[Federal Register: May 30, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 104)]
[Page 37857-37858]
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 Storm Water Retention 
Pond, in Volusia County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Volusia County, Public Works, Engineering Department 
(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 
five (5) years. 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 
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).
    If you wish to comment, you may submit comments by any one of 
several methods. Please reference permit number TE054160-0 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 permit application, EA, and HCP should 
be sent to the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be 
received on or before July 1, 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 TE054160-0 in such comments, 
or in requests of the documents discussed herein.

[[Page 37858]]

Coordinator, (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/679-7313; or Ms. 
Jane Monaghan, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, Jacksonville Field Office, 
(see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 904/232-2580, extension 128.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The proposed taking is incidental to land 
clearing activities, road widening and storm water retention pond 
excavation on the 3.21-acre project site. (Project). The Project 
contains about 3.21 acres of occupied Florida scrub-jay habitat, and 
the potential exists for the entire Project site to provide habitat to 
the Eastern indigo snake.
    Florida scrub-jays are geographically isolated from other species 
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 proposed storm water retention pond 
site along Howland Boulevard on the Project site. Construction of the 
storm water retention pond will likely result in death of, or injury 
to, Florida scrub-jay 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-jay 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 off-site mitigation. The off-site 
preservation alternative would provide funding for the restoration and 
management of 6.42 acres of occupied habitat within a 357-acre county-
owned scrub habitat preserve known as the Lyonia Scrub 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 3.21 
acres of impacts to occupied scrub-jay habitat for the excavation of a 
storm water retention pond associated with the widening of Howland 
Boulevard. To mitigate for the proposed impacts to occupied habitat the 
applicant will provide funds for the restoration and management of 6.42 
acres of county owned occupied scrub habitat. This amount is based on 
mitigation at a ratio of 2:1 (two acres restored for every one acre 
impacted). Management will be conducted on a regular basis by Volusia 
County. After initial habitat restoration of the 6.42 acre mitigation 
area, the property would then be managed as part of the Lyonia Scrub 
Preserve, 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 combination with the above findings, will be used in the 
final analysis to determine whether or not to issue the ITP.

    Dated: May 17, 2002.
Christine Eustis,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 02-13454 Filed 5-29-02; 8:45 am]