Draft Multi-Species General Conservation Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment; Douglas County, Washington, 68289-68291 [2014-27021]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 220 / Friday, November 14, 2014 / Notices record and available for public review at the BIA address shown in the ADDRESSES section, during business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. Before including your address, telephone 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. Text of Proposed Addition to 516 DM 10 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 10.5 Categorical Exclusions H. Forestry. (11) Harvesting live trees not to exceed 70 acres, requiring no more than 0.5 mile of temporary road construction. Such activities: (a) Shall not include even-aged regeneration harvests or vegetation type conversions. (b) May include incidental removal of trees for landings, skid trails, and road clearing. (c) May include temporary roads which are defined as roads authorized by contract, permit, lease, other written authorization, or emergency operation not intended to be part of the BIA or Tribal transportation systems and not necessary for long-term resource management. Temporary roads shall be designed to standards appropriate for the intended uses, considering safety, cost of transportation, and impacts on land and resources and (d) Shall require the treatment of temporary roads constructed or used so as to permit the reestablishment by artificial or natural means, of vegetative cover on the roadway and areas where the vegetative cover was disturbed by the construction or use of the road, as necessary to minimize erosion from the disturbed area. Such treatment shall be designed to reestablish vegetative cover as soon as practicable, but at least within 10 years after the termination of the contract. Examples include, but are not limited to: (a) Removing individual trees for sawlogs, specialty products, or fuelwood. (b) Commercial thinning of overstocked stands to achieve the desired stocking level to increase health and vigor. (12) Salvaging dead or dying trees not to exceed 250 acres, requiring no more VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:37 Nov 13, 2014 Jkt 235001 than 0.5 mile of temporary road construction. Such activities: (a) May include incidental removal of live or dead trees for landings, skid trails, and road clearing. (b) May include temporary roads which are defined as roads authorized by contract, permit, lease, other written authorization, or emergency operation not intended to be part of the BIA or Tribal transportation systems and not necessary for long-term resource management. Temporary roads shall be designed to standards appropriate for the intended uses, considering safety, cost of transportation, and impacts on land and resources and (c) Shall require the treatment of temporary roads constructed or used so as to permit the reestablishment, by artificial or natural means, of vegetative cover on the roadway and areas where the vegetative cover was disturbed by the construction or use of the road, as necessary to minimize erosion from the disturbed area. Such treatment shall be designed to reestablish vegetative cover as soon as practicable, but at least within 10 years after the termination of the contract. (d) For this CE, a dying tree is defined as a standing tree that has been severely damaged by forces such as fire, wind, ice, insects, or disease, such that in the judgment of an experienced forest professional or someone technically trained for the work, the tree is likely to die within a few years. Examples include, but are not limited to: (a) Harvesting a portion of a stand damaged by a wind or ice event. (b) Harvesting fire damaged trees. (13) Commercial and non-commercial sanitation harvest of trees to control insects or disease not to exceed 250 acres, requiring no more than 0.5 miles of temporary road construction. Such activities: (a) May include removal of infested/ infected trees and adjacent live uninfested/uninfected trees as determined necessary to control the spread of insects or disease and (b) May include incidental removal of live or dead trees for landings, skid trails, and road clearing. (c) May include temporary roads which are defined as roads authorized by contract, permit, lease, other written authorization, or emergency operation not intended to be part of the BIA or tribal transportation systems and not necessary for long-term resource management. Temporary roads shall be designed to standards appropriate for the intended uses, considering safety, cost of transportation, and impacts on land and resources and PO 00000 Frm 00081 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 68289 (d) Shall require the treatment of temporary roads constructed or used so as to permit the reestablishment, by artificial or natural means, of vegetative cover on the roadway and areas where the vegetative cover was disturbed by the construction or use of the road, as necessary to minimize erosion from the disturbed area. Such treatment shall be designed to reestablish vegetative cover as soon as practicable, but at least within 10 years after the termination of the contract. Examples include, but are not limited to: (a) Felling and harvesting trees infested with mountain pine beetles and immediately adjacent uninfested trees to control expanding spot infestations (a buffer) and (b) Removing or destroying trees infested or infected with a new exotic insect or disease, such as emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, or sudden oak death pathogen. Dated: October 29, 2014. Willie R. Taylor, Director, Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance. [FR Doc. 2014–27015 Filed 11–13–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–W7–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R1–ES–2014–N131; FXES11120100000–145–FF01E00000] Draft Multi-Species General Conservation Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment; Douglas County, Washington Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of a draft multi-species general conservation plan (MSGCP) for Douglas County, Washington. The Service and the Foster Creek Conservation District (FCCD) developed the draft MSGCP as a programmatic approach to streamline the development of individual farm plans by non-Federal agricultural landowners and operators to facilitate their applying for incidental take permits (ITPs) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The ITPs would authorize take of the federally endangered Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit and three other nonlisted species, should they become listed, resulting from otherwise lawful activities on non- SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\14NON1.SGM 14NON1 68290 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 220 / Friday, November 14, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal agricultural lands within Douglas County. The Service also announces the availability of a draft environmental assessment (EA) for public review and comment. DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by January 13, 2015. ADDRESSES: To request further information or submit written comments, please use one of the following methods, and note that your information request or comments are in reference to the Douglas County MSGCP: • Internet: Documents may be viewed on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/ wafwo/. • In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Documents will be available for public inspection by appointment during normal business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Eastern Washington Field Office, 11103 E. Montgomery Dr., Spokane Valley, WA 99206; and at the Foster Creek Conservation District Office, Douglas County Courthouse–3rd Floor, 203 Rainier, Waterville, WA 98858. • Email: FW1DouglasCountyGCP@ fws.gov. Include ‘‘Douglas County MSGCP’’ in the subject line of the message. • U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Eastern Washington Field Office, 11103 E. Montgomery Dr., Spokane Valley, WA 99206. • Fax: Eastern Washington Field Office, 509–891–6748, Attn.: Douglas County MSGCP. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelle Eames, Project Manager, Eastern Washington Field Office (see ADDRESSES), telephone: 509–893–8010. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, please call the Federal Information Relay Service at 800–877– 8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) prohibits take 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 (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term ‘‘harm,’’ as defined in our regulations, includes significant habitat modification or degradation that results in death or injury to listed species by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). The term VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:37 Nov 13, 2014 Jkt 235001 ‘‘harass’’ is defined in our regulations as to carry out actions that create the likelihood of injury to listed species to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns, which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). However, under specified circumstances, the Service may issue permits that allow take of federally 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 applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking; (3) The applicant will ensure that adequate funding for the plan will be provided; (4) The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and (5) The applicant will carry out any other measures that the Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the plan. Proposed Action The Service and the FCCD developed the proposed MSGCP for Douglas County, Washington, as a programmatic approach to streamline the development of individual farm plans to support ITP applications under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. The MSGCP would expedite Service review of such permit applications. The MSGCP is a type of programmatic conservation plan, under which multiple section 10 permits can be issued. The proposed MSGCP provides land management guidance for protecting the federally endangered Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) and three nonlisted wildlife species, over approximately 879,000 acres of private agricultural lands in Douglas County, Washington, for the next 50 years. The three nonlisted species include the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), Washington ground squirrel (Urocitellus washingtoni), and the sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus). Collectively these four species are hereafter referred to as the ‘‘covered species.’’ The MSGCP does not cover private, nonagricultural land uses within Douglas County, and it does not PO 00000 Frm 00082 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 cover activities on Federal land. It also does not cover State-owned land, unless those lands are leased for agricultural production to private operators, as can occur with lands managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources. The Douglas County MSGCP will streamline the development of future ITP applications, which, if approved, would authorize the incidental take of federally endangered or threatened species resulting from otherwise lawful activities on non-Federal agricultural lands within Douglas County. Should any of the nonlisted covered species become federally listed as endangered or threatened under the Act during the term of an ITP, take authorization for those species would become effective upon listing, as long as the permittee is in compliance with the terms of the MSGCP and ITP. Agricultural landowners and operators participating in the Douglas County MSGCP under an ITP would be provided with legal authority to conduct covered agricultural activities that cause incidental take of listed species. The MSGCP covers numerous activities associated with dryland farming, ranching, and some irrigated farming in Douglas County. Farmers and ranchers in Douglas County may voluntarily apply for ITPs under the MSGCP. The Service will publish notice of the receipt of applications in the Federal Register and request public comments. If an application is consistent with expectations of the MSGCP, the EA and related documents and all other applicable Federal laws and regulations, the USFWS will issue the ITP. An ITP is needed to authorize the incidental take of federally endangered and threatened species that may occur as a result of covered agricultural activities. The proposed Douglas County MSGCP includes measures to minimize and mitigate, to the maximum extent practicable, the impacts of farming and ranching activities that may incidentally take the covered species. Avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures in the MSGCP include development of farm plans, implementation of best management practices, and an adaptive management and monitoring plan. The draft MSGCP and draft EA address and analyze the impacts of incidental take of the covered species resulting from agricultural activities. The purpose of developing a MSGCP is to allow potential applicants for an ITP to use the provisions in the MSGCP instead of developing their own individual habitat conservation plans. Under this scenario, the MSGCP allows multiple applicants to conduct similar E:\FR\FM\14NON1.SGM 14NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 220 / Friday, November 14, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES activities within a predetermined area, while jointly conserving the covered species and their habitats. Implementation of the Douglas County MSGCP, rather than a species-by-species or plan-by-plan approach, will maximize the benefits of conservation measures for covered species at a larger landscape scale and facilitate future review of multiple individual ITPs. National Environmental Policy Act Compliance The development of the draft MSGCP for Douglas County and the proposed issuance of ITPs under this plan is a Federal action that triggers the need for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; NEPA). We have prepared a draft EA to analyze the environmental impacts of three alternatives related to the issuance of ITPs and implementation of the conservation program under the proposed MSGCP. The three alternatives include the proposed action, a no-action alternative, and an expanded conservation lands alternative. The proposed action alternative is the implementation of the MSGCP and issuance of ITPs to participating agricultural landowners and operators in Douglas County. Under the no-action alternative, the proposed MSGCP would not be implemented and no ITPs would be issued to agricultural landowners and operators in Douglas County to cover the incidental take of covered species resulting from farming and ranching activities. The no-action alternative would not give agricultural landowners and operators regulatory certainty, and actions that could result in take of listed species on non-Federal lands would be prohibited under section 9 of the Act. The expanded conservation lands alternative would include many of the same features as described for the proposed action alternative, including the same covered activities, covered species, and monitoring and adaptive management. The key difference would be in the approach to managing conservation lands. In recent years, the conservation of all wildlife species in Douglas County has been considerably improved by implementation of the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Prior to 2009, about 33 percent of the ‘‘eligible lands’’ in Douglas County (186,144 acres) were enrolled in the CRP. This expanded conservation lands alternative involves an increase in the extent of lands enrolled in the CRP or similar protected lands by 100,000 acres above the 2009 benchmark of 186,144 VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:37 Nov 13, 2014 Jkt 235001 acres over the next 10 years, to a level of about 50 percent of the eligible lands in Douglas County. This would be a voluntary commitment on the part of landowners. Public Comments 68291 Authority We provide this notice in accordance with the requirements of section 10 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1501.7, 1506.6, and 1508.22). You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We specifically request information, views, and opinions from the public on our proposed Federal action, including identification of any other aspects of the human environment not already identified in the draft EA pursuant to NEPA regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 1506.6. Further, we specifically solicit information regarding the adequacy of the MSGCP pursuant to the requirements for ITPs at 50 CFR parts 13 and 17. Dated: October 21, 2014. Richard Hannan, Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon. Public Availability of Comments Interior. All comments and materials we receive become part of the public record associated with this action. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information (PII) in your comments, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your PII—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your PII from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we use in preparing the EA, will be available for public inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at our Eastern Washington Field Office (see ADDRESSES). Next Steps After completion of the EA, we will determine whether adoption of the Douglas County MSGCP warrants a finding of no significant impact or whether an environmental impact statement should be prepared. We will evaluate the Douglas County MSGCP and its potential use by future ITP applicants, as well as any comments we receive, to determine whether the MSGCP, when used by ITP applicants, would meet the requirements for issuance of ITPs under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. We will also evaluate whether issuance of section 10(a)(1)(B) ITPs under the MSGCP would comply with section 7 of the Act by conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation on anticipated ITP actions. PO 00000 Frm 00083 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 [FR Doc. 2014–27021 Filed 11–13–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Indian Affairs [DR.5B711.IA000815] Indian Gaming AGENCY: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Notice of extension of TribalState Class III Gaming Compact. ACTION: This publishes notice of the extension of the Class III gaming compact between the Yankton Sioux Tribe and the State of South Dakota. SUMMARY: DATES: Effective Date: November 14, 2014. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paula L. Hart, Director, Office of Indian Gaming, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary—Policy and Economic Development, Washington, DC 20240, (202) 219–4066. Pursuant to 25 CFR 293.5, an extension to an existing tribal-state Class III gaming compact does not require approval by the Secretary if the extension does not include any amendment to the terms of the compact. The Yankton Sioux Tribe and the State of South Dakota have reached an agreement to extend the expiration of their existing Tribal-State Class III gaming compact to April 23, 2015. This publishes notice of the new expiration date of the compact. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Dated: November 4, 2014. Kevin K. Washburn, Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs. [FR Doc. 2014–27004 Filed 11–13–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–4N–P E:\FR\FM\14NON1.SGM 14NON1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 220 (Friday, November 14, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 68289-68291]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-27021]


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

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-ES-2014-N131; FXES11120100000-145-FF01E00000]


Draft Multi-Species General Conservation Plan and Draft 
Environmental Assessment; Douglas County, Washington

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of a draft multi-species general conservation plan (MSGCP) 
for Douglas County, Washington. The Service and the Foster Creek 
Conservation District (FCCD) developed the draft MSGCP as a 
programmatic approach to streamline the development of individual farm 
plans by non-Federal agricultural landowners and operators to 
facilitate their applying for incidental take permits (ITPs) under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The ITPs would 
authorize take of the federally endangered Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit 
and three other nonlisted species, should they become listed, resulting 
from otherwise lawful activities on non-

[[Page 68290]]

Federal agricultural lands within Douglas County. The Service also 
announces the availability of a draft environmental assessment (EA) for 
public review and comment.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
January 13, 2015.

ADDRESSES: To request further information or submit written comments, 
please use one of the following methods, and note that your information 
request or comments are in reference to the Douglas County MSGCP:
     Internet: Documents may be viewed on the Internet at 
http://www.fws.gov/wafwo/.
     In-Person Viewing or Pickup: Documents will be available 
for public inspection by appointment during normal business hours at 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Eastern Washington Field Office, 
11103 E. Montgomery Dr., Spokane Valley, WA 99206; and at the Foster 
Creek Conservation District Office, Douglas County Courthouse-3rd 
Floor, 203 Rainier, Waterville, WA 98858.
     Email: FW1DouglasCountyGCP@fws.gov. Include ``Douglas 
County MSGCP'' in the subject line of the message.
     U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Eastern 
Washington Field Office, 11103 E. Montgomery Dr., Spokane Valley, WA 
99206.
     Fax: Eastern Washington Field Office, 509-891-6748, Attn.: 
Douglas County MSGCP.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelle Eames, Project Manager, 
Eastern Washington Field Office (see ADDRESSES), telephone: 509-893-
8010. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, please call 
the Federal Information Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act; 
16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) prohibits take 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 (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term ``harm,'' as defined in our 
regulations, includes significant habitat modification or degradation 
that results in death or injury to listed species by significantly 
impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, 
or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). The term ``harass'' is defined in our 
regulations as to carry out actions that create the likelihood of 
injury to listed species to such an extent as to significantly disrupt 
normal behavioral patterns, which include, but are not limited to, 
breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3).
    However, under specified circumstances, the Service may issue 
permits that allow take of federally 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 applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize 
and mitigate the impact of such taking;
    (3) The applicant will ensure that adequate funding for the plan 
will be provided;
    (4) The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the 
survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and
    (5) The applicant will carry out any other measures that the 
Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes 
of the plan.

Proposed Action

    The Service and the FCCD developed the proposed MSGCP for Douglas 
County, Washington, as a programmatic approach to streamline the 
development of individual farm plans to support ITP applications under 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. The MSGCP would expedite Service review 
of such permit applications. The MSGCP is a type of programmatic 
conservation plan, under which multiple section 10 permits can be 
issued. The proposed MSGCP provides land management guidance for 
protecting the federally endangered Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit 
(Brachylagus idahoensis) and three nonlisted wildlife species, over 
approximately 879,000 acres of private agricultural lands in Douglas 
County, Washington, for the next 50 years. The three nonlisted species 
include the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), Washington 
ground squirrel (Urocitellus washingtoni), and the sharp-tailed grouse 
(Tympanuchus phasianellus). Collectively these four species are 
hereafter referred to as the ``covered species.'' The MSGCP does not 
cover private, nonagricultural land uses within Douglas County, and it 
does not cover activities on Federal land. It also does not cover 
State-owned land, unless those lands are leased for agricultural 
production to private operators, as can occur with lands managed by the 
Washington Department of Natural Resources.
    The Douglas County MSGCP will streamline the development of future 
ITP applications, which, if approved, would authorize the incidental 
take of federally endangered or threatened species resulting from 
otherwise lawful activities on non-Federal agricultural lands within 
Douglas County. Should any of the nonlisted covered species become 
federally listed as endangered or threatened under the Act during the 
term of an ITP, take authorization for those species would become 
effective upon listing, as long as the permittee is in compliance with 
the terms of the MSGCP and ITP. Agricultural landowners and operators 
participating in the Douglas County MSGCP under an ITP would be 
provided with legal authority to conduct covered agricultural 
activities that cause incidental take of listed species. The MSGCP 
covers numerous activities associated with dryland farming, ranching, 
and some irrigated farming in Douglas County. Farmers and ranchers in 
Douglas County may voluntarily apply for ITPs under the MSGCP. The 
Service will publish notice of the receipt of applications in the 
Federal Register and request public comments. If an application is 
consistent with expectations of the MSGCP, the EA and related documents 
and all other applicable Federal laws and regulations, the USFWS will 
issue the ITP. An ITP is needed to authorize the incidental take of 
federally endangered and threatened species that may occur as a result 
of covered agricultural activities.
    The proposed Douglas County MSGCP includes measures to minimize and 
mitigate, to the maximum extent practicable, the impacts of farming and 
ranching activities that may incidentally take the covered species. 
Avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures in the MSGCP include 
development of farm plans, implementation of best management practices, 
and an adaptive management and monitoring plan. The draft MSGCP and 
draft EA address and analyze the impacts of incidental take of the 
covered species resulting from agricultural activities.
    The purpose of developing a MSGCP is to allow potential applicants 
for an ITP to use the provisions in the MSGCP instead of developing 
their own individual habitat conservation plans. Under this scenario, 
the MSGCP allows multiple applicants to conduct similar

[[Page 68291]]

activities within a predetermined area, while jointly conserving the 
covered species and their habitats. Implementation of the Douglas 
County MSGCP, rather than a species-by-species or plan-by-plan 
approach, will maximize the benefits of conservation measures for 
covered species at a larger landscape scale and facilitate future 
review of multiple individual ITPs.

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    The development of the draft MSGCP for Douglas County and the 
proposed issuance of ITPs under this plan is a Federal action that 
triggers the need for compliance with the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; NEPA). We have 
prepared a draft EA to analyze the environmental impacts of three 
alternatives related to the issuance of ITPs and implementation of the 
conservation program under the proposed MSGCP. The three alternatives 
include the proposed action, a no-action alternative, and an expanded 
conservation lands alternative.
    The proposed action alternative is the implementation of the MSGCP 
and issuance of ITPs to participating agricultural landowners and 
operators in Douglas County.
    Under the no-action alternative, the proposed MSGCP would not be 
implemented and no ITPs would be issued to agricultural landowners and 
operators in Douglas County to cover the incidental take of covered 
species resulting from farming and ranching activities. The no-action 
alternative would not give agricultural landowners and operators 
regulatory certainty, and actions that could result in take of listed 
species on non-Federal lands would be prohibited under section 9 of the 
Act.
    The expanded conservation lands alternative would include many of 
the same features as described for the proposed action alternative, 
including the same covered activities, covered species, and monitoring 
and adaptive management. The key difference would be in the approach to 
managing conservation lands. In recent years, the conservation of all 
wildlife species in Douglas County has been considerably improved by 
implementation of the Natural Resources Conservation Service's 
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Prior to 2009, about 33 percent of 
the ``eligible lands'' in Douglas County (186,144 acres) were enrolled 
in the CRP. This expanded conservation lands alternative involves an 
increase in the extent of lands enrolled in the CRP or similar 
protected lands by 100,000 acres above the 2009 benchmark of 186,144 
acres over the next 10 years, to a level of about 50 percent of the 
eligible lands in Douglas County. This would be a voluntary commitment 
on the part of landowners.

Public Comments

    You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods 
listed in the ADDRESSES section. We specifically request information, 
views, and opinions from the public on our proposed Federal action, 
including identification of any other aspects of the human environment 
not already identified in the draft EA pursuant to NEPA regulations in 
the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 1506.6. Further, we 
specifically solicit information regarding the adequacy of the MSGCP 
pursuant to the requirements for ITPs at 50 CFR parts 13 and 17.

Public Availability of Comments

    All comments and materials we receive become part of the public 
record associated with this action. Before including your address, 
phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable 
information (PII) in your comments, you should be aware that your 
entire comment--including your PII--may be made publicly available at 
any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your PII 
from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. 
Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation 
we use in preparing the EA, will be available for public inspection by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at our Eastern Washington 
Field Office (see ADDRESSES).

Next Steps

    After completion of the EA, we will determine whether adoption of 
the Douglas County MSGCP warrants a finding of no significant impact or 
whether an environmental impact statement should be prepared. We will 
evaluate the Douglas County MSGCP and its potential use by future ITP 
applicants, as well as any comments we receive, to determine whether 
the MSGCP, when used by ITP applicants, would meet the requirements for 
issuance of ITPs under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. We will also 
evaluate whether issuance of section 10(a)(1)(B) ITPs under the MSGCP 
would comply with section 7 of the Act by conducting an intra-Service 
section 7 consultation on anticipated ITP actions.

Authority

    We provide this notice in accordance with the requirements of 
section 10 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 
CFR 1501.7, 1506.6, and 1508.22).

     Dated: October 21, 2014.
Richard Hannan,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2014-27021 Filed 11-13-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P