Notice of Intent To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative Long-Term Habitat Conservation Plan, Kauai, Hawaii, 44316-44319 [2016-16077]

Download as PDF 44316 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices B. Solicitation of Public Comment This notice is soliciting comments from members of the public and affected parties concerning the collection of information described in Section A on the following: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) The accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (3) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond; including through the use of appropriate automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. HUD encourages interested parties to submit comment in response to these questions. Authority: Section 3507 of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35. Dated: June 30, 2016. Colette Pollard, Department Reports Management Officer, Office of the Chief Information Officer. [FR Doc. 2016–16116 Filed 7–6–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210–67–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R1–ES–2016–N102; FXES11120100000–167–FF01E00000] Notice of Intent To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative Long-Term Habitat Conservation Plan, Kauai, Hawaii Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of intent; announcement of public scoping meeting; request for comments. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to prepare a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) to evaluate the impacts of several alternatives relating to the requested issuance of an Endangered Species Act (ESA) Incidental Take Permit (ITP) to the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) that would authorize take of listed species caused by activities covered under the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative Long-term Habitat Conservation Plan (KIUC srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 LTHCP). We also provide this notice to announce a public scoping period. DATES: The public scoping period begins with the publication of this notice in the Federal Register and will continue through September 6, 2016. The Service will consider all comments on the scope of the DEIS analysis that are received or postmarked by this date. Comments received or postmarked after this date will be considered to the extent practicable. The Service will also hold one public scoping open house, at the following time and location during the scoping period: • July 20, 2016—Kauai Community College, 3–1901 Kaumualii Highway, Lihue, Kauai, HI 96766, 5 to 7 p.m. The scoping meeting will provide the public an opportunity to ask questions, discuss issues with Service and State staff regarding the DEIS, and provide written comments. ADDRESSES: To request further information or submit written comments, please use one of the following methods: • U.S. Mail: Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3–122, Honolulu, Hawaii 96850. Include ‘‘KIUC HCP and scoping EIS’’ in the subject line of your request or comment. • Email: KIUCLongTermhcp@fws.gov. Include ‘‘KIUC HCP and scoping EIS’’ in the subject line of the message. • Fax: 808–792–9580, Attn: Field Supervisor. Include ‘‘KIUC HCP and scoping EIS’’ in the subject line of the message. • Internet: You may obtain copies of this notice on the Internet at https:// www.fws.gov/pacificislands/, or from the Service’s Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office in Honolulu, Hawaii (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section). We request that you send comments by only one of the methods described above. See the Public Availability of Comments section below for more information. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lasha-Lynn Salbosa, by telephone at 808–792–9442, or by email at LashaLynn_Salbosa@fws.gov. Hearing or speech impaired individuals may call the Federal Information Relay Service at 800–877–8339 for TTY assistance. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to prepare a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) to evaluate the impacts of several alternatives relating to the requested issuance of an Endangered Species Act (ESA) Incidental Take Permit (ITP) to the PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) that would authorize take of listed species caused by activities covered under the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative Long-term Habitat Conservation Plan (KIUC LTHCP). We also provide this notice to announce a public scoping period. The KIUC LTHCP is being prepared by KIUC to address the effects of its generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity on listed species within the plan area, which covers the full geographic extent of the Island of Kauai, Hawaii. KIUC anticipates requesting incidental take coverage for the endangered Hawaiian petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis), threatened Newell’s shearwater (Puffinus newelli), and a species proposed for listing as endangered, the band-rumped storm-petrel (Oceanodroma castro). These species are collectively referred to as the ‘‘Covered Species.’’ The activities covered under the KIUC LTHCP (‘‘Covered Activities’’) include construction of certain planned facilities; power line construction, reconfiguration, or undergrounding; installation and operation of streetlight fixtures at the request of State, County, or private entities; the operation and maintenance of all existing and planned KIUC facilities and infrastructure; and activities associated with the management of certain lands to mitigate for the take of Covered Species. This notice was prepared pursuant to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) (NEPA), and its implementing regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations at 40 CFR 1506.6, and pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA. We intend to prepare a DEIS to evaluate the impacts of several alternatives related to the potential issuance of an ITP under the KIUC LTHCP. KIUC intends to request a permit term of 30 years. The primary purpose of the scoping process is for the public and other agencies to assist in developing the DEIS by identifying important issues and identifying alternatives that should be considered. Background Section 9 of the ESA prohibits ‘‘take’’ of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered under section 4 (16 U.S.C. 1538 and 16 U.S.C. 1533, respectively). The ESA implementing regulations extend, under certain circumstances, the prohibition of take to threatened species (50 CFR 17.31). Under section 3 of the ESA, the term ‘‘take’’ means to ‘‘harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct’’ (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term ‘‘harm’’ is defined by regulation as ‘‘an act which actually kills or injures wildlife. Such act may include significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering’’ (50 CFR 17.3). The term ‘‘harass’’ is defined in the regulations 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 normal behavioral patterns which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering’’ (50 CFR 17.3). Under section 10(a) of the ESA, the Service may issue permits to authorize incidental take of listed fish and wildlife species. ‘‘Incidental take’’ is defined by the ESA as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA contains provisions for issuing ITPs to non-Federal entities for the take of endangered and threatened species, provided the following criteria are met: • The taking will be incidental; • The applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking; • The applicant will develop a proposed HCP and ensure that adequate funding for the plan will be provided; • The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and • The applicant will carry out any other measures that the Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the HCP. Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32. KIUC Short-Term HCP In 2011, the KIUC Short-Term Habitat Conservation Plan (STHCP) was approved by the Service, and KIUC received an ITP for the Covered Species (i.e., the Newell’s shearwater, Hawaiian petrel, and the band-rumped storm petrel). The Covered Species are subject to injury or mortality as a result of colliding with KIUC-owned power lines and utility infrastructure, and injury or mortality as a result of attraction to nighttime lighting from KIUC-owned and operated streetlights and facilities. The ITP authorized an annual take amount of 162 Newell’s shearwaters, two Hawaiian petrels, and two bandrumped storm petrels over a 5-year period, as a result of attraction to, or VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 collision with, KIUC facilities. In total, the ITP authorized a combined take amount of 830 sub-adults or adults of the Covered Species. Current estimates of the Newell’s shearwater population, of which 90 percent nest on Kauai, range from 16,200 to 24,300, based on at-sea population estimates from 1998 through 2011 (Joyce 2013), and projected under various annual levels of decline (Griesemer and Holmes 2011). The Newell’s shearwater rangewide population has experienced an over 75 percent decline from 1993 through 2009 (Day et al. 2003; Holmes et al. 2009). The Hawaiian petrel population nests on several of the southeastern Hawaiian Islands, including Hawaii and Maui, with the total population estimated at 20,000 individuals (Spear et al. 1995). The majority of the breeding population nests on Kauai (Ainley et al. 1997). An updated assessment of the Hawaiian petrel population on Kauai is under way (A. Raine, personal communication, September 30, 2015). Seabird colony monitoring data reflect significant threats from feral pig, cat, barn owl, and rat predation, as well as habitat degradation from invasive plants. Combined with the take caused by power line collisions and light attraction, these threat factors have resulted in the extirpation of at least three breeding colonies of these species on Kauai since 2011 (Holmes and Troy 2008). The 2011 STHCP established a comprehensive monitoring and research program designed to further evaluate the impact of the power line system on seabird populations and to provide key biological data to more adequately inform a longer term HCP and take authorization. To this end, KIUC provides funding to the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP), a project of the University of Hawaii’s Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit, to monitor seabird colonies and develop approaches to assess seabirdpower line collisions. Due to the remote location of many power lines on Kauai and the nocturnal behavior of seabirds, in 2012 KESRP developed an acoustic song-meter monitoring system to detect seabird collisions. This acoustic system became the foundation for KIUC’s Underline Monitoring Program (UMP) and has been accepted and is funded by KIUC. During the course of implementation of the KIUC STHCP, KESRP observed a total of 28 seabird power line collisions using night vision equipment. Of the 28 seabird power line collisions observed, only one of these collision events definitively resulted in an immediate PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 44317 grounded bird within the observer’s field of view. Additionally, about 25 deceased Newell’s shearwaters have been opportunistically found from 2011 through 2015, associated with KIUC power lines or lights. The acoustic system, which is able to monitor the power lines for seabird collisions more extensively than human observers can, has detected a minimum of 1,012 and 1,002 seabird collision events in 2014 and 2015, respectively (KIUC STHCP 2014 and 2015 UMP Reports). Since 2012, KESRP, in collaboration with KIUC, has identified all high and medium risk power line spans that pose a threat to the Covered Species. These high and medium risk lines are continually monitored every year, and those data are used to plan and test for effective minimization measures, including reconfiguring lines or installing bird diverters. While the acoustic system has been successful in detecting seabird power line collisions, only a subset of the power line system can be monitored and therefore collisions outside of the monitored areas must be estimated. Moreover, while a minimum of 1,002 seabird collision events have been detected in 2015, the fate of the birds that collided with these lines is unknown. Based on KESRP field observations, it is certain that some portion of these collisions results in immediate grounding or mortality, and that some additional proportion results in harm or injury, or potential mortality sometime after the collision event. Previous scientific studies based on waterfowl and their interactions with power lines have estimated that this subsequent mortality after the collision event could range from 20 percent to 74 percent of total detected collisions (Bevanger 1995; Bevanger 1999; Beaulaurier 1981; and Shaw et al. 2010). The STHCP has been successful in guiding measures that KIUC has implemented to mitigate the effects of its existing facilities on the Covered Species; increasing knowledge related to the impact of KIUC’s power line system on seabird populations; providing key biological data concerning the Covered Species; and improving our understanding of the effectiveness of conservation measures to more adequately inform a longer term habitat conservation plan and take authorization. In 2015, KIUC spent $2.32 million to implement the conservation program under the STHCP. Sixty-two percent of this budget funded seabird colony management (i.e., predator control and monitoring). Under the STHCP, KIUC is funding a total of 851 acres of seabird colony management (i.e., predator E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 44318 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES control) at three sites within the State’s Hono o Na Pali Natural Area Reserve, and a larger location within the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Upper Limahuli Preserve. The remaining budget funds the retrieval and rehabilitation of seabirds on Kauai, and the KIUC Underline Monitoring Program, which includes testing and installation of avian deterrent devices. KIUC has undergrounded or reconfigured 25 percent of their identified high collision-risk power lines since 2011. KIUC continues to use the underline monitoring data to direct minimization actions, including reconfiguring or undergrounding power lines, and installing bird deterrent devices to minimize impacts from high collision-risk power lines. Although KIUC’s current mitigation and minimization programs are meaningful, these efforts are likely not commensurate with the actual level of take occurring. The STHCP expiration date was in May 2016. On April 12, 2016, we received an application for renewal of that permit pending preparation of the LTHCP. Proposed Long-Term Habitat Conservation Plan The KIUC LTHCP is being prepared by KIUC to cover the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity within the plan area, which covers the full geographic extent of the Island of Kauai, Hawaii. KIUC intends to submit the LTHCP as part of the its application for a Federal ITP and a State incidental take license, in accordance with respective Federal and State permit issuance criteria. KIUC intends to develop the LTHCP in coordination with the Service, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources-Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project, Kauai Seabird Habitat Conservation Program, Kauai Humane Society, and the National Tropical Botanical Garden. In response to the Service’s recommendation in 2011, KIUC was participating in the planning for a Statesponsored islandwide HCP (the ‘‘Kauai Seabird Habitat Conservation Program’’ or ‘‘KSHCP’’) which was intended to address take of the Covered Species from attraction to, or collision with various lights and power lines on the island of Kauai, due to activities by numerous entities in addition to KIUC. However, in November 2015, the State, in consultation with the Service, decided to limit the KSHCP planning effort just to light attraction take. As a result of this decision to limit the KSHCP to light attraction take, KIUC is VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 now seeking long-term incidental take authorization through its own separate KIUC LTHCP. Covered Species and Activities: The Covered Species addressed in the LTHCP will be the same as those addressed in the STHCP: The endangered Hawaiian petrel, threatened Newell’s shearwater, and the bandrumped storm-petrel, a species proposed for listing as endangered. As noted above, the Covered Species are subject to collisions with power lines and other infrastructure while flying at night between their nesting colonies and at-sea foraging areas. The Covered Species, particularly fledglings, are also affected by and attracted to bright nighttime lights. Disoriented birds are commonly observed circling repeatedly around exterior light sources until they fall exhausted to the ground or collide with structures. The KIUC LTHCP and ITP will address the incidental take of the Covered Species caused by Covered Activities that are described and analyzed in the LTHCP. In accordance with the requirements of section 10(a)(2)(A) of the ESA, the LTHCP will also address: The impacts to the Covered Species caused by the taking; the steps KIUC will take to minimize and mitigate those impacts; the funding that will be available to implement those steps; what alternative actions to the taking that KIUC considered and the reasons why such alternatives are not being utilized; and other measures that the Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for purposes of the plan. The KIUC intends to utilize new information generated through implementation of the STHCP to develop a long-term HCP addressing the Covered Species in support of its request for a 30-year ITP. It is anticipated that KIUC will request authorization for the lethal take of approximately 100 to 1,000 individuals annually of the Covered Species combined. A more specific total combined amount of take, and a more specific amount of take for each Covered Species that KIUC will request will be described in the LTHCP. KIUC’s existing facilities include over 1,400 miles of electrical transmission and distribution lines, two fossil fuelfired generating stations, two hydroelectric stations, two 12-megawatt solar energy parks, twelve substations, and approximately 3,500 streetlights. Covered Activities under the KIUC LTHCP are expected to include: (1) KIUC operations, including actions necessary to construct, operate, maintain and repair all existing and PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 certain planned KIUC facilities and infrastructure; (2) minimization measures, including installation of bird deterrents, undergrounding power lines, line reconfiguring, line removal, relocating facilities, and line rerouting; and (3) mitigation measures, including construction and maintenance of predator-proof fenced enclosures, invasive predator reduction efforts, and seabird colony monitoring and habitat management activities to create or enhance seabird breeding habitat. The KIUC LTHCP is also expected to include the following as Covered Activities: 600 new streetlights; approximately 15 miles of new transmission lines (much of it on already constructed poles or underground); approximately 15 miles per year of line improvements, reconfigured, or undergrounded distribution lines; the closure of one substation and the construction of 3 or more new facilities, including the Aepo Substation, Hanahanapuni Switching Station, and the Kilohana Switching station. Additional substations may also be built for renewable projects that cannot be integrated into the existing facilities due to their location, capacity, or operation constraints. Minimization and Mitigation Measures: The KIUC LTHCP is expected to include a comprehensive minimization program that will be based on the results of extensive underline monitoring conducted under the STHCP. These minimization measures would be designed to reduce the amount of Covered Species collisions with power lines in areas known to have a high risk of seabirdline collisions. These minimization measures are likely to include installation of bird deterrents and line reconfiguring. The KIUC LTHCP is expected to include a variety of conservation measures to mitigate unavoidable impacts to the Covered Species. One set of measures is intended to improve the breeding success of the Covered Species. These measures are likely to include: the installation and maintenance of predator-proof fencing at two or more locations encompassing at least several hundred acres of existing Covered Species breeding colonies in northern, interior areas of Kauai; postfencing efforts to greatly reduce or eliminate predator populations from within the fenced areas; efforts to reduce predator populations at other locations; and one or more social attraction projects to create new breeding areas within appropriate habitat for the Covered Species. Other mitigation measures are expected to include: continued implementation of E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES the Save Our Shearwaters program which retrieves downed seabirds and releases them back to the wild following evaluation and any necessary rehabilitation; surveys to identify the location of additional breeding colonies of the Covered Species on Kauai; and research to evaluate methods of improving Covered Species breeding success through habitat and predator management. Draft Environmental Impact Statement NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) requires that Federal agencies conduct an environmental analysis of their proposed actions to determine if the actions may significantly affect the human environment. Based on 40 CFR 1508.27 and 40 CFR 1508.2, we have determined that the proposed KIUC LTHCP and ITP may have significant effects on the human environment. Therefore, before deciding whether to issue an ITP, we will prepare a DEIS to analyze the environmental impacts associated with that action. The DEIS will consider the impacts of the issuance of an ESA section 10(a)(1)(B) permit on the human environment. The DEIS will also include an analysis of a reasonable range of alternatives. Such alternatives may include, but are not limited to, variations in: The permit term or permit structure; the level of take allowed; the level, location, or type of minimization, mitigation, or monitoring provided under the HCP; the scope of Covered Activities; the list of Covered Species; or a combination of these factors. Other alternatives could include undergrounding, reconfiguring or taking other measures to minimize the take at all five power line segments that accounted for 72 percent of all seabird collisions in 2014, expanding existing predator control areas to maximize seabird protection, and the addition of one or more seabird colony management sites in the Upper Manoa Valley. Additionally, a No Action Alternative will be included. Under the No Action Alternative, the Service would not issue an ITP, and KIUC would be obligated to avoid incidental take of federally-listed species or risk violation of Federal and State law. The DEIS will identify and describe direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on biological resources, land use, air quality, water quality, water resources, socioeconomics, climate, and other environmental resources that could occur with the implementation of the proposed action and alternatives. The Service will also identify measures, consistent with NEPA and other relevant considerations of national VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 policy, to avoid or minimize any significant effects of the proposed action on the quality of the human environment. Following completion of the environmental review, the Service will publish a notice of availability and a request for comment on the DEIS, which will include a draft of the proposed KIUC LTHCP. Request for Information We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, Native Hawaiian organizations or entities, industry, or any other interested party on this notice. We will consider these comments in developing the DEIS. We seek specific comments on: 1. Biological information and relevant data concerning the Covered Species; 2. Additional information concerning the range, distribution, population size, and population trends of the Covered Species; 3. Potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts that implementation of the proposed Covered Activities and mitigation/ minimization measures could have on the Covered Species; and other endangered or threatened species, and their communities or habitats; and other aspects of the human environment; 4. Whether there are connected, similar, or reasonably foreseeable cumulative actions; 5. Other possible alternatives to the proposed permit action that the Service should consider, including additional or alternative mitigation and minimization measures; 6. Other current or planned activities in the subject area and their possible impacts on Covered Species; 7. The presence of archaeological sites, buildings and structures, historic events, sacred and traditional areas, and other historic preservation concerns, which are required to be considered in project planning by the National Historic Preservation Act; and 8. Identification of any other environmental issues that should be considered with regard to the proposed KIUC LTHCP and permit action. Public Availability of Comments You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods listed above in the ADDRESSES section. Before including your address, phone number, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—might be made PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 44319 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. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we use in preparing the DEIS, will be available for public inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at the Service’s Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section). Scoping Meeting See DATES section above for the date and time of the public scoping meeting. The primary purpose of the meeting and the public comment period is to provide the public with a general understanding of the background of the proposed action and to solicit suggestions and information on the scope of issues and alternatives we should consider when preparing the DEIS. Written comments will be accepted at the meeting. Comments can also be submitted by the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. Once the DEIS and proposed KIUC LTHCP are complete and made available for review, there will be additional opportunity for public comment on the content of these documents. Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and participate in the public scoping meeting should contact the Service’s Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office using one of the methods listed above in ADDRESSES as soon as possible. In order to allow sufficient time to process requests, please make contact no later than one week before the public meeting. Information regarding this proposed action is available in alternative formats upon request. Authority We provide this notice in accordance with the requirements of section 10 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and per NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1501.7, 40 CFR 1506.5 and 1508.22). Theresa Rabot, Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon. [FR Doc. 2016–16077 Filed 7–6–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 130 (Thursday, July 7, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 44316-44319]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-16077]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-ES-2016-N102; FXES11120100000-167-FF01E00000]


Notice of Intent To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact 
Statement for the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative Long-Term Habitat 
Conservation Plan, Kauai, Hawaii

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

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

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
prepare a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) to evaluate the 
impacts of several alternatives relating to the requested issuance of 
an Endangered Species Act (ESA) Incidental Take Permit (ITP) to the 
Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) that would authorize take of 
listed species caused by activities covered under the Kauai Island 
Utility Cooperative Long-term Habitat Conservation Plan (KIUC LTHCP). 
We also provide this notice to announce a public scoping period.

DATES: The public scoping period begins with the publication of this 
notice in the Federal Register and will continue through September 6, 
2016. The Service will consider all comments on the scope of the DEIS 
analysis that are received or postmarked by this date. Comments 
received or postmarked after this date will be considered to the extent 
practicable. The Service will also hold one public scoping open house, 
at the following time and location during the scoping period:
     July 20, 2016--Kauai Community College, 3-1901 Kaumualii 
Highway, Lihue, Kauai, HI 96766, 5 to 7 p.m.
    The scoping meeting will provide the public an opportunity to ask 
questions, discuss issues with Service and State staff regarding the 
DEIS, and provide written comments.

ADDRESSES: To request further information or submit written comments, 
please use one of the following methods:
     U.S. Mail: Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana 
Boulevard, Room 3-122, Honolulu, Hawaii 96850. Include ``KIUC HCP and 
scoping EIS'' in the subject line of your request or comment.
     Email: KIUCLongTermhcp@fws.gov. Include ``KIUC HCP and 
scoping EIS'' in the subject line of the message.
     Fax: 808-792-9580, Attn: Field Supervisor. Include ``KIUC 
HCP and scoping EIS'' in the subject line of the message.
     Internet: You may obtain copies of this notice on the 
Internet at https://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/, or from the Service's 
Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office in Honolulu, Hawaii (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section).
    We request that you send comments by only one of the methods 
described above. See the Public Availability of Comments section below 
for more information.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lasha-Lynn Salbosa, by telephone at 
808-792-9442, or by email at Lasha-Lynn_Salbosa@fws.gov. Hearing or 
speech impaired individuals may call the Federal Information Relay 
Service at 800-877-8339 for TTY assistance.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), intend to prepare a draft environmental impact statement 
(DEIS) to evaluate the impacts of several alternatives relating to the 
requested issuance of an Endangered Species Act (ESA) Incidental Take 
Permit (ITP) to the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) that would 
authorize take of listed species caused by activities covered under the 
Kauai Island Utility Cooperative Long-term Habitat Conservation Plan 
(KIUC LTHCP). We also provide this notice to announce a public scoping 
period.
    The KIUC LTHCP is being prepared by KIUC to address the effects of 
its generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity on listed 
species within the plan area, which covers the full geographic extent 
of the Island of Kauai, Hawaii. KIUC anticipates requesting incidental 
take coverage for the endangered Hawaiian petrel (Pterodroma 
sandwichensis), threatened Newell's shearwater (Puffinus newelli), and 
a species proposed for listing as endangered, the band-rumped storm-
petrel (Oceanodroma castro). These species are collectively referred to 
as the ``Covered Species.'' The activities covered under the KIUC LTHCP 
(``Covered Activities'') include construction of certain planned 
facilities; power line construction, reconfiguration, or 
undergrounding; installation and operation of streetlight fixtures at 
the request of State, County, or private entities; the operation and 
maintenance of all existing and planned KIUC facilities and 
infrastructure; and activities associated with the management of 
certain lands to mitigate for the take of Covered Species.
    This notice was prepared pursuant to the requirements of the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 
et seq.) (NEPA), and its implementing regulations in the Code of 
Federal Regulations at 40 CFR 1506.6, and pursuant to section 10(c) of 
the ESA. We intend to prepare a DEIS to evaluate the impacts of several 
alternatives related to the potential issuance of an ITP under the KIUC 
LTHCP. KIUC intends to request a permit term of 30 years. The primary 
purpose of the scoping process is for the public and other agencies to 
assist in developing the DEIS by identifying important issues and 
identifying alternatives that should be considered.

Background

    Section 9 of the ESA prohibits ``take'' of fish and wildlife 
species listed as endangered under section 4 (16 U.S.C. 1538 and 16 
U.S.C. 1533, respectively). The ESA implementing regulations extend, 
under certain circumstances, the prohibition of take to threatened 
species (50 CFR 17.31). Under section 3 of the ESA, the term ``take'' 
means to ``harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill,

[[Page 44317]]

trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct'' 
(16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term ``harm'' is defined by regulation as 
``an act which actually kills or injures wildlife. Such act may include 
significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills 
or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral 
patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering'' (50 CFR 17.3). 
The term ``harass'' is defined in the regulations 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 
normal behavioral patterns which include, but are not limited to, 
breeding, feeding, or sheltering'' (50 CFR 17.3).
    Under section 10(a) of the ESA, the Service may issue permits to 
authorize incidental take of listed fish and wildlife species. 
``Incidental take'' is defined by the ESA as take that is incidental 
to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. 
Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA contains provisions for issuing ITPs to 
non-Federal entities for the take of endangered and threatened species, 
provided the following criteria are met:
     The taking will be incidental;
     The applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, 
minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking;
     The applicant will develop a proposed HCP and ensure that 
adequate funding for the plan will be provided;
     The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of 
the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and
     The applicant will carry out any other measures that the 
Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes 
of the HCP.
    Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened species 
are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32.

KIUC Short-Term HCP

    In 2011, the KIUC Short-Term Habitat Conservation Plan (STHCP) was 
approved by the Service, and KIUC received an ITP for the Covered 
Species (i.e., the Newell's shearwater, Hawaiian petrel, and the band-
rumped storm petrel). The Covered Species are subject to injury or 
mortality as a result of colliding with KIUC-owned power lines and 
utility infrastructure, and injury or mortality as a result of 
attraction to nighttime lighting from KIUC-owned and operated 
streetlights and facilities. The ITP authorized an annual take amount 
of 162 Newell's shearwaters, two Hawaiian petrels, and two band-rumped 
storm petrels over a 5-year period, as a result of attraction to, or 
collision with, KIUC facilities. In total, the ITP authorized a 
combined take amount of 830 sub-adults or adults of the Covered 
Species.
    Current estimates of the Newell's shearwater population, of which 
90 percent nest on Kauai, range from 16,200 to 24,300, based on at-sea 
population estimates from 1998 through 2011 (Joyce 2013), and projected 
under various annual levels of decline (Griesemer and Holmes 2011). The 
Newell's shearwater rangewide population has experienced an over 75 
percent decline from 1993 through 2009 (Day et al. 2003; Holmes et al. 
2009). The Hawaiian petrel population nests on several of the 
southeastern Hawaiian Islands, including Hawaii and Maui, with the 
total population estimated at 20,000 individuals (Spear et al. 1995). 
The majority of the breeding population nests on Kauai (Ainley et al. 
1997). An updated assessment of the Hawaiian petrel population on Kauai 
is under way (A. Raine, personal communication, September 30, 2015). 
Seabird colony monitoring data reflect significant threats from feral 
pig, cat, barn owl, and rat predation, as well as habitat degradation 
from invasive plants. Combined with the take caused by power line 
collisions and light attraction, these threat factors have resulted in 
the extirpation of at least three breeding colonies of these species on 
Kauai since 2011 (Holmes and Troy 2008).
    The 2011 STHCP established a comprehensive monitoring and research 
program designed to further evaluate the impact of the power line 
system on seabird populations and to provide key biological data to 
more adequately inform a longer term HCP and take authorization. To 
this end, KIUC provides funding to the Kauai Endangered Seabird 
Recovery Project (KESRP), a project of the University of Hawaii's 
Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit, to monitor seabird colonies and 
develop approaches to assess seabird-power line collisions. Due to the 
remote location of many power lines on Kauai and the nocturnal behavior 
of seabirds, in 2012 KESRP developed an acoustic song-meter monitoring 
system to detect seabird collisions. This acoustic system became the 
foundation for KIUC's Underline Monitoring Program (UMP) and has been 
accepted and is funded by KIUC.
    During the course of implementation of the KIUC STHCP, KESRP 
observed a total of 28 seabird power line collisions using night vision 
equipment. Of the 28 seabird power line collisions observed, only one 
of these collision events definitively resulted in an immediate 
grounded bird within the observer's field of view. Additionally, about 
25 deceased Newell's shearwaters have been opportunistically found from 
2011 through 2015, associated with KIUC power lines or lights. The 
acoustic system, which is able to monitor the power lines for seabird 
collisions more extensively than human observers can, has detected a 
minimum of 1,012 and 1,002 seabird collision events in 2014 and 2015, 
respectively (KIUC STHCP 2014 and 2015 UMP Reports). Since 2012, KESRP, 
in collaboration with KIUC, has identified all high and medium risk 
power line spans that pose a threat to the Covered Species. These high 
and medium risk lines are continually monitored every year, and those 
data are used to plan and test for effective minimization measures, 
including reconfiguring lines or installing bird diverters. While the 
acoustic system has been successful in detecting seabird power line 
collisions, only a subset of the power line system can be monitored and 
therefore collisions outside of the monitored areas must be estimated. 
Moreover, while a minimum of 1,002 seabird collision events have been 
detected in 2015, the fate of the birds that collided with these lines 
is unknown. Based on KESRP field observations, it is certain that some 
portion of these collisions results in immediate grounding or 
mortality, and that some additional proportion results in harm or 
injury, or potential mortality sometime after the collision event. 
Previous scientific studies based on waterfowl and their interactions 
with power lines have estimated that this subsequent mortality after 
the collision event could range from 20 percent to 74 percent of total 
detected collisions (Bevanger 1995; Bevanger 1999; Beaulaurier 1981; 
and Shaw et al. 2010).
    The STHCP has been successful in guiding measures that KIUC has 
implemented to mitigate the effects of its existing facilities on the 
Covered Species; increasing knowledge related to the impact of KIUC's 
power line system on seabird populations; providing key biological data 
concerning the Covered Species; and improving our understanding of the 
effectiveness of conservation measures to more adequately inform a 
longer term habitat conservation plan and take authorization.
    In 2015, KIUC spent $2.32 million to implement the conservation 
program under the STHCP. Sixty-two percent of this budget funded 
seabird colony management (i.e., predator control and monitoring). 
Under the STHCP, KIUC is funding a total of 851 acres of seabird colony 
management (i.e., predator

[[Page 44318]]

control) at three sites within the State's Hono o Na Pali Natural Area 
Reserve, and a larger location within the National Tropical Botanical 
Garden's Upper Limahuli Preserve. The remaining budget funds the 
retrieval and rehabilitation of seabirds on Kauai, and the KIUC 
Underline Monitoring Program, which includes testing and installation 
of avian deterrent devices. KIUC has undergrounded or reconfigured 25 
percent of their identified high collision-risk power lines since 2011. 
KIUC continues to use the underline monitoring data to direct 
minimization actions, including reconfiguring or undergrounding power 
lines, and installing bird deterrent devices to minimize impacts from 
high collision-risk power lines. Although KIUC's current mitigation and 
minimization programs are meaningful, these efforts are likely not 
commensurate with the actual level of take occurring.
    The STHCP expiration date was in May 2016. On April 12, 2016, we 
received an application for renewal of that permit pending preparation 
of the LTHCP.

Proposed Long-Term Habitat Conservation Plan

    The KIUC LTHCP is being prepared by KIUC to cover the generation, 
transmission, and distribution of electricity within the plan area, 
which covers the full geographic extent of the Island of Kauai, Hawaii. 
KIUC intends to submit the LTHCP as part of the its application for a 
Federal ITP and a State incidental take license, in accordance with 
respective Federal and State permit issuance criteria. KIUC intends to 
develop the LTHCP in coordination with the Service, Hawaii Department 
of Land and Natural Resources-Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Kauai 
Endangered Seabird Recovery Project, Kauai Seabird Habitat Conservation 
Program, Kauai Humane Society, and the National Tropical Botanical 
Garden.
    In response to the Service's recommendation in 2011, KIUC was 
participating in the planning for a State-sponsored islandwide HCP (the 
``Kauai Seabird Habitat Conservation Program'' or ``KSHCP'') which was 
intended to address take of the Covered Species from attraction to, or 
collision with various lights and power lines on the island of Kauai, 
due to activities by numerous entities in addition to KIUC. However, in 
November 2015, the State, in consultation with the Service, decided to 
limit the KSHCP planning effort just to light attraction take. As a 
result of this decision to limit the KSHCP to light attraction take, 
KIUC is now seeking long-term incidental take authorization through its 
own separate KIUC LTHCP.
    Covered Species and Activities: The Covered Species addressed in 
the LTHCP will be the same as those addressed in the STHCP: The 
endangered Hawaiian petrel, threatened Newell's shearwater, and the 
band-rumped storm-petrel, a species proposed for listing as endangered. 
As noted above, the Covered Species are subject to collisions with 
power lines and other infrastructure while flying at night between 
their nesting colonies and at-sea foraging areas. The Covered Species, 
particularly fledglings, are also affected by and attracted to bright 
nighttime lights. Disoriented birds are commonly observed circling 
repeatedly around exterior light sources until they fall exhausted to 
the ground or collide with structures.
    The KIUC LTHCP and ITP will address the incidental take of the 
Covered Species caused by Covered Activities that are described and 
analyzed in the LTHCP. In accordance with the requirements of section 
10(a)(2)(A) of the ESA, the LTHCP will also address: The impacts to the 
Covered Species caused by the taking; the steps KIUC will take to 
minimize and mitigate those impacts; the funding that will be available 
to implement those steps; what alternative actions to the taking that 
KIUC considered and the reasons why such alternatives are not being 
utilized; and other measures that the Service may require as being 
necessary or appropriate for purposes of the plan.
    The KIUC intends to utilize new information generated through 
implementation of the STHCP to develop a long-term HCP addressing the 
Covered Species in support of its request for a 30-year ITP. It is 
anticipated that KIUC will request authorization for the lethal take of 
approximately 100 to 1,000 individuals annually of the Covered Species 
combined. A more specific total combined amount of take, and a more 
specific amount of take for each Covered Species that KIUC will request 
will be described in the LTHCP.
    KIUC's existing facilities include over 1,400 miles of electrical 
transmission and distribution lines, two fossil fuel-fired generating 
stations, two hydroelectric stations, two 12-megawatt solar energy 
parks, twelve substations, and approximately 3,500 streetlights. 
Covered Activities under the KIUC LTHCP are expected to include: (1) 
KIUC operations, including actions necessary to construct, operate, 
maintain and repair all existing and certain planned KIUC facilities 
and infrastructure; (2) minimization measures, including installation 
of bird deterrents, undergrounding power lines, line reconfiguring, 
line removal, relocating facilities, and line rerouting; and (3) 
mitigation measures, including construction and maintenance of 
predator-proof fenced enclosures, invasive predator reduction efforts, 
and seabird colony monitoring and habitat management activities to 
create or enhance seabird breeding habitat. The KIUC LTHCP is also 
expected to include the following as Covered Activities: 600 new 
streetlights; approximately 15 miles of new transmission lines (much of 
it on already constructed poles or underground); approximately 15 miles 
per year of line improvements, re-configured, or undergrounded 
distribution lines; the closure of one substation and the construction 
of 3 or more new facilities, including the Aepo Substation, 
Hanahanapuni Switching Station, and the Kilohana Switching station. 
Additional substations may also be built for renewable projects that 
cannot be integrated into the existing facilities due to their 
location, capacity, or operation constraints.
    Minimization and Mitigation Measures: The KIUC LTHCP is expected to 
include a comprehensive minimization program that will be based on the 
results of extensive underline monitoring conducted under the STHCP. 
These minimization measures would be designed to reduce the amount of 
Covered Species collisions with power lines in areas known to have a 
high risk of seabird-line collisions. These minimization measures are 
likely to include installation of bird deterrents and line 
reconfiguring.
    The KIUC LTHCP is expected to include a variety of conservation 
measures to mitigate unavoidable impacts to the Covered Species. One 
set of measures is intended to improve the breeding success of the 
Covered Species. These measures are likely to include: the installation 
and maintenance of predator-proof fencing at two or more locations 
encompassing at least several hundred acres of existing Covered Species 
breeding colonies in northern, interior areas of Kauai; post-fencing 
efforts to greatly reduce or eliminate predator populations from within 
the fenced areas; efforts to reduce predator populations at other 
locations; and one or more social attraction projects to create new 
breeding areas within appropriate habitat for the Covered Species. 
Other mitigation measures are expected to include: continued 
implementation of

[[Page 44319]]

the Save Our Shearwaters program which retrieves downed seabirds and 
releases them back to the wild following evaluation and any necessary 
rehabilitation; surveys to identify the location of additional breeding 
colonies of the Covered Species on Kauai; and research to evaluate 
methods of improving Covered Species breeding success through habitat 
and predator management.

Draft Environmental Impact Statement

    NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) requires that Federal agencies 
conduct an environmental analysis of their proposed actions to 
determine if the actions may significantly affect the human 
environment. Based on 40 CFR 1508.27 and 40 CFR 1508.2, we have 
determined that the proposed KIUC LTHCP and ITP may have significant 
effects on the human environment. Therefore, before deciding whether to 
issue an ITP, we will prepare a DEIS to analyze the environmental 
impacts associated with that action.
    The DEIS will consider the impacts of the issuance of an ESA 
section 10(a)(1)(B) permit on the human environment. The DEIS will also 
include an analysis of a reasonable range of alternatives. Such 
alternatives may include, but are not limited to, variations in: The 
permit term or permit structure; the level of take allowed; the level, 
location, or type of minimization, mitigation, or monitoring provided 
under the HCP; the scope of Covered Activities; the list of Covered 
Species; or a combination of these factors. Other alternatives could 
include undergrounding, reconfiguring or taking other measures to 
minimize the take at all five power line segments that accounted for 72 
percent of all seabird collisions in 2014, expanding existing predator 
control areas to maximize seabird protection, and the addition of one 
or more seabird colony management sites in the Upper Manoa Valley. 
Additionally, a No Action Alternative will be included. Under the No 
Action Alternative, the Service would not issue an ITP, and KIUC would 
be obligated to avoid incidental take of federally-listed species or 
risk violation of Federal and State law.
    The DEIS will identify and describe direct, indirect, and 
cumulative impacts on biological resources, land use, air quality, 
water quality, water resources, socioeconomics, climate, and other 
environmental resources that could occur with the implementation of the 
proposed action and alternatives. The Service will also identify 
measures, consistent with NEPA and other relevant considerations of 
national policy, to avoid or minimize any significant effects of the 
proposed action on the quality of the human environment. Following 
completion of the environmental review, the Service will publish a 
notice of availability and a request for comment on the DEIS, which 
will include a draft of the proposed KIUC LTHCP.

Request for Information

    We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the 
public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific 
community, Native Hawaiian organizations or entities, industry, or any 
other interested party on this notice. We will consider these comments 
in developing the DEIS. We seek specific comments on:
    1. Biological information and relevant data concerning the Covered 
Species;
    2. Additional information concerning the range, distribution, 
population size, and population trends of the Covered Species;
    3. Potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts that 
implementation of the proposed Covered Activities and mitigation/
minimization measures could have on the Covered Species; and other 
endangered or threatened species, and their communities or habitats; 
and other aspects of the human environment;
    4. Whether there are connected, similar, or reasonably foreseeable 
cumulative actions;
    5. Other possible alternatives to the proposed permit action that 
the Service should consider, including additional or alternative 
mitigation and minimization measures;
    6. Other current or planned activities in the subject area and 
their possible impacts on Covered Species;
    7. The presence of archaeological sites, buildings and structures, 
historic events, sacred and traditional areas, and other historic 
preservation concerns, which are required to be considered in project 
planning by the National Historic Preservation Act; and
    8. Identification of any other environmental issues that should be 
considered with regard to the proposed KIUC LTHCP and permit action.

Public Availability of Comments

    You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods 
listed above in the ADDRESSES section. Before including your address, 
phone number, or other personal identifying information in your 
comment, you should be aware that your entire comment--including your 
personal identifying information--might be made publicly available at 
any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your 
personal identifying information from public review, we cannot 
guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we use in preparing the DEIS, will be available for 
public inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at the 
Service's Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT section).

Scoping Meeting

    See DATES section above for the date and time of the public scoping 
meeting. The primary purpose of the meeting and the public comment 
period is to provide the public with a general understanding of the 
background of the proposed action and to solicit suggestions and 
information on the scope of issues and alternatives we should consider 
when preparing the DEIS. Written comments will be accepted at the 
meeting. Comments can also be submitted by the methods listed in the 
ADDRESSES section. Once the DEIS and proposed KIUC LTHCP are complete 
and made available for review, there will be additional opportunity for 
public comment on the content of these documents.
    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public scoping meeting should contact the Service's 
Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office using one of the methods 
listed above in ADDRESSES as soon as possible. In order to allow 
sufficient time to process requests, please make contact no later than 
one week before the public meeting. Information regarding this proposed 
action is available in alternative formats upon request.

Authority

    We provide this notice in accordance with the requirements of 
section 10 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and per NEPA 
regulations (40 CFR 1501.7, 40 CFR 1506.5 and 1508.22).

Theresa Rabot,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2016-16077 Filed 7-6-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4310-55-P