Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan and Categorical Exclusion; Gaver Ranch, Castroville, Monterey County, California, 40784-40786 [2018-17669]

Download as PDF 40784 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 159 / Thursday, August 16, 2018 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES • In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call 360–753–5823 to make an appointment (necessary for viewing or picking up documents only) during regular business hours at the above address. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tim Romanski, Conservation Planning and Hydropower Branch Manager, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES), telephone: 360–753–5823. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, please call the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Service received an application for an ITP pursuant to Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. The applicant requests a 3-year permit term that would authorize ‘‘take’’ of the threatened Yelm pocket gopher (Thomomys mazama yelmensis), hereafter referred to as Yelm pocket gopher, incidental to construction of one single-family home on land the applicant owns in Thurston County, Washington. The application includes a HCP that describes actions the applicant will take to minimize and mitigate the impacts of the taking on the covered species. Background Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531) prohibits ‘‘take’’ of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened. 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 to 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). Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA contains provisions that authorize the Service to issue permits to non-Federal entities for the take of endangered and threatened species caused by otherwise lawful activities, provided the following criteria are met: (1) The taking will be incidental; (2) the applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking; (3) the applicant will ensure that adequate funding for the plan will be VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:15 Aug 15, 2018 Jkt 244001 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. Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened species are found in 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively. Proposed Action The Service proposes to issue the requested 3-year ITP based on the applicant’s commitment to implement the HCP, if permit issuance criteria are met. Covered activities include construction of a single-family home and an agricultural building. The area covered under the HCP consists of an approximately one-half acre project development site and an approximately one acre conservation site on land owned by the applicant. Take of the Yelm pocket gopher would occur within the half-acre development site and will be offset by granting Thurston County a perpetual conservation easement over an acre of occupied habitat, for the purpose of ensuring that it is perpetually managed for the benefit of the covered species. Funding for management of the conservation easement would be assured. The applicant may have the conservation easement released in the future if it purchases credits from a Serviceapproved conservation bank for the Yelm pocket gopher, which would provide equivalent or greater conservation benefits to the species. At present, no such conservation bank exists. Public Comments You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We specifically request information, views, and suggestions from interested parties regarding our proposed Federal action, including adequacy of the HCP pursuant to the requirements for permits at 50 CFR parts 13 and 17 and adequacy of the EAS pursuant to NEPA. 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 PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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 will be available for public inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at our Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES). Authority We provide this notice in accordance with the requirements of section 10 of the ESA and NEPA and their implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.32 and 40 CFR 1506.6, respectively). Theresa E. Rabot, Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2018–17668 Filed 8–15–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R8–ES–2018–N055; FXES11130800000–189–FF08EVEN00] Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan and Categorical Exclusion; Gaver Ranch, Castroville, Monterey County, California Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comment. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have received an application from Midnight Sun, Inc., for a 20-year incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The application addresses the potential for ‘‘take’’ of the federally threatened California redlegged frog and California tiger salamander that is likely to occur incidental to ongoing agricultural activities, flood and erosion control activities, and habitat restoration at Gaver Ranch near the community of Castroville in unincorporated Monterey County, California. We invite comments from the public on the application package, which includes a low-effect habitat conservation plan. DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by September 17, 2018. ADDRESSES: SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\16AUN1.SGM 16AUN1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 159 / Thursday, August 16, 2018 / Notices Document availability: You may download a copy of the habitat conservation plan, draft environmental action statement and low-effect screening form, and related documents on the internet at https://www.fws.gov/ ventura/, or you may request copies of the documents by U.S. mail to our Ventura office (see address below) or by phone (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Comment submission: Please address written comments to Stephen P. Henry, Field Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003. You alternatively may send comments by facsimile to (805) 644–3958. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Chad Mitcham, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, (805) 677–3328. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We have received an application from Midnight Sun, Inc., for a 20-year incidental take permit under the Act. The application addresses the potential for ‘‘take’’ of the federally threatened California redlegged frog (Rana draytonii) and California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) likely to occur incidental to ongoing agricultural activities, flood and erosion control activities, and habitat restoration at Gaver Ranch, 15740 Blackie Road (Assessor Parcel Numbers (APNs): 133–012–001 and 133–012–007), near Castroville in unincorporated Monterey County, California. We invite comments from the public on the application package, which includes a low-effect habitat conservation plan. This proposed action has been determined to be eligible for a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Background The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) added the California redlegged frog to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (‘‘listed’’) as threatened on May 23, 1996 (61 FR 25813), and the Service listed the California tiger salamander in central California as threatened on August 4, 2004 (69 FR 47212). This list is found in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.11. Section 9 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and its implementing regulations prohibit the take of fish or wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened. ‘‘Take’’ is defined under the Act to include the following activities: ‘‘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. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:15 Aug 15, 2018 Jkt 244001 1532); however, under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act, we may issue permits to authorize incidental take of listed species. The Act defines ‘‘incidental take’’ as take that is not the purpose of carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing incidental take permits for threatened and endangered species are provided at 50 CFR 17.32 and 17.22, respectively. Issuance of an incidental take permit and actions undertaken through implementation of the habitat conservation plan (HCP) must not jeopardize the existence of federally listed fish, wildlife, or plant species. All species covered by an incidental take permit receive assurances under our ‘‘No Surprises’’ regulations (50 CFR 17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5)). In addition, the Service has issued regulations for these species under section 4(d) of the Act. These regulations state that incidental take as the result of routine ranching activities will not be a violation of the take provisions of section 9 of the Act. The section 4(d) regulations for the California tiger salamander are located at 50 CFR 17.43(c) and for the California red-legged frog at 50 CFR 17.43(d). Applicant’s Proposal Midnight Sun Inc. (hereafter, the applicant), has submitted a low-effect HCP in support of their application for an incidental take permit (ITP) to address take of the California red-legged frog and California tiger salamander that is likely to occur as the result of direct impacts on up to 9.5 acres of suitable habitat occupied by the species. Take would be associated with ongoing agricultural activities, flood and erosion control activities, and habitat restoration on two existing parcels legally described as APNs: 133–012–001 and 133–012– 007. Ultimately, the project intends to improve drainage infrastructure to avoid on- and offsite flooding that has been occurring since 2011. The current site address is 15740 Blackie Road near Castroville in unincorporated Monterey County, California. This property is outside the critical habitat designations for these species as set forth in 50 CFR 17.95(d). The applicant is requesting a permit for take of the California red-legged frog and California tiger salamander that would result from ‘‘covered activities’’ that are related to ongoing agricultural operations. A 20-year ITP is requested to authorize take that would occur incidental to the proposed project. The applicant proposes to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to the California red-legged frog and California tiger salamander associated with the covered PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 40785 activities by fully implementing the HCP. The following measures will be implemented: (1) A qualified biologist will conduct an education program for all persons employed or otherwise working in the project area. The program will cover species identification and ecology, legal protections afforded the species, and species-specific conservation measures. The education program will be attended by all onsite construction personnel, and those personnel will be directed to cease work and immediately contact a biologist permitted to capture and relocate the subject species if any are observed in an area to be impacted. (2) Each day prior to work beginning, a designated biologist or biological monitor will inspect the work area for the covered species. If an individual of the covered species is found in an area to be impacted, all work in that area will cease and a Service-approved biologist immediately notified. Work will cease until the individual moves from the area on its own accord or until the Serviceapproved biologist captures and relocates the individual to the nearest suitable habitat not affected by project activities. (3) To the maximum extent practicable, construction activities will be limited to daylight hours. (4) The applicant will not use erosion control materials that contain monofilament netting or similar material that can result in the entanglement of the covered species and other wildlife. (5) Soil stockpiles will be fully stabilized to prevent erodible materials entering the covered species’ aquatic habitats. (6) Onsite restoration and management of 8.9 acres of upland and dispersal habitat will occur in order for the covered species to continue to utilize the project site. (7) Permanent protection of 1.5 acres of habitat for the California red-legged frog and California tiger salamander will be ensured through the purchase of multispecies credits at the Sparling Ranch Conservation Bank in San Benito County, California. The applicant will fund up to $1,556,976 to ensure implementation of all minimization measures, monitoring, and reporting requirements identified in the HCP. In the proposed HCP, the applicant considers two alternatives to the proposed action: ‘‘No Action’’ and ‘‘Redesigned Project.’’ Under the ‘‘No Action’’ alternative, an ITP for the proposed project would not be issued. The proposed conservation strategy consisting of onsite management of 8.9 acres of upland and dispersal habitat E:\FR\FM\16AUN1.SGM 16AUN1 40786 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 159 / Thursday, August 16, 2018 / Notices and the purchase of conservation credits would not be provided to effect recovery actions for the impacted species. The ‘‘No Action’’ alternative would not result in needed improvements to reduce the risk of on- and offsite flooding and would not result in benefits for the covered species; therefore, the applicant has rejected the ‘‘No Action’’ alternative. Under the ‘‘Redesigned Project’’ alternative, the applicant would further reduce the area of the proposed project to the smallest possible footprint; however, the Redesigned Project would not realistically accomplish the project goal of the reduction of on- and offsite flooding risk. Under this alternative, the applicant would not achieve the desired goal of reduced flooding risk, and fewer conservation credits would be purchased to effect recovery; therefore, the applicant has also rejected the ‘‘Redesigned Project’’ alternative. Our Preliminary Determination The Service has made a preliminary determination that issuance of the incidental take permit is neither a major Federal action that will significantly affect the quality of the human environment within the meaning of section 102(2)(C) of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) nor that it will, individually or cumulatively, have more than a negligible effect on the California red-legged frog and California tiger salamander. Therefore, in accordance with this preliminary determination, the permit qualifies for a categorical exclusion under NEPA. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Next Steps We will evaluate the permit application, including the plan and comments we receive, to determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. We will also evaluate whether issuance of the ITP would comply with section 7(a)(2) of the Act by conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation. Public Review We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Act and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended, and NEPA’s public involvement regulations (40 CFR 1500.1(b), 1500.2(d), and 1506.6). We are requesting comments on our determination that the applicant’s proposal will have a minor or negligible effect on the California red-legged frog and California tiger salamander, and that the plan qualifies as a low-effect HCP as defined by our Habitat Conservation Planning Handbook. We will evaluate the permit application, VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:15 Aug 15, 2018 Jkt 244001 including the plan and comments we receive, to determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. We will use the results of our internal Service consultation, in combination with the above findings, in our final analysis to determine whether to issue the permit. If the requirements are met, we will issue an ITP to the applicant for the incidental take of California red-legged frog and California tiger salamander. We will make the final permit decision no sooner than 30 days after the date of this notice. Public Comments If you wish to comment on the permit application, HCP, and associated documents, you may submit comments by one of the methods described in 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 ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public view, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Authority We provide this notice under section 10 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). Dated: August 10 2018. Stephen P. Henry, Field Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, Ventura, California. [FR Doc. 2018–17669 Filed 8–15–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service [NPS–WASO–NRNHL–DTS#–26141; PPWOCRADI0, PCU00RP14.R50000] National Register of Historic Places; Notification of Pending Nominations and Related Actions National Park Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The National Park Service is soliciting comments on the significance of properties nominated before July 27, 2018, for listing or related actions in the National Register of Historic Places. DATES: Comments should be submitted by August 31, 2018. ADDRESSES: Comments may be sent via U.S. Postal Service and all other carriers SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 to the National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, 1849 C St. NW, MS 7228, Washington, DC 20240. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The properties listed in this notice are being considered for listing or related actions in the National Register of Historic Places. Nominations for their consideration were received by the National Park Service before July 27, 2018. Pursuant to Section 60.13 of 36 CFR part 60, written comments are being accepted concerning the significance of the nominated properties under the National Register criteria for evaluation. 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 ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Nominations submitted by State Historic Preservation Officers: ALABAMA Baldwin County American Legion Post 199, 700 S Mobile St., Fairhope, SG100002858 INDIANA Carroll County American House Hotel, 205 Michigan Rd., Burlington, SG100002859 Elkhart County Selmer, H. & A., Inc. Factory, 1119 N Main St., Elkhart, SG100002860 Grant County Marion PCC & St. Louis Railroad Depot, 1002 S Washington St., Marion, SG100002861 Howard County Greentown Commercial Historic District, 1/2 blk. on either side of Meridian St. between Walnut and Grant, Greentown, SG100002862 Madison County Anderson High School Wigwam, 1229 Lincoln St., Anderson, SG100002863 Marshall County Arnold, Isaac and Ruth, House, 1003 N Main St., Bourbon, SG100002864 Rush County Mount Pleasant Beech Church and Beech Cemetery, E side of Cty. Rd. 725 W between Cty. Rds. 1000 N & 1100 N, Carthage vicinity, SG100002865 Sullivan County Sullivan Courthouse Square Historic District, Roughly bounded by Section, Wall, State & Harris Sts., Sullivan, SG100002867 E:\FR\FM\16AUN1.SGM 16AUN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 159 (Thursday, August 16, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 40784-40786]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-17669]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2018-N055; FXES11130800000-189-FF08EVEN00]


Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan and Categorical Exclusion; 
Gaver Ranch, Castroville, Monterey County, California

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comment.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have received an 
application from Midnight Sun, Inc., for a 20-year incidental take 
permit under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The 
application addresses the potential for ``take'' of the federally 
threatened California red-legged frog and California tiger salamander 
that is likely to occur incidental to ongoing agricultural activities, 
flood and erosion control activities, and habitat restoration at Gaver 
Ranch near the community of Castroville in unincorporated Monterey 
County, California. We invite comments from the public on the 
application package, which includes a low-effect habitat conservation 
plan.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
September 17, 2018.

ADDRESSES: 

[[Page 40785]]

    Document availability: You may download a copy of the habitat 
conservation plan, draft environmental action statement and low-effect 
screening form, and related documents on the internet at https://www.fws.gov/ventura/, or you may request copies of the documents by 
U.S. mail to our Ventura office (see address below) or by phone (see 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).
    Comment submission: Please address written comments to Stephen P. 
Henry, Field Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003. 
You alternatively may send comments by facsimile to (805) 644-3958.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Chad Mitcham, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, (805) 677-3328.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We have received an application from 
Midnight Sun, Inc., for a 20-year incidental take permit under the Act. 
The application addresses the potential for ``take'' of the federally 
threatened California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) and California 
tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) likely to occur incidental 
to ongoing agricultural activities, flood and erosion control 
activities, and habitat restoration at Gaver Ranch, 15740 Blackie Road 
(Assessor Parcel Numbers (APNs): 133-012-001 and 133-012-007), near 
Castroville in unincorporated Monterey County, California. We invite 
comments from the public on the application package, which includes a 
low-effect habitat conservation plan. This proposed action has been 
determined to be eligible for a categorical exclusion under the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended.

Background

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) added the California 
red-legged frog to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife 
(``listed'') as threatened on May 23, 1996 (61 FR 25813), and the 
Service listed the California tiger salamander in central California as 
threatened on August 4, 2004 (69 FR 47212). This list is found in title 
50 of the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.11. Section 9 of the 
Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and its implementing regulations prohibit 
the take of fish or wildlife species listed as endangered or 
threatened. ``Take'' is defined under the Act to include the following 
activities: ``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); however, under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act, we may 
issue permits to authorize incidental take of listed species. The Act 
defines ``incidental take'' as take that is not the purpose of carrying 
out an otherwise lawful activity.
    Regulations governing incidental take permits for threatened and 
endangered species are provided at 50 CFR 17.32 and 17.22, 
respectively. Issuance of an incidental take permit and actions 
undertaken through implementation of the habitat conservation plan 
(HCP) must not jeopardize the existence of federally listed fish, 
wildlife, or plant species. All species covered by an incidental take 
permit receive assurances under our ``No Surprises'' regulations (50 
CFR 17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5)). In addition, the Service has issued 
regulations for these species under section 4(d) of the Act. These 
regulations state that incidental take as the result of routine 
ranching activities will not be a violation of the take provisions of 
section 9 of the Act. The section 4(d) regulations for the California 
tiger salamander are located at 50 CFR 17.43(c) and for the California 
red-legged frog at 50 CFR 17.43(d).

Applicant's Proposal

    Midnight Sun Inc. (hereafter, the applicant), has submitted a low-
effect HCP in support of their application for an incidental take 
permit (ITP) to address take of the California red-legged frog and 
California tiger salamander that is likely to occur as the result of 
direct impacts on up to 9.5 acres of suitable habitat occupied by the 
species. Take would be associated with ongoing agricultural activities, 
flood and erosion control activities, and habitat restoration on two 
existing parcels legally described as APNs: 133-012-001 and 133-012-
007. Ultimately, the project intends to improve drainage infrastructure 
to avoid on- and offsite flooding that has been occurring since 2011. 
The current site address is 15740 Blackie Road near Castroville in 
unincorporated Monterey County, California. This property is outside 
the critical habitat designations for these species as set forth in 50 
CFR 17.95(d).
    The applicant is requesting a permit for take of the California 
red-legged frog and California tiger salamander that would result from 
``covered activities'' that are related to ongoing agricultural 
operations. A 20-year ITP is requested to authorize take that would 
occur incidental to the proposed project. The applicant proposes to 
avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to the California red-legged frog 
and California tiger salamander associated with the covered activities 
by fully implementing the HCP. The following measures will be 
implemented:
    (1) A qualified biologist will conduct an education program for all 
persons employed or otherwise working in the project area. The program 
will cover species identification and ecology, legal protections 
afforded the species, and species-specific conservation measures. The 
education program will be attended by all onsite construction 
personnel, and those personnel will be directed to cease work and 
immediately contact a biologist permitted to capture and relocate the 
subject species if any are observed in an area to be impacted.
    (2) Each day prior to work beginning, a designated biologist or 
biological monitor will inspect the work area for the covered species. 
If an individual of the covered species is found in an area to be 
impacted, all work in that area will cease and a Service-approved 
biologist immediately notified. Work will cease until the individual 
moves from the area on its own accord or until the Service-approved 
biologist captures and relocates the individual to the nearest suitable 
habitat not affected by project activities.
    (3) To the maximum extent practicable, construction activities will 
be limited to daylight hours.
    (4) The applicant will not use erosion control materials that 
contain monofilament netting or similar material that can result in the 
entanglement of the covered species and other wildlife.
    (5) Soil stockpiles will be fully stabilized to prevent erodible 
materials entering the covered species' aquatic habitats.
    (6) Onsite restoration and management of 8.9 acres of upland and 
dispersal habitat will occur in order for the covered species to 
continue to utilize the project site.
    (7) Permanent protection of 1.5 acres of habitat for the California 
red-legged frog and California tiger salamander will be ensured through 
the purchase of multispecies credits at the Sparling Ranch Conservation 
Bank in San Benito County, California. The applicant will fund up to 
$1,556,976 to ensure implementation of all minimization measures, 
monitoring, and reporting requirements identified in the HCP.
    In the proposed HCP, the applicant considers two alternatives to 
the proposed action: ``No Action'' and ``Redesigned Project.'' Under 
the ``No Action'' alternative, an ITP for the proposed project would 
not be issued. The proposed conservation strategy consisting of onsite 
management of 8.9 acres of upland and dispersal habitat

[[Page 40786]]

and the purchase of conservation credits would not be provided to 
effect recovery actions for the impacted species. The ``No Action'' 
alternative would not result in needed improvements to reduce the risk 
of on- and offsite flooding and would not result in benefits for the 
covered species; therefore, the applicant has rejected the ``No 
Action'' alternative. Under the ``Redesigned Project'' alternative, the 
applicant would further reduce the area of the proposed project to the 
smallest possible footprint; however, the Redesigned Project would not 
realistically accomplish the project goal of the reduction of on- and 
offsite flooding risk. Under this alternative, the applicant would not 
achieve the desired goal of reduced flooding risk, and fewer 
conservation credits would be purchased to effect recovery; therefore, 
the applicant has also rejected the ``Redesigned Project'' alternative.

Our Preliminary Determination

    The Service has made a preliminary determination that issuance of 
the incidental take permit is neither a major Federal action that will 
significantly affect the quality of the human environment within the 
meaning of section 102(2)(C) of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) nor that 
it will, individually or cumulatively, have more than a negligible 
effect on the California red-legged frog and California tiger 
salamander. Therefore, in accordance with this preliminary 
determination, the permit qualifies for a categorical exclusion under 
NEPA.

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the permit application, including the plan and 
comments we receive, to determine whether the application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. We will also evaluate 
whether issuance of the ITP would comply with section 7(a)(2) of the 
Act by conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation.

Public Review

    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Act and the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended, and NEPA's 
public involvement regulations (40 CFR 1500.1(b), 1500.2(d), and 
1506.6). We are requesting comments on our determination that the 
applicant's proposal will have a minor or negligible effect on the 
California red-legged frog and California tiger salamander, and that 
the plan qualifies as a low-effect HCP as defined by our Habitat 
Conservation Planning Handbook. We will evaluate the permit 
application, including the plan and comments we receive, to determine 
whether the application meets the requirements of section 10(a)(1)(B) 
of the Act. We will use the results of our internal Service 
consultation, in combination with the above findings, in our final 
analysis to determine whether to issue the permit. If the requirements 
are met, we will issue an ITP to the applicant for the incidental take 
of California red-legged frog and California tiger salamander. We will 
make the final permit decision no sooner than 30 days after the date of 
this notice.

Public Comments

    If you wish to comment on the permit application, HCP, and 
associated documents, you may submit comments by one of the methods 
described in 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 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public view, we cannot guarantee that we will be able 
to do so.

Authority

    We provide this notice under section 10 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 
et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: August 10 2018.
Stephen P. Henry,
Field Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, Ventura, 
California.
[FR Doc. 2018-17669 Filed 8-15-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P