[Federal Register: March 24, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 57)]
[Page 13867-13868]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Receipt of Applications for Incidental Take Permits by 23 
Applicants for Proposed Single Family and Duplex Residential 
Construction on the Fort Morgan Peninsula, Baldwin County, AL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of applications for incidental take 
permits, habitat conservation plans and environmental assessment.


SUMMARY: Mr. Doug Calhoun, Dr. Blaine Crum, D.F. Investments, Mr. Frank 
Ellis, Fort Morgan Beach House, Mr. Richard Garcia, Cindy and Charles 
Gordon, Mrs. Virginia Grace, Mr. John Gulas, Harris Building & 
Investment, Mr. Richard Marty, Mr. Greg Miller (1 Duplex), Mr. Greg 
Miller (4 Duplexes), Mr. Gerald Nasello, Mr. Ronald Jones, Ms. Sheila 
Rains, Mr. George Roberds, Mr. Walter Ruzec, Mr. Daniel Sizemore, Mr. 
Barry Stevens, Mr. Raymond Suggs, Mr. Raymond Waddell, and Mr. Brad 
Williamson have applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for 
incidental take permits (ITP) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S. C. 1531 et seq.), as amended 
(Act) for the take of the Alabama beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus 
ammobates)(ABM). The proposed take would be incidental to the otherwise 
lawful activity of constructing 29 single family and duplex residences 
on the Fort Morgan Peninsula, Alabama.
    The applicants have prepared Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) in 
accordance with section 10(a)(2)(A) of the Act specifying, among other 
things, the impacts that are likely to result from the taking and the 
measures each Applicant will take to minimize and mitigate such 
impacts. A detailed description of the proposed minimization and 
mitigation measures is provided in the Applicant's HCPs, and our 
Environmental Assessment (EA).
    The proposed action would involve approval of the HCPs if the 
statutory issuance criteria are satisfied. The draft EA considers the 
environmental impacts of the proposed projects on, including but not 
limited to, endangered and threatened species. A detailed description 
of the mitigation and minimization measures to address the effects of 
the project to the ABM and a discussion of the conservation measures 
taken to preclude take of sea turtles is provided in the Applicants' 
HCPs, and our Environmental Assessment.

DATES: Written comments on the ITP applications, HCPs, and EA should be 
sent to the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be 
received on or before April 23, 2004.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the applications, HCPs, and EA may 
obtain an electronic copy on compact disk by writing the Service's 
Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, Georgia, at the address below. 
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 the Daphne Ecological Services Field Office, 1208-B Main 
Street, Daphne, Alabama 36526. Written data or comments concerning the 
application or HCP should be submitted to the Regional Office. Please 
reference the ITP for 23 applicants for residential development, Batch 
I, in requests for the documents discussed herein.

Coordinator (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/679-4144, or Ms. 
Barbara Allen, Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist, Daphne Field Office 
(see ADDRESS above), telephone: 251/441-5873.


Public Comments Solicited

    We announce the availability of an EA and HCPs/Applications for 
Incidental Take. The EA is a combined assessment addressing the 
environmental impacts associated with these projects both individually 
and cumulatively. Copies of the EA and the individual HCPs may be 
obtained by making a request to the Regional Office (see ADDRESSES). 
Requests should be in writing. This notice advises the public that we 
have opened the comment period on the permit applications and the EA. 
The permit applications each include HCPs. This notice is provided 
pursuant to Section 10 of the Act and National Environmental Policy Act 
regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).
    We specifically request information, views, and opinions from the 
public on the Federal action, including the identification of any other 
aspects of the human environment not already identified in our EA. 
Further, we specifically solicit information regarding the adequacy of 
the HCPs as measured against our ITP issuance criteria found in 50 CFR 
parts 13 and 17.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit comments by any one of 
several methods. Please reference ITP for 23 applicants for residential 
development, Batch I, in such comments. You may mail comments to our 
Regional Office (see ADDRESSES). You may also comment via the Internet 
to aaron_valenta@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 mailing address in 
your Internet message. If you do not receive a confirmation from us 
that we have

[[Page 13868]]

received your internet message, contact us directly at either telephone 
number listed (see FURTHER INFORMATION).
    Finally, you may hand deliver comments to either Service office 
listed (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.


    The EA considers the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of 
the proposed incidental take and the measures that will be implemented 
to minimize and mitigate such impacts. The EA contains an analysis of 
three alternatives for each site, including: (1) No Action Alternative; 
(2) development with wholesale clearing, grading and formal 
landscaping; and (3) the Applicant's preferred alternative. Under 
Alternative 1, we would not issue the ITPs and no new construction 
would result. Alternative 2 would result in the construction of single 
family and duplex residences and the loss of 16.24 acres of ABM 
habitat. Alternative 3 would result in a loss of 2.72 acres consisting 
of the footprint of the residences and access driveways. Project 
effects are considered in the EA in terms of affected environment, 
environmental consequences, and cumulative effects to the human and 
natural environment.
    The ABM is one of eight subspecies of the old field mouse 
restricted to coastal habitats. The Service estimates that ABM 
historically occupied approximately 45 km (28 mi) of shoreline and 
currently occupy approximately 37 kilometers (23 miles) of shoreline.
    We believe that ABM utilize approximately 2,697 acres of lands 
which we have identified as ABM habitat. We have determined that these 
sites provide suitable habitat for ABM because they provide the 
    1. Cover or shelter;
    2. food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or 
physiological requirements;
    3. sites for breeding and rearing offspring.
    Under the Preferred Alternative, project development will result in 
the loss of 2.72 acres of ABM habitat. Thus, this action will result in 
the loss of approximately 0.011 percent of the total estimated ABM 
habitat of 2,697 acres.
    The EA considers the potential effects of the proposed projects on 
the ABM. Construction activities associated with site preparation, 
heavy equipment operations, and site alterations within habitat 
occupied by ABM may impact individual ABM by crushing or entombing them 
in their burrows, or by impairing essential breeding, feeding, or 
sheltering behaviors. The additional residences also increase the risk 
of competitors and predators of ABM such as house cats and non-native 
    The EA considers the potential effects of the projects on nesting 
sea turtles. 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. Our 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 Gulf-fronting 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 
nests. During the 2002 nesting season, 63 nests were documented along 
the Alabama coast.
    The Kemps 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 Kemps ridley sea turtle nested on Bon Secour National Wildlife 
Refuge and another along the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Perdido 
Key, Florida. In 2001, two dead Kemps ridley sea turtle hatchlings were 
recovered, one on Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, and the second 
in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
    Conservation measures, such as sea-turtle friendly lighting, 
removal of beach furniture from beaches during nesting season, and 
allowing volunteers to mark and monitor nests on each of the properties 
have been incorporated into each of the applicant's HCPs. These 
measures are expected to preclude any take of sea turtles.
    Under section 9 of the Act and its implementing regulations, 
``taking'' of endangered and threatened wildlife is prohibited. 
However, we, 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 Applicants have prepared HCPs which 
include measures for the long-term protection, management, and 

enhancement of ABM habitat as required for the incidental take permit 
application as part of the proposed project.
    We will evaluate whether the issuance of the section 10(a)(1)(B) 
ITPs 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 ITPs.

    Dated: February 20, 2004.
J. Mitch King,
Acting Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 04-6497 Filed 3-23-04; 8:45 am]