Proposed Bakersfield Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan, California; Scoping for Environmental Impact Statement, 1750-1753 [2017-00002]

Download as PDF 1750 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 4 / Friday, January 6, 2017 / Notices and make award decisions, monitor ongoing performance and manage the flow of Federal funds, and to appropriately close out grants or cooperative agreements. GRT supports the information collection needs of each grant program processed in the system. Affected Public: State, Local, or Tribal Government. Estimated Number of Respondents: 56. Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 2,156 hours. Estimated Cost: The estimated annual cost to respondents for the hour burden is $77,659.12. There are no annual costs to respondents’ operations and maintenance costs for technical services. There are no annual start-up or capital costs. The cost to the Federal Government is $1,166,604.30. Dated: December 27, 2016. Richard W. Mattison, Records Management Program Chief, Mission Support, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security. [FR Doc. 2017–00006 Filed 1–5–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111–46–P the homeless. Today’s Notice is for the purpose of announcing that no additional properties have been determined suitable or unsuitable this week. Dated: December 28, 2016. Brian P. Fitzmaurice, Director, Division of Community Assistance, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs. [FR Doc. 2016–31790 Filed 1–5–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210–67–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R8–ES–2016–N166; FF08ESMF00– FXES11120800000–156] Proposed Bakersfield Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan, California; Scoping for Environmental Impact Statement Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of intent; notice of public scoping meeting; request for comments. AGENCY: Under the National Environmental Policy Act, we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, intend to prepare a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed habitat conservation plan/natural community conservation plan for the City of Bakersfield, hereafter referred to as the Bakersfield Habitat Conservation Plan (BHCP). The BHCP will streamline and coordinate existing processes for review and permitting of public and private activities that potentially affect covered species, while providing long-term conservation of covered species in the plan area. The draft EIS is being prepared under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, and the California Natural Community Conservation Planning Act. We announce meetings and invite comments. DATES: Submitting Comments: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by February 21, 2017. Public Meeting: A public scoping meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 24, 2017: From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The meeting will take place in the 3rd floor conference room, City of Bakersfield Community Development Department, 1715 Chester Avenue, Bakersfield, CA 93301. ADDRESSES: To request further information or submit written comments, please use one of the following methods, and note that your information request or comment is in SUMMARY: DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT [Docket No. FR–5995–N–1] Federal Property Suitable as Facilities To Assist the Homeless Office of the Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development, HUD. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: This Notice identifies unutilized, underutilized, excess, and surplus Federal property reviewed by HUD for suitability for possible use to assist the homeless. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Juanita Perry, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 Seventh Street SW., Room 7266, Washington, DC 20410; telephone (202) 402–3970; TTY number for the hearing- and speechimpaired (202) 708–2565 (these telephone numbers are not toll-free), call the toll-free Title V information line at 800–927–7588 or send an email to title5@hud.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In accordance with the December 12, 1988 court order in National Coalition for the Homeless v. Veterans Administration, No. 88–2503–OG (D.D.C.), HUD publishes a Notice, on a weekly basis, identifying unutilized, underutilized, excess and surplus Federal buildings and real property that HUD has reviewed for suitability for use to assist sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:06 Jan 05, 2017 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 reference to the Bakersfield Habitat Conservation Plan: • U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W– 2605, Sacramento, CA 95825. • In-Person Drop-Off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call (916) 414–6600 to make an appointment during regular business hours to drop off comments or view received comments at the above location. • Fax: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (916) 414–6713, Attn.: Thomas Leeman. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Justin Sloan, Senior Biologist, or Thomas Leeman, Chief, San Joaquin Valley Division, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, by phone at (916) 414– 6600 or by U.S. mail at the above address. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, please call the Federal Information Relay Service at (800) 877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Introduction We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to prepare a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) to evaluate the impacts of several alternatives related to the potential issuance of an incidental take permit (ITP), as well as impacts of the implementation of the supporting proposed habitat conservation plan/ natural community conservation plan, which we will refer to as the Bakersfield Habitat Conservation Plan (BHCP). The EIS will be a joint EIS/environmental impact report (EIS/EIR), for which the Service, City of Bakersfield, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) intend to gather information necessary for preparation. The BHCP is designed to be a comprehensive regional plan that will provide long-term conservation and management of natural communities, sensitive species, and the habitats upon which those species depend, while accommodating other important uses of the land. It is intended to serve as a habitat conservation plan pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; Act), and as a natural community conservation plan under the California Natural Community Conservation Planning Act. The BHCP will address State and Federal endangered species compliance requirements for the City of Bakersfield, Kern County, California State University–Bakersfield, Bakersfield College, and individual school districts within the BHCP plan area. The plan area generally includes the San Joaquin E:\FR\FM\06JAN1.SGM 06JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 4 / Friday, January 6, 2017 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Valley floor portion of Kern County. The permit applicants are currently preparing a complete draft of the BHCP as an HCP/NCCP, and the permitting agencies (Service and CDFW) are assisting and will be proceeding with agency review and finalization in the coming months. The permit applicants intend to apply for a 30-year incidental take permit (ITP) from the Service. The permittees are seeking authorized incidental take of threatened and endangered species that could result from activities covered under the BHCP. We announce meetings and invite comments. The Service will serve as the administrative lead for all actions related to this Federal Register notice for the EIS component of the EIS/EIR. The City of Bakersfield will serve as the State lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the EIR component. The City of Bakersfield, in accordance with CEQA, is publishing a similar notice. Project Summary The plan is being prepared under the combined efforts of the City of Bakersfield and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in coordination with Kern County and the CDFW. The BHCP will streamline and coordinate existing processes for review and permitting of public and private activities that potentially affect covered species (see Covered Species), while providing longterm conservation of covered species in the plan area. To meet this goal, the BHCP sets out a conservation strategy that includes measures to ensure that impacts to covered species and habitats related to covered activities (see Covered Activities) are avoided, minimized, and/ or mitigated, as appropriate. These covered activities encompass the range of existing and future activities that the City, County, private developers, or other permittees will implement within the permit area. These activities include urban and rural development and a variety of road, water, and other needed public infrastructure, construction, and maintenance activities. The BHCP is further intended to facilitate the role and responsibility of local government in overseeing local land use planning and decision-making while protecting endangered species in the area. Background Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) prohibits the ‘‘take’’ of wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened. The Act defines the term ‘‘take’’ as to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:06 Jan 05, 2017 Jkt 241001 collect listed species, or to attempt to engage in such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532). Harm includes significant habitat modifications or degradation that actually kill or injure listed wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, and sheltering (50 CFR 17.3(c)). Pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act, we may issue permits to authorize ‘‘incidental take’’ of listed species. ‘‘Incidental take’’ is defined by the Act as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Service regulations governing permits for threatened species and endangered species, respectively, are promulgated in 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act contains provisions for issuing such ITPs to nonFederal entities for the take of endangered and threatened species, provided the following criteria are met: • The take will be incidental; • The applicants will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking; • The applicants will develop a proposed HCP and ensure that adequate funding for the plan will be provided; • The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and • The applicants will carry out any other measures that the Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the HCP. Thus, the purpose of issuing an ITP is to allow the applicants, under their respective regional authority, to authorize development while conserving the covered species and their habitat. Implementation of a multispecies HCP, rather than a speciesby-species or project-by-project approach, will maximize the benefits of conservation measures for covered species and eliminate expensive and time-consuming efforts associated with processing individual ITPs for each project within the applicants’ proposed plan area. The Service expects that the permit applicants will request ITP coverage for a period of 30 years. Plan Area The plan area proposed is 2,259,627 acres, or 3,530 square miles. This plan area was developed to ensure that the natural resources that might be affected by covered activities can be adequately assessed at a regional scale and that sufficient mitigation opportunities are available. The northern boundary of the study area is defined by the Kern County border with Tulare and Kings Counties. PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 1751 The boundary encompasses land acquisition opportunities near existing protected areas on the southern San Joaquin Valley floor (e.g., Buttonwillow Ecological Reserve, Semitropic Ridge Natural Area, Kern National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Allensworth Ecological Reserve, and Pixley NWR). The western boundary of the study area runs along the shared border of Kern County and San Luis Obispo County. The southwestern boundary of the study area extends to the boundary with San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. The southern and southeastern boundary then follows the northern boundary of the Tehachapi Uplands Multi-Species HCP, which covers most of Tejon Ranch. The eastern boundary follows the ecological boundary between annual grassland of the San Joaquin Valley and oak woodlands. Covered Activities Covered activities include projects or ongoing activities that will receive incidental take authorization by the ESA and NCCP permits. Covered activities in the BHCP fall into eight general categories: 1. Urban development; 2. Transportation and circulation infrastructure; 3. Flood control; 4. Sewer and water treatment facilities; 5. Landfills; 6. Airports; 7. Conservation strategy implementation; and 8. Operations and maintenance activities in urban areas Covered Species Covered species are those species addressed in the proposed BHCP for which conservation actions will be implemented and for which the permit applicants will seek incidental take authorizations for a period of up to 30 years. Proposed covered species are expected to include threatened and endangered species listed under the Act, species listed under the CESA, and currently unlisted species that have the potential to become listed during the life of the BHCP and have some likelihood to occur within the BHCP plan area. The plan proposes coverage for 14 listed and non-listed species, which include 8 animal species and 6 plant species. These covered species are expected to be named on the ESA (Section 10) and NCCP Act (Section 2035) permits. The BHCP will provide long-term conservation and management of these species. The 14 covered species were identified on the E:\FR\FM\06JAN1.SGM 06JAN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 1752 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 4 / Friday, January 6, 2017 / Notices basis of an initial assessment of the effect of covered activities and conservation measures on 183 species that are listed or that could become listed during the permit term in the study area. The list of proposed covered species may change as the planning process progresses; species may be added or removed as more is learned about the nature of covered activities and their impact within the plan area. The following federally listed endangered wildlife species are proposed to be covered by the BHCP: Blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia silus), least Bell’s vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus), Buena Vista Lake shrew (Sorex ornatus relictus), Tipton kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides nitratoides), and San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica). The following unlisted wildlife species are proposed to be covered by the BHCP: Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni), western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea), and San Joaquin antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus nelsoni). Take as defined under the Act does not apply to listed plant species, and therefore cannot be authorized under a section 10 permit. However, the permit applicants propose to include plant species on the permit in recognition of the conservation benefits provided for them under an HCP. For the purposes of the plan, certain plant species are further included to meet regulatory obligations under section 7 of the Act and CESA. All species included on an ITP would receive assurances under the Service’s ‘‘No Surprises’’ regulations found in 50 CFR 17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5). The federally listed endangered San Joaquin woollythreads (Monolopia congdonii) and Bakersfield cactus (Opuntia treleasei) are proposed for inclusion in the BHCP in recognition of the conservation benefits provided for them under the BHCP. The following unlisted plant species are proposed for inclusion in the BHCP in recognition of the conservation benefits provided for them under the BHCP and the assurances permit holders would receive if they are included on a permit: Alkali mariposa-lily (Calochortus striatus), rose-flowered larkspur (Delphinium purpusii), recurved larkspur (Delphinium recurvatum), and Shevock’s golden-aster (Heterotheca shevockii). Environmental Impact Statement Before deciding whether to issue the requested Federal ITP, the Service will prepare a draft EIS in order to analyze the environmental impacts associated with issuance of the ITP. In the EIS VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:06 Jan 05, 2017 Jkt 241001 component of the EIS/EIR, the Service will consider the following alternatives: (1) The proposed action, which includes the issuance of take authorizations consistent with the proposed BHCP under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act; (2) no action (no permit issuance); and (3) a reasonable range of additional alternatives. The EIS/EIR will include a detailed analysis of the impacts of the proposed action and alternatives. The range of alternatives could include variations in impacts, conservation, permit duration, Covered Species, Covered Activities, Permit Area, or a combination of these elements. The EIS/EIR will identify and analyze potentially significant direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of our authorization of incidental take (permit issuance) and the implementation of the proposed BHCP on biological resources, land uses, utilities, air quality, water resources, cultural resources, socioeconomics and environmental justice, recreation, aesthetics, climate change and greenhouse gases, and other environmental issues that could occur with implementation of each alternative. The Service will also identify measures to avoid or minimize any significant effects of the proposed action on the quality of the human environment. Following completion of the environmental review, the Service will publish a notice of availability and a request for comment on the draft EIS/ EIR and the applicants’ permit application, which will include the proposed the BHCP. Request for Public Comments We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, Tribes, industry, or any other interested party on this notice. We will consider these comments in developing a draft EIS/EIR and in the development of an HCP and ITP. We particularly seek comments on the following: 1. Biological information concerning species in the proposed plan area; 2. Relevant data concerning these species; 3. Additional information concerning the range, distribution, population size, and population trends of the species; 4. Current or planned activities in the subject area and their possible impacts on the species; 5. The presence of archaeological sites, buildings and structures, historic events, sacred and traditional areas, and other historic preservation concerns, which are required to be considered in PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 project planning by the National Historic Preservation Act; and 6. Identification of any other environmental issues that should be considered with regard to the proposed development and permit action. You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. Public Availability of Comments Comments and materials we receive become part of the public record associated with this action; they will be available for public inspection by appointment during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the Service’s Sacramento address (see ADDRESSES). Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can request in your comment that we withhold your personal identifying 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. Scoping Meetings See DATES for the date and time of the scheduled public meeting. The purpose of the scoping meeting is to provide the public with a general understanding of the background of the proposed HCP and activities it would cover, alternative proposals under consideration for the draft EIS, and the Service’s role and steps to be taken to develop the draft EIS for the proposed HCP/NCCP. The primary purpose of these meetings and public comment period is to solicit suggestions and information on the scope of issues and alternatives for the Service to consider when drafting the EIS. Written comments will be accepted at the meeting. Comments can also be submitted by methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. Once the draft EIS and proposed HCP/NCCP are complete and made available for review, there will be additional opportunity for public comment on the content of these documents through additional public comment periods. Meeting Location Accommodations Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and participate in the public meetings E:\FR\FM\06JAN1.SGM 06JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 4 / Friday, January 6, 2017 / Notices should contact Thomas Leeman at (916) 414–6600 as soon as possible. In order to allow sufficient time to process requests, please call at least one week before the public meeting. Information regarding this proposed action is available in alternative formats upon request. Authority We publish this notice under the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1501.7, 1506.6, and 1508.22), as well as in compliance with section 10(c) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Dated: December 29, 2016. Alexandra Pitts, Deputy Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento, California. [FR Doc. 2017–00002 Filed 1–5–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [17X.LLAKF02000.L16100000.DR0000. LXSS094L0000] Notice of Availability of Records of Decision and Approved Resource Management Plans for the Four Subunits of the Eastern Interior Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announces the availability of the Records of Decision (RODs) for the Approved Resource Management Plans (RMPs) for the Fortymile, Draanjik, Steese, and White Mountains planning areas located in Eastern Interior Alaska. The Alaska State Director signed the RODs on December 30, 2016, which constitutes the final decision of the BLM and makes the Approved RMPs effective immediately. ADDRESSES: Copies of the RODs/ Approved RMPs are available upon request from the Field Manager, Eastern Interior Field Office, Bureau of Land Management, 222 University Avenue, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709 or via the internet at https://www.blm.gov/ programs/planning-and-nepa/plans-indevelopment/alaska/eastern-interiorrmp. Copies of the RODs/Approved RMPs are available for public inspection at the Fairbanks District Office, 222 University Avenue, Fairbanks, Alaska. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:06 Jan 05, 2017 Jkt 241001 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeanie Cole; telephone: 907–474–2340; address: 222 University Avenue, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709; email: j05cole@blm.gov. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1–800–877–8339 to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Eastern Interior planning process resulted in four RODs and Approved RMPs covering approximately 6.5 million acres of BLM-administered lands in interior Alaska: 1.8 million acres under the Fortymile Approved RMP (including the Fortymile Wild and Scenic River); 1.3 million acres under the Steese Approved RMP (including the Steese National Conservation Area and Birch Creek Wild and Scenic River); 2.4 million acres under the Draanjik Approved RMP; and 1 million acres under the White Mountains Approved RMP (including the White Mountains National Recreation Area and Beaver Creek Wild and Scenic River). The Approved RMPs describe the actions and landscape-level conservation and management needed to meet desired resource conditions and objectives for upland and riparian vegetation, fish and wildlife habitats, cultural resources, water and wetland resources, wilderness characteristics, recreation, and mineral development. The Approved RMPs designate three Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs): the Salmon Fork ACEC in the Draanjik Approved RMP, and the Fortymile ACEC and the Mosquito Flats ACEC in the Fortymile Approved RMP. Additionally, four Research Natural Areas (RNAs) are carried forward as valid existing administrative designations in the Steese and White Mountains Approved RMPs: Big Windy Hot Springs (Steese), Mount Prindle (Steese and White Mountains), Limestone Jags (White Mountains), and Serpentine Slide (White Mountains) RNAs. The Eastern Interior Field Office used the wild and scenic river inventory conducted for the Eastern Interior planning process to identify outstandingly remarkable values for Birch Creek, Beaver Creek, and Fortymile wild and scenic rivers because these values were not identified in the designating legislation. Section 2.1.3 of each Approved RMP identifies outstandingly Remarkable Values. PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 1753 Values for Birch Creek are scenic, recreation, and fisheries; values for Beaver Creek are scenic, recreation, geologic, fisheries, and wildlife; values for the Fortymile River vary by segment and include scenic, recreation, geologic, historic, and wildlife. The Eastern Interior RMP/EIS was subject to extensive public review. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Notice of Availability for the Eastern Interior Draft RMP/Draft EIS in the Federal Register on March 2, 2012 (77 FR 12835), beginning a 150day public comment period that was later extended pending publication of a supplemental EIS. The EPA published the Notice of Availability of the supplemental EIS, Hardrock Mineral Leasing in the White Mountains National Recreation Area for the Eastern Interior Draft RMP (Supplement), in the Federal Register on January 11, 2013 (78 FR 2397), beginning a 90-day public comment period on the Supplement. The comment period for both the Eastern Interior Draft RMP/Draft EIS and the Hardrock Mineral Leasing Supplement closed on April 11, 2013. The BLM published a Notice of Availability of Additional Information on Proposed Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) (80 FR 52) in the Federal Register on January 2, 2015, beginning a 60-day comment period on two proposed ACECs. That comment period closed on March 3, 2015. The preferred alternative in the Draft RMP/EIS was Alternative C. The Proposed RMP/Final EIS added Alternative E as the Proposed RMP. This Alternative E was a revised version of Alternative C, based on public comment and tribal consultation. Alternative E represented the mix and variety of actions that the BLM believed best resolved the issues and management concerns in consideration of all values and programs. Alternative E was a minor variation of the alternatives analyzed in the Draft RMP/EIS and was within the spectrum of alternatives analyzed in the Draft. The Proposed RMP/Final EIS considered five rivers to be eligible for potential designation as Wild and Scenic Rivers, but the RODs do not determine them to be suitable for designation as Wild and Scenic Rivers, instead protecting them through other means. The EPA published a Notice of Availability for the Eastern Interior Proposed RMP/Final EIS in the Federal Register on July 29, 2016. The BLM provided a 30-day protest period for the Proposed RMP/Final EIS in accordance with 43 CFR part 1610.5–2. The BLM Director received nine protest letters. E:\FR\FM\06JAN1.SGM 06JAN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 4 (Friday, January 6, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 1750-1753]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-00002]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2016-N166; FF08ESMF00-FXES11120800000-156]


Proposed Bakersfield Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community 
Conservation Plan, California; Scoping for Environmental Impact 
Statement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

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

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

SUMMARY: Under the National Environmental Policy Act, we, the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, intend to prepare a draft environmental impact 
statement (EIS) for the proposed habitat conservation plan/natural 
community conservation plan for the City of Bakersfield, hereafter 
referred to as the Bakersfield Habitat Conservation Plan (BHCP). The 
BHCP will streamline and coordinate existing processes for review and 
permitting of public and private activities that potentially affect 
covered species, while providing long-term conservation of covered 
species in the plan area. The draft EIS is being prepared under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, and the California Natural 
Community Conservation Planning Act. We announce meetings and invite 
comments.

DATES: 
    Submitting Comments: To ensure consideration, please send your 
written comments by February 21, 2017.
    Public Meeting: A public scoping meeting will be held on Tuesday, 
January 24, 2017: From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The meeting will take place in 
the 3rd floor conference room, City of Bakersfield Community 
Development Department, 1715 Chester Avenue, Bakersfield, CA 93301.

ADDRESSES: To request further information or submit written comments, 
please use one of the following methods, and note that your information 
request or comment is in reference to the Bakersfield Habitat 
Conservation Plan:
     U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish 
and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, CA 
95825.
     In-Person Drop-Off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call (916) 414-
6600 to make an appointment during regular business hours to drop off 
comments or view received comments at the above location.
     Fax: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (916) 414-6713, 
Attn.: Thomas Leeman.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Justin Sloan, Senior Biologist, or 
Thomas Leeman, Chief, San Joaquin Valley Division, Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office, by phone at (916) 414-6600 or by U.S. mail at the 
above address. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, 
please call the Federal Information Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Introduction

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to prepare 
a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) to evaluate the impacts of 
several alternatives related to the potential issuance of an incidental 
take permit (ITP), as well as impacts of the implementation of the 
supporting proposed habitat conservation plan/natural community 
conservation plan, which we will refer to as the Bakersfield Habitat 
Conservation Plan (BHCP). The EIS will be a joint EIS/environmental 
impact report (EIS/EIR), for which the Service, City of Bakersfield, 
and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) intend to 
gather information necessary for preparation.
    The BHCP is designed to be a comprehensive regional plan that will 
provide long-term conservation and management of natural communities, 
sensitive species, and the habitats upon which those species depend, 
while accommodating other important uses of the land. It is intended to 
serve as a habitat conservation plan pursuant to the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; Act), and as a natural 
community conservation plan under the California Natural Community 
Conservation Planning Act.
    The BHCP will address State and Federal endangered species 
compliance requirements for the City of Bakersfield, Kern County, 
California State University-Bakersfield, Bakersfield College, and 
individual school districts within the BHCP plan area. The plan area 
generally includes the San Joaquin

[[Page 1751]]

Valley floor portion of Kern County. The permit applicants are 
currently preparing a complete draft of the BHCP as an HCP/NCCP, and 
the permitting agencies (Service and CDFW) are assisting and will be 
proceeding with agency review and finalization in the coming months. 
The permit applicants intend to apply for a 30-year incidental take 
permit (ITP) from the Service. The permittees are seeking authorized 
incidental take of threatened and endangered species that could result 
from activities covered under the BHCP. We announce meetings and invite 
comments.
    The Service will serve as the administrative lead for all actions 
related to this Federal Register notice for the EIS component of the 
EIS/EIR. The City of Bakersfield will serve as the State lead agency 
under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the EIR 
component. The City of Bakersfield, in accordance with CEQA, is 
publishing a similar notice.

Project Summary

    The plan is being prepared under the combined efforts of the City 
of Bakersfield and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in coordination 
with Kern County and the CDFW. The BHCP will streamline and coordinate 
existing processes for review and permitting of public and private 
activities that potentially affect covered species (see Covered 
Species), while providing long-term conservation of covered species in 
the plan area.
    To meet this goal, the BHCP sets out a conservation strategy that 
includes measures to ensure that impacts to covered species and 
habitats related to covered activities (see Covered Activities) are 
avoided, minimized, and/or mitigated, as appropriate. These covered 
activities encompass the range of existing and future activities that 
the City, County, private developers, or other permittees will 
implement within the permit area. These activities include urban and 
rural development and a variety of road, water, and other needed public 
infrastructure, construction, and maintenance activities. The BHCP is 
further intended to facilitate the role and responsibility of local 
government in overseeing local land use planning and decision-making 
while protecting endangered species in the area.

Background

    Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) prohibits the 
``take'' of wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened. The 
Act defines the term ``take'' as to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect listed species, or to attempt to 
engage in such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532). Harm includes significant 
habitat modifications or degradation that actually kill or injure 
listed wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral 
patterns, including breeding, feeding, and sheltering (50 CFR 17.3(c)). 
Pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act, we may issue permits to 
authorize ``incidental take'' of listed species. ``Incidental take'' is 
defined by the Act as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose 
of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Service regulations 
governing permits for threatened species and endangered species, 
respectively, are promulgated in 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32.
    Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act contains provisions for issuing such 
ITPs to non-Federal entities for the take of endangered and threatened 
species, provided the following criteria are met:
     The take will be incidental;
     The applicants will, to the maximum extent practicable, 
minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking;
     The applicants will develop a proposed HCP and ensure that 
adequate funding for the plan will be provided;
     The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of 
the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and
     The applicants will carry out any other measures that the 
Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes 
of the HCP.
    Thus, the purpose of issuing an ITP is to allow the applicants, 
under their respective regional authority, to authorize development 
while conserving the covered species and their habitat. Implementation 
of a multispecies HCP, rather than a species-by-species or project-by-
project approach, will maximize the benefits of conservation measures 
for covered species and eliminate expensive and time-consuming efforts 
associated with processing individual ITPs for each project within the 
applicants' proposed plan area. The Service expects that the permit 
applicants will request ITP coverage for a period of 30 years.

Plan Area

    The plan area proposed is 2,259,627 acres, or 3,530 square miles. 
This plan area was developed to ensure that the natural resources that 
might be affected by covered activities can be adequately assessed at a 
regional scale and that sufficient mitigation opportunities are 
available.
    The northern boundary of the study area is defined by the Kern 
County border with Tulare and Kings Counties. The boundary encompasses 
land acquisition opportunities near existing protected areas on the 
southern San Joaquin Valley floor (e.g., Buttonwillow Ecological 
Reserve, Semitropic Ridge Natural Area, Kern National Wildlife Refuge 
(NWR), Allensworth Ecological Reserve, and Pixley NWR). The western 
boundary of the study area runs along the shared border of Kern County 
and San Luis Obispo County. The southwestern boundary of the study area 
extends to the boundary with San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura 
Counties. The southern and southeastern boundary then follows the 
northern boundary of the Tehachapi Uplands Multi-Species HCP, which 
covers most of Tejon Ranch. The eastern boundary follows the ecological 
boundary between annual grassland of the San Joaquin Valley and oak 
woodlands.

Covered Activities

    Covered activities include projects or ongoing activities that will 
receive incidental take authorization by the ESA and NCCP permits. 
Covered activities in the BHCP fall into eight general categories:
    1. Urban development;
    2. Transportation and circulation infrastructure;
    3. Flood control;
    4. Sewer and water treatment facilities;
    5. Landfills;
    6. Airports;
    7. Conservation strategy implementation; and
    8. Operations and maintenance activities in urban areas

Covered Species

    Covered species are those species addressed in the proposed BHCP 
for which conservation actions will be implemented and for which the 
permit applicants will seek incidental take authorizations for a period 
of up to 30 years. Proposed covered species are expected to include 
threatened and endangered species listed under the Act, species listed 
under the CESA, and currently unlisted species that have the potential 
to become listed during the life of the BHCP and have some likelihood 
to occur within the BHCP plan area. The plan proposes coverage for 14 
listed and non-listed species, which include 8 animal species and 6 
plant species. These covered species are expected to be named on the 
ESA (Section 10) and NCCP Act (Section 2035) permits. The BHCP will 
provide long-term conservation and management of these species. The 14 
covered species were identified on the

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basis of an initial assessment of the effect of covered activities and 
conservation measures on 183 species that are listed or that could 
become listed during the permit term in the study area. The list of 
proposed covered species may change as the planning process progresses; 
species may be added or removed as more is learned about the nature of 
covered activities and their impact within the plan area.
    The following federally listed endangered wildlife species are 
proposed to be covered by the BHCP: Blunt-nosed leopard lizard 
(Gambelia silus), least Bell's vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus), Buena 
Vista Lake shrew (Sorex ornatus relictus), Tipton kangaroo rat 
(Dipodomys nitratoides nitratoides), and San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes 
macrotis mutica).
    The following unlisted wildlife species are proposed to be covered 
by the BHCP: Swainson's hawk (Buteo swainsoni), western burrowing owl 
(Athene cunicularia hypugaea), and San Joaquin antelope squirrel 
(Ammospermophilus nelsoni).
    Take as defined under the Act does not apply to listed plant 
species, and therefore cannot be authorized under a section 10 permit. 
However, the permit applicants propose to include plant species on the 
permit in recognition of the conservation benefits provided for them 
under an HCP. For the purposes of the plan, certain plant species are 
further included to meet regulatory obligations under section 7 of the 
Act and CESA. All species included on an ITP would receive assurances 
under the Service's ``No Surprises'' regulations found in 50 CFR 
17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5). The federally listed endangered San 
Joaquin woollythreads (Monolopia congdonii) and Bakersfield cactus 
(Opuntia treleasei) are proposed for inclusion in the BHCP in 
recognition of the conservation benefits provided for them under the 
BHCP. The following unlisted plant species are proposed for inclusion 
in the BHCP in recognition of the conservation benefits provided for 
them under the BHCP and the assurances permit holders would receive if 
they are included on a permit: Alkali mariposa-lily (Calochortus 
striatus), rose-flowered larkspur (Delphinium purpusii), recurved 
larkspur (Delphinium recurvatum), and Shevock's golden-aster 
(Heterotheca shevockii).

Environmental Impact Statement

    Before deciding whether to issue the requested Federal ITP, the 
Service will prepare a draft EIS in order to analyze the environmental 
impacts associated with issuance of the ITP. In the EIS component of 
the EIS/EIR, the Service will consider the following alternatives: (1) 
The proposed action, which includes the issuance of take authorizations 
consistent with the proposed BHCP under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act; 
(2) no action (no permit issuance); and (3) a reasonable range of 
additional alternatives. The EIS/EIR will include a detailed analysis 
of the impacts of the proposed action and alternatives. The range of 
alternatives could include variations in impacts, conservation, permit 
duration, Covered Species, Covered Activities, Permit Area, or a 
combination of these elements.
    The EIS/EIR will identify and analyze potentially significant 
direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of our authorization of 
incidental take (permit issuance) and the implementation of the 
proposed BHCP on biological resources, land uses, utilities, air 
quality, water resources, cultural resources, socioeconomics and 
environmental justice, recreation, aesthetics, climate change and 
greenhouse gases, and other environmental issues that could occur with 
implementation of each alternative. The Service will also identify 
measures to avoid or minimize any significant effects of the proposed 
action on the quality of the human environment.
    Following completion of the environmental review, the Service will 
publish a notice of availability and a request for comment on the draft 
EIS/EIR and the applicants' permit application, which will include the 
proposed the BHCP.

Request for Public Comments

    We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the 
public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific 
community, Tribes, industry, or any other interested party on this 
notice. We will consider these comments in developing a draft EIS/EIR 
and in the development of an HCP and ITP. We particularly seek comments 
on the following:
    1. Biological information concerning species in the proposed plan 
area;
    2. Relevant data concerning these species;
    3. Additional information concerning the range, distribution, 
population size, and population trends of the species;
    4. Current or planned activities in the subject area and their 
possible impacts on the species;
    5. The presence of archaeological sites, buildings and structures, 
historic events, sacred and traditional areas, and other historic 
preservation concerns, which are required to be considered in project 
planning by the National Historic Preservation Act; and
    6. Identification of any other environmental issues that should be 
considered with regard to the proposed development and permit action.
    You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods 
listed in the ADDRESSES section.

Public Availability of Comments

    Comments and materials we receive become part of the public record 
associated with this action; they will be available for public 
inspection by appointment during normal business hours (Monday through 
Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the Service's Sacramento address (see 
ADDRESSES). Before including your address, phone number, email address, 
or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should 
be aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
request in your comment that we withhold your personal identifying 
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.

Scoping Meetings

    See DATES for the date and time of the scheduled public meeting. 
The purpose of the scoping meeting is to provide the public with a 
general understanding of the background of the proposed HCP and 
activities it would cover, alternative proposals under consideration 
for the draft EIS, and the Service's role and steps to be taken to 
develop the draft EIS for the proposed HCP/NCCP.
    The primary purpose of these meetings and public comment period is 
to solicit suggestions and information on the scope of issues and 
alternatives for the Service to consider when drafting the EIS. Written 
comments will be accepted at the meeting. Comments can also be 
submitted by methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. Once the draft 
EIS and proposed HCP/NCCP are complete and made available for review, 
there will be additional opportunity for public comment on the content 
of these documents through additional public comment periods.

Meeting Location Accommodations

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meetings

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should contact Thomas Leeman at (916) 414-6600 as soon as possible. In 
order to allow sufficient time to process requests, please call at 
least one week before the public meeting. Information regarding this 
proposed action is available in alternative formats upon request.

Authority

    We publish this notice under the National Environmental Policy Act 
(42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 
1501.7, 1506.6, and 1508.22), as well as in compliance with section 
10(c) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: December 29, 2016.
Alexandra Pitts,
Deputy Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific 
Southwest Region, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 2017-00002 Filed 1-5-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P