FWS issues notices of enhancement permit, and status reviews
73 Fed. Reg. 76680 / Vol. 73, No. 243 / Wednesday, December 17, 2008 / DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; Fish and Wildlife Service; Receipt of Application for an Enhancement of Survival Permit for the Northern Spotted Owl and the Marbled Murrelet; Notice of availability and receipt of application.
SUMMARY: Port Blakely Tree Farms (PBTF) has applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for an enhancement of survival permit (Permit) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The permit application includes a draft Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA), draft Implementing Agreement (IA), and a draft Environmental Assessment (EA). The proposed term of the Permit and the Agreement is 60 years. The Permit would authorize PBTF to carry out habitat management measures that are likely to benefit the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) and the marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus), both of which are federally listed as threatened, and would allow PBTF to return their properties to agreed upon baseline conditions at the end of the Permit term. The covered area is approximately 45,306 acres (18,335 hectares) and is located in eastern Lewis and Skamania counties, Washington. In accordance with Service responsibilities pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), this notice also announces the availability for public review of a draft EA developed in conjunction with the proposed SHA. We request comments from the public on the permit application, draft SHA, draft IA, and the draft EA. DATES: To be fully considered, written comments from interested parties must be received on or before January 16, 2009.
The marbled murrelet is not currently found on the Port Blakely Tree Farms lands, but has 498 acres of potential nesting habitat on covered lands under the proposed Safe Harbor Agreement. Photo from FWS
EXCERPT: PBTF has worked closely with the Service to develop their proposed SHA and the voluntary conservation measures that are expected to provide a net conservation benefit to the northern spotted owl and the marbled murrelet. The Service anticipates the SHA would result in benefits to these species by committing PBTF to: (1) An average harvest rotation of 60 years versus the industry standard of 45 years; (2) a wildlife tree and snag management program; (3) marking a sample of snags and defective trees to be used in studies for effectiveness of snag creation methods; (4) identification and longterm retention of special management areas; and, (5) identification and longterm retention of special set-aside areas to provide a greater amount of older forest habitat within the covered area than would occur under current forest practices rules. By not operating within these special set-aside areas for the term of the SHA, stands will mature to an age of 136 to 173 years and will have the potential to provide foraging and nesting areas for spotted owls and nesting areas for murrelets.
KEITHINKING: Other permit applicants, seeking authority for incidental take of marbled murrelets due to timber management activities, obtained Incidental Take Permits from FWS. Years of litigation often resulted. See, e.g. the EPIC lawsuits over the Pacific Lumber Company's HCP for marbled murrelets. Rather than using this straightforward, but much litigated, approach pursuant to the ESA Section 10(a)(2), FWS proposes to issue an "enhancement of survival" permit pursuant to ESA Section 10(a)(1), along with a "safe harbor agreement" to cover the applicant's activity affecting the northern spotted owl and the marbled murrelet. This enhancement permit, therefore, seems unusual, especially since PBTF previously prepared a Habitat Conservation Plan and obtained an ITP for similar activities. However, the proposal presents an opportunity to bring species back to lands where surveys show they currently do not reside. See also, The Chronicle (Dec. 17, 2008) and,
73 Fed. Reg. 76373 / Vol. 73, No. 242 /Tuesday, December 16, 2008 / DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; Fish and Wildlife Service; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Initiation of 5-Year Reviews of 7 Listed Species; Notice of review; request for information.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, initiate 5-year reviews of the endangered Appalachian monkeyface (Quadrula sparsa), the northeast population of the roseate tern (Sterna dougalii dougalli), and the shale barren rock-cress (Arabis serotina), and the threatened Cheat Mountain salamander (Plethodon nettingi), the Madison cave isopod (Antrolana lira), the sensitive joint-vetch (Aeschynomene virginica), and the Virginia sneezeweed (Helenium virginicum), under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We request any new information on these species that may have a bearing on their classification as endangered or threatened. Based on the results of these 5-year reviews, we will make a finding on whether these species are properly classified under the Act.
The Maine population of roseate terns experienced a significant decrease between 2003 and 2004, primarily due to mammalian predation on several of the larger tern colonies. The population has begun to recover, and in 2007 Maine supported 227 pairs of roseate terns. Unfortunately the terns only nest on five islands. Photo and caption text from FWS.