Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permits; Draft Supplement to Environmental Impact Statement and Amendment to Habitat Conservation Plan for Forest Management in Montana, 86000-86001 [2016-28736]

Download as PDF 86000 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 229 / Tuesday, November 29, 2016 / Notices DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R6–ES–2016–N151; FF06E11000– 167–FXES11120600000] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permits; Draft Supplement to Environmental Impact Statement and Amendment to Habitat Conservation Plan for Forest Management in Montana Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of intent. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, intend to prepare a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act to consider potential impacts on the human environment from proposed amendments to an incidental take permit and associated habitat conservation plan. Under the Endangered Species Act, we issued the original permit to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) in December 2011, authorizing take of the grizzly bear, Canada lynx, bull trout, and two other fish species incidental to the DNRC’s forest management activities. The purpose of this notice is to describe the proposed action and advise other Federal and State agencies, potentially affected tribes, and the public of our intent to prepare a DSEIS. The DNRC intends to jointly prepare the DSEIS to comply with its responsibilities under the Montana Environmental Policy Act. We are not soliciting comments at this time. The public will have opportunity to comment on the published DSEIS when we announce its availability in the Federal Register and local and regional news sources. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ben Conard, Assistant Field Supervisor, at (406) 758–6882 or Ben_Conard@fws.gov; or Gary Frank, Deputy Chief, Forest Management Bureau, Montana DNRC, at (406) 542–4328 or gfrank@mt.gov. Individuals who are hearing or speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877–8337 for TTY assistance. Information on this proposed action is also available at the DNRC’s Web site, at http://dnrc.mt.gov/ divisions/trust/forest-management/hcp. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: Introduction Under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued an original VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:48 Nov 28, 2016 Jkt 241001 permit to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) in December 2011, authorizing take of the grizzly bear, Canada lynx, bull trout, and two other fish species incidental to their forest management activities. The DNRC now is proposing to amend the HCP to incorporate terms of a settlement agreement and is requesting that we amend the permit to cover additional lands. We intend to prepare a DSEIS under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) to consider potential impacts on the human environment from the proposed amendment to a habitat conservation plan (HCP) and associated incidental take permit issued under section 10(A)(1)(B) of the ESA. The DNRC intends to jointly prepare the DSEIS to comply with the Montana Environmental Policy Act, Mont. Code Ann. 75–1–101–75–1–324 and the DNRC implementing regulations, Administrative Rules of Montana 36.2.501–36.2.611. The DNRC is requesting that the permit be amended to authorize potential take from forest management activities on an additional 81,416 acres. The DNRC is also proposing to amend the HCP to incorporate the terms of a settlement agreement to add conservation measures and remove others that are no longer relevant. The DNRC is preparing an amendment to the HCP detailing how the proposed action would be adopted to comply with the HCP’s required measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the effects of incidental take of the covered species to the maximum extent practicable. We provide this notice to (1) describe the proposed action and (2) advise other Federal and State agencies, potentially affected tribes, and the public of our intent to prepare a DSEIS. In the DSEIS, we will analyze potential effects to the covered species and other factors of the human environment from the proposed action and alternatives to the action. Background In April 2009, the DNRC applied for a permit for take incidental to forest management activities for the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus), westslope cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi), and interior redband trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri). The grizzly bear, lynx, and bull trout are federally listed, while the westslope and redband trout species are not. Before deciding whether to issue the permit, we analyzed the potential effects of PO 00000 Frm 00081 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 implementation of the HCP and alternatives in a draft EIS (DEIS). In an announcement in the Federal Register on June 26, 2009 (74 FR 30617), we provided the DEIS and DNRC’s permit application package, which included the draft HCP, for public review for a total of 105 days. After considering the public comments, the Service finalized the EIS and issued the permit to DNRC on December 14, 2011. The permit area covers approximately 548,500 acres of forested State trust lands in western Montana. However, because DNRC expected to transfer, exchange, or add lands for their forest management activities in the future, the HCP addressed the process and contingencies for doing so. Thus, the Service considered in the EIS the potential effects of amending the HCP and incidental take permit to cover such actions. In April 2013, two environmental organizations challenged the issuance of the permit in a Federal District Court in Montana. The Court ruled in the Service’s favor on all but one count. DNRC and the plaintiffs subsequently entered a settlement agreement for that count in September 2015. The future addition of lands to the HCP and permit were not part of the complaint or the settlement agreement. Proposed Action The Service plans to prepare a supplement to the EIS to assess the effects of the proposed amendment to the HCP and permit and incorporation of the terms of the settlement agreement. The terms of the settlement agreement focus primarily on adjusting management of DNRC’s Class A lands under the Stillwater Block Transportation Plan in the HCP, which entailed a strategy of a cycle of 4 years of active forest management followed by 8 years of rest. The settlement agreement identifies seven distinct grizzly bear security zones totaling 22,007 acres. These security zones include the entirety of the original 19,400 acres of Class A lands in the Stillwater Block in the HCP, but also add 2,300 acres in a new area in Coal Creek State Forest. The amended HCP would replace the 4-year active/8-year rest management cycle on Stillwater Block Lands with specific measures for restricting forest management activities to the denning season in these grizzly bear security zones. All motorized activities below 6,300 feet in elevation within the grizzly security zones would be allowed during the grizzly denning season and prohibited all year round above that elevation. The same seasonal and elevation restrictions would apply E:\FR\FM\29NON1.SGM 29NON1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 229 / Tuesday, November 29, 2016 / Notices to commercial forest management activities within the grizzly security zones. The current HCP prohibits new permanent road construction on the original 19,400 acres of Class A lands. This measure would remain essentially the same under an amendment, but would be specifically applied to the seven grizzly security zones, including the additional 2,300 acres in the Coal Creek State Forest. Several other measures in the HCP for Class A lands would remain the same but be extended to the grizzly security zones with amendments. Other amendments would specifically spell out measures that DNRC had committed to implement in the original HCP but were previously incorporated by reference from DNRC’s Forest Management Administrative Rules of Montana. Since we issued the permit, DNRC has acquired an appreciable amount of forested lands within the original HCP area, and they are now requesting to amend the HCP and permit to cover an additional 81,416 acres. DNRC proposes to implement the HCP’s existing conservation commitments on the additional lands. The six acquisition areas and their acreages are the Swan, which contains 16,446 acres; Chamberlain, which contains 14,537 acres; Potomac, which contains 32,266 acres; Lolo Land Exchange, which contains 11,066 acres; Upper Blackfoot, which contains 5,458 acres; and Southern Bitterroot, which contains 1,643 acres. The HCP would be amended to reflect inclusion of (1) the Swan acquisition lands in the Swan Transportation Plan, (2) the Swan acquisition area in the Swan Lynx Management Area (LMA), (3) a portion of the Chamberlain acquisition area in the Garnet LMA, and (4) increasing the acres of lynx critical habitat addressed in the HCP. The original HCP requires the DNRC to complete corrective actions at sites identified with high risk of sediment delivery in bull trout watersheds in the HCP area by 2027. As directed by the settlement agreement, the HCP would be amended to prioritize and complete such corrective actions in federally designated bull trout critical habitat by 2024. Lastly, over the past 5 years of HCP implementation, the Service and DNRC identified some commitment and procedural clarifications that would be incorporated into the HCP. These amendments would serve to help DNRC understand how to implement certain measures and would not entail any changes to the nature of the measures or how they affect the covered species. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:48 Nov 28, 2016 Jkt 241001 Statutory Requirements Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1538) and implementing regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) prohibit the taking of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. The term ‘‘take’’ is defined under the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)) to mean ‘‘harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.’’ ‘‘Harm’’ is defined by the Service to include significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures listed species by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, and sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). ‘‘Harass’’ is defined by the Service as actions that create the likelihood of injury to listed species to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavior patterns, which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). Section 10 of the ESA and implementing regulations specify requirements for the issuance of incidental take permits to non-Federal landowners for the incidental take of endangered and threatened species. Such take must be incidental to otherwise lawful activities and not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild, and the impacts of the take on the listed species must be minimized and mitigated by the permittee to the maximum extent practicable. An applicant for an incidental take permit must prepare an HCP describing the impacts that will likely result from such taking, the conservation program for minimizing and mitigating those take impacts, the funding available to implement the conservation program, the alternatives considered by the applicant to avoid such taking, and the reason(s) such alternatives are not being implemented. NEPA requires that Federal agencies conduct an environmental analysis of their proposed actions to determine if the actions may significantly affect the human environment. The Service determined that the final DNRC HCP EIS (September 17, 2010) requires a supplement since the changes in the proposed action may materially or substantially affect the analysis of impacts (40 CFR 1502.9 and 516 DM 4.5). Public Comments The DSEIS will be developed using the same process as the original DNRC HCP EIS. We are not soliciting comments at this time. The public will PO 00000 Frm 00082 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 86001 have opportunity to comment on the published DSEIS, which will be announced in the Federal Register and local and regional news sources. For general inquiries or questions about the DSEIS process, see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Authority The environmental review of this proposed action will be conducted in accordance with the requirements of NEPA, the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500– 1508), the Department of the Interior NEPA regulations (43 CFR part 46), other applicable Federal laws and regulations, and policies and procedures of the Service. This notice is being furnished in accordance with 40 CFR 1501.7 to notify the public of the Service’s intent to prepare a DSEIS. Michael Thabault, Assistant Regional Director, Mountain-Prairie Region. [FR Doc. 2016–28736 Filed 11–28–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Indian Affairs [178A2100DD/AAKC001030/ A0A501010.999900 253G] Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Redding Rancheria Feeto-Trust and Casino Project, Shasta County, California Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: This notice advises the public that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), as lead agency, intends to gather information necessary for preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) in connection with the Redding Rancheria’s (Tribe) application requesting that the United States acquire approximately 232 acres of land in trust in Shasta County, California, for the construction and operation of a casino resort. DATES: To ensure consideration during the development of the EIS, written comments on the scope of the EIS should be sent as soon as possible and no later than December 29, 2016. The date of the public scoping meeting will be announced at least 15 days in advance through a notice to be published in the local newspapers (Redding Record Searchlight and Sacramento Bee) and online at www.reddingeis.com. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\29NON1.SGM 29NON1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 229 (Tuesday, November 29, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 86000-86001]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-28736]



[[Page 86000]]

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

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R6-ES-2016-N151; FF06E11000-167-FXES11120600000]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permits; Draft 
Supplement to Environmental Impact Statement and Amendment to Habitat 
Conservation Plan for Forest Management in Montana

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, intend to prepare a 
draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) under the 
National Environmental Policy Act to consider potential impacts on the 
human environment from proposed amendments to an incidental take permit 
and associated habitat conservation plan. Under the Endangered Species 
Act, we issued the original permit to the Montana Department of Natural 
Resources and Conservation (DNRC) in December 2011, authorizing take of 
the grizzly bear, Canada lynx, bull trout, and two other fish species 
incidental to the DNRC's forest management activities. The purpose of 
this notice is to describe the proposed action and advise other Federal 
and State agencies, potentially affected tribes, and the public of our 
intent to prepare a DSEIS. The DNRC intends to jointly prepare the 
DSEIS to comply with its responsibilities under the Montana 
Environmental Policy Act. We are not soliciting comments at this time. 
The public will have opportunity to comment on the published DSEIS when 
we announce its availability in the Federal Register and local and 
regional news sources.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ben Conard, Assistant Field 
Supervisor, at (406) 758-6882 or Ben_Conard@fws.gov; or Gary Frank, 
Deputy Chief, Forest Management Bureau, Montana DNRC, at (406) 542-4328 
or gfrank@mt.gov.
    Individuals who are hearing or speech impaired may call the Federal 
Relay Service at (800) 877-8337 for TTY assistance. Information on this 
proposed action is also available at the DNRC's Web site, at http://dnrc.mt.gov/divisions/trust/forest-management/hcp.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Introduction

    Under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA, 16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
issued an original permit to the Montana Department of Natural 
Resources and Conservation (DNRC) in December 2011, authorizing take of 
the grizzly bear, Canada lynx, bull trout, and two other fish species 
incidental to their forest management activities. The DNRC now is 
proposing to amend the HCP to incorporate terms of a settlement 
agreement and is requesting that we amend the permit to cover 
additional lands.
    We intend to prepare a DSEIS under the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) to consider potential impacts 
on the human environment from the proposed amendment to a habitat 
conservation plan (HCP) and associated incidental take permit issued 
under section 10(A)(1)(B) of the ESA. The DNRC intends to jointly 
prepare the DSEIS to comply with the Montana Environmental Policy Act, 
Mont. Code Ann. 75-1-101-75-1-324 and the DNRC implementing 
regulations, Administrative Rules of Montana 36.2.501-36.2.611. The 
DNRC is requesting that the permit be amended to authorize potential 
take from forest management activities on an additional 81,416 acres. 
The DNRC is also proposing to amend the HCP to incorporate the terms of 
a settlement agreement to add conservation measures and remove others 
that are no longer relevant.
    The DNRC is preparing an amendment to the HCP detailing how the 
proposed action would be adopted to comply with the HCP's required 
measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the effects of incidental 
take of the covered species to the maximum extent practicable. We 
provide this notice to (1) describe the proposed action and (2) advise 
other Federal and State agencies, potentially affected tribes, and the 
public of our intent to prepare a DSEIS. In the DSEIS, we will analyze 
potential effects to the covered species and other factors of the human 
environment from the proposed action and alternatives to the action.

Background

    In April 2009, the DNRC applied for a permit for take incidental to 
forest management activities for the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos 
horribilis), Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), bull trout (Salvelinus 
confluentus), westslope cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi), 
and interior redband trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri). The grizzly 
bear, lynx, and bull trout are federally listed, while the westslope 
and redband trout species are not. Before deciding whether to issue the 
permit, we analyzed the potential effects of implementation of the HCP 
and alternatives in a draft EIS (DEIS). In an announcement in the 
Federal Register on June 26, 2009 (74 FR 30617), we provided the DEIS 
and DNRC's permit application package, which included the draft HCP, 
for public review for a total of 105 days. After considering the public 
comments, the Service finalized the EIS and issued the permit to DNRC 
on December 14, 2011.
    The permit area covers approximately 548,500 acres of forested 
State trust lands in western Montana. However, because DNRC expected to 
transfer, exchange, or add lands for their forest management activities 
in the future, the HCP addressed the process and contingencies for 
doing so. Thus, the Service considered in the EIS the potential effects 
of amending the HCP and incidental take permit to cover such actions.
    In April 2013, two environmental organizations challenged the 
issuance of the permit in a Federal District Court in Montana. The 
Court ruled in the Service's favor on all but one count. DNRC and the 
plaintiffs subsequently entered a settlement agreement for that count 
in September 2015. The future addition of lands to the HCP and permit 
were not part of the complaint or the settlement agreement.

Proposed Action

    The Service plans to prepare a supplement to the EIS to assess the 
effects of the proposed amendment to the HCP and permit and 
incorporation of the terms of the settlement agreement.
    The terms of the settlement agreement focus primarily on adjusting 
management of DNRC's Class A lands under the Stillwater Block 
Transportation Plan in the HCP, which entailed a strategy of a cycle of 
4 years of active forest management followed by 8 years of rest. The 
settlement agreement identifies seven distinct grizzly bear security 
zones totaling 22,007 acres. These security zones include the entirety 
of the original 19,400 acres of Class A lands in the Stillwater Block 
in the HCP, but also add 2,300 acres in a new area in Coal Creek State 
Forest. The amended HCP would replace the 4-year active/8-year rest 
management cycle on Stillwater Block Lands with specific measures for 
restricting forest management activities to the denning season in these 
grizzly bear security zones. All motorized activities below 6,300 feet 
in elevation within the grizzly security zones would be allowed during 
the grizzly denning season and prohibited all year round above that 
elevation. The same seasonal and elevation restrictions would apply

[[Page 86001]]

to commercial forest management activities within the grizzly security 
zones. The current HCP prohibits new permanent road construction on the 
original 19,400 acres of Class A lands. This measure would remain 
essentially the same under an amendment, but would be specifically 
applied to the seven grizzly security zones, including the additional 
2,300 acres in the Coal Creek State Forest. Several other measures in 
the HCP for Class A lands would remain the same but be extended to the 
grizzly security zones with amendments. Other amendments would 
specifically spell out measures that DNRC had committed to implement in 
the original HCP but were previously incorporated by reference from 
DNRC's Forest Management Administrative Rules of Montana.
    Since we issued the permit, DNRC has acquired an appreciable amount 
of forested lands within the original HCP area, and they are now 
requesting to amend the HCP and permit to cover an additional 81,416 
acres. DNRC proposes to implement the HCP's existing conservation 
commitments on the additional lands. The six acquisition areas and 
their acreages are the Swan, which contains 16,446 acres; Chamberlain, 
which contains 14,537 acres; Potomac, which contains 32,266 acres; Lolo 
Land Exchange, which contains 11,066 acres; Upper Blackfoot, which 
contains 5,458 acres; and Southern Bitterroot, which contains 1,643 
acres. The HCP would be amended to reflect inclusion of (1) the Swan 
acquisition lands in the Swan Transportation Plan, (2) the Swan 
acquisition area in the Swan Lynx Management Area (LMA), (3) a portion 
of the Chamberlain acquisition area in the Garnet LMA, and (4) 
increasing the acres of lynx critical habitat addressed in the HCP.
    The original HCP requires the DNRC to complete corrective actions 
at sites identified with high risk of sediment delivery in bull trout 
watersheds in the HCP area by 2027. As directed by the settlement 
agreement, the HCP would be amended to prioritize and complete such 
corrective actions in federally designated bull trout critical habitat 
by 2024.
    Lastly, over the past 5 years of HCP implementation, the Service 
and DNRC identified some commitment and procedural clarifications that 
would be incorporated into the HCP. These amendments would serve to 
help DNRC understand how to implement certain measures and would not 
entail any changes to the nature of the measures or how they affect the 
covered species.

Statutory Requirements

    Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1538) and implementing regulations 
in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) prohibit the 
taking of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. The term 
``take'' is defined under the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)) to mean 
``harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or 
collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.'' ``Harm'' is 
defined by the Service to include significant habitat modification or 
degradation where it actually kills or injures listed species by 
significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including 
breeding, feeding, and sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). ``Harass'' is defined 
by the Service as actions that create the likelihood of injury to 
listed species to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal 
behavior patterns, which include, but are not limited to, breeding, 
feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3).
    Section 10 of the ESA and implementing regulations specify 
requirements for the issuance of incidental take permits to non-Federal 
landowners for the incidental take of endangered and threatened 
species. Such take must be incidental to otherwise lawful activities 
and not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery 
of the species in the wild, and the impacts of the take on the listed 
species must be minimized and mitigated by the permittee to the maximum 
extent practicable. An applicant for an incidental take permit must 
prepare an HCP describing the impacts that will likely result from such 
taking, the conservation program for minimizing and mitigating those 
take impacts, the funding available to implement the conservation 
program, the alternatives considered by the applicant to avoid such 
taking, and the reason(s) such alternatives are not being implemented.
    NEPA requires that Federal agencies conduct an environmental 
analysis of their proposed actions to determine if the actions may 
significantly affect the human environment. The Service determined that 
the final DNRC HCP EIS (September 17, 2010) requires a supplement since 
the changes in the proposed action may materially or substantially 
affect the analysis of impacts (40 CFR 1502.9 and 516 DM 4.5).

Public Comments

    The DSEIS will be developed using the same process as the original 
DNRC HCP EIS. We are not soliciting comments at this time. The public 
will have opportunity to comment on the published DSEIS, which will be 
announced in the Federal Register and local and regional news sources. 
For general inquiries or questions about the DSEIS process, see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

Authority

    The environmental review of this proposed action will be conducted 
in accordance with the requirements of NEPA, the Council on 
Environmental Quality Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), the 
Department of the Interior NEPA regulations (43 CFR part 46), other 
applicable Federal laws and regulations, and policies and procedures of 
the Service. This notice is being furnished in accordance with 40 CFR 
1501.7 to notify the public of the Service's intent to prepare a DSEIS.

Michael Thabault,
Assistant Regional Director, Mountain-Prairie Region.
[FR Doc. 2016-28736 Filed 11-28-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P