[Federal Register: February 23, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 36)]
[Page 9367-9368]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Receipt of an Application for Renewal of an Incidental Take 
Permit for the Bald Eagle From the Proposed Construction and Occupancy 
of Residences in Gaston County, NC

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Pinsto, Inc. (Permittee) has applied for renewal of an 
incidental take permit (ITP) from the Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service) under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (Act). Like the existing permit, the proposed renewed 
ITP would allow take of the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), a 
federally listed threatened species, incidental to residential 
development. Destruction of the nest or the tree in which the nest is 
located is not requested by the Permittee. Rather, the proposed 
incidental take may occur as a result of harm or harassment to the 
eagles resulting from residential construction activities in the 
vicinity of the nest. The Service announces availability of the ITP 
application and the habitat conservation plan (HCP) for public comment.

DATES: The Service must receive written comments on or before March 27, 

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the permit renewal application and 
HCP may obtain an electronic copy by contacting 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 at 
the Asheville Ecological Services Field Office, 160 Zillicoa Street, 
Asheville, North Carolina 28801. Written data or comments concerning 
the permit renewal or HCP should be submitted to the Regional Office 

Coordinator (see ADDRESSES), telephone: 404/679-4144, e-mail address: 
aaron_valenta@fws.gov, or Mr. Mark Cantrell, Fish and Wildlife Service 

Biologist, Asheville Field Office (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 
828/258-3939 (extension 227).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This would be a 10 year renewal of Permit 
TE-039993-0 for residential construction which was approved and issued 
by the Service on May 21, 2001. As residential development continues 
within the permit area, the incidental taking of bald eagle incidental 
to earth moving, land clearing, and subsequent human habitation of the 
permit area may occur, necessitating the need for renewal of the ITP. 
The renewal request covers the same activities covered by the HCP and 
existing permit. There will not be an increase in the level of take 
beyond that anticipated in the original permit.
    The previously prepared Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) specifies 
the impacts that are likely to result from the taking and the measures 
the Permittee would undertake to minimize and mitigate such impacts. 
The existing HCP satisfies all statutory issuance criteria; therefore, 
it is applicable to the renewal of this ITP.
    Copies of the HCP and ITP application may be obtained by making a 
request, in writing, to the Regional Office (see ADDRESSES). This 
notice is provided pursuant to section 10 of the ESA and National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations at 40 CFR

[[Page 9368]]

1506.6. We specifically request information, views, and opinions from 
the public on the Federal action. Further, we specifically solicit 
information regarding the adequacy of the HCP 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 Pinsto Renewal'' in all 
your comments or requests for the documents discussed in this notice. 
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 INFORMATION CONTACT). 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.
    As many as 75,000 pairs of nesting bald eagles may have lived in 
the lower 48 United States when the bird was adopted as our national 
symbol in 1782. It was a common nesting species along the Southeast 
Coast as well as along major rivers and lakes. Its population 
diminished rapidly due to habitat destruction, nest disturbance, 
illegal shooting, and, most notably, the contamination of its food 
sources by the pesticide DDT. Nesting populations were reduced to less 
than 2 percent of their former numbers by the 1960s. The bald eagle 
below the 40th parallel was listed as endangered in 1967 and received 
protection under the Act. Its populations have steadily increased due 
to efforts to protect the bald eagle and its habitat, population 
reintroduction programs, and the banning of DDT. The bald eagle was 
reclassified as threatened throughout the continental United States by 
a final rule that published in the Federal Register on July 12, 1995 
(60 FR 36000). The bald eagle is now being considered for delisting and 
its rangewide status was discussed in detail in the proposed rule to 
remove the bald eagle from the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife and Plants (July 6, 1999, 64 FR 36454).
    The Permittee intends to continue development of a residential 
subdivision consisting of 12 lots on 13 acres. Homes have been 
constructed on 10 of the 12 lots to date. The biological goal of the 
HCP is to avoid harm or injury to the bald eagles and their nest to the 
maximum extent practicable and to retain the existing eagles within 
their occupied territory. To avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts, the 
Permittee would continue to maintain an open space area of 3.087 acres, 
which is equivalent to the 150-foot radius buffer adjacent to and 
contiguous with the nest, and establish use restrictions on the lots 
surrounding the nest. These restrictions would limit outdoor activities 
within the subdivision during the nesting season. We expect these 
efforts would minimize potential effects of human activities on bald 
eagles that may use the nest. The bald eagle pair has continued to 
maintain a territory and has nested successfully each year during 
construction and occupancy of the subdivision to date.
    We have evaluated the application for renewal and project area and 
determined that the renewal of the permit is a ``low-effect'' action, 
involving minor or negligible effects to the bald eagle and other 
environmental resources. As provided by the Department of Interior's 
Manual (516 DM 2 Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6 Appendix 1) for implementing 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), this low-effect HCP qualifies 
as a categorical exclusion and does not require the preparation of an 
Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement. As a 
categorical exclusion, according to NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1508.4), 
low-effect HCPs do not individually or cumulatively have a significant 
effect on the human environment.
    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 Permittee has prepared an HCP that 
includes measures for the long-term protection, management, and 
enhancement of the bald eagle nesting habitat as required for the ITP 
application as part of the proposed project.
    We will evaluate whether the issuance of the section 10(a)(1)(B) 
ITP complies with section 7 of the Act by reviewing our previously 
prepared 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 

    Dated: February 15, 2006.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. E6-2563 Filed 2-22-06; 8:45 am]