[Federal Register: October 2, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 191)]
[Page 58785-58786]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit for 
Construction of a Single-family Home in the Town of Venice, Sarasota 
County, Florida

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


    Mr. Jack Grimes (Applicant) requests an incidental take permit 
(ITP) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 
1973 (U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), as amended (Act). The Applicant anticipates 
taking about one-half acre of Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma 
coerulescens) habitat, incidental to land clearing in preparation for 
the construction of a single-family home and supporting infrastruture. 
Land clearing will take place within section 33, Township 39 South, 
Range 19 East, Venice, Sarasota County, Florida. The Applicant proposes 
to mitigate the taking of scrub-jays through contribution of $1,000 to 
the Florida Scrub-jay Conservation Fund.
    Land clearing and infrastructure installation will destroy about 
one-half acre of habitat known to be occupied by one family of scrub-
jays. A more detailed description of the mitigation and minimization 
measures to address the effects of the Project to the scrub-jay are 
outlined in the Applicant's Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and in the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. The Service has determined 
that the Applicant's proposal, including the proposed mitigation and 
minimization measures, will individually and cumulatively have a minor 
or negligible effect on the species covered in the HCP. Therefore, the 
ITP is a ``low effect'' project and would qualify as a categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as 
provided by the Department of Interior Manual (516 DM2, Appendix 1 and 
516 DM 6, Appendix 1).
    The Service announces the availability of the HCP for the 
incidental take application. Copies of the HCP may be obtained by 
making a request to the Regional Office (see ADDRESSES). Requests must 
be in writing to be processed. This notice is provided pursuant to 
Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 
    The Service specifically requests information, views, and opinions 
from the public via this Notice on the Federal action. Further, the 
Service specifically solicits information regarding the adequacy of the 
HCP as measured against the Service's Permit issuance criteria found in 
50 CFR Parts 13 and 17.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit comments by any one of 
several methods. Please reference permit number TE033098-0 in such 
comments. You may mail comments to the Service's Regional Office (see 
ADDRESSES). You may also comment via the internet to 
``david_dell@fws.gov''. Please submit comments over the internet as an 
ASCII file avoiding the use of special characters and any form of 
encryption. Please also include your name and return address in your 
internet message. If you do not receive a confirmation from the Service 
that we have received your internet message, contact us directly at 
either telephone number listed below (see FURTHER INFORMATION). 
Finally, you may hand deliver comments to either Service office listed 
below (see ADDRESSES). Our practice is to make comments, including 
names and home addresses of respondents, available for public review 
during regular business hours. Individual respondents may request that 
we withhold their home address from the administrative record. We will 
honor such requests to the extent allowable by law. There may also be 
other circumstances in which we would withhold from the administrative 
record a respondent's identity, as allowable by law. If you wish us to 
withhold your name and address, you must state this prominently at the 
beginning of your comments. We will not; however, consider anonymous 
comments. We will make all submissions from organizations or 
businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as 
representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, available 
for public inspection in their entirety.

DATES: Written comments on the ITP application and HCP should be sent 
to the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be received 
on or before November 1, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application, supporting 
documentation, and HCP may obtain a copy by writing the Service's 
Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, Georgia. Documents will also be 
available for public inspection by appointment during normal business 
hours at the Regional Office, 1875 Century Boulevard, Suite 200, 
Atlanta, Georgia 30345 (Attn: Endangered Species Permits), or Field 
Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Post Office Box 2676, Vero 
Beach, Florida 32961-2676. Written data or comments concerning the 
application, or HCP should be submitted to the Regional Office. Please 
reference permit number TE033098-0 in requests for the documents 
discussed herein.

Coordinator, (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/679-7313, facsimile: 
404/679-7081; or Mr. Mike Jennings, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, South 
Florida Ecosystem Office, Vero Beach, Florida (see ADDRESSES above), 
telephone: 561/562-3909.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Florida scrub-jay (scrub-jay) is 
geographically isolated from other subspecies of scrub-jays found in 
Mexico and the western United States. The scrub-jay is found 
exclusively in peninsular Florida and is restricted to xeric uplands 
(predominately in oak-dominated scrub). Increasing urban and 
agricultural development have resulted in habitat loss and 
fragmentation which has adversely affected the distribution and numbers 
of scrub-jays. The total estimated population is between 7,000 and 
11,000 individuals.
    The decline in the number and distribution of scrub-jays in 
southwestern Florida has been exacerbated by tremendous urban growth in 
the past 50 years. Much of the historic commercial and residential 
development has occurred on the dry soils which previously supported 
scrub-jay habitat. Based on existing soils data, much of the historic 
and current scrub-jay habitat of coastal southwest Florida occurs 
proximal to the current shoreline and larger river basins. Much of this 
area of Florida was settled early because few wetlands restricted urban 
and agricultural development. Due to the

[[Page 58786]]

effects of urban and agricultural development over the past 100 years, 
much of the remaining scrub-jay habitat is now relatively small and 
isolated. What remains is largely degraded due to the exclusion of fire 
which is needed to maintain xeric uplands in conditions suitable for 
    Recent scrub-jay surveys in urban areas of southwest Florida 
documented that the subject residential parcel is part of the territory 
of one family of birds that is composed of seven individuals. A one-day 
survey undertaken by the Applicant supported these findings when two 
juvenile birds were documented within the subject residential parcel. 
The extent of the territory and its relative importance to the resident 
family of scrub-jays has not been determined. However, the residential 
parcel is composed of native xeric vegetation of sufficient quality to 
provide food resources and nesting and sheltering habitat for scrub-
    Scrub-jays using the subject residential lot and adjacent 
properties are part of a larger complex of scrub-jays located in urban 
settings in coastal areas of southern Sarasota County and western 
Charlotte County. Thirteen scrub-jay families are known to occupy urban 
areas within about three miles of the subject residential parcel. More 
than 100 scrub-jay families may still exist within the metapopulation 
of birds found in the matrix of urban and natural areas of coastal 
Sarasota and Charlotte counties. However, scrub-jays in urban areas are 
particularly vulnerable and typically do not successfully produce young 
that survive to adulthood. Persistent urban growth in this area will 
likely result in further reductions in the amount of suitable habitat 
for scrub-jays. Increasing urban pressures are also likely to result in 
the continued degradation of scrub-jay habitat as fire exclusion due to 
safety concerns slowly results in vegetative overgrowth. The continued 
survival of a large scrub-jay population in southwest Florida will be 
dependent on the protection and management of large preserves.
    Construction of the Project's infrastructure and facilities will 
result in harm to scrub-jays, incidental to the carrying out of these 
otherwise lawful activities. Habitat alteration associated with the 
proposed residential construction will reduce the availability of 
feeding, nesting, and sheltering habitat of resident scrub-jays.
    The Applicant proposes to minimize take of scrub-jays by reducing 
disturbance to occupied habitat. Approximately 25 percent (or 0.13 
acres) of occupied habitat on the residential lot will not be disturbed 
during land clearing and construction activities. In addition, the 
Applicant proposes to remove up to four pine trees on the residential 
lot. Removal of these trees will eliminate perch sites for predatory 
birds and may reduce the risk that raptors will kill scrub-jays.
    As earlier stated, the Service has determined that the HCP 
qualifies as a Categorically-Excluded, ``low-effect'' HCP as defined by 
Service's Habitat Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996). Low-
effect HCPs are those involving: (1) minor or negligible effects on 
federally listed and candidate species and their habitats, and (2) 
minor or negligible effects on other environmental values or resources. 
The Applicant's HCP qualifies for the following reasons:
    1. Approval of the HCP would result in minor or negligible effects 
on the Florida scrub-jay. The Service does not anticipate significant 
direct or cumulative effects on this species resulting from the 
construction of the Project.
    2. Approval of the HCP would not have adverse effect on known 
geographic, historic or cultural sites, or involve unique or unknown 
environmental risks.
    3. Approval of the HCP would not result in any significant adverse 
effects on public health or safety.
    4. The project does not require compliance with Executive Order 
11988 (Floodplain Management), Executive Order 11990 (Protection of 
Wetlands), or the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, nor does it 
threaten to violate a Federal, State, local or tribal law or 
requirement imposed for the protection of the environment.
    5. Approval of the HCP would not establish a precedent for future 
action or represent a decision in principle about future actions with 
potentially significant environmental effects.
    The Service has therefore determined that approval of the 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). No further NEPA determination will therefore be prepared.
    The Service will evaluate the HCP and comments submitted thereon to 
determine whether the application meets the requirements of Section 
10(a) of the Act. If it is determined that those requirements are met, 
an ITP will be issued for the incidental take of one family of Florida 
scrub-jay. The Service will also evaluate whether the issuance of a 
Section 10(a)(1)(B) ITP complies with Section 7 of the Act by 
conducting an intra-Service Section 7 consultation. The results of the 
consultation, in combination with the above findings, will be used in 
the final analysis to determine whether or not to issue the ITP.

    Dated: September 25, 2000.
H. Dale Hall,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 00-25145 Filed 9-29-00; 8:45 am]