[Federal Register: July 25, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 141)]
[Page 42584-42585]
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 the 
Florida Scrub-jay Resulting From Construction of a Single-Family 
Residence in Sarasota County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Results Home Buyer Inc. (Applicant) requests an incidental 
take permit (ITP) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973 (U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), as amended (Act). The 
Applicant anticipates removal of about 0.18 acre of Florida scrub-jay 
(Aphelocoma coerulescens) (scrub-jay) foraging, sheltering, and 
possibly nesting habitat, incidental to lot preparation for the 
construction of a single-family residence and supporting infrastructure 
in Venice, Sarasota County, Florida (project). The take of one family 
of scrub-jays, consisting of up to four individuals, could occur as a 
result of the Applicant's proposed activities.
    The Applicant's Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) describes the 
mitigation and minimization measures proposed to address the effects of 
the project to the 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 qualifies as a categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as 
provided by the Department of Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 and 
516 DM 6, Appendix 1). The Service announces the availability of the 
ITP application, HCP, and Screening Form for Low-Effect HCP 
Determinations for this incidental take application. Copies of the ITP 
application, HCP, and Screening Form 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 Act and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

DATES: Written comments on the ITP application, accompanying HCP, and 
Screening Form should be sent to the Service's Regional Office (see 
ADDRESSES) and should be received on or before August 24, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application, HCP, and 
Screening Form may obtain a copy by writing the Service's Southeast 
Regional Office at the address below. Please reference permit number 
TE098966-0 in such requests. Documents will also be available for 
public inspection by appointment during normal business hours at the 
Southeast Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1875 Century 
Boulevard, Suite 200, Atlanta, Georgia 30345 (Attn: Endangered Species 
Permits), or the South Florida Ecological Services Office, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 1339 20th Street, Vero Beach, Florida, 32960-3559 
(Attn: Field Supervisor).

Coordinator, Southeast Regional Office (see ADDRESSES above), 
telephone: 404-679-7313, facsimile: 404-679-7081; or Mr. George Dennis, 
Fish and Wildlife Ecologist, South Florida Ecological Services Office 
(see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 772-562-3909, ext. 309.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: If you wish to comment, you may submit 
comments by any one of several methods. Please reference permit number 
TE098966-0 in such comments. You may mail comments to the Service's 
Southeast 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

[[Page 42585]]

name and return address in your e-mail message. If you do not receive a 
confirmation from us that we have received your e-mail message, contact 
us directly at either telephone number listed above (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT). Finally, you may hand-deliver comments to either 
Service office listed above (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 addresses 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 Florida scrub-jay is geographically isolated from other species 
of scrub-jays found in Mexico and the western United States. The scrub-
jay is found exclusively in peninsular Florida and is restricted to 
xeric uplands (well-drained, sandy soil habitats supporting a growth of 
oak-dominated scrub). Increasing urban and agricultural development has 
resulted in habitat loss and fragmentation, which has adversely 
affected the distribution and numbers of scrub-jays. The total 
estimated population is between 7,000 and 11,000 individuals.
    The decline in the number and distribution of scrub-jays in west-
central Florida has been exacerbated by tremendous urban growth in the 
past 50 years. Historical commercial and residential development has 
occurred on the dry soils which previously supported scrub-jay habitat. 
Based on existing soils data, much of the historic and current scrub-
jay habitat of coastal west-central Florida occurs proximal to the 
current shoreline and larger river basins. Much of this area of Florida 
was settled early because few wetlands restricted urban and 
agricultural development. Due to the effects of urban and agricultural 
development over the past 100 years, much of the remaining scrub-jay 
habitat is now relatively small and isolated. What remains is largely 
degraded, due to interruption of the natural fire regime that is needed 
to maintain xeric uplands in conditions suitable for scrub-jays.
    A 2004 survey reported that the project area was being utilized by 
a family of scrub-jays. The scrub-jays using the site and adjacent 
properties are part of a larger complex of scrub-jays located in a 
matrix of urban and natural settings in southern Sarasota County. 
Scrub-jays in urban areas are particularly vulnerable and typically do 
not successfully produce young that survive to adulthood. Persistent 
urban growth in this area will likely result in further reductions in 
the amount of suitable habitat for scrub-jays. Increasing urban 
pressures are also likely to result in the continued degradation of 
scrub-jay habitat as fire exclusion slowly results in vegetative 
overgrowth. Thus, over the long term, scrub-jays are unlikely to 
persist in urban settings, and conservation efforts for this species 
should target acquisition and management of large parcels of land 
outside the direct influence of urbanization.
    Construction of the project's infrastructure and facilities will 
result in harm to scrub-jays, incidental to the carrying out of these 
otherwise lawful activities. Habitat alteration associated with the 
proposed residential construction will reduce the availability of 
foraging, sheltering, and possible nesting habitat for one family of 
scrub-jays. The Applicant proposes to conduct clearing activities 
outside of the nesting season. The Applicant proposes to replace any 
scrub oaks and wax myrtles that might be removed during land clearing. 
Wherever possible, native vegetation will be used in landscaping.
    The Applicant proposes to mitigate the take of scrub-jays through 
contribution of $15,300 to the Sarasota County Scrub-jay Mitigation 
Plan Fund administered by Sarasota County. Funds in this account are 
earmarked for use in the conservation and recovery of scrub-jays and 
may include habitat acquisition, restoration, and management. The 
$15,300 is maximum extent of mitigation practicable for the Applicant.
    The Service has 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 EA or EIS. This preliminary information 
may be revised based on our review of any public comment we receive 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 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 
actions or represent a decision in principle about future actions with 
potentially significant environmental effects.
    The Service has determined that approval of the Plan qualifies as a 
categorical exclusion under 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 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: July 10, 2005.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 05-14579 Filed 7-22-05; 8:45 am]