[Federal Register: January 13, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 9)]
[Page 2266-2268]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Receipt of Applications for Incidental Take Permits for Two 
Beachfront Developments in Escambia County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Searenity Development, Inc. and Retreat Investments, Inc. 
(Applicants) collectively request an incidental take permit (ITP) 
pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 
as amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The applicants anticipate 
taking Perdido Key beach mice (Peromyscus polionotus trissyllepsis) 
incidental to developing, constructing, and occupying two beachfront 
condominium complexes on Perdido Key in Escambia County, Florida 
    The Applicants' Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) describes the 
mitigation and minimization measures proposed to address the effects of 
both Projects to the Perdido Key beach mouse. These measures are 
outlined in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. We announce 
the availability of a habitat conservation plan (HCP) and an 
environmental assessment (EA) for the ITP applications. This notice is 
provided pursuant to section 10 of the Act and National Environmental 
Policy Act regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

DATES: Written comments on the ITP applications, EA, and HCP should be 
sent to our Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be received on 
or before March 14, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the applications, HCP, and EA may 
obtain a copy by writing the Fish and Wildlife Service's Southeast 
Regional Office, Atlanta, Georgia. Please reference permit numbers TE-
103097-0, Searenity and TE-103099-0, Retreat in such requests. 
Documents will also be available for public inspection by appointment 
during normal business hours at the Regional Office, 1875

[[Page 2267]]

Century Boulevard, Suite 200, Atlanta, Georgia 30345 (Attn: Endangered 
Species Permits); or Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
1601 Balboa Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32405.

Coordinator, (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/679-4144, facsimile: 
404/679-7081; or Lorna Patrick, Field Office Project Manager, (see 
ADDRESSES above), at 850/769-0552, ext. 229.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We announce applications for ITPs and the 
availability of the HCP and an EA. The EA is an assessment of likely 
environmental impacts associated with these Projects. Copies of these 
documents 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 Act and NEA regulations at 40-CFR 1506.6.
    We specifically request information, views, and opinions from the 
public via this notice on the Federal action, including the 
identification of any other aspects of the human environment not 
already identified in the EA. Further, we specifically solicit 
information regarding the adequacy of the HCP as measures against our 
ITP issuance criteria found in 50 CFR parts 13 and 17.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit comments by any one of 
several methods. Please reference permit numbers TE-103097-0, 
Searenity, and TE-103099-0, Retreat, in such comments. You may mail 
comments to the Service's 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 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 in (see FOR 
    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 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 areas encompassed under the ITP applications include two 
individual properties, Searenity and Retreat, consisting of 1.25 and 
1.30 acres, respectively, each covering 100 feet along the beachfront 
of the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed Projects are located on the western 
portion of Perdido Key, a 16.9 mile barrier island. Perdido Key 
constitutes the entire historic range of the Perdido Key beach mouse.
    The Perdido Key beach mouse was listed as endangered species under 
the Act in 1985 (50 FR 23872). The mouse is also listed as an 
endangered species by the State of Florida. Critical habitat was 
designated for the Perdido Key beach mouse at the time of listing (50 
CFR 17.95). On December 15, 2005, we published a proposed revision of 
critical habitat for the Perdido Key beach mouse and Choctawhatchee 
beach mouse, and a proposed critical habitat designation for the St. 
Andrew beach mouse (70 FR 74425).
    The Perdido Key beach mouse is one of eight species of the old-
field mouse that occupy coastal rather than inland areas and are 
referred to as beach mice. It is one of five subspecies of beach mice 
endemic to the Gulf coast of Alabama and northwestern Florida. Two 
other extant subspecies of beach mouse and one extinct subspecies are 
known from the Atlantic coast of Florida. The Perdido Key beach mouse, 
like other beach mouse subspecies, spends its entire life within the 
coastal beach and dune ecosystem.
    Beach mouse habitat consists of a mix of interconnected habitats 
including primary, secondary, and scrub dunes including interdunal 
areas. Beach mice are nocturnal and dig burrows within the dune system 
where vegetation provides cover. They forage for food throughout the 
dune system feeding primarily on seeds and fruits of dune plants 
including bluestem (Schizachyrium maritimum), sea oats (Uniola 
paniculata), and evening primrose (Oenothera humifusa). Insects are 
also an important component of their diet.
    Beach mice along the Gulf Coasts of Florida and Alabama generally 
live about nine months and become mature between 25 and 35 days. Beach 
mice are monogamous, pairing for life. Gestation averages 24 days and 
the average litter size is three to four pups. Peak breeding season for 
beach mice is in autumn and winter, declining in spring, and falling to 
low levels in summer. In essence, mature female beach mice can produce 
a litter every month and live about eight months.
    The EA considers the environmental consequences of two alternatives 
and the proposed action. The proposed action alternative is issuance of 
the incidental take permit and implementation of the HCP as submitted 
by the Applicants. The HCP would provide for: (1) Minimizing the 
footprint of both developments; (2) restoring, preserving, and 
maintaining onsite beach mouse habitat at both projects; (3) 
incorporating requirements in the operation of both condominium 
facilities that provide for the conservation of the beach mouse; (4) 
monitoring the status of the beach mouse at both projects post-
construction; (5) donating funds initially and on an annual basis to 
Perdido Key beach mouse conservation efforts, (6) including 
conservation measures to protect nesting sea turtles and non-breeding 
piping plover, and (7) funding the mitigation measures.
    Several subspecies of beach mice have been listed as endangered 
species primarily because of the fragmentation of habitat, adverse 
alteration and loss of habitat due to coastal development. The threat 
of development-related habitat loss continues to increase. Other 
factors contributing to the Perdido Key beach mouse's status include 
low population numbers, predation or competition by animals related to 
human development (cats and house mice), and the existing strength or 
lack of regulations regarding coastal development.
    We will evaluate the HCP and any comments submitted during our 
determination of whether the applications meet the requirements of 
section 10(a) of the Act. If it is determined that those requirements 
are met, the ITPs will be issued for the incidental take of the Perdido 
Key beach mouse. We will also evaluate whether 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 this consultation, 
in combination with the above findings, will be used in the final 
analysis to determine whether or not to issue the ITPs.

[[Page 2268]]

    Dated: December 20, 2005.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
 [FR Doc. E6-305 Filed 1-12-06; 8:45 am]