FWS announces status review on Sage Grouse, and two new Habitat Conservation Plans make news
73 Fed. Reg. 10218-10219 (Feb. 26, 2008) (Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Initiation of Status Review for the Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) as Threatened or Endangered)
SUMMARY: “We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the initiation of a status review for the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). Through this action, we encourage all interested parties to provide us information regarding the status of, and any potential threats to, the greater sage-grouse…
ANALYSIS: Through the comment process, FWS will be seeking information on threats to the species including:
(1) Information regarding the species’ historical and current population status, distribution, and trends; its biology and ecology; and habitat selection;
(2) Information on the effects of potential threat factors that are the basis for a listing determination under section 4(a) of the Act, which are:
(a) present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of the species’ habitat or range;
(b) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
(c) disease or predation;
(d) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
(e) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
(3) Information on management programs for the conservation of the greater sage-grouse.
Photo from FWS Endangered Species Program Mountain-Prairie Region
For more about the FWS actions related to the sage grouse, see:
- the FWS information pages,
- Newspaper articles in the Lahontan Valley News or The Salt Lake Tribune, or
- prior ESAblawg posts.
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Pursuant to Section 10 of the ESA, private entities can obtain incidental take permits authorizing impacts to listed species when they prepare "habitat conservation plans." Generally, each conservation plan, or HCP, must specify: the impacts to species that will occur; the steps taken to minimize and mitigate the incidental take; the funding available; alternative actions that we considered, but not taken; and other necessary and appropriate measures. (ESA §10(a) (2)(A).) After review of a proposed conservation plan, FWS or NOAA Fisheries may issue an incidental take permit upon making the statutorily required "findings," including a determination that the incidental taking "will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the species in the wild." (ESA §10(a) (2)(B).)
In recent news, Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced the launch of its Operations & Maintenance Habitat Conservation Plan. According to a Feb. 25, 2008 company press release, this HCP will be unique (and inevitably, controversial):
The utility's new O&M HCP program is designed to ensure the long-term protection of sensitive species through a process that allows PG&E to access and maintain its facilities in a timely manner. Unlike most HCPs which govern habitat protection for future land development, PG&E's O&M HCP is the first to be activity-based, addressing protection for existing land uses. Other innovative aspects of the program include the wide range of sensitive species to be covered and the governance of many small-scale operational activities dispersed over a large geographic area. This approach improves PG&E's service to customers by avoiding schedule delays associated with acquiring individual, project-by-project permits for threatened and endangered species.
Meanwhile, the Federal Register announced another HCP today...
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73 Fed. Reg. 10281-10282 (Feb. 26, 2008)(Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Habitat Conservation Plan for the Western Snowy Plover in Clatsop, Tillamook, Lincoln, Lane, Douglas, Coos, and Curry Counties, OR)
SUMMARY: “This notice advises the public and other interested parties that the comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), Incidental Take Permit (ITP) application, and Implementing Agreement (IA) regarding the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s (OPRD) HCP for the western snowy plover is reopened for fifteen days. The original notice contains additional information and was published in the Federal Register on November 5, 2007 (72 FR 62485).”
EXPLANATION: “As required by section 10(a)(2)(B) of the ESA, the OPRD has also prepared an HCP that describes the proposed actions and measures the applicant will implement to minimize and mitigate take of the threatened western snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus). The permit application is related to public use, recreation, beach management, and resource management activities along Oregon’s coastal shores.”
- For more information, visit Oregon.gov