Experimental Removal of Barred Owls To Benefit Threatened Northern Spotted Owls; Final Environmental Impact Statement, 44588-44589 [2013-17620]

Download as PDF 44588 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 24, 2013 / Notices 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. Authority We provide this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act and the NEPA public-involvement regulations (40 CFR 1500.1(b), 1500.2(d), and 1506.6). Next Steps We will evaluate the permit application, including the Applicant’s HCP, and comments we receive to determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. If the requirements are met, we will issue a permit to the Applicant for the incidental take of the 13 Covered Species from the implementation of the Covered Activities described in the Cross Valley Line HCP. We will make the final permit decision no sooner than September 23, 2013. Dated: July 17, 2013. Alexandra Pitts, Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, California. [FR Doc. 2013–17772 Filed 7–23–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R1–ES–2013–N137; FXES11130100000D2–134–FF01E00000] Experimental Removal of Barred Owls To Benefit Threatened Northern Spotted Owls; Final Environmental Impact Statement Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability of the final environmental impact statement (Final EIS) for experimental removal of barred owls to benefit threatened northern spotted owls. The barred owl, a species recently established in western North America, is displacing the northern spotted owl and threatening its viability. The Final EIS analyzes a no-action alternative and eight action alternatives to experimentally determine if removing barred owls will benefit northern spotted owl populations and to test the feasibility and efficiency of barred owl removal as a management tool. The sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:35 Jul 23, 2013 Jkt 229001 Background The Service listed the northern spotted owl as a threatened species under the Act in 1990, based primarily ADDRESSES: The Final EIS is available at: on habitat loss and degradation (55 FR 26114). As a result, conservation efforts • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for the northern spotted owl have been Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, 2600 largely focused on habitat protection. SE 98th Ave., Suite 100, Portland, OR While our listing rule noted that the 97266; telephone 503–231–6179. long-term impact of barred owls on the • Internet: http://www.fws.gov/ spotted owl was of considerable oregonfwo. concern, the scope and severity of this threat was largely unknown at that time FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul (55 FR 26114, p. 26190). The Recovery Henson, State Supervisor, Oregon Fish Plan summarized information available and Wildlife Office, at 503–231–6179. If since our listing rule and found that you use a telecommunications device competition from barred owls now for the deaf, please call the Federal poses a significant and immediate threat Information Relay Service at 800–877– to the northern spotted owl throughout 8339. its range (USFWS 2011, pp. B–10 through B–12). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Historically, the barred owl and We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife northern spotted owl did not co-occur. Service (Service), announce the In the past century, barred owls have availability of the Final EIS for expanded their range westward, experimental removal of barred owls to reaching the range of the northern benefit threatened northern spotted spotted owl in British Columbia by owls. We are publishing this notice in about 1959. Barred owl populations compliance with the National continue to expand southward within Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as the range of the northern spotted owl, amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; NEPA) the population of barred owls behind and its implementing regulations at 40 the expansion-front continues to CFR 1506.6. The Final EIS evaluates the increase, and barred owls now impacts of eight action alternatives and outnumber spotted owls in many a no-action alternative related to: (1) portions of the northern spotted owl’s Federal involvement in barred owl range (Pearson and Livezey 2003, p. removal experiments, and (2) the 272). possible issuance of one or more There is strong evidence to indicate scientific collecting permits under the that barred owls are negatively affecting Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. northern spotted owl populations. 703–712; MBTA) for lethal and Barred owls displace spotted owls from nonlethal take of barred owls. high-quality habitat (Kelley et al. 2003, p. 51; Pearson and Livezey 2003, p. 274; The northern spotted owl (Strix Courtney et al., pp. 7–27 through 7–31; occidentalis caurina) is listed as Gremel 2005, pp. 9, 11, 17; Hamer et al. threatened under the Endangered 2007, p. 764; Dugger et al. 2011, pp. Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; 2464–1466), reducing their survival and Act). Competition from barred owls reproduction (Olson et al. 2004, p. 1048; (Strix varia) is identified as one of the main threats to the northern spotted owl Anthony et al. 2006, p. 32; Forsman et al. 2011, pp. 41–43, 69–70). In addition, in the 2011 Revised Northern Spotted barred owls may physically attack Owl Recovery Plan (Recovery Plan) spotted owls (Gutierrez et al. 2007, p. (USFWS 2011, p. III–62). To address 187). These effects may help explain this threat, the Recovery Plan declines in northern spotted owl recommends designing and territory occupancy associated with implementing large-scale controlled barred owls in Oregon, and reduced experiments to assess the effects of northern spotted owl survivorship and barred owl removal on spotted owl site sharp population declines in occupancy, reproduction, and survival Washington (e.g., in northern (USFWS 2011, p. III–65). The study Washington, spotted owl populations would be conducted on from one to declined by as much as 55 percent several study areas in western between 1996 and 2006) (Anthony et al. Washington, western Oregon, and 2006, pp. 21, 30, 32; Forsman et al. northwestern California. The action 2011, pp. 43–47, 65–66)). Without alternatives vary by the number and management intervention, it is location of study areas, the type of reasonable to expect that competition experimental design, duration of the from barred owls may cause extirpation study, and the method of barred owl of the northern spotted owl from all or removal. action alternatives vary by the number and location of study areas, the type of experimental design, duration of study, and method of barred owl removal. PO 00000 Frm 00070 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\24JYN1.SGM 24JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 142 / Wednesday, July 24, 2013 / Notices a substantial portion of its historical range, reducing its potential for survival and recovery. sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Public Involvement On December 10, 2009, the Service published a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement related to experimental removal of barred owls for the conservation benefit of threatened northern spotted owls (notice of intent) in the Federal Register (74 FR 65546), to solicit participation of: Federal, State, and local agencies; Tribes; and the public to determine the scope of the EIS and provide input on issues associated with the proposed experiment. In addition to the publication of the notice of intent, the scoping process included informal stakeholder and agency consultations, and electronic or mailed notification to over 1,000 interested parties. Public scoping lasted until January 11, 2010. A scoping report is appended to the Final EIS. In accordance with the NEPA, the Draft EIS was circulated for public review and comment. The public review period was initiated with the publication of the notice of availability (NOA) in the Federal Register on March 8, 2012 (77 FR 14036). We conducted one public meeting in Seattle on May 3, 2012, and five informational webinars for the public. Comments were due June 6, 2012. A summary of the comments and written responses are appended to the Final EIS. Alternatives The alternatives vary by the number and location of study areas, the method of barred owl removal (lethal, or a combination of lethal and nonlethal), and the type of experimental design (demography vs. occupancy). All action alternatives are based on a simple treatment and control study approach. Under this approach, study areas are divided into two comparable segments. Barred owls are removed from the treatment area but not from the control area. Spotted owl populations are measured using the same methodology on both areas, and the population measures (occupancy, survival, reproduction, and population trend) are compared between the control and treatment areas. The removal of barred owls under the experiment would occur over a period of 3 to 10 years, depending on the alternative. The action alternatives include from 1 to 11 study areas, including from 0.31 to 6.55 percent of the northern spotted owl’s habitat. A brief description of each alternative follows. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:35 Jul 23, 2013 Jkt 229001 Under the No-action Alternative, the Service would not conduct experimental removal of barred owls, thus not implementing one of the recovery actions set forth in the Recovery Plan (USFWS 2001, p. III–65). Data that would inform future barred owl management strategies would not be gathered. Alternative 1 consists of a demography study in a single study area with existing pre-treatment spotted owl demography data. The study area would be located within an existing spotted owl demography study area where longterm monitoring of northern spotted owl populations has occurred (Lint et al. 1999, p. 17; Lint 2005, p. 7). Only lethal removal methods would be used in this alternative. Alternative 2 consists of a demography study in three study areas, which would be located within existing spotted owl demography study areas and distributed across the range of the northern spotted owl. A combination of lethal and nonlethal removal methods would be used. Alternative 3 consists of a demography study in two study areas. Barred owl removal would occur outside of existing spotted owl demography study areas, but within areas that have adequate data to conduct pre-removal demography analyses. A combination of lethal and nonlethal removal methods would be used. Alternative 4 includes two subalternatives, 4a and 4b. Each subalternative consists of a demography study in two study areas outside existing spotted owl demography study areas. Each subalternative uses a combination of lethal and nonlethal removal methods. Subalternatives 4a and 4b differ in that 4a delays barred owl removal to collect pre-treatment data for comparison with treatment data, whereas 4b starts removal immediately and foregoes pre-treatment data collection. Alternative 5 consists of an occupancy study approach in three study areas. Barred owl removal would occur on areas outside of existing spotted owl demography study areas. Only lethal removal methods would be applied in this alternative. Alternative 6 includes two subalternatives, 6a and 6b. Each subalternative consists of an occupancy study in three study areas. Barred owl removal would occur on areas outside of existing spotted owl demography study areas. Each subalternative uses a combination of lethal and nonlethal removal methods. Subalternatives 6a and 6b differ in that 6a delays removal to collect pre-treatment data for PO 00000 Frm 00071 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 44589 comparison with treatment data, whereas 6b starts removal immediately and foregoes pre-treatment data collection. Alternative 7 consists of a combination of demography and occupancy analyses across 11 study areas, some of which have current data. Three existing spotted owl demographic study areas would be included within these study areas. A combination of lethal and nonlethal removal methods would be used. Following public review of the Draft EIS, the Service developed a Preferred Alternative based on a combination of the features of Alternatives 2 and 3. The Preferred Alternative consists of a demography study in four study areas as in both draft alternatives. Barred owl removal would occur on the Cle Elum Study Area in Washington and the Hoopa (Willow Creek) Study Area in California from Alternative 2, the Union/Myrtle (Klamath) Study Area in southern Oregon from Alternative 3, and one half of the combined Oregon Coast Ranges and Veneta Study Areas in northern Oregon. This last study area is a combination of study areas from Alternative 2 and 3. A combination of lethal and non-lethal removal methods would be used from Alternative 3. References Cited A complete list of references cited in this notice is available upon request from our Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). National Environmental Policy Act Compliance We will make a decision no sooner than 30 days after the publication of the Final EIS. We anticipate issuing a Record of Decision in the summer of 2013. We provide this notice under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and its implementing regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 1506.6. We also publish this notice under authority of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703–712) and its specific implementing regulations at 50 CFR 10.13 and 50 CFR 21.23. Dated: July 17, 2013. Robyn Thorson, Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon. [FR Doc. 2013–17620 Filed 7–23–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P E:\FR\FM\24JYN1.SGM 24JYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 142 (Wednesday, July 24, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 44588-44589]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-17620]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-ES-2013-N137; FXES11130100000D2-134-FF01E00000]


Experimental Removal of Barred Owls To Benefit Threatened 
Northern Spotted Owls; Final Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the 
availability of the final environmental impact statement (Final EIS) 
for experimental removal of barred owls to benefit threatened northern 
spotted owls. The barred owl, a species recently established in western 
North America, is displacing the northern spotted owl and threatening 
its viability. The Final EIS analyzes a no-action alternative and eight 
action alternatives to experimentally determine if removing barred owls 
will benefit northern spotted owl populations and to test the 
feasibility and efficiency of barred owl removal as a management tool. 
The action alternatives vary by the number and location of study areas, 
the type of experimental design, duration of study, and method of 
barred owl removal.

ADDRESSES: The Final EIS is available at:
     U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Fish and Wildlife 
Office, 2600 SE 98th Ave., Suite 100, Portland, OR 97266; telephone 
503-231-6179.
     Internet: http://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Henson, State Supervisor, Oregon 
Fish and Wildlife Office, at 503-231-6179. 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), announce the 
availability of the Final EIS for experimental removal of barred owls 
to benefit threatened northern spotted owls. We are publishing this 
notice in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; NEPA) and its implementing 
regulations at 40 CFR 1506.6. The Final EIS evaluates the impacts of 
eight action alternatives and a no-action alternative related to: (1) 
Federal involvement in barred owl removal experiments, and (2) the 
possible issuance of one or more scientific collecting permits under 
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703-712; MBTA) for lethal and 
nonlethal take of barred owls.
    The northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) is listed as 
threatened under the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; 
Act). Competition from barred owls (Strix varia) is identified as one 
of the main threats to the northern spotted owl in the 2011 Revised 
Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan (Recovery Plan) (USFWS 2011, p. III-
62). To address this threat, the Recovery Plan recommends designing and 
implementing large-scale controlled experiments to assess the effects 
of barred owl removal on spotted owl site occupancy, reproduction, and 
survival (USFWS 2011, p. III-65). The study would be conducted on from 
one to several study areas in western Washington, western Oregon, and 
northwestern California. The action alternatives vary by the number and 
location of study areas, the type of experimental design, duration of 
the study, and the method of barred owl removal.

Background

    The Service listed the northern spotted owl as a threatened species 
under the Act in 1990, based primarily on habitat loss and degradation 
(55 FR 26114). As a result, conservation efforts for the northern 
spotted owl have been largely focused on habitat protection. While our 
listing rule noted that the long-term impact of barred owls on the 
spotted owl was of considerable concern, the scope and severity of this 
threat was largely unknown at that time (55 FR 26114, p. 26190). The 
Recovery Plan summarized information available since our listing rule 
and found that competition from barred owls now poses a significant and 
immediate threat to the northern spotted owl throughout its range 
(USFWS 2011, pp. B-10 through B-12).
    Historically, the barred owl and northern spotted owl did not co-
occur. In the past century, barred owls have expanded their range 
westward, reaching the range of the northern spotted owl in British 
Columbia by about 1959. Barred owl populations continue to expand 
southward within the range of the northern spotted owl, the population 
of barred owls behind the expansion-front continues to increase, and 
barred owls now outnumber spotted owls in many portions of the northern 
spotted owl's range (Pearson and Livezey 2003, p. 272).
    There is strong evidence to indicate that barred owls are 
negatively affecting northern spotted owl populations. Barred owls 
displace spotted owls from high-quality habitat (Kelley et al. 2003, p. 
51; Pearson and Livezey 2003, p. 274; Courtney et al., pp. 7-27 through 
7-31; Gremel 2005, pp. 9, 11, 17; Hamer et al. 2007, p. 764; Dugger et 
al. 2011, pp. 2464-1466), reducing their survival and reproduction 
(Olson et al. 2004, p. 1048; Anthony et al. 2006, p. 32; Forsman et al. 
2011, pp. 41-43, 69-70). In addition, barred owls may physically attack 
spotted owls (Gutierrez et al. 2007, p. 187). These effects may help 
explain declines in northern spotted owl territory occupancy associated 
with barred owls in Oregon, and reduced northern spotted owl 
survivorship and sharp population declines in Washington (e.g., in 
northern Washington, spotted owl populations declined by as much as 55 
percent between 1996 and 2006) (Anthony et al. 2006, pp. 21, 30, 32; 
Forsman et al. 2011, pp. 43-47, 65-66)). Without management 
intervention, it is reasonable to expect that competition from barred 
owls may cause extirpation of the northern spotted owl from all or

[[Page 44589]]

a substantial portion of its historical range, reducing its potential 
for survival and recovery.

Public Involvement

    On December 10, 2009, the Service published a notice of intent to 
prepare an environmental impact statement related to experimental 
removal of barred owls for the conservation benefit of threatened 
northern spotted owls (notice of intent) in the Federal Register (74 FR 
65546), to solicit participation of: Federal, State, and local 
agencies; Tribes; and the public to determine the scope of the EIS and 
provide input on issues associated with the proposed experiment. In 
addition to the publication of the notice of intent, the scoping 
process included informal stakeholder and agency consultations, and 
electronic or mailed notification to over 1,000 interested parties. 
Public scoping lasted until January 11, 2010. A scoping report is 
appended to the Final EIS.
    In accordance with the NEPA, the Draft EIS was circulated for 
public review and comment. The public review period was initiated with 
the publication of the notice of availability (NOA) in the Federal 
Register on March 8, 2012 (77 FR 14036). We conducted one public 
meeting in Seattle on May 3, 2012, and five informational webinars for 
the public. Comments were due June 6, 2012. A summary of the comments 
and written responses are appended to the Final EIS.

Alternatives

    The alternatives vary by the number and location of study areas, 
the method of barred owl removal (lethal, or a combination of lethal 
and nonlethal), and the type of experimental design (demography vs. 
occupancy). All action alternatives are based on a simple treatment and 
control study approach. Under this approach, study areas are divided 
into two comparable segments. Barred owls are removed from the 
treatment area but not from the control area. Spotted owl populations 
are measured using the same methodology on both areas, and the 
population measures (occupancy, survival, reproduction, and population 
trend) are compared between the control and treatment areas.
    The removal of barred owls under the experiment would occur over a 
period of 3 to 10 years, depending on the alternative. The action 
alternatives include from 1 to 11 study areas, including from 0.31 to 
6.55 percent of the northern spotted owl's habitat. A brief description 
of each alternative follows.
    Under the No-action Alternative, the Service would not conduct 
experimental removal of barred owls, thus not implementing one of the 
recovery actions set forth in the Recovery Plan (USFWS 2001, p. III-
65). Data that would inform future barred owl management strategies 
would not be gathered.
    Alternative 1 consists of a demography study in a single study area 
with existing pre-treatment spotted owl demography data. The study area 
would be located within an existing spotted owl demography study area 
where long-term monitoring of northern spotted owl populations has 
occurred (Lint et al. 1999, p. 17; Lint 2005, p. 7). Only lethal 
removal methods would be used in this alternative.
    Alternative 2 consists of a demography study in three study areas, 
which would be located within existing spotted owl demography study 
areas and distributed across the range of the northern spotted owl. A 
combination of lethal and nonlethal removal methods would be used.
    Alternative 3 consists of a demography study in two study areas. 
Barred owl removal would occur outside of existing spotted owl 
demography study areas, but within areas that have adequate data to 
conduct pre-removal demography analyses. A combination of lethal and 
nonlethal removal methods would be used.
    Alternative 4 includes two subalternatives, 4a and 4b. Each 
subalternative consists of a demography study in two study areas 
outside existing spotted owl demography study areas. Each 
subalternative uses a combination of lethal and nonlethal removal 
methods. Subalternatives 4a and 4b differ in that 4a delays barred owl 
removal to collect pre-treatment data for comparison with treatment 
data, whereas 4b starts removal immediately and foregoes pre-treatment 
data collection.
    Alternative 5 consists of an occupancy study approach in three 
study areas. Barred owl removal would occur on areas outside of 
existing spotted owl demography study areas. Only lethal removal 
methods would be applied in this alternative.
    Alternative 6 includes two subalternatives, 6a and 6b. Each 
subalternative consists of an occupancy study in three study areas. 
Barred owl removal would occur on areas outside of existing spotted owl 
demography study areas. Each subalternative uses a combination of 
lethal and nonlethal removal methods. Subalternatives 6a and 6b differ 
in that 6a delays removal to collect pre-treatment data for comparison 
with treatment data, whereas 6b starts removal immediately and foregoes 
pre-treatment data collection.
    Alternative 7 consists of a combination of demography and occupancy 
analyses across 11 study areas, some of which have current data. Three 
existing spotted owl demographic study areas would be included within 
these study areas. A combination of lethal and nonlethal removal 
methods would be used.
    Following public review of the Draft EIS, the Service developed a 
Preferred Alternative based on a combination of the features of 
Alternatives 2 and 3. The Preferred Alternative consists of a 
demography study in four study areas as in both draft alternatives. 
Barred owl removal would occur on the Cle Elum Study Area in Washington 
and the Hoopa (Willow Creek) Study Area in California from Alternative 
2, the Union/Myrtle (Klamath) Study Area in southern Oregon from 
Alternative 3, and one half of the combined Oregon Coast Ranges and 
Veneta Study Areas in northern Oregon. This last study area is a 
combination of study areas from Alternative 2 and 3. A combination of 
lethal and non-lethal removal methods would be used from Alternative 3.

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this notice is available 
upon request from our Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    We will make a decision no sooner than 30 days after the 
publication of the Final EIS. We anticipate issuing a Record of 
Decision in the summer of 2013.
    We provide this notice under the National Environmental Policy Act 
of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and its implementing 
regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 1506.6. 
We also publish this notice under authority of the Migratory Bird 
Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703-712) and its specific implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR 10.13 and 50 CFR 21.23.

    Dated: July 17, 2013.
Robyn Thorson,
Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2013-17620 Filed 7-23-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P