Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Incidental Take Permit Application; Draft Range-Wide General Conservation Plan for Utah Prairie Dogs and Environmental Assessment, 60211-60212 [2017-27250]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 242 / Tuesday, December 19, 2017 / Notices Dated: December 13, 2017. Melanie J. Pantoja, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy. [FR Doc. 2017–27225 Filed 12–18–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140–01–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2017–0073; FF06E23000–178–FXES11140600000] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Incidental Take Permit Application; Draft Range-Wide General Conservation Plan for Utah Prairie Dogs and Environmental Assessment Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability of the following documents for review and comment by the public and Federal, Tribal, State, and local governments: • Draft Range-wide General Conservation Plan for Utah Prairie Dogs (GCP); • Draft Implementing Agreement for the GCP; and • Draft Environment Assessment of the GCP (EA). We prepared the draft GCP to fulfill the requirements of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for issuing permits to authorize take of Utah prairie dogs incidental to development activities within the range of the species in Utah. The draft GCP is designed to streamline incidental take permit authorization for many types of development activities while conserving the species. As required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), we also prepared a draft EA that analyzes the potential effects to the natural and human environment from issuing permits to Iron, Beaver, and Garfield Counties and from overall implementation of the GCP, including potential issuance of master or individual permits over the 10-year term of the proposed GCP. DATES: Comment submission: To ensure consideration in our analyses, comments must be submitted or postmarked by January 18, 2018. ADDRESSES: Document availability: The draft GCP, EA, and Implementing Agreement are available via the internet at the Federal eRulemaking Portal (www.regulations.gov) in Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2017–0073. Information sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:47 Dec 18, 2017 Jkt 244001 regarding these documents is available in alternative formats upon request (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Documents will also be available for public inspection by appointment (call 801–975–3330) during normal business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah Ecological Services Field Office, 2369 W. Orton Circle, #50, West Valley City, UT 84119. Submitting comments: To send written comments, please use one of the following methods, and note that your information requests or comments are in reference to the draft GCP. Please specify which of the documents your comment addresses. • Internet: Submit comments at http://www.regulations.gov to Docket Number FWS–R6–ES–2017–0073. • U.S. Mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R6– ES–2017–0073; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041– 3803. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura Romin, 801–975–3330, extension 142 (phone), or laura_romin@fws.gov (email). If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech disabled, please call the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of the following documents for review and comment by the public and Federal, Tribal, State, and local governments: • Draft Range-wide General Conservation Plan for Utah Prairie Dogs (GCP); • Draft Implementing Agreement for the GCP; and • Draft Environment Assessment of the GCP (EA). We prepared the draft GCP to fulfill the requirements of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; ESA) for issuing permits to authorize take of Utah prairie dogs incidental to development activities within the range of the species in Utah. The draft GCP is designed to streamline take authorization for many types of development activities while conserving the species. Iron, Beaver, and Garfield Counties, in Utah, are applying for master incidental take permits under the GCP for development activities in those counties. Under their master permits, each county would provide take authorization through certificates of inclusion to project proponents who agree to adhere to the conditions of the GCP and the relevant county’s master permit. Project proponents in other counties within the GCP’s plan area PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60211 would apply directly to the Service for their own incidental take permits. Other counties and municipalities may apply to the Service for a master permit for their area of jurisdiction. The Utah prairie dog (Cynomys parvidens) is listed as threatened under the ESA and is the sole species covered by the GCP. The draft GCP incorporates elements of the Utah Division of Resources’ Utah Prairie Dog Management Plan for Non-Federal Lands, as well as other conservation measures to meet ESA requirements for issuing incidental take permits. As required by the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; NEPA), we prepared a draft EA that analyzes the potential effects to the natural and human environment from issuing permits to Iron, Beaver, and Garfield Counties and overall implementation of the GCP, including potential issuance of other master or individual permits over the 10-year term of the proposed GCP. For future decisions to issue permits under the GCP, we would use the analysis in this EA, as appropriate, in accordance with NEPA and relevant case law. As required by the ESA, we would make any future master or individual permit applications under the GCP available for public comment. In the draft EA, we also analyze the potential impacts to the natural and human environment from issuing permits in the future for projects outside Iron, Beaver, and Garfield Counties, and from implementing two alternatives to the proposed action. The draft EA also identifies alternatives that we considered but eliminated from further analysis. Background Section 9 of the ESA prohibits take of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered (16 U.S.C. 1538). Under section 3 of the ESA, the term ‘‘take’’ means to ‘‘harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct’’ (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term ‘‘harm’’ is defined in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations as ‘‘an act which actually kills or injures wildlife. Such acts may include significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering’’ (50 CFR 17.3). The term ‘‘harass’’ is defined in the regulations as to carry out ‘‘an intentional or negligent act or omission which creates the likelihood of injury to wildlife by annoying it to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns which include, but E:\FR\FM\19DEN1.SGM 19DEN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 60212 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 242 / Tuesday, December 19, 2017 / Notices are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering’’ (50 CFR 17.3). Under section 10(a) of the ESA, the Service may issue permits to authorize incidental take of listed fish and wildlife species. ‘‘Incidental take’’ is defined by the ESA as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA contains provisions for issuing incidental take permits to non-Federal entities for the incidental take of endangered and threatened species, provided the following criteria are met: • The taking will be incidental. • The applicant will minimize and mitigate, to the maximum extent practicable, the impact of such taking. • The applicant will develop an 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. • The applicant will carry out any other measures that the Secretary of the Interior may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the HCP. Regulations governing permits for threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.32. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) requires that Federal agencies conduct an environmental analysis of their proposed actions to determine whether the actions may significantly affect the human environment. Under NEPA and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1500 et seq.; 43 CFR 46), Federal agencies must also compare effects of a reasonable range of alternatives to the proposed action. In these analyses, the Federal agency will identify potentially significant direct, indirect, and cumulative effects, as well as possible mitigation for any significant effects, on biological resources, land uses, and other human and environmental resources that could occur with the implementation of the proposed action and alternatives. In accordance with NEPA, we prepared a draft EA to analyze the impacts to the natural and human environment that may occur if the Service were to issue master permits to Iron, Beaver, and Garfield Counties and individual permits to project proponents outside these counties and from implementation of the GCP across the range of the Utah prairie dog. Proposed Action We propose to make the GCP available to non-Federal parties within the range of the Utah prairie dog for use when they are applying for incidental take permits for development activities. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:47 Dec 18, 2017 Jkt 244001 We also propose, at this time, to issue 10-year master permits for incidental take of the Utah prairie dog to Iron, Beaver, and Garfield Counties, if applications from these counties demonstrate commitments to implement the requirements of the GCP to meet all the ESA section 10(a)(1)(B) permit issuance criteria. The master permits would authorize take of the Utah prairie dog incidental to activities associated with residential and commercial development and infrastructure construction, operations, and maintenance. Each county would convey take authorization under its permit to individual project proponents who apply for certificates of inclusion under the GCP. We also propose to issue individual permits to project proponents and master permits to other counties and municipalities as they submit applications over the 10-year term of the GCP. The GCP’s plan area encompasses the entire current range of the Utah prairie dog, which includes all or parts of Iron, Garfield, Wayne, Beaver, Piute, Sevier, and Kane Counties. Individual permits we issue under the GCP would cover the area within which take is expected to occur from each project. The master permits for Iron, Beaver, and Garfield Counties would include any areas where take may occur from covered activities within those counties. The GCP identifies two zones where take would be authorized for development activities: (1) Major development areas—Non-Federal lands that are already built out or adjacent to built-out areas, and (2) Minor Development Areas—Non-Federal lands that are less likely than the major development areas to have large-scale human development growth over the term of the GCP. The GCP’s measures to minimize and mitigate the impacts of the take include prairie dog translocations, habitat and plague management at translocation sites, and the protection of occupied Utah prairie dog habitats, all of which are consistent with our recovery objectives for this species. The overall conservation goals include: (1) Establishing and augmenting prairie dog colonies on Federal and other protected lands through translocations, and (2) Establishing conservation easements or acquiring lands from willing sellers to protect existing prairie dog colonies on private other non-Federal lands to support connectivity and metapopulation viability. Implementation of the conservation measures would rely on a combination of efforts by the Utah Division of Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. State funds and fees paid by developers obtaining a permit or certificate of inclusion would pay for implementation of the conservation measures. Alternatives Analyzed in the Draft Environmental Assessment In the draft EA, we evaluate the effects on the natural and human environment from two alternatives to the proposed action: (1) No action (i.e., no GCP), and (2) Issuing a master permit to each county that prepares an HCP with a permit application. The draft EA considers the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the two action alternatives, including measures intended to avoid, minimize, and mitigate such impacts. Public Comments We request information, views, and opinions from the public specifically on our proposed Federal action, including but not limited to any other aspects of the human environment not already identified in the draft EA. We also solicit information regarding the adequacy of the GCP in meeting the requirements of 50 CFR parts 13 and 17. Written comments received become part of the public record associated with this action. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you may 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. Authority: We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and its implementing regulations for incidental take permits (50 CFR 17.22) and NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6; 43 CFR part 46). Dated: October 2, 2017. Michael G. Thabault, Assistant Regional Director–Ecological Services, Mountain-Prairie Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lakewood, Colorado. [FR Doc. 2017–27250 Filed 12–18–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P E:\FR\FM\19DEN1.SGM 19DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 242 (Tuesday, December 19, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 60211-60212]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-27250]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2017-0073; FF06E23000-178-FXES11140600000]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Incidental Take 
Permit Application; Draft Range-Wide General Conservation Plan for Utah 
Prairie Dogs and Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the 
availability of the following documents for review and comment by the 
public and Federal, Tribal, State, and local governments:
     Draft Range-wide General Conservation Plan for Utah 
Prairie Dogs (GCP);
     Draft Implementing Agreement for the GCP; and
     Draft Environment Assessment of the GCP (EA).
    We prepared the draft GCP to fulfill the requirements of the 
Endangered Species Act (ESA) for issuing permits to authorize take of 
Utah prairie dogs incidental to development activities within the range 
of the species in Utah. The draft GCP is designed to streamline 
incidental take permit authorization for many types of development 
activities while conserving the species. As required by the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), we also prepared a draft EA that 
analyzes the potential effects to the natural and human environment 
from issuing permits to Iron, Beaver, and Garfield Counties and from 
overall implementation of the GCP, including potential issuance of 
master or individual permits over the 10-year term of the proposed GCP.

DATES: Comment submission: To ensure consideration in our analyses, 
comments must be submitted or postmarked by January 18, 2018.

ADDRESSES: Document availability: The draft GCP, EA, and Implementing 
Agreement are available via the internet at the Federal eRulemaking 
Portal (www.regulations.gov) in Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2017-0073. 
Information regarding these documents is available in alternative 
formats upon request (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Documents 
will also be available for public inspection by appointment (call 801-
975-3330) during normal business hours at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Utah Ecological Services Field Office, 2369 W. Orton Circle, 
#50, West Valley City, UT 84119.
    Submitting comments: To send written comments, please use one of 
the following methods, and note that your information requests or 
comments are in reference to the draft GCP. Please specify which of the 
documents your comment addresses.
     Internet: Submit comments at http://www.regulations.gov to 
Docket Number FWS-R6-ES-2017-0073.
     U.S. Mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. 
FWS-R6-ES-2017-0073; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: 
BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura Romin, 801-975-3330, extension 
142 (phone), or [email protected] (email). If you use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech 
disabled, please call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), announce the availability of the following documents for 
review and comment by the public and Federal, Tribal, State, and local 
governments:
     Draft Range-wide General Conservation Plan for Utah 
Prairie Dogs (GCP);
     Draft Implementing Agreement for the GCP; and
     Draft Environment Assessment of the GCP (EA).
    We prepared the draft GCP to fulfill the requirements of the 
Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; ESA) for issuing 
permits to authorize take of Utah prairie dogs incidental to 
development activities within the range of the species in Utah. The 
draft GCP is designed to streamline take authorization for many types 
of development activities while conserving the species. Iron, Beaver, 
and Garfield Counties, in Utah, are applying for master incidental take 
permits under the GCP for development activities in those counties. 
Under their master permits, each county would provide take 
authorization through certificates of inclusion to project proponents 
who agree to adhere to the conditions of the GCP and the relevant 
county's master permit. Project proponents in other counties within the 
GCP's plan area would apply directly to the Service for their own 
incidental take permits. Other counties and municipalities may apply to 
the Service for a master permit for their area of jurisdiction.
    The Utah prairie dog (Cynomys parvidens) is listed as threatened 
under the ESA and is the sole species covered by the GCP. The draft GCP 
incorporates elements of the Utah Division of Resources' Utah Prairie 
Dog Management Plan for Non-Federal Lands, as well as other 
conservation measures to meet ESA requirements for issuing incidental 
take permits.
    As required by the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.; NEPA), we prepared a draft EA that analyzes the potential 
effects to the natural and human environment from issuing permits to 
Iron, Beaver, and Garfield Counties and overall implementation of the 
GCP, including potential issuance of other master or individual permits 
over the 10-year term of the proposed GCP. For future decisions to 
issue permits under the GCP, we would use the analysis in this EA, as 
appropriate, in accordance with NEPA and relevant case law. As required 
by the ESA, we would make any future master or individual permit 
applications under the GCP available for public comment. In the draft 
EA, we also analyze the potential impacts to the natural and human 
environment from issuing permits in the future for projects outside 
Iron, Beaver, and Garfield Counties, and from implementing two 
alternatives to the proposed action. The draft EA also identifies 
alternatives that we considered but eliminated from further analysis.

Background

    Section 9 of the ESA prohibits take of fish and wildlife species 
listed as endangered (16 U.S.C. 1538). Under section 3 of the ESA, the 
term ``take'' means to ``harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, 
kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to engage in any such 
conduct'' (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term ``harm'' is defined in title 
50 of the Code of Federal Regulations as ``an act which actually kills 
or injures wildlife. Such acts may include significant habitat 
modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife 
by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including 
breeding, feeding, or sheltering'' (50 CFR 17.3). The term ``harass'' 
is defined in the regulations as to carry out ``an intentional or 
negligent act or omission which creates the likelihood of injury to 
wildlife by annoying it to such an extent as to significantly disrupt 
normal behavioral patterns which include, but

[[Page 60212]]

are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering'' (50 CFR 17.3).
    Under section 10(a) of the ESA, the Service may issue permits to 
authorize incidental take of listed fish and wildlife species. 
``Incidental take'' is defined by the ESA as take that is incidental 
to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. 
Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA contains provisions for issuing 
incidental take permits to non-Federal entities for the incidental take 
of endangered and threatened species, provided the following criteria 
are met:
     The taking will be incidental.
     The applicant will minimize and mitigate, to the maximum 
extent practicable, the impact of such taking.
     The applicant will develop an 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.
     The applicant will carry out any other measures that the 
Secretary of the Interior may require as being necessary or appropriate 
for the purposes of the HCP.
    Regulations governing permits for threatened species are at 50 CFR 
17.32.
    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.) requires that Federal agencies conduct an environmental analysis 
of their proposed actions to determine whether the actions may 
significantly affect the human environment. Under NEPA and its 
implementing regulations (40 CFR 1500 et seq.; 43 CFR 46), Federal 
agencies must also compare effects of a reasonable range of 
alternatives to the proposed action. In these analyses, the Federal 
agency will identify potentially significant direct, indirect, and 
cumulative effects, as well as possible mitigation for any significant 
effects, on biological resources, land uses, and other human and 
environmental resources that could occur with the implementation of the 
proposed action and alternatives. In accordance with NEPA, we prepared 
a draft EA to analyze the impacts to the natural and human environment 
that may occur if the Service were to issue master permits to Iron, 
Beaver, and Garfield Counties and individual permits to project 
proponents outside these counties and from implementation of the GCP 
across the range of the Utah prairie dog.

Proposed Action

    We propose to make the GCP available to non-Federal parties within 
the range of the Utah prairie dog for use when they are applying for 
incidental take permits for development activities. We also propose, at 
this time, to issue 10-year master permits for incidental take of the 
Utah prairie dog to Iron, Beaver, and Garfield Counties, if 
applications from these counties demonstrate commitments to implement 
the requirements of the GCP to meet all the ESA section 10(a)(1)(B) 
permit issuance criteria. The master permits would authorize take of 
the Utah prairie dog incidental to activities associated with 
residential and commercial development and infrastructure construction, 
operations, and maintenance. Each county would convey take 
authorization under its permit to individual project proponents who 
apply for certificates of inclusion under the GCP. We also propose to 
issue individual permits to project proponents and master permits to 
other counties and municipalities as they submit applications over the 
10-year term of the GCP.
    The GCP's plan area encompasses the entire current range of the 
Utah prairie dog, which includes all or parts of Iron, Garfield, Wayne, 
Beaver, Piute, Sevier, and Kane Counties. Individual permits we issue 
under the GCP would cover the area within which take is expected to 
occur from each project. The master permits for Iron, Beaver, and 
Garfield Counties would include any areas where take may occur from 
covered activities within those counties.
    The GCP identifies two zones where take would be authorized for 
development activities: (1) Major development areas--Non-Federal lands 
that are already built out or adjacent to built-out areas, and (2) 
Minor Development Areas--Non-Federal lands that are less likely than 
the major development areas to have large-scale human development 
growth over the term of the GCP.
    The GCP's measures to minimize and mitigate the impacts of the take 
include prairie dog translocations, habitat and plague management at 
translocation sites, and the protection of occupied Utah prairie dog 
habitats, all of which are consistent with our recovery objectives for 
this species. The overall conservation goals include: (1) Establishing 
and augmenting prairie dog colonies on Federal and other protected 
lands through translocations, and (2) Establishing conservation 
easements or acquiring lands from willing sellers to protect existing 
prairie dog colonies on private other non-Federal lands to support 
connectivity and metapopulation viability. Implementation of the 
conservation measures would rely on a combination of efforts by the 
Utah Division of Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest 
Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. State funds and fees paid 
by developers obtaining a permit or certificate of inclusion would pay 
for implementation of the conservation measures.

Alternatives Analyzed in the Draft Environmental Assessment

    In the draft EA, we evaluate the effects on the natural and human 
environment from two alternatives to the proposed action: (1) No action 
(i.e., no GCP), and (2) Issuing a master permit to each county that 
prepares an HCP with a permit application.
    The draft EA considers the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects 
of the two action alternatives, including measures intended to avoid, 
minimize, and mitigate such impacts.

Public Comments

    We request information, views, and opinions from the public 
specifically on our proposed Federal action, including but not limited 
to any other aspects of the human environment not already identified in 
the draft EA. We also solicit information regarding the adequacy of the 
GCP in meeting the requirements of 50 CFR parts 13 and 17.
    Written comments received become part of the public record 
associated with this action. Before including your address, phone 
number, email address, or other personal identifying information in 
your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment--including 
your personal identifying information--may be made publicly available 
at any time. While you may 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.

    Authority: We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the ESA 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and its implementing regulations for 
incidental take permits (50 CFR 17.22) and NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6; 43 CFR part 
46).

    Dated: October 2, 2017.
Michael G. Thabault,
Assistant Regional Director-Ecological Services, Mountain-Prairie 
Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lakewood, Colorado.
[FR Doc. 2017-27250 Filed 12-18-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P