[Federal Register: March 9, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 45)]
[Page 11686-11687]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Receipt of Applications for Incidental Take Permits on 55
Applications 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 and habitat conservation plans and environmental assessment.


SUMMARY: Dr. W. H. Abraham, Mr. Terry Bartee, Ms. Sarah Bertrand, Ms.
Edith Bolster, Mr. Billy Bullock, Ms. Jerilyn Byrd, Mr. Walter Cooper,
Mr. Thomas Cox, Mr. and Mrs. George Cromer, Mr. Larry Dawson, Mr.
William Denholm, Ms. Ellen Dinges, Mr. Jody Greene, Mr. Perry Hand, Mr.
Leo Hastings, Mr. Asa Hollowell, Mr. Robert Howell, Mr. Trice Hulling,
Ms. Virginia Jordan, Mr. Kerwin Lane, Mr. John Lucas, Ms. Linda
Mangold, Mr. Martens, Ms. Cynthia Meichner, Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Nagley,
Mr. Greg Nayden (3 applications), Mr. Robert Pate, Ms. Terry Pettus,
Mr. Steven Quinn (2 applications), Mr. James Randolph, Mr. Robert
Relinski (2 applications), Mr. Jeffrey Ryder, Sage Development (10
applications), Mr. Jose Silvas, Mr. P.K. Smartt, Mr. Delmar Smith, Mr.
Jim Stephenson, Mr. Richard Willoughby, Mr. William Yates, Mr. Robert
Yokley, Mr. Jim Young, and Ms. Debra Zak have applied to the Fish and
Wildlife Service (Service) 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 Alabama beach mouse
(Peromyscus polionotus ammobates) (ABM). The proposed take would be
incidental to the otherwise lawful activity of constructing 49 single
family and 6 duplex residences in Baldwin County, 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 would undertake to minimize and mitigate such
impacts. A detailed description of the proposed minimization and
mitigation measures is provided in the applicants' HCPs, and in our
Environmental Assessment (EA). The proposed action would involve
approval of the HCPs if the statutory issuance criteria are satisfied.
The EA considers the environmental impacts of the proposed projects on,
including but not limited to, endangered and threatened species.

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 8, 2005.

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 55 applications for residential development,
Batch II, 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 ADDRESSES above), telephone: (251) 441-5873.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We announce the availability of an EA and
HCPs/applications for incidental take permits. 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, in writing, to the
Regional Office (see ADDRESSES). 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 at 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
13.21 and 17.22.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit comments by any one of
several methods. Please reference ITP for 55 applications for
residential development, Batch II, 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 received your internet message,
contact us directly at either telephone number listed (see FOR FURTHER
    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

[[Page 11687]]

residences and the loss of 20.30 acres of ABM habitat. Alternative 3
would result in a loss of 4.34 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. We estimate that ABM historically
occupied approximately 45 km (28 mi) of shoreline and currently occupy
approximately 37 kilometers (23 miles) of shoreline.
    Prior to the 2004 hurricane season, we believed that ABM utilized
approximately 2,697 acres of lands, which includes Gulf State Park and
environs, which we have identified as ABM habitat. We have determined
that these sites provide suitable habitat for ABM because they provide
the following:
    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 4.34 acres of ABM habitat. Thus, this action will result in
the loss of approximately 0.02 percent of the previously mapped 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 to 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 that
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 proposed 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: January 27, 2005.
Sam D. Hamilton,
Regional Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 05-4553 Filed 3-8-05; 8:45 am]