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Proposed Low Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Union Pacific Railroad Alhambra Subdivision, City of Colton, County of San Bernardino, CA

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Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.


Notice of availability.


Union Pacific Railroad (applicant) has applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for a 5-year incidental take permit for one covered species pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The application addresses the potential for “take” of the endangered Delhi Sands flower-loving fly (Rhaphiomidas terminatus abdominalis) associated with the proposed double-tracking and rail and drainage improvements in the City of Colton, San Bernardino County, California. A conservation program to mitigate for the project activities would be implemented as described in the proposed Union Pacific Railroad Alhambra Subdivision Project Low Effect Habitat Conservation Plan (proposed HCP), which would be implemented by the applicant.

We are requesting comments on the permit application and on the preliminary determination that the proposed HCP qualifies as a “Low-effect” Habitat Conservation Plan, eligible for a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended. The basis for this determination is discussed in the Environmental Action Statement (EAS) and the associated Low Effect Screening Form, which are also available for public review.


Written comments should be received on or before July 9, 2007.


Comments should be addressed to the Field Supervisor, Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Carlsbad, California 92011. Written comments may be sent by facsimile to (760) 918-0638.

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Ms. Karen Goebel, Assistant Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES); telephone: (760) 431-9440.

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Availability of Documents

Individuals wishing copies of the application, proposed HCP, and EAS should immediately contact the Service by telephone at (760) 431-9440 or by letter to the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office. Copies of the proposed HCP and EAS also are available for public inspection during regular business hours at the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office [see ADDRESSES].


Section 9 of the Act and its implementing Federal regulations prohibit the take of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. Take is defined under the Act as 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). However, under section 10(a) of the Act, the Service may issue permits to authorize incidental take of listed species. “Incidental take” is defined by the Act as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing incidental take permits for threatened and endangered species, respectively, are found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32.

The applicant is seeking a permit for take of the Delhi Sands flower-loving fly during the life of the permit. This species is referred to as the “DSF” in the proposed HCP.

The applicant proposes to construct a new mainline track segment on 1.72 acres of land located east of Pepper Avenue in the City of Colton, California. The purpose of constructing this new mainline segment is to reduce the curve angle of the track to increase the speed and safety for trains moving through Start Printed Page 31603this area. We anticipate that all DSF would be lost within the 1.72 acres of DSF-occupied habitat. The project site does not contain any other rare, threatened or endangered species or habitat. No critical habitat for any listed species occurs on the project site.

The applicant proposes to mitigate the effects to the DSF associated with the covered activities by fully implementing the HCP. The purpose of the proposed HCP's conservation program is to promote the biological conservation of the DSF. UPRR proposes to mitigate impacts to the DSF through purchase of 3 acres of credit within the Colton Dunes Conservation Bank in the City of Colton, San Bernardino County, California.

The Proposed Action consists of the issuance of an incidental take permit and implementation of the proposed HCP, which includes measures to mitigate impacts of the project on the DSF. Two alternatives to the taking of the listed species under the Proposed Action are considered in the proposed HCP. Under the Curve Reduction Alternative, additional incidental take of DSF would be authorized and additional construction would be required. Under the No Action Alternative, no permit would be issued, and no construction would occur.

The Service has made a preliminary determination that approval of the proposed HCP qualifies as a categorical exclusion under NEPA, as provided by the Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM 2 Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6 Appendix 1) and as a “low-effect” plan as defined by the Habitat Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996). Determination of Low-effect Habitat Conservation Plans is based on the following three criteria: (1) Implementation of the proposed HCP would result in minor or negligible effects on federally listed, proposed, and candidate species and their habitats; (2) Implementation of the proposed HCP would result in minor or negligible effects on other environmental values or resources; and (3) Impacts of the proposed HCP, considered together with the impacts of other past, present and reasonably foreseeable similarly situated projects, would not result, over time, in cumulative effects to environmental values or resources which would be considered significant.

Based upon this preliminary determination, we do not intend to prepare further NEPA documentation. We will consider public comments in making the final determination on whether to prepare such additional documentation.

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.

This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act. We will evaluate the permit application, the proposed HCP, and comments submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 10 (a) of the Act. If the requirements are met, we will issue a permit to the Union Pacific Railroad for the incidental take of the Delhi Sands flower-loving fly from double tracking and rail and drainage improvements in the City of Colton, San Bernardino County, California.

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Dated: June 1, 2007.

Jim A. Bartel,

Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, Carlsbad, California.

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[FR Doc. E7-10975 Filed 6-6-07; 8:45 am]