Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit for the Tucker Pond Low Effect Habitat Conservation Plan, Santa Cruz County, California
Doug and Jennifer Ross (Applicants) have applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or ``we'') for an incidental take permit pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We are considering issuing a 10-year permit to the Applicants that would authorize take of the federally endangered Santa Cruz long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum) and the threatened California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii) incidental to otherwise lawful activities associated with the construction of private residential facilities on 16.5 acres of their 99-acre property in Aptos, Santa Cruz County, California. We are requesting comments on the permit application and on our preliminary determination that the proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) qualifies as a ``low effect'' HCP, eligible for a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended. We explain the basis for this possible determination in a draft Environmental Action Statement (EAS) and associated Low Effect Screening Form. The Applicants' low effect HCP describes the mitigation and minimization measures they would implement, as required in Section 10(a)(2)(B) of the Act, to address the effects of the project on the Santa Cruz long-toed salamander and California red-legged frog. These measures are outlined in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. The draft HCP and EAS are available for public review.