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E-M:/ Piping Plover overwintering habitat



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Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>
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[Federal Register: May 31, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 104)]
[Proposed Rules]              
[Page 30326-30331]
 From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr31my07-30]                        

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17
RIN 1018-AU48

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Designation of
Critical Habitat for the Wintering Population of the Piping Plover

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of comment period, notice of
availability of draft economic analysis and draft environmental
assessment, and announcement of public hearing.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the
availability of the draft economic analysis and draft environmental
assessment, the reopening of the public comment period, and a public
hearing on the proposed revised designation of critical habitat for the
wintering population of the piping plover (Charadrius melodus) under
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We are reopening
the public comment period to allow all interested parties an
opportunity to comment simultaneously on the proposed rule and the
associated draft economic analysis and draft environmental assessment.
The draft economic analysis finds that costs associated with
conservation activities for the wintering population of the piping
plover in North Carolina are forecasted to range from $0 to $12.2
million in lost consumer surplus and $0 to $21.1 million in lost trip
expenditures in undiscounted dollars over the next 20 years, with an
additional $32,000 to $79,000 in administrative costs. Discounted
impacts are estimated to range from $0 to $6.2 million in lost consumer
surplus and $0 to $10.6 million in lost trip expenditures over 20 years
using a real rate of seven percent, with an additional $17,000 to
$42,000 in administrative costs. This amounts to $0 to $503,000 in lost
consumer surplus and $0 to $861,000 in lost trip expenditures,
annually. Using a real rate of three percent, discounted impacts are
estimated at $0 to $8.9 million in lost consumer surplus and $0 to
$15.4 million in lost trip expenditures over the next 20 years, with an
additional $24,000 to $59,000 in administrative costs. This amounts to
$2,000 to $600,000 in lost consumer surplus and $0 to $1.0 million in
lost trip expenditures, annually. The draft environmental assessment
finds that designation of critical habitat would not impose any
physical alteration of the physical or biological communities used by
the wintering population of the piping plover, nor would it alter any
social, cultural, or recreational resources or the use of such
resources beyond current conditions or existing management strategies.
Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted as they will be
incorporated into the public record and fully considered in preparation
of the final rule.

DATES: Written comments: We will accept public comments until July 30,
2007.
    Public hearing: We will hold a public hearing on the proposed
revised designation of critical habitat, and the draft economic
analysis and draft environmental assessment, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on
June 20, 2007. The public hearing will be preceded by a public
information session from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the same location (see
Public hearing under ADDRESSES).

ADDRESSES: Written comments: If you wish to comment, you may submit
your comments and information concerning this proposal, identified by
``Attn: Wintering Piping Plover Critical Habitat,'' by any one of the
following methods:
    1. Mail to Pete Benjamin, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, Raleigh Field Office, P.O. Box 33726, Raleigh, NC 27636-3726.

[[Page 30327]]

    2. Hand-deliver to Raleigh Field Office, 551-F Pylon Drive,
Raleigh, NC 27606.
    3. Electronic mail (e-mail) to <A HREF="mailto:ncplovercomments@fws.gov";>ncplovercomments@fws.gov</A>. Please see
the ``Public Comments Solicited'' section under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION
for file format and other information about electronic filing.
    4. Fax to 919-856-4556.
    5. Federal eRulemaking Portal at: <A HREF="http://www.regulations.gov";>http://www.regulations.gov</A>.
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
    Public hearing: The public hearing on the proposed revised critical
habitat designation, draft economic analysis, and draft environmental
assessment will take place at the Fessenden Center, 46830 Highway 12,
Buxton, Dare County, North Carolina. Maps of the proposal and other
materials will be available for public review.
    Availability of supporting documentation: Comments and materials
received, as well as supporting documentation used in the preparation
of the proposed rule, will be available for public inspection by
appointment during normal business hours at the Raleigh Field Office
(see addresses above).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Pete Benjamin, Field Supervisor, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, Raleigh Field Office, telephone 919-856-4520
extension 11, fax 919-856-4556. Persons who use a telecommunications
device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay
Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Public Comments Solicited

    We intend that any final action resulting from the proposal will be
as accurate and as effective as possible. Therefore, comments or
suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the
scientific community, industry, or any other interested party
concerning the proposed rule, draft economic analysis, and draft
environmental assessment are hereby solicited. Comments particularly
are sought concerning:
    (1) The reasons any habitat should or should not be determined to
be critical habitat as provided by section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531
et seq.), including whether the benefit of designation would outweigh
any threats to the species due to designation;
    (2) Specific information on the amount and distribution of
wintering piping plover habitat in North Carolina, and what areas
should be included in the designation that were occupied at the time of
listing that contain the features that are essential for the
conservation of the species and why, and what areas that were not
occupied at the time of listing are essential to the conservation of
the species and why;
    (3) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the
subject areas and their possible impacts on proposed revised critical
habitat;
    (4) Any foreseeable economic, national security, or other potential
impacts resulting from the proposed revised designation and, in
particular, any impacts on small entities;
    (5) Any foreseeable environmental impacts directly or indirectly
resulting from the proposed revised designation of critical habitat;
    (6) Whether our approach to designating critical habitat could be
improved or modified in any way to provide for greater public
participation and understanding or to assist us in accommodating public
concerns and comments;
    (7) Whether our determination of areas identified as not being in
need of special management is accurate;
    (8) Information to assist the Secretary of the Interior in
evaluating habitat with physical and biological features essential to
the conservation of the piping plover on Cape Hatteras National
Seashore, administered by the National Park Service, based on any
benefit provided by the Interim Protected Species Management Strategy/
Environmental Assessment to the conservation of the wintering piping
plover;
    (9) Whether the draft economic analysis identifies all State and
local costs attributable to the proposed revised critical habitat
designation, and information on any costs that have been inadvertently
overlooked;
    (10) Whether the draft economic analysis makes appropriate
assumptions regarding current practices and likely regulatory changes
that would be imposed as a result of the designation of revised
critical habitat;
    (11) Whether the draft economic analysis correctly assesses the
effect on regional costs associated with any land use controls that may
derive from the designation of the proposed revised critical habitat;
    (12) Whether the draft economic analysis appropriately identifies
all costs and benefits that could result from the proposed revised
designation; and
    (13) Whether there is any information to suggest that beach
recreation might increase as a result of this designation, and whether
the effects of any such increased visitation can be quantified.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit your comments and materials
concerning the proposal by any one of several methods (see ADDRESSES).
Please note that comments merely stating support or opposition to the
actions under consideration without providing supporting information,
although noted, will not be considered in making a determination, as
section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations to be made
``solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data
available.'' If you submit comments electronically, include ``Attn:
Wintering Piping Plover Critical Habitat'' in your e-mail subject
header and your name and return address in the body of your message. If
you do not receive a confirmation from the system that we have received
your electronic message, contact us directly by calling the Raleigh
Field Office at 919-856-4520. Please note that the e-mail address <A HREF="mailto:ncplovercomments@fws.gov";>
ncplovercomments@fws.gov</A> will be closed at the termination of the
public comment period.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be
able to do so.
    Copies of the draft economic analysis and draft environmental
assessment and the revised proposed rule for critical habitat
designation are available on the Internet at <A HREF="http://www.fws.gov/nc-es";>http://www.fws.gov/nc-es</A>
or from the Raleigh Field Office at the address and contact numbers above.
    Our final determination on the designation of revised critical
habitat will take into consideration all comments and any additional
information we received during both comment periods. Previous comments
and information submitted during the initial comment period on the June
12, 2006, proposed rule (71 FR 33703) need not be resubmitted. On the
basis of information received during the public comment periods, we
may, during the development of our final revised critical habitat
determination, find that areas proposed are not essential, are
appropriate for exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, or are not
appropriate for exclusion. An area may be excluded from critical
habitat if it is determined that the benefits of such exclusion
outweigh the benefits of including a particular area as critical
habitat, unless the failure to designate such area as critical habitat
will result in the extinction of the species. We may

[[Page 30328]]

exclude an area from designated critical habitat based on economic
impacts, national security, or any other relevant impact.

Background

    We first designated critical habitat for the wintering population
of the piping plover on July 10, 2001 (66 FR 36038). In 2004, the U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia remanded to us the 2001
designation of four units located at the Cape Hatteras National
Seashore in Dare and Hyde counties, North Carolina (Cape Hatteras
Access Preservation Alliance v. U.S. Department of the Interior, 344 F.
Supp 2d 108). On June 12, 2006, we published a proposed rule to
designate revised critical habitat for the wintering population of the
piping plover in North Carolina (71 FR 33703). That proposed rule
describes four coastal areas (units), totaling approximately 1,827
acres (ac) (739 hectares (ha)) within Cape Hatteras National Seashore,
as critical habitat for the wintering population of the piping plover.
These four units contain a contiguous mix of intertidal beaches and
sand or mud flats (between annual low tide and annual high tide) with
little or no emergent vegetation, and adjacent areas of unvegetated or
sparsely vegetated dune systems and sand or mud flats above annual high
tide.
    In our June 12, 2006, proposed rule, we also proposed excluding
from the units the islands DR-005-05 and DR-005-06 (Dare County) and
DR-009-03/04 (Dare and Hyde counties), owned by the State of North
Carolina, and about 237 ac (96 ha) of Pea Island National Wildlife
Refuge (Dare County). Based on a determination following our analysis
under sections 4(b)(2) and 3(5)(A) of the Act, these areas were
proposed for exclusion from critical habitat because they are either
protected by existing habitat conservation plans or do not require
special management considerations or protection.
    The four proposed revised units, combined with the areas proposed
for exclusion, constitute our best assessment of those areas containing
features essential to the conservation of the species. We will submit
for publication in the Federal Register a final revised critical
habitat designation for the wintering population of the piping plover
on or before January 16, 2008.
    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the Act as the specific
areas within the geographic area occupied by a species, at the time it
is listed in accordance with the Act, on which are found those physical
or biological features essential to the conservation of the species and
that may require special management considerations or protection, and
specific areas outside the geographic area occupied by a species at the
time it is listed, upon a determination that such areas are essential
for the conservation of the species. If the revised proposed rule is
made final, section 7 of the Act will prohibit destruction or adverse

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Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy, 
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