[Federal Register: August 26, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 165)]
[Page 52549-52550]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-ES-2010-N166; 40120-1112-0000-F2]

Environmental Impact Statement; Alabama Beach Mouse Draft General 
Conservation Plan; Fort Morgan Peninsula, Baldwin County, AL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent; announcement of public meetings.


SUMMARY: Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), we, the 
Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), advise the public that we intend 
to gather information necessary to prepare an environmental impact 
statement (EIS) on the draft Alabama Beach Mouse General Conservation 
Plan (ABM GCP) Project. We are preparing the ABM GCP under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We provide this 
notice to (1) Describe the proposed action and possible alternatives; 
(2) advise other Federal and State agencies, affected Tribes, and the 
public of our intent to prepare an EIS; (3) announce the initiation of 
a public scoping period; and (4) obtain suggestions and information on 
the scope of issues to be included in the EIS.

DATES: Comments: We must receive any written comments at our Field 
Office (see ADDRESSES) on or before September 27, 2010.
    Public Meetings: Two public scoping meetings will be held on 
September 29, 2010: The first from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and the second 
from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

ADDRESSES: Public Meetings: Gulf Shores Adult Activities Center, 260 
Club House Drive, Gulf Shores, AL 36542.
    Document Availability: Documents will be available for public 
inspection by appointment during normal business hours at the Fish and 
Wildlife Service Field Office, 1208-B Main Street, Daphne, AL 36526.
    Comments: For how and where to submit comments, see Public Comments 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Darren LeBlanc, Project Manager, 
at the Alabama Field Office (see ADDRESSES), telephone: 251/441-5868.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), we announce that we intend to gather 
information necessary to prepare an EIS on the draft ABM GCP Project 
under the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).


    Section 9 of the Act and Federal regulations prohibit the ``take'' 
of wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened (16 U.S.C. 
1538). The Act defines the term ``take'' as to harass, harm, pursue, 
hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect listed species, or 
to attempt to engage in such conduct (16 U.S.C. 1532). Harm includes 
significant habitat modification or degradation that actually kills or 
injures listed wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral 
patterns, including breeding, feeding, and sheltering [50 CFR 17.3(c)]. 
Under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act, the Service may issue permits to 
authorize ``incidental take'' of listed species. ``Incidental Take'' is 
defined by the Act as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose 
of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing 
permits for threatened species and endangered species, respectively, 
are in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 50 CFR 17.32 and 50 CFR 
17.22. All species included on an incidental take permit would receive 
assurances under the Service's ``No Surprises'' regulations [50 CFR 
17.22(b)(5) and 17.32(b)(5)].

Proposed ABM GCP

    Species we propose for coverage in the ABM GCP are species that are 
currently listed as federally threatened or endangered and have some 
likelihood to occur within the project area. Three protected species 
covered by the ABM GCP are known to occur within the area. Currently 
the following listed animal species are included in the plan: Alabama 
beach mouse (ABM) (Peromyscus polionotus ammobates), Loggerhead sea 
turtle (Caretta caretta), and Kemp's ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys 
    The proposed ABM GCP utilizes a conservation strategy that would 
provide for preservation of a large portion of the developable habitat 
for the ABM while still allowing economic growth to occur in the area. 
The ABM GCP coverage area extends along the Gulf of Mexico for about 17 
miles, encompassing approximately 2,400 acres of open beach and 
associated nearshore coastal dune environments on the Fort Morgan 
Peninsula, Baldwin County, AL. The coverage area begins at Little 
Lagoon Pass, on State Hwy 182 in Gulf Shores, and extends westward to 
the tip of the Fort Morgan State Historic site at the western terminus 
of the Fort Morgan Peninsula. The area is defined biologically as that 
area where an ABM population and/or subpopulations (i.e., 
metapopulations) could be affected by the proposed actions. The 
coverage area is based on what the Service currently knows about ABM 
movement and dispersal, locations of separate yet connected 
populations, and where future development could occur within these 
areas. It is important that suitable habitat be maintained within these 
areas so that barriers to dispersal do not develop, to allow for 
expansion of subpopulations, and for maintaining or increasing genetic 
    The ABM GCP would result in take authorization for otherwise lawful 
actions, such as private development that may incidentally take or harm 
animal species or their habitats within the ABM GCP area, in exchange 
for the assembly and management of a coordinated ABM GCP area. 
Specifically, these activities would include residential development 
and infrastructure improvement, as well as response activities related 
to impacts from tropical weather systems. The ABM GCP would develop a 
program of take avoidance, minimization, and mitigation, with an 
emphasis on preservation of remaining natural lands that will support 
viable populations and the continued existence of federally listed 
threatened or endangered species, including an in-lieu-fee proposal. 
The ABM GCP creates a framework for complying with federally listed 
threatened or endangered species regulations for specified species 
while accommodating future growth in the ABM GCP area. The framework 
established by the ABM GCP in-lieu-fee plan will allow for the purchase 
of select parcels of high-priority habitat, preserve movement corridors 
within viable habitat, conduct post-storm habitat restoration on public 
lands and assist the public with the same on private property, and 
assist in the conservation of species through research.
    If the ABM GCP is established, property owners who wish to develop 
low-density residences on the Fort Morgan peninsula in Alabama, and who 
meet the qualifying conditions of the ABM GCP, may apply for a 50-year 
Incidental Take Permit (ITP) from the Service. The ITP is needed to 
authorize the incidental take of threatened and endangered species that 
would occur as a result of private residential development.

[[Page 52550]]

Environmental Impact Statement

    The EIS will consider three alternatives: The proposed action 
(establishment of the GCP), no action (no project/no section 10 
permit), and continuing to process HCPs in yearly batches of 
applications, as we do currently. A detailed description of the 
proposed action and alternatives in the ABM GCP will be included in the 
EIS. The EIS will also identify potentially significant impacts on 
biological resources, land use, air quality, water quality, water 
resources, economics, and other environmental resource issues that 
could occur directly or indirectly with implementation of the proposed 
action and alternatives. Different strategies for avoiding, minimizing, 
and mitigating the impacts of incidental take may also be considered.
    The primary purpose of the scoping process is to identify important 
issues raised by the public related to the proposed action.

Public Comments

    Outside of the public hearings, we will accept comments in written 
form only. To ensure that we identify the full range of issues related 
to the permit application, we invite written comments from interested 
parties. Please reference the ABM GCP in such comments.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit comments by any one of the 
following methods:
    U.S. mail: Alabama Field Office (see ADDRESSES).
    E-mail: darren_leblanc@fws.gov. Please include your name and 
return mailing address in your e-mail message. If you do not receive a 
confirmation from us that we have received your email, contact us 
directly at either telephone number listed (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
    Hand delivery: Hand-deliver comments to either of our offices 
listed under ADDRESSES.

Availability of Public 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.

Reasonable Accommodation

    Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in the public meeting should contact Denise Rowell at 251/
441-5181 as soon as possible. In order to allow sufficient time to 
process requests, please call no later than 1 week before the public 
meeting. Information regarding this proposed action is available in 
alternative formats upon request.

    Authority:  We provide this notice under section 10 of the Act 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: August 2, 2010.
Mark J. Musaus,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2010-21268 Filed 8-25-10; 8:45 am]