[Federal Register: March 8, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 44)]
[Page 11260-11261]
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
development of the Shadow Wood Subdivision in Brevard County, Fl

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: John Massaro (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
take of the Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) and eastern
indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) incidental to construction of
a mixed residential and commercial use subdivision with supporting
infrastructure in Brevard County, Florida. Construction and its
associated infrastructure would destroy about 9.67 acres of foraging,
sheltering, and possibly nesting habitat for the scrub-jay that is also
possibly used by the indigo snake. A more detailed description of the
mitigation and minimization measures to address the effects of the
Project to the protected species are outlined in the Applicant's
Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), the Service's Environmental Assessment
(EA), and in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below.
    The Service also announces the availability of the EA and HCP for
the incidental take application. Copies of the EA and/or HCP may be
obtained by making a request to the Regional Office (see ADDRESSES).
Requests must be in writing to be processed. This notice also advises
the public that the Service has made a preliminary determination that
issuing the ITP is not a major Federal action significantly affecting
the quality of the human environment within the meaning of Section
102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as
amended. The Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is based on
information contained in the EA and HCP. The final determination will
be made no sooner than 60 days from the date of this notice. 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, EA, and HCP should be
sent to the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be
received on or before May 9, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application and HCP may obtain
a copy by writing the Service's Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta,
Georgia. Please reference permit number TE089883-0 in such requests.
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 Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6620
Southpoint Drive South, Suite 310, Jacksonville, Florida 32216.

Coordinator, (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/679-7313, facsimile:
404/679-7081; or Mr. Michael Jennings, Fish and Wildlife Biologist,
Jacksonville Field Office, Jacksonville, Florida (see ADDRESSES above),
telephone: 904/232-2580, ext. 113.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: If you wish to comment, you may submit
comments by any one of several methods. Please reference permit number
TE089883-0 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 us that we
have received your internet message, contact us directly at either
telephone number listed below (see FURTHER INFORMATION). 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

[[Page 11261]]

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 (scrub-jay) is geographically isolated from
other subspecies 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 (predominately in oak-dominated scrub).
Increasing urban and agricultural development, and subsequent fire
protection, has resulted in habitat degradation, loss and fragmentation
which have adversely affected the distribution and numbers of scrub-
jays. The total estimated population is between 7,000 and 11,000
    The decline in the number and distribution of scrub-jays in east-
central Florida has been exacerbated by substantial urban growth in the
past 50 years. Much of the historic commercial and residential
development has occurred on the dry soils which previously supported
scrub-jay habitat. Based on existing soils data, a major portion of the
historic and current scrub-jay habitat of coastal east-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 the exclusion of fire which is
needed to maintain xeric uplands in conditions suitable for scrub-jays.
    A family of scrub-jays have been observed on the project site. They
are part of a larger complex of scrub-jays located in a matrix of urban
and natural settings in central Brevard 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
    There is little information available about the status of the
indigo snake in Florida and Brevard County. Like the scrub jay, this
species habitat has been reduced in amount, degraded and fragmented
from commercial, residential, and agricultural development. It may
potentially use essentially all of the habitats found in the Project
area. It has not been observed onsite but the Applicant desires to
cover the indigo snake in the incidental take permit.
    Construction of the Project's infrastructure and facilities will
result in harm to scrub-jays and possibly to the indigo snake
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 and habitat for
any indigo snakes that occur on the site. Development would take place
within Section 31, Township 26 South, Range 37 East, Brevard County,
    The Applicant does not propose to implement significant on-site
minimization measures to reduce take of the scrub-jay or indigo snake.
The proposed Project encompasses about 34.6 acres and the footprint of
the homes, buildings, infrastructure and landscaping preclude retention
of scrub-jay and indigo snake habitat. On-site minimization may not be
a biologically viable alternative due to increasing negative
demographic effects caused by urbanization.
    The Applicant proposes to mitigate for the loss of 9.67 acres of
scrub-jay habitat by purchasing 19.34 acres of scrub-jay habitat,
establishing a management fund, and donating it to Brevard County for
ownership and management. The acquisition and management of this land
would also provide suitable habitat for the indigo snake.
    As stated above, the Service has made a preliminary determination
that the issuance of the Permit is not a major Federal action
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment within the
meaning of section 102(2)(C) of NEPA. This preliminary information may
be revised due to public comment received in response to this notice
and is based on information contained in the EA and HCP.
    The Service will also evaluate whether the issuance of a section
10(a)(1)(B) ITP 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 ITP.

    Dated: February 24, 2005.
Sam D. Hamilton,
Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 05-4427 Filed 3-7-05; 8:45 am]