[Federal Register: November 20, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 224)]
[Page 58157-58159]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of an Environmental Assessment and Receipt of an 
Application for an Incidental Take Permit for a City Government 
Facility, Deltona, Volusia County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The City of Deltona (Applicant), seeks an incidental take 
permit (ITP) from the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), pursuant to 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as 
amended. The ITP would authorize the take of two families of the 
threatened Florida scrub-jay, Aphelocoma coerulescens and the 
threatened eastern indigo snake, Drymarchon corais couperi, in Volusia 
County, Florida, for a period of twenty (20) years. The proposed taking 
is incidental to land clearing activities, road widening and 
development on a 10-acre project site (Project). The Project contains 
about 0.2 acre of occupied Florida scrub-jay habitat, and the potential 
exists for the entire Project to provide habitat to the eastern indigo 
snake. A description of the mitigation and minimization measures 
outlined in the Applicant's Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to address 
the effects of the Project to the protected species is described 
further in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below.
    The Service also announces the availability of an environmental

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assessment (EA) and HCP for the incidental take application. Copies of 
the 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 (NEPA), as amended. The Finding of No Significant 
Impact (FONSI) is based on information contained in the 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).

DATES: Written comments on the permit application, EA, and HCP should 
be sent to the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be 
received on or before January 22, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application, HCP, and EA 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, 6620 Southpoint Drive South, Suite 310, Jacksonville, 
Florida 32216-0912. Written data or comments concerning the 
application, EA, or HCP should be submitted to the Regional Office. 
Comments and requests for the documentation must be in writing to be 
processed. Please reference permit number TE038176-0 in such comments, 
or in requests of the documents discussed herein.

Coordinator, (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/679-7313; or Mr. 
Miles A. Meyer, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, Jacksonville Field Office, 
(see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 904/232-2580, extension 114.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Florida scrub-jay is geographically 
isolated from other subspecies of scrub-jays found in Mexico and the 
Western United States. The Florida scrub-jay is found exclusively in 
peninsular Florida and is restricted to scrub habitat. The total 
estimated population is between 7,000 and 11,000 individuals. Due to 
habitat loss and degradation throughout the State of Florida, it has 
been estimated that the Florida scrub-jay population has been reduced 
by at least half in the last 100 years. Surveys have indicated that two 
families of Florida scrub-jays utilize habitat associated with the 
maintained right-of-way of Providence Boulevard on the Project site. 
Construction of the Project's infrastructure, widening of turn lanes 
and an entrance road will likely result in death of, or injury to, 
Florida scrub-jays incidental to the carrying out of these otherwise 
lawful activities. Habitat alteration associated with property 
development will reduce the availability of habitat used for feeding 
and shelter.
    Historically, the eastern indigo snake occurred throughout Florida 
and into the coastal plain of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. 
Georgia and Florida currently support the remaining, endemic 
populations of eastern indigo snake. Over most of its range, the 
eastern indigo snake frequents a diversity of habitat types such as 
pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, xeric sandhill communities, tropical 
hardwood hammocks, edges of freshwater marshes, agricultural fields, 
coastal dunes and human altered habitats. Due to its relatively large 
home range, this snake is especially vulnerable to habitat loss, 
degradation, and fragmentation. The wide distribution and territory 
size requirements of the eastern indigo snake makes evaluation of 
status and trends very difficult. Surveys for this species on site were 
negative, however the habitat is suitable. If any eastern indigo snakes 
are present, construction of the Project's infrastructure may result in 
their death or injury incidental to the carrying out of these otherwise 
lawful activities.
    The EA considers the environmental consequences of two 
alternatives. The no action alternative may result in loss of habitat 
for Florida scrub-jays and eastern indigo snakes and exposure of the 
Applicant under section 9 of the Act. The proposed action alternative 
is issuance of the ITP with on-site mitigation. The on-site 
preservation alternative would restore and preserve 0.7 acre of 
unoccupied habitat adjacent to a 357 acre county-owned scrub habitat 
preserve. The affirmative conservation measures outlined in the HCP to 
be employed to offset the anticipated level of incidental take to the 
protected species are the following:
    1. The impacts associated with the proposed project include 0.06 
acre of temporary impacts to occupied scrub-jay habitat for the 
installation of an underground water line and 0.17 acre of permanent 
impacts associated with road widening and construction of turn lanes. 
To mitigate for the proposed impacts to occupied habitat the applicant 
will restore and preserve 0.7 acre of unoccupied scrub habitat. This 
amount is based on mitigation at a ratio of 3:1 (three acres restored 
for every one acre impacted). Management will be conducted on a regular 
basis by the City of Deltona Parks and Recreation Department. After 
initial habitat restoration of the 0.7 acre mitigation area, the 
property would then be set apart through an easement, requiring 
preservation and management for Florida scrub-jays and eastern indigo 
snakes into perpetuity.
    2. No construction activities would occur within 150 feet of an 
active Florida scrub-jay nest during the nesting season.
    3. The HCP provides a funding mechanism for these mitigation 
    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 EA and HCP. An appropriate 
excerpt from the FONSI reflecting the Service's finding on the 
application is provided below:
    Based on the analysis conducted by the Service, it has been 
determined that:
    1. Issuance of an ITP would not have significant effects on the 
human environment in the project area.
    2. The proposed take is incidental to an otherwise lawful activity.
    3. The Applicant has ensured that adequate funding will be provided 
to implement the measures proposed in the submitted HCP.
    4. Other than impacts to endangered and threatened species as 
outlined in the documentation of this decision, the indirect impacts 
which may result from issuance of the ITP are addressed by other 
regulations and statutes under the jurisdiction of other government 
entities. The validity of the Service's ITP is contingent upon the 
Applicant's compliance with the terms of the permit and all other laws 
and regulations under the control of State, local, and other Federal 
governmental entities.
    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

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combination with the above findings, will be used in the final analysis 
to determine whether or not to issue the ITP.

    Dated: November 5, 2001.
H. Dale Hall,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 01-28911 Filed 11-19-01; 8:45 am]