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E-M:/ Mich DNR Incidental take of Karner Blue Butterfly (endangered)

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

[Federal Register: January 25, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 17)]
[Page 4619-4620]
 From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]


Fish and Wildlife Service

Michigan DNR: Application for an Incidental Take Permit

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of Availability of a Draft Habitat Conservation Plan and
Draft Environmental Assessment for the Karner blue butterfly; receipt
of application for an incidental take permit; request for comments.


SUMMARY: The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (Applicant) has
applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for a 20-year
incidental take permit (ITP) for the federally endangered Karner blue
butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) (KBB) pursuant to section
10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act).
The ITP would allow the Applicant to engage in habitat management,
right-of-way maintenance, and certain development activities in
occupied KBB habitat on non-Federal land in Michigan. The permit
application includes a draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and draft
Environmental Assessment (EA) that describes the proposed action and
measures the Applicant will undertake to minimize and mitigate take of
KBB. Section 9 of the Act and its implementing regulations prohibit the
take of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. The
definition of take under the Act includes the following activities: to
harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or
collect listed animal species, or attempt to engage in such conduct (16
U.S.C. 1538). Section 10 of the Act, 16 U.S.C. 1539, establishes a
program whereby persons seeking to pursue activities that otherwise
could give rise to liability for unlawful ``take'' of federally
protected species may receive an ITP, which protects them from such
liability. To obtain an ITP, an applicant must submit a HCP containing
appropriate minimization and mitigation measures and ensure that the
taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, an otherwise lawful
activity (16 U.S.C. 1539(a)(1)(B) and 1539(a)(2)(A). Once we have
determined the applicant has satisfied these and other statutory
criteria, we may issue the ITP.
    This notice, provided pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the
Endangered Species Act, as amended, advises the public and other
agencies of the availability of the draft HCP and draft EA for review
and comment.

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments
on or before March 25, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or request information by any of the
following methods:
    ? U.S. Mail: Comments should be sent to the Regional
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Ecological
Services, 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, Minnesota 55111-4056.
    ? Facsimile: 612-713-5292.
    ? E-Mail: <A HREF="mailto:hcp_MichiganKBB@fws.gov";>hcp_MichiganKBB@fws.gov</A>.
    All comments received become part of the official public record.
Public requests for comments submitted will be handled in accordance
with the Freedom of Information Act and the Council on Environmental
Quality's NEPA regulations [40 CFR 1506.6(f)]. Our practice is to make
comments, including names and home addresses of respondents, available
for public review during regular business hours. Individual respondents
may request we withhold their home address from the record, which we
will honor to the extent allowable by law. If a respondent

[[Page 4620]]

wishes us to withhold his/her name and/or address, this must be stated
prominently at the beginning of the comment.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Fasbender at 612-713-5343 or <A HREF="mailto:peter_fasbender@fws.gov";>


Availability of Documents

    Individuals requesting copies of the draft EA and draft HCP should
contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by telephone at (612) 713-
5343 or by letter (see ADDRESSES above). Copies of the draft EA and
draft HCP also are available for public review during normal business
hours (8-4:30) at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Regional Office,
located at 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, Minnesota 55111, and at the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's East Lansing Field Office, located at
2651 Coolidge Road, Suite 101, East Lansing, Michigan 48823. Both
documents are also available for review at the Service's Regional Web
site at: <A HREF="http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/permits/hcp/index.html";>http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/permits/hcp/index.html</A>.

Draft Habitat Conservation Plan

    The purpose of the draft HCP is to manage habitat to promote
recovery of the species and to minimize incidental take of KBB,
mitigate the effects of any such take to the maximum extent
practicable, and otherwise avoid any appreciable reduction in the
likelihood of the survival and recovery of the KBB in the wild. The
Applicant developed the draft HCP to facilitate conservation of oak
savanna ecosystems (KBB habitat) and to help maintain occupied KBB
habitat on both public and private land in Michigan. The goals of the
HCP are to: (1) Support persistence of a functioning oak savanna
ecosystem in Michigan; (2) support maintenance of oak-savanna habitats
in a condition and configuration necessary to sustain existing
populations of KBB and other associated species of concern; and (3)
integrate diverse land uses with the conservation of the oak savanna
ecosystem, KBB and other associated species of concern.
    Active management of KBB habitat is necessary for the conservation
of KBB and oak savanna. However, some management practices (e.g.,
prescribed burning, mowing) necessary for maintaining early-
successional habitats may result in incidental take of KBB, and section
9 of the ESA prohibits take of an endangered species. Therefore, to
obtain the legal authority to manage KBB habitat with the potential
resultant take of KBB, the Applicant has applied for an ITP which would
allow habitat management, utility and transportation right-of-way
maintenance, and certain development activities that avoid or minimize
and mitigate take when conducted in occupied KBB habitat.
    The Applicant has applied for a statewide ITP and developed a
statewide HCP with the intent that other land managers and/or
landowners may participate as sub-permittees, subject to the conditions
of the final permit, in the event their otherwise lawful activities
result in take of KBB. Currently, land managers and landowners need to
obtain authorization on a project-by-project basis to conduct legally
the activities listed above. This situation results in a patchwork of
projects conducted with little coordinated planning or consideration of
range-wide impacts to KBB and other species of concern. By contrast,
projects implemented under the HCP would be done according to
consistent procedures in a highly coordinated effort. The HCP will
facilitate efforts to evaluate and minimize the cumulative adverse
impacts of individual projects to KBB populations.
    Actions conducted under the HCP are not intended or expected to
either increase or decrease the amount of occupied KBB habitat in
Michigan. Rather, management action will be conducted to help prevent
the loss of occupied habitat on non-Federal land. Maintenance of
existing populations is a critical component of the KBB conservation
program in Michigan. It is also consistent with objectives of the
Federal Recovery Plan, which outlines a strategy for ``maintaining
extant populations'' and ``improving and stabilizing populations where
the butterfly is imperiled.'' Nevertheless, other management actions
may take place on non-federal lands in Michigan not occupied by KBB
that result in an increase in occupied habitat. The ITP and HCP
described herein also are intended to cover any occupied KBB habitat
that may develop in the future.

Draft Environmental Assessment

    The purpose of the draft EA is to evaluate and publicly disclose
the possible environmental consequences issuance of an ITP and
implementation of the draft HCP could have on the quality of the
physical, biological, and human environment, as required by the
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
    Prior to issuing the ITP, the Service is required to analyze
alternatives considered in the development of the HCP. This analysis is
contained in the draft EA, as required by the National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA), for the Federal action of issuing an ITP under
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. The draft EA considers two ``action''
alternatives and one ``no action'' alternative.
    The area encompassed by the HCP may contain facilities eligible to
be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and other
historical or archeological resources may be present. The National
Historic Preservation Act and other laws require these properties and
resources be identified and considered in project planning. The public
is requested to inform the Service of concerns about archeological
sites, buildings and structures, historic events, sacred and
traditional areas, and other historic preservation concerns.


    The public process for the proposed Federal action will be
completed after the public comment period, at which time the Service
will evaluate the permit application (if appropriate to the selected
alternative), the HCP, and comments submitted thereon to determine
whether the application meets the requirements of 10(a)(1)(B) of the
Act. If the requirements are met, the Service will issue an ITP to the
Applicant for incidental take of KBB.

    Dated: December 13, 2007.
Lynn Lewis,
Deputy Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Region 3.
[FR Doc. E8-1237 Filed 1-24-08; 8:45 am]


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