Public comment, and controversy, continues for Tejon Ranch Habitat Conservation Plan
73 Fed. Reg. 31876 (Wednesday, June 4, 2008)(DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; Fish and Wildlife Service; Tehachapi Uplands Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan; Notice of intent).
Tejon Ranch is a 270,000 acre parcel of contiguous private land at the convergence of four California ecoregions: the Sierra Nevada, the Mojave Desert, the Great Central Valley, and the South Coast. Graphic by the Conservation Biology Institute and the South Coast Wildlands, available online from Save Tejon Ranch.
SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), we, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), advise the public of our intent to gather information necessary to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Tehachapi Uplands Multi-species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP). Tejon Ranch is preparing the MSHCP to apply for a 50-year incidental take permit under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, (Act). The permit is needed to authorize the incidental take of threatened and endangered species that could occur as a result of activities covered by the plan. The Service provides this notice to (1) describe the proposed action and possible alternatives; (2) advise other Federal and State agencies, affected Tribes, and the public of our intent to prepare an EIS; (3) announce the initiation of a public scoping period; and (4) obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues to be included in the EIS. Similar Notices of Intent were published on June 25, 2004 (69 FR 35663) and March 26, 2008 (73 FR 16052). DATES: Written comments should be received on or before July 7, 2008.
COMMENTARY: The proposed HCP is intended to address many of the environmental concerns related to the plans for development in the huge expanse of private property north of Los Angeles known as Tejon Ranch, an area recently called a 'vast California treasure' by Governor Schwarzenegger. However, not all environmental groups are satisfied, and the proposed HCP is, like so many other ESA issues, proving to be highly controversial.