[Federal Register: August 16, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 157)]
[Page 48189-48190]
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 the Proposed Construction of a Single-
Family Home in Sarasota County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Jeffrey and Patricia Adams (Applicants) request an incidental 
take permit (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). The 
Applicants anticipate removal of about 0.22 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 home and supporting infrastructure in 
Sarasota County, Florida (project). The loss of 0.22 acre of foraging, 
sheltering, and possibly nesting habitat is expected to result in the 
take of one family of scrub-jays.
    The Applicants' 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 Applicants' proposal, including the proposed mitigation and 
minimization measures, would 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 
Applicants' ITP application, HCP, and Screening Form for Low-Effect HCP 
Determinations for the 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, HCP, and Screening Form 
should be sent to the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and 
should be received on or before September 15 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 
TE096080-0 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 at the South Florida Ecological Services Field 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 Field 
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 
TE096080-0 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 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 

[[Page 48190]]

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 which is needed to maintain 
xeric uplands in conditions suitable for scrub-jays.
    The scrub-jays reported using the subject residential lot 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. 
The project site represents a portion of an isolated scrub-jay 
territory. 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 is likely to 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 would 
result in harm to scrub-jays, incidental to the carrying out of these 
otherwise lawful activities. Habitat alteration associated with the 
proposed residential construction would reduce the availability of 
foraging, sheltering, and possible nesting habitat for one family of 
scrub-jays. The Applicants propose to conduct clearing activities 
outside of the nesting season. The Applicants propose to remove any 
exotic vegetation from the lot and maintain the remaining area in 
native vegetation for use by the resident scrub-jays. The Applicants 
propose to replace any scrub oaks and wax myrtles that might be removed 
during land clearing. The Applicants propose to avoid landscaping with 
trees that would grow tall (greater than 30 feet) and potentially 
provide perch trees for predators that could prey on scrub-jays on this 
lot and surrounding unimproved lots. The Applicants would not have any 
free-roaming cats as they can be a potential predator on young scrub-
    The Applicants also propose to mitigate the take of scrub-jays 
through contribution of $4,000 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 Applicants assert that the $4,000 payment is the 
maximum extent of mitigation practicable for them while still allowing 
them to implement on-site mitigation measures.
    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 Environmental Assessment or Environmental 
Impact Statement. This preliminary information may be revised based on 
our review of any public comments that 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 Applicants' 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 18, 2005.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 05-16168 Filed 8-15-05; 8:45 am]