Comments will be taken through Nov. 1 and public meetings are scheduled Oct. 19-27 on a proposed plan that would provide Endangered Species Act compliance coverage for Washington state wildlife areas.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service set a 30-day public scoping period for a proposed Habitat Conservation Plan covering the 32 wildlife areas managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The scoping is part of an Environmental Impact Statement required under the National Environmental Policy Act.
WDFW’s proposed HCP includes a federal incidental "take" permit to allow standard land management and operations activities, agriculture, and recreation on its wildlife areas. Those approximately 900,000 acres of WDFW-owned or managed lands are home fish, wildlife, invertebrate and plant species that are ESA-protected. If granted, the permit would authorize the incidental take of 32 listed species, plus 20 unlisted species should they become listed under the ESA during the term of the HCP.
The listed species under USFWS jurisdiction include marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl, western snowy plover, Oregon silverspot butterfly, golden paintbrush, howellia, Spalding’s silene, Ute ladies’ tresses, Columbian white-tailed deer, gray wolf, grizzly bear, lynx, pygmy rabbit, and the bull trout.
The affected species under NOAA Fisheries jurisdiction: chinook salmon in Puget Sound, the Lower Columbia River, Upper Columbia River spring-run, Upper Willamette River, Snake River fall-run and the Snake River spring/summer-run chinook; chum salmon ESUs in the Columbia River and Hood Canal (summer run); coho salmon ESUs in the Lower Columbia River; steelhead Distinct Population Segments in Puget Sound, Snake River Basin, the Lower Columbia River, Middle Columbia River, Upper Columbia River and the Upper Willamette River; sockeye salmon ESUs in Ozette Lake and the Snake River; the Southern DPS of the Pacific eulachon; and the Southern DPS of the green sturgeon.
The WDFW also requests incidental take for the following unlisted species under FWS jurisdiction should they become listed during the term of the HCP: burrowing owl, greater sagegrouse, sharp-tailed grouse, slenderbilled white breasted nuthatch, streak horned lark, northern leopard frog, Oregon spotted frog, Rocky Mountain tailed frog, sagebrush lizard, striped whipsnake, Van Dyke’s salamander, western pond turtle, mardon skipper, Taylors checkerspot , valley silverspot, westslope cutthroat trout, fisher, Townsends western big-eared bat, Washington ground squirrel and the western pocket gopher.
The desired ESA coverage would be for things like road and fence maintenance, habitat restoration, and horseback riding on a state wildlife area to continue even if a protected species was unintentionally harmed, provided that conservation measures outlined in the plan are implemented to minimize and mitigate any harm.
Detailed information on the project is available at http://www.fws.gov/wafwo/
Four public scoping meetings, all 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., have been scheduled as follows:
-- Tuesday, Oct. 19, at Everett Community College, 2000 Tower Street, Whitehorse Hall, Room 105, Everett
-- Wednesday, Oct. 20, at FWS and NMFS Office, 510 Desmond Drive, Sawyer Hall, Lacey
-- Tuesday Oct. 26, at Hal Homes Center, 209 N. Ruby Street, Teanaway Room, Ellensburg
-- Wednesday, Oct. 27, at Spokane Valley Center Place, 2426 N. Discovery Place, Room 109, Spokane Valley.
The USFWS is accepting all comments through Nov. 1 on the scope of the EIS, the range of alternatives, and the impacts that should be analyzed at: firstname.lastname@example.org .