Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement; Amendment to the 1997 Washington State Department of Natural Resources State Lands Habitat Conservation Plan and Incidental Take Permit, 45458-45460 [2018-19298]

Download as PDF 45458 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 174 / Friday, September 7, 2018 / Notices DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R1–ES–2018–N106; FXES11140100000–189–FF01E00000] Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement; Amendment to the 1997 Washington State Department of Natural Resources State Lands Habitat Conservation Plan and Incidental Take Permit Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have jointly developed with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) a revised draft environmental impact statement (RDEIS) addressing an amendment to the 1997 WDNR State Lands Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to cover the implementation of a LongTerm Conservation Strategy (LTCS) for the marbled murrelet. The RDEIS also addresses an amendment to the Endangered Species Act incidental take permit (ITP) for take of marbled murrelet resulting from the implementation of the LTCS. The RDEIS is intended to satisfy the requirements of both the National Environmental Policy Act and the Washington State Environmental Policy Act. If approved, the proposed LTCS will replace an interim marbled murrelet conservation strategy that is currently being implemented under the WDNR HCP. DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by November 6, 2018. ADDRESSES: To view the pertinent documents for this proposal, request further information, or submit comments, please use one of the following methods, and note that your information request or comments are in reference to FWS–R1–ES–2018–N106. • Internet: You can view the RDEIS on the internet at www.fws.gov/ WWFWO/ or at www.dnr.wa.gov/longterm-conservation-strategy-marbledmurrelet. • Hard Copy: Contact one of the sources listed in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT to request hard copies. • Email: Comments may be submitted electronically to WDNR at sepacenter@ dnr.wa.gov. WDNR will transmit all comments received to the Service. • U.S. Mail: Comments may also be submitted in writing to: Todd Welker, SEPA Center, Washington Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 47001, daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:55 Sep 06, 2018 Jkt 244001 Olympia, WA 98504–7015. WDNR will transmit all comments received to the Service. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Please contact either of the following: • Mark Ostwald, by telephone at 360– 753–9564, by email at Mark_Ostwald@ fws.gov, or by U.S. mail at Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 510 Desmond Dr., Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503; or • Todd Welker, SEPA Center, WDNR, by telephone at 360–902–2117, or by email at sepacenter@dnr.wa.gov. You may alternatively contact either of the above individuals via the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have jointly developed with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) a revised draft environmental impact statement (RDEIS) addressing an amendment to the 1997 WDNR State Lands Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to cover the implementation of a Long-Term Conservation Strategy (LTCS) for the marbled murrelet. The RDEIS also addresses an amendment to the Endangered Species Act section 10 incidental take permit (ITP) for take of marbled murrelet resulting from the implementation of the LTCS. The RDEIS is intended to satisfy the requirements of both the National Environmental Policy Act and the Washington State Environmental Policy Act. If approved, the proposed LTCS will replace an interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet, which is currently being implemented under the WDNR HCP. The Service and WDNR have jointly developed a RDEIS for the purpose of analyzing alternatives for the LTCS for the marbled murrelet. The RDEIS analyses seven action alternatives and a no action alternative. If approved, the amended ITP would authorize incidental take of the marbled murrelet that would occur as a result of implementation of the LTCS over the remaining 50-year term of the WDNR HCP. The scope of the proposed amendment to the WDNR HCP and ITP, and thus of the RDEIS, is exclusively limited to consideration of the LTCS for the marbled murrelet. In addition to this notice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also publishing a notice announcing the availability of the RDEIS, as required under section 309 of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.). The publication of EPA’s notice is the official start of the public comment period for the RDEIS (see EPA’s Role in the EIS Process). PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Background The marbled murrelet (Brachyamphus marmoratus), a seabird, was listed as threatened in 1992 under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). In 1996, the WDNR released their draft HCP for forest management activities covering 1.6 million acres of forested State trust lands within the range of the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) in Washington. A draft EIS dated March 1996 was jointly developed by the Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the WDNR to address the issuance of ITPs for the HCP, and was announced in the Federal Register on April 5, 1996 (61 FR 15297). The 1996 draft EIS analyzed reasonable alternatives, including the HCP, for forest management activities on forested State trust lands that would be covered by the ITPs. A notice of availability for the final EIS (FEIS) was published in the Federal Register on November 1, 1996 (61 FR 56563). On January 30, 1997, the Service issued an ITP (Permit No. 812521) for the WDNR HCP covering multiple species. The Service’s ITP decision and the availability of related decision documents were announced in the Federal Register on February 27, 1997 (62 FR 8980). The WDNR HCP (see www.dnr.wa.gov/programs-andservices/forest-resources/habitatconservation-state-trust-lands) commits the WDNR to developing a LTCS for the marbled murrelet (HCP IV. 39). At the time the HCP was prepared, it was determined that development of a LTCS was not possible due to a lack of scientific information. For this reason, the WDNR developed an interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet, which is currently being implemented. The proposed amendment to the WDNR HCP is the final step in the process for development of the LTCS. Briefly, the interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet includes the following components: (1) Identification of blocks of suitable marbled murrelet habitat on which timber harvest would be deferred; (2) Implementation of a habitat relationship study using marbled murrelet occupancy surveys to determine the relative importance of forested habitats; (3) Based on the findings of the habitat relationship study, identification of the lowest quality habitat blocks to be made available for timber harvest (these areas were expected to contain about 5 percent of the marbled murreletoccupied sites on HCP-covered lands); E:\FR\FM\07SEN1.SGM 07SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 174 / Friday, September 7, 2018 / Notices daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES (4) Implementation of surveys of higher quality habitat blocks identified by the habitat relationship study to determine marbled murrelet occupancy, and protection of murrelet-occupied habitats, along with some unoccupied habitat; and (5) Development of a LTCS for the marbled murrelet on WDNR lands. A Federal Register notice of availability (81 FR 89135) for a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the LTCS was published for a 90-day comment period on December 9, 2016. The 2016 DEIS did not specify a preferred alternative. The public comment period for the 2016 DEIS was 90 days, and over 5,000 comments were received. In 2017, the WDNR selected a preferred alternative with guidance from the Washington Board of Natural Resources, necessitating development of an RDEIS. This alternative was submitted in an application to the Service requesting a permit amendment in July 2018. This RDEIS differs from the 2016 DEIS in the following ways: (1) The WDNR has developed and selected a preferred WDNR alternative (alternative H), which was not previously identified; (2) a new alternative (alternative G) has been included in response to specific public comments; (3) the WDNR forest estate model, or large data overlay model, has been rerun with WDNRidentified corrections, resulting in different acreage outputs for all the alternatives; (4) the WDNR and the Service have identified separate purpose and needs statements in Chapter 1; and (5) the marbled murrelet population viability analysis has been rerun with modifications. Endangered Species Act Compliance Section 9 of the ESA prohibits take of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened under section 4 of the ESA. Under the ESA, the term ‘‘take’’ means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532(19)). The term ‘‘harm,’’ as defined in our regulations, includes significant habitat modification or degradation that results in death or injury to listed species by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). The term ‘‘harass’’ is defined in our regulations as intentional or negligent actions that create the likelihood of injury to listed species to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns, which include but are not limited to breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:55 Sep 06, 2018 Jkt 244001 45459 However, under specified circumstances, the Service may issue permits that authorize take of federally listed species, provided the take is incidental to, and not the purpose of, an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA contains provisions for issuing ITPs to nonFederal entities for the take of endangered and threatened species, provided the following criteria are met: (1) The taking will be incidental; (2) The applicant will prepare a conservation plan that, to the maximum extent practicable, identifies the steps the applicant will take to minimize and mitigate the impact of such taking; (3) The applicant will ensure that adequate funding for the plan will be provided; (4) The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and (5) The applicant will carry out any other measures that the Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the plan. forest land designated for long-term conservation of the murrelet. Alternatives also include a variety of conservation measures proposed to protect marbled murrelet habitat. The alternatives also differ in the amount and quality of marbled murrelet habitat removed through timber harvest. National Environmental Policy Act Compliance The proposed amendment of the ITP and the 1997 WDNR HCP to cover the LTCS for the marble murrelet is a Federal action that triggers the need for compliance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). We and WDNR have jointly developed the RDEIS for the purpose of analyzing the environmental impacts of different alternatives for the LTCS under the HCP and ITP. The RDEIS analyzes the DNR’s preferred alternative, six additional alternatives, and a no-action alternative, for a total of eight alternatives. WDNR manages approximately 1.38 million acres within 55 miles of marine waters, which is the known inland limit of the nesting range for the marbled murrelet. The RDEIS analyzes Alternative H as DNR’s preferred alternative. The Service is not presently identifying a preferred alternative, but will for the final environmental impact statement (FEIS). The no-action alternative involves continuation of the interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet under the WDNR HCP. The alternatives in the RDEIS are restricted to implementation within this area. The alternatives represent a range of approaches to long-term marbled murrelet habitat conservation on WDNR lands. The alternatives differ in the amount and location of WDNR-managed Public Meetings We will hold four public meetings during the public comment period, at the following locations in the State of Washington: Ballard, Burlington, Cathlamet, and Forks. The dates, times, and specific locations of the meetings will be posted on the internet at https:// www.dnr.wa.gov/mmltcs. The public meetings will be physically accessible to people with disabilities. Please direct requests for reasonable accommodations (e.g., auxiliary aids or sign language interpretation) to one of the sources listed in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, at least 7 working days prior to the date of the meeting you wish to attend. PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 EPA’s Role in the EIS Process The EPA is charged under section 309 of the Clean Air Act to review all Federal agencies’ EISs and to comment on the adequacy and the acceptability of the environmental impacts of proposed actions in the EISs. EPA also serves as the repository (EIS database) for EISs prepared by Federal agencies and provides notice of their availability in the Federal Register. The EIS database provides information about EISs prepared by Federal agencies, as well as EPA’s comments concerning the EISs. All EISs are filed with EPA, which publishes a notice of availability on Fridays in the Federal Register. For more information, see https:// www.epa.gov/nepa. You may search for EPA comments on EISs, along with EISs themselves, at https://cdxnodengn.epa. gov/cdx-enepa-public/action/eis/search. Public Comments You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We will also accept written comments at four public meetings, to be announced. We specifically request information on the following: 1. Biological information on the marbled murrelet in the terrestrial and marine environments; 2. Cumulative effects on the environment that might influence the status of the marbled murrelet in the ESA listed range; 3. Resiliency of the alternatives in providing current and future marbled murrelet habitat in relation to climate E:\FR\FM\07SEN1.SGM 07SEN1 45460 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 174 / Friday, September 7, 2018 / Notices change and future natural disturbance events such as fire and windstorms; 4. Adequacy of the distribution of marbled murrelet habitat within the HCP covered area to provide for murrelet conservation over the remaining term of the HCP; 5. Other aspects of the human environment not already identified in the DEIS that may be affected, pursuant to NEPA regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 1506.6. Comments received from the 2016 DEIS public comment period were used to inform the RDEIS. Comments received on the DEIS and this RDEIS will be responded to in the FEIS. If you submitted comments during the comment period for the DEIS, you do not need to resubmit those comments. daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Public Availability of Comments All comments and materials we receive become part of the public record associated with this action. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information in your comments, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personally identifiable information— may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personally identifiable information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their entirety. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we use in preparing the FEIS, will be available for public inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at our Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES). Next Steps The HCP amendment for the LTCS is intended to replace the interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet. We will evaluate that request, associated documents, and public comments in reaching a final decision on whether the application for a permit amendment meets the requirements of section 10 of the ESA. We will prepare responses to public comments and publish a notice of availability for the FEIS. The FEIS will identify the WDNR preferred alternative for the amendment, and also the Service’s preferred alternative. We will also evaluate whether the proposed permit action VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:55 Sep 06, 2018 Jkt 244001 would comply with section 7 of the ESA by conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation. We will use the results of this consultation, in combination with the above findings, in our final analysis to determine whether or not to approve the proposed amendment of the WDNR HCP and ITP. If the ESA section 10 issuance requirements are met, we will approve the amendment of the ITP and HCP. We will issue a record of decision and approve or deny the ITP and HCP amendment request by WDNR no sooner than 30 days after publication of the notice of availability of the FEIS. Authority We provide this notice in accordance with the requirements of section 10(c) of the ESA and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32) and NEPA and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). Theresa E. Rabot, Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2018–19298 Filed 9–6–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Geological Survey [GX18GC009PLSG00; OMB Control Number 1028–0088] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (EDMAP and STATEMAP) U.S. Geological Survey, Interior. ACTION: Notice of Information Collection; request for comment. AGENCY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, we, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are proposing to renew an information collection. SUMMARY: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before October 9, 2018. ADDRESSES: Send written comments on this information collection request (ICR) to the Office of Management and Budget’s Desk Officer for the Department of the Interior by email at OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov; or via facsimile to (202) 395–5806. Please provide a copy of your comments to USGS, Information Collections Clearance Officer, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, MS 159, Reston, VA 20192; or by email to gs-info_collections@usgs.gov. DATES: PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Please reference OMB Control Number 1028–0088 in the subject line of your comments. To request additional information about this ICR, contact Darcy McPhee by email at dmcphee@usgs.gov, or by telephone at 703–648–6973. You may also view the ICR at https://www.reginfo.gov/ public/do/PRAMain. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the USGS, in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, provide the general public and other Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed, revised, and continuing collections of information. This helps us assess the impact of our information collection requirements and minimize the public’s reporting burden. It also helps the public understand our information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format. A Federal Register notice with a 60day public comment period soliciting comments on this collection of information was published on April 24, 2018 (FR 2018–08458). No comments were received. We are again soliciting comments on the proposed ICR that is described below. We are especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) Is the collection necessary to the proper functions of the USGS; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the USGS enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the USGS minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology. Comments that you submit in response to this notice are a matter of public record. 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 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. Abstract: EDMAP is the educational component of the NCGMP that is intended to train the next generation of geologic mappers. The primary objective of the STATEMAP component of the NCGMP is to establish the geologic FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: E:\FR\FM\07SEN1.SGM 07SEN1

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[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 174 (Friday, September 7, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 45458-45460]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-19298]



[[Page 45458]]

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-ES-2018-N106; FXES11140100000-189-FF01E00000]


Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement; Amendment to the 
1997 Washington State Department of Natural Resources State Lands 
Habitat Conservation Plan and Incidental Take Permit

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have jointly 
developed with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources 
(WDNR) a revised draft environmental impact statement (RDEIS) 
addressing an amendment to the 1997 WDNR State Lands Habitat 
Conservation Plan (HCP) to cover the implementation of a Long-Term 
Conservation Strategy (LTCS) for the marbled murrelet. The RDEIS also 
addresses an amendment to the Endangered Species Act incidental take 
permit (ITP) for take of marbled murrelet resulting from the 
implementation of the LTCS. The RDEIS is intended to satisfy the 
requirements of both the National Environmental Policy Act and the 
Washington State Environmental Policy Act. If approved, the proposed 
LTCS will replace an interim marbled murrelet conservation strategy 
that is currently being implemented under the WDNR HCP.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
November 6, 2018.

ADDRESSES: To view the pertinent documents for this proposal, request 
further information, or submit comments, please use one of the 
following methods, and note that your information request or comments 
are in reference to FWS-R1-ES-2018-N106.
     Internet: You can view the RDEIS on the internet at 
www.fws.gov/WWFWO/ or at www.dnr.wa.gov/long-term-conservation-strategy-marbled-murrelet.
     Hard Copy: Contact one of the sources listed in FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT to request hard copies.
     Email: Comments may be submitted electronically to WDNR at 
[email protected]. WDNR will transmit all comments received to the 
Service.
     U.S. Mail: Comments may also be submitted in writing to: 
Todd Welker, SEPA Center, Washington Department of Natural Resources, 
P.O. Box 47001, Olympia, WA 98504-7015. WDNR will transmit all comments 
received to the Service.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Please contact either of the 
following:
     Mark Ostwald, by telephone at 360-753-9564, by email at 
[email protected], or by U.S. mail at Washington Fish and Wildlife 
Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 510 Desmond Dr., Suite 102, 
Lacey, WA 98503; or
     Todd Welker, SEPA Center, WDNR, by telephone at 360-902-
2117, or by email at [email protected].
    You may alternatively contact either of the above individuals via 
the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), have jointly developed with the Washington State Department 
of Natural Resources (WDNR) a revised draft environmental impact 
statement (RDEIS) addressing an amendment to the 1997 WDNR State Lands 
Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to cover the implementation of a Long-
Term Conservation Strategy (LTCS) for the marbled murrelet. The RDEIS 
also addresses an amendment to the Endangered Species Act section 10 
incidental take permit (ITP) for take of marbled murrelet resulting 
from the implementation of the LTCS. The RDEIS is intended to satisfy 
the requirements of both the National Environmental Policy Act and the 
Washington State Environmental Policy Act. If approved, the proposed 
LTCS will replace an interim conservation strategy for the marbled 
murrelet, which is currently being implemented under the WDNR HCP.
    The Service and WDNR have jointly developed a RDEIS for the purpose 
of analyzing alternatives for the LTCS for the marbled murrelet. The 
RDEIS analyses seven action alternatives and a no action alternative. 
If approved, the amended ITP would authorize incidental take of the 
marbled murrelet that would occur as a result of implementation of the 
LTCS over the remaining 50-year term of the WDNR HCP. The scope of the 
proposed amendment to the WDNR HCP and ITP, and thus of the RDEIS, is 
exclusively limited to consideration of the LTCS for the marbled 
murrelet.
    In addition to this notice, the U.S. Environmental Protection 
Agency (EPA) is also publishing a notice announcing the availability of 
the RDEIS, as required under section 309 of the Clean Air Act (42 
U.S.C. 7401 et seq.). The publication of EPA's notice is the official 
start of the public comment period for the RDEIS (see EPA's Role in the 
EIS Process).

Background

    The marbled murrelet (Brachyamphus marmoratus), a seabird, was 
listed as threatened in 1992 under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 
as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). In 1996, the WDNR released 
their draft HCP for forest management activities covering 1.6 million 
acres of forested State trust lands within the range of the northern 
spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) in Washington. A draft EIS 
dated March 1996 was jointly developed by the Service, National Marine 
Fisheries Service, and the WDNR to address the issuance of ITPs for the 
HCP, and was announced in the Federal Register on April 5, 1996 (61 FR 
15297). The 1996 draft EIS analyzed reasonable alternatives, including 
the HCP, for forest management activities on forested State trust lands 
that would be covered by the ITPs. A notice of availability for the 
final EIS (FEIS) was published in the Federal Register on November 1, 
1996 (61 FR 56563). On January 30, 1997, the Service issued an ITP 
(Permit No. 812521) for the WDNR HCP covering multiple species. The 
Service's ITP decision and the availability of related decision 
documents were announced in the Federal Register on February 27, 1997 
(62 FR 8980).
    The WDNR HCP (see www.dnr.wa.gov/programs-and-services/forest-resources/habitat-conservation-state-trust-lands) commits the WDNR to 
developing a LTCS for the marbled murrelet (HCP IV. 39). At the time 
the HCP was prepared, it was determined that development of a LTCS was 
not possible due to a lack of scientific information. For this reason, 
the WDNR developed an interim conservation strategy for the marbled 
murrelet, which is currently being implemented. The proposed amendment 
to the WDNR HCP is the final step in the process for development of the 
LTCS.
    Briefly, the interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet 
includes the following components:
    (1) Identification of blocks of suitable marbled murrelet habitat 
on which timber harvest would be deferred;
    (2) Implementation of a habitat relationship study using marbled 
murrelet occupancy surveys to determine the relative importance of 
forested habitats;
    (3) Based on the findings of the habitat relationship study, 
identification of the lowest quality habitat blocks to be made 
available for timber harvest (these areas were expected to contain 
about 5 percent of the marbled murrelet-occupied sites on HCP-covered 
lands);

[[Page 45459]]

    (4) Implementation of surveys of higher quality habitat blocks 
identified by the habitat relationship study to determine marbled 
murrelet occupancy, and protection of murrelet-occupied habitats, along 
with some unoccupied habitat; and
    (5) Development of a LTCS for the marbled murrelet on WDNR lands.
    A Federal Register notice of availability (81 FR 89135) for a draft 
environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the LTCS was published for a 
90-day comment period on December 9, 2016. The 2016 DEIS did not 
specify a preferred alternative. The public comment period for the 2016 
DEIS was 90 days, and over 5,000 comments were received. In 2017, the 
WDNR selected a preferred alternative with guidance from the Washington 
Board of Natural Resources, necessitating development of an RDEIS. This 
alternative was submitted in an application to the Service requesting a 
permit amendment in July 2018.
    This RDEIS differs from the 2016 DEIS in the following ways: (1) 
The WDNR has developed and selected a preferred WDNR alternative 
(alternative H), which was not previously identified; (2) a new 
alternative (alternative G) has been included in response to specific 
public comments; (3) the WDNR forest estate model, or large data 
overlay model, has been rerun with WDNR-identified corrections, 
resulting in different acreage outputs for all the alternatives; (4) 
the WDNR and the Service have identified separate purpose and needs 
statements in Chapter 1; and (5) the marbled murrelet population 
viability analysis has been rerun with modifications.

Endangered Species Act Compliance

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

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    The proposed amendment of the ITP and the 1997 WDNR HCP to cover 
the LTCS for the marble murrelet is a Federal action that triggers the 
need for compliance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). We and WDNR 
have jointly developed the RDEIS for the purpose of analyzing the 
environmental impacts of different alternatives for the LTCS under the 
HCP and ITP. The RDEIS analyzes the DNR's preferred alternative, six 
additional alternatives, and a no-action alternative, for a total of 
eight alternatives.
    WDNR manages approximately 1.38 million acres within 55 miles of 
marine waters, which is the known inland limit of the nesting range for 
the marbled murrelet. The RDEIS analyzes Alternative H as DNR's 
preferred alternative. The Service is not presently identifying a 
preferred alternative, but will for the final environmental impact 
statement (FEIS). The no-action alternative involves continuation of 
the interim conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet under the 
WDNR HCP. The alternatives in the RDEIS are restricted to 
implementation within this area.
    The alternatives represent a range of approaches to long-term 
marbled murrelet habitat conservation on WDNR lands. The alternatives 
differ in the amount and location of WDNR-managed forest land 
designated for long-term conservation of the murrelet. Alternatives 
also include a variety of conservation measures proposed to protect 
marbled murrelet habitat. The alternatives also differ in the amount 
and quality of marbled murrelet habitat removed through timber harvest.

EPA's Role in the EIS Process

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

Public Meetings

    We will hold four public meetings during the public comment period, 
at the following locations in the State of Washington: Ballard, 
Burlington, Cathlamet, and Forks. The dates, times, and specific 
locations of the meetings will be posted on the internet at https://www.dnr.wa.gov/mmltcs. The public meetings will be physically 
accessible to people with disabilities. Please direct requests for 
reasonable accommodations (e.g., auxiliary aids or sign language 
interpretation) to one of the sources listed in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT, at least 7 working days prior to the date of the meeting you 
wish to attend.

Public Comments

    You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods 
listed in ADDRESSES. We will also accept written comments at four 
public meetings, to be announced. We specifically request information 
on the following:
    1. Biological information on the marbled murrelet in the 
terrestrial and marine environments;
    2. Cumulative effects on the environment that might influence the 
status of the marbled murrelet in the ESA listed range;
    3. Resiliency of the alternatives in providing current and future 
marbled murrelet habitat in relation to climate

[[Page 45460]]

change and future natural disturbance events such as fire and 
windstorms;
    4. Adequacy of the distribution of marbled murrelet habitat within 
the HCP covered area to provide for murrelet conservation over the 
remaining term of the HCP;
    5. Other aspects of the human environment not already identified in 
the DEIS that may be affected, pursuant to NEPA regulations in the Code 
of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 1506.6.
    Comments received from the 2016 DEIS public comment period were 
used to inform the RDEIS. Comments received on the DEIS and this RDEIS 
will be responded to in the FEIS. If you submitted comments during the 
comment period for the DEIS, you do not need to resubmit those 
comments.

Public Availability of Comments

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

Next Steps

    The HCP amendment for the LTCS is intended to replace the interim 
conservation strategy for the marbled murrelet. We will evaluate that 
request, associated documents, and public comments in reaching a final 
decision on whether the application for a permit amendment meets the 
requirements of section 10 of the ESA. We will prepare responses to 
public comments and publish a notice of availability for the FEIS. The 
FEIS will identify the WDNR preferred alternative for the amendment, 
and also the Service's preferred alternative. We will also evaluate 
whether the proposed permit action would comply with section 7 of the 
ESA by conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation. We will use 
the results of this consultation, in combination with the above 
findings, in our final analysis to determine whether or not to approve 
the proposed amendment of the WDNR HCP and ITP. If the ESA section 10 
issuance requirements are met, we will approve the amendment of the ITP 
and HCP. We will issue a record of decision and approve or deny the ITP 
and HCP amendment request by WDNR no sooner than 30 days after 
publication of the notice of availability of the FEIS.

Authority

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

Theresa E. Rabot,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2018-19298 Filed 9-6-18; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P