Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Lower Colorado River Authority's Transmission Services Corporation's Habitat Conservation Plan in Texas, 46963-46965 [2019-19253]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 173 / Friday, September 6, 2019 / Notices cost burden associated with this collection of information is $213,107. Dated: August 30, 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. 2019–19225 Filed 9–5–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111–97–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2019–0016; FXES11140200000–190–FF02ENEH00] Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Lower Colorado River Authority’s Transmission Services Corporation’s Habitat Conservation Plan in 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 the Lower Colorado River Authority’s Transmission Services Corporation’s Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). Our decision is to issue a 30-year ITP for implementation of the HCP, which authorizes incidental take of 22 listed and 1 unlisted species under the Endangered Species Act. DATES: We will finalize a record of decision and issue a permit no sooner than October 7, 2019. ADDRESSES: You may obtain copies of the documents in the following formats: • Electronic: Æ http://www.regulations.gov, in Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2019–0016; Æ https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/ AustinTexas/; or Æ CD–ROM: Contact Mr. Adam Zerrenner (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). • Hard copy: You may review the final EIS and HCP 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. jspears on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:53 Sep 05, 2019 Jkt 247001 Æ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, Texas 78758. Call 512–490–0057. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Adam Zerrenner, Field Supervisor, via U.S. mail at Austin Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758; or via phone at 512– 490–0057. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of 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 environmental impact statement (EIS) was developed in compliance with the Service’s decision-making requirements per the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and is based on the HCP submitted by the Lower Colorado River Authority’s Transmission Services Corporation (LCRA TSC, applicant). We described, fully evaluated, and analyzed three alternatives in detail in our 2019 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 following federally endangered species: • Golden-cheeked warbler (Setophaga [=Dendroica] chrysoparia) • Whooping crane (Grus Americana) • Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) • Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) • Houston toad (Anaxyrus [=Bufo] houstonensis) • Barton Springs salamander (Eurycea sosorum) • Comal Springs riffle beetle (Heterelmis comalensis) • Peck’s cave amphipod (Stygobromus pecki) • Bee Creek Cave harvestman (Texella reddelli) • Tooth Cave spider (Tayshaneta [=Neoleptoneta] myopica) • Tooth Cave ground beetle (Rhadine persephone) • Madla Cave meshweaver (Cicurina madla) • Government Canyon Bat Cave spider (Tayshaneta [=Neoleptoneta] microps) • Helotes mold beetle (Batrisodes venyivi) • Ground beetle (no common name; Rhadine exilis) • Ground beetle (no common name; Rhadine infernalis) The ITP would also authorize incidental take of the following federally threatened species: PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 46963 • Piping plover (Charadrius melodus) • Rufa red knot (Calidris canutus rufa) • Jollyville Plateau salamander (Eurycea tonkawae) • Salado Springs salamander (Eurycea chisholmensis) • San Marcos salamander (Eurycea nana) • Georgetown salamander (Eurycea naufragia) Also included is the following species, which is petitioned for listing: • Spot-tailed earless lizard (Holbrookia lacerata) Collectively, these are the covered species. The permit area for ITP implementation includes 241 Texas counties (see figure 1 in the HCP). Activities covered by the HCP include construction; operation; upgrade; decommissioning; and repair and maintenance of electrical transmission lines, substations, access roads, and related infrastructure and facilities (covered activities). LCRA TSC activities are classified as (1) new construction, (2) upgrading and decommissioning, (3) operations and maintenance, and (4) emergency responses. The applicant requested a term of 30 years, starting on the date of ITP issuance. The applicant will fully implement avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures to offset impacts to the covered species according to the HCP and ITP. The applicant has agreed to include the following minimization measures: 1. Meet annually with the Service to discuss upcoming LCRA TSC activities, updated distribution or occurrence information for covered species, opportunities for mitigation, and other concerns; 2. Perform pre-construction natural resource assessments to avoid adverse effects on sensitive environmental features (including species); 3. Implement best practices and other measures to reduce environmental impacts before, during, and after construction; 4. Provide annual training to LCRA TSC staff and contractors working on covered activities regarding the implementation of the HCP and any covered species overlapping with covered activities; 5. Clear and manage vegetation within rights-of-way using aboveground means when practicable; 6. Mark those sections of transmission lines that cross major rivers and out 300 feet from either side; 7. Limit herbicide applications to woody vegetation that is a potential threat to the reliability of LCRA TSC facilities and observe the Service’s Southwest Region guidance for pesticide applications; E:\FR\FM\06SEN1.SGM 06SEN1 jspears on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 46964 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 173 / Friday, September 6, 2019 / Notices 8. Restore preconstruction contours and revegetate construction sites and any other places where soil is disturbed within rights-of-way; 9. Avoid causing subsurface disturbances to wetlands, riparian areas, and aquatic habitats; 10. Use erosion and sedimentation controls as required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality or local ordinances to address storm water discharges during construction; 11. Avoid causing subsurface disturbances to wetlands, riparian areas, and aquatic habitats; and 12. Disturb the least amount of habitat as possible for safely implementing the covered activities. The mitigation measures include the following commitments: 1. Ratios will be applied at varying levels, depending on direct versus indirect effects, assumed occupied versus confirmed occupied habitat, and when designated critical habitat or conservation lands benefitting the species are impacted. 2. Mitigation will occur through one or more of the following: a. A Service-approved conservation bank, with priority given to banks that have the covered activities within their service area; b. Service-approved in-lieu fee programs; c. Third-party conservation providers implementing Service-approved conservation actions; or d. Permittee-implemented Serviceapproved conservation actions. 3. In the unlikely event that no practicable opportunities exist for carrying out mitigation obligations in connection with a covered activity, LCRA TSC will work with the Service to identify other types of practicable mitigation solutions for the covered species, which may include but are not limited to: a. Approval of alternate means of mitigation delivery, such as translocating or repatriating covered species, enhancement of functional habitat for covered species, or restoration of degraded habitat for covered species; b. Approval of methods to reduce or eliminate other threats to the covered species; and c. Funding for research or studies regarding the covered species that further scientific understanding of how to manage and conserve those species. 4. If LCRA TSC starts a covered activity prior to mitigating, they will mitigate an additional 25 percent plus an additional 5 percent each year that mitigation is delayed. 5. The Service will review and approve all mitigation, except where VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:53 Sep 05, 2019 Jkt 247001 covered activities occur within the service area of a conservation bank for the impacted covered species. 6. If a covered activity will take more than one covered species within the same location, then: a. The mitigation can also count towards those species, if they are all present within the same location on the mitigation lands (i.e. stacked); and b. A stacked mitigation credit can only be used once, regardless whether all of the species within the mitigation were impacted by the covered activity. 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 covered species and would be in effect for a period of 30 years. The proposed incidental take of the covered species would occur from lawful non-Federal activities from the applicant’s covered activities in the permit area. The HCP includes counties where LCRA TSC currently has facilities, counties LCRA TSC expects they may have future facilities, and a buffer around those counties. 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). We may, however, under specified circumstances, issue permits that allow the take of federally listed species, provided the take is incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities. Regulations governing ITPs for endangered and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively. We published a notice of intent (NOI) in the Federal Register on July 11, 2017 PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 (82 FR 35539), to determine the scope of issues and alternatives to be addressed in the EIS. Publication of the NOI initiated a 30-day scoping period, during which the Service solicited comments regarding potential impacts associated with and identification of alternatives to the proposed Federal action for the Service to address in their NEPA environmental review document. The Service held scoping meetings in Corpus Christi, Austin, Midland, and College Station, Texas, in August 2017. The scoping comment period closed on August 30, 2017. Nine individuals attended scoping meetings, and the Katy Prairie Conservancy and National Park Service each submitted a comment letter. The Service considered the scoping comments and incorporated ideas into the environmental effects analysis, as applicable. We published a notice of receipt of the application and availability of the HCP and a draft EIS in the Federal Register on April 29, 2019 (84 FR 18075). The public comment period closed on June 13, 2019. We received nine comments, one from the Texas Historical Commission with only minor editing suggestions, one from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with no comment, four from tribes (three with no comments or concerns, and one requesting to be a consulting party), one from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and two comments that were not substantive. Appendix B of the final EIS provides the comments, responses, and information on where the Service made changes to the HCP/EIS. Decision We intend to issue an ITP allowing the applicant to implement the proposed HCP, identified as the preferred alternative in the final EIS. We determined that the preferred alternative best balances the protection and management of habitat for the covered species, while allowing for the covered activities to be authorized under a longer-term permit. Considerations used in this decision include: (1) Minimization and mitigation measures that will benefit the covered species by permanently preserving more acreage than is removed, (2) the focus of mitigation in single parcels when acreage impacted will likely come from patches spanning linear projects, (3) mitigation measures that will fully offset anticipated impacts to the covered species and will contribute to their recovery, and (4) that the HCP is consistent with species E:\FR\FM\06SEN1.SGM 06SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 173 / Friday, September 6, 2019 / Notices recovery plans or outlines, noting that some species do not have either. EPA’s Role in the EIS Process In addition to this notice, EPA is publishing a notice in the Federal Register announcing the final EIS for LCRA TSC’s final HCP, 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 Lueders, Regional Director, Southwest Region, Albuquerque, New Mexico. [FR Doc. 2019–19253 Filed 9–5–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [LLOR957000.L63100000.HD0000. 19XL1116AF.HAG 19–0127] Filing of Plats of Survey: Oregon/ Washington Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The plats of survey of the following described lands are scheduled to be officially filed in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Oregon State Office, Portland, Oregon, 30 calendar days from the date of this publication. DATES: Protests must be received by the BLM prior to the scheduled date of official filing, October 7, 2019. ADDRESSES: A copy of the plats may be obtained from the public room at the Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State Office, 1220 SW 3rd Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97204, upon required jspears on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:53 Sep 05, 2019 Jkt 247001 payment. The plats may be viewed at this location at no cost. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kyle Hensley, 503–808–6124, Branch of Geographic Sciences, Bureau of Land Management, 1220 SW 3rd Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97204. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 1–800–877–8339 to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The plats of survey of the following described lands are scheduled to be officially filed in the Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State Office, Portland, Oregon: WILLAMETTE MERIDIAN, OREGON T. 38 S, R. 8 W, accepted August 9, 2019 T. 12 S, R. 1 E, accepted August 9, 2019 T. 35 S, R. 7 W, accepted August 9, 2019 T. 21 S, R. 11 E, accepted August 9, 2019 A person or party who wishes to protest one or more plats of survey identified above must file a written notice of protest with the Chief Cadastral Surveyor for Oregon/ Washington, Bureau of Land Management. The notice of protest must identify the plat(s) of survey that the person or party wishes to protest. The notice of protest must be filed before the scheduled date of official filing for the plat(s) of survey being protested. Any notice of protest filed after the scheduled date of official filing will be untimely and will not be considered. A notice of protest is considered filed on the date it is received by the Chief Cadastral Surveyor for Oregon/ Washington during regular business hours; if received after regular business hours, a notice of protest will be considered filed the next business day. A written statement of reasons in support of a protest, if not filed with the notice of protest, must be filed with the Chief Cadastral Surveyor for Oregon/ Washington within 30 calendar days after the notice of protest is filed. If a notice of protest against a plat of survey is received prior to the scheduled date of official filing, the official filing of the plat of survey identified in the notice of protest will be stayed pending consideration of the protest. A plat of survey will not be officially filed until the next business day following the resolution of all protests of the plat. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in a notice of protest or statement of reasons, you should be aware that the documents PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 46965 you submit—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available in their entirety at any time. While you can ask us to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Mary J.M. Hartel, Chief Cadastral Surveyor of Oregon/ Washington. [FR Doc. 2019–19254 Filed 9–5–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–33–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management Fish and Wildlife Service [51100000.GN0000.LVEMF1503760 .LLNVW03000.15x MO# 4500136770] Notice of Availability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Hycroft Mine Phase II Expansion Project, Humboldt and Pershing Counties, Nevada Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability. AGENCY: In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA), and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, as amended, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Black Rock Field Office, Winnemucca, Nevada, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have prepared a joint Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and by this notice are announcing the beginning of the availability of the Final EIS. The BLM is the lead agency in development of the Final EIS and has evaluated Hycroft Resource and Development, Inc.’s (HRDI’s) request for the proposed expansion of their operations at the existing Hycroft Mine. The USFWS is a coordinating agency with the BLM on the development of this EIS and has evaluated the applicant’s Eagle Conservation Plan (ECP), which describes HRDI’s request to remove inactive (i.e., outside the nesting season) eagle nests and for a 30year incidental take permit for golden eagles under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act). DATES: This notice initiates the availability of the Final EIS. No ROD will issue for 30 days past the publication of this NOA. ADDRESSES: To access the Final EIS and if more information is required please reach out the appropriate contact below SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\06SEN1.SGM 06SEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 173 (Friday, September 6, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 46963-46965]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-19253]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2019-0016; FXES11140200000-190-FF02ENEH00]


Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Lower Colorado River 
Authority's Transmission Services Corporation's Habitat Conservation 
Plan in 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 the Lower Colorado River Authority's 
Transmission Services Corporation's Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). 
Our decision is to issue a 30-year ITP for implementation of the HCP, 
which authorizes incidental take of 22 listed and 1 unlisted species 
under the Endangered Species Act.

DATES: We will finalize a record of decision and issue a permit no 
sooner than October 7, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain copies of the documents in the following 
formats:
     Electronic:
    [cir] http://www.regulations.gov, in Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2019-
0016;
    [cir] https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/AustinTexas/; or
    [cir] CD-ROM: Contact Mr. Adam Zerrenner (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT).
     Hard copy: You may review the final EIS and HCP 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, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, 
Austin, Texas 78758. Call 512-490-0057.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Adam Zerrenner, Field Supervisor, via 
U.S. mail at Austin Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758; or 
via phone at 512-490-0057.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), announce the availability of 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 
environmental impact statement (EIS) was developed in compliance with 
the Service's decision-making requirements per the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and is based 
on the HCP submitted by the Lower Colorado River Authority's 
Transmission Services Corporation (LCRA TSC, applicant). We described, 
fully evaluated, and analyzed three alternatives in detail in our 2019 
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 
following federally endangered species:

 Golden-cheeked warbler (Setophaga [=Dendroica] chrysoparia)
 Whooping crane (Grus Americana)
 Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis)
 Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)
 Houston toad (Anaxyrus [=Bufo] houstonensis)
 Barton Springs salamander (Eurycea sosorum)
 Comal Springs riffle beetle (Heterelmis comalensis)
 Peck's cave amphipod (Stygobromus pecki)
 Bee Creek Cave harvestman (Texella reddelli)
 Tooth Cave spider (Tayshaneta [=Neoleptoneta] myopica)
 Tooth Cave ground beetle (Rhadine persephone)
 Madla Cave meshweaver (Cicurina madla)
 Government Canyon Bat Cave spider (Tayshaneta [=Neoleptoneta] 
microps)
 Helotes mold beetle (Batrisodes venyivi)
 Ground beetle (no common name; Rhadine exilis)
 Ground beetle (no common name; Rhadine infernalis)

    The ITP would also authorize incidental take of the following 
federally threatened species:

 Piping plover (Charadrius melodus)
 Rufa red knot (Calidris canutus rufa)
 Jollyville Plateau salamander (Eurycea tonkawae)
 Salado Springs salamander (Eurycea chisholmensis)
 San Marcos salamander (Eurycea nana)
 Georgetown salamander (Eurycea naufragia)

    Also included is the following species, which is petitioned for 
listing:

 Spot-tailed earless lizard (Holbrookia lacerata)

    Collectively, these are the covered species. The permit area for 
ITP implementation includes 241 Texas counties (see figure 1 in the 
HCP). Activities covered by the HCP include construction; operation; 
upgrade; decommissioning; and repair and maintenance of electrical 
transmission lines, substations, access roads, and related 
infrastructure and facilities (covered activities). LCRA TSC activities 
are classified as (1) new construction, (2) upgrading and 
decommissioning, (3) operations and maintenance, and (4) emergency 
responses. The applicant requested a term of 30 years, starting on the 
date of ITP issuance. The applicant will fully implement avoidance, 
minimization, and mitigation measures to offset impacts to the covered 
species according to the HCP and ITP. The applicant has agreed to 
include the following minimization measures:
    1. Meet annually with the Service to discuss upcoming LCRA TSC 
activities, updated distribution or occurrence information for covered 
species, opportunities for mitigation, and other concerns;
    2. Perform pre-construction natural resource assessments to avoid 
adverse effects on sensitive environmental features (including 
species);
    3. Implement best practices and other measures to reduce 
environmental impacts before, during, and after construction;
    4. Provide annual training to LCRA TSC staff and contractors 
working on covered activities regarding the implementation of the HCP 
and any covered species overlapping with covered activities;
    5. Clear and manage vegetation within rights-of-way using 
aboveground means when practicable;
    6. Mark those sections of transmission lines that cross major 
rivers and out 300 feet from either side;
    7. Limit herbicide applications to woody vegetation that is a 
potential threat to the reliability of LCRA TSC facilities and observe 
the Service's Southwest Region guidance for pesticide applications;

[[Page 46964]]

    8. Restore preconstruction contours and revegetate construction 
sites and any other places where soil is disturbed within rights-of-
way;
    9. Avoid causing subsurface disturbances to wetlands, riparian 
areas, and aquatic habitats;
    10. Use erosion and sedimentation controls as required by the Texas 
Commission on Environmental Quality or local ordinances to address 
storm water discharges during construction;
    11. Avoid causing subsurface disturbances to wetlands, riparian 
areas, and aquatic habitats; and
    12. Disturb the least amount of habitat as possible for safely 
implementing the covered activities.
    The mitigation measures include the following commitments:
    1. Ratios will be applied at varying levels, depending on direct 
versus indirect effects, assumed occupied versus confirmed occupied 
habitat, and when designated critical habitat or conservation lands 
benefitting the species are impacted.
    2. Mitigation will occur through one or more of the following:
    a. A Service-approved conservation bank, with priority given to 
banks that have the covered activities within their service area;
    b. Service-approved in-lieu fee programs;
    c. Third-party conservation providers implementing Service-approved 
conservation actions; or
    d. Permittee-implemented Service-approved conservation actions.
    3. In the unlikely event that no practicable opportunities exist 
for carrying out mitigation obligations in connection with a covered 
activity, LCRA TSC will work with the Service to identify other types 
of practicable mitigation solutions for the covered species, which may 
include but are not limited to:
    a. Approval of alternate means of mitigation delivery, such as 
translocating or repatriating covered species, enhancement of 
functional habitat for covered species, or restoration of degraded 
habitat for covered species;
    b. Approval of methods to reduce or eliminate other threats to the 
covered species; and
    c. Funding for research or studies regarding the covered species 
that further scientific understanding of how to manage and conserve 
those species.
    4. If LCRA TSC starts a covered activity prior to mitigating, they 
will mitigate an additional 25 percent plus an additional 5 percent 
each year that mitigation is delayed.
    5. The Service will review and approve all mitigation, except where 
covered activities occur within the service area of a conservation bank 
for the impacted covered species.
    6. If a covered activity will take more than one covered species 
within the same location, then:
    a. The mitigation can also count towards those species, if they are 
all present within the same location on the mitigation lands (i.e. 
stacked); and
    b. A stacked mitigation credit can only be used once, regardless 
whether all of the species within the mitigation were impacted by the 
covered activity.
    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 covered species and would be in effect 
for a period of 30 years. The proposed incidental take of the covered 
species would occur from lawful non-Federal activities from the 
applicant's covered activities in the permit area. The HCP includes 
counties where LCRA TSC currently has facilities, counties LCRA TSC 
expects they may have future facilities, and a buffer around those 
counties. 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). We may, however, under specified 
circumstances, issue permits that allow the take of federally listed 
species, provided the take is incidental to, and not the purpose of, 
otherwise lawful activities. Regulations governing ITPs for endangered 
and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively.
    We published a notice of intent (NOI) in the Federal Register on 
July 11, 2017 (82 FR 35539), to determine the scope of issues and 
alternatives to be addressed in the EIS. Publication of the NOI 
initiated a 30-day scoping period, during which the Service solicited 
comments regarding potential impacts associated with and identification 
of alternatives to the proposed Federal action for the Service to 
address in their NEPA environmental review document. The Service held 
scoping meetings in Corpus Christi, Austin, Midland, and College 
Station, Texas, in August 2017. The scoping comment period closed on 
August 30, 2017.
    Nine individuals attended scoping meetings, and the Katy Prairie 
Conservancy and National Park Service each submitted a comment letter. 
The Service considered the scoping comments and incorporated ideas into 
the environmental effects analysis, as applicable.
    We published a notice of receipt of the application and 
availability of the HCP and a draft EIS in the Federal Register on 
April 29, 2019 (84 FR 18075). The public comment period closed on June 
13, 2019. We received nine comments, one from the Texas Historical 
Commission with only minor editing suggestions, one from the 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with no comment, four from tribes 
(three with no comments or concerns, and one requesting to be a 
consulting party), one from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and 
two comments that were not substantive. Appendix B of the final EIS 
provides the comments, responses, and information on where the Service 
made changes to the HCP/EIS.

Decision

    We intend to issue an ITP allowing the applicant to implement the 
proposed HCP, identified as the preferred alternative in the final EIS. 
We determined that the preferred alternative best balances the 
protection and management of habitat for the covered species, while 
allowing for the covered activities to be authorized under a longer-
term permit. Considerations used in this decision include: (1) 
Minimization and mitigation measures that will benefit the covered 
species by permanently preserving more acreage than is removed, (2) the 
focus of mitigation in single parcels when acreage impacted will likely 
come from patches spanning linear projects, (3) mitigation measures 
that will fully offset anticipated impacts to the covered species and 
will contribute to their recovery, and (4) that the HCP is consistent 
with species

[[Page 46965]]

recovery plans or outlines, noting that some species do not have 
either.

EPA's Role in the EIS Process

    In addition to this notice, EPA is publishing a notice in the 
Federal Register announcing the final EIS for LCRA TSC's final HCP, 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 Lueders,
Regional Director, Southwest Region, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
[FR Doc. 2019-19253 Filed 9-5-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P