Notice of Availability of a Draft Safe Harbor Agreement and Draft Environmental Assessment for Activities Within Austin, Bastrop, Burleson, Colorado, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Milam, and Robertson Counties, Texas, 59241-59243 [2016-20714]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 167 / Monday, August 29, 2016 / Notices Applicant: Out of Africa Wildlife Park, LLC, Camp Verde, AZ; PRT–760354 environmental assessment, and permit application. The applicant requests renewal of their captive-bred wildlife registration under 50 CFR 17.21(g) for the following species to enhance species propagation or survival: Leopard (Panthera pardus) and snow leopard (Uncia uncia). This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a 5year period. SUMMARY: Applicant: James Mercer, Carbondale, KS; PRT–98881B The applicant requests a permit to import a sport-hunted trophy of two male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species. Multiple Applicants The following applicants each request a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species. Applicant: Marion Searle, Lake Forest, IL; PRT–99186B Applicant: Kristian O’Meara, Powell, OH; PRT–99852B Applicant: David Robertson, Lewistown, MT; PRT–94807B Brenda Tapia, Program Analyst/Data Administrator, Branch of Permits, Division of Management Authority. [FR Doc. 2016–20553 Filed 8–26–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES [FWS–R2–ES–2016–N059; FXES11130200000–167–FF02ENEH00] Notice of Availability of a Draft Safe Harbor Agreement and Draft Environmental Assessment for Activities Within Austin, Bastrop, Burleson, Colorado, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Milam, and Robertson Counties, Texas Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability: Draft safe harbor agreement with assurances, draft AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:27 Aug 26, 2016 Jkt 238001 This notice advises the public that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD; applicant) has applied to the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for an enhancement of survival permit pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The permit application includes a proposed programmatic safe harbor agreement (agreement) between the applicant and the Service that would authorize incidental take resulting from voluntary activities to restore, maintain, enhance, or create habitat for the endangered Houston toad. The Service also announces the availability of a draft environmental assessment (EA) that has been prepared to evaluate the permit application in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. We are making the permit application package, including the draft safe harbor agreement, and draft environmental assessment available for public review and comment. DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before October 28, 2016. Any comments we receive after the closing date or not postmarked by the closing date may not be considered in the final decision on this action. ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application may obtain a copy by writing to the Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 1306, Room 4012, Albuquerque, NM 87103, or send a request by email to fw2_hcp_permits@fws.gov. Obtaining Documents • Internet: You may obtain copies of the EA and draft Safe Harbor Agreement on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Web site at http:// www.fws.gov/southwest/es/ AustinTexas/. • U.S. Mail: A limited number of CD– ROM and printed copies of the EA and draft Safe Harbor Agreement are available, by request, from the Field Supervisor, by mail at the Austin Ecological Services Field Office, 1071 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758; by phone at 512–490–0057; or by fax at 512–490–0974. Please note that your request is in reference to the draft Safe Harbor Agreement for the Houston toad. • In-Person: Copies of the EA and draft Safe Harbor Agreement are also available for public inspection and review at the following locations, by appointment and written request only, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 59241 Æ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 500 Gold Avenue SW., Room 6034, Albuquerque, NM 87102. Æ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1071 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758. Comment submission: You may submit comments by one of the following methods. Æ U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Austin Ecological Services Field Office, 1071 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758; by phone at 512–490–0057; or by fax at 512–490– 0974. Æ Electronically: fw2_hcp_permits@ fws.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Adam Zerrenner, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Austin Ecological Services Field Office, 10711 Burnet Rd, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758; by telephone 512–490–0057; or by facsimile 512–490–0974. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice advises the public that the TPWD has applied to the Service for an enhancement of survival permit pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; Act). The permit application includes a proposed programmatic safe harbor agreement (agreement) between the applicant and the Service for a period of 30 years. The proposed agreement will authorize incidental take during voluntary activities to restore, maintain, enhance, or create habitat for the endangered Houston toad (Anaxyrus [=Bufo] houstonensis). The Service also announces the availability of a draft environmental assessment that has been prepared to evaluate the permit application in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; NEPA). We are making the permit application package, including the draft safe harbor agreement, and draft Environmental Assessment available for public review and comment. Background Under a safe harbor agreement, participating property owners voluntarily undertake management activities on their property to enhance, restore, or maintain habitat benefiting species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Safe harbor agreements encourage private and other non-Federal property owners to implement conservation efforts for listed species by E:\FR\FM\29AUN1.SGM 29AUN1 59242 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 167 / Monday, August 29, 2016 / Notices jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES assuring property owners they will not be subjected to increased property use restrictions as a result of increased target species abundance due to their efforts to improve conditions for listed species on their property. Application requirements and issuance criteria for enhancement of survival permits through safe harbor agreements are found in 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32. Proposed Action The proposed action involves the issuance of a section 10(a)(1)(A) enhancement of survival permit (permit) by the Service to the applicant and approval of the proposed programmatic safe harbor agreement to facilitate recovery activities for the benefit of the federally listed endangered Houston toad on non-Federal lands within the current known range of the species. The requested term of the permit is 30 years. Landowners enrolled under the Agreement would implement conservation activities to benefit the endangered Houston toad and in turn receive assurances consistent with the Safe Harbor Agreement Policy, as amended (64 FR 32717 and 69 FR 24084) and related implementing regulations (50 CFR 13 and 17). NonFederal landowners within Austin, Bastrop, Burleson, Colorado, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Milam, and Robertson Counties, Texas, could be enrolled under the agreement, if finalized, by entering into a cooperative agreement with the applicant. The cooperative agreement would include: (1) A map of the property and its legal location; (2) the portion of the property to be enrolled and its acreage; (3) a description of the existing structures and habitat types that occur on the portion of the property to be enrolled, including accurate descriptions of vegetation, water features, and soil types; and (4) a detailed account of conservation activities to be undertaken on the portion of the property to be enrolled. After signing a cooperative agreement, landowners would receive a certificate of inclusion to document the landowners’ participation in the agreement and convey incidental take authorization from the applicant to certificate recipients. The applicant would be responsible for annual monitoring and reporting related to implementation of the agreement and cooperative agreements, and fulfillment of their provisions. We have worked with the applicant to design conservation activities expected to have a net conservation benefit to the Houston toad within the nine Texas counties to be covered under this VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:27 Aug 26, 2016 Jkt 238001 proposed agreement; however, landowners would not have to conduct every activity in this list in order for their actions to have a net conservation benefit on Houston toads. These conservation activities include: (1) Brush management to create desired understory conditions; (2) forest enhancement/restoration to create favorable canopy conditions; (3) prescribed burning to restore, create, and maintain desired understory and ground cover conditions; (4) removal of sod-forming grasses and restoration of native ground cover; (5) enhancement of existing breeding ponds to provide habitat for breeding adults and emerging toadlets; (6) removal of ponds, where it would be beneficial to do so; (7) control of red imported fire ants to maximize successful toadlet emergence from ponds; (8) creation of new breeding ponds; (9) headstarting and/or reintroduction of captively-bred Houston toads; and (10) release and translocation of wild-caught Houston toads. These conservation activities are expected to: (1) Enhance Houston toad foraging and hibernating habitat; (2) create and enhance Houston toad breeding and toadlet emergence habitat; (3) facilitate Houston toad dispersal through the creation and enhancement of habitat linkages throughout the species’ range; (4) increase Houston toad population numbers through headstarting and reintroduction; and (5) facilitate viable, self-sustaining Houston toad subpopulations. Take, as defined by the Act, means ‘‘to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. Incidental take is defined by the Act as take that is ‘‘incidental to, and not the purpose of, the carrying out of an otherwise lawful activity.’’ The incidental take of toads may occur from: (1) Habitat management actions conducted in accordance with the conservation activities in the Agreement, (2) ongoing land use activities that may have an increased chance of taking a toad if toad numbers increase, as expected, and (3) cessation of the conservation activities if enrolled landowners exercise their option to return the property to its baseline condition, or pre-enrollment condition, as provided for in the final Safe Harbor Agreement Policy (64 FR 32717 and 69 FR 24084). Alternative We considered one alternative to the proposed action as part of the Environmental Assessment process—the No Action Alternative. Under the No PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Action Alternative, a coordinated effort to conserve Houston toads on nonFederal properties using a single programmatic safe harbor agreement and enhancement of survival permit would not occur. Houston toad conservation efforts could take place through the actions of individual landowners without the assurances that a safe harbor agreement would provide. However, it is likely that many landowners would not feel comfortable participating in conservation activities on their properties to enhance habitat for a federally endangered species without coverage for their activities under the Act or assurances that they could eventually take their properties back to their baseline conditions. Therefore, many landowners might not undertake beneficial actions for the Houston toad on their properties because they would be fearful of attracting an endangered species and increasing their liability under the Act. Conservation efforts for the species would primarily occur within the areas already being managed for the Houston toad within Bastrop County, Texas, with little participation of landowners in other areas of the species’ range. Next Steps We will evaluate the proposed safe harbor agreement, associated documents, and comments we receive to determine whether the requirements of sections 10(a) and 10(c) of the Endangered Species Act, the Act’s implementing regulations at 50 CFR 17.22 (regulations that pertain to safe harbor agreements and endangered species), and NEPA have been met. If we determine that the requirements have been met, we will issue an enhancement of survival permit under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act to the applicant in accordance with the terms of the safe harbor agreement and specific terms and conditions of the authorizing permit. We will not make our final decision until after the end of the 60-day comment period and will fully consider all comments received during the comment period. Public Availability of Comments Written comments we receive become part of the public record associated with this action. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can request in your comment that E:\FR\FM\29AUN1.SGM 29AUN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 167 / Monday, August 29, 2016 / Notices we withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will not consider anonymous comments. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representative or officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their entirety. Authority We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Act and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32) and NEPA and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). [NPS–WASO–BSD–FEES–21785; PX.XBSAD0096.00.1] DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [LLIDT000000.L11200000.DD0000.241A.00; 4500069133] ACTION: Interior. Notice of public meetings. ACTION: In accordance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (FACA), and the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2004 (FLREA), the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Twin Falls District Resource Advisory Council (RAC) will meet as indicated below. DATES: The Twin Falls District RAC will meet September 14, 2016 at the Twin Falls District BLM Office, 2878 Addison Ave. E., Twin Falls, Idaho, 83301. The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. and end no later than 3:45 p.m. The public comment period will take place from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Heather Tiel-Nelson, Twin Falls District, Idaho, 2536 Kimberly Road, Twin Falls, Idaho, 83301, (208) 736– 2352. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The 15member RAC advises the Secretary of the Interior, through the Bureau of Land Management, on a variety of planning and management issues associated with public land management in Idaho. Jkt 238001 National Park Service, Interior. Notice; request for comments. We (National Park Service, NPS) will ask the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve the information collection (IC) described below. As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 and as part of our continuing efforts to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, we invite the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on this IC. This information collection is scheduled to expire on May 31, 2017. We may not conduct or sponsor and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB Control Number. DATES: You must submit comments on or before October 28, 2016. ADDRESSES: Send your comments on the IC to Madonna L. Baucum, Information Collection Clearance Officer, National Park Service, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive (MS–242), Reston, VA 20192 (mail); or madonna_baucum@nps.gov (email). Please reference OMB Control Number 1024–0252 in the subject line of your comments. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To request additional information about this IC, contact Brooke Linford by email at brooke_linford@nps.gov, or at (202) 513–7139 (telephone). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Bureau of Land Management, SUMMARY: Proposed Information Collection; The Interagency Access Pass and Senior Pass Application Processes AGENCY: Notice of Public Meeting, Twin Falls District Resource Advisory Council, Idaho jstallworth on DSK7TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES [FR Doc. 2016–20719 Filed 8–26–16; 8:45 am] National Park Service BILLING CODE 4310–55–P 15:27 Aug 26, 2016 Michael C. Courtney, BLM Twin Falls District Manager. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR [FR Doc. 2016–20714 Filed 8–26–16; 8:45 am] VerDate Sep<11>2014 Authority: 43 CFR 1784.4–1. BILLING CODE 4310–GG–P Benjamin N. Tuggle, Regional Director, Southwest Region, Albuquerque, New Mexico. AGENCY: During the September 14th meeting, there will be travel management planning training, an overview of the 2016 fire season and the 40th anniversary of the Federal Land Policy Management Act along with field office updates. Additional topics may be added and will be included in local media announcements. More information is available at www.blm.gov/id/st/en/res/resource_ advisory.3.html. RAC meetings are open to the public. PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 59243 I. Abstract The America the Beautiful—National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass Program covers recreation opportunities on public lands managed by four Department of the Interior agencies—the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation—and by the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service. The passes provide visitors an affordable and convenient way to access Federal recreation lands. The pass program’s proceeds are used to improve and enhance visitor recreation services. Two of the available passes—Interagency Access Pass and Interagency Senior Pass—require documentation and are the bases for this information collection. The Interagency Access Pass is a free, lifetime pass issued to citizens or residents who are domiciled in the United States, regardless of age, and who have a medical determination and documentation of permanent disability. You can obtain an Access Pass in person, with proper documentation, from a participating Federal recreation site or office. Access Passes may also be obtained via mail order. Mail-order applicants for the Access Pass must submit a completed application, proof of residency, and documentation of permanent disability, and pay the document processing fee of $10 to obtain a pass through the mail. If a person arrives at a recreation site and claims eligibility for the Interagency Access Pass, but cannot produce any documentation, that person must read, sign, and date a Statement of Disability Form in the presence of the agency officer issuing the Interagency Access Pass. If the applicant cannot read and/ or sign the form, someone else may read, date, and sign the statement on his/her behalf in the applicant’s presence and in the presence of the agency officer issuing the Interagency Access Pass. The Interagency Senior Pass is a lifetime pass issued to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are 62 years or older. There is a $10 fee for the Senior Pass. You can buy a Senior Pass in person from a participating Federal recreation site or office, online or by mail order. There is an additional document processing fee of $10 to obtain a Senior Pass online or through the mail. Online and mail-order applicants must submit a completed application and proof of residency and age, and pay $20 for the pass fee and processing fee. Agency Web sites provide information on the passes and acceptable E:\FR\FM\29AUN1.SGM 29AUN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 167 (Monday, August 29, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 59241-59243]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-20714]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R2-ES-2016-N059; FXES11130200000-167-FF02ENEH00]


Notice of Availability of a Draft Safe Harbor Agreement and Draft 
Environmental Assessment for Activities Within Austin, Bastrop, 
Burleson, Colorado, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Milam, and Robertson Counties, 
Texas

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: Draft safe harbor agreement with 
assurances, draft environmental assessment, and permit application.

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

SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the Texas Parks and 
Wildlife Department (TPWD; applicant) has applied to the Fish and 
Wildlife Service (Service) for an enhancement of survival permit 
pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The 
permit application includes a proposed programmatic safe harbor 
agreement (agreement) between the applicant and the Service that would 
authorize incidental take resulting from voluntary activities to 
restore, maintain, enhance, or create habitat for the endangered 
Houston toad. The Service also announces the availability of a draft 
environmental assessment (EA) that has been prepared to evaluate the 
permit application in accordance with the requirements of the National 
Environmental Policy Act. We are making the permit application package, 
including the draft safe harbor agreement, and draft environmental 
assessment available for public review and comment.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
October 28, 2016. Any comments we receive after the closing date or not 
postmarked by the closing date may not be considered in the final 
decision on this action.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application may obtain a copy 
by writing to the Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
P.O. Box 1306, Room 4012, Albuquerque, NM 87103, or send a request by 
email to fw2_hcp_permits@fws.gov.

Obtaining Documents

     Internet: You may obtain copies of the EA and draft Safe 
Harbor Agreement on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (Service) Web 
site at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/AustinTexas/.
     U.S. Mail: A limited number of CD-ROM and printed copies 
of the EA and draft Safe Harbor Agreement are available, by request, 
from the Field Supervisor, by mail at the Austin Ecological Services 
Field Office, 1071 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758; by phone 
at 512-490-0057; or by fax at 512-490-0974. Please note that your 
request is in reference to the draft Safe Harbor Agreement for the 
Houston toad.
     In-Person: Copies of the EA and draft Safe Harbor 
Agreement are also available for public inspection and review at the 
following locations, by appointment and written request only, 8 a.m. to 
4:30 p.m.:
    [cir] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 500 Gold Avenue SW., Room 
6034, Albuquerque, NM 87102.
    [cir] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1071 Burnet Road, Suite 200, 
Austin, TX 78758.
    Comment submission: You may submit comments by one of the following 
methods.
    [cir] U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Austin Ecological 
Services Field Office, 1071 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758; 
by phone at 512-490-0057; or by fax at 512-490-0974.
    [cir] Electronically: fw2_hcp_permits@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Adam Zerrenner, Field Supervisor, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Austin Ecological Services Field Office, 
10711 Burnet Rd, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758; by telephone 512-490-
0057; or by facsimile 512-490-0974. Persons who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice advises the public that the TPWD 
has applied to the Service for an enhancement of survival permit 
pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.; Act). The permit application includes a proposed 
programmatic safe harbor agreement (agreement) between the applicant 
and the Service for a period of 30 years. The proposed agreement will 
authorize incidental take during voluntary activities to restore, 
maintain, enhance, or create habitat for the endangered Houston toad 
(Anaxyrus [=Bufo] houstonensis). The Service also announces the 
availability of a draft environmental assessment that has been prepared 
to evaluate the permit application in accordance with the requirements 
of the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; 
NEPA). We are making the permit application package, including the 
draft safe harbor agreement, and draft Environmental Assessment 
available for public review and comment.

Background

    Under a safe harbor agreement, participating property owners 
voluntarily undertake management activities on their property to 
enhance, restore, or maintain habitat benefiting species listed under 
the Endangered Species Act. Safe harbor agreements encourage private 
and other non-Federal property owners to implement conservation efforts 
for listed species by

[[Page 59242]]

assuring property owners they will not be subjected to increased 
property use restrictions as a result of increased target species 
abundance due to their efforts to improve conditions for listed species 
on their property. Application requirements and issuance criteria for 
enhancement of survival permits through safe harbor agreements are 
found in 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action involves the issuance of a section 10(a)(1)(A) 
enhancement of survival permit (permit) by the Service to the applicant 
and approval of the proposed programmatic safe harbor agreement to 
facilitate recovery activities for the benefit of the federally listed 
endangered Houston toad on non-Federal lands within the current known 
range of the species. The requested term of the permit is 30 years. 
Landowners enrolled under the Agreement would implement conservation 
activities to benefit the endangered Houston toad and in turn receive 
assurances consistent with the Safe Harbor Agreement Policy, as amended 
(64 FR 32717 and 69 FR 24084) and related implementing regulations (50 
CFR 13 and 17). Non-Federal landowners within Austin, Bastrop, 
Burleson, Colorado, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Milam, and Robertson Counties, 
Texas, could be enrolled under the agreement, if finalized, by entering 
into a cooperative agreement with the applicant.
    The cooperative agreement would include: (1) A map of the property 
and its legal location; (2) the portion of the property to be enrolled 
and its acreage; (3) a description of the existing structures and 
habitat types that occur on the portion of the property to be enrolled, 
including accurate descriptions of vegetation, water features, and soil 
types; and (4) a detailed account of conservation activities to be 
undertaken on the portion of the property to be enrolled. After signing 
a cooperative agreement, landowners would receive a certificate of 
inclusion to document the landowners' participation in the agreement 
and convey incidental take authorization from the applicant to 
certificate recipients. The applicant would be responsible for annual 
monitoring and reporting related to implementation of the agreement and 
cooperative agreements, and fulfillment of their provisions.
    We have worked with the applicant to design conservation activities 
expected to have a net conservation benefit to the Houston toad within 
the nine Texas counties to be covered under this proposed agreement; 
however, landowners would not have to conduct every activity in this 
list in order for their actions to have a net conservation benefit on 
Houston toads. These conservation activities include: (1) Brush 
management to create desired understory conditions; (2) forest 
enhancement/restoration to create favorable canopy conditions; (3) 
prescribed burning to restore, create, and maintain desired understory 
and ground cover conditions; (4) removal of sod-forming grasses and 
restoration of native ground cover; (5) enhancement of existing 
breeding ponds to provide habitat for breeding adults and emerging 
toadlets; (6) removal of ponds, where it would be beneficial to do so; 
(7) control of red imported fire ants to maximize successful toadlet 
emergence from ponds; (8) creation of new breeding ponds; (9) 
headstarting and/or reintroduction of captively-bred Houston toads; and 
(10) release and translocation of wild-caught Houston toads.
    These conservation activities are expected to: (1) Enhance Houston 
toad foraging and hibernating habitat; (2) create and enhance Houston 
toad breeding and toadlet emergence habitat; (3) facilitate Houston 
toad dispersal through the creation and enhancement of habitat linkages 
throughout the species' range; (4) increase Houston toad population 
numbers through headstarting and reintroduction; and (5) facilitate 
viable, self-sustaining Houston toad subpopulations.
    Take, as defined by the Act, means ``to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, 
shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage 
in any such conduct. Incidental take is defined by the Act as take that 
is ``incidental to, and not the purpose of, the carrying out of an 
otherwise lawful activity.'' The incidental take of toads may occur 
from: (1) Habitat management actions conducted in accordance with the 
conservation activities in the Agreement, (2) ongoing land use 
activities that may have an increased chance of taking a toad if toad 
numbers increase, as expected, and (3) cessation of the conservation 
activities if enrolled landowners exercise their option to return the 
property to its baseline condition, or pre-enrollment condition, as 
provided for in the final Safe Harbor Agreement Policy (64 FR 32717 and 
69 FR 24084).

Alternative

    We considered one alternative to the proposed action as part of the 
Environmental Assessment process--the No Action Alternative. Under the 
No Action Alternative, a coordinated effort to conserve Houston toads 
on non-Federal properties using a single programmatic safe harbor 
agreement and enhancement of survival permit would not occur. Houston 
toad conservation efforts could take place through the actions of 
individual landowners without the assurances that a safe harbor 
agreement would provide. However, it is likely that many landowners 
would not feel comfortable participating in conservation activities on 
their properties to enhance habitat for a federally endangered species 
without coverage for their activities under the Act or assurances that 
they could eventually take their properties back to their baseline 
conditions. Therefore, many landowners might not undertake beneficial 
actions for the Houston toad on their properties because they would be 
fearful of attracting an endangered species and increasing their 
liability under the Act. Conservation efforts for the species would 
primarily occur within the areas already being managed for the Houston 
toad within Bastrop County, Texas, with little participation of 
landowners in other areas of the species' range.

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the proposed safe harbor agreement, associated 
documents, and comments we receive to determine whether the 
requirements of sections 10(a) and 10(c) of the Endangered Species Act, 
the Act's implementing regulations at 50 CFR 17.22 (regulations that 
pertain to safe harbor agreements and endangered species), and NEPA 
have been met. If we determine that the requirements have been met, we 
will issue an enhancement of survival permit under section 10(a)(1)(A) 
of the Endangered Species Act to the applicant in accordance with the 
terms of the safe harbor agreement and specific terms and conditions of 
the authorizing permit. We will not make our final decision until after 
the end of the 60-day comment period and will fully consider all 
comments received during the comment period.

Public Availability of Comments

    Written comments we receive become part of the public record 
associated with this action. Before including your address, phone 
number, email address, or other personal identifying information in 
your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment, including 
your personal identifying information, may be made publicly available 
at any time. While you can request in your comment that

[[Page 59243]]

we withhold your personal identifying information from public review, 
we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will not consider 
anonymous comments. All submissions from organizations or businesses, 
and from individuals identifying themselves as representative or 
officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for 
public disclosure in their entirety.

Authority

    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Act and its 
implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32) and NEPA and its 
implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

Benjamin N. Tuggle,
Regional Director, Southwest Region, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. 2016-20714 Filed 8-26-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4310-55-P