[Federal Register: May 9, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 90)]
[Page 31357-31359]
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 Blaine C. and Lynda C. 
Crum, Fort Morgan Peninsula, Baldwin County, AL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Blaine C. and Lynda C. Crum (Applicant), seek 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 the Federally 
listed endangered Alabama beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus ammobates) 
(ABM), the threatened green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), the threatened 
loggerhead turtle, (Caretta caretta), and the endangered Kemp's ridley 
sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), in Baldwin County, Alabama. The 
proposed taking is incidental to construction of a single family 
residence on an approximately 29,250 square-foot lot containing 75 
linear feet of coastal dune habitat, fronting the Gulf of Mexico. The 
Project would permanently remove about 24% of the 29,250 square-foot 
lot (or approximately 6,972 square feet) that could potentially be 
inhabited by the ABM and three sea turtle species in Baldwin County, 
Alabama. 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. It should be 
noted that this application for an incidental take permit is one of 
seven applications currently being considered by the Fish and Wildlife 
Service for construction of single family/or duplex residences in 
coastal dune habitat fronting the Gulf of Mexico, on the Fort Morgan 
Peninsula, in Baldwin County,

[[Page 31358]]

Alabama. Other Notices relating to these applications have appeared in 
previous issues of the Federal Register or will appear in this or 
subsequent issues.
    The Service also announces the availability of an environmental 
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 30 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 June 10, 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 Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 1208-B Main Street, Daphne, Alabama 36526 (Attn: Ms. 
Barbara Allen). 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 TE054180-0 in such comments, or in 
requests of the documents discussed herein.

Coordinator, (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/679-7313; or Ms. 
Barbara Allen, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, Daphne Field Office, (see 
ADDRESSES above), telephone: 334/441-5181, extension 33.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The ABM is one of eight subspecies of the 
oldfield mouse restricted to coastal dunes. The Service estimates that 
ABM historically occupied approximately 45 km (28 mi) of shoreline. By 
1987, the total occupied linear, shoreline habitat for the ABM, 
Choctawhatchee, and Perdido Key beach mice was estimated at less than 
35 km (22 mi). Monitoring (trapping and field observations) of the ABM 
population on other private lands that hold, or are under review for, 
an ITP during the last five years indicates the Fort Morgan Peninsula 
remains occupied (more or less continuously) by ABM along its primary 
and secondary dunes while ABM use interior habitats intermittently. The 
current occupied coastline for the ABM extends approximately 37 km (23 
miles). ABM habitat on the Applicant's property consists of 
approximately 29,254 square feet of wet beach, primary and secondary 
dunes. There is no designated critical habitat on the property.
    The green sea turtle has a circumglobal distribution and is found 
in tropical and sub-tropical waters. The Florida population of this 
species is federally listed as endangered; elsewhere the species is 
listed as threatened. Primary nesting beaches in the southeastern 
United States occur in a six-county area of east-central and 
southeastern Florida, where nesting activity ranges from approximately 
350-2,300 nests annually. The Service's turtle nesting surveys of the 
Fort Morgan Peninsula, from Laguna Key west to Mobile Point, for the 
period 1994-2001 have not confirmed any green turtle nests, though some 
crawls were suspected in 1999 and 2000.
    The loggerhead turtle is listed as a threatened species throughout 
its range. This species is circumglobal, preferring temperate and 
tropical waters. In the southeastern United States, 50,000 to 70,000 
nests are deposited annually, about 90 percent of which occur in 
Florida. Most nesting in the Gulf outside of Florida appears to be in 
the Chandeleur Islands of Louisiana; Ship, Horn and Petit Bois Islands 
in Mississippi; and the outer coastal sand beaches of Alabama. The 
Service's nesting surveys of the Fort Morgan Peninsula, from Laguna Key 
to Mobile Point, for the 2001 report included over 70 loggerhead turtle 
    The Kemp's ridley sea turtle is an endangered species throughout 
its range. Adults are found mainly in the Gulf of Mexico. Immature 
turtles can be found along the Atlantic coast as far north as 
Massachusetts and Canada. The species' historic range is tropical and 
temperate seas in the Atlantic Basin and in the Gulf of Mexico. Nesting 
occurs primarily in Tamaulipas, Mexico, but occasionally also in Texas 
and other southern states, including an occasional nest in North 
Carolina. In 1999, a Kemp's ridley sea turtle nested on Bon Secour 
National Wildlife Refuge and another along the Gulf Island's National 
Seashore in Perdido Key, Florida. In 2001, two dead Kemp's ridley sea 
turtle hatchlings were recovered, one on Bon Secour National Wildlife 
Refuge, and the second in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
    The EA considers the environmental consequences of three 
alternatives, including a no-action alternative that would result in no 
new construction on the Project site. This alternative would not be 
economically feasible for the applicant. The remaining two development 
alternatives involve construction of a single family residence and 
driveway. The difference between the two development alternatives 
relates to the amount of undisturbed habitat remaining on the property 
after construction has been completed.
    In the Applicant's preferred alternative, the project involves 
construction of a single family residence on approximately 24 percent 
of the total lot. The remaining 76 percent of the habitat on the lot 
would be undisturbed. Existing dune habitat located outside the 
building footprint will be conserved and any impacts associated with 
construction activities will be restored. The preferred alternative 
includes measures designed to avoid or minimize take by reducing the 
footprint of impervious surface through minimizing the size of the 
driveway and moving the structure 28 feet north of the Construction 
Control Line (CCL) established by Alabama Department of Environmental 
Management (ADEM). The lot outside the footprint of the driveway and 
house will be undeveloped and remain in indigenous vegetation.
    In addition, a more aggressive land development alternative was 
considered. Under this alternative wholesale clearing, grading, and 
formal landscaping landward of the Coastal Construction Control Line 
would remove nearly all of the natural habitat and indigenous 
vegetation currently present on the property, with the exception of 
that protected by zoning and construction setbacks.
    Trapping has not been done on the lot, however, based on trapping 
data on adjacent properties with similar habitat and the presence of 
ABM tracks, the ABM uses portions (some on a permanent basis, others 
episodically) of the entire lot. The proposed project would adversely 
impact the ABM population directly by killing individuals in the 
construction areas via crushing or entombment and indirectly by 
introduction of house pets (cats), introduction of competitors (house

[[Page 31359]]

mice), attraction of predators and permanent human disturbances. 
Occupation of the proposed structures could adversely affect sea turtle 
nesting by disorienting nesting females and disorienting hatchlings by 
excess artificial lighting, trampling nests, and trapping or 
disorienting nesting females and emerging hatchlings among tire ruts or 
beach equipment left after dark.
    Under section 9 of the Act and its implementing regulations, 
``taking'' of endangered and threatened wildlife is prohibited. 
However, the Service, under limited circumstances, may issue permits to 
take such wildlife if the taking is incidental to and not the purpose 
of otherwise lawful activities. The Applicant has prepared an HCP as 
required for the incidental take permit application, and as described 
above as part of the proposed project.
    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.
    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: April 26, 2002.
Thomas M. Riley,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 02-11550 Filed 5-8-02; 8:45 am]