Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permits; Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Habitat Conservation Plan for the R-Project Transmission Line in Nebraska, 64619-64621 [2014-25796]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 210 / Thursday, October 30, 2014 / Notices purposes to conduct husbandry and holding of Zuni bluehead sucker (Catostomus discobolus yarrowi) at the BioPark in New Mexico. Permit TE—082496 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES • Kretschmarr Cave mold beetle (Texamaurops reddelli). • Madla Cave meshweaver (Cicurina madla). • Peck’s Cave amphipod (Stygobromus (=stygonectes) pecki). • Robber Baron Cave meshweaver (Cicurina baronia). • Texas blind salamander (Eurycea rathbuni). • Tooth Cave ground beetle (Rhadine persephone). • Tooth Cave pseudoscorpion (Tartarocreagris texana). • Tooth Cave spider (Neoleptoneta (=Leptoneta) myopica). Permit TE—676811 Applicant: Joint Base San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas. Applicant requests a renewal to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys of the following species within Texas: • Bee Creek Cave harvestman (Texella reddelli). • Black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla). • Bone Cave harvestman (Texella reyesi). • Braken Bat Cave meshweaver (Cicurina venii). • Coffin Cave mold beetle (Batrisodes texanus). • Cokendolpher Cave harvestman (Texella cokendolpheri). • Golden-cheeked warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia). • Government Canyon Bat Cave meshweaver (Cicurina vespera). • Government Canyon Bat Cave spider (Neoleptoneta microps). • Ground beetle (Unnamed) (Rhadine exilis). • Ground beetle (Unnamed) (Rhadine infernalis). • Helotes mold beetle (Batrisodes venyivi). • Kretschmarr Cave mold beetle (Texamaurops reddelli). • Madla Cave meshweaver (Cicurina madla). • Robber Baron Cave meshweaver (Cicurina baronia). • Texas blind salamander (Eurycea rathbuni). • Tooth Cave ground beetle (Rhadine persephone). • Tooth Cave pseudoscorpion (Tartarocreagris texana). • Tooth Cave spider (Neoleptoneta (=Leptoneta) myopica). Applicant: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service¥mdash; Region 2, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Applicant requests an amendment to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/ absence surveys of smalleye shiner (Notropis buccula), sharpnose shiner (Notropis oxyrhynchus), and Zuni bluehead sucker (Catostomus discobolus yarrowi); and to capture, radio collar, draw blood, and release Gray wolf (Canis lupus) within Region 2 of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Permit TE—004439 Applicant: Albuquerque BioPark, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Applicant requests an amendment current permit for research and recovery VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Oct 29, 2014 Jkt 235001 Permit TE—209033 Applicant: Gene Wilde, Lubbock, Texas. Applicant requests an amendment to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to collect 7,500 smalleye (Notropis buccula) and 7,500 sharpnose (Notropis oxyrhynchus) shiners from the wild each year for the life of the permit for genetic research within Texas. 64619 environmental impact statement (516 DM 6 Appendix 1, 1.4C(1)). Public Availability of Comments All comments and materials we receive in response to this request will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the address listed in the ADDRESSES section of this notice. 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 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 under section 10 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) Dated: October 22, 2014. Joy E. Nicholopoulos, Acting Regional Director, Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2014–25835 Filed 10–29–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P Permit TE—43777A Applicant: Sea Life U.S., LLC., Grapevine, Texas. Applicant requests a renewal to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct husbandry and holding of green (Chelonia mydas), Kemps ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) turtles within the facility in Texas. Permit TE—053085 Applicant: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Boulder City, Nevada. Applicant requests a renewal to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys of the following species within Arizona, California, and Nevada: • Bonytail chub (Gila elegans). • Razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus). • Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus). • Yuma clapper rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis). National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) In compliance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), we have made an initial determination that the proposed activities in these permits are categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R6–ES–2014–0048; FF06E22000–145– FXES11130600000] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permits; Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Habitat Conservation Plan for the RProject Transmission Line in Nebraska Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of intent; announcement of public scoping meetings; request for public comments. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, intend to prepare a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to consider potential impacts on the human environment from the proposed issuance of an incidental take permit (permit) and required implementation of a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is proposing to apply for the permit for take of the American burying beetle associated with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the RProject Transmission Line in northcentral Nebraska. The American burying SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\30OCN1.SGM 30OCN1 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 64620 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 210 / Thursday, October 30, 2014 / Notices beetle is federally listed as an endangered species. We provide this notice to (1) describe the proposed action; (2) advise other Federal and State agencies, potentially affected tribes, and the public of our intent to prepare an DEIS; (3) announce the initiation of a 60-day public scoping period; and (4) obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues and possible alternatives to be included in the DEIS. The intended effect of this notice is to gather information from the public for consideration when developing alternatives to the proposed action that will avoid, minimize, and mitigate the effects of incidental take to the maximum extent practicable and to address other potential impacts to the human environment. DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments on or before December 29, 2014. Three scoping meetings will be held, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. on the following dates, at the following locations: American Legion—November 18, 2014, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., 657 G Street, Burwell, NE 68823; Village Municipal Offices (Village of Sutherland Community Building)— November 19, 2014, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., 1200 First Street, Sutherland, NE 69165; and Thomas County Fairgrounds— November 20, 2014, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., 83861 Highway 83, Thedford, NE 69166. ADDRESSES: Send your comments regarding the proposed action and the proposed DEIS by any one of the following methods: Electronically: www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS–R6–ES– 2014–0048. U.S. Mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R6–ES–2014– 0048; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls Church, VA 22041–3803. In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Written comments will also be accepted at the public meetings (see DATES). We request that you send comments only by the methods described above. We will post all comments on http:// www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Public Availability of Comments section below for more information). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eliza Hines, Acting Field Supervisor, by phone at (308) 382–6468, and by U.S. mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Oct 29, 2014 Jkt 235001 9325 South Alda Road, Wood River, NE 68883. Individuals who are hearing or speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877–8337 for TTY assistance. Reasonable Accommodations: Persons needing reasonable accommodations to attend and participate in the public meetings should contact Eliza Hines. To allow sufficient time to accommodate requests, please call no later than one week before the meeting. Information regarding the proposed action is available in alternative formats upon request. We intend to prepare a DEIS under NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) to consider potential impacts on the human environment from the proposed issuance of an incidental take permit (permit) and required implementation of a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is proposing to apply for the permit for take of the American burying beetle (Nicrophorous americanus) associated with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the R-Project Transmission Line in north-central Nebraska. The American burying beetle is federally listed as an endangered species. The NPPD is preparing a draft HCP as part of its application for the permit. The HCP must include measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the impacts of the take of covered species within the plan area during project construction, operation, and maintenance activities. We provide this notice to (1) describe the proposed action; (2) advise other Federal and State agencies, potentially affected tribes, and the public of our intent to prepare an DEIS; (3) announce the initiation of a 60-day public scoping period; and (4) obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues and possible alternatives to be included in the DEIS. The intended effect of this notice is to gather information from the public for consideration when developing alternatives to the proposed action that will avoid, minimize, and mitigate the effects of incidental take to the maximum extent practicable and to address other potential impacts to the human environment. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; ESA), and its implementing regulations (50 CFR part 17), prohibit ‘‘take’’ of threatened and endangered fish or wildlife species. Take is defined PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 under the ESA as to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). We further define ‘‘harm’’ as an act, including significant habitat modification or degradation, that actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). We further define ‘‘harass’’ as an intentional or negligent act or omission which creates the likelihood of injury to wildlife by annoying it to such an extent as to significantly disrupt behavioral patterns such as breeding, feeding, and sheltering. Under certain circumstances, we may issue permits to take listed species if such taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities. Regulations governing permits for threatened or endangered species incidental take are found at 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 17.22, respectively. NEPA 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 a proposed project is developed and considered in the Service’s environmental review. Alternatives considered for analysis in a DEIS for an HCP may include, but are not limited to: Variations in the scope of covered activities; variations in the location, amount, and type of conservation activities; variations in permit duration; or a combination of these elements. Proposed Action The proposed Federal action is our issuance of a permit to NPPD that would authorize a specified amount and type of incidental take of American burying beetles during construction, operation, and maintenance of a 220-mile, 345kilovolt (kV) transmission line and substations in the Sandhills of northcentral Nebraska. The purpose of the RProject is to enhance reliability of NPPD’s electric transmission system, relieve congestion from existing lines within the transmission system, and provide additional opportunities for development of renewable energy projects. The proposed construction, operation, and maintenance of the NPPD R-Project may affect the American burying beetle directly, and possibly indirectly, through habitat fragmentation and temporary and permanent loss of habitat as a result of ground disturbance and soil compaction. As required for application for the permit, NPPD is developing a E:\FR\FM\30OCN1.SGM 30OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 210 / Thursday, October 30, 2014 / Notices HCP that will outline actions to avoid, minimize, and mitigate potential impacts to the American burying beetle. In coordination with NPPD, we will determine the duration of the HCP and permit, which would depend on the anticipated life of the project, time needed to realize benefits of the HCP’s conservation measures, and the timeframe in which adverse effects to American burying beetles can be reliably predicted. Proposed American burying beetle conservation measures that may be considered for the HCP to adopt include: (1) Adjustment in timing of certain construction activities to avoid American burying beetle active periods; (2) avoidance of high-quality habitat areas; (3) reduction in habitat disturbance by prioritizing use of existing disturbed areas for laydown and structure placement; (4) reduction in direct disturbance by modifying construction techniques; (5) reclamation of temporarily disturbed areas; (6) compensation for habitat loss; and (7) removal of carrion. The HCP will also include monitoring and adaptive management features. Monitoring would help determine compliance with and effectiveness of the HCP; validate assumptions, information, and models used to develop the HCP; and provide information to support revisions, if necessary, to the conservation measures over the life of the HCP. tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Public Scoping The primary purpose of the scoping process is for the public to assist the Service in developing a DEIS for the proposed permit action by identifying important issues and alternatives related to NPPD’s proposed project, to provide the public with a general understanding of the background of the proposed HCP and activities it would cover, and an overview of the NEPA process. To ensure that we identify a range of issues and alternatives related to the proposed permit action, we invite comments and suggestions from all interested parties. The scoping meetings will consist of an open house format from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. about the proposed action and NEPA process. The open house format will provide interested members of the public an opportunity to learn about the proposed action, permit area, and the covered species. We will accept oral and written comments throughout the public meeting. A court reporter and an interpreter will be present if deemed necessary. You may also submit your comments and materials by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:40 Oct 29, 2014 Jkt 235001 64621 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 and NPPD will consider these comments in developing the DEIS and the draft HCP related to the proposed project. We particularly seek comments on the following: 1. The direct, indirect, and cumulative effects that implementation of any reasonable alternative to the proposed project could have on endangered or threatened species and other unlisted species, including migratory birds and their habitats; 2. Other reasonable alternatives to the proposed project and permit issuance that should be considered; 3. Relevant biological data and additional information concerning the American burying beetle; 4. Current or planned activities in the subject area and their possible impacts on the American burying beetle; 5. The presence of archaeological sites, buildings and structures, historic sites, sacred and traditional areas, and other historic preservation concerns; 6. The scope of covered activities, including potential avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures for incidental take of the American burying beetle; 7. Appropriate monitoring and adaptive management provisions that should be included in the HCP; and 8. Identification of any other environmental issues that should be considered regarding the proposed project and permit action. burying beetle from the HCP and the permit and from each identified alternative to the action. The DEIS will provide biological descriptions of affected species and habitats, as well as the effects of the alternatives on other resources, such as vegetation, wetlands, wildlife, geology and soils, air quality, water resources, water quality, cultural resources, land use, recreation, water use, the local economy, and environmental justice. Following completion of the environmental review, we will publish a notice of availability and request for public comments on the DEIS, NPPD’s permit application, and the draft HCP. The DEIS and draft HCP are expected to be completed and available for the public review during the first three months of the 2016 calendar year. Public Availability of Comments Comments and materials we receive in response to this notice and at the public meeting, as well as supporting documentation we use in preparing the DEIS, will become part of the public record and will be available for public inspection at www.regulations.gov (see ADDRESSES). Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comments, 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 us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. [FR Doc. 2014–25796 Filed 10–29–14; 8:45 am] Environmental Review and Next Steps The DEIS will include analyses of potential impacts on the American PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Authority Our environmental review of this project will be conducted in accordance with the requirements of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), Council of Environmental Quality regulations (40 CFR parts 1500–1508), other applicable Federal laws and regulations, and the Service’s applicable policies and procedures. This notice is being furnished in accordance with 40 CFR 1501.7 of the NEPA regulations to obtain suggestions and information from other agencies and the public on the scope of issues and alternatives to be addressed in the DEIS. Dated: October 8, 2014. Nicole Alt, Acting Assistant Regional Director— Ecological Services, Mountain-Prairie Region, Denver, CO. BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [LLCAC06900 L17110000.AL0000 15XL1109AF] Notice of Public Meeting of the Carrizo Plain National Monument Advisory Committee Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice of public meeting. AGENCY: In accordance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Carrizo Plain National Monument Advisory SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\30OCN1.SGM 30OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 210 (Thursday, October 30, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 64619-64621]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-25796]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-ES-2014-0048; FF06E22000-145-FXES11130600000]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permits; Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement and Habitat Conservation Plan for the R-
Project Transmission Line in Nebraska

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent; announcement of public scoping meetings; 
request for public comments.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, intend to prepare a 
draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) under the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to consider potential impacts on the 
human environment from the proposed issuance of an incidental take 
permit (permit) and required implementation of a Habitat Conservation 
Plan (HCP). The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is proposing to 
apply for the permit for take of the American burying beetle associated 
with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the R-Project 
Transmission Line in north-central Nebraska. The American burying

[[Page 64620]]

beetle is federally listed as an endangered species.
    We provide this notice to (1) describe the proposed action; (2) 
advise other Federal and State agencies, potentially affected tribes, 
and the public of our intent to prepare an DEIS; (3) announce the 
initiation of a 60-day public scoping period; and (4) obtain 
suggestions and information on the scope of issues and possible 
alternatives to be included in the DEIS. The intended effect of this 
notice is to gather information from the public for consideration when 
developing alternatives to the proposed action that will avoid, 
minimize, and mitigate the effects of incidental take to the maximum 
extent practicable and to address other potential impacts to the human 
environment.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
on or before December 29, 2014. Three scoping meetings will be held, 
from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. on the following dates, at the following 
locations:

American Legion--November 18, 2014, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., 657 G Street, 
Burwell, NE 68823;
Village Municipal Offices (Village of Sutherland Community Building)--
November 19, 2014, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., 1200 First Street, Sutherland, NE 
69165; and
Thomas County Fairgrounds--November 20, 2014, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., 83861 
Highway 83, Thedford, NE 69166.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments regarding the proposed action and the 
proposed DEIS by any one of the following methods:
    Electronically: www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for 
submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2014-0048.
    U.S. Mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R6-ES-2014-0048; 
Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service; MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
    In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Written comments will also 
be accepted at the public meetings (see DATES).
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post any personal information you provide 
us (see the Public Availability of Comments section below for more 
information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eliza Hines, Acting Field Supervisor, 
by phone at (308) 382-6468, and by U.S. mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 9325 South Alda Road, Wood River, NE 68883. Individuals who 
are hearing or speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 
(800) 877-8337 for TTY assistance.
    Reasonable Accommodations: Persons needing reasonable 
accommodations to attend and participate in the public meetings should 
contact Eliza Hines. To allow sufficient time to accommodate requests, 
please call no later than one week before the meeting. Information 
regarding the proposed action is available in alternative formats upon 
request.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We intend to prepare a DEIS under NEPA (42 
U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) to consider potential impacts on the human 
environment from the proposed issuance of an incidental take permit 
(permit) and required implementation of a Habitat Conservation Plan 
(HCP). The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is proposing to apply 
for the permit for take of the American burying beetle (Nicrophorous 
americanus) associated with the construction, operation, and 
maintenance of the R-Project Transmission Line in north-central 
Nebraska. The American burying beetle is federally listed as an 
endangered species.
    The NPPD is preparing a draft HCP as part of its application for 
the permit. The HCP must include measures to avoid, minimize, and 
mitigate the impacts of the take of covered species within the plan 
area during project construction, operation, and maintenance 
activities. We provide this notice to (1) describe the proposed action; 
(2) advise other Federal and State agencies, potentially affected 
tribes, and the public of our intent to prepare an DEIS; (3) announce 
the initiation of a 60-day public scoping period; and (4) obtain 
suggestions and information on the scope of issues and possible 
alternatives to be included in the DEIS. The intended effect of this 
notice is to gather information from the public for consideration when 
developing alternatives to the proposed action that will avoid, 
minimize, and mitigate the effects of incidental take to the maximum 
extent practicable and to address other potential impacts to the human 
environment.

Background

    Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; ESA), and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 
part 17), prohibit ``take'' of threatened and endangered fish or 
wildlife species. Take is defined under the ESA as to harass, harm, 
pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or to attempt 
to engage in any such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). We further define 
``harm'' as an act, including significant habitat modification or 
degradation, that actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly 
impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, 
or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). We further define ``harass'' as an 
intentional or negligent act or omission which creates the likelihood 
of injury to wildlife by annoying it to such an extent as to 
significantly disrupt behavioral patterns such as breeding, feeding, 
and sheltering.
    Under certain circumstances, we may issue permits to take listed 
species if such taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, 
otherwise lawful activities. Regulations governing permits for 
threatened or endangered species incidental take are found at 50 CFR 
17.32 and 50 CFR 17.22, respectively.
    NEPA 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 a proposed project is developed and considered 
in the Service's environmental review. Alternatives considered for 
analysis in a DEIS for an HCP may include, but are not limited to: 
Variations in the scope of covered activities; variations in the 
location, amount, and type of conservation activities; variations in 
permit duration; or a combination of these elements.

Proposed Action

    The proposed Federal action is our issuance of a permit to NPPD 
that would authorize a specified amount and type of incidental take of 
American burying beetles during construction, operation, and 
maintenance of a 220-mile, 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission line and 
substations in the Sandhills of north-central Nebraska. The purpose of 
the R-Project is to enhance reliability of NPPD's electric transmission 
system, relieve congestion from existing lines within the transmission 
system, and provide additional opportunities for development of 
renewable energy projects. The proposed construction, operation, and 
maintenance of the NPPD R-Project may affect the American burying 
beetle directly, and possibly indirectly, through habitat fragmentation 
and temporary and permanent loss of habitat as a result of ground 
disturbance and soil compaction. As required for application for the 
permit, NPPD is developing a

[[Page 64621]]

HCP that will outline actions to avoid, minimize, and mitigate 
potential impacts to the American burying beetle. In coordination with 
NPPD, we will determine the duration of the HCP and permit, which would 
depend on the anticipated life of the project, time needed to realize 
benefits of the HCP's conservation measures, and the timeframe in which 
adverse effects to American burying beetles can be reliably predicted.
    Proposed American burying beetle conservation measures that may be 
considered for the HCP to adopt include: (1) Adjustment in timing of 
certain construction activities to avoid American burying beetle active 
periods; (2) avoidance of high-quality habitat areas; (3) reduction in 
habitat disturbance by prioritizing use of existing disturbed areas for 
laydown and structure placement; (4) reduction in direct disturbance by 
modifying construction techniques; (5) reclamation of temporarily 
disturbed areas; (6) compensation for habitat loss; and (7) removal of 
carrion. The HCP will also include monitoring and adaptive management 
features. Monitoring would help determine compliance with and 
effectiveness of the HCP; validate assumptions, information, and models 
used to develop the HCP; and provide information to support revisions, 
if necessary, to the conservation measures over the life of the HCP.

Public Scoping

    The primary purpose of the scoping process is for the public to 
assist the Service in developing a DEIS for the proposed permit action 
by identifying important issues and alternatives related to NPPD's 
proposed project, to provide the public with a general understanding of 
the background of the proposed HCP and activities it would cover, and 
an overview of the NEPA process. To ensure that we identify a range of 
issues and alternatives related to the proposed permit action, we 
invite comments and suggestions from all interested parties.
    The scoping meetings will consist of an open house format from 4 
p.m. to 7 p.m. about the proposed action and NEPA process. The open 
house format will provide interested members of the public an 
opportunity to learn about the proposed action, permit area, and the 
covered species. We will accept oral and written comments throughout 
the public meeting. A court reporter and an interpreter will be present 
if deemed necessary. You may also submit your comments and materials by 
one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section.

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 and NPPD will consider these comments in developing the DEIS 
and the draft HCP related to the proposed project. We particularly seek 
comments on the following:
    1. The direct, indirect, and cumulative effects that implementation 
of any reasonable alternative to the proposed project could have on 
endangered or threatened species and other unlisted species, including 
migratory birds and their habitats;
    2. Other reasonable alternatives to the proposed project and permit 
issuance that should be considered;
    3. Relevant biological data and additional information concerning 
the American burying beetle;
    4. Current or planned activities in the subject area and their 
possible impacts on the American burying beetle;
    5. The presence of archaeological sites, buildings and structures, 
historic sites, sacred and traditional areas, and other historic 
preservation concerns;
    6. The scope of covered activities, including potential avoidance, 
minimization, and mitigation measures for incidental take of the 
American burying beetle;
    7. Appropriate monitoring and adaptive management provisions that 
should be included in the HCP; and
    8. Identification of any other environmental issues that should be 
considered regarding the proposed project and permit action.

Public Availability of Comments

    Comments and materials we receive in response to this notice and at 
the public meeting, as well as supporting documentation we use in 
preparing the DEIS, will become part of the public record and will be 
available for public inspection at www.regulations.gov (see ADDRESSES). 
Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other 
personal identifying information in your comments, 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 us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

Environmental Review and Next Steps

    The DEIS will include analyses of potential impacts on the American 
burying beetle from the HCP and the permit and from each identified 
alternative to the action. The DEIS will provide biological 
descriptions of affected species and habitats, as well as the effects 
of the alternatives on other resources, such as vegetation, wetlands, 
wildlife, geology and soils, air quality, water resources, water 
quality, cultural resources, land use, recreation, water use, the local 
economy, and environmental justice. Following completion of the 
environmental review, we will publish a notice of availability and 
request for public comments on the DEIS, NPPD's permit application, and 
the draft HCP. The DEIS and draft HCP are expected to be completed and 
available for the public review during the first three months of the 
2016 calendar year.

Authority

    Our environmental review of this project will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), 
Council of Environmental Quality regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), 
other applicable Federal laws and regulations, and the Service's 
applicable policies and procedures. This notice is being furnished in 
accordance with 40 CFR 1501.7 of the NEPA regulations to obtain 
suggestions and information from other agencies and the public on the 
scope of issues and alternatives to be addressed in the DEIS.

    Dated: October 8, 2014.
Nicole Alt,
Acting Assistant Regional Director--Ecological Services, Mountain-
Prairie Region, Denver, CO.
[FR Doc. 2014-25796 Filed 10-29-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P