[Federal Register: June 4, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 107)]
[Page 33521-33522]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit for 
Construction on a Single-Family Lot, in Volusia County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


    Royce Winslow (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 incidental take of the Florida scrub-jay 
(Aphelocoma coerulescens), on a single family lot for land clearing and 
other activities associated with the construction of a single family 
home on a 0.134-acre lot in City of Ormond Beach, Volusia County, 
Florida (Project).
    The Applicant's Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) describes the 
mitigation and minimization measures proposed to address the effects of 
the Project to the Florida scrub-jay. These measures are outlined in 
the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. The Service has determined 
that the Applicant's proposal, including the proposed mitigation and 
minimization measures, will individually and cumulatively have a minor 
or negligible effect on the species covered in the HCP. Therefore, the 
ITP is a ``low-effect'' project and would qualify as a categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as 
provided by the Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM2, Appendix 1 
and 516 DM 6, Appendix 1). The Service announces the availability of 
the HCP for the incidental take application. Copies of the HCP may be 
obtained by making a request to the Regional Office (see ADDRESSES). 
Requests must be in writing to be processed. This notice is provided 
pursuant to Section 10 of the Endangered Species 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 TE059232-0 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 FOR 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 ITP application and HCP should be sent 
to the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be received 
on or before July 7, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application, supporting 
documentation, and HCP 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 Permit Coordinator), 
or Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6620 South Point 
Drive, South, Suite 310, Jacksonville, Florida 32216-0912. Written data 
or comments concerning the application or HCP should be submitted to 
the Regional Office. Requests for the documentation must be in writing 
to be processed. Please reference permit number TE059232-0 in such 
comments, or in requests of the documents discussed herein.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Florida scrub-jay is geographically 
isolated from other species of scrub-jays found in Mexico and the 
Western United States. The Florida scrub-jay is found almost 
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 indicate that 
one family of Florida scrub-jays occupies the Project site. The 0.134 
acre of occupied habitat on the site is very overgrown due to fire 
suppression and a lack of any kind of management. The surrounding area 
is intensely developed with only scattered fragments of scrub habitat 
remaining. Construction of the Project's infrastructure, commercial 
construction and construction of the individual home sites 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 
feeding, shelter, and nesting habitat.
    Section 9 of the Act, and implementing regulations, prohibits 
taking the Florida scrub-jay. Taking, in part, is defined as an 
activity that kills, injures, harms, or harasses a listed endangered or 
threatened species. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act provides an 
exemption, under certain circumstances, to the Section 9 prohibition if 
the taking is incidental to an otherwise lawful activity. Section 10 
requires the applicant to submit a Habitat Conservation Plan that 
specifies the impacts that are likely to result from the taking and the 
measures the permit applicant will undertake to minimize and mitigate 
such impacts. Section 10(a)(2)(B) of the Act provides statutory 
criteria that must be satisfied before an incidental take permit can be 
issued. The issuance criteria are as follows:
    1. The taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of otherwise 
lawful activities.

[[Page 33522]]

    2. Applicant will to the maximum extent practicable, minimize, and 
mitigate the impacts of such taking.
    3. Applicant will ensure that adequate funding for the HCP and 
procedures to deal with unforeseen circumstances will be provided.
    4. The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of 
survival and recovery of the species in the wild.
    5. Applicant will ensure that other measures that the Service may 
require as being necessary or appropriate will be provided.
    6. The Service has received such other assurances as may be 
required that the HCP will be implemented.
    The HCP describes measures by the Applicant to avoid and mitigate 
``take'' that would occur as a result of the project. To minimize 
impacts, the Applicant will ensure that clearing of vegetation within 
150 feet of active nests will not take place during the nesting season 
for Florida scrub-jays (March 1 through July 1). To mitigate for the up 
to 0.134 acres of occupied habitat that would be eliminated on-site, 
the Applicant will contribute $1,688.00 to the National Fish and 
Wildlife Foundation Fund for the conservation and management of the 
Florida scrub-jay. This money will be used, along with other funds 
received from Section 10(a)(1)(B) permits, to purchase scrub-jay 
habitat in Volusia County, Florida. This amount is based on replacement 
at a rate of 2:1 (0.268 acre purchased to replace 0.134 acre at a 
current cost of $5,000.00 per acre for a final cost of $1,340.00), 
provides a $1,000 per acre ($268.00) management endowment for perpetual 
management, and includes a five percent fee ($84.00) for the 
administration of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation account. 
Once purchased, the land will be transferred to a third party land 
management organization along with the $1,000 per acre management 
endowment. This management will be accomplished through the use of a 
conservation easement specifying that the land be left undeveloped and 
managed into perpetuity. It is believed that ensuring the protection 
and viability of quality, occupied habitat in a large contiguous 
preserve such as that which will be purchased in Volusia County, is 
more beneficial to the scrub-jay than any on-site mitigation plan could 
    As stated above, we have determined that the HCP is a low-effect 
plan that is categorically excluded from further NEPA analysis, and 
does not require the preparation of an Environmental Assessment or 
Environmental Impact Statement. This preliminary information may be 
revised due to public comment received in response to this notice. Low-
effect HCPs are those involving: (1) Minor or negligible effects on 
federally listed or candidate species and their habitats, and (2) minor 
or negligible effects on other environmental values or resources. The 
Applicant's HCP qualifies for the following reasons:
    1. Approval of the HCP would result in minor or negligible effects 
on the Florida scrub-jay population as a whole. The Service does not 
anticipate significant direct or cumulative effects to the Florida 
scrub-jay population as a result of the construction project.
    2. Approval of the HCP would not have adverse effects on known 
unique geographic, historic or cultural sites, or involve unique or 
unknown environmental risks.
    3. Approval of the HCP would not result in any significant adverse 
effects on public health or safety.
    4. The project does not require compliance with Executive Order 
11988 (Floodplain Management), Executive Order 11990 (Protection of 
Wetlands), or the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, nor does it 
threaten to violate a Federal, State, local or tribal law or 
requirement imposed for the protection of the environment.
    5. Approval of the Plan would not establish a precedent for future 
action or represent a decision in principle about future actions with 
potentially significant environmental effects.
    The Service has therefore determined that approval of the Plan 
qualifies as a categorical exclusion under the NEPA, as provided by the 
Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6, 
Appendix 1). Therefore, no further NEPA documentation will be prepared.
    The Service will evaluate the HCP and comments submitted thereon to 
determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 
10(a) of the Act. If it is determined that those requirements are met, 
the ITP will be issued for the incidental take of the Florida scrub-
jay. The Service will also evaluate whether issuance of the section 
10(a)(1)(B) ITP complies with section 7 of the Act by conducting an 
intra-Service section 7 consultation. The results of this consultation, 
in combination with the above findings, will be used in the final 
analysis to determine whether or not to issue the ITP.

    Dated: May 8, 2003.
Christine E. Eustis,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 03-13970 Filed 6-3-03; 8:45 am]