[Federal Register: March 17, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 51)]
[Page 12711-12712]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Assessment/
Habitat Conservation Plan Related to Application for an Incidental Take 
Permit for the Long Point Homeowner's Association Development

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public and other agencies of the 
availability of a draft Environmental Assessment (EA)/Habitat 
Conservation Plan (HCP) and Incidental Take Permit (ITP) application 
for review and comment. The draft EA/HCP and ITP application were 
submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) by the Long 
Point Homeowner's Association proposing residential development of the 
Long Point Subdivision on Kelleys Island, Erie County, Ohio. Federally-
threatened Lake Erie water snakes (Nerodia sipedon insularum) occupy 
the project area and it has been determined that the proposed actions 
will result in incidental take. The Long Point Homeowner's Association 
submitted an ITP application to the Service for incidental take 
pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 
(Act), as amended. The submission of the ITP application required the 
development of an HCP by the applicants detailing measures to be taken 
to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to Lake Erie water snakes.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before May 16, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Written comments can be mailed to the address or fax number 
below. Electronic mail comments should be submitted to: 
longpointhcp@fws.gov. Persons wishing to review the documents may 

obtain copies by writing, telephoning, faxing, or e-mailing: Regional 
HCP Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, 1 Federal Drive, Fort 
Snelling, MN 55111-4056, Telephone: (612) 713-5343, Fax: (612) 713-
5292. The draft EA/HCP is also available at the following internet 
address: http://midwest.fws.gov/nepa/. Copies of the draft EA/HCP may 

also be viewed at four public libraries listed in SUPPLEMENTARY 

Coordinator, Telephone: (612) 713-5343, or e-mail peter_


Public Involvement

    The draft EA/HCP is available for public review and comment for a 
period of 60 days. This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(a) of 
the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). Copies of the documents can be obtained as 
indicated in the ADDRESSES section. In addition, documents will be 
available for public inspection during normal business hours (8-4:30), 
at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, 
Minnesota, and at the Reynoldsburg Ecological Services Field Office, 
6950 Americana Parkway, Suite H, Reynoldsburg, Ohio and at the 
following libraries:

Port Clinton Public Library, 310 Madison St., Port Clinton, Ohio 43452
Sandusky Library, 114 W. Adams St., Sandusky, Ohio 44870
Sandusky Library, 528 Division St., Kelleys Island, Ohio 43438
Oak Harbor Public Library, 147 W. Main St., Oak Harbor, Ohio 43449

    All comments received from individuals become part of the official 
public record. Requests for such comments will be handled in accordance 
with the Freedom of Information Act and the Council on Environmental 
Quality's NEPA regulations [40 CFR 1506.6(f)]. 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 record, which 
we will honor to the extent allowable by law. If a respondent wishes us 
to withhold his/her name and/or address, this must be stated 
prominently at the beginning of the comment.

Incidental Take Permits

    Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act (Act) and Federal 
regulations prohibit ``take'' of fish or wildlife species listed as 
endangered or threatened. Take of listed fish or wildlife is defined 
under the Act to mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, 
trap, capture, collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct (16 
U.S.C. 1538). Harm may include significant habitat modification where 
it actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing 
essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, and 
sheltering [50 CFR 17.3(c)]. The Service may under limited 
circumstances issue permits to take listed species, provided such take 
is incidental to, and not the purpose of, an otherwise lawful activity. 
Regulations governing permits for endangered species are found in 50 
CFR 17.22.

Background on Habitat Conservation Plan

    The Long Point Homeowner's Association proposes to develop the 15-
acre Long Point Subdivision on Kelleys Island, Erie County, Ohio. The 
Lake Erie water snake and its habitat occur on the 15-acre tract. 
Within the HCP boundary, 7 acres will be cleared and 6.1 acres 
permanently maintained for the proposed development of the seven 
residential lots known as the Long Point Subdivision. Incidental take 
of Lake Erie water snakes is expected to occur due to the loss and 
degradation of sheltering and hibernation habitat and due to the 
increase in human activity in the project area. Loss of suitable 
habitat would

[[Page 12712]]

potentially result in a reduction in overwinter survival due to the 
loss of hibernacula and increased predation due to the loss of 
vegetation for shelter. More human activity on the 15-acre property 
would increase the likelihood of human disturbance and disruption of 
snakes, vehicular strikes of snakes, harassment and/or predation of 
snakes by pets, and mortality of snakes caused by mowing.
    The purpose of the HCP is to ensure incidental take will be 
minimized and mitigated to the maximum extent practicable and will not 
appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of this 
species in the wild. The Long Point Homeowner's Association designed 
the HCP in consultation with the Service to ensure the project area 
will continue to support suitable habitat for the species, while 
allowing for incidental take of Lake Erie water snakes from the 
proposed activities. Measures in the HCP designed to avoid, minimize, 
and mitigate the impacts of the proposed action on Lake Erie water 
snakes include: (1) Seasonal and temperature restrictions on ground 
disturbing activities including construction and mowing; (2) 
establishment of a shoreline buffer area to conserve habitat; (3) 
restrictions on pesticide and fertilizer use; (4) construction of 
artificial hibernacula; (5) restrictions on size and placement of 
structures including residences, garages, decks, driveways, and septic 
systems; and (6) monitoring the Lake Erie water snake population 
response to the proposed construction and mitigation for 15 years.

Background on Environmental Assessment

    The Proposed Action consists of issuing an ITP and implementation 
of the HCP. The draft EA considers three action alternatives and the 
``No Action'' alternative. The NEPA process will be completed after the 
comment period, at which time the Service will evaluate the permit 
application (if appropriate to the selected alternative), the HCP, and 
comments submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets 
the requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. If the requirements are 
met, the Service will issue a permit to the Long Point Homeowner's 
Association for the incidental take of Lake Erie water snakes 
associated with the proposed activities on Kelleys Island, Erie County, 
Ohio. The final permit decision will be made no sooner than 60 days 
from the date of this notice.
    The area encompassed by the HCP may contain facilities eligible to 
be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and other 
historical or archeological resources may be present. The National 
Historic Preservation Act and other laws require these properties and 
resources be identified and considered in project planning. The public 
is requested to inform the Service of concerns about archeological 
sites, buildings and structures, historic events, sacred and 
traditional areas, and other historic preservation concerns.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531, et seq.; 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347.

    Dated: February 26, 2003.
Lynn M. Lewis,
Acting Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Region 3, Fort 
Snelling, Minnesota.
[FR Doc. 03-6239 Filed 3-14-03; 8:45 am]