[Federal Register: October 17, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 200)]
[Page 58865-58866]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Construction of a Residential Community in Lake County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice: Receipt of application for an incidental take permit; 
request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) Application and Habitat 
Conservation Plan (HCP). Founders Ridge, LLC (applicant) requests an 
ITP for a duration of 10 years under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (Act). The applicant anticipates taking a total of 
approximately 32.18 acres of Florida scrub-jay (Alphelocoma 
coerulescens)--occupied habitat and approximately 1.85 acres of sand 
skink (Neoseps reynoldsi)--occupied habitat incidental to the 
construction of a residential development consisting of 963 units and 
associated amenities, in Lake County, Florida (project). The 
applicant's HCP describes the mitigation and minimization measures the 
applicant proposes to address the effects of the project to the Florida 
scrub-jay and sand skink.

DATES: We must receive any written comments on the ITP application and 
HCP on or before November 16, 2007.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to review the application and HCP, you may write 
the Field Supervisor at our Jacksonville Field Office, 6620 Southpoint 
Drive South, Suite 310, Jacksonville, FL

[[Page 58866]]

32216, or make an appointment to visit during normal business hours. If 
you wish to comment, you may mail or hand deliver comments to the 
Jacksonville Field Office, or you may e-mail comments to 
paula_sisson@fws.gov. For more information on reviewing documents and public 

comments and submitting comments, see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paula Sisson, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, Jacksonville Field Office (see ADDRESSES); telephone: 904/
232-2580, ext. 126.


Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment including your personal identifying 
information may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.
    Please reference permit number TE137074-0 for Founders Ridge, LLC 
in all requests or comments. Please 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 the telephone number listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.


Florida Scrub-Jay

    The Florida scrub-jay (scrub-jay) is found exclusively in 
peninsular Florida and is restricted to xeric upland communities 
(predominately in oak-dominated scrub with open canopies) of the 
interior and Atlantic coast sand ridges. Increasing urban and 
agricultural development has resulted in habitat loss and 
fragmentation, which have adversely affected the distribution and 
numbers of scrub-jays. Remaining habitat is largely degraded due to the 
exclusion of fire, which is needed to maintain xeric uplands in 
conditions suitable for scrub-jays. The total estimated population is 
between 7,000 and 11,000 individuals.

Sand Skink

    The sand skink is a small fossorial lizard that occurs on the sandy 
ridges of interior central Florida from Marion County south to 
Highlands County. Biological information regarding the sand skink is 
limited due to the secretive nature of the species. Based on the 
reduction in quality and acreage and the rapid development of xeric 
upland communities, the sand skink appears to be declining throughout 
most of its range. By some estimates, as much as 90 percent of the 
scrub ecosystem has been lost to residential development and conversion 
to agriculture, primarily citrus groves.

Applicant's Proposal

    The applicant is requesting take of approximately 32.18 acres of 
occupied Florida scrub-jay habitat and 1.85 acres of occupied sand 
skink habitat incidental to the construction of a residential community 
in Lake County, Florida (Parcel  05-22-26-000200001200 and 
Parcel  06-22-26-0001-00009000). The project encompasses about 
335.4 acres and currently includes 723 single-family units and 240 
multi-family townhomes, a 40-acre community park, various recreational 
facilities, infrastructure and landscaping. The applicant proposes to 
mitigate for the take of the Florida scrub-jay at a ratio of 2:1 based 
on Service Mitigation Guidelines. The applicant will contribute a total 
of $427,242.00 to the USDA Forest Service to be utilized for scrub-jay 
conservation pursuant to an MOU between the Service and the Forest 
Service. Furthermore, to mitigate for impacts to the sand skink, the 
applicant has proposed to restore, manage and preserve a 4.50-acre area 
of occupied habitat within the boundaries of the project site. As 
minimization for impacts to the species, clearing activities during 
project construction will occur outside the scrub-jay nesting season 
(March 1-July 15) and the sand skink breeding season (March 1-May 15) 
to reduce the potential for mortality.
    We have determined that the applicant's proposal, including the 
proposed mitigation and minimization measures, would have minor or 
negligible effects on the species covered in the HCP. Therefore, the 
ITP is a ``low-effect'' project and qualifies for categorical 
exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as 
provided by the Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM 2 Appendix 1 
and 516 DM 6 Appendix 1). This preliminary information may be revised 
based on our review of public comments that we receive in response to 
this notice. A low-effect HCP is one involving (1) minor or negligible 
effects on federally listed or candidate species and their habitats, 
and (2) minor or negligible effects on other environmental values or 
    We will evaluate the HCP and comments submitted thereon to 
determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 
10(a) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). If we determine that the 
application meets those requirements, we will issue the ITP for 
incidental take of the scrub-jay and the sand skink. We 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. We will use the results of this consultation, in 
combination with the above findings, in the final analysis to determine 
whether or not to issue the ITP.

    Authority: We provide this notice under Section 10 of the Act 
and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: October 9, 2007.
David L. Hankla,
Field Supervisor, Jacksonville Field Office.
 [FR Doc. E7-20479 Filed 10-16-07; 8:45 am]