Notice of Availability and Notice of Public Meetings for the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Land Acquisition and Airspace Establishment To Support Large-Scale Marine Air Ground Task Force Live-Fire and Maneuver Training at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, 67334-67337 [2016-23649]

Download as PDF mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES 67334 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 190 / Friday, September 30, 2016 / Notices exercise due diligence and continue to comply with provisions found in Sections 745 and 746 of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2016 (Division E of Pub. L. 114–113, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016), as well as similar provisions that future years’ appropriations acts may include. The requirements of these provisions were originally enacted in three Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 appropriations acts that made funds available to DoD Components for obligation. The details of the provisions in the three FY 2012 acts varied somewhat but they generally required DoD to consider suspension or debarment before using appropriated funding to enter into a grant or cooperative agreement with a corporation if the awarding official was aware that the corporation had an unpaid federal tax liability or was convicted of a felony criminal violation within the preceding 24 months. The FY 2012 provisions were in: • Sections 8124 and 8125 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2012 (Division A of Pub. L. 112–74, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012); • Section 514 of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 (Division H of Pub. L. 112–74); and • Sections 504 and 505 of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2012 (Division B of Pub. L. 112– 74). Generally, the requirements related to these provisions of the FY 2012 appropriations acts have been included in each subsequent fiscal year’s appropriations acts. Since FY 2015, the provisions related to felony convictions and unpaid federal tax liabilities have been enacted in the government-wide general provisions portion of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. Affected Public: Not-For-Profit Institutions; Business or other for-profit. Frequency: On occasion. Respondent’s Obligation: Required to Obtain or Retain Benefits. OMB Desk Officer: Ms. Jasmeet Seehra. Comments and recommendations on the proposed information collection should be emailed to Ms. Jasmeet Seehra, DoD Desk Officer, at Oira_ submission@omb.eop.gov. Please identify the proposed information collection by DoD Desk Officer and the Docket ID number and title of the information collection. You may also submit comments and recommendations, identified by Docket VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:49 Sep 29, 2016 Jkt 238001 ID number and title, by the following method: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name, Docket ID number and title for this Federal Register document. The general policy for comments and other submissions from members of the public is to make these submissions available for public viewing on the Internet at http:// www.regulations.gov as they are received without change, including any personal identifiers or contact information. DOD Clearance Officer: Mr. Frederick Licari. Written requests for copies of the information collection proposal should be sent to Mr. Licari at WHS/ESD Directives Division, 4800 Mark Center Drive, East Tower, Suite 03F09, Alexandria, VA 22350–3100. Dated: September 27, 2016. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense. [FR Doc. 2016–23636 Filed 9–29–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001–06–P DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Navy Notice of Availability and Notice of Public Meetings for the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Land Acquisition and Airspace Establishment To Support Large-Scale Marine Air Ground Task Force Live-Fire and Maneuver Training at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California Department of the Navy, DoD. Notice. AGENCY: ACTION: Pursuant to section (102)(2)(c) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, and regulations implemented by the Council on Environmental Quality (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Parts 1500– 1508), Department of Navy (DoN) NEPA regulations (32 CFR part 775) and U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) NEPA directives (Marine Corps Order P5090.2A, changes 1–3), the DoN has prepared and filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) evaluating the potential environmental impacts that may result from implementing alternative desert tortoise translocation plans at the Marine Corps SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms (hereinafter ‘‘the Combat Center’’). The Supplemental EIS is a supplement to the Final EIS for ‘‘Land Acquisition and Airspace Establishment to Support Large-Scale Marine Air Ground Task Force Live Fire and Maneuver Training’’ dated July 2012 (hereinafter ‘‘2012 Final EIS’’) (77 FR 44234). With the filing of the Draft Supplemental EIS, the DoN is initiating a 45-day public comment period and has scheduled three public open house meetings to receive oral and written comments on the Draft Supplemental EIS. Federal, state and local agencies and interested parties are encouraged to provide comments in person at any of the public open house meetings, or in writing anytime during the public comment period. This notice announces the dates and locations of the public meetings and provides supplementary information about the environmental planning effort. DATES: The Draft Supplemental EIS public review period will begin September 30, 2016, and end on November 14, 2016. The USMC is holding three informational open house style public meetings to inform the public about the proposed action and the alternatives under consideration, and to provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the proposed action, alternatives, and the adequacy and accuracy of the Draft Supplemental EIS. USMC representatives will be on hand to discuss and answer questions on the proposed action, the NEPA process and the findings presented in the Draft Supplemental EIS. Public open house meetings will be held: (1) Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Joshua Tree Community Center, 6171 Sunburst Avenue, Joshua Tree, CA 92252. (2) Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros, Palm Springs, CA 92262. (3) Thursday, October 27, 2016, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Barstow Harvey House, 681 N. 1st Avenue, Barstow, CA 92311. Attendees will be able to submit written comments at the public meetings. A stenographer will be present to transcribe oral comments. Equal weight will be given to oral and written statements. All statements, oral transcription and written, submitted during the public review period will become part of the public record on the Draft Supplemental EIS and will be responded to in the Final Supplemental EIS. Comments may also be submitted E:\FR\FM\30SEN1.SGM 30SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 190 / Friday, September 30, 2016 / Notices mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES by U.S. mail or electronically via the project Web site provided below. ADDRESSES: A copy of the Draft Supplemental EIS is available at the project Web site, http:// www.SEISforLAA.com, and at the local libraries identified at the end of this notice. Comments on the Draft Supplemental EIS can be submitted via the project Web site or submitted in writing to: 29Palms SEIS Project Team, c/o Cardno Government Services, 3888 State Street, Ste. 201, Santa Barbara, CA 93105. All comments must be postmarked or received by November 14, 2016, to ensure they become part of the official record. All timely comments will be responded to in the Final Supplemental EIS. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The Resource Management Group at the Combat Center 760–830–3737. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: A Notice of Intent to prepare the Supplemental EIS was published in the Federal Register on August 24, 2016 (Vol. 81, No. 164, p. 57891–57893). Proposed Action Pursuant to 40 CFR 1502.9(c), the Draft Supplemental EIS evaluates new information relevant to environmental concerns associated with translocation of tortoises from specific training areas on newly acquired lands. Translocation was deemed necessary to mitigate the moderate to high levels of impact on the tortoise population from the Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) training activities assessed in the 2012 Final EIS. A 2012 Biological Opinion (hereinafter ‘‘the 2012 BO’’) issued by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) approved several conservation measures pertaining to the desert tortoise, including a 2011 General Translocation Plan (GTP). Since the 2012 Final EIS, and the subsequent Record of Decision (ROD) signed by the DON in February 2013 (hereinafter ‘‘the 2013 ROD’’), the Marine Corps has conducted additional detailed studies and worked cooperatively with the USFWS, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on alternative translocation plans for the desert tortoise, as required in the 2012 BO. The proposed action for this Supplemental EIS includes four fundamental and interrelated components that are reflected in all alternatives: (1) Recipient and Control Areas. The 2011 GTP identified criteria for selection of recipient areas that should be met for successful translocation to VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:49 Sep 29, 2016 Jkt 238001 occur. These criteria are consistent with the goals, objectives, and recovery strategies of the 2011 USFWS revised recovery plan for the Mojave population of the desert tortoise and the 2010 USFWS plan development guidance for translocation of desert tortoises. (2) Translocation Methods. Translocation methods would include handling procedures, fencing, translocation, and clearance surveys. All tortoise handling would be accomplished by the techniques outlined in the Desert Tortoise Field Manual, including the most recent disease prevention techniques. Juvenile tortoises that are too small to wear transmitters would be moved to established juvenile pens at Tortoise Research and Captive Rearing Sites (TRACRS) or Special Use Areas where they may become part of the head start program (the Combat Center’s tortoise rearing program). Tortoise exclusion fencing would be installed along certain borders of newly designated Special Use Areas (areas that have not been identified as part of the large-scale training scenarios and that contain habitat supporting desert tortoises) on Combat Center land near maneuver or high use areas. Desert tortoises that exhibit moderate to severe nasal discharge would not be translocated, and may be sent to a USFWS-approved facility where they would undergo further assessment, treatment, and/or study. For up to the first 5 years following initial translocation, clearance surveys would be conducted in the high- and moderateimpact areas to locate and remove any remaining desert tortoises. (3) Post-Translocation Monitoring. Radio-telemetry tracking of all translocated tortoises is impractical; however, 20 percent of translocated tortoises, and a similar number of resident and control tortoises, would be tracked using radio-telemetry. Repeated readings of mark-recapture plots where tortoises have been translocated would be conducted to yield information on survival of translocated tortoises, population demography, repatriation, and health. Mark-recapture plots would be used to estimate the tortoise population size by capturing, marking, and releasing a portion of the population, then later capturing another portion and counting the number of marked individuals. Capture, marking, and releasing activities would not involve any ground disturbance. Four subject areas would be investigated by monitoring, each of which is described below: PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 67335 (a) Survival: Survival of translocated is the main metric for evaluating translocation as a take minimization measure. Survival of translocated tortoises would be measured using two methods: Mark-recapture plots and tracking. (b) Threats to survival: Anthropogenic disturbances and predator populations that cause potential risks to recovery and translocation success threats would be assessed both qualitatively and quantitatively and compared to current levels. (c) Habitat stability/changes: Habitat would be assessed to monitor changes or stability during each reading of the markrecapture plots. (d) Health and disease: The incidence of disease and other health issues would be monitored using body condition indices, clinical signs of disease, serology, and visual inspection for injuries. This would be accomplished using both telemetered tortoises and all tortoises captured on markrecapture plots. Any health problems observed (e.g., rapid declines in body condition, perceived outbreaks of disease, mortality events) would be reported to the USFWS, CDFW, and BLM such that appropriate actions could be taken in a timely manner. (4) Other Research. The Marine Corps, in consultation with USFWS, identified a research program to benefit recovery of the species. Research topics include translocation effectiveness, constrained dispersal (‘‘repatriation’’ in the 2011 GTP), stocking densities, habitat, and disease. Two main research topics that would be implemented are summarized below, both of which are anticipated to provide results that are topical and important for recovery. (a) Experimental Translocation Densities: The intent behind this research is to evaluate the capability of the habitat to sustain a certain density of tortoises. (b) Constrained Dispersal: Constrained dispersal (called ‘‘repatriation’’ in the 2011 GTP) is a technique wherein tortoises are translocated to a fenced site to encourage settling before the fence is removed. Purpose and Need The purpose of the proposed action evaluated in the Supplemental EIS is to study alternative translocation plans in support of the project that was described in the 2012 Final EIS, selected in the 2013 Record of Decision (ROD)(78 FR 11632), and authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. The 2011 GTP, developed during the section 7 Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation on the 2012 Final EIS proposed action, identified proposed recipient areas, translocation methods, E:\FR\FM\30SEN1.SGM 30SEN1 67336 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 190 / Friday, September 30, 2016 / Notices mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES and research treatments based on information available at the time of publication. Studies were planned over the following 3 years to provide information necessary to refine these areas, methods, and treatments. The 2011 GTP explicitly recognized that as a result of these studies, the Combat Center could refine these areas to specific sites and determine better recipient sites not considered in the 2011 GTP. The results of these efforts and further consultation with USFWS and CDFW, identified refinements to translocation methods, recipient sites, and research treatments that could better support the goals of the translocation effort (and became the basis for the action alternatives considered in this Supplemental EIS). The alternative selected in the ROD for the Supplemental EIS will be implemented prior to conducting sustained, combined-arms, live-fire, and maneuver field training for MEB-sized Marine Air Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs) contemplated in the 2012 Final EIS. The Marine Corps needs to implement the proposed action to satisfy requirements identified in the 2012 Final EIS and associated 2012 BO. The 2012 BO concluded that the implementation of the Preferred Alternative from the 2012 Final EIS would likely result in the ‘‘take’’ of desert tortoises associated with military training, tortoise translocation efforts, and authorized and unauthorized OffHighway Vehicle (OHV) use by recreationists displaced from former areas of the Johnson Valley OHV Area. Alternatives Considered in the Draft Supplemental EIS In light of the purpose and need for the proposed action, the DON has identified two potential action alternatives and a No-Action Alternative for the translocation of desert tortoise from training impact areas. Each alternative includes recipient areas/sites (to which tortoises would be translocated) and control areas/sites (where the resident tortoise populations will be studied to provide comparative data on survival, threats to survival, habitat stability and changes, and health and disease relative to the translocated tortoise populations at the recipient sites). Each alternative also specifies the details of the proposed tortoise translocation, including specific handling procedures, fencing, clearance surveys, 30 years of post-translocation monitoring, and other research activities. The Combat Center identified and applied screening criteria from the 2011 VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:49 Sep 29, 2016 Jkt 238001 USFWS revised recovery plan for the Mojave population of the desert tortoise and the 2011 USFWS revised recovery plan development guidance for translocation of desert tortoises to evaluate and select the proposed recipient areas/sites under each alternative. These criteria relate to land use, habitat quality, population levels, disease prevalence, and distance from collection. The Combat Center also screened for research and monitoring feasibility. Under the No-Action Alternative, the Marine Corps would conduct translocation of desert tortoises in accordance with the 2011 GTP described in the 2012 BO. Alternatives 1 and 2 primarily differ from the NoAction Alternative in the selection of proposed recipient and control areas and in the distribution of desert tortoises at each release site. Compared to the No-Action Alternative, Alternatives 1 and 2 would also include additional research studies and reflect updated information obtained from the 3-year program of surveys conducted since the 2012 Final EIS. Alternative 2 differs from Alternative 1 in that: (1) One less recipient site would be used; (2) the pairing of control sites to recipient sites would be different; (3) the Bullion control site would be located on the Combat Center instead of within the Cleghorn Lakes Wilderness Area; and (4) translocation densities would be different. Environmental Effects Identified in the Draft Supplemental EIS Potential impacts were evaluated in the Draft Supplemental EIS under all alternatives for the following resources: Biological resources, land use, air quality, and cultural resources. The Draft Supplemental EIS analysis evaluates direct, indirect, short-term and long-term impacts, as well as cumulative impacts from other relevant activities. The Draft Supplemental EIS includes mitigation measures, special conservation measures, and features of project design to avoid or minimize potential impacts. The proposed action would fully comply with regulatory requirements for the protection of environmental resources. A desert tortoise translocation plan has been submitted to the USFWS in compliance with Section 7 of the ESA. The USFWS will issue a revised BO that will be included with the Final Supplemental EIS. In addition, the USMC is coordinating with the California State Historic Preservation Office and affected Native American tribes under Section 106 of the National Historic PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Preservation Act, and with the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District under the Clean Air Act. The proposed action would result in unavoidable impacts related to biological resources (due to desert tortoise translocation as well as impacts to vegetation and desert tortoise habitat resulting from construction of fences and associated maintenance roads); land use (due to desert tortoise translocation); air quality (due to air emissions from construction activities); and potentially cultural resources (due to the fence and road construction; although the fences/roads would be routed to avoid cultural resource sites). Schedule: The Notice of Availability (NOA) and Notice of Public Meetings (NOPM) publication in the Federal Register and local print media starts the 45-day public comment period for the Draft Supplemental EIS. The DoN will consider and respond to all written, oral and electronic comments, submitted as described above, in the Final Supplemental EIS. The DoN intends to issue the Final Supplemental EIS in January 2017, at which time an NOA will be published in the Federal Register and local print media. A Record of Decision is expected to be published in February 2017. Copies of the Draft Supplemental EIS can be found on the project Web site, http://www.SEISforLAA.com or at the following locations: (1) Newton T. Bass Apple Valley Branch Library, 14901 Dale Evans Parkway, Apple Valley, CA 92307 (2) Barstow Branch Library, 304 E. Buena Vista St., Barstow, CA 92311 (3) Joshua Tree Library, 6465 Park Blvd., Joshua Tree, CA 92252 (4) Lucerne Valley Janice Horst Branch Library, 33103 Old Woman Springs Road, Lucerne Valley, CA 92356 (5) Needles Branch Library, 1111 Bailey Ave., Needles, CA 92363 (6) Ovitt Family Community Library, 215 E. C St., Ontario, CA 91764 (7) Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building, 914 Capitol Mall, Sacramento, CA 95814 (8) San Bernardino County Library Administrative Offices, 777 E. Rialto Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92415 (9) Twentynine Palms Library, 6078 Adobe Road, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 (10) Victorville City Library, 15011 Circle Drive, Victorville, CA 92395 (11) Yucca Valley Branch Library, 57098 29 Palms Highway, Yucca Valley, CA 92284 (12) Palm Springs Public Library, 300 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262 E:\FR\FM\30SEN1.SGM 30SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 190 / Friday, September 30, 2016 / Notices Dated: September 26, 2016. C. Mora, Commander, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, U.S. Navy, Federal Register Liaison Officer. [FR Doc. 2016–23649 Filed 9–29–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3810–FF–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED–2016–ICCD–0106] Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; Targeted Teacher Shortage Areas Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE), Department of Education (ED). ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing a revision of an existing information collection. DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before November 29, 2016. ADDRESSES: To access and review all the documents related to the information collection listed in this notice, please use http://www.regulations.gov by searching the Docket ID number ED– 2016–ICCD–0106. Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http:// www.regulations.gov by selecting the Docket ID number or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. Written requests for information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., LBJ, Room 2E–347, Washington, DC 20202–4537. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Freddie Cross, 202–453–7224. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Department of Education (ED), in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)), provides the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed, revised, and continuing collections of information. This helps the Department assess the impact of its information collection requirements and minimize the public’s reporting burden. It also helps the public understand the mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:49 Sep 29, 2016 Jkt 238001 Department’s information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format. ED is soliciting comments on the proposed information collection request (ICR) that is described below. The Department of Education is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) Is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology. Please note that written comments received in response to this notice will be considered public records. Title of Collection: Targeted Teacher Shortage Areas. OMB Control Number: 1840–0595. Type of Review: A revision of an existing information collection. Respondents/Affected Public: State, Local, and Tribal Governments. Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 57. Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 4,275. Abstract: This request is for approval of reporting requirements that are contained in the Federal Family Education Loan Program regulations which address the targeted teacher deferment provision of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. The information collected is necessary for a state to support it’s annual request for designation of teacher shortage areas within the state. In previous years, the data collection was conducted by paper and pencil, mail-in method. Beginning with the 2017 collection, data collection will be conducted completely online thus reducing burden to the respondents. Dated: September 27, 2016. Kate Mullan, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management. [FR Doc. 2016–23658 Filed 9–29–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY [OE Docket No. EA–429] Application To Export Electric Energy; CWP Energy Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, DOE. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 ACTION: 67337 Notice of application. CWP Energy (Applicant or CWP Energy) has applied for authority to transmit electric energy from the United States to Mexico pursuant to section 202(e) of the Federal Power Act. DATES: Comments, protests, or motions to intervene must be submitted on or before October 31, 2016. ADDRESSES: Comments, protests, motions to intervene, or requests for more information should be addressed to: Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Mail Code: OE–20, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585–0350. Because of delays in handling conventional mail, it is recommended that documents be transmitted by overnight mail, by electronic mail to Electricity.Exports@ hq.doe.gov, or by facsimile to 202–586– 8008. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Exports of electricity from the United States to a foreign country are regulated by the Department of Energy (DOE) pursuant to sections 301(b) and 402(f) of the Department of Energy Organization Act (42 U.S.C. 7151(b), 7172(f)) and require authorization under section 202(e) of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 824a(e)). On September 14, 2016, DOE received an application from CWP Energy for authority to transmit electric energy from the United States to Mexico as a power marketer for a five-year term using existing international transmission facilities. In its application, CWP Energy states that it does not own or control any electric generation or transmission facilities, and it does not have a franchised service area. The electric energy that CWP Energy proposes to export to Mexico would be surplus energy purchased from third parties such as electric utilities and Federal power marketing agencies pursuant to voluntary agreements. The existing international transmission facilities to be utilized by the Applicant have previously been authorized by Presidential Permits issued pursuant to Executive Order 10485, as amended, and are appropriate for open access transmission by third parties. Procedural Matters: Any person desiring to be heard in this proceeding should file a comment or protest to the application at the address provided above. Protests should be filed in accordance with Rule 211 of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Rules of Practice and Procedures (18 CFR 385.211). Any person desiring to SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\30SEN1.SGM 30SEN1

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[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 190 (Friday, September 30, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 67334-67337]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-23649]


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DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Department of the Navy


Notice of Availability and Notice of Public Meetings for the 
Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Land Acquisition 
and Airspace Establishment To Support Large-Scale Marine Air Ground 
Task Force Live-Fire and Maneuver Training at the Marine Corps Air 
Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California

AGENCY: Department of the Navy, DoD.

ACTION: Notice.

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

SUMMARY: Pursuant to section (102)(2)(c) of the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, and regulations implemented by the Council 
on Environmental Quality (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Parts 
1500-1508), Department of Navy (DoN) NEPA regulations (32 CFR part 775) 
and U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) NEPA directives (Marine Corps Order 
P5090.2A, changes 1-3), the DoN has prepared and filed with the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a Draft Supplemental 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) evaluating the potential 
environmental impacts that may result from implementing alternative 
desert tortoise translocation plans at the Marine Corps Air Ground 
Combat Center, Twentynine Palms (hereinafter ``the Combat Center''). 
The Supplemental EIS is a supplement to the Final EIS for ``Land 
Acquisition and Airspace Establishment to Support Large-Scale Marine 
Air Ground Task Force Live Fire and Maneuver Training'' dated July 2012 
(hereinafter ``2012 Final EIS'') (77 FR 44234).
    With the filing of the Draft Supplemental EIS, the DoN is 
initiating a 45-day public comment period and has scheduled three 
public open house meetings to receive oral and written comments on the 
Draft Supplemental EIS. Federal, state and local agencies and 
interested parties are encouraged to provide comments in person at any 
of the public open house meetings, or in writing anytime during the 
public comment period. This notice announces the dates and locations of 
the public meetings and provides supplementary information about the 
environmental planning effort.

DATES: The Draft Supplemental EIS public review period will begin 
September 30, 2016, and end on November 14, 2016. The USMC is holding 
three informational open house style public meetings to inform the 
public about the proposed action and the alternatives under 
consideration, and to provide an opportunity for the public to comment 
on the proposed action, alternatives, and the adequacy and accuracy of 
the Draft Supplemental EIS. USMC representatives will be on hand to 
discuss and answer questions on the proposed action, the NEPA process 
and the findings presented in the Draft Supplemental EIS. Public open 
house meetings will be held:
    (1) Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the 
Joshua Tree Community Center, 6171 Sunburst Avenue, Joshua Tree, CA 
92252.
    (2) Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the 
Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros, Palm 
Springs, CA 92262.
    (3) Thursday, October 27, 2016, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the 
Barstow Harvey House, 681 N. 1st Avenue, Barstow, CA 92311.
    Attendees will be able to submit written comments at the public 
meetings. A stenographer will be present to transcribe oral comments. 
Equal weight will be given to oral and written statements. All 
statements, oral transcription and written, submitted during the public 
review period will become part of the public record on the Draft 
Supplemental EIS and will be responded to in the Final Supplemental 
EIS. Comments may also be submitted

[[Page 67335]]

by U.S. mail or electronically via the project Web site provided below.

ADDRESSES: A copy of the Draft Supplemental EIS is available at the 
project Web site, http://www.SEISforLAA.com, and at the local libraries 
identified at the end of this notice. Comments on the Draft 
Supplemental EIS can be submitted via the project Web site or submitted 
in writing to: 29Palms SEIS Project Team, c/o Cardno Government 
Services, 3888 State Street, Ste. 201, Santa Barbara, CA 93105. All 
comments must be postmarked or received by November 14, 2016, to ensure 
they become part of the official record. All timely comments will be 
responded to in the Final Supplemental EIS.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The Resource Management Group at the 
Combat Center 760-830-3737.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: A Notice of Intent to prepare the 
Supplemental EIS was published in the Federal Register on August 24, 
2016 (Vol. 81, No. 164, p. 57891-57893).

Proposed Action

    Pursuant to 40 CFR 1502.9(c), the Draft Supplemental EIS evaluates 
new information relevant to environmental concerns associated with 
translocation of tortoises from specific training areas on newly 
acquired lands. Translocation was deemed necessary to mitigate the 
moderate to high levels of impact on the tortoise population from the 
Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) training activities assessed in the 
2012 Final EIS. A 2012 Biological Opinion (hereinafter ``the 2012 BO'') 
issued by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) approved 
several conservation measures pertaining to the desert tortoise, 
including a 2011 General Translocation Plan (GTP). Since the 2012 Final 
EIS, and the subsequent Record of Decision (ROD) signed by the DON in 
February 2013 (hereinafter ``the 2013 ROD''), the Marine Corps has 
conducted additional detailed studies and worked cooperatively with the 
USFWS, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the 
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on alternative translocation plans for 
the desert tortoise, as required in the 2012 BO.
    The proposed action for this Supplemental EIS includes four 
fundamental and interrelated components that are reflected in all 
alternatives:
    (1) Recipient and Control Areas. The 2011 GTP identified criteria 
for selection of recipient areas that should be met for successful 
translocation to occur. These criteria are consistent with the goals, 
objectives, and recovery strategies of the 2011 USFWS revised recovery 
plan for the Mojave population of the desert tortoise and the 2010 
USFWS plan development guidance for translocation of desert tortoises.
    (2) Translocation Methods. Translocation methods would include 
handling procedures, fencing, translocation, and clearance surveys. All 
tortoise handling would be accomplished by the techniques outlined in 
the Desert Tortoise Field Manual, including the most recent disease 
prevention techniques. Juvenile tortoises that are too small to wear 
transmitters would be moved to established juvenile pens at Tortoise 
Research and Captive Rearing Sites (TRACRS) or Special Use Areas where 
they may become part of the head start program (the Combat Center's 
tortoise rearing program). Tortoise exclusion fencing would be 
installed along certain borders of newly designated Special Use Areas 
(areas that have not been identified as part of the large-scale 
training scenarios and that contain habitat supporting desert 
tortoises) on Combat Center land near maneuver or high use areas.
    Desert tortoises that exhibit moderate to severe nasal discharge 
would not be translocated, and may be sent to a USFWS-approved facility 
where they would undergo further assessment, treatment, and/or study. 
For up to the first 5 years following initial translocation, clearance 
surveys would be conducted in the high- and moderate-impact areas to 
locate and remove any remaining desert tortoises.
    (3) Post-Translocation Monitoring. Radio-telemetry tracking of all 
translocated tortoises is impractical; however, 20 percent of 
translocated tortoises, and a similar number of resident and control 
tortoises, would be tracked using radio-telemetry. Repeated readings of 
mark-recapture plots where tortoises have been translocated would be 
conducted to yield information on survival of translocated tortoises, 
population demography, repatriation, and health. Mark-recapture plots 
would be used to estimate the tortoise population size by capturing, 
marking, and releasing a portion of the population, then later 
capturing another portion and counting the number of marked 
individuals. Capture, marking, and releasing activities would not 
involve any ground disturbance. Four subject areas would be 
investigated by monitoring, each of which is described below:

    (a) Survival: Survival of translocated is the main metric for 
evaluating translocation as a take minimization measure. Survival of 
translocated tortoises would be measured using two methods: Mark-
recapture plots and tracking.
    (b) Threats to survival: Anthropogenic disturbances and predator 
populations that cause potential risks to recovery and translocation 
success threats would be assessed both qualitatively and 
quantitatively and compared to current levels.
    (c) Habitat stability/changes: Habitat would be assessed to 
monitor changes or stability during each reading of the mark-
recapture plots.
    (d) Health and disease: The incidence of disease and other 
health issues would be monitored using body condition indices, 
clinical signs of disease, serology, and visual inspection for 
injuries. This would be accomplished using both telemetered 
tortoises and all tortoises captured on mark-recapture plots. Any 
health problems observed (e.g., rapid declines in body condition, 
perceived outbreaks of disease, mortality events) would be reported 
to the USFWS, CDFW, and BLM such that appropriate actions could be 
taken in a timely manner.

    (4) Other Research. The Marine Corps, in consultation with USFWS, 
identified a research program to benefit recovery of the species. 
Research topics include translocation effectiveness, constrained 
dispersal (``repatriation'' in the 2011 GTP), stocking densities, 
habitat, and disease.
    Two main research topics that would be implemented are summarized 
below, both of which are anticipated to provide results that are 
topical and important for recovery.
    (a) Experimental Translocation Densities: The intent behind this 
research is to evaluate the capability of the habitat to sustain a 
certain density of tortoises.
    (b) Constrained Dispersal: Constrained dispersal (called 
``repatriation'' in the 2011 GTP) is a technique wherein tortoises are 
translocated to a fenced site to encourage settling before the fence is 
removed.

Purpose and Need

    The purpose of the proposed action evaluated in the Supplemental 
EIS is to study alternative translocation plans in support of the 
project that was described in the 2012 Final EIS, selected in the 2013 
Record of Decision (ROD)(78 FR 11632), and authorized by the National 
Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. The 2011 GTP, developed 
during the section 7 Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation on the 
2012 Final EIS proposed action, identified proposed recipient areas, 
translocation methods,

[[Page 67336]]

and research treatments based on information available at the time of 
publication. Studies were planned over the following 3 years to provide 
information necessary to refine these areas, methods, and treatments. 
The 2011 GTP explicitly recognized that as a result of these studies, 
the Combat Center could refine these areas to specific sites and 
determine better recipient sites not considered in the 2011 GTP. The 
results of these efforts and further consultation with USFWS and CDFW, 
identified refinements to translocation methods, recipient sites, and 
research treatments that could better support the goals of the 
translocation effort (and became the basis for the action alternatives 
considered in this Supplemental EIS). The alternative selected in the 
ROD for the Supplemental EIS will be implemented prior to conducting 
sustained, combined-arms, live-fire, and maneuver field training for 
MEB-sized Marine Air Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs) contemplated in the 
2012 Final EIS.
    The Marine Corps needs to implement the proposed action to satisfy 
requirements identified in the 2012 Final EIS and associated 2012 BO. 
The 2012 BO concluded that the implementation of the Preferred 
Alternative from the 2012 Final EIS would likely result in the ``take'' 
of desert tortoises associated with military training, tortoise 
translocation efforts, and authorized and unauthorized Off-Highway 
Vehicle (OHV) use by recreationists displaced from former areas of the 
Johnson Valley OHV Area.

Alternatives Considered in the Draft Supplemental EIS

    In light of the purpose and need for the proposed action, the DON 
has identified two potential action alternatives and a No-Action 
Alternative for the translocation of desert tortoise from training 
impact areas.
    Each alternative includes recipient areas/sites (to which tortoises 
would be translocated) and control areas/sites (where the resident 
tortoise populations will be studied to provide comparative data on 
survival, threats to survival, habitat stability and changes, and 
health and disease relative to the translocated tortoise populations at 
the recipient sites). Each alternative also specifies the details of 
the proposed tortoise translocation, including specific handling 
procedures, fencing, clearance surveys, 30 years of post-translocation 
monitoring, and other research activities.
    The Combat Center identified and applied screening criteria from 
the 2011 USFWS revised recovery plan for the Mojave population of the 
desert tortoise and the 2011 USFWS revised recovery plan development 
guidance for translocation of desert tortoises to evaluate and select 
the proposed recipient areas/sites under each alternative. These 
criteria relate to land use, habitat quality, population levels, 
disease prevalence, and distance from collection. The Combat Center 
also screened for research and monitoring feasibility.
    Under the No-Action Alternative, the Marine Corps would conduct 
translocation of desert tortoises in accordance with the 2011 GTP 
described in the 2012 BO. Alternatives 1 and 2 primarily differ from 
the No-Action Alternative in the selection of proposed recipient and 
control areas and in the distribution of desert tortoises at each 
release site. Compared to the No-Action Alternative, Alternatives 1 and 
2 would also include additional research studies and reflect updated 
information obtained from the 3-year program of surveys conducted since 
the 2012 Final EIS. Alternative 2 differs from Alternative 1 in that: 
(1) One less recipient site would be used; (2) the pairing of control 
sites to recipient sites would be different; (3) the Bullion control 
site would be located on the Combat Center instead of within the 
Cleghorn Lakes Wilderness Area; and (4) translocation densities would 
be different.

Environmental Effects Identified in the Draft Supplemental EIS

    Potential impacts were evaluated in the Draft Supplemental EIS 
under all alternatives for the following resources: Biological 
resources, land use, air quality, and cultural resources. The Draft 
Supplemental EIS analysis evaluates direct, indirect, short-term and 
long-term impacts, as well as cumulative impacts from other relevant 
activities.
    The Draft Supplemental EIS includes mitigation measures, special 
conservation measures, and features of project design to avoid or 
minimize potential impacts. The proposed action would fully comply with 
regulatory requirements for the protection of environmental resources. 
A desert tortoise translocation plan has been submitted to the USFWS in 
compliance with Section 7 of the ESA. The USFWS will issue a revised BO 
that will be included with the Final Supplemental EIS. In addition, the 
USMC is coordinating with the California State Historic Preservation 
Office and affected Native American tribes under Section 106 of the 
National Historic Preservation Act, and with the Mojave Desert Air 
Quality Management District under the Clean Air Act.
    The proposed action would result in unavoidable impacts related to 
biological resources (due to desert tortoise translocation as well as 
impacts to vegetation and desert tortoise habitat resulting from 
construction of fences and associated maintenance roads); land use (due 
to desert tortoise translocation); air quality (due to air emissions 
from construction activities); and potentially cultural resources (due 
to the fence and road construction; although the fences/roads would be 
routed to avoid cultural resource sites).
    Schedule: The Notice of Availability (NOA) and Notice of Public 
Meetings (NOPM) publication in the Federal Register and local print 
media starts the 45-day public comment period for the Draft 
Supplemental EIS. The DoN will consider and respond to all written, 
oral and electronic comments, submitted as described above, in the 
Final Supplemental EIS. The DoN intends to issue the Final Supplemental 
EIS in January 2017, at which time an NOA will be published in the 
Federal Register and local print media. A Record of Decision is 
expected to be published in February 2017.
    Copies of the Draft Supplemental EIS can be found on the project 
Web site, http://www.SEISforLAA.com or at the following locations:

(1) Newton T. Bass Apple Valley Branch Library, 14901 Dale Evans 
Parkway, Apple Valley, CA 92307
(2) Barstow Branch Library, 304 E. Buena Vista St., Barstow, CA 92311
(3) Joshua Tree Library, 6465 Park Blvd., Joshua Tree, CA 92252
(4) Lucerne Valley Janice Horst Branch Library, 33103 Old Woman Springs 
Road, Lucerne Valley, CA 92356
(5) Needles Branch Library, 1111 Bailey Ave., Needles, CA 92363
(6) Ovitt Family Community Library, 215 E. C St., Ontario, CA 91764
(7) Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building, 914 Capitol Mall, 
Sacramento, CA 95814
(8) San Bernardino County Library Administrative Offices, 777 E. Rialto 
Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92415
(9) Twentynine Palms Library, 6078 Adobe Road, Twentynine Palms, CA 
92277
(10) Victorville City Library, 15011 Circle Drive, Victorville, CA 
92395
(11) Yucca Valley Branch Library, 57098 29 Palms Highway, Yucca Valley, 
CA 92284
(12) Palm Springs Public Library, 300 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs, CA 
92262


[[Page 67337]]


    Dated: September 26, 2016.
C. Mora,
Commander, Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy, Federal Register 
Liaison Officer.
[FR Doc. 2016-23649 Filed 9-29-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3810-FF-P