[Federal Register: May 9, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 90)]
[Page 31363-31365]
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 FML81, LLC, Fort Morgan 
Peninsula, Baldwin County, AL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: FML81, LLC (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 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 duplex dwelling unit on a 0.5 acre 
tract containing 75 linear feet of coastal dune habitat, fronting the 
Gulf of Mexico. The Project would permanently remove about 30% of the 
0.5 acre tract (or approximately 6,518 square feet) that could 
potentially be inhabited by the ABM and three sea turtle species in 
Baldwin County, Alabama. A

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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, Alabama. Other Notices relating to these applications 
will appear in this issue of the Federal Register or in subsequent 
    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 TE052383-0 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 0.5 acre 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 duplex residence, including a 
deck with a pool, and a 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 duplex residence on approximately 30 percent of the 
total lot (Lot 82 in the Ponce de Leon Subdivision). The remaining 70 
percent of the habitat on the lot would be undisturbed. This 
alternative includes measures designed to avoid or minimize take by 
reducing the footprint of development and habitat disturbance by 3,752 
square feet, which will be undeveloped and remain in indigenous 
    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

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permanent basis, other 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 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 19, 2002.
Sam D. Hamilton,
Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 02-11567 Filed 5-8-02; 8:45 am]