Final Environmental Impact Statement on American Electric Power's American Burying Beetle Habitat Conservation Plan in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, 53077-53078 [2018-22833]

Download as PDF amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with NOTICES1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 203 / Friday, October 19, 2018 / Notices habitat, remove the levees within and between Ponds R5 and S5, and improve recreation and public access. Alternative Ravenswood D would also allow temporary stormwater detention into Ponds R5 and S5 via connections with the City of Redwood City’s Bayfront Canal and Atherton Channel Project. This would treat a residual salinity problem in Ponds R5 and S5. Following public review of the Draft EIS/EIR, USFWS and the California State Coastal Conservancy, in coordination with the Project Management Team and other project partners, identified the preferred alternative, which is based on restoration enhancements at all four pond clusters, as well as maintained or increased flood protection and additional public access and recreation features at two of the Phase 2 pond clusters. The preferred alternative is described in Chapter 6 of the Final EIS/ EIR. A summary is provided below. Preferred Alternative: The preferred alternative at each pond cluster is as follows: • At the Island Ponds it is Alternative Island B, with one restoration component of Alternative Island C included, which is to widen only the westernmost of the two existing breaches on the south side of Pond A19. • At the Mountain View Ponds it is essentially Alternative Mountain View B, with the substitution of one habitat enhancement (do not include Charleston Slough in tidal marsh restoration but do construct a habitat transition zone across the entire southern extent of Pond A1, but only across central portion of A2W) and the addition of one public access component drawn from Mountain View C (add recreational trail on eastern levee of Pond A2W to the northeast corner of Pond A2W). There is also a modification of one of the flood protection features presented in the two action alternatives (raise the Coast Casey Forebay levee along southern border of Charleston Slough and maintain necessary access to existing utilities adjacent to that levee). • At the A8 Ponds it is Alternative A8 B, except that the top elevation of the proposed transition zones has been increased to provide greater erosion protection. • At the Ravenswood Ponds it is similar to Alternative Ravenswood B, in its restoration goals and features for Ponds R3, R4, R5, and S5, but it also includes an additional habitat transition zone and a trail on the eastern edge of Ponds R5 and S5, all of which were included in Alternatives Ravenswood C and D. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:25 Oct 18, 2018 Jkt 247001 Selected Alternative The ROD identifies the preferred alternative as the selected alternative. This alternative is also the environmentally preferred alternative. The basis for the decision, descriptions of the alternatives considered, an overview of the measures to be implemented to avoid and minimized environmental effects, and a summary of the public involvement process are provided in the ROD. Authority We publish this notice under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.) and the Department of Interior’s implementing regulations in title 43 of the Code of Federal Regulations (43 CFR part 46). Jody Holzworth, Acting Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region. [FR Doc. 2018–22763 Filed 10–18–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2017–0105; FXES11140200000–190–FF02ENEH00] Final Environmental Impact Statement on American Electric Power’s American Burying Beetle Habitat Conservation Plan in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under the National Environmental Policy Act, make available the final environmental impact statement analyzing the impacts of issuance of an incidental take permit (ITP) for implementation of American Electric Power’s American Burying Beetle Habitat Conservation Plan in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas (HCP). Our decision is to issue a 30-year ITP for implementation of the HCP, which authorizes incidental take of the American burying beetle under the Endangered Species Act. DATES: We will finalize a record of decision and issue a permit no sooner than November 19, 2018. ADDRESSES: You may obtain copies of the documents in the following formats: • Electronic: Æ http://www.regulations.gov, in Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2017–0105. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 53077 Æ https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/ Oklahoma/. Æ CD–ROM: Contact Ms. Jonna Polk (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Æ Telephone: 918–581–7458. • Hard copy: You may review the final environmental impact statement (EIS) at the following locations (by appointment only): Æ Department of the Interior, Natural Resources Library, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240. Call 202–208– 5815. Æ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 500 Gold Avenue SW, Room 6034, Albuquerque, NM 87102. Call 505–248– 6920. Æ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 9014 E 21st St., Tulsa, OK 74129. Call 918–581–7458. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jonna Polk, Field Supervisor, via U.S. mail at Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 9014 E. 21st St., Tulsa, OK 74129; or via phone at 918–581–7458. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of several documents related to an incidental take permit (ITP) application under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The final EIS was developed in compliance with the agency decisionmaking requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and is based on the habitat conservation plan (HCP) as submitted by American Electric Power (applicant). We described, fully evaluated, and analyzed all three alternatives in detail in our 2018 final EIS. Our proposed action is to issue an ITP to the applicant under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA that authorizes incidental take of the American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus; ABB) from the applicant’s maintenance, operation, and expansion of its electrical facilities in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas. American Electric Power is one of the largest electric utilities in the country, with an electric system that includes transmission lines, substations, switching stations, and a distribution network. American Electric Power’s ability to serve its customers depends on the timely installation, operation, and maintenance of its electric facilities. The plan area for the HCP includes areas where authorized incidental take would occur and conservation measures would take place, a total of almost 32 million acres. The applicant requested a term of 30 years from the date of ITP issuance. The E:\FR\FM\19OCN1.SGM 19OCN1 53078 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 203 / Friday, October 19, 2018 / Notices amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with NOTICES1 applicant will fully implement minimization and mitigation measures to offset impacts to the ABB according to the HCP. The applicant has agreed to include the following minimization measures: • Reducing erosion by implementing stormwater best practices; • Limiting use of motor vehicles, machinery, or heavy equipment in occupied ABB habitat to avoid soil compaction; • Increasing safety during operation fluid use and storage; • Limiting disturbance from mechanical vegetation management; • Limiting the use of artificial lighting in occupied ABB habitat; and • Providing a training program for all personnel conducting or supervising covered activities that may disturb ABBoccupied habitat. The mitigation measures include the following commitments: • Relieve soil compaction by disking (mechanically breaking up) compacted soil in laydown areas and material storage areas; • Revegetate with a native species composition similar to that of the surrounding area (typically warm season grasses) or of the same vegetation type that existed prior to impacts for areas that experienced ground disturbance causing temporary or permanent cover change habitat impacts; and • Establish off-site habitat mitigation for temporary or permanent cover change and permanent impacts. In addition to this notice, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing a notice announcing the EIS, as required under the Clean Air Act, section 309 (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.; see EPA’s Role in the EIS Process below). Background The applicant has applied for an ITP under the ESA that would authorize incidental take of the ABB and would be in effect for a period of 30 years. The proposed incidental take of the ABB would occur from lawful, non-Federal activities from the applicant’s repair, maintenance, and construction activities for electrical lines and support facilities (e.g., substations and switching facilities) within the plan area, as well as from activities carried out as part of the HCP’s conservation strategy (covered activities). The HCP plan area includes Oklahoma and Arkansas counties within known ABB ranges and Texas counties with ABB occurrence records. The plan area also includes counties in these States where the ABB’s range could expand over the ITP VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:25 Oct 18, 2018 Jkt 247001 term. The final EIS considers the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of implementing the HCP, including measures to minimize and mitigate such impacts to the maximum extent practicable. Section 9 of the ESA and its implementing regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) prohibit ‘‘take’’ of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA. The ESA defines ‘‘take’’ as ‘‘to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect listed animal species, or attempt to engage in such conduct’’ (16 U.S.C. 1533). The term ‘‘harm’’ is defined in the regulations as 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). However, we may, under specified circumstances, issue permits that allow the take of federally listed species, provided that the take is incidental to, but not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing ITPs for endangered and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively. On July 3, 2018, we published a Federal Register notice announcing the availability for public review of a draft EIS and requested public comment on our evaluation of the potential impacts associated with issuance of an ITP for implementation of the HCP and to evaluate alternatives (82 FR 32861). In July and August 2018, we held public meetings on the draft document in Tulsa, OK; McAlester, OK; Fort Smith, AR; and Texarkana, TX. The public comment period closed on August 17, 2018. We received 10 comments in total: 8 Through regulations.gov, 1 comment via email, and 1 through the U.S. mail. The final EIS provides responses to those comments in Appendix G. Decision We intend to issue an ITP allowing the applicant to implement the proposed HCP, identified as the preferred alternative (Alternative B) in the final EIS. We determined that the preferred alternative best balances the protection and management of habitat for the ABB, while allowing the applicant to supply the public’s energy needs. We based our decision on a thorough review of the alternatives and their environmental consequences. Implementing this decision entails issuing an ITP to American Electric Power and full implementation of the HCP, including minimization and PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 mitigation measures, monitoring and adaptive management, and complying with all terms and conditions in the ITP. EPA’s Role in the EIS Process In addition to this notice, EPA is publishing a notice in the Federal Register announcing final EIS for American Electric Power’s American Burying Beetle Habitat Conservation Plan in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas, as required under the Clean Air Act, section 309. The EPA is charged with reviewing all Federal agencies’ EISs and commenting on the adequacy and acceptability of the environmental impacts of proposed actions in EISs. The EPA also serves as the repository (EIS database) for EISs that Federal agencies prepare. All EISs must be 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. Authority We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32) and NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). Amy L. Lueders, Regional Director, Southwest Region, Albuquerque, New Mexico. [FR Doc. 2018–22833 Filed 10–18–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2018–0079; FXES11140400000–178–FF04EF2000] Eastern Collier Property Owners, LLC, Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Collier County, Florida 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 our draft environmental impact statement (EIS) and a habitat conservation plan (HCP) associated with the incidental take permit (ITP) applications of eleven Collier County landowners under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. Each SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\19OCN1.SGM 19OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 203 (Friday, October 19, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 53077-53078]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-22833]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2017-0105; FXES11140200000-190-FF02ENEH00]


Final Environmental Impact Statement on American Electric Power's 
American Burying Beetle Habitat Conservation Plan in Arkansas, 
Oklahoma, and Texas

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under the National 
Environmental Policy Act, make available the final environmental impact 
statement analyzing the impacts of issuance of an incidental take 
permit (ITP) for implementation of American Electric Power's American 
Burying Beetle Habitat Conservation Plan in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and 
Texas (HCP). Our decision is to issue a 30-year ITP for implementation 
of the HCP, which authorizes incidental take of the American burying 
beetle under the Endangered Species Act.

DATES: We will finalize a record of decision and issue a permit no 
sooner than November 19, 2018.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain copies of the documents in the following 
formats:
     Electronic:
    [cir] http://www.regulations.gov, in Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2017-
0105.
    [cir] https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/Oklahoma/.
    [cir] CD-ROM: Contact Ms. Jonna Polk (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT).
    [cir] Telephone: 918-581-7458.
     Hard copy: You may review the final environmental impact 
statement (EIS) at the following locations (by appointment only):
    [cir] Department of the Interior, Natural Resources Library, 1849 C 
Street NW, Washington, DC 20240. Call 202-208-5815.
    [cir] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 500 Gold Avenue SW, Room 
6034, Albuquerque, NM 87102. Call 505-248-6920.
    [cir] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 9014 E 21st St., Tulsa, OK 
74129. Call 918-581-7458.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jonna Polk, Field Supervisor, via U.S. 
mail at Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 9014 E. 21st St., Tulsa, OK 74129; or via phone at 
918-581-7458.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), announce the availability of several documents related to an 
incidental take permit (ITP) application under the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The final EIS 
was developed in compliance with the agency decision-making 
requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.), and is based on the habitat conservation plan (HCP) as 
submitted by American Electric Power (applicant). We described, fully 
evaluated, and analyzed all three alternatives in detail in our 2018 
final EIS.
    Our proposed action is to issue an ITP to the applicant under 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA that authorizes incidental take of the 
American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus; ABB) from the 
applicant's maintenance, operation, and expansion of its electrical 
facilities in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas. American Electric Power is 
one of the largest electric utilities in the country, with an electric 
system that includes transmission lines, substations, switching 
stations, and a distribution network. American Electric Power's ability 
to serve its customers depends on the timely installation, operation, 
and maintenance of its electric facilities. The plan area for the HCP 
includes areas where authorized incidental take would occur and 
conservation measures would take place, a total of almost 32 million 
acres. The applicant requested a term of 30 years from the date of ITP 
issuance. The

[[Page 53078]]

applicant will fully implement minimization and mitigation measures to 
offset impacts to the ABB according to the HCP.
    The applicant has agreed to include the following minimization 
measures:
     Reducing erosion by implementing stormwater best 
practices;
     Limiting use of motor vehicles, machinery, or heavy 
equipment in occupied ABB habitat to avoid soil compaction;
     Increasing safety during operation fluid use and storage;
     Limiting disturbance from mechanical vegetation 
management;
     Limiting the use of artificial lighting in occupied ABB 
habitat; and
     Providing a training program for all personnel conducting 
or supervising covered activities that may disturb ABB-occupied 
habitat.
    The mitigation measures include the following commitments:
     Relieve soil compaction by disking (mechanically breaking 
up) compacted soil in laydown areas and material storage areas;
     Revegetate with a native species composition similar to 
that of the surrounding area (typically warm season grasses) or of the 
same vegetation type that existed prior to impacts for areas that 
experienced ground disturbance causing temporary or permanent cover 
change habitat impacts; and
     Establish off-site habitat mitigation for temporary or 
permanent cover change and permanent impacts.
    In addition to this notice, the Environmental Protection Agency 
(EPA) is publishing a notice announcing the EIS, as required under the 
Clean Air Act, section 309 (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.; see EPA's Role in 
the EIS Process below).

Background

    The applicant has applied for an ITP under the ESA that would 
authorize incidental take of the ABB and would be in effect for a 
period of 30 years. The proposed incidental take of the ABB would occur 
from lawful, non-Federal activities from the applicant's repair, 
maintenance, and construction activities for electrical lines and 
support facilities (e.g., substations and switching facilities) within 
the plan area, as well as from activities carried out as part of the 
HCP's conservation strategy (covered activities). The HCP plan area 
includes Oklahoma and Arkansas counties within known ABB ranges and 
Texas counties with ABB occurrence records. The plan area also includes 
counties in these States where the ABB's range could expand over the 
ITP term. The final EIS considers the direct, indirect, and cumulative 
effects of implementing the HCP, including measures to minimize and 
mitigate such impacts to the maximum extent practicable.
    Section 9 of the ESA and its implementing regulations in title 50 
of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) prohibit ``take'' of fish and 
wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA. The 
ESA defines ``take'' as ``to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, 
kill, trap, capture, or collect listed animal species, or attempt to 
engage in such conduct'' (16 U.S.C. 1533). The term ``harm'' is defined 
in the regulations as 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). However, we may, under specified 
circumstances, issue permits that allow the take of federally listed 
species, provided that the take is incidental to, but not the purpose 
of, otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing ITPs for 
endangered and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, 
respectively.
    On July 3, 2018, we published a Federal Register notice announcing 
the availability for public review of a draft EIS and requested public 
comment on our evaluation of the potential impacts associated with 
issuance of an ITP for implementation of the HCP and to evaluate 
alternatives (82 FR 32861). In July and August 2018, we held public 
meetings on the draft document in Tulsa, OK; McAlester, OK; Fort Smith, 
AR; and Texarkana, TX. The public comment period closed on August 17, 
2018.
    We received 10 comments in total: 8 Through regulations.gov, 1 
comment via email, and 1 through the U.S. mail. The final EIS provides 
responses to those comments in Appendix G.

Decision

    We intend to issue an ITP allowing the applicant to implement the 
proposed HCP, identified as the preferred alternative (Alternative B) 
in the final EIS. We determined that the preferred alternative best 
balances the protection and management of habitat for the ABB, while 
allowing the applicant to supply the public's energy needs. We based 
our decision on a thorough review of the alternatives and their 
environmental consequences. Implementing this decision entails issuing 
an ITP to American Electric Power and full implementation of the HCP, 
including minimization and mitigation measures, monitoring and adaptive 
management, and complying with all terms and conditions in the ITP.

EPA's Role in the EIS Process

    In addition to this notice, EPA is publishing a notice in the 
Federal Register announcing final EIS for American Electric Power's 
American Burying Beetle Habitat Conservation Plan in Oklahoma, 
Arkansas, and Texas, as required under the Clean Air Act, section 309. 
The EPA is charged with reviewing all Federal agencies' EISs and 
commenting on the adequacy and acceptability of the environmental 
impacts of proposed actions in EISs.
    The EPA also serves as the repository (EIS database) for EISs that 
Federal agencies prepare. All EISs must be 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.

Authority

    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32) 
and NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 
CFR 1506.6).

Amy L. Lueders,
Regional Director, Southwest Region, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. 2018-22833 Filed 10-18-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P