintenance activities; and bridge and drainage structure maintenance. PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 3. Conservation Lands include the system of conservation lands established under the BRCP. Conservation actions will be implemented by the BRCP on conservation lands, including the following types of activities: habitat management; habitat restoration and enhancement; habitat and species monitoring; directed studies; general maintenance of conservation lands and facilities; avoidance and minimization measures; and species population enhancement measures. Covered Species Covered Species are those species addressed in the proposed BRCP for which conservation actions will be implemented and for which the permit applicants will seek incidental take authorizations for a period of up to 50 years. Proposed covered species are expected to include threatened and endangered species listed under the Act, species listed under the California Endangered Species Act, and currently unlisted species. Species proposed for coverage in the BRCP are species that are currently listed as federally threatened or endangered or have the potential to become listed during the life of this BRCP and have some likelihood to occur within the BRCP plan area. The BRCP is currently expected to address 41 listed and nonlisted wildlife and plant species. The list of proposed covered species may change as the planning process progresses; species may be added or removed as more is learned about the nature of covered activities and their impact within the BRCP plan area. The following federally listed threatened and endangered wildlife species are proposed to be covered by the BRCP: The threatened Central Valley steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), endangered Sacramento River winterrun Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), threatened green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris), threatened Valley elderberry longhorn beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus), endangered vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi), endangered conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), threatened vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi), and threatened giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas). The following unlisted wildlife species are proposed to be covered by the BRCP: tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor), yellow-breasted chat (Icteria virens), bank swallow (Riparia riparia), Western burrowing owl (Athene E:\FR\FM\14DEN1.SGM 14DEN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 241 / Friday, December 14, 2012 / Notices cunicularia hypugea), western yellowbilled cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus occidentalis), greater sandhill crane (Grus canadensis tabida), California black rail (Laterallus jamaicensis coturniculus), American peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum), Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni), white-tailed kite (Elanus leucurus), bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), Blainville’s horned lizard (Phrynosoma blainvillii), Western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata), foothill yellowlegged frog (Rana boylii), Western spadefoot toad (Spea hammondii), Central Valley fall/late fall-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), Sacramento splittail (Pogonichthys macrolepidotus), and river lamprey (Lampetra ayresii). Take of listed plant species is not prohibited on non-Federal land under the Act, and cannot be authorized under a section 10 permit. However, the permit applicants propose to include plant species on the permit in recognition of the conservation benefits provided for them under an HCP. For the purposes of the plan, certain plant species are further included to meet regulatory obligations under section 7 of the Act and the California Endangered Species Act. The Applicant would receive assurances under the Service’s ‘‘No Surprises’’ regulations found in 50 CFR 17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5) for all species on the incidental take permit. The following federally listed plant species are proposed to be included in the BRCP in recognition of the conservation benefits provided for them under the BRCP and the assurances permit holders would receive if they are included on a permit: the threatened Hoover’s spurge (Chamaesyce hooveri), endangered Butte County meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. californica), endangered hairy Orcutt grass (Orcuttia pilosa), threatened slender Orcutt grass (Orcuttia tenuis), and endangered Greene’s tuctoria (Tuctoria greenei). The following unlisted plant species are also proposed to be included in the BRCP: Ferris’ milkvetch (Astragalus tener var. ferrisiae), lesser saltscale (Atriplex minuscule), Ahart’s dwarf rush (Juncus leiospermus var. ahartii), Red Bluff dwarf rush (Juncus leiospermus var. leiospermus), veiny monardella (Monardella douglasii ssp. venosa), Ahart’s paronychia (Paronychia ahartii), California beaked-rush (Rhynchospora californica) Butte County checkerbloom (Sidalcea robusta), and Butte County golden clover (Trifolium jokerstii). Environmental Impact Statement Before deciding whether to issue the requested Federal incidental take VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:41 Dec 13, 2012 Jkt 229001 permit, the Service will prepare a draft EIS, in order to analyze the environmental impacts associated with issuance of the incidental take permit. In the EIS, the Service will consider the following alternatives: (1) The proposed action, which includes the issuance of take authorizations consistent with the proposed BRCP under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act; (2) no action (no permit issuance); and (3) a reasonable range of additional alternatives. The EIS/EIR will include a detailed analysis of the impacts of the proposed action and alternatives. The range of alternatives could include variations in impacts, conservation, permit duration, covered species, covered activities, permit area, or a combination of these elements. The EIS/EIR will identify and analyze potentially significant direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of our authorization of incidental take (permit issuance) and the implementation of the proposed BRCP on biological resources, land uses, utilities, air quality, water resources, cultural resources, socioeconomics and environmental justice, recreation, aesthetics, climate change and greenhouse gases, and other environmental issues that could occur with implementation of each alternative. The Service will use all practicable means, consistent with NEPA and other relevant considerations of national policy, to avoid or minimize significant effects of our actions on the quality of the human environment. Following completion of the environmental review, the Service will publish a notice of availability and a request for comment on the draft EIS/ EIR and the applicants’ permit application, which will include the proposed HCP. Public Comments We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, Tribes, industry, or any other interested party on this notice. We will consider these comments in developing a draft EIS/EIR and in the development of an HCP and ITP. We particularly seek comments on the following: 1. Biological information concerning the species; 2. Relevant data concerning the species; 3. Additional information concerning the range, distribution, population size, and population trends of the species; 4. Current or planned activities in the subject area and their possible impacts on the species; PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 74503 5. The presence of archeological sites, buildings and structures, historic events, sacred and traditional areas, and other historic preservation concerns, which are required to be considered in project planning by the National Historic Preservation Act; and 6. Identification of any other environmental issues that should be considered with regard to the proposed development and permit action. You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we use in preparing the EIS/EIR document, will be available for public inspection by appointment, during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the Service’s Sacramento address (see ADDRESSES). Scoping Meetings See DATES for the dates and times of our public meetings. The purpose of scoping meetings is to provide the public with a general understanding of the background of the proposed HCP and activities it would cover, alternative proposals under consideration for the draft EIS, and the Service’s role and steps to be taken to develop the draft EIS for the proposed HCP. The primary purpose of these meetings and public comment period is to solicit suggestions and information on the scope of issues and alternatives for the Service to consider when drafting the EIS. Written comments will be accepted at the meetings. Comments can also be submitted by methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. Once the draft EIS and proposed HCP are complete and made available for review, there will be additional opportunity for public comment on the content of these documents through additional public comment periods. Meeting Location Accommodations Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and participate in the public meetings should contact Mike Thomas at 916– 414–6600 as soon as possible. In order to allow sufficient time to process requests, please call no later than one week before the public meeting. Information regarding this proposed action is available in alternative formats upon request. Authority We provide this notice under section 10 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and per NEPA Regulations (40 CFR 1501.7, 40 CFR 1506.6, and 1508.22). E:\FR\FM\14DEN1.SGM 14DEN1 74504 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 241 / Friday, December 14, 2012 / Notices Dated: December 10, 2012 Alexandra Pitts, Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, California. [FR Doc. 2012–30182 Filed 12–13–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R8–ES–2012–N204; FF08E00000– FXES11120800000F2–123–F2] Proposed Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the State-Route 99/Cartmill Avenue Interchange Improvements Project, City of Tulare, Tulare County, CA AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. Notice of availability; request for comment. ACTION: SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received an application from the City of Tulare, Tulare County, California (applicant), for a 5-year incidental take permit for two species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The application addresses the potential for ‘‘take’’ of two listed animals, the vernal pool fairy shrimp and the San Joaquin kit fox. The applicant would implement a conservation strategy program to avoid, minimize, and mitigate effects of the project’s covered activities, as described in the applicant’s low-effect habitat conservation plan (HCP). We request comments on the applicant’s application and plan, and our preliminary determination that the plan qualifies as a ‘‘low-effect’’ habitat conservation plan, eligible for a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA). We discuss our basis for this determination in our environmental action statement (EAS), also available for public review. DATES: We must receive written comments on or before January 14, 2013. To request further information or submit written comments, please use one of the following methods, and note that your information request or comment is in reference to the Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the State Route 99/Cartmill Avenue Interchange Improvements Project, City of Tulare, Tulare County, California: • U.S. Mail: Nina Bicknese, Conservation Planning Division, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with ADDRESSES: VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:41 Dec 13, 2012 Jkt 229001 Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W–2605, Sacramento, CA 95825. • In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call (916) 414–6600 to make an appointment during regular business hours to drop off comments or view received comments at the address shown above. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Thomas, Chief, Conservation Planning Division, or Eric Tattersall, Deputy Assistant Field Supervisor, at the address shown above or at (916) 414–6600 (telephone). If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, please call the Federal Information Relay Service at (800) 877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Availability of Documents You may obtain copies of the permit application, HCP, and EAS from the individuals in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Copies of these documents are also available for public inspection, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES). Public Availability of Comments Before including your address, phone number, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—might be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Background Information Section 9 of the Act prohibits taking of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened under section 4 of the Act. Under the Act, 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. The term ‘‘harm’’ is defined in the regulations as significant habitat modification or degradation that results in death or injury of listed species by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). The term ‘‘harass’’ is defined in the 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). However, under specified circumstances, the Service may issue permits that allow the take of federally PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 listed species, provided that the take that occurs is incidental to, but not the purpose of, an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act contains provisions for issuing such incidental take permits to non-Federal entities for the take of endangered and threatened species, provided the following criteria are met: 1. The taking will be incidental; 2. The applicants will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking; 3. The applicants will develop a proposed HCP and ensure that adequate funding for the HCP 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 applicants will carry out any other measures that the Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the HCP. The applicant seeks an incidental take permit for proposed covered activities within a 219-acre permit area surrounding the intersection of State Route 99 and Cartmill Avenue within the City of Tulare, Tulare County, California. The HCP does not include any unlisted animal species or unlisted plant species. The following two federally listed species will be included as covered species in the applicant’s proposed HCP: • San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) (endangered) • Vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi) (threatened) For these covered species, the applicants would seek incidental take authorization. All species included in the incidental take permit would receive assurances under our ‘‘No Surprises’’ regulations (50 CFR 17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5)). Activities proposed for coverage under the proposed incidental take permit (covered-activities) would be otherwise lawful activities that could occur consistent with the HCP, to include, but not be limited to: • Widen and improve sections of existing roadway. • Remove the existing Cartmill Avenue overpass, remove associated roadways and associated highway ramps, and dispose of those materials. • Store equipment and supplies in a designated staging area. • Construct a new Cartmill Avenue overpass, including a temporary structure (falsework). Construct new roadways and new highway ramps associated with the new overpass. E:\FR\FM\14DEN1.SGM 14DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 241 (Friday, December 14, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 74500-74504]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-30182]


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

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2012-N226; FF08ESMF00-FXES11120800000-134]


Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation 
Plan for Western Butte County, CA: Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent; notice of public scoping meeting; request for 
comments.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
prepare a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National 
Environmental Policy Act for the proposed Habitat Conservation Plan/
Natural Community Conservation Plan for Western Butte County, hereafter 
referred to as the Butte Regional Conservation Plan (BRCP). This 
document is being prepared under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended, and the California Natural Community Conservation Planning 
Act. The BRCP addresses State and Federal endangered species compliance 
requirements for the county of Butte and the cities of Oroville, Chico, 
Biggs, and Gridley (local agencies); the Butte County Association of 
Governments (BCAG); the California Department of Transportation 
(Caltrans); the Western Canal Water District; the Biggs West Gridley 
Water District, Butte Water District; and Richvale Irrigation District; 
and the BRCP implementing entity that will be established to implement 
the BRCP (permit applicants) for activities and projects in the BRCP 
plan area that they conduct or approve. The permit applicants intend to 
apply for a 50-year incidental take permit from the Service. This 
permit is needed to authorize the incidental take of threatened and 
endangered species that could result from activities covered under the 
BCRP. We announce meetings and invite comments.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
January 28, 2013. Two public scoping meetings will be held on January 
9th, 2013, the first from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Oroville City Council 
Chambers, located at 1735 Montgomery Street Oroville, CA 95965; and the 
second from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Butte County Association of 
Governments, at 2580 Sierra Sunrise Terrace Suite 100, Chico, CA 95928.

ADDRESSES: To request further information or submit written comments, 
please use one of the following methods, and note that your information 
request or comment is in reference to the Butte Regional Conservation 
Plan (BRCP):
     U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish 
and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, CA 
95825.
     In-Person Drop-Off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call 916-414-6600 
to make an appointment during regular business hours to drop off 
comments or view

[[Page 74501]]

received comments at the above U.S. mail address.
     Fax: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 916-414-6713, Attn.: 
Mike Thomas.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Thomas, Chief, Conservation 
Planning Division, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, or Eric 
Tattersall, Deputy Assistant Field Supervisor, by phone at 916-414-6600 
or by U.S. mail at the above address. If you use a telecommunications 
device for the deaf, please call the Federal Information Relay Service 
at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), publish this notice under the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; NEPA), and its 
implementing regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 
CFR 1506.6, as well as in compliance with section 10(c) of the 
Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; Act). We intend to 
prepare a draft EIS to evaluate the impacts of several alternatives 
related to the potential issuance of an Incidental Take Permit to the 
applicants, as well as impacts of the implementation of the supporting 
proposed Butte Regional Conservation Plan. The EIS will be a joint EIS/
Environmental Impact Report (EIR), for which the Service, BCAG, the 
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the California Department 
of Fish and Game (CDFG), intend to gather information necessary for 
preparation.
    The BRCP is a comprehensive, regional plan designed to provide 
long-term conservation and management of natural communities, sensitive 
species, and the habitats upon which those species depend, while 
accommodating other important uses of the land. It will serve as a 
habitat conservation plan pursuant to the federal Endangered Species 
Act (Act), and a natural community conservation plan (NCCP) under the 
California Natural Community Conservation Planning Act (NCCPA).
    The Service will serve as the administrative lead for all actions 
related to this Federal Register notice for the EIS component of the 
EIS/EIR. The BCAG will serve as the State lead agency under the 
California Environmental Quality Act for the EIR component. BCAG, in 
accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act, is publishing 
a similar notice.

Project Summary

    In 2007, the BRCP planning agreement was entered into and by and 
among the local agencies, BCAG, CDFG, the Service, and NMFS. In 2010, 
Western Canal Water District, Biggs West Gridley Water District, Butte 
Water District, Richvale Irrigation District and Caltrans became 
additional signatories to the planning agreement. The planning 
agreement set out the initial scope of the program and defined the 
roles and responsibilities of the parties in the development of the 
BRCP. The planning agreement has helped guide the BRCP planning process 
and to define the initial scope of the effort. BCAG served as the lead 
in coordination of the process and preparation of the BRCP.
    The BRCP's conservation strategy proposes to provide a regional 
approach for the long-term conservation of covered species (see Covered 
Species, below) and natural communities within the BRCP plan area while 
allowing for compatible future land use and development under county 
and city general plan updates and the regional transportation plans. 
The BRCP identifies and addresses the covered activities carried out by 
the permittees that may result in take of covered species within the 
BRCP plan area.
    The proposed BRCP is intended to be consistent with and support 
compliance with other Federal and State wildlife and related laws and 
regulations, other local conservation planning efforts, and the city 
and county general plans. The BRCP was developed in coordination with 
the development of city and county general plans in the BRCP plan area, 
with feedback loops between the BRCP and general plan processes. These 
feedback loops identified opportunities and constraints and allowed for 
improvements in the general plans regarding the avoidance and 
minimization of impacts on biological resources and the development of 
open space and conservation elements that dovetail with the BRCP.
    The proposed BRCP is designed to streamline and coordinate existing 
processes for review and permitting of public and private activities 
that potentially affect protected species. To meet this goal, the BRCP 
will propose a conservation strategy that includes measures to ensure 
that impacts on covered species and habitats related to covered 
activities are avoided, minimized, or mitigated, as appropriate. 
Covered activities encompass the range of existing and future 
activities that are associated with much of the regional economy (see 
Covered Activities, below).

Background

    Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and Federal 
regulations prohibit the ``take'' of wildlife species listed as 
endangered or threatened. The Act defines the term ``take'' as: to 
harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or 
collect listed species, or to attempt to engage in such conduct (16 
U.S.C. 1532). Harm includes significant habitat modification or 
degradation that actually kills or injures listed wildlife by 
significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including 
breeding, feeding, and sheltering [50 CFR 17.3(c)]. Pursuant to section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Act, we 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. Service regulations governing permits for 
threatened species and endangered species, respectively, are 
promulgated in 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32.
    Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act contains provisions for issuing such 
incidental take permits to non-Federal entities for the take of 
endangered and threatened species, provided the following criteria are 
met:
     The taking will be incidental;
     The applicants will, to the maximum extent practicable, 
minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking;
     The applicants will develop a proposed HCP and ensure that 
adequate funding for the plan will be provided;
     The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of 
the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and
     The applicants will carry out any other measures that the 
Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes 
of the HCP.
    Thus, the purpose of issuing an ITP is to allow the applicants, 
under their respective regional authority, to authorize development 
while conserving the covered species and their habitats. Implementation 
of a multispecies HCP, rather than a species-by-species or project-by-
project approach, can maximize the benefits of conservation measures 
for covered species and eliminate expensive and time-consuming efforts 
associated with processing individual ITPs for each project within the 
applicants' proposed Plan Area. The Service expects that the applicants 
will request ITP coverage for a period of 50 years.

Plan Area

    The boundary of the BRCP plan area (or permit area) is based on 
political, ecological, and hydrologic factors. The BRCP plan area 
includes approximately 564,270 acres, including the western lowlands 
and foothills of Butte County.

[[Page 74502]]

The BRCP plan area is bounded on the west by county boundaries with 
Tehama, Glenn, and Colusa Counties; bounded on the south by boundaries 
with Sutter and Yuba Counties; bounded on the north by the boundary 
with Tehama County; and bounded on the east by the upper extent of 
landscape dominated by oak woodland natural communities. Specifically, 
the eastern oak woodland boundary is defined by a line below which 
land-cover types dominated by oak trees comprise more than one half of 
the land cover present, plus a small portion of the City of Chico that 
extends above the oak zone.

Covered Activities

    The proposed section 10 incidental take permit may allow take of 
covered wildlife species resulting from covered activities on non-
Federal land in the proposed BRCP plan area. BCAG and local partners 
intend to request incidental take authorization for covered species 
that could be affected by activities identified in the BRCP. The 
activities within the BRCP plan area for which incidental take permit 
coverage is requested include construction and maintenance of 
facilities and infrastructure, both public and private, that are 
consistent with local general plans and local, State and Federal laws. 
The following is a summary of covered activities as proposed in the 
BRCP. Activities are grouped geographically (within Urban Permit Areas, 
outside urban permit areas, and within the system of conservation lands 
established in the BRCP), and are further grouped into activities that 
result in permanent development, and activities involving maintenance 
of existing or new facilities that are expected to occur over time 
during the permit duration. This following list is not intended to be 
exhaustive; rather, it provides an overview of the types of activities 
that would be expected to occur.
    1. Activities within Urban Permit Areas (UPAs) are areas within the 
BRCP plan area for which the cities and County anticipate urban 
development under their respective general plan updates.
    a. Permanent Development: Covered activities within UPAs as a 
result of new construction and improvements to existing facilities are 
covered, including the following types of activities: residential, 
commercial, public facilities, and industrial construction; 
recreational activity-related construction; transportation facilities 
construction; pipeline installation; utility services (above and below 
ground); waste and wastewater management activities; flood control and 
stormwater management activities; and in-water permanent development 
projects.
    b. Recurring Maintenance: Covered activities within UPAs include 
maintenance of existing and new facilities that results in temporary 
impacts, including the following types of activities: recreational 
activities; transportation facilities maintenance; pipeline 
maintenance; utility services; waste and wastewater facilities 
management activities; flood control and stormwater management 
activities; vegetation management; bridge and drainage structure 
maintenance; in-water recurring maintenance activities; and irrigation 
and drainage canal activities (Western Canal Water District, Biggs West 
Gridley Water District, Butte Water District, and Richvale Irrigation 
District).
    2. Activities outside UPAs are areas of the county within the BRCP 
plan area and located outside of the UPAs. Covered activities include 
linear utilities, transportation construction and maintenance projects, 
and agricultural support services projects. Outside UPAs do not include 
areas that become part of BRCP conservation lands.
    a. Permanent Development: Covered activities of outside UPAs 
include new construction and improvements to existing facilities, 
including the following types of activities: waste management and 
wastewater facilities; rerouting of canals (Western Canal Water 
District, Biggs West Gridley Water District, Butte Water District, and 
Richvale Irrigation District); transportation facilities construction; 
BCAG Regional Transportation Plan and Caltrans projects; county rural 
bridge replacement projects; Butte County rural intersection 
improvement projects; Butte County rural roadway improvement projects; 
in-water permanent development projects; and agricultural services.
    b. Recurring Maintenance: Covered activities of outside UPAs 
include maintenance of existing and new facilities, including the 
following types of activities: waste and wastewater management 
activities; irrigation and drainage canal activities (Western Canal 
Water District, Biggs West Gridley Water District, Butte Water 
District, and Richvale Irrigation District); transportation facilities 
maintenance; flood control and stormwater management activities; 
vegetation management; in-water maintenance activities; and bridge and 
drainage structure maintenance.
    3. Conservation Lands include the system of conservation lands 
established under the BRCP. Conservation actions will be implemented by 
the BRCP on conservation lands, including the following types of 
activities: habitat management; habitat restoration and enhancement; 
habitat and species monitoring; directed studies; general maintenance 
of conservation lands and facilities; avoidance and minimization 
measures; and species population enhancement measures.

Covered Species

    Covered Species are those species addressed in the proposed BRCP 
for which conservation actions will be implemented and for which the 
permit applicants will seek incidental take authorizations for a period 
of up to 50 years. Proposed covered species are expected to include 
threatened and endangered species listed under the Act, species listed 
under the California Endangered Species Act, and currently unlisted 
species. Species proposed for coverage in the BRCP are species that are 
currently listed as federally threatened or endangered or have the 
potential to become listed during the life of this BRCP and have some 
likelihood to occur within the BRCP plan area. The BRCP is currently 
expected to address 41 listed and non-listed wildlife and plant 
species. The list of proposed covered species may change as the 
planning process progresses; species may be added or removed as more is 
learned about the nature of covered activities and their impact within 
the BRCP plan area.
    The following federally listed threatened and endangered wildlife 
species are proposed to be covered by the BRCP: The threatened Central 
Valley steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), endangered Sacramento River 
winter-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), threatened 
Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), 
threatened green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris), threatened Valley 
elderberry longhorn beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus), 
endangered vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi), endangered 
conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), threatened vernal 
pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi), and threatened giant garter 
snake (Thamnophis gigas).
    The following unlisted wildlife species are proposed to be covered 
by the BRCP: tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor), yellow-breasted 
chat (Icteria virens), bank swallow (Riparia riparia), Western 
burrowing owl (Athene

[[Page 74503]]

cunicularia hypugea), western yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus 
occidentalis), greater sandhill crane (Grus canadensis tabida), 
California black rail (Laterallus jamaicensis coturniculus), American 
peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum), Swainson's hawk (Buteo 
swainsoni), white-tailed kite (Elanus leucurus), bald eagle (Haliaeetus 
leucocephalus), Blainville's horned lizard (Phrynosoma blainvillii), 
Western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata), foothill yellow-legged frog 
(Rana boylii), Western spadefoot toad (Spea hammondii), Central Valley 
fall/late fall-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), 
Sacramento splittail (Pogonichthys macrolepidotus), and river lamprey 
(Lampetra ayresii).
    Take of listed plant species is not prohibited on non-Federal land 
under the Act, and cannot be authorized under a section 10 permit. 
However, the permit applicants propose to include plant species on the 
permit in recognition of the conservation benefits provided for them 
under an HCP. For the purposes of the plan, certain plant species are 
further included to meet regulatory obligations under section 7 of the 
Act and the California Endangered Species Act. The Applicant would 
receive assurances under the Service's ``No Surprises'' regulations 
found in 50 CFR 17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5) for all species on the 
incidental take permit. The following federally listed plant species 
are proposed to be included in the BRCP in recognition of the 
conservation benefits provided for them under the BRCP and the 
assurances permit holders would receive if they are included on a 
permit: the threatened Hoover's spurge (Chamaesyce hooveri), endangered 
Butte County meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. californica), 
endangered hairy Orcutt grass (Orcuttia pilosa), threatened slender 
Orcutt grass (Orcuttia tenuis), and endangered Greene's tuctoria 
(Tuctoria greenei). The following unlisted plant species are also 
proposed to be included in the BRCP: Ferris' milkvetch (Astragalus 
tener var. ferrisiae), lesser saltscale (Atriplex minuscule), Ahart's 
dwarf rush (Juncus leiospermus var. ahartii), Red Bluff dwarf rush 
(Juncus leiospermus var. leiospermus), veiny monardella (Monardella 
douglasii ssp. venosa), Ahart's paronychia (Paronychia ahartii), 
California beaked-rush (Rhynchospora californica) Butte County 
checkerbloom (Sidalcea robusta), and Butte County golden clover 
(Trifolium jokerstii).

Environmental Impact Statement

    Before deciding whether to issue the requested Federal incidental 
take permit, the Service will prepare a draft EIS, in order to analyze 
the environmental impacts associated with issuance of the incidental 
take permit. In the EIS, the Service will consider the following 
alternatives: (1) The proposed action, which includes the issuance of 
take authorizations consistent with the proposed BRCP under section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Act; (2) no action (no permit issuance); and (3) a 
reasonable range of additional alternatives. The EIS/EIR will include a 
detailed analysis of the impacts of the proposed action and 
alternatives. The range of alternatives could include variations in 
impacts, conservation, permit duration, covered species, covered 
activities, permit area, or a combination of these elements.
    The EIS/EIR will identify and analyze potentially significant 
direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of our authorization of 
incidental take (permit issuance) and the implementation of the 
proposed BRCP on biological resources, land uses, utilities, air 
quality, water resources, cultural resources, socioeconomics and 
environmental justice, recreation, aesthetics, climate change and 
greenhouse gases, and other environmental issues that could occur with 
implementation of each alternative. The Service will use all 
practicable means, consistent with NEPA and other relevant 
considerations of national policy, to avoid or minimize significant 
effects of our actions on the quality of the human environment.
    Following completion of the environmental review, the Service will 
publish a notice of availability and a request for comment on the draft 
EIS/EIR and the applicants' permit application, which will include the 
proposed HCP.

Public Comments

    We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the 
public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific 
community, Tribes, industry, or any other interested party on this 
notice. We will consider these comments in developing a draft EIS/EIR 
and in the development of an HCP and ITP. We particularly seek comments 
on the following:
    1. Biological information concerning the species;
    2. Relevant data concerning the species;
    3. Additional information concerning the range, distribution, 
population size, and population trends of the species;
    4. Current or planned activities in the subject area and their 
possible impacts on the species;
    5. The presence of archeological sites, buildings and structures, 
historic events, sacred and traditional areas, and other historic 
preservation concerns, which are required to be considered in project 
planning by the National Historic Preservation Act; and
    6. Identification of any other environmental issues that should be 
considered with regard to the proposed development and permit action.
    You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods 
listed in the ADDRESSES section.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we use in preparing the EIS/EIR document, will be 
available for public inspection by appointment, during normal business 
hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the Service's 
Sacramento address (see ADDRESSES).

Scoping Meetings

    See DATES for the dates and times of our public meetings. The 
purpose of scoping meetings is to provide the public with a general 
understanding of the background of the proposed HCP and activities it 
would cover, alternative proposals under consideration for the draft 
EIS, and the Service's role and steps to be taken to develop the draft 
EIS for the proposed HCP.
    The primary purpose of these meetings and public comment period is 
to solicit suggestions and information on the scope of issues and 
alternatives for the Service to consider when drafting the EIS. Written 
comments will be accepted at the meetings. Comments can also be 
submitted by methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. Once the draft 
EIS and proposed HCP are complete and made available for review, there 
will be additional opportunity for public comment on the content of 
these documents through additional public comment periods.

Meeting Location Accommodations

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meetings should contact Mike Thomas at 916-
414-6600 as soon as possible. In order to allow sufficient time to 
process requests, please call no later than one week before the public 
meeting. Information regarding this proposed action is available in 
alternative formats upon request.

Authority

    We provide this notice under section 10 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 
et seq.) and per NEPA Regulations (40 CFR 1501.7, 40 CFR 1506.6, and 
1508.22).


[[Page 74504]]


    Dated: December 10, 2012
Alexandra Pitts,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, 
California.
[FR Doc. 2012-30182 Filed 12-13-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P