[Federal Register: January 17, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 10)]
[Page 2563-2564]
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 
Florida Scrub-Jay Resulting From Construction of a Multi-Home 
Subdivision in Volusia County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Ocean Shore Estates, LLC (Applicant) requests an incidental 
take permit (ITP) for a duration of five years, pursuant to section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended 
(U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The Applicant anticipates destroying about 1.8 
acres of occupied Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens (scrub-
jay) habitat in Section 21, Township 13 South, Range 32 East, Volusia 
County, Florida. Habitat destruction would be expected due to 
vegetation clearing and the subsequent construction of infrastructure 
and single-family homes. One scrub-jay family could be taken as a 
result of the Applicant's proposed actions.
    The Applicant's Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) describes the 
alternatives considered, as well as mitigation and minimization 
measures proposed to address the effects of the project on the scrub-
jay. These measures are also outlined in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION 
section below. We announce the availability of the ITP application, 
HCP, and an environmental assessment. Copies of the application, HCP, 
and environmental assessment may be obtained by making a request to the 
Southeast Regional Office (see ADDRESSES). Requests must be in writing 
to be processed. This notice is provided pursuant to section 10 of the 
Act and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations (40 CFR 

DATES: Written comments on the ITP application, HCP, and environmental 
assessment should be sent to the Service's Southeast Regional Office 
(see ADDRESSES) and should be received on or before March 20, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application, HCP, and 
environmental assessment may obtain a copy by writing the Service's 
Southeast Regional Office at the address below. Please reference permit 
number TE105727-0 in such requests. Documents will also be available 
for public inspection by appointment during normal business hours 
either at the Southeast Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 1875 Century Boulevard, Suite 200, Atlanta, Georgia 30345 
(Attn: Endangered Species Permits), or at the Jacksonville Field 
Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6620 Southpoint Drive South, 
Suite 310, Jacksonville, Florida 32216-0912 (Attn: Field Supervisor).

Coordinator, Southeast Regional Office (see ADDRESSES above), 
telephone: (404) 679-7313, facsimile: (404) 679-7081; or Mr. Mike 
Jennings, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, Jacksonville Field Office (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 number 
TE105727-0 in such comments. You may mail comments to the Service's 
Southeast 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 e-mail message. If you do not receive a confirmation 
from us that we have received your e-mail 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 addresses 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 (well-drained, sandy soil habitats 
supporting a growth of oak-dominated scrub). Increasing urban and 
agricultural development has resulted in habitat loss and 
fragmentation, which 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 100 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 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 interruption of the 
natural fire regime that is needed to maintain xeric uplands in 
conditions suitable for scrub-jays.
    From 2003 through 2005, one family of scrub-jays was found using 
1.8 acres within the project site. Scrub-jays using the project site 
are part of a small complex of scrub-jays located in a matrix of urban 
and natural settings in areas of the barrier islands of Flagler and 
northern Volusia Counties. Persistent urban growth in the vicinity of 
the project is expected to 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 the vicinity of the 
project, and conservation

[[Page 2564]]

efforts for this species should target acquisition and management of 
large parcels of land outside the direct influence of urbanization.
    Construction of the project's home sites, facilities and 
infrastructure would result in harm to scrub-jays, incidental to the 
carrying out of these otherwise lawful activities. The proposed 
residential construction and associated infrastructure would eliminate 
the availability of foraging, sheltering, and possible nesting habitat 
for one family of scrub-jays.
    The Applicant proposes to mitigate the loss of 1.8 acres of scrub-
jay habitat by providing $78,214.00 to the National Fish and Wildlife 
Foundation, Florida Scrub Jay Mitigation Fund, or to another entity 
identified by the Service. Mitigation funding would be used for scrub-
jay conservation and may include the acquisition, management, and/or 
restoration of scrub-jay habitat. This contribution has been determined 
by the Service to be sufficient to purchase and permanently manage 3.6 
acres of scrub-jay habitat in Volusia County. In addition, the 
Applicant would minimize the loss by surveying for any possible scrub-
jay nesting activity during the breeding season. If active nesting were 
observed in the project area, construction would be halted until any 
young fledged.
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that the issuance 
of 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 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 environmental assessment and HCP.
    The Service will evaluate the HCP and comments submitted thereon to 
determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. If it is determined that those requirements are 
met, the ITP will be issued for incidental take of the Florida scrub-
jay. The Service will also evaluate whether issuance of the section 
10(a)(1)(B) ITP 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 ITP.

    Dated: December 19, 2005.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
 [FR Doc. E6-376 Filed 1-13-06; 8:45 am]