Receipt of Application for Enhancement of Survival Permit and Draft Candidate Conservation Agreement With Assurances/Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterfly; University of Illinois at Chicago; Low-Effect Screening Form, 15229-15231 [2019-07399]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 72 / Monday, April 15, 2019 / Notices regulation, members may be selected from the Federal, Territorial, or Tribal government; the State government and political subdivisions of the State; local public safety, crisis management, and emergency response agencies; law enforcement and security organizations; maritime industry, including labor; other port stakeholders having a special competence in maritime security; and port stakeholders affected by security practices and policies. Also, at least 7 of the AMSC members must each have 5 or more years of experience related to maritime or port security operations. AMSC Membership The Boston AMSC has 41 members who represent Federal, State, local, and industry stakeholders from Massachusetts. We are seeking to fill sixteen positions with this solicitation for 2019, twelve of which are due to expire in 2019. Applicants may be required to pass an appropriate security background check prior to appointment to the committee. Members’ terms of office will be for 5 years; however, a member is eligible to serve additional terms of office. Members will not receive any salary or other compensation for their service on an AMSC. Request for Applications amozie on DSK9F9SC42PROD with NOTICES Those seeking membership are not required to submit formal applications to the local Captain of the Port, however, because we do have an obligation to ensure that a specific number of members have the prerequisite maritime security experience, we encourage the submission of resumes highlighting experience in the maritime and security industries. The Department of Homeland Security does not discriminate in selection of Committee members on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability and genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, or other nonmerit factor. The Department of Homeland Security strives to achieve a widely diverse candidate pool for all of its recruitment actions. Dated: April 10, 2019. Eric J. Doucette, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port Boston, Federal Maritime Security Coordinator Boston. [FR Doc. 2019–07405 Filed 4–12–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–15–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:16 Apr 12, 2019 Jkt 247001 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2019–0007; FXES11130300000] Receipt of Application for Enhancement of Survival Permit and Draft Candidate Conservation Agreement With Assurances/ Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterfly; University of Illinois at Chicago; Low-Effect Screening Form Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have received an application from University of Illinois at Chicago for an enhancement of survival permit under the Endangered Species Act. The application includes an integrated programmatic candidate conservation agreement with assurances and a candidate conservation agreement (agreement) for the monarch butterfly. We have made a preliminary determination that the agreement is eligible for a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act. The basis for this determination is contained in a low-effect screening form, which is also available for public review. We request public comment on the agreement and low-effect screening form. DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before June 14, 2019. Any comments we receive after the closing date or not postmarked by the closing date may not be considered in the final decision on this action. ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents for Review: The documents this notice announces, as well as any comments and other materials that we receive, will be available for public inspection online in Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2019–0007 at http://www.regulations.gov. Submitting Comments: You may submit comments by one of the following methods: • Online: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS–R3–ES– 2019–0007. • U.S. Mail or Hand-Delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2019–0007; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041– 3803. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 15229 We will post all comments on http:// www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post online any personal information that you provide (see Public Availability of Comments under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION). We request that you send comments by only the methods described above. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Alisa Shull, Chief, Division of Endangered Species, via U.S. Mail at the Midwest Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437; via phone at 612–713–5334; or via the Federal Information Relay Service at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Overview We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received an application from University of Illinois at Chicago (applicant) for an enhancement of survival (EOS) permit pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), for the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). The application includes an integrated programmatic candidate conservation agreement with assurances and candidate conservation agreement (Agreement) covering the conterminous 48 United States. The Agreement and associated permit would implement a voluntary conservation strategy developed by UIC for energy and transportation activities on enrolled lands. These activities include conservation measures to restore, maintain, enhance, or create habitat for monarch butterflies, as well as activities to conduct general maintenance, management, and modernization within existing rights-of-way and associated lands. The intent of the Agreement is to provide non-Federal landowners in the covered area with the opportunity to voluntarily conserve the covered species and its habitat while carrying out their operations in a manner that would result in a net conservation benefit to the covered species. We have made a preliminary determination that the Agreement and permit application are eligible for a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). The basis for this determination is contained in a low-effect screening form, which is also available for public review. If approved, the EOS permit would be for a 50-year period following the signature of the Agreement and would authorize the incidental take of E:\FR\FM\15APN1.SGM 15APN1 15230 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 72 / Monday, April 15, 2019 / Notices the monarch butterfly, if the species comes to be listed under the ESA. Background amozie on DSK9F9SC42PROD with NOTICES Candidate Conservation Agreement With Assurances A CCAA is an agreement with the Service in which private and other nonFederal landowners voluntarily agree to undertake management activities and conservation efforts on their properties to enhance, restore, or maintain habitat to benefit species that are proposed for listing under the ESA, that are candidates for listing, or that may become candidates. The Service works with these partners to identify threats to candidate species, plan the measures needed to address the threats and conserve these species, identify willing landowners, develop agreements, and design and implement conservation measures and monitor their effectiveness. In return for managing their lands to the benefit of the species covered by the CCAA, participating property owners receive assurances that no additional conservation measures or land, water or resource use restrictions will be imposed under the ESA (beyond those agreed to in the CCAA) on covered activities on enrolled lands should any of the covered species ever be listed under the ESA. The Service provides these assurances through an EOS permit, issued pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA for a specific number of years, that becomes effective if a species covered by the CCAA and permit is listed. Under the permit, participating landowners also receive authorization for take that is incidental to activities covered by the CCAA. In a case such as this, in which a third-party would administer the CCAA, the permit is issued to the third-party administrator (in this case, the University of Illinois at Chicago), and permit coverage extends to non-Federal landowners who enroll in the Agreement through a certificate of Inclusion (CI) and comply with the requirements stated in the Agreement and their respective CIs. Additional permit application requirements and issuance criteria for CCAAs are found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 50 CFR 17.22(d) and 17.32(d), respectively, as well as 50 CFR part 13. Please also see our joint policy on CCAAs, which we published in the Federal Register with the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service (81 FR 95164; December 27, 2016). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:16 Apr 12, 2019 Jkt 247001 Candidate Conservation Agreement In general, CCAs are voluntary conservation agreements between the Service and one or more public or private parties that identify specific conservation measures that the participants will voluntarily undertake to conserve the species covered by the agreements. Parties of a CCA do not receive the assurances associated with a CCAA, and CCAs typically address Federal lands. By addressing key threats to species on Federal lands, CCAs are particularly helpful in ensuring consistent application of a conservation strategy in situations, such as those which occur in the Coverage Area, where private activities occur on a mix of non-Federal and Federal lands. Because Federal agencies have special obligations for the conservation of listed species under section 7 of the ESA, CCAs for activities conducted on Federal lands do not include the assurances and the incidental take permit that are available to participants in a CCAA, all of whom by definition are non-Federal entities. Proposed Action Because the Agreement participants’ properties cross Federal as well as nonFederal lands, the UIC is proposing an integrated programmatic CCAA/CCA to provide a seamless implementation of the conservation strategy across enrolled non-Federal and Federal lands at a landscape level. While the integrated Agreement applies throughout enrolled lands, neither Federal agencies nor nonFederal partners would receive EOS permit coverage or ‘‘assurances’’ on activities conducted on enrolled lands that cross Federal property. Although there are no assurances associated with Federal lands, enrollees have a high degree of certainty that they will not be subject to increased land use restrictions by the Service if the covered species becomes listed under the ESA in the future. This regulatory predictability is provided through the programmatic conference opinion (developed as part of an ESA Section 7 consultation on the Agreement) for monarch butterfly. The Agreement is intended to demonstrate that adequate conservation measures, sufficient adaptive management, and monitoring obligations are in place to provide a net conservation benefit. In the conference opinion the Service evaluates the likely effects of the agreement on the monarch and it may be converted into a biological opinion on the effective date of any decision to list the monarch butterfly. The biological opinion would include an incidental take statement that describes PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 the anticipated level of take from implementing the Agreement on Federal and non-Federal lands and provides a legal means to allow that take to occur. The Agreement provides a programmatic conservation strategy that results in a net conservation benefit to monarch butterflies throughout the lands enrolled. Private and non-Federal partners in energy and transportation sectors are encouraged to enter into the programmatic Agreement through UIC. The proposed action involves the issuance of a section 10(a)(1)(A) EOS permit by the Service to UIC and approval of the proposed programmatic Agreement. The purpose of the Agreement and permit is to implement a conservation strategy that benefits monarch butterflies throughout their range in the conterminous United States. The UIC would administer the Agreement and enroll eligible applicants, who would hold CIs. The Agreement and associated permit are proposed to cover 50 years from the time the Agreement is signed. Under the proposed Agreement, UIC and partners who enroll into the agreement through UIC would create, enhance, and maintain habitat for monarch butterflies, as well as continue activities supporting operations of energy and transportation sectors, including general operations, vegetation management, and maintenance and modernization within existing rights-ofway and associated lands. The proposed Agreement does not include construction and land disturbing activities that pose significant environmental, socioeconomic, historical or cultural impacts (for example, interstate highways, pipelines, transmission lines, new rail routes, or similar). Partners enrolled in the Agreement through UIC would hold a CI and be authorized for incidental take and assurances for monarch butterfly on non-Federal lands. Where enrolled partners have property interest across Federal lands, incidental take will be provided under a biological opinion prepared in accordance with section 7 of the ESA, granting them a high degree of certainty that additional conservation measures or limitations above those contained in the Agreement and CIs will not be imposed for monarch butterfly. The conservation measures in this Agreement were designed to meet the net conservation benefit standard specifically for lands managed by the energy and transportation sectors. Unlike many other lands in the United States, those lands are already actively managed to prevent the growth of trees and woody vegetation. This results in E:\FR\FM\15APN1.SGM 15APN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 72 / Monday, April 15, 2019 / Notices amozie on DSK9F9SC42PROD with NOTICES lands that are generally maintained as grassland, meadow, prairie, or shrubscrub type habitats, all of which provide habitat for species, such as the monarch butterfly, that depend on early successional plant communities and structures. We have worked with UIC to design conservation measures expected to have a net conservation benefit to the covered species within the covered area; however, landowners and enrollees would not have to conduct every activity in this list in order for their actions to have a net conservation benefit on the monarch butterfly. To maintain a net conservation benefit, each partner must use selected conservation measures to create and maintain a proportion of their enrolled lands as monarch habitat each year. Each partner will need to follow their individual CIs and the conservation measures included within. Some examples of these conservation actions include the following: (1) Establishing and using native seed mixes containing a diversity of native wildflowers, including milkweed, as appropriate; (2) minimizing use of grazing in monarch habitat during peak breeding and migration periods to promote fall nectar plants; (3) removing woody plants in densely covered shrub areas and invasive plant species to promote grassland habitats; (4) sustaining idle lands with suitable habitat for monarch butterflies; and (5) using conservation mowing to enhance floral resources and habitat. Covered Area This agreement encompasses a covered area consisting of energy and transportation lands within the monarch butterfly’s range across the lower 48 States. Within this covered area, Partners may enroll their energy and transportation lands (as enrolled lands). Although the covered area spans 48 States, only a portion of this area will be enrolled in the Agreement. Enrollment of lands under this Agreement is voluntary. The partners reasonably expect that monarch butterflies may occur in all or a portion of habitats on enrolled lands as a result of management actions undertaken through this Agreement. This Agreement will cover those properties that have existing, historic, or potential suitable habitat for monarchs across their range. Enrolled lands may include all or some combination of suitable habitat types or areas with the potential to create those habitats. The scope of the covered area excludes documented overwintering sites such as overwintering groves along the California coast and other VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:16 Apr 12, 2019 Jkt 247001 documented overwintering sites. Western monarchs use ecologically different habitat throughout both their breeding and migratory habitat as well as their overwintering grounds. Due to the ecological differences of these sites, documented overwintering sites are considered outside the scope of the covered area for the Agreement. Monarchs do also occasionally overwinter in other locations across the southern United States. These overwintering locations may be nonspecific or transient from year to year. For the purposes of the Agreement, only documented overwintering sites repeatedly relied upon for monarchs are excluded from the covered area. National Environmental Policy Act Compliance The issuance of a section 10(a)(1)(A) permit is a Federal action subject to NEPA compliance, including the Council on Environmental Quality regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA (40 CFR 1500–1508). The Service’s decision on whether to enter into the Agreement is a Federal action subject to NEPA compliance. The UIC’s proposed Agreement and related application for the Enhancement of Survival permit is eligible for categorical exclusion under NEPA. As required by NEPA, we considered impacts to the human environment that would result from issuance of the requested permit. Entering into the Agreement is strictly a voluntary action for landowners, and the covered activities under the permit are generally activities already occurring on these properties (e.g., general operations, vegetation management, and maintenance and modernization within existing rights-of-way and associated lands). As explained in the draft loweffect screening form, we believe the agreement is a ‘‘low-effect’’ project and qualifies for categorical exclusion under NEPA, as provided by 43 CFR 46.205 and 43 CFR 46.210. The proposed Agreement creates and enhances monarch habitat, addresses ongoing maintenance and minor modernization activities, and does not include construction and land disturbing activities that pose significant environmental, socioeconomic, historical or cultural impacts (for example, interstate highways, pipelines, transmission lines, new rail routes, or similar). Therefore, we are proposing to categorically exclude this action from further analysis under NEPA. PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 15231 Public Comments We specifically request information and comments from the public via this notice on our proposed Federal action to enter into the Agreement and issue an EOS permit for monarch butterfly. Further, we specifically invite submission of information regarding the adequacy of the agreement per 50 CFR parts 13 and 17. Written comments we receive become part of the administrative 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 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. Next Steps We will evaluate the enhancement of survival permit application, including the agreement and any comments we receive, to determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA. We will also evaluate whether the section 10(a)(1)(A) enhancement of survival permit would comply with section 7 of the ESA by conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation. If we determine that the requirements are met, we will issue a permit under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA to UIC in accordance with the applicable regulatory requirements. We will not make our final decision until after the end of the 60-day comment period and will fully consider all comments received during the comment period. 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 the NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6; 43 CFR part 46). Dated: April 4, 2019. Charles Wooley, Acting Regional Director, Midwest Region. [FR Doc. 2019–07399 Filed 4–12–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P E:\FR\FM\15APN1.SGM 15APN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 72 (Monday, April 15, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 15229-15231]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-07399]


=======================================================================
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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2019-0007; FXES11130300000]


Receipt of Application for Enhancement of Survival Permit and 
Draft Candidate Conservation Agreement With Assurances/Candidate 
Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterfly; University of Illinois at 
Chicago; Low-Effect Screening Form

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have received an 
application from University of Illinois at Chicago for an enhancement 
of survival permit under the Endangered Species Act. The application 
includes an integrated programmatic candidate conservation agreement 
with assurances and a candidate conservation agreement (agreement) for 
the monarch butterfly. We have made a preliminary determination that 
the agreement is eligible for a categorical exclusion under the 
National Environmental Policy Act. The basis for this determination is 
contained in a low-effect screening form, which is also available for 
public review. We request public comment on the agreement and low-
effect screening form.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before June 
14, 2019. Any comments we receive after the closing date or not 
postmarked by the closing date may not be considered in the final 
decision on this action.

ADDRESSES: 
    Obtaining Documents for Review: The documents this notice 
announces, as well as any comments and other materials that we receive, 
will be available for public inspection online in Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-
2019-0007 at http://www.regulations.gov.
    Submitting Comments: You may submit comments by one of the 
following methods:
     Online: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2019-0007.
     U.S. Mail or Hand-Delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2019-0007; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 
MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
    We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This 
generally means that we will post online any personal information that 
you provide (see Public Availability of Comments under SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION). We request that you send comments by only the methods 
described above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Alisa Shull, Chief, Division of 
Endangered Species, via U.S. Mail at the Midwest Regional Office, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990, 
Bloomington, MN 55437; via phone at 612-713-5334; or via the Federal 
Information Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Overview

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received an 
application from University of Illinois at Chicago (applicant) for an 
enhancement of survival (EOS) permit pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.), for the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). The application 
includes an integrated programmatic candidate conservation agreement 
with assurances and candidate conservation agreement (Agreement) 
covering the conterminous 48 United States. The Agreement and 
associated permit would implement a voluntary conservation strategy 
developed by UIC for energy and transportation activities on enrolled 
lands. These activities include conservation measures to restore, 
maintain, enhance, or create habitat for monarch butterflies, as well 
as activities to conduct general maintenance, management, and 
modernization within existing rights-of-way and associated lands.
    The intent of the Agreement is to provide non-Federal landowners in 
the covered area with the opportunity to voluntarily conserve the 
covered species and its habitat while carrying out their operations in 
a manner that would result in a net conservation benefit to the covered 
species. We have made a preliminary determination that the Agreement 
and permit application are eligible for a categorical exclusion under 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.). The basis for this determination is contained in a low-effect 
screening form, which is also available for public review. If approved, 
the EOS permit would be for a 50-year period following the signature of 
the Agreement and would authorize the incidental take of

[[Page 15230]]

the monarch butterfly, if the species comes to be listed under the ESA.

Background

Candidate Conservation Agreement With Assurances

    A CCAA is an agreement with the Service in which private and other 
non-Federal landowners voluntarily agree to undertake management 
activities and conservation efforts on their properties to enhance, 
restore, or maintain habitat to benefit species that are proposed for 
listing under the ESA, that are candidates for listing, or that may 
become candidates. The Service works with these partners to identify 
threats to candidate species, plan the measures needed to address the 
threats and conserve these species, identify willing landowners, 
develop agreements, and design and implement conservation measures and 
monitor their effectiveness. In return for managing their lands to the 
benefit of the species covered by the CCAA, participating property 
owners receive assurances that no additional conservation measures or 
land, water or resource use restrictions will be imposed under the ESA 
(beyond those agreed to in the CCAA) on covered activities on enrolled 
lands should any of the covered species ever be listed under the ESA. 
The Service provides these assurances through an EOS permit, issued 
pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA for a specific number of 
years, that becomes effective if a species covered by the CCAA and 
permit is listed. Under the permit, participating landowners also 
receive authorization for take that is incidental to activities covered 
by the CCAA. In a case such as this, in which a third-party would 
administer the CCAA, the permit is issued to the third-party 
administrator (in this case, the University of Illinois at Chicago), 
and permit coverage extends to non-Federal landowners who enroll in the 
Agreement through a certificate of Inclusion (CI) and comply with the 
requirements stated in the Agreement and their respective CIs. 
Additional permit application requirements and issuance criteria for 
CCAAs are found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 50 CFR 
17.22(d) and 17.32(d), respectively, as well as 50 CFR part 13. Please 
also see our joint policy on CCAAs, which we published in the Federal 
Register with the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service (81 FR 
95164; December 27, 2016).

Candidate Conservation Agreement

    In general, CCAs are voluntary conservation agreements between the 
Service and one or more public or private parties that identify 
specific conservation measures that the participants will voluntarily 
undertake to conserve the species covered by the agreements. Parties of 
a CCA do not receive the assurances associated with a CCAA, and CCAs 
typically address Federal lands. By addressing key threats to species 
on Federal lands, CCAs are particularly helpful in ensuring consistent 
application of a conservation strategy in situations, such as those 
which occur in the Coverage Area, where private activities occur on a 
mix of non-Federal and Federal lands. Because Federal agencies have 
special obligations for the conservation of listed species under 
section 7 of the ESA, CCAs for activities conducted on Federal lands do 
not include the assurances and the incidental take permit that are 
available to participants in a CCAA, all of whom by definition are non-
Federal entities.

Proposed Action

    Because the Agreement participants' properties cross Federal as 
well as non-Federal lands, the UIC is proposing an integrated 
programmatic CCAA/CCA to provide a seamless implementation of the 
conservation strategy across enrolled non-Federal and Federal lands at 
a landscape level. While the integrated Agreement applies throughout 
enrolled lands, neither Federal agencies nor non-Federal partners would 
receive EOS permit coverage or ``assurances'' on activities conducted 
on enrolled lands that cross Federal property. Although there are no 
assurances associated with Federal lands, enrollees have a high degree 
of certainty that they will not be subject to increased land use 
restrictions by the Service if the covered species becomes listed under 
the ESA in the future. This regulatory predictability is provided 
through the programmatic conference opinion (developed as part of an 
ESA Section 7 consultation on the Agreement) for monarch butterfly. The 
Agreement is intended to demonstrate that adequate conservation 
measures, sufficient adaptive management, and monitoring obligations 
are in place to provide a net conservation benefit. In the conference 
opinion the Service evaluates the likely effects of the agreement on 
the monarch and it may be converted into a biological opinion on the 
effective date of any decision to list the monarch butterfly. The 
biological opinion would include an incidental take statement that 
describes the anticipated level of take from implementing the Agreement 
on Federal and non-Federal lands and provides a legal means to allow 
that take to occur. The Agreement provides a programmatic conservation 
strategy that results in a net conservation benefit to monarch 
butterflies throughout the lands enrolled. Private and non-Federal 
partners in energy and transportation sectors are encouraged to enter 
into the programmatic Agreement through UIC.
    The proposed action involves the issuance of a section 10(a)(1)(A) 
EOS permit by the Service to UIC and approval of the proposed 
programmatic Agreement. The purpose of the Agreement and permit is to 
implement a conservation strategy that benefits monarch butterflies 
throughout their range in the conterminous United States. The UIC would 
administer the Agreement and enroll eligible applicants, who would hold 
CIs. The Agreement and associated permit are proposed to cover 50 years 
from the time the Agreement is signed.
    Under the proposed Agreement, UIC and partners who enroll into the 
agreement through UIC would create, enhance, and maintain habitat for 
monarch butterflies, as well as continue activities supporting 
operations of energy and transportation sectors, including general 
operations, vegetation management, and maintenance and modernization 
within existing rights-of-way and associated lands. The proposed 
Agreement does not include construction and land disturbing activities 
that pose significant environmental, socioeconomic, historical or 
cultural impacts (for example, interstate highways, pipelines, 
transmission lines, new rail routes, or similar).
    Partners enrolled in the Agreement through UIC would hold a CI and 
be authorized for incidental take and assurances for monarch butterfly 
on non-Federal lands. Where enrolled partners have property interest 
across Federal lands, incidental take will be provided under a 
biological opinion prepared in accordance with section 7 of the ESA, 
granting them a high degree of certainty that additional conservation 
measures or limitations above those contained in the Agreement and CIs 
will not be imposed for monarch butterfly.
    The conservation measures in this Agreement were designed to meet 
the net conservation benefit standard specifically for lands managed by 
the energy and transportation sectors. Unlike many other lands in the 
United States, those lands are already actively managed to prevent the 
growth of trees and woody vegetation. This results in

[[Page 15231]]

lands that are generally maintained as grassland, meadow, prairie, or 
shrub-scrub type habitats, all of which provide habitat for species, 
such as the monarch butterfly, that depend on early successional plant 
communities and structures. We have worked with UIC to design 
conservation measures expected to have a net conservation benefit to 
the covered species within the covered area; however, landowners and 
enrollees would not have to conduct every activity in this list in 
order for their actions to have a net conservation benefit on the 
monarch butterfly. To maintain a net conservation benefit, each partner 
must use selected conservation measures to create and maintain a 
proportion of their enrolled lands as monarch habitat each year. Each 
partner will need to follow their individual CIs and the conservation 
measures included within. Some examples of these conservation actions 
include the following: (1) Establishing and using native seed mixes 
containing a diversity of native wildflowers, including milkweed, as 
appropriate; (2) minimizing use of grazing in monarch habitat during 
peak breeding and migration periods to promote fall nectar plants; (3) 
removing woody plants in densely covered shrub areas and invasive plant 
species to promote grassland habitats; (4) sustaining idle lands with 
suitable habitat for monarch butterflies; and (5) using conservation 
mowing to enhance floral resources and habitat.

Covered Area

    This agreement encompasses a covered area consisting of energy and 
transportation lands within the monarch butterfly's range across the 
lower 48 States. Within this covered area, Partners may enroll their 
energy and transportation lands (as enrolled lands). Although the 
covered area spans 48 States, only a portion of this area will be 
enrolled in the Agreement. Enrollment of lands under this Agreement is 
voluntary. The partners reasonably expect that monarch butterflies may 
occur in all or a portion of habitats on enrolled lands as a result of 
management actions undertaken through this Agreement. This Agreement 
will cover those properties that have existing, historic, or potential 
suitable habitat for monarchs across their range. Enrolled lands may 
include all or some combination of suitable habitat types or areas with 
the potential to create those habitats.
    The scope of the covered area excludes documented overwintering 
sites such as overwintering groves along the California coast and other 
documented overwintering sites. Western monarchs use ecologically 
different habitat throughout both their breeding and migratory habitat 
as well as their overwintering grounds. Due to the ecological 
differences of these sites, documented overwintering sites are 
considered outside the scope of the covered area for the Agreement. 
Monarchs do also occasionally overwinter in other locations across the 
southern United States. These overwintering locations may be 
nonspecific or transient from year to year. For the purposes of the 
Agreement, only documented overwintering sites repeatedly relied upon 
for monarchs are excluded from the covered area.

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    The issuance of a section 10(a)(1)(A) permit is a Federal action 
subject to NEPA compliance, including the Council on Environmental 
Quality regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA 
(40 CFR 1500-1508). The Service's decision on whether to enter into the 
Agreement is a Federal action subject to NEPA compliance. The UIC's 
proposed Agreement and related application for the Enhancement of 
Survival permit is eligible for categorical exclusion under NEPA.
    As required by NEPA, we considered impacts to the human environment 
that would result from issuance of the requested permit. Entering into 
the Agreement is strictly a voluntary action for landowners, and the 
covered activities under the permit are generally activities already 
occurring on these properties (e.g., general operations, vegetation 
management, and maintenance and modernization within existing rights-
of-way and associated lands). As explained in the draft low-effect 
screening form, we believe the agreement is a ``low-effect'' project 
and qualifies for categorical exclusion under NEPA, as provided by 43 
CFR 46.205 and 43 CFR 46.210. The proposed Agreement creates and 
enhances monarch habitat, addresses ongoing maintenance and minor 
modernization activities, and does not include construction and land 
disturbing activities that pose significant environmental, 
socioeconomic, historical or cultural impacts (for example, interstate 
highways, pipelines, transmission lines, new rail routes, or similar). 
Therefore, we are proposing to categorically exclude this action from 
further analysis under NEPA.

Public Comments

    We specifically request information and comments from the public 
via this notice on our proposed Federal action to enter into the 
Agreement and issue an EOS permit for monarch butterfly. Further, we 
specifically invite submission of information regarding the adequacy of 
the agreement per 50 CFR parts 13 and 17.
    Written comments we receive become part of the administrative 
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 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.

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the enhancement of survival permit application, 
including the agreement and any comments we receive, to determine 
whether the application meets the requirements of section 10(a)(1)(A) 
of the ESA. We will also evaluate whether the section 10(a)(1)(A) 
enhancement of survival permit would comply with section 7 of the ESA 
by conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation. If we determine 
that the requirements are met, we will issue a permit under section 
10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA to UIC in accordance with the applicable 
regulatory requirements. We will not make our final decision until 
after the end of the 60-day comment period and will fully consider all 
comments received during the comment period.

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 the 
NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 
1506.6; 43 CFR part 46).

    Dated: April 4, 2019.
Charles Wooley,
Acting Regional Director, Midwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2019-07399 Filed 4-12-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P