Draft Safe Harbor Agreement and Receipt of Application for an Enhancement of Survival Permit for the Northern Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet; City of Everett, Snohomish County, Washington, 25709-25711 [2015-10466]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 86 / Tuesday, May 5, 2015 / Notices DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R1–ES–2015–N070; FXES11120100000–156–FF01E00000] Draft Safe Harbor Agreement and Receipt of Application for an Enhancement of Survival Permit for the Northern Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet; City of Everett, Snohomish County, Washington AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received, from the City of Everett (Everett), an application for an enhancement of survival permit for the federally threatened northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). The permit application includes a draft safe harbor agreement (SHA) and implementing agreement (IA) between Everett and the Service addressing habitat conservation and forest management, including timber harvest on lands within Everett’s municipal watershed in Snohomish County, Washington. We invite comments from all interested parties on the application, including the draft SHA, draft IA, and a draft environmental action statement (EAS) prepared pursuant to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). DATES: To ensure consideration, written comments must be received from interested parties by June 4, 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 Everett Draft SHA. • Internet: Documents may be viewed and downloaded on the Internet at http://www.fws.gov/wafwo/. • Email: wfwocomments@fws.gov. Include ‘‘Everett Draft SHA’’ in the subject line of the message. • U.S. Mail: Mark Ostwald, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 510 Desmond Drive, Southeast, Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503. • In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call 360–753–9440 to make an appointment (necessary for viewing or pickup only) during regular business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Fish and Wildlife asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:18 May 04, 2015 Jkt 235001 Office, 510 Desmond Drive, Southeast, Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Ostwald, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES), telephone 360– 753–9564. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Under a SHA, participating landowners voluntarily undertake management activities on their property to enhance, restore, or maintain habitat benefiting species listed under the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). SHAs, and the subsequent enhancement of survival permits that are issued to participating landowners pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA, encourage private and other non-Federal property owners to implement conservation actions for federally listed species by assuring the landowners that they will not be subjected to increased property use restrictions as a result of their efforts to either attract listed species to their property, or to increase the numbers or distribution of listed species already on their property. These assurances allow the property owner to alter or modify the enrolled property back to agreedupon pre-permit baseline conditions at the end of the term of the permit, even if such alteration or modification results in the incidental take of a listed species. The baseline conditions must reflect the known biological and habitat characteristics that support existing levels of use of the property by species covered in the SHA. SHA assurances depend on the property owner complying with obligations in the SHA and the terms and conditions of the permit. The SHA’s net conservation benefits must be sufficient to contribute, either directly or indirectly, to the recovery of the covered listed species. Enrolled landowners may make lawful use of the enrolled property during the permit term and may incidentally take the listed species named on the permit as long as that take does not modify the agreed-upon net conservation benefit to the species. Application requirements and issuance criteria for enhancement of survival permits for SHAs are found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 50 CFR 17.22(c). The Service’s Safe Harbor Policy (64 FR 32717, June 17, 1999) and the Safe Harbor Regulations (68 FR 53320, September 10, 2003; and 69 FR 24084, May 3, 2004) are available at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/lawspolicies/regulations-and-policies.html. PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 25709 The Service has received from Everett an application for an enhancement of survival permit under the ESA to authorize incidental take of the federally threatened northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) and the marbled murrelet (Brachyamphus marmoratus). The permit application includes a draft SHA and IA between Everett and the Service. The SHA addresses habitat conservation and forest management, including timber harvest, on Everett’s Lake Chaplain Tract (LCT) located within Everett’s municipal watershed in Snohomish County, Washington. The total area of the LCT is approximately 3,729 acres, of which 715 acres is comprised of non-forested areas. The non-forested areas include Lake Chaplain, portions of the Sultan River, non-forested wetlands, water filtration facilities, and rights-of-way. Approximately half of the forest stands in the LCT are older than 80 years. Activities covered under the SHA are timber management and drinking water production. Everett’s management objective for the SHA is to enhance and maintain habitat for marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls while continuing to generate revenue from forest management operations. There is one known marbled murrelet–occupied site on the LCT. The LCT is within a marbled murrelet detection area as defined by WAC 222– 16–101. No federally designated marbled murrelet critical habitat occurs on the LCT; however, approximately 80 percent of the LCT perimeter is adjacent to properties that are designated critical habitat for the marbled murrelet. There are no known northern spotted owl site centers on the LCT; however, recent surveys have not been conducted in all areas of suitable habitat. The LCT is situated between two northern spotted owl special emphasis areas designated by Washington Forest Practices Rules. The nearest federally designated northern spotted owl critical habitat is approximately 8 miles northeast of the LCT. Everett is simultaneously applying to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) for a Cooperative Habitat Enhancement Agreement (CHEA) under the Washington State Forest Practice Rules (WAC 222–16–105). The SHA and CHEA are one document that serves the requirements of both the Service and the WDNR. The applicant worked closely with the Service, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the WDNR to develop the SHA and CHEA. E:\FR\FM\05MYN1.SGM 05MYN1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 25710 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 86 / Tuesday, May 5, 2015 / Notices Proposed Action The Service proposes to enter into the SHA and IA and to issue an enhancement of survival permit to Everett for incidental take of the northern spotted owl and the marbled murrelet caused by covered activities, if permit issuance criteria are met. Both the SHA and the permit would have a term of 50 years. Due to the overlap of suitable habitat characteristics for marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls and the nature of the LCT forest stands, the SHA’s baseline is unified for both covered species. The baseline totals about 447 acres and consists of 4 separate large blocks of the highest quality forest habitat for the covered species on the LCT. The baseline represents the areas on the LCT that are most likely to be occupied by the covered species currently and during the term of the SHA. The conservation benefits for the marbled murrelet and the northern spotted owl under the SHA are expected to be realized through implementation of the following management actions: Reconfiguration of the special set asides (SSAs), enhancement of riparian buffers, an increase in special management areas (SMAs), longer harvest rotations, and enhanced protection of occupied sites. The SSAs are old-growth management areas and permanent mixed hardwood and conifer forests, which will not be harvested during the term of the agreement. Under the draft SHA, most of the original old-growth management areas and some of the permanent mixed forests on the LCT were reconfigured into the baseline blocks. Those not included in the baseline remain as SSAs, except for 56 acres that will be harvested to offset the addition of formerly harvestable areas to the baseline. The enhanced riparian buffers under this SHA will result in more trees within the buffer zones than would be required under the standard Washington State Forest Practice Rules, and there will be 32 more acres of SMAs, including green tree areas, unstable slopes, and forested wetlands. Regeneration harvest rotations will average 60 years, compared to the industry standard of 45 years. Additional management actions under the proposed SHA to benefit the northern spotted owl are enhanced snag and downed wood retention measures, plus planting and thinning to encourage understory plants that support northern spotted owl prey species. Under the proposed SHA, Everett will not be required to survey for marbled murrelets or northern spotted owls; VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:18 May 04, 2015 Jkt 235001 however, if Everett becomes aware of the presence of an occupied site, the draft SHA identifies specific measures to avoid disturbance of the site and to protect the habitat. Occupancy by the marbled murrelet and the northern spotted owl is most likely to occur within the baseline blocks, SSAs, and riparian buffers where suitable marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl habitat will continue to improve or develop over time because harvest is deferred during the term of the proposed permit in these areas. In these areas, deferring harvest would already protect the habitat associated with an occupied site; however, depending on the exact location of a site, it may need to be protected from noise and other human disturbance as described in the draft SHA. Each year, if marbled murrelet or northern spotted owl occupancy occurs outside of the deferred-harvest areas, then core areas for one occupied site for each covered species will be protected from harvest and disturbance for at least 5 years. Incidental take of the covered species in the form of harassment from noise or visual disturbance may occur during the term of the permit from forest management activities. Incidental take in the form of direct mortality or harm from altering occupied sites is not likely because occupancy is most likely going to occur in the deferred-harvest areas. Direct mortality or harm of the covered species could occur in the unlikely event that areas not deferred from harvest become occupied prior to harvesting. All forms of incidental take of the covered species could occur from timber harvesting activities in the SSAs, SMAs, or riparian areas in association with a return to the identified agreedupon baseline habitat conditions. However, if similar Washington State Forest Practices Rules are in effect at the time, some of these areas may continue to be retained under those rules. The net conservation benefits for both covered species are expected to be realized through the reconfiguration and retention of four large blocks of habitat designated as the baseline condition for the proposed SHA. The reconfiguration should enhance future nesting potential for both marbled murrelets and dispersing northern spotted owls, especially as the habitat continues to improve in quality over the term of the SHA. An increase in the quantity and distribution of SMAs will benefit the covered species by providing additional buffers adjacent to suitable nesting habitat in deferred-harvest areas. If occupancy by covered species occurs outside of deferred-harvest areas, the minimum protection period for an PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 occupied site is increased by 2.5 years for the marbled murrelet and 5 years for the northern spotted owl compared to standard Washington State Forest Practices Rules. All of these habitat improvements are expected to increase the number and distribution of marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls on the LCT compared to what would likely occur under standard forest practices. National Environmental Policy Act Compliance The development of the draft SHA and the proposed issuance of an enhancement of survival permit 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 made a preliminary determination that the proposed SHA, IA, and permit issuance are eligible for categorical exclusion under the NEPA. The basis for our preliminary determination is contained in an EAS, which is available for public review (see ADDRESSES). Public Comments You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We request data, new information, or comments from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, Tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested party via this notice on our proposed Federal action. In particular, we request information and comments regarding: (1) Whether the implementation of the proposed SHA and IA would provide a net conservation benefit to the covered species; (2) Other conservation measures that would lead to a net-conservation benefit for the covered species; (3) The length of the proposed term of the enhancement of survival permit; (4) The direct, indirect, and cumulative effects that implementation of the SHA and IA could have on the human environment; (5) Other plans, projects, or information that might be relevant to evaluating the effects of this proposed action; and (6) Information regarding the adequacy of the proposed SHA and IA pursuant to the requirement for permits 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 E:\FR\FM\05MYN1.SGM 05MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 86 / Tuesday, May 5, 2015 / Notices identifiable information in your comments, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personally identifiable information— may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personally identifiable information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their entirety. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing the draft EAS, will be available for public inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at our Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES). Next Steps We will evaluate the draft SHA, associated documents, and any public comments we receive to determine whether the permit application and the EAS meet the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA and NEPA, respectively, and their respective implementing regulations. We will also evaluate whether issuance of an enhancement of survival permit would comply with section 7 of the ESA by conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation on the proposed permit action. If we determine that all requirements are met, we will sign the proposed SHA and IA, and issue an enhancement of survival permit under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA to the applicant, Everett, for incidental take of the northern spotted owl and the marbled murrelet caused by covered activities in accordance with the terms of the permit, SHA, and IA. We will not make our final decision until after the end of the 30-day public comment period, and we will fully consider all comments and information we receive during the public comment period. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Authority We provide this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22), and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:18 May 04, 2015 Jkt 235001 Dated: April 14, 2015. Richard Hannan, Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon. [FR Doc. 2015–10466 Filed 5–4–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management 25711 The plat, in 2 sheets, and field notes of the dependent resurvey and survey in Township 50 North, Range 14 West, New Mexico Principal Meridian, Colorado, were accepted on April 15, 2015. Randy Bloom, Chief Cadastral Surveyor for Colorado. [FR Doc. 2015–10463 Filed 5–4–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–JB–P [LLCO956000 L14400000.BJ0000] Notice of Filing of Plats of Survey; Colorado. AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management Interior. ACTION: Notice of filing of plats of survey; Colorado. [LLCO956000 L14400000.BJ0000] The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Colorado State Office is publishing this notice to inform the public of the intent to officially file the survey plats listed below and afford a proper period of time to protest this action prior to the plat filing. During this time, the plats will be available for review in the BLM Colorado State Office. DATES: Unless there are protests of this action, the filing of the plats described in this notice will happen on June 4, 2015. AGENCY: SUMMARY: BLM Colorado State Office, Cadastral Survey, 2850 Youngfield Street, Lakewood, CO 80215–7093. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Randy Bloom, Chief Cadastral Surveyor for Colorado, (303) 239–3856. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1–800–877–8339 to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to leave a message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The plat and field notes of the dependent resurvey and survey in Township 46 North, Range 12 East, New Mexico Principal Meridian, Colorado, were accepted on March 18, 2015. The plat incorporating the field notes of the corrective dependent resurvey in Township 1 South, Range 78 West, Sixth Principal Meridian, Colorado, was accepted on March 20, 2015. The plat and field notes of the metesand-bounds survey in partially surveyed Township 41 North, Range 9 West, New Mexico Principal Meridian, Colorado, were accepted on April 9, 2015. ADDRESSES: PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 Notice of Filing of Plats of Survey; Colorado Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice of Filing of Plats of Survey; Colorado The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Colorado State Office is publishing this notice to inform the public of the official filing of the survey plats listed below. The plats will be available for viewing at http:// www.glorecords.blm.gov. DATES: The plats described in this notice were filed on April 17, 2015. ADDRESSES: BLM Colorado State Office, Cadastral Survey, 2850 Youngfield Street, Lakewood, CO 80215–7093. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Randy Bloom, Chief Cadastral Surveyor for Colorado, (303) 239–3856. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1–800–877–8339 to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to leave a message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The supplemental plat of section 20 in Township 13 South, Range 90 West, Sixth Principal Meridian, Colorado, was accepted on April 16, 2015, and filed on April 17, 2015. The supplemental plat of sections 25, 35, and 36 in Township 13 South, Range 90 West, Sixth Principal Meridian, Colorado, was accepted on April 16, 2015, and filed on April 17, 2015. SUMMARY: Randy Bloom, Chief Cadastral Surveyor for Colorado. [FR Doc. 2015–10462 Filed 5–4–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–JB–P E:\FR\FM\05MYN1.SGM 05MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 86 (Tuesday, May 5, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 25709-25711]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-10466]



[[Page 25709]]

=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-ES-2015-N070; FXES11120100000-156-FF01E00000]


Draft Safe Harbor Agreement and Receipt of Application for an 
Enhancement of Survival Permit for the Northern Spotted Owl and Marbled 
Murrelet; City of Everett, Snohomish 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), have 
received, from the City of Everett (Everett), an application for an 
enhancement of survival permit for the federally threatened northern 
spotted owl and marbled murrelet under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (ESA). The permit application includes a draft safe 
harbor agreement (SHA) and implementing agreement (IA) between Everett 
and the Service addressing habitat conservation and forest management, 
including timber harvest on lands within Everett's municipal watershed 
in Snohomish County, Washington. We invite comments from all interested 
parties on the application, including the draft SHA, draft IA, and a 
draft environmental action statement (EAS) prepared pursuant to the 
requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

DATES: To ensure consideration, written comments must be received from 
interested parties by June 4, 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 Everett Draft SHA.
     Internet: Documents may be viewed and downloaded on the 
Internet at http://www.fws.gov/wafwo/.
     Email: wfwocomments@fws.gov. Include ``Everett Draft SHA'' 
in the subject line of the message.
     U.S. Mail: Mark Ostwald, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 510 Desmond Drive, Southeast, 
Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503.
     In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call 360-753-9440 
to make an appointment (necessary for viewing or pickup only) during 
regular business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 510 Desmond Drive, Southeast, 
Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Ostwald, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (see ADDRESSES), telephone 360-753-9564. If you use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Under a SHA, participating landowners voluntarily undertake 
management activities on their property to enhance, restore, or 
maintain habitat benefiting species listed under the ESA (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.). SHAs, and the subsequent enhancement of survival permits 
that are issued to participating landowners pursuant to section 
10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA, encourage private and other non-Federal 
property owners to implement conservation actions for federally listed 
species by assuring the landowners that they will not be subjected to 
increased property use restrictions as a result of their efforts to 
either attract listed species to their property, or to increase the 
numbers or distribution of listed species already on their property. 
These assurances allow the property owner to alter or modify the 
enrolled property back to agreed-upon pre-permit baseline conditions at 
the end of the term of the permit, even if such alteration or 
modification results in the incidental take of a listed species. The 
baseline conditions must reflect the known biological and habitat 
characteristics that support existing levels of use of the property by 
species covered in the SHA. SHA assurances depend on the property owner 
complying with obligations in the SHA and the terms and conditions of 
the permit. The SHA's net conservation benefits must be sufficient to 
contribute, either directly or indirectly, to the recovery of the 
covered listed species. Enrolled landowners may make lawful use of the 
enrolled property during the permit term and may incidentally take the 
listed species named on the permit as long as that take does not modify 
the agreed-upon net conservation benefit to the species. Application 
requirements and issuance criteria for enhancement of survival permits 
for SHAs are found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 50 CFR 
17.22(c). The Service's Safe Harbor Policy (64 FR 32717, June 17, 1999) 
and the Safe Harbor Regulations (68 FR 53320, September 10, 2003; and 
69 FR 24084, May 3, 2004) are available at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/laws-policies/regulations-and-policies.html.
    The Service has received from Everett an application for an 
enhancement of survival permit under the ESA to authorize incidental 
take of the federally threatened northern spotted owl (Strix 
occidentalis caurina) and the marbled murrelet (Brachyamphus 
marmoratus). The permit application includes a draft SHA and IA between 
Everett and the Service. The SHA addresses habitat conservation and 
forest management, including timber harvest, on Everett's Lake Chaplain 
Tract (LCT) located within Everett's municipal watershed in Snohomish 
County, Washington. The total area of the LCT is approximately 3,729 
acres, of which 715 acres is comprised of non-forested areas. The non-
forested areas include Lake Chaplain, portions of the Sultan River, 
non-forested wetlands, water filtration facilities, and rights-of-way. 
Approximately half of the forest stands in the LCT are older than 80 
years. Activities covered under the SHA are timber management and 
drinking water production. Everett's management objective for the SHA 
is to enhance and maintain habitat for marbled murrelets and northern 
spotted owls while continuing to generate revenue from forest 
management operations.
    There is one known marbled murrelet-occupied site on the LCT. The 
LCT is within a marbled murrelet detection area as defined by WAC 222-
16-101. No federally designated marbled murrelet critical habitat 
occurs on the LCT; however, approximately 80 percent of the LCT 
perimeter is adjacent to properties that are designated critical 
habitat for the marbled murrelet. There are no known northern spotted 
owl site centers on the LCT; however, recent surveys have not been 
conducted in all areas of suitable habitat. The LCT is situated between 
two northern spotted owl special emphasis areas designated by 
Washington Forest Practices Rules. The nearest federally designated 
northern spotted owl critical habitat is approximately 8 miles 
northeast of the LCT.
    Everett is simultaneously applying to the Washington State 
Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) for a Cooperative Habitat 
Enhancement Agreement (CHEA) under the Washington State Forest Practice 
Rules (WAC 222-16-105). The SHA and CHEA are one document that serves 
the requirements of both the Service and the WDNR. The applicant worked 
closely with the Service, the Washington Department of Fish and 
Wildlife, and the WDNR to develop the SHA and CHEA.

[[Page 25710]]

Proposed Action

    The Service proposes to enter into the SHA and IA and to issue an 
enhancement of survival permit to Everett for incidental take of the 
northern spotted owl and the marbled murrelet caused by covered 
activities, if permit issuance criteria are met. Both the SHA and the 
permit would have a term of 50 years.
    Due to the overlap of suitable habitat characteristics for marbled 
murrelets and northern spotted owls and the nature of the LCT forest 
stands, the SHA's baseline is unified for both covered species. The 
baseline totals about 447 acres and consists of 4 separate large blocks 
of the highest quality forest habitat for the covered species on the 
LCT. The baseline represents the areas on the LCT that are most likely 
to be occupied by the covered species currently and during the term of 
the SHA.
    The conservation benefits for the marbled murrelet and the northern 
spotted owl under the SHA are expected to be realized through 
implementation of the following management actions: Reconfiguration of 
the special set asides (SSAs), enhancement of riparian buffers, an 
increase in special management areas (SMAs), longer harvest rotations, 
and enhanced protection of occupied sites. The SSAs are old-growth 
management areas and permanent mixed hardwood and conifer forests, 
which will not be harvested during the term of the agreement. Under the 
draft SHA, most of the original old-growth management areas and some of 
the permanent mixed forests on the LCT were reconfigured into the 
baseline blocks. Those not included in the baseline remain as SSAs, 
except for 56 acres that will be harvested to offset the addition of 
formerly harvestable areas to the baseline. The enhanced riparian 
buffers under this SHA will result in more trees within the buffer 
zones than would be required under the standard Washington State Forest 
Practice Rules, and there will be 32 more acres of SMAs, including 
green tree areas, unstable slopes, and forested wetlands. Regeneration 
harvest rotations will average 60 years, compared to the industry 
standard of 45 years. Additional management actions under the proposed 
SHA to benefit the northern spotted owl are enhanced snag and downed 
wood retention measures, plus planting and thinning to encourage 
understory plants that support northern spotted owl prey species.
    Under the proposed SHA, Everett will not be required to survey for 
marbled murrelets or northern spotted owls; however, if Everett becomes 
aware of the presence of an occupied site, the draft SHA identifies 
specific measures to avoid disturbance of the site and to protect the 
habitat. Occupancy by the marbled murrelet and the northern spotted owl 
is most likely to occur within the baseline blocks, SSAs, and riparian 
buffers where suitable marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl 
habitat will continue to improve or develop over time because harvest 
is deferred during the term of the proposed permit in these areas. In 
these areas, deferring harvest would already protect the habitat 
associated with an occupied site; however, depending on the exact 
location of a site, it may need to be protected from noise and other 
human disturbance as described in the draft SHA. Each year, if marbled 
murrelet or northern spotted owl occupancy occurs outside of the 
deferred-harvest areas, then core areas for one occupied site for each 
covered species will be protected from harvest and disturbance for at 
least 5 years.
    Incidental take of the covered species in the form of harassment 
from noise or visual disturbance may occur during the term of the 
permit from forest management activities. Incidental take in the form 
of direct mortality or harm from altering occupied sites is not likely 
because occupancy is most likely going to occur in the deferred-harvest 
areas. Direct mortality or harm of the covered species could occur in 
the unlikely event that areas not deferred from harvest become occupied 
prior to harvesting. All forms of incidental take of the covered 
species could occur from timber harvesting activities in the SSAs, 
SMAs, or riparian areas in association with a return to the identified 
agreed-upon baseline habitat conditions. However, if similar Washington 
State Forest Practices Rules are in effect at the time, some of these 
areas may continue to be retained under those rules.
    The net conservation benefits for both covered species are expected 
to be realized through the reconfiguration and retention of four large 
blocks of habitat designated as the baseline condition for the proposed 
SHA. The reconfiguration should enhance future nesting potential for 
both marbled murrelets and dispersing northern spotted owls, especially 
as the habitat continues to improve in quality over the term of the 
SHA. An increase in the quantity and distribution of SMAs will benefit 
the covered species by providing additional buffers adjacent to 
suitable nesting habitat in deferred-harvest areas. If occupancy by 
covered species occurs outside of deferred-harvest areas, the minimum 
protection period for an occupied site is increased by 2.5 years for 
the marbled murrelet and 5 years for the northern spotted owl compared 
to standard Washington State Forest Practices Rules. All of these 
habitat improvements are expected to increase the number and 
distribution of marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls on the LCT 
compared to what would likely occur under standard forest practices.

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    The development of the draft SHA and the proposed issuance of an 
enhancement of survival permit 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 made a preliminary 
determination that the proposed SHA, IA, and permit issuance are 
eligible for categorical exclusion under the NEPA. The basis for our 
preliminary determination is contained in an EAS, which is available 
for public review (see ADDRESSES).

Public Comments

    You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods 
listed in the ADDRESSES section. We request data, new information, or 
comments from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, 
Tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested 
party via this notice on our proposed Federal action. In particular, we 
request information and comments regarding:
    (1) Whether the implementation of the proposed SHA and IA would 
provide a net conservation benefit to the covered species;
    (2) Other conservation measures that would lead to a net-
conservation benefit for the covered species;
    (3) The length of the proposed term of the enhancement of survival 
permit;
    (4) The direct, indirect, and cumulative effects that 
implementation of the SHA and IA could have on the human environment;
    (5) Other plans, projects, or information that might be relevant to 
evaluating the effects of this proposed action; and
    (6) Information regarding the adequacy of the proposed SHA and IA 
pursuant to the requirement for permits 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

[[Page 25711]]

identifiable information in your comments, you should be aware that 
your entire comment--including your personally identifiable 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personally identifiable 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and 
from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials 
of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public 
disclosure in their entirety. Comments and materials we receive, as 
well as supporting documentation we used in preparing the draft EAS, 
will be available for public inspection by appointment, during normal 
business hours, at our Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see 
ADDRESSES).

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the draft SHA, associated documents, and any 
public comments we receive to determine whether the permit application 
and the EAS meet the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA and NEPA, 
respectively, and their respective implementing regulations. We will 
also evaluate whether issuance of an enhancement of survival permit 
would comply with section 7 of the ESA by conducting an intra-Service 
section 7 consultation on the proposed permit action. If we determine 
that all requirements are met, we will sign the proposed SHA and IA, 
and issue an enhancement of survival permit under section 10(a)(1)(A) 
of the ESA to the applicant, Everett, for incidental take of the 
northern spotted owl and the marbled murrelet caused by covered 
activities in accordance with the terms of the permit, SHA, and IA. We 
will not make our final decision until after the end of the 30-day 
public comment period, and we will fully consider all comments and 
information we receive during the public comment period.

Authority

    We provide this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), its 
implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22), and the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its 
implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: April 14, 2015.
Richard Hannan,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2015-10466 Filed 5-4-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4310-55-P