[Federal Register: June 7, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 110)]
[Page 30744-30745]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of Amended Environmental Assessment for Proposed 
Amendment of Incidental Take Permit PRT-816732

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


    The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces the availability 
of amendments to Incidental Take Permit (ITP) PRT-816732, originally 
issued October 22, 1996. The originally issued, and currently active, 
ITP authorizes the take of bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in 
Osceola County, Florida. The proposed ITP modifications respond to the 
Permittee's request for clarification of specific conditions of the 
original ITP and address revised development plans submitted by the 
    The Service also announces the availability of an amended EA and 
HCP for the incidental take amendment application. Copies of the draft 
EA and/or HCP may be obtained by making a request to the Regional 
Office (see ADDRESSES). Requests must be in writing to be processed. 
This notice also advises the public that the Service has made a 
preliminary determination that issuing the ITP is not a major Federal 
action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment 
within the meaning of section 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA). The preliminary Finding of No 
Significant Impact (FONSI) is based on information contained in the 
draft EA and HCP. The final determination will be made no sooner than 
60 days from the date of this notice. This notice is provided pursuant 
to Section 10 of the Act and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).
    The Service specifically requests information, views, and opinions 
from the public via this Notice on the federal action, including the 
identification of any other aspects of the human environment not 
already identified in the Service's amended EA. Further, the Service is 
specifically soliciting information regarding the adequacy of the HCP 
as measured against the Service's ITP 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. 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 CONTACT). 
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 proposed ITP amendments should be sent 
to the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be received 
on or before August 6, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the amended EA or the EA 
originally prepared for the issuance of this ITP, may obtain a copy by 
writing the Service's Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, Georgia. 
These 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.

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: On October 22, 1996, Mr. Nick Gross, the 
Permittee, was issued ITP PRT-816732 in response to the submission of 
an adequate Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and complete permit 
application pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973 (U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), as amended (Act). The current ITP 
authorizes the one-time taking of nesting bald eagles, through 
harassment, resulting from earth moving, land clearing, and human 
habitation of a residential community being developed by the Permittee. 
The ITP requires a number of measures to minimize the impacts of 
residential development on nesting bald eagles, including phased 
construction within a 250 foot buffer zone around the nest, limitations 
on vegetation removal within the 250 foot buffer zone, as well as 
various prohibited activities and building restrictions within the 
buffer zone. The ITP also requires mitigation in the form of payment of 
$25,000 to a bald eagle conservation fund upon a determination that the 
nesting eagles abandoned the nest site.
    Bald eagles successfully nested during the 1996-1997, 1997-1998, 
and 1998-1999 nesting seasons due to the implementation of minimization 
measures prescribed within the ITP. However, the Permittee's 1999-2000 
monitoring report indicated that bald eagles failed to nest, although 
adult birds were documented regularly at the nest site and immediate 
vicinity. In the 2000-2001 nesting season, bald eagles appeared at the 
project area, but there was no nesting activity. As a result of this 
nesting failure, the Service requested, and the Permittee subsequently 
fulfilled, the mitigation requirements stipulated in the ITP.
    The Permittee has fully implemented the HCP and is in compliance 
with the terms and conditions of the ITP, including the funding of off-
site mitigation measures. Following the determination of nest 
abandonment, the Permittee provided the Service with a written request 
for modifications to the ITP that would alter allowable construction 
timing and revise development plans. The requested

[[Page 30745]]

revision of timing considerations would allow construction during the 
nesting season after monitoring confirms that nesting attempts by any 
eagles present had been abandoned. Current ITP conditions require 
monitoring and restrictions on construction until the end of the 
nesting season. This revision will not result in additional take of 
bald eagles.
    Revised development plans, if implemented, will result in a 
decrease in the existing buffer zone surrounding the nest site. The 
Service proposes to modify the current ITP allowing for the 
construction of five additional single-family homes within the 250-foot 
buffer zone surrounding the bald eagle nest site. Under the current 
ITP, the five lots are encompassed within the 250-foot buffer zone, and 
represent natural areas where construction is prohibited. The proposed 
ITP modification will result in a reduction in the ``no-build'' buffer 
to a 30-foot radius around the nest tree, however, revised construction 
timing restrictions within this reduced buffer and other protective 
measures currently required within the current buffer zone will remain 
in effect. Although this revision may cause take in the form of 
harassment of adult eagles, the Service believes take of active nests 
to be highly unlikely because the eagles have not nested here in the 
past two seasons.
    As stated above, the Service has made a preliminary determination 
that the issuance of the ITP is not a major Federal action 
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment within the 
meaning of section 102(2)(C) of NEPA. This preliminary information may 
be revised due to public comment received in response to this notice 
and is based on information contained in the draft EA and HCP.
    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 biological 
opinion, in combination with the above findings, will be used in the 
final analysis to determine whether or not to issue the ITP.

    Dated: May 25, 2001.
Sam D. Hamilton,
Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 01-14300 Filed 6-6-01; 8:45 am]