[Federal Register: February 13, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 29)]
[Page 7564-7566]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Receipt of an Application and Availability of an Environmental 
Assessment for an Incidental Take Permit for Construction of a School 
and Adjacent Roads in Volusia County, Florida

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Public Works Department of Volusia County and the Volusia 
County School Board (Applicants) request incidental take permits (ITP) 
each with 5-year term, pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The Applicants 
jointly prepared a single Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) identifying 
anticipated impacts to the Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) 
(scrub-jay) associated with road construction (Public Works Department) 
and construction of a new high school and its supporting infrastructure 
(School Board) within sections 10 and 15, Township 18 South, Range 30 
East, Volusia County, Florida.
    The Applicants' HCP describes the mitigation and minimization 
measures proposed to address the effects of road and school 
construction on the Florida scrub-jay. These measures are outlined

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in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. We announce the 
availability of the ITP applications and HCP and an environmental 

DATES: Written comments on the ITP applications, HCP, and environmental 
assessment should be sent to the Service's Regional Office (see 
ADDRESSES) and should be received on or before April 14, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the applications, HCP, and 
environmental assessment may obtain a copy by writing the Service's 
Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, Georgia. Please reference permit 
numbers TE107069-0 and/or TE107070-0 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 32216-0912.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: If you wish to comment, you may submit 
comments by any one of several methods. Please reference permit numbers 
TE107069-0 and/or TE107070-0 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 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 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 Florida scrub-jay (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 (predominately in oak-dominated scrub). 
Increasing urban and agricultural development has resulted in habitat 
loss and fragmentation that 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 east-
central Florida has been exacerbated by agricultural land conversions 
and urban growth in the past 50 years. Much of the historic commercial 
and residential development has occurred on the dry soils that 
previously supported scrub-jay habitat. Based on existing soils data, 
much of the current scrub-jay habitat of east-central Florida occurs in 
what was once the coastal sand dunes created over the millennia due to 
rising and falling oceans. These ancient dunes are most prevalent in 
western Volusia County and much of Marion County. Relict dunes along 
the east-central Florida Atlantic coast also provide some scrub-jay 
habitat. 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 
that is needed to maintain xeric uplands in conditions suitable for 
    The Applicants have not proposed to minimize impacts to scrub-jays 
for a variety of reasons. At the school site, alternative site plans 
were considered, but none substantially reduced impacts to scrub-jays. 
Avoidance of impacts on the school site could not be achieved because 
of geological considerations and local requirements for stormwater 
retention, parking, and safety considerations regarding the 
juxtaposition of roads and school property. Alternative road alignments 
were considered, but due to the sighting requirements for the school, 
alternative alignments that minimized impacts to occupied scrub-jay 
habitat were not practicable.
    To mitigate the effects of take, the Applicants propose to utilize 
scrub-jay ``credits'' available pursuant to a previous Memorandum of 
Understanding (MOU) between the Service and Applicants. The MOU 
established a scrub-jay conservation area at the 357-acre Lyonia 
Preserve in Volusia County and required specific long-term land 
management criteria be met for the benefit of scrub-jays and other 
scrub endemics. About 60 scrub-jay credits are currently available for 
use by the Applicants under the terms of the MOU. As defined by the 
MOU, a ``credit'' corresponds to acres of scrub-jay habitat. Two 
``credits'' of mitigation at Lyonia Preserve are required to mitigate 
each acre of proposed impact. Construction of the proposed roads will 
require use of about 11.5 credits, while school construction will 
require about 13.4 credits.
    These projects were combined under one HCP because construction and 
operation of the completed school would require that new roads be built 
for access. Separate permit applications were submitted because two 
different local authorities would be involved in carrying out the road 
and school projects. Road construction would destroy about 5.7 acres of 
occupied scrub-jay habitat, while construction of the school will 
eliminate about 6.7 acres of occupied scrub-jay habitat. Combined, 
these two projects would be expected to result in the take of three 
scrub-jay families over a requested permit term of five years.
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that issuance of 
the requested ITP is not a major Federal action significantly affecting 
the quality of the human environment within the meaning of Section 
102(2)(C) of National Environmental Policy Act. 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 evaluate the HCP and comments submitted thereon to 
determine whether the application meets the issuance criteria 
requirements of section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.). By conducting an intra-Service section 7 consultation the 
Service will also evaluate whether issuance of the section 10(a)(1)(B) 
ITP would comply with section 7 of the Act. The results of this 
consultation, in

[[Page 7566]]

combination with the above findings, will be used in the final analysis 
to determine whether or not to issue the ITPs. This notice is provided 
pursuant to Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act and National 
Environmental Policy Act regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: January 27, 2006.
Cynthia K. Dohner
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. E6-1949 Filed 2-10-06; 8:45 am]