Draft Environmental Impact Statement; Amendment to the 1997 Washington State Department of Natural Resources Habitat Conservation Plan and Incidental Take Permit for the Long-Term Conservation Strategy for the Marbled Murrelet, 89135-89138 [2016-29062]

Download as PDF mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 237 / Friday, December 9, 2016 / Notices mitigation than proposed in its ETP applications. We are considering mitigation of older wind facilities, lead abatement, carcass removal, carcass avoidance, wind conservation easements, habitat enhancement (focusing on prey habitat), and rehabilitation of injured eagles as possible alternative forms of compensatory mitigation. Alternative 3: Issue ETPs for Phase I of Sierra Madre Wind Development Area Only. The Service received numerous comments during the scoping process requesting that we examine a different development scenario from that proposed by PCW. However, to issue an ETP, we must analyze a specific project and ECP to determine if it meets the requirements for an ETP. Alternative 3 represents an example of a different development scenario PCW could present in a new application if the Service were to determine that the Phase I CCSM Project would meet all the criteria for issuing an ETP, but not at the scale proposed. Alternative 3 is for the Service to issue ETPs for the construction of Phase I infrastructure and the construction and operation of wind turbines only in the Sierra Madre Wind Development Area (WDA) (298 turbines total). This alternative includes avoidance and minimization measures, best management practices, and compensatory mitigation described in PCW’s application as they apply to the Sierra Madre WDA. Alternative 4: No Action. Under Alternative 4, the Service would deny PCW standard and programmatic ETPs for construction and operation of the Phase I CCSM Project. In addition to being a potential outcome of the permit review process, analysis of the No Action alternative is required by CEQ regulation (40 CFR 1502.14) and provides a baseline against which to compare the environmental impacts of the proposed action and other reasonable alternatives. ETPs are not required in order for PCW to construct and operate the project; therefore, if we deny the ETPs, PCW may choose to construct and operate the Phase I CCSM Project without ETPs and without adhering to an ECP. Alternative 4 analyzes both a ‘‘No Build’’ scenario and a ‘‘Build Without ETPs’’ scenario. This final EIS further incorporates information received during the public comment period for the draft EIS, and finalizes the analyses and conclusions in the document. National Environmental Policy Act Compliance Our decision on whether to issue standard and programmatic ETPs to VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:13 Dec 08, 2016 Jkt 241001 PCW triggers compliance with NEPA. NEPA requires the Service to analyze the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of the CCSM Phase I project before we make our decision, and to make our analysis available to the public. We have prepared the final EIS to inform the public of our proposed permit action, alternatives to that action, the environmental impacts of the alternatives, and measures to minimize adverse environmental effects. Public Availability of Submissions Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your correspondence, you should be aware that your entire correspondence— including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us to withhold your personal identifying information for public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Comments and materials received will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the offices where the comments are being submitted. Authorities This notice is published in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969; the CEQ’s regulations for implementing NEPA, 40 CFR parts 1500 through 1508; and the Department of the Interior’s NEPA regulations, 43 CFR part 46. Stephen A. Smith, Acting Regional Director, Mountain-Prairie Region [FR Doc. 2016–29333 Filed 12–8–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R1–ES–2016–N170; FXES11120100000–167–FF01E00000] Draft Environmental Impact Statement; Amendment to the 1997 Washington State Department of Natural Resources Habitat Conservation Plan and Incidental Take Permit for the LongTerm Conservation Strategy for the Marbled Murrelet Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. AGENCY: With the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00094 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 89135 Service (Service), have jointly developed a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) addressing an amendment to the 1997 WDNR Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to cover implementation of a long-term conservation strategy (LTCS) for the marbled murrelet. The DEIS also addresses an amendment to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) section 10 incidental take permit (ITP) for the WDNR HCP to cover implementation of the LTCS. The DEIS is intended to satisfy the requirements of both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). We request comments on these documents. DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by March 9, 2017. Public Meetings and Webinar: Four public meetings will be held to solicit public comments on the DEIS. For locations, dates and times of the public meetings and webinar, see Public Meetings and Webinar under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. ADDRESSES: To view documents, request further information, or submit comments, please use one of the following methods, and note that your information request or comments are in reference to the DEIS addressing an amendment to the 1997 WDNR HCP and ITP to cover implementation of a marbled murrelet LTCS: Viewing Documents: • Internet: You can view the DEIS on the Internet at www.fws.gov/WWFWO/ or www.dnr.wa.gov/non-project-actions. • Hard Copies: There are limited numbers of hard copies of the DEIS available for distribution (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). • Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we use in preparing the DEIS, will be available for public inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at our Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Submitting Comments: • Email: Comments may be submitted electronically to WDNR at sepacenter@ dnr.wa.gov. WDNR will transmit all comments received to the Service. • U.S. Mail: Comments may be submitted in writing to Lily Smith, SEPA Responsible Official, Washington Department of Natural Resources, SEPA Center, P.O. Box 47001, Olympia, WA 98504–7015. WDNR will transmit all comments received to the Service. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Ostwald, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, by telephone at (360) 753–9564, E:\FR\FM\09DEN1.SGM 09DEN1 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES 89136 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 237 / Friday, December 9, 2016 / Notices by email at Mark_Ostwald@fws.gov, or by U.S. mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 510 Desmond Dr., Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503. Alternatively, contact the SEPA Center, WDNR, by telephone at (360) 902–2117, or by email at sepacenter@dnr.wa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: With the WDNR, we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have jointly developed a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) addressing an amendment to the 1997 WDNR Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to cover implementation of a long-term conservation strategy (LTCS) for the marbled murrelet (Brachyamphus marmoratus). The DEIS also addresses an amendment to the Endangered Species Act ESA) section 10 incidental take permit (ITP) for the WDNR HCP to cover implementation of the LTCS. The DEIS is intended to satisfy the requirements of both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). If approved, the proposed LTCS will replace an interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet, which is currently being implemented under the WDNR HCP. It is anticipated that one of the alternatives described in the DEIS will form the basis of the LTCS. The scope of the proposed amendment to the WDNR HCP and ITP, and the DEIS, are exclusively limited to consideration of the LTCS. In addition to this notice of availability of the DEIS that the Service is publishing, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing a notice announcing the DEIS, as required under section 309 of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.). The publication of EPA’s notice is the official start of the minimum requirement for the public comment period for an EIS (see EPA’s Role in the EIS Process). The Service and WDNR have jointly developed a DEIS for the purpose of analyzing alternatives for the LTCS for the marbled murrelet, a seabird that was listed as threatened under the ESA in 1992. The DEIS analyses five action alternatives and a no action alternative. The DEIS does not identify a preferred alternative. The no action alternative involves continuation of the interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet under the WDNR HCP. If approved, the amended ITP would authorize incidental take of the marbled murrelet that may occur as a result of implementation of the LTCS over the remaining 50-year term of the WDNR HCP. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:13 Dec 08, 2016 Jkt 241001 Background In 1996, the WDNR released their draft HCP for forest management activities covering 1.6 million acres of forested State trust lands within the range of the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) in Washington. A DEIS, dated March 1996, that was jointly developed by the Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the WDNR to address the issuance of ITPs for the HCP, was announced in the Federal Register on April 5, 1996 (61 FR 15297). The 1996 DEIS analyzed reasonable alternatives, including the HCP, for forest management activities on forested State trust lands that would be covered by the ITPs. A notice of availability for the final EIS (FEIS) was published in the Federal Register on November 1, 1996 (61 FR 56563). On January 30, 1997, the Service issued an ITP (PRT No. 812521) for the WDNR HCP. The Service’s ITP decision and the availability of related decision documents were announced in the Federal Register on February 27, 1997 (62 FR 8980). Interim Conservation Strategy The WDNR HCP (see www.dnr.wa.gov/programs-andservices/forest-resources/habitatconservation-state-trust-lands) commits the WDNR to developing a LTCS for the marbled murrelet (HCP IV. 39). At the time the HCP was prepared, it was determined that development of a LTCS was not possible due to a lack of scientific information. For this reason, the WDNR developed an interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet, which is currently being implemented. The proposed amendment to the WDNR HCP is the final step of the process for development of the LTCS. Briefly, the interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet includes the following components: (1) Identification of blocks of suitable marbled murrelet habitat on which timber harvest would be deferred; (2) Implementation of a habitat relationship study using marbled murrelet occupancy surveys to determine the relative importance of forested habitats; (3) Based on the findings of the habitat relationship study, identification of the lowest quality habitat blocks to be made available for timber harvest (these areas, in the poorest quality habitats, were expected to contain about 5 percent of the marbled murreletoccupied sites on HCP-covered lands); (4) Implementation of surveys of higher quality habitat blocks identified PO 00000 Frm 00095 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 by the habitat relationship study to determine marbled murrelet occupancy, and protection of murrelet-occupied habitats, along with some unoccupied habitat; and (5) Development of a LTCS for the marbled murrelet on WDNR lands. To inform the development of the DEIS addressing the amendment of the WDNR HCP and ITP to cover a LTCS for the marbled murrelet, we conducted four public scoping meetings in 2012 (77 FR 23743). In 2013, the WDNR, for the purposes of SEPA, conducted four additional public meetings to provide more opportunity for comment on the conceptual alternatives. Service staff attended all of the 2012 and 2013 public meetings. We received substantial public comments during public scoping. These comments were considered in the development of the DEIS. Endangered Species Act Section 9 Requirements Section 9 of the ESA prohibits take of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened under section 4 of the ESA. Under the ESA, the term ‘‘take’’ means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term ‘‘harm,’’ as defined in our regulations, includes significant habitat modification or degradation that results in death or injury to listed species by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). The term ‘‘harass’’ is defined in our regulations as intentional or negligent actions that create the likelihood of injury to listed species to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns, which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). However, under specified circumstances, the Service may issue permits that authorize take of federally listed species, provided the take is incidental to, and not the purpose of, an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA contains provisions for issuing ITPs to nonFederal entities for the take of endangered and threatened species, provided the following criteria are met: (1) The taking will be incidental; (2) The applicant will prepare a conservation plan that, to the maximum extent practicable, identifies the steps the applicant will take to minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking; E:\FR\FM\09DEN1.SGM 09DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 237 / Friday, December 9, 2016 / Notices mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES (3) The applicant will ensure that adequate funding for the plan will be provided; (4) The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and (5) The applicant will carry out any other measures that the Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the plan. National Environmental Policy Act Compliance The proposed amendment of the WDNR ITP and the 1997 WDNR HCP to cover a marbled murrelet LTCS is a Federal action that triggers the need for compliance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). We and WDNR have jointly developed the DEIS for the purpose of analyzing the environmental impacts of implementing alternatives for the marbled murrelet LTCS under the HCP and ITP. Five action alternatives and a no-action alternative are analyzed in the DEIS. The DEIS does not identify a preferred alternative. WDNR manages approximately 1.3 million acres within 55 miles of marine waters, which is the known inland limit of the nesting range for the marbled murrelet. The alternatives in the DEIS are restricted to implementation within this area. To appreciate the details of the alternatives, it is necessary to review the DEIS (see ADDRESSES for access to the DEIS). However, each of the alternatives in the DEIS is briefly summarized below. The alternatives represent a range of approaches to long-term marbled murrelet habitat conservation on WDNR lands. The alternatives differ in the amount and location of WDNR-managed forest land designated for long-term conservation of the murrelet, and also include a variety of conservation measures proposed to protect marbled murrelet habitat. The alternatives also differ in the amount and quality of marbled murrelet habitat removed through timber harvest. The acres of forest land proposed for continued conservation under the alternatives for an amended WDNR HCP include those lands already protected as long-term forest cover by WDNR, such as old-growth forests, high-quality spotted owl habitat, riparian areas, natural areas, and other conservation commitments included in the 1997 HCP and in WDNR’s Policy for Sustainable Forests. These areas provide conservation benefits to the marbled murrelet, either by supplying current and/or future nesting habitat or by providing security to that habitat from predation, disturbance, and other threats. The alternatives also designate VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:13 Dec 08, 2016 Jkt 241001 additional forestlands with specific importance for marbled murrelet conservation, and these are referred to as Special Habitat Areas, Emphasis Areas, or Marbled Murrelet Management Areas, depending on the alternative and conservation approach. All of alternatives considered in the DEIS protect known marbled murrelet nest sites. Alternative A is the no-action alternative and it continues the interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet. Alternative B primarily relies on protecting occupied marbled murrelet sites without additional conservation approaches. Alternatives C, D, E, and F focus new conservation in important areas for the marbled murrelet, protecting more habitat in these areas than is protected under the no action alternative. Each alternative designates a different amount of land for conservation of the marbled murrelet. Alternative F protects the most habitat for the murrelet within the analysis area. EPA’s Role in the EIS Process The EPA is charged under section 309 of the Clean Air Act to review all Federal agencies’ EISs and to comment on the adequacy and the acceptability of the environmental impacts of proposed actions in the EISs. EPA also serves as the repository (EIS database) for EISs prepared by Federal agencies and provides notice of their availability in the Federal Register. The EIS database provides information about EISs prepared by Federal agencies, as well as EPA’s comments concerning the EISs. All EISs are filed with EPA, which publishes a notice of availability on Fridays in the Federal Register. For more information, see http:// www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/ eisdata.html. You may search for EPA comments on EISs, along with EISs themselves, at https://cdxnodengn.epa. gov/cdx-enepa-public/action/eis/search. Public Comments and Webinar The Service and WDNR are committed to providing access to these meetings for all participants. The public meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Brian G. Bailey, Outreach Manager, Legislative Session Coordinator, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, at 360–902–1715, and Mark Ostwald, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at 360–753–9564. To allow sufficient time to process requests, please call at least 7 working days prior to the public meeting dates. PO 00000 Frm 00096 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 89137 Four public meetings will be held to provide an overview of the DEIS and an opportunity for public comment. The public meeting dates, times, and locations are: • Tuesday, January 10, 2017, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., WDNR, Northwest Region Office, NW Conference Center, 919 N Township Street, Sedro Woolley, WA 98284. • Thursday, January 12, 2017, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Whitman Middle School Auditorium, 9201 15th Avenue NW., Seattle, WA 98117. • Tuesday, January 17, 2017, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Port Angeles High School, Commons-Lunch Room, 304 E Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362. • Thursday, January 19, 2017, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Julius A. Wendt Elementary School, Multi-purpose Room, 265 S 3rd Street, Cathlamet, WA 98612. Public Webinar Information: A public webinar will provide an overview of the DEIS. The public webinar date, time, and link are: • Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., the link for accessing the webinar will be available at www.dnr.wa.gov/mmltcs. Public Comments You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We specifically request information, views, and opinions from the public on the alternatives for the marbled murrelet LTCS and identification of any other aspects of the human environment not already identified in the DEIS that may be affected, pursuant to NEPA regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 1506.6. Public Availability of Comments All comments and materials we receive become part of the public record associated with this action. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information in your comments, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personally identifiable information— may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personally identifiable information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their entirety. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we use in preparing the E:\FR\FM\09DEN1.SGM 09DEN1 89138 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 237 / Friday, December 9, 2016 / Notices FEIS, will be available for public inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at our Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES). Next Steps We expect to receive a permit application from WDNR requesting an amendment of their ITP and HCP to cover the LTCS for the marbled murrelet. It is anticipated that one of the alternatives analyzed in the DEIS will form the basis of the LTCS that would be implemented under the HCP. An interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet is currently being implemented under the HCP. The HCP amendment for the LTCS is intended to replace the interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet. We will evaluate that request, associated documents, and public comments in reaching a final decision on whether the application for a permit amendment meets the requirements of section 10 of the ESA. We will prepare responses to public comments and publish a notice of availability for the FEIS. The FEIS will identify the preferred alternative for the LTCS for the marbled murrelet and analyze its impact on the human environment. We will also evaluate whether the proposed permit action would comply with section 7 of the ESA by conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation. We will use the results of this consultation, in combination with the above findings, in our final analysis to determine whether or not to approve the proposed amendment of the WDNR ITP and HCP. If the ESA section 10 issuance requirements are met, we will approve the amendment of the ITP and HCP. We will issue a record of decision and approve or deny the ITP and HCP amendment request by WDNR no sooner than 30 days after publication of the EPA’s notice of availability of the FEIS. Authority: We provide this notice in accordance with the requirements of section 10(c) of the ESA and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32) and NEPA and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). Theresa Rabot, Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon. [FR Doc. 2016–29062 Filed 12–8–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R8–NWRS–2016–N192; FXRS12610800000–178–FF08R00000] Lower Klamath, Clear Lake, Tule Lake, Upper Klamath, and Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuges, Klamath County, OR; Siskiyou and Modoc Counties, CA: Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan/Environmental Impact Statement AGENCY: ACTION: Notice of availability. We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of a final comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and environmental impact statement (EIS) for Lower Klamath, Clear Lake, Tule Lake, Upper Klamath, and Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuges (Refuges). The Refuges are part of the Klamath Basin Complex. The final CCP/EIS, prepared under the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act of 1997, and in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, describes how the Service proposes to manage the refuges for the next 15 years. Final compatibility determinations for uses proposed under the preferred alternative are also included as an appendix. SUMMARY: Document Availability: You may obtain copies of the documents in the following places: • Internet: http://www.fws.gov/ refuge/Tule_Lake/what_we_do/ conservation.html. • In Person: Æ Klamath Refuge Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex Headquarters, 4009 Hill Road, Tulelake, CA 96134. Æ The following libraries: ADDRESSES: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. Library Address Klamath County Main .............................. Keno Branch ............................................ Malin Branch ............................................ Merrill Branch .......................................... S. Suburban Branch ................................ Tulelake Branch ....................................... Butte Valley Branch ................................. Redding ................................................... Multnomah Co. Central ........................... Sacramento Public Central Branch ......... Medford .................................................... 126 South Third Street, Klamath Falls, OR 97601 ................................................... 15555 Hwy 66, #1, Keno, OR 97627 ........................................................................ 2307 Front Street, Malin, OR 97632 ......................................................................... 365 Front Street, Merrill, OR 97633 .......................................................................... 3625 Summers Lane, Klamath Falls, OR 97603 ...................................................... 451 Main Street, Tulelake, CA 96134 ....................................................................... 800 West Third Street, Dorris, CA 96023 ................................................................. 1100 Parkview Ave., Redding, CA 96001 ................................................................. 801 SW 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97205 .................................................................... 828 I St., Sacramento, CA 95814 ............................................................................. 205 S. Central Ave, Medford, OR 95701 .................................................................. EPA’s Role in the EIS Process FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Klamath Refuge Planner, (916) 414– 6464 (phone). We publish this notice to announce the availability of the final CCP/EIS for the Klamath Basin Refuges. The final CCP/ EIS, which we prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), describes and analyzes a range of management alternatives for the Klamath Basin Refuges. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:13 Dec 08, 2016 Jkt 241001 The EPA is charged under section 309 of the CAA (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.) to review all Federal agencies’ environmental impact statement (EISs) and to comment on the adequacy and acceptability of the environmental impacts of proposed actions in the EISs. EPA also serves as the repository (EIS database) for EISs prepared by Federal agencies and provides notice of their availability in the Federal Register. The EIS database provides information about EISs prepared by Federal agencies, as PO 00000 Frm 00097 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Phone No. (541) (541) (541) (541) (541) (530) (530) (530) (530) (916) (541) 882–8894 273–0750 723–5210 798–5393 273–3679 667–2291 397–4932 245–7250 988–5123 264–2700 774–8689 well as EPA’s comments concerning the EISs. All EISs are filed with EPA, which publishes a notice of availability on Fridays in the Federal Register. The notice of availability is the start of the 30-day ‘‘wait period’’ for final EISs, during which agencies are generally required to wait 30 days before making a decision on a proposed action. For more information, see http:// www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/ eisdata.html. You may search for EPA comments on EISs, along with the EISs themselves, at https:// E:\FR\FM\09DEN1.SGM 09DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 237 (Friday, December 9, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 89135-89138]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-29062]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-ES-2016-N170; FXES11120100000-167-FF01E00000]


Draft Environmental Impact Statement; Amendment to the 1997 
Washington State Department of Natural Resources Habitat Conservation 
Plan and Incidental Take Permit for the Long-Term Conservation Strategy 
for the Marbled Murrelet

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: With the Washington State Department of Natural Resources 
(WDNR), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have jointly 
developed a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) addressing an 
amendment to the 1997 WDNR Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to cover 
implementation of a long-term conservation strategy (LTCS) for the 
marbled murrelet. The DEIS also addresses an amendment to the 
Endangered Species Act (ESA) section 10 incidental take permit (ITP) 
for the WDNR HCP to cover implementation of the LTCS. The DEIS is 
intended to satisfy the requirements of both the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) and the Washington State Environmental Policy Act 
(SEPA). We request comments on these documents.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
March 9, 2017.
    Public Meetings and Webinar: Four public meetings will be held to 
solicit public comments on the DEIS. For locations, dates and times of 
the public meetings and webinar, see Public Meetings and Webinar under 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

ADDRESSES: To view documents, request further information, or submit 
comments, please use one of the following methods, and note that your 
information request or comments are in reference to the DEIS addressing 
an amendment to the 1997 WDNR HCP and ITP to cover implementation of a 
marbled murrelet LTCS:
    Viewing Documents:
     Internet: You can view the DEIS on the Internet at 
www.fws.gov/WWFWO/ or www.dnr.wa.gov/non-project-actions.
     Hard Copies: There are limited numbers of hard copies of 
the DEIS available for distribution (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).
     Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we use in preparing the DEIS, will be available for 
public inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at our 
Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).
    Submitting Comments:
     Email: Comments may be submitted electronically to WDNR at 
sepacenter@dnr.wa.gov. WDNR will transmit all comments received to the 
Service.
     U.S. Mail: Comments may be submitted in writing to Lily 
Smith, SEPA Responsible Official, Washington Department of Natural 
Resources, SEPA Center, P.O. Box 47001, Olympia, WA 98504-7015. WDNR 
will transmit all comments received to the Service.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Ostwald, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, by telephone at (360) 753-9564,

[[Page 89136]]

by email at Mark_Ostwald@fws.gov, or by U.S. mail at U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 510 Desmond Dr., 
Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503. Alternatively, contact the SEPA Center, 
WDNR, by telephone at (360) 902-2117, or by email at 
sepacenter@dnr.wa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:  With the WDNR, we, the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (Service), have jointly developed a draft 
environmental impact statement (DEIS) addressing an amendment to the 
1997 WDNR Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to cover implementation of a 
long-term conservation strategy (LTCS) for the marbled murrelet 
(Brachyamphus marmoratus). The DEIS also addresses an amendment to the 
Endangered Species Act ESA) section 10 incidental take permit (ITP) for 
the WDNR HCP to cover implementation of the LTCS. The DEIS is intended 
to satisfy the requirements of both the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) and the Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). If 
approved, the proposed LTCS will replace an interim conservation 
strategy for the marbled murrelet, which is currently being implemented 
under the WDNR HCP. It is anticipated that one of the alternatives 
described in the DEIS will form the basis of the LTCS. The scope of the 
proposed amendment to the WDNR HCP and ITP, and the DEIS, are 
exclusively limited to consideration of the LTCS.
    In addition to this notice of availability of the DEIS that the 
Service is publishing, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
is publishing a notice announcing the DEIS, as required under section 
309 of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.). The publication of 
EPA's notice is the official start of the minimum requirement for the 
public comment period for an EIS (see EPA's Role in the EIS Process).
    The Service and WDNR have jointly developed a DEIS for the purpose 
of analyzing alternatives for the LTCS for the marbled murrelet, a 
seabird that was listed as threatened under the ESA in 1992. The DEIS 
analyses five action alternatives and a no action alternative. The DEIS 
does not identify a preferred alternative. The no action alternative 
involves continuation of the interim conservation strategy for the 
marbled murrelet under the WDNR HCP. If approved, the amended ITP would 
authorize incidental take of the marbled murrelet that may occur as a 
result of implementation of the LTCS over the remaining 50-year term of 
the WDNR HCP.

Background

    In 1996, the WDNR released their draft HCP for forest management 
activities covering 1.6 million acres of forested State trust lands 
within the range of the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis 
caurina) in Washington. A DEIS, dated March 1996, that was jointly 
developed by the Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the 
WDNR to address the issuance of ITPs for the HCP, was announced in the 
Federal Register on April 5, 1996 (61 FR 15297). The 1996 DEIS analyzed 
reasonable alternatives, including the HCP, for forest management 
activities on forested State trust lands that would be covered by the 
ITPs. A notice of availability for the final EIS (FEIS) was published 
in the Federal Register on November 1, 1996 (61 FR 56563). On January 
30, 1997, the Service issued an ITP (PRT No. 812521) for the WDNR HCP. 
The Service's ITP decision and the availability of related decision 
documents were announced in the Federal Register on February 27, 1997 
(62 FR 8980).

Interim Conservation Strategy

    The WDNR HCP (see www.dnr.wa.gov/programs-and-services/forest-resources/habitat-conservation-state-trust-lands) commits the WDNR to 
developing a LTCS for the marbled murrelet (HCP IV. 39). At the time 
the HCP was prepared, it was determined that development of a LTCS was 
not possible due to a lack of scientific information. For this reason, 
the WDNR developed an interim conservation strategy for the marbled 
murrelet, which is currently being implemented. The proposed amendment 
to the WDNR HCP is the final step of the process for development of the 
LTCS.
    Briefly, the interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet 
includes the following components:
    (1) Identification of blocks of suitable marbled murrelet habitat 
on which timber harvest would be deferred;
    (2) Implementation of a habitat relationship study using marbled 
murrelet occupancy surveys to determine the relative importance of 
forested habitats;
    (3) Based on the findings of the habitat relationship study, 
identification of the lowest quality habitat blocks to be made 
available for timber harvest (these areas, in the poorest quality 
habitats, were expected to contain about 5 percent of the marbled 
murrelet-occupied sites on HCP-covered lands);
    (4) Implementation of surveys of higher quality habitat blocks 
identified by the habitat relationship study to determine marbled 
murrelet occupancy, and protection of murrelet-occupied habitats, along 
with some unoccupied habitat; and
    (5) Development of a LTCS for the marbled murrelet on WDNR lands.
    To inform the development of the DEIS addressing the amendment of 
the WDNR HCP and ITP to cover a LTCS for the marbled murrelet, we 
conducted four public scoping meetings in 2012 (77 FR 23743). In 2013, 
the WDNR, for the purposes of SEPA, conducted four additional public 
meetings to provide more opportunity for comment on the conceptual 
alternatives. Service staff attended all of the 2012 and 2013 public 
meetings. We received substantial public comments during public 
scoping. These comments were considered in the development of the DEIS.

Endangered Species Act Section 9 Requirements

    Section 9 of the ESA prohibits take of fish and wildlife species 
listed as endangered or threatened under section 4 of the ESA. Under 
the ESA, the term ``take'' means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any 
such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term ``harm,'' as defined in our 
regulations, includes significant habitat modification or degradation 
that results in death or injury to listed species by significantly 
impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, 
or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). The term ``harass'' is defined in our 
regulations as intentional or negligent actions that create the 
likelihood of injury to listed species to such an extent as to 
significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns, which include, but 
are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3).
    However, under specified circumstances, the Service may issue 
permits that authorize take of federally listed species, provided the 
take is incidental to, and not the purpose of, an otherwise lawful 
activity. Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened 
species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively. Section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA contains provisions for issuing ITPs to non-
Federal entities for the take of endangered and threatened species, 
provided the following criteria are met:
    (1) The taking will be incidental;
    (2) The applicant will prepare a conservation plan that, to the 
maximum extent practicable, identifies the steps the applicant will 
take to minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking;

[[Page 89137]]

    (3) The applicant will ensure that adequate funding for the plan 
will be provided;
    (4) The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the 
survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and
    (5) The applicant will carry out any other measures that the 
Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes 
of the plan.

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    The proposed amendment of the WDNR ITP and the 1997 WDNR HCP to 
cover a marbled murrelet LTCS is a Federal action that triggers the 
need for compliance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). We and WDNR 
have jointly developed the DEIS for the purpose of analyzing the 
environmental impacts of implementing alternatives for the marbled 
murrelet LTCS under the HCP and ITP. Five action alternatives and a no-
action alternative are analyzed in the DEIS. The DEIS does not identify 
a preferred alternative. WDNR manages approximately 1.3 million acres 
within 55 miles of marine waters, which is the known inland limit of 
the nesting range for the marbled murrelet. The alternatives in the 
DEIS are restricted to implementation within this area. To appreciate 
the details of the alternatives, it is necessary to review the DEIS 
(see ADDRESSES for access to the DEIS). However, each of the 
alternatives in the DEIS is briefly summarized below.
    The alternatives represent a range of approaches to long-term 
marbled murrelet habitat conservation on WDNR lands. The alternatives 
differ in the amount and location of WDNR-managed forest land 
designated for long-term conservation of the murrelet, and also include 
a variety of conservation measures proposed to protect marbled murrelet 
habitat. The alternatives also differ in the amount and quality of 
marbled murrelet habitat removed through timber harvest.
    The acres of forest land proposed for continued conservation under 
the alternatives for an amended WDNR HCP include those lands already 
protected as long-term forest cover by WDNR, such as old-growth 
forests, high-quality spotted owl habitat, riparian areas, natural 
areas, and other conservation commitments included in the 1997 HCP and 
in WDNR's Policy for Sustainable Forests. These areas provide 
conservation benefits to the marbled murrelet, either by supplying 
current and/or future nesting habitat or by providing security to that 
habitat from predation, disturbance, and other threats. The 
alternatives also designate additional forestlands with specific 
importance for marbled murrelet conservation, and these are referred to 
as Special Habitat Areas, Emphasis Areas, or Marbled Murrelet 
Management Areas, depending on the alternative and conservation 
approach. All of alternatives considered in the DEIS protect known 
marbled murrelet nest sites.
    Alternative A is the no-action alternative and it continues the 
interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet. Alternative B 
primarily relies on protecting occupied marbled murrelet sites without 
additional conservation approaches. Alternatives C, D, E, and F focus 
new conservation in important areas for the marbled murrelet, 
protecting more habitat in these areas than is protected under the no 
action alternative. Each alternative designates a different amount of 
land for conservation of the marbled murrelet. Alternative F protects 
the most habitat for the murrelet within the analysis area.

EPA's Role in the EIS Process

    The EPA is charged under section 309 of the Clean Air Act to review 
all Federal agencies' EISs and to comment on the adequacy and the 
acceptability of the environmental impacts of proposed actions in the 
EISs.
    EPA also serves as the repository (EIS database) for EISs prepared 
by Federal agencies and provides notice of their availability in the 
Federal Register. The EIS database provides information about EISs 
prepared by Federal agencies, as well as EPA's comments concerning the 
EISs. All EISs are filed with EPA, which publishes a notice of 
availability on Fridays in the Federal Register.
    For more information, see http://www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/eisdata.html. You may search for EPA comments on EISs, along with EISs 
themselves, at https://cdxnodengn.epa.gov/cdx-enepa-public/action/eis/search.

Public Comments and Webinar

    The Service and WDNR are committed to providing access to these 
meetings for all participants. The public meetings are physically 
accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language 
interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Brian G. 
Bailey, Outreach Manager, Legislative Session Coordinator, Washington 
State Department of Natural Resources, at 360-902-1715, and Mark 
Ostwald, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at 360-753-9564. To allow 
sufficient time to process requests, please call at least 7 working 
days prior to the public meeting dates.
    Four public meetings will be held to provide an overview of the 
DEIS and an opportunity for public comment. The public meeting dates, 
times, and locations are:
     Tuesday, January 10, 2017, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., WDNR, 
Northwest Region Office, NW Conference Center, 919 N Township Street, 
Sedro Woolley, WA 98284.
     Thursday, January 12, 2017, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Whitman 
Middle School Auditorium, 9201 15th Avenue NW., Seattle, WA 98117.
     Tuesday, January 17, 2017, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Port Angeles 
High School, Commons-Lunch Room, 304 E Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 
98362.
     Thursday, January 19, 2017, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Julius A. 
Wendt Elementary School, Multi-purpose Room, 265 S 3rd Street, 
Cathlamet, WA 98612.
    Public Webinar Information: A public webinar will provide an 
overview of the DEIS. The public webinar date, time, and link are:
     Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., the link for 
accessing the webinar will be available at www.dnr.wa.gov/mmltcs.

Public Comments

    You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods 
listed in the ADDRESSES section. We specifically request information, 
views, and opinions from the public on the alternatives for the marbled 
murrelet LTCS and identification of any other aspects of the human 
environment not already identified in the DEIS that may be affected, 
pursuant to NEPA regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 
at 40 CFR 1506.6.

Public Availability of Comments

    All comments and materials we receive become part of the public 
record associated with this action. Before including your address, 
phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable 
information in your comments, you should be aware that your entire 
comment--including your personally identifiable information--may be 
made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your 
comment to withhold your personally identifiable information from 
public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All 
submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations 
or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their 
entirety. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we use in preparing the

[[Page 89138]]

FEIS, will be available for public inspection by appointment, during 
normal business hours, at our Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see 
ADDRESSES).

Next Steps

    We expect to receive a permit application from WDNR requesting an 
amendment of their ITP and HCP to cover the LTCS for the marbled 
murrelet. It is anticipated that one of the alternatives analyzed in 
the DEIS will form the basis of the LTCS that would be implemented 
under the HCP. An interim conservation strategy for the marbled 
murrelet is currently being implemented under the HCP. The HCP 
amendment for the LTCS is intended to replace the interim conservation 
strategy for the marbled murrelet. We will evaluate that request, 
associated documents, and public comments in reaching a final decision 
on whether the application for a permit amendment meets the 
requirements of section 10 of the ESA. We will prepare responses to 
public comments and publish a notice of availability for the FEIS. The 
FEIS will identify the preferred alternative for the LTCS for the 
marbled murrelet and analyze its impact on the human environment. We 
will also evaluate whether the proposed permit action would comply with 
section 7 of the ESA by conducting an intra-Service section 7 
consultation. We will use the results of this consultation, in 
combination with the above findings, in our final analysis to determine 
whether or not to approve the proposed amendment of the WDNR ITP and 
HCP. If the ESA section 10 issuance requirements are met, we will 
approve the amendment of the ITP and HCP. We will issue a record of 
decision and approve or deny the ITP and HCP amendment request by WDNR 
no sooner than 30 days after publication of the EPA's notice of 
availability of the FEIS.

    Authority: We provide this notice in accordance with the 
requirements of section 10(c) of the ESA and its implementing 
regulations (50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32) and NEPA and its implementing 
regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

Theresa Rabot,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2016-29062 Filed 12-8-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P