Third Supplement to the Biological Assessment for the Rosemont Copper Project

Document ID: swca-biological-assessment-201506

This document was prepared to address new information and other changes that became available after the biological opinion (BO) for the proposed Rosemont Copper Project was issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on October 30, 2013. The purpose of this supplemental biological assessment (SBA) is to provide information to the USFWS concerning additional information and changes since the issuance of the biological assessment (BA)1 (dated June 2012) and the two previous SBAs2,3 (dated October 2012 and February 2013). During a meeting on May 12, 2014, between the Coronado National Forest (the Coronado), USFWS, SWCA Environmental Consultants (SWCA) (U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service) contractors), Rosemont Copper Company (Rosemont Copper), and WestLand Resources, Inc. (WestLand) (Rosemont Copper contractors), the need for a third SBA was raised for the following reasons.

First, there are three species for which the listing status has changed. The northern Mexican gartersnake (Thamnophis eques megalops) and the western yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus occidentalis) were recently listed as threatened and not conferenced or consulted on in the BO (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2014d, 2014f)). Additionally, the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) subspecies has been given its own listing separate from the gray wolf (Canis lupus), and the 10J reintroduction area has been expanded (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2015b, 2015c).

Second, proposed critical habitat for the jaguar (Panthera onca) was designated as critical habitat after the BO was issued (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2014b). Additionally, USFWS has proposed critical habitat for the northern Mexican gartersnake and western yellow-billed cuckoo within portions of the action area (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2013c, 2014c).

Third, there are four species that were consulted on in the BO for which baseline conditions have changed and/or new information about baseline conditions for these species has become available: Chiricahua leopard frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis) (Crawford 2014), Huachuca water umbel (Lilaeopsis schaffneriana ssp. recurva) (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2014g), the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2014i), and ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) (SWCA Environmental Consultants 2015; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2014h). Additionally, new information has become available for desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius), which was not consulted on in the BO (Simms 2013).

Finally, the USFWS is requesting the opportunity to reassess its analysis of impacts on aquatic and riparian threatened and endangered species from the proposed project using the revised interpretations of the groundwater models that were used in the final environmental impact statement (FEIS)4 and supplemental information report (SIR),5 which were not available for consideration prior to completion of the BO (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2014h).