Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for the Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly and Three Subspecies of the Mazama Pocket Gopher, Puget Sound Energy; Categorical Exclusion
We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), received an application from Puget Sound Energy (applicant) for an incidental take permit (ITP) pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. The ITP would authorize the applicant's take of three threatened subspecies of the Mazama pocket gopher incidental to otherwise lawful activities during replacement, repair, and upgrade of existing utility systems in Thurston County, Washington. The application includes a habitat conservation plan (HCP) with measures to minimize and mitigate the impacts of the taking on the covered species, including maintenance of occupied habitat. The HCP would also result in habitat improvement for the endangered Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, which is not a covered species, at one mitigation site. The Service has prepared a draft environmental action statement for our preliminary determination that the HCP and permit decision may be eligible for a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act. We invite the public to review and comment on these documents.