Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Draft Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan, and Draft NEPA Compliance Documentation, for the Gamebird Substation Expansion in Pahrump, Nye County, Nevada, 81953-81954 [2020-27705]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 243 / Thursday, December 17, 2020 / Notices Act of 1920 (30 U.S.C. Ch. 3A § 181), as amended, (41 Stat. 437, Pub. L. 66–146). Amy Lueders, Southwest Region Director, Interior Region 6, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2020–27752 Filed 12–16–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2020–0142; FXES1120800000–201–FF08ENVS00] Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Draft Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan, and Draft NEPA Compliance Documentation, for the Gamebird Substation Expansion in Pahrump, Nye County, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability of the proposed low-effect habitat conservation plan, and NEPA compliance documentation; request for comment. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the receipt and availability of an application for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and an associated draft low-effect habitat conservation plan (HCP). Additionally, consistent with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), we have prepared a draft loweffect screening form and environmental action statement supporting our preliminary determination that the proposed permit action qualifies for a categorical exclusion under NEPA. GridLiance West, LLC has applied for an ITP under the ESA for the Gamebird Substation Expansion in Pahrump, Nye County, Nevada. The ITP would authorize the take of one species incidental to the development and construction of the project. We invite the public and local, State, Tribal, and Federal agencies to comment on the permit application, proposed low-effect HCP, and NEPA categorical exclusion determination documentation. Before issuing the requested ITP, we will take into consideration any information that we receive during the public comment period. DATES: We must receive your written comments on or before January 19, 2021. ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: The documents this notice announces, as well as any comments and other materials that we SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:52 Dec 16, 2020 Jkt 253001 receive, will be available for public inspection online in Docket No. FWS– R8–ES–2020–0142 at http:// www.regulations.gov. Submitting Comments: To send written comments, please use one of the following methods and identify to which document your comments are in reference—the ITP application, draft HCP, or NEPA compliance documentation. • Internet: Submit comments at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2020–0142. • U.S. Mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R8– ES–2020–0142; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: PRB/3W, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803. For more information, see Public Comments and Public Availability of Comments under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. Glen W. Knowles, Field Supervisor, Southern Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, by phone at 702–515–5244 or via the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the receipt and availability of an application submitted by GridLiance West, LLC (applicant), for a 4-year incidental take permit (ITP) under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Application for the permit requires the preparation of an HCP with measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the impacts of incidental take of endangered or threatened species to the maximum extent practicable. The applicant prepared the draft Low Effect HCP for the Gamebird Substation Expansion pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. FWS consideration of issuing an ITP also requires evaluation of its potential impacts on the natural and human environment in accordance with NEPA. FWS has prepared a low-effect screening form and environmental action statement (categorical exclusion, or catex documentation), pursuant to NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 1501.4, to preliminarily determine if the proposed HCP qualifies as a low-effect HCP, eligible for a categorical exclusion. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Background Except for permitted exceptions, section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1538 et seq.) prohibits the taking of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered under section 4 of the ESA; by PO 00000 Frm 00085 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 81953 regulation, take of certain species listed as threatened is also prohibited (16 U.S.C. 1533(d); 50 CFR 17.31). Regulations governing the permitted exception for allowable incidental take of endangered and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32. For more about the Federal habitat conservation HCP program, go to http://www.fws.gov/ endangered/esa-library/pdf/hcp.pdf. National Environmental Policy Act Compliance The proposed permit issuance triggers the need for compliance with the NEPA. The draft catex documentation was prepared to determine if issuance of an ITP, based on the draft HCP, would individually or cumulatively have only a minor or negligible effect on the species covered in the HCP, and would therefore qualify as a low-effect HCP eligible for a categorical exclusion from further environmental analysis under NEPA. Proposed Action Under the proposed action, the Service would issue an ITP to the applicant for a period of 4 years for certain covered activities (described below) related to the expansion of the existing Gamebird Substation. The applicant has requested an ITP for one covered species, the Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), which was, and remains as listed under the ESA as threatened in April 1990. Habitat Conservation Plan Area The geographic scope of the draft habitat conservation plan (HCP) area encompasses 18.2 acres in Nye County, Nevada, where the expansion will occur. Covered Activities The proposed section 10(a) ITP would allow incidental take of one covered species from covered activities in the proposed HCP area. The applicant is requesting incidental take authorization for covered activities, including site preparation, geotechnical drilling, associated infrastructure development, expansion of the substation, and the installation of a 230-kilovolt (kV) transmission line to connect the substation to an existing 230-kV transmission line that runs from Pahrump to the Sloan Canyon Switch. The applicant has proposed to minimize and mitigate for the direct impacts to desert tortoises and its habitat in the HCP area through the following measures: 1. Implementing a worker environmental awareness training program; E:\FR\FM\17DEN1.SGM 17DEN1 81954 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 243 / Thursday, December 17, 2020 / Notices 2. Setting speed limits to avoid collisions with tortoise; 3. Having an approved biologist ensure implementation of minimization measures, monitor covered activities to avoid collisions, and clear the work site and materials, vehicles, and equipment of tortoises before work activity; 4. Requiring pre-movement vehicle and equipment inspections by workers; 5. Installing temporary tortoise exclusion fencing around substation area; 6. Conducting pre-construction clearance surveys and translocation by an approved biologist; 7. Developing a plan for spill prevention and control, with countermeasures; 8. Implementing proper waste management and disposal actions; 9. Developing a fire management plan; and 10. Implementing certain weed management efforts. The proposed action will result in the permanent loss of moderate-quality habitat in Nye County, Nevada. In addition to the minimization measures, the applicant will make a one-time contribution of $26,500, payable to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), to offset the impacts of permanent Mojave desert tortoise habitat loss and habitat modification of about 18.2 acres. No-Action Alternative Under the No-Action Alternative, the Service would not issue an ITP to the applicant, and the draft HCP would not be implemented. Under this alternative, the applicant may choose not to construct the facility or would do so in a manner presumed not to result in the take of ESA-listed species. Public Comments We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, Tribes, industry, or any other interested party on permit application, draft HCP, and associated documents. If you wish to comment, you may submit comments by any of the methods in ADDRESSES. Any comments we receive will become part of the decision record associated with this action. 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—might be made publicly available at any time. 18:52 Dec 16, 2020 Jkt 253001 Next Steps Issuance of an incidental take permit is a Federal proposed action subject to compliance with NEPA and section 7 of the ESA. We will evaluate the application, associated documents, and any public comments we receive during this comment period to determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA. If we determine that those requirements are met, we will conduct an intra-Service consultation under section 7 of the ESA for the Federal action for the potential issuance of an ITP. If the intra-Service consultation confirms that issuance of the ITP will not jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species, or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat, we will issue a permit to the applicant for the incidental take of the covered species. Authority We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1539(c) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.32), and NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NEPA implementing regulations (40 CFR 1501.4). Glen W. Knowles, Field Supervisor, Southern Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Las Vegas, Nevada. [FR Doc. 2020–27705 Filed 12–16–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Indian Affairs [212A2100DD/AAKC001030/ A0A51010.999900] Public Availability of Comments VerDate Sep<11>2014 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. Notice of Deadline for Submitting Completed Applications To Begin Participation in the Tribal SelfGovernance Program in Fiscal Year 2022 or Calendar Year 2022 Office of Self-Governance, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior. ACTION: Notice of application deadline. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00086 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 In this notice, the Office of Self-Governance (OSG) establishes the deadline for Indian Tribes/consortia to submit completed applications to begin participation in the Tribal selfgovernance program in fiscal year 2022 or calendar year 2022. DATES: Completed application packages must be received by the Director, Office of Self-Governance, by March 1, 2021. ADDRESSES: Application packages for inclusion in the applicant pool should be sent to Sharee M. Freeman, Director, Office of Self-Governance, Department of the Interior, Mail Stop 3624–MIB, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Kenneth D. Reinfeld, Office of SelfGovernance, Telephone (202) 821–7107, kenneth.reinfeld@bia.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under the Tribal Self-Governance Act of 1994 (Pub. L. 103–413), as amended by the Practical Reforms and Other Goals to Reinforce the Effectiveness of SelfGovernance and Self-Determination Act of 2019–2020 or the PROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act (Pub. L. 116–180), Section 402(b)(1)(A), the Secretary, acting through the Director of the Office of Self-Governance, may select not more than 50 new Indian Tribes per year from those eligible Tribes. See 25 U.S.C. 5362(b)(1). The Tribal Self-Governance Act, as amended by the PROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act, mandates that copies of the funding agreements be sent at least 90 days before the proposed effective date to each Indian Tribe that is served by the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ agency that is serving the Tribe that is a party to the funding agreement. Initial negotiations with a Tribe/consortium located in a region and/or agency that has not previously been involved with selfgovernance negotiations will take approximately 2 months from start to finish. Agreements for an October 1 to September 30 funding year need to be signed and submitted by July 1. Agreements for a January 1 to December 31 need to be signed and submitted by October 1. SUMMARY: Eligibility To Participate in SelfGovernance The Department will be initiating a negotiated rulemaking to develop regulations to meet the requirements of Section 101 of the newly enacted PROGRESS Act. To be eligible to participate in self-governance, an Indian Tribe must: (1) Successfully complete the planning phase described in section 402(d) of the Tribal Self-Governance Act E:\FR\FM\17DEN1.SGM 17DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 243 (Thursday, December 17, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 81953-81954]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-27705]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2020-0142; FXES1120800000-201-FF08ENVS00]


Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Draft Low-
Effect Habitat Conservation Plan, and Draft NEPA Compliance 
Documentation, for the Gamebird Substation Expansion in Pahrump, Nye 
County, Nevada

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of the proposed low-effect habitat 
conservation plan, and NEPA compliance documentation; request for 
comment.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the receipt 
and availability of an application for an incidental take permit (ITP) 
under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and an associated draft low-
effect habitat conservation plan (HCP). Additionally, consistent with 
the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), we 
have prepared a draft low-effect screening form and environmental 
action statement supporting our preliminary determination that the 
proposed permit action qualifies for a categorical exclusion under 
NEPA. GridLiance West, LLC has applied for an ITP under the ESA for the 
Gamebird Substation Expansion in Pahrump, Nye County, Nevada. The ITP 
would authorize the take of one species incidental to the development 
and construction of the project. We invite the public and local, State, 
Tribal, and Federal agencies to comment on the permit application, 
proposed low-effect HCP, and NEPA categorical exclusion determination 
documentation. Before issuing the requested ITP, we will take into 
consideration any information that we receive during the public comment 
period.

DATES: We must receive your written comments on or before January 19, 
2021.

ADDRESSES: 
    Obtaining Documents: 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-R8-ES-2020-0142 at 
http://www.regulations.gov.
    Submitting Comments: To send written comments, please use one of 
the following methods and identify to which document your comments are 
in reference--the ITP application, draft HCP, or NEPA compliance 
documentation.
     Internet: Submit comments at http://www.regulations.gov 
under Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2020-0142.
     U.S. Mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. 
FWS-R8-ES-2020-0142; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: 
PRB/3W, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
    For more information, see Public Comments and Public Availability 
of Comments under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Glen W. Knowles, Field Supervisor, 
Southern Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, by phone at 702-515-5244 or 
via the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), announce the receipt and availability of an application 
submitted by GridLiance West, LLC (applicant), for a 4-year incidental 
take permit (ITP) under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species 
Act, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Application for the 
permit requires the preparation of an HCP with measures to avoid, 
minimize, and mitigate the impacts of incidental take of endangered or 
threatened species to the maximum extent practicable. The applicant 
prepared the draft Low Effect HCP for the Gamebird Substation Expansion 
pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. FWS consideration of 
issuing an ITP also requires evaluation of its potential impacts on the 
natural and human environment in accordance with NEPA. FWS has prepared 
a low-effect screening form and environmental action statement 
(categorical exclusion, or catex documentation), pursuant to NEPA (42 
U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations in the Code of 
Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 1501.4, to preliminarily determine 
if the proposed HCP qualifies as a low-effect HCP, eligible for a 
categorical exclusion.

Background

    Except for permitted exceptions, section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 
1538 et seq.) prohibits the taking of fish and wildlife species listed 
as endangered under section 4 of the ESA; by regulation, take of 
certain species listed as threatened is also prohibited (16 U.S.C. 
1533(d); 50 CFR 17.31). Regulations governing the permitted exception 
for allowable incidental take of endangered and threatened species are 
at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32. For more about the Federal habitat 
conservation HCP program, go to http://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/hcp.pdf.

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    The proposed permit issuance triggers the need for compliance with 
the NEPA. The draft catex documentation was prepared to determine if 
issuance of an ITP, based on the draft HCP, would individually or 
cumulatively have only a minor or negligible effect on the species 
covered in the HCP, and would therefore qualify as a low-effect HCP 
eligible for a categorical exclusion from further environmental 
analysis under NEPA.

Proposed Action

    Under the proposed action, the Service would issue an ITP to the 
applicant for a period of 4 years for certain covered activities 
(described below) related to the expansion of the existing Gamebird 
Substation. The applicant has requested an ITP for one covered species, 
the Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), which was, and remains 
as listed under the ESA as threatened in April 1990.

Habitat Conservation Plan Area

    The geographic scope of the draft habitat conservation plan (HCP) 
area encompasses 18.2 acres in Nye County, Nevada, where the expansion 
will occur.

Covered Activities

    The proposed section 10(a) ITP would allow incidental take of one 
covered species from covered activities in the proposed HCP area. The 
applicant is requesting incidental take authorization for covered 
activities, including site preparation, geotechnical drilling, 
associated infrastructure development, expansion of the substation, and 
the installation of a 230-kilovolt (kV) transmission line to connect 
the substation to an existing 230-kV transmission line that runs from 
Pahrump to the Sloan Canyon Switch.
    The applicant has proposed to minimize and mitigate for the direct 
impacts to desert tortoises and its habitat in the HCP area through the 
following measures:
    1. Implementing a worker environmental awareness training program;

[[Page 81954]]

    2. Setting speed limits to avoid collisions with tortoise;
    3. Having an approved biologist ensure implementation of 
minimization measures, monitor covered activities to avoid collisions, 
and clear the work site and materials, vehicles, and equipment of 
tortoises before work activity;
    4. Requiring pre-movement vehicle and equipment inspections by 
workers;
    5. Installing temporary tortoise exclusion fencing around 
substation area;
    6. Conducting pre-construction clearance surveys and translocation 
by an approved biologist;
    7. Developing a plan for spill prevention and control, with 
countermeasures;
    8. Implementing proper waste management and disposal actions;
    9. Developing a fire management plan; and
    10. Implementing certain weed management efforts.
    The proposed action will result in the permanent loss of moderate-
quality habitat in Nye County, Nevada. In addition to the minimization 
measures, the applicant will make a one-time contribution of $26,500, 
payable to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), to offset 
the impacts of permanent Mojave desert tortoise habitat loss and 
habitat modification of about 18.2 acres.

No-Action Alternative

    Under the No-Action Alternative, the Service would not issue an ITP 
to the applicant, and the draft HCP would not be implemented. Under 
this alternative, the applicant may choose not to construct the 
facility or would do so in a manner presumed not to result in the take 
of ESA-listed species.

Public Comments

    We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the 
public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific 
community, Tribes, industry, or any other interested party on permit 
application, draft HCP, and associated documents. If you wish to 
comment, you may submit comments by any of the methods in ADDRESSES.

Public Availability of Comments

    Any comments we receive will become part of the decision record 
associated with this action. 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--might 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

    Issuance of an incidental take permit is a Federal proposed action 
subject to compliance with NEPA and section 7 of the ESA. We will 
evaluate the application, associated documents, and any public comments 
we receive during this comment period to determine whether the 
application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA. If we 
determine that those requirements are met, we will conduct an intra-
Service consultation under section 7 of the ESA for the Federal action 
for the potential issuance of an ITP. If the intra-Service consultation 
confirms that issuance of the ITP will not jeopardize the continued 
existence of any endangered or threatened species, or destroy or 
adversely modify critical habitat, we will issue a permit to the 
applicant for the incidental take of the covered species.

Authority

    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the Endangered 
Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1539(c) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 
17.32), and NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NEPA implementing 
regulations (40 CFR 1501.4).

Glen W. Knowles,
Field Supervisor, Southern Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Las Vegas, Nevada.
[FR Doc. 2020-27705 Filed 12-16-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P