Amended Habitat Conservation Plan, Application for an Incidental Take Permit for Piping Plover, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife; Draft Finding of No Significant Impact, 5460-5462 [2019-02939]

Download as PDF 5460 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 35 / Thursday, February 21, 2019 / Notices provide in any voluntary submission you make. For additional information please read the Privacy Act notice that is available via the link in the footer of https://www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: USCIS, Office of Policy and Strategy, Regulatory Coordination Division, Samantha Deshommes, Chief, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20529–2140, Telephone number (202) 272–8377 (This is not a toll-free number; comments are not accepted via telephone message.). Please note contact information provided here is solely for questions regarding this notice. It is not for individual case status inquiries. Applicants seeking information about the status of their individual cases can check Case Status Online, available at the USCIS website at https:// www.uscis.gov, or call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at (800) 375–5283; TTY (800) 767–1833. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with NOTICES1 Comments The information collection notice was previously published in the Federal Register on December 11, 2018, at 83 FR 63665, allowing for a 60-day public comment period. USCIS did receive two comments in connection with the 60day notice. You may access the information collection instrument with instructions, or additional information by visiting the Federal eRulemaking Portal site at: https://www.regulations.gov and enter USCIS–2008–0028 in the search box. Written comments and suggestions from the public and affected agencies should address one or more of the following four points: (1) Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) Evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:08 Feb 20, 2019 Jkt 247001 Overview of This Information Collection DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (1) Type of Information Collection Request: Revision of a Currently Approved Collection. (2) Title of the Form/Collection: Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Request. (3) Agency form number, if any, and the applicable component of the DHS sponsoring the collection: G–639; USCIS. (4) Affected public who will be asked or required to respond, as well as a brief abstract: Primary: Individuals or households. Form G–639 and the Freedom of Information Act Immigration Records SysTem (FIRST) efiling process are provided as a convenient means for individuals to provide data necessary for identification of a particular record being requested under the Freedom of Information/ Privacy Act (FOIA/PA). (5) An estimate of the total number of respondents and the amount of time estimated for an average respondent to respond: The estimated total number of respondents for the information collection Form G–639 is 165,818 and the estimated hour burden per response is .67 hours; the estimated total number of respondents for the information collection FIRST (e-filing) is 41,455 and the estimated hour burden per response is .5 hours. (6) An estimate of the total public burden (in hours) associated with the collection: The total estimated annual hour burden associated with this collection is 131,825 hours. (7) An estimate of the total public burden (in cost) associated with the collection: The estimated total annual cost burden associated with this collection of information is $2,445,821. Dated: February 15, 2019. Jerry L. Rigdon, Deputy Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security. [FR Doc. 2019–02997 Filed 2–20–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111–97–P PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R5–ES–2018–0091; FXES11120500000–189–FF05E00000] Amended Habitat Conservation Plan, Application for an Incidental Take Permit for Piping Plover, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife; Draft Finding of No Significant Impact Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability of documents; request for public comment. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce receipt of an application from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MADFW) to amend its Habitat Conservation Plan For Piping Plover for unavoidable take of the federally listed threatened Atlantic Coast piping plover incidental to otherwise lawful activities, specifically recreational activities and beach operations on piping plover breeding beaches in Massachusetts. We are making available the draft amendment, MADFW’s application, and our draft Finding of No Significant Impact under the National Environmental Policy Act that evaluates the impacts on the human environment associated with the proposed amendment. We provide this notice to seek comments from the public and Federal, Tribal, State, and local governments. SUMMARY: We will accept comments until March 25, 2019. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the closing date. ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments by one of the following methods: Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal website at https:// www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS–R5–ES–2018–0091, which is the docket number for this notice. Click on the appropriate link to locate this document and submit a comment. By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R5– ES–2018–0091; Division of Policy, Performance and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike, ABHC– PPM; Falls Church, VA 22041–3803. We request that you send comments by only one of the methods described above. We will post all information DATES: E:\FR\FM\21FEN1.SGM 21FEN1 amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with NOTICES1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 35 / Thursday, February 21, 2019 / Notices received on https://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Public Comments section for more information). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas Chapman, by mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New England Field Office, 70 Commercial Street, Suite 300, Concord, NH 03301; by phone at 603–223–2541; or via the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce receipt of an application from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MADFW) to amend its Habitat Conservation Plan For Piping Plover (HCP) for unavoidable take of the federally listed threatened Atlantic Coast piping plover (Charadrius melodus) incidental to otherwise lawful activities, specifically recreational activities and beach operations on piping plover breeding beaches in Massachusetts, and the associated permit that the Service approved on July 8, 2016. The proposed amendment would facilitate HCP implementation by addressing unusual circumstances where a limited number of sites need additional management flexibility. The Service is making available the draft amendment and the MADFW’s application. Through this notice we also announce the availability of a draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) that evaluates the impacts on the human environment associated with the proposed amendment. We provide this notice to seek comments from the public and Federal, Tribal, State, and local governments. We received an application from the MADFW for an amendment to the HCP and ITP (Incidental Take Permit; Federal Fish and Wildlife Permit number TE01281C–0) to increase the site-specific allowable exposure to take of piping plover pairs from certain covered activities at a limited number of sites in limited circumstances. The Service’s proposed action is issuing an amended ITP in response to the MADFW’s proposed changes to how it intends to allocate site-specific exposure of piping plovers to take. The 2016 HCP generally limits sitespecific take exposure to 15 percent of breeding pairs except that the MADFW may allow take exposure of 30 percent of breeding pairs at up to five sites; sites with fewer than seven pairs are allowed take exposure of one breeding pair. The amendment would deal only with the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:08 Feb 20, 2019 Jkt 247001 exception to the general take exposure limit of 15 percent, increasing the maximum exposure to 75 percent at eight sites statewide. The deviation in maximum exposure would occur only in association with ‘‘Use of Roads and Parking Lots in the Vicinity of Unfledged Chicks’’ and ‘‘Oversand Vehicle (OSV) Use in the Vicinity of Unfledged Chicks.’’ Under the amended HCP, the general maximum allowable take exposure would remain at 15 percent for all covered activities; however, at up to eight sites, the MADFW could allow take exposure of up to 75 percent of breeding pairs, including at sites with fewer than seven pairs, from the two covered activities mentioned above. The proposed action would not (1) increase the statewide take level authorized under the ITP; (2) change the covered species, covered activities, or conservation strategy including required mitigation; or (3) extend the ITP duration. Under NEPA, this notice advises the public that we have gathered the information necessary to determine whether and how the draft amendment to the HCP under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA), may impact the human environment, and whether supplementation of the EA is warranted. Availability of Documents You may obtain copies of the proposed amendment to the HCP and draft FONSI on the internet at the New England Field Office’s website at https://www.fws.gov/newengland/ or at https://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R5–ES–2018–0091. Copies of the proposed HCP amendment and draft FONSI also can be made available for public review during regular business hours at the New England Field Office, 70 Commercial Street, Suite 300, Concord, NH 03301. Those who do not have access to the internet or cannot visit our office can request copies by telephone at 603–223–2541, or by letter to the New England Field Office. Background The 2016 ITP issued to the MADFW authorized take caused by recreational activities and beach operations that deviate from State and Federal guidelines for avoiding take (Guidelines for Managing Recreational Use of Beaches to Protect Piping Plovers, Terns and Their Habitats in Massachusetts (MADFW 1993; https://www.mass.gov/ eea/docs/dfg/nhesp/species-andconservation/ma-shorebirdmanagement-guidelines.pdf, accessed March 20, 2018); Guidelines for Managing Recreational Activities In PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 5461 Piping Plover Breeding Habitat On The U.S. Atlantic Coast To Avoid Take Under Section 9 Of The Endangered Species Act (USFWS 1994; https:// www.fws.gov/northeast/pipingplover/ pdf/recguide.pdf, accessed March 20, 2018)). The HCP functions as an umbrella plan to allow the MADFW to extend incidental take coverage via Certificates of Inclusion (COI) to approved landowners and beach managers to implement a suite of covered activities if they meet the eligibility and COI application requirements described in the HCP. The MADFW, as the permit holder, manages and implements the statewide conservation program outlined in the HCP to minimize and mitigate for the impacts of the incidental take. The MADFW is also responsible for administering the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act and its implementing regulations (MESA; MGL c. 131A; 321 CMR 10.00) and issues separate MESA conservation and management permits for piping plovers and other State-listed species that may be impacted by the implementation of the HCP’s covered activities. The proposed amendment would facilitate implementation of the HCP and address limited circumstances where there is a need to exceed the current maximum allowable take exposure of 30 percent at five sites statewide. Again, this is an exception to the general limit of 15 percent that would apply elsewhere. As currently written, the exception to site-specific take exposure limit of the 2016 HCP creates an obstacle to a few beach operators who might otherwise benefit from participating in the HCP. For small beaches, multiple pairs of plovers nesting at critical access points could preclude all access if take exposure is restricted to 30 percent or less, because sites with three to seven pairs of piping plovers are currently limited to take exposure of one to two plover nests, broods, or territories. Beaches with roads and parking lots adjacent to piping plover breeding habitat may experience occasions when the majority of the pairs congregate their nests or young at critical recreational access points resulting in the total closure of parking lots or improved roads. The proposed action would increase the maximum allowable take exposure from 30 percent of the breeding pairs at up to five sites to 75 percent of breeding pairs at up to eight sites, statewide. The proposed amendment is largely an administrative change, because it would not change how the HCP is implemented, but would only alter MADFW’s flexibility in allocating the E:\FR\FM\21FEN1.SGM 21FEN1 5462 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 35 / Thursday, February 21, 2019 / Notices amozie on DSK3GDR082PROD with NOTICES1 annual statewide take exposure. The amendment would not affect the 2016 HCP’s sliding scale method for determining the annual allowable take of broods, nests, or territories based on the 3-year running statewide population average. In addition, the amendment would apply to only two covered activities: ‘‘Use of Roads and Parking Lots in the Vicinity of Unfledged Chicks’’ and ‘‘OSV Use in the Vicinity of Unfledged Chicks.’’ It would not apply to ‘‘Recreation Management and Beach Operations.’’ Additionally, the proposed amendment would not alter limits on the habitat, broods, or pairs affected through reduced proactive fencing, reduced buffers around nests, or nest moving. The FONSI anticipates some sitespecific impacts to piping plovers as a result of the increase in allowable take exposure and associated decrease in productivity at up to eight sites. However, the FONSI anticipates that the impacts to the piping plover and the human environment statewide will be essentially the same as those previously analyzed in our 2016 Environmental Assessment (EA), because at a full allocation of authorized take, for any increase in breeding pairs exposed to take at one site, the MADFW would have to make a corresponding reduction in the remaining number of pairs that could be exposed to take at other sites. Moreover, the nature of the activities being conducted has not changed. National Environmental Policy Act When we issued the initial permit to the MADFW, we thoroughly analyzed the associated impacts to the human environment in our EA, concluding our NEPA analysis with a Finding of No Significant Impacts. We prepared a draft FONSI on the proposed action and have made it available for public inspection (see Availability of Documents). In it, we tentatively determine that the proposed action would not cause significant impacts on the human environment and that supplementation of the EA is not warranted. We base that preliminary conclusion on: The limited nature of the proposed amendment that the deviation from the maximum exposure limit at a site would apply in a minority of situations; the manner in which the activities will be conducted has not been altered; and, the overall take allocation remains unchanged. Public Comments The Service invites the public to comment on the proposed HCP amendment and draft FONSI during a 30-day public comment period (see DATES). You may submit comments by VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:08 Feb 20, 2019 Jkt 247001 one of the methods shown under ADDRESSES. Public Availability of Comments We will post all public comments and information received electronically or via hard copy on our website at https:// regulations.gov. All comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of the administrative record and will be available to the public. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can request in your comment that we withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their entirety. Authority This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). Dated: February 14, 2019. Paul Phifer, Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Northeast Region. [FR Doc. 2019–02939 Filed 2–20–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R4–ES–2018–N139; FXES11140400 000–189–FF04E00000] Endangered Species; Recovery Permit Applications Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of receipt of permit applications; request for comments. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have received applications for permits to conduct activities intended to enhance the propagation or survival of endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. We invite the public and local, State, Tribal, and Federal agencies to comment on these applications. Before issuing any of the requested permits, we will take into consideration any information that we SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 receive during the public comment period. DATES: We must receive written data or comments on the applications by March 25, 2019. ADDRESSES: Reviewing Documents: Documents and other information submitted with the applications are available for review, subject to the requirements of the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act. Submit a request for a copy of such documents to Karen Marlowe (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Submitting Comments: If you wish to comment, you may submit comments by one of the following methods: • U.S. mail or hand-delivery: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Office, Ecological Services, 1875 Century Boulevard, Atlanta, GA 30345 (Attn: Karen Marlowe, Permit Coordinator). • Email: permitsR4ES@fws.gov. Please include your name and return address in your email message. If you do not receive a confirmation from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that we have received your email message, contact us directly at the telephone number listed in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karen Marlowe, Permit Coordinator, 404–679–7097 (telephone), karen_ marlowe@fws.gov (email), or 404–679– 7081 (fax). Individuals who are hearing or speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 1–800–877–8339 for TTY assistance. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We invite review and comment from local, State, and Federal agencies and the public on applications we have received for permits to conduct certain activities with endangered and threatened species under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and our regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 50 CFR part 17. With some exceptions, the ESA prohibits activities that constitute take of listed species unless a Federal permit is issued that allows such activities. The ESA’s definition of ‘‘take’’ includes hunting, shooting, harming, wounding, or killing, and also such activities as pursuing, harassing, trapping, capturing, or collecting. A recovery permit issued by us under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA authorizes the permittee to conduct activities with endangered or threatened species for scientific purposes that promote recovery or for enhancement of propagation or survival of the species. These activities often include such prohibited actions as capture and E:\FR\FM\21FEN1.SGM 21FEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 35 (Thursday, February 21, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 5460-5462]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-02939]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-ES-2018-0091; FXES11120500000-189-FF05E00000]


Amended Habitat Conservation Plan, Application for an Incidental 
Take Permit for Piping Plover, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and 
Wildlife; Draft Finding of No Significant Impact

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of documents; request for public 
comment.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce receipt of an 
application from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife 
(MADFW) to amend its Habitat Conservation Plan For Piping Plover for 
unavoidable take of the federally listed threatened Atlantic Coast 
piping plover incidental to otherwise lawful activities, specifically 
recreational activities and beach operations on piping plover breeding 
beaches in Massachusetts. We are making available the draft amendment, 
MADFW's application, and our draft Finding of No Significant Impact 
under the National Environmental Policy Act that evaluates the impacts 
on the human environment associated with the proposed amendment. We 
provide this notice to seek comments from the public and Federal, 
Tribal, State, and local governments.

DATES: We will accept comments until March 25, 2019. Comments submitted 
electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES) 
must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the closing 
date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments by one of the following 
methods:
    Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal website at 
https://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R5-ES-2018-
0091, which is the docket number for this notice. Click on the 
appropriate link to locate this document and submit a comment.
    By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-R5-ES-2018-0091; Division of 
Policy, Performance and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike, ABHC-PPM; Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
    We request that you send comments by only one of the methods 
described above. We will post all information

[[Page 5461]]

received on https://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we 
will post any personal information you provide us (see the Public 
Comments section for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas Chapman, by mail at U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, New England Field Office, 70 Commercial Street, 
Suite 300, Concord, NH 03301; by phone at 603-223-2541; or via the 
Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), announce receipt of an application from the Massachusetts 
Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MADFW) to amend its Habitat 
Conservation Plan For Piping Plover (HCP) for unavoidable take of the 
federally listed threatened Atlantic Coast piping plover (Charadrius 
melodus) incidental to otherwise lawful activities, specifically 
recreational activities and beach operations on piping plover breeding 
beaches in Massachusetts, and the associated permit that the Service 
approved on July 8, 2016. The proposed amendment would facilitate HCP 
implementation by addressing unusual circumstances where a limited 
number of sites need additional management flexibility.
    The Service is making available the draft amendment and the MADFW's 
application. Through this notice we also announce the availability of a 
draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) under the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) that 
evaluates the impacts on the human environment associated with the 
proposed amendment. We provide this notice to seek comments from the 
public and Federal, Tribal, State, and local governments.
    We received an application from the MADFW for an amendment to the 
HCP and ITP (Incidental Take Permit; Federal Fish and Wildlife Permit 
number TE01281C-0) to increase the site-specific allowable exposure to 
take of piping plover pairs from certain covered activities at a 
limited number of sites in limited circumstances. The Service's 
proposed action is issuing an amended ITP in response to the MADFW's 
proposed changes to how it intends to allocate site-specific exposure 
of piping plovers to take.
    The 2016 HCP generally limits site-specific take exposure to 15 
percent of breeding pairs except that the MADFW may allow take exposure 
of 30 percent of breeding pairs at up to five sites; sites with fewer 
than seven pairs are allowed take exposure of one breeding pair. The 
amendment would deal only with the exception to the general take 
exposure limit of 15 percent, increasing the maximum exposure to 75 
percent at eight sites statewide. The deviation in maximum exposure 
would occur only in association with ``Use of Roads and Parking Lots in 
the Vicinity of Unfledged Chicks'' and ``Oversand Vehicle (OSV) Use in 
the Vicinity of Unfledged Chicks.'' Under the amended HCP, the general 
maximum allowable take exposure would remain at 15 percent for all 
covered activities; however, at up to eight sites, the MADFW could 
allow take exposure of up to 75 percent of breeding pairs, including at 
sites with fewer than seven pairs, from the two covered activities 
mentioned above. The proposed action would not (1) increase the 
statewide take level authorized under the ITP; (2) change the covered 
species, covered activities, or conservation strategy including 
required mitigation; or (3) extend the ITP duration.
    Under NEPA, this notice advises the public that we have gathered 
the information necessary to determine whether and how the draft 
amendment to the HCP under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA), may impact the human 
environment, and whether supplementation of the EA is warranted.

Availability of Documents

    You may obtain copies of the proposed amendment to the HCP and 
draft FONSI on the internet at the New England Field Office's website 
at https://www.fws.gov/newengland/ or at https://www.regulations.gov at 
Docket No. FWS-R5-ES-2018-0091. Copies of the proposed HCP amendment 
and draft FONSI also can be made available for public review during 
regular business hours at the New England Field Office, 70 Commercial 
Street, Suite 300, Concord, NH 03301. Those who do not have access to 
the internet or cannot visit our office can request copies by telephone 
at 603-223-2541, or by letter to the New England Field Office.

Background

    The 2016 ITP issued to the MADFW authorized take caused by 
recreational activities and beach operations that deviate from State 
and Federal guidelines for avoiding take (Guidelines for Managing 
Recreational Use of Beaches to Protect Piping Plovers, Terns and Their 
Habitats in Massachusetts (MADFW 1993; https://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dfg/nhesp/species-and-conservation/ma-shorebird-management-guidelines.pdf, accessed March 20, 2018); Guidelines for Managing 
Recreational Activities In Piping Plover Breeding Habitat On The U.S. 
Atlantic Coast To Avoid Take Under Section 9 Of The Endangered Species 
Act (USFWS 1994; https://www.fws.gov/northeast/pipingplover/pdf/recguide.pdf, accessed March 20, 2018)). The HCP functions as an 
umbrella plan to allow the MADFW to extend incidental take coverage via 
Certificates of Inclusion (COI) to approved landowners and beach 
managers to implement a suite of covered activities if they meet the 
eligibility and COI application requirements described in the HCP. The 
MADFW, as the permit holder, manages and implements the statewide 
conservation program outlined in the HCP to minimize and mitigate for 
the impacts of the incidental take. The MADFW is also responsible for 
administering the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act and its 
implementing regulations (MESA; MGL c. 131A; 321 CMR 10.00) and issues 
separate MESA conservation and management permits for piping plovers 
and other State-listed species that may be impacted by the 
implementation of the HCP's covered activities.
    The proposed amendment would facilitate implementation of the HCP 
and address limited circumstances where there is a need to exceed the 
current maximum allowable take exposure of 30 percent at five sites 
statewide. Again, this is an exception to the general limit of 15 
percent that would apply elsewhere. As currently written, the exception 
to site-specific take exposure limit of the 2016 HCP creates an 
obstacle to a few beach operators who might otherwise benefit from 
participating in the HCP. For small beaches, multiple pairs of plovers 
nesting at critical access points could preclude all access if take 
exposure is restricted to 30 percent or less, because sites with three 
to seven pairs of piping plovers are currently limited to take exposure 
of one to two plover nests, broods, or territories. Beaches with roads 
and parking lots adjacent to piping plover breeding habitat may 
experience occasions when the majority of the pairs congregate their 
nests or young at critical recreational access points resulting in the 
total closure of parking lots or improved roads. The proposed action 
would increase the maximum allowable take exposure from 30 percent of 
the breeding pairs at up to five sites to 75 percent of breeding pairs 
at up to eight sites, statewide.
    The proposed amendment is largely an administrative change, because 
it would not change how the HCP is implemented, but would only alter 
MADFW's flexibility in allocating the

[[Page 5462]]

annual statewide take exposure. The amendment would not affect the 2016 
HCP's sliding scale method for determining the annual allowable take of 
broods, nests, or territories based on the 3-year running statewide 
population average. In addition, the amendment would apply to only two 
covered activities: ``Use of Roads and Parking Lots in the Vicinity of 
Unfledged Chicks'' and ``OSV Use in the Vicinity of Unfledged Chicks.'' 
It would not apply to ``Recreation Management and Beach Operations.'' 
Additionally, the proposed amendment would not alter limits on the 
habitat, broods, or pairs affected through reduced proactive fencing, 
reduced buffers around nests, or nest moving.
    The FONSI anticipates some site-specific impacts to piping plovers 
as a result of the increase in allowable take exposure and associated 
decrease in productivity at up to eight sites. However, the FONSI 
anticipates that the impacts to the piping plover and the human 
environment statewide will be essentially the same as those previously 
analyzed in our 2016 Environmental Assessment (EA), because at a full 
allocation of authorized take, for any increase in breeding pairs 
exposed to take at one site, the MADFW would have to make a 
corresponding reduction in the remaining number of pairs that could be 
exposed to take at other sites. Moreover, the nature of the activities 
being conducted has not changed.

National Environmental Policy Act

    When we issued the initial permit to the MADFW, we thoroughly 
analyzed the associated impacts to the human environment in our EA, 
concluding our NEPA analysis with a Finding of No Significant Impacts. 
We prepared a draft FONSI on the proposed action and have made it 
available for public inspection (see Availability of Documents). In it, 
we tentatively determine that the proposed action would not cause 
significant impacts on the human environment and that supplementation 
of the EA is not warranted. We base that preliminary conclusion on: The 
limited nature of the proposed amendment that the deviation from the 
maximum exposure limit at a site would apply in a minority of 
situations; the manner in which the activities will be conducted has 
not been altered; and, the overall take allocation remains unchanged.

Public Comments

    The Service invites the public to comment on the proposed HCP 
amendment and draft FONSI during a 30-day public comment period (see 
DATES). You may submit comments by one of the methods shown under 
ADDRESSES.

Public Availability of Comments

    We will post all public comments and information received 
electronically or via hard copy on our website at https://regulations.gov. All comments received, including names and addresses, 
will become part of the administrative record and will be available to 
the public. Before including your address, phone number, email address, 
or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should 
be aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
request in your comment that we withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and 
from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials 
of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public 
disclosure in their entirety.

Authority

    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: February 14, 2019.
Paul Phifer,
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Northeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2019-02939 Filed 2-20-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P