Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, Lake County, OR; Notice of Intent To Prepare a Bighorn Sheep Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, 27430-27431 [2020-09255]

Download as PDF 27430 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 90 / Friday, May 8, 2020 / Notices This notice amends the notice of a major disaster declaration for the State of Mississippi (FEMA–4538–DR), dated April 23, 2020, and related determinations. DATES: This change occurred on April 23, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dean Webster, Office of Response and Recovery, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 500 C Street SW, Washington, DC 20472, (202) 646–2833. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) hereby gives notice that pursuant to the authority vested in the Administrator, under Executive Order 12148, as amended, Jose M. Girot, of FEMA is appointed to act as the Federal Coordinating Officer for this disaster. This action terminates the appointment of Terry L. Quarles as Federal Coordinating Officer for this disaster. SUMMARY: The following Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Numbers (CFDA) are to be used for reporting and drawing funds: 97.030, Community Disaster Loans; 97.031, Cora Brown Fund; 97.032, Crisis Counseling; 97.033, Disaster Legal Services; 97.034, Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA); 97.046, Fire Management Assistance Grant; 97.048, Disaster Housing Assistance to Individuals and Households In Presidentially Declared Disaster Areas; 97.049, Presidentially Declared Disaster Assistance— Disaster Housing Operations for Individuals and Households; 97.050, Presidentially Declared Disaster Assistance to Individuals and Households—Other Needs; 97.036, Disaster Grants—Public Assistance (Presidentially Declared Disasters); 97.039, Hazard Mitigation Grant. Pete Gaynor, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency. [FR Doc. 2020–09849 Filed 5–7–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111–23–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R1–NWRS–2020–N035; FXRS126101HMBHS–201–FF01RSHM00] Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, Lake County, OR; Notice of Intent To Prepare a Bighorn Sheep Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of intent; request for comments. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 May 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 prepare a management plan (plan) for bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) for Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge (refuge). We will also prepare an environmental impact statement to develop alternatives for management actions in the plan and evaluate the environmental effects of those actions. We provide this notice in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act to advise the public, other Federal and State agencies, and Tribes of our intentions, and to obtain public comments and suggestions on the scope of the issues to consider in the planning process. DATES: To ensure consideration, written comments must be received or postmarked on or before June 8, 2020. ADDRESSES: Information concerning the refuge and the bighorn sheep population is available on our website, at https:// www.fws.gov/refuge/Hart_Mountain/ What_We_Do/Resource_Management/ Bighorn_Sheep_Plan.html. Send your questions or comments by any of the following methods: • Email: Sheldon-Hart@fws.gov. Include ‘‘Hart Mountain Bighorn Sheep Plan’’ in the subject line of the message. • U.S. Mail: Project Leader, SheldonHart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex, P.O. Box 111, Lakeview, OR 97630. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Danielle Fujii-Doe, Refuge Manager, by email at Sheldon-Hart@fws.gov or by phone at 541–947–2731. Individuals who are hearing or speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 1– 800–877–8339 for TTY assistance. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Introduction We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to prepare a management plan (plan) for bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) for Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge (refuge). We will also prepare an environmental impact statement to develop alternatives for management actions in the plan and evaluate the environmental effects of those actions. We provide this notice in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) to advise the public, other Federal and State agencies, and Tribes of our intentions, and to obtain public comments and suggestions on the scope of the issues to consider in the planning process. Background Located in a remote area of south central Oregon, Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, managed by the PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Service, encompasses 278,000 acres of sagebrush-steppe habitat within the Great Basin and includes the 19,267acre proposed Poker Jim Wilderness Area. Originally established in 1936 for the conservation and protection of the once-imperiled pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), the refuge also conserves habitat for many native, rare, and imperiled species of fish, wildlife, and plants that depend upon the sagebrushsteppe ecosystem. Bighorn sheep are an iconic species native to Oregon and the refuge. Originally extirpated in Oregon by 1912, sheep were successfully reintroduced to the State in 1954, when 20 sheep were translocated to Hart Mountain. Since that time, refuge and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) staff have conducted annual surveys to track population variables, including number of sheep, lamb production and recruitment, and ram size/age class. The number of sheep counted on the refuge increased yearly from 1954, reaching a high of 350 to 415 sheep during the period 1982–1992. However, beginning in the 1990s, the number steadily declined to approximately 150 animals, and then remained relatively stable during the period 2009–2017. The last three annual surveys represent the most significant declines in population variables to date. The number of sheep counted dropped from 149 in 2017, to 100 in 2018, to 68 in 2019. Lamb production declined by approximately half from 54.4 lambs per 100 ewes in 2017, to 21.5 and 22.7 in 2018 and 2019, respectively. In addition, recruitment reached a low level in 2019, with no 1-year-old class I rams and only two oldest age class IV rams seen. Sheep habitat encompasses approximately 34,000 acres on the western escarpment of the refuge (Hart Mountain and Poker Jim Ridge), including the proposed Poker Jim Wilderness Area. However, ecological trends over the last several decades, such as juniper encroachment and the spread of invasive herbaceous plants, may be resulting in the decline in the quality of sheep habitat. In January 2019, ODFW, in cooperation with refuge staff, captured 21 sheep on the refuge. Nineteen were fitted with GPS collars to monitor movements and track adult survival. In addition, health-screening samples were obtained on all 21 sheep. The ODFW Wildlife Heath and Population Laboratory analyzed the health screening samples and submitted tonsillar swabs and blood serum for diagnostic tests to both Oregon State University and Washington Animal E:\FR\FM\08MYN1.SGM 08MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 90 / Friday, May 8, 2020 / Notices Disease Diagnostics Laboratory in Pullman, Washington, to be screened for a number of pathogens, including Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (M. ovi), a bacterium known to be associated with acute pneumonia mortality events. However, M. ovi was not detected in any of the samples, and there does not appear to be a clear association of the population decline with respiratory disease or other common diseases. Since January 2019, eight of 19 radio-collared sheep have died; six because of mountain lion predation, one killed legally by a hunter, and one from unknown causes. Given rapidly declining sheep numbers and 2 years of poor lamb recruitment, the herd is at risk of extirpation from the refuge in the next few years unless appropriate management actions are taken. In response, ODFW suspended sheep hunting on the Refuge following the 2019 hunting season. Because there is considerable uncertainty about what the proximate and ultimate causes of this decline are, development of a management plan and EIS are warranted in order to analyze existing data and identify short- and long-term alternatives and actions needed to restore the bighorn sheep herd to a selfsustaining population level. Possible management actions include continued monitoring, management of the sheep and associated predator populations, and restoration and maintenance of habitat. Preliminary Issues, Concerns, and Opportunities Based on the fundamental principles of wildlife management, we have identified the following preliminary issues, concerns, and opportunities regarding the sheep population that we may address in the plan. Additional issues may be identified during the public scoping process. • Bighorn sheep population objectives. What parameters should the Service use to define a self-sustainable population on the refuge? What criteria or triggers should the Service consider when deciding to implement or suspend management actions? • Bighorn sheep survival and mortality. What actions can the Service take to improve sheep survival and lamb recruitment? What are the effects of the various sources of mortality—including disease, predation, and hunting—on the long-term viability of the sheep population? Given risks of disease introductions, is there a role for augmenting the sheep population? • Habitat quality and quantity. What actions can the Service take to maintain VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:46 May 07, 2020 Jkt 250001 and restore sheep habitat? How are western juniper expansion and invasive plant species (invasive annual grasses including cheatgrass) affecting the sheep population? Is there a role for prescribed fire to manage sheep habitats? Is natural water availability a limiting resource? • Potential alternatives and environmental analysis. Potential alternatives include a focus on habitat, a focus on population management, or a combination of approaches. What alternatives for restoring the bighorn sheep population should the Service explore? Which components of the human environment should the Service emphasize in the environmental analysis? Public Availability of Comments All comments received from individuals become part of the official public record. We will handle all requests for such comments in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and the CEQ’s NEPA regulations at 40 CFR 1506.6(f). The Service’s practice is to make comments, including names and home addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold their home address from the record, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name and/or address, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your comments. Charles Stenvall, Acting Regional Refuge Chief, Pacific Region, Portland, Oregon. [FR Doc. 2020–09255 Filed 5–7–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Indian Affairs [201A2100DD/AAKC001030/ A0A501010.999900 253G] Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Southern Bighorn Solar Project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation, Clark County, Nevada Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior. ACTION: Notice of intent. AGENCY: The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), as lead agency, in cooperation with the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians (Moapa Band), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and other agencies, intend to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will evaluate a photovoltaic (PV) solar SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00080 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 27431 energy generation and storage projects on the Moapa River Indian Reservation (Reservation) and collector lines and access roads located on the Reservation, Reservation lands administered by BLM, and BLM lands. This notice announces the beginning of the scoping process to solicit public comments and identify potential issues related to the EIS. It also announces that two live streaming events will be held where the project team will introduce the project and be available by internet and by phone to document and discuss potential issues, alternatives, and mitigation to be considered in the EIS. Written comments on the scope of the EIS or implementation of the proposal must arrive by 11:59 p.m. on June 8, 2020. The dates and times of the virtual public scoping meetings will be published in the Las Vegas ReviewJournal and Moapa Valley Progress 15 days before the scoping meetings. DATES: You may mail, email, or hand carry written comments to Mr. Chip Lewis, BIA Western Regional Office, 2600 North Central Avenue, 4th Floor Mailroom, Phoenix, Arizona 85004; telephone: (602) 379–6750; email: Chip.Lewis@bia.gov. ADDRESSES: The proposed Federal action, taken under 25 U.S.C. 415, is the BIA’s approval of two solar energy ground leases and associated agreements entered into by the Moapa Band with 300MS 8me LLC and 425LM 8me LLC (Applicants), both subsidiaries of 8minute Solar Energy. The agreements provide for construction, operation and maintenance (O&M), and eventual decommissioning of the PV electricity generation and battery storage facilities located entirely on the Reservation, in Clark County Nevada. The PV electricity generation and battery storage facilities would be located on up to 3,600 acres of tribal trust land and would have a combined capacity of up to 400 megawatts alternating current (MWac)— 300 MWac for one project/phase, and 100 MWac for a second project/phase. Collector lines and access roads required for interconnection of the solar projects would be located on the Reservation, Reservation lands administered by the BLM, and BLM lands. Together, the proposed solar energy generation and storage facilities, collector lines, and other associated facilities will make up the two projects/ phases of the Southern Bighorn Solar Project (SBSP). The proposed SBSP would require the BIA to approve a business lease and for both the BIA and the BLM to approve and authorize SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\08MYN1.SGM 08MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 90 (Friday, May 8, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 27430-27431]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-09255]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-NWRS-2020-N035; FXRS126101HMBHS-201-FF01RSHM00]


Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, Lake County, OR; Notice 
of Intent To Prepare a Bighorn Sheep Management Plan and Environmental 
Impact Statement

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
prepare a management plan (plan) for bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) 
for Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge (refuge). We will also 
prepare an environmental impact statement to develop alternatives for 
management actions in the plan and evaluate the environmental effects 
of those actions. We provide this notice in compliance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act to advise the public, other Federal 
and State agencies, and Tribes of our intentions, and to obtain public 
comments and suggestions on the scope of the issues to consider in the 
planning process.

DATES: To ensure consideration, written comments must be received or 
postmarked on or before June 8, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Information concerning the refuge and the bighorn sheep 
population is available on our website, at https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Hart_Mountain/What_We_Do/Resource_Management/Bighorn_Sheep_Plan.html.
    Send your questions or comments by any of the following methods:
     Email: [email protected]. Include ``Hart Mountain 
Bighorn Sheep Plan'' in the subject line of the message.
     U.S. Mail: Project Leader, Sheldon-Hart Mountain National 
Wildlife Refuge Complex, P.O. Box 111, Lakeview, OR 97630.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Danielle Fujii-Doe, Refuge Manager, by 
email at [email protected] or by phone at 541-947-2731. Individuals 
who are hearing or speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service 
at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY assistance.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Introduction

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to prepare 
a management plan (plan) for bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) for Hart 
Mountain National Antelope Refuge (refuge). We will also prepare an 
environmental impact statement to develop alternatives for management 
actions in the plan and evaluate the environmental effects of those 
actions. We provide this notice in compliance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) to advise the 
public, other Federal and State agencies, and Tribes of our intentions, 
and to obtain public comments and suggestions on the scope of the 
issues to consider in the planning process.

Background

    Located in a remote area of south central Oregon, Hart Mountain 
National Antelope Refuge, managed by the Service, encompasses 278,000 
acres of sagebrush-steppe habitat within the Great Basin and includes 
the 19,267-acre proposed Poker Jim Wilderness Area. Originally 
established in 1936 for the conservation and protection of the once-
imperiled pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), the refuge also conserves 
habitat for many native, rare, and imperiled species of fish, wildlife, 
and plants that depend upon the sagebrush-steppe ecosystem.
    Bighorn sheep are an iconic species native to Oregon and the 
refuge. Originally extirpated in Oregon by 1912, sheep were 
successfully reintroduced to the State in 1954, when 20 sheep were 
translocated to Hart Mountain. Since that time, refuge and Oregon 
Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) staff have conducted annual 
surveys to track population variables, including number of sheep, lamb 
production and recruitment, and ram size/age class. The number of sheep 
counted on the refuge increased yearly from 1954, reaching a high of 
350 to 415 sheep during the period 1982-1992. However, beginning in the 
1990s, the number steadily declined to approximately 150 animals, and 
then remained relatively stable during the period 2009-2017. The last 
three annual surveys represent the most significant declines in 
population variables to date. The number of sheep counted dropped from 
149 in 2017, to 100 in 2018, to 68 in 2019. Lamb production declined by 
approximately half from 54.4 lambs per 100 ewes in 2017, to 21.5 and 
22.7 in 2018 and 2019, respectively. In addition, recruitment reached a 
low level in 2019, with no 1-year-old class I rams and only two oldest 
age class IV rams seen.
    Sheep habitat encompasses approximately 34,000 acres on the western 
escarpment of the refuge (Hart Mountain and Poker Jim Ridge), including 
the proposed Poker Jim Wilderness Area. However, ecological trends over 
the last several decades, such as juniper encroachment and the spread 
of invasive herbaceous plants, may be resulting in the decline in the 
quality of sheep habitat.
    In January 2019, ODFW, in cooperation with refuge staff, captured 
21 sheep on the refuge. Nineteen were fitted with GPS collars to 
monitor movements and track adult survival. In addition, health-
screening samples were obtained on all 21 sheep. The ODFW Wildlife 
Heath and Population Laboratory analyzed the health screening samples 
and submitted tonsillar swabs and blood serum for diagnostic tests to 
both Oregon State University and Washington Animal

[[Page 27431]]

Disease Diagnostics Laboratory in Pullman, Washington, to be screened 
for a number of pathogens, including Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (M. ovi), 
a bacterium known to be associated with acute pneumonia mortality 
events. However, M. ovi was not detected in any of the samples, and 
there does not appear to be a clear association of the population 
decline with respiratory disease or other common diseases. Since 
January 2019, eight of 19 radio-collared sheep have died; six because 
of mountain lion predation, one killed legally by a hunter, and one 
from unknown causes.
    Given rapidly declining sheep numbers and 2 years of poor lamb 
recruitment, the herd is at risk of extirpation from the refuge in the 
next few years unless appropriate management actions are taken. In 
response, ODFW suspended sheep hunting on the Refuge following the 2019 
hunting season. Because there is considerable uncertainty about what 
the proximate and ultimate causes of this decline are, development of a 
management plan and EIS are warranted in order to analyze existing data 
and identify short- and long-term alternatives and actions needed to 
restore the bighorn sheep herd to a self-sustaining population level. 
Possible management actions include continued monitoring, management of 
the sheep and associated predator populations, and restoration and 
maintenance of habitat.

Preliminary Issues, Concerns, and Opportunities

    Based on the fundamental principles of wildlife management, we have 
identified the following preliminary issues, concerns, and 
opportunities regarding the sheep population that we may address in the 
plan. Additional issues may be identified during the public scoping 
process.
     Bighorn sheep population objectives. What parameters 
should the Service use to define a self-sustainable population on the 
refuge? What criteria or triggers should the Service consider when 
deciding to implement or suspend management actions?
     Bighorn sheep survival and mortality. What actions can the 
Service take to improve sheep survival and lamb recruitment? What are 
the effects of the various sources of mortality--including disease, 
predation, and hunting--on the long-term viability of the sheep 
population? Given risks of disease introductions, is there a role for 
augmenting the sheep population?
     Habitat quality and quantity. What actions can the Service 
take to maintain and restore sheep habitat? How are western juniper 
expansion and invasive plant species (invasive annual grasses including 
cheatgrass) affecting the sheep population? Is there a role for 
prescribed fire to manage sheep habitats? Is natural water availability 
a limiting resource?
     Potential alternatives and environmental analysis. 
Potential alternatives include a focus on habitat, a focus on 
population management, or a combination of approaches. What 
alternatives for restoring the bighorn sheep population should the 
Service explore? Which components of the human environment should the 
Service emphasize in the environmental analysis?

Public Availability of Comments

    All comments received from individuals become part of the official 
public record. We will handle all requests for such comments in 
accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and the CEQ's NEPA 
regulations at 40 CFR 1506.6(f). The Service's practice is to make 
comments, including names and home addresses of respondents, available 
for public review during regular business hours. Individual respondents 
may request that we withhold their home address from the record, which 
we will honor to the extent allowable by law. If you wish us to 
withhold your name and/or address, you must state this prominently at 
the beginning of your comments.

Charles Stenvall,
Acting Regional Refuge Chief, Pacific Region, Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 2020-09255 Filed 5-7-20; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P