[Federal Register: March 5, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 43)]
[Page 10935-10936]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of Amended Environmental Assessment and Receipt of 
Application for Amendment to Previously Issued Incidental Take Permit 
From Waterside Downs

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Waterside Down Development Corporation (Applicant), is seeking 
to amend a previously-issued incidental take permit (ITP), PRT-800150, 
from the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), pursuant to Section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.) (Act), as amended. The ITP authorizes for a period of 5 years, 
the incidental take of the threatened Florida scrub jay, Aphelocoma 
coerulescens in Brevard County, Florida. The originally issued ITP was 
to authorize incidental take incidental to construction of a mixed use 
development/commercial enterprise on approximately 76.5 acres, known as 
Waterside Down-Phase I.
    The Applicant proposes to expand the original project, originally 
known as Waterside Down-Phase I, by 63.30 acres. Within this additional 
acreage, the Applicant proposes to construct as yet an unspecified 
number of single family homes, condominium units, and necessary 
infrastructure to this to the original ITP, known as Waterside Downs-
Phase II. Waterside Downs-Phase II is located on the barrier island of 
Brevard County, adjacent to a Wal-Mart/Albertson strip mall and 
Britanny Apartments to the north, S.R. A1A to the east, Holy Name of 
Jesus Church and a residential development to the south, and vacant 
land scheduled to be Waterside Down-Phase I on the east. Of the 63.3 
acres of land within Waterside Downs-Phase II, the Service has 
determined that 4.96 acres are considered occupied by the Florida 
scrub-jay. The amendment would address this additional amount of impact 
to the Florida scrub-jay as a result of adding in Phase II.
    The Service also announces the availability of a supplement to the 
May 1996, Environmental Assessment (EA), Finding Of No Significant 
Impact (FONSI) and an amended Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the 
revised level of expected/anticipated incidental take. Copies of the EA 
and/or HCP may be obtained by making a request to the Regional Office 
(see   ADDRESSES). This notice also advises the public that the Service 
has made a preliminary determination that re-issuing the ITP with the 
requested amendment is not a major Federal action significantly 
affecting the quality of the human environment within the meaning of 
Section 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 
(NEPA), as amended. The FONSI is based on information contained in the 
EA and amended HCP. The final determination will be made no sooner than 
30 days from the date of this notice. This notice is provided pursuant 
to Section 10 of the Act and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

DATES: Written comments on the amended application, EA, and amended HCP 
should be sent to the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and 
should be received on or before April 6, 1998.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the amended application, HCP, and 
EA may obtain a copy by writing the Service's Southeast Regional 
Office, Atlanta, Georgia. 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 Jacksonville, Florida, 
Field Office, 6620 Southpoint Drive, South, Suite 310, Jacksonville, 
Florida 32216-0912. Written data or comments concerning the 
application, EA, or HCP should be submitted to the Regional Office. 
Comments must be submitted in writing to be processed. Please reference 
permit PRT-800150 in such comments, or in requests for the documents 
discussed herein. Requests for the documents must be in writing to be 
adequately processed.

[[Page 10936]]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Rick G. Gooch, Regional Permit 
Coordinator, Atlanta, Georgia (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/
679-7110; or Mr. Jay Herrington at the Jacksonville, Florida, Field 
Office (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 904/232-2580.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Florida scrub-jay, Aphelocoma 
coerulescens, is geographically isolated from other subspecies of scrub 
jays found in Mexico and the Western United States. The Florida scrub 
jay is found almost exclusively in peninsular Florida and is restricted 
to scrub habitat. The total estimated population is between 7,000 and 
11,000 individuals. Due to habitat loss and degradation throughout the 
State of Florida, it has been estimated that the Florida scrub jay 
population has been reduced by at least half in the last 100 years. 
Construction of the Project's infrastructure and subsequent 
construction of the individual homesites will likely result in death 
of, or injury to, Aphelocoma coerulescens incidental to the carrying 
out of these otherwise lawful activities. Habitat alteration due to the 
expanded placement of permanent infrastructure, homes, and other 
attributes of the amended project (now including both Waterside Downs-
Phase I and Waterside Downs-Phase II) will reduce the availability of 
feeding, shelter, and nesting habitat.
    The supplement to the May 1996, EA considers the environmental 
consequences of several alternatives for the amended project. One 
action proposed is issuance of the amended ITP based upon submittal of 
the revised HCP as proposed. The no action alternative may result in 
loss of habitat for Aphelocoma coerulescens and exposure of the 
Applicant under Section 9 of the Act. A third alternative is a proposed 
Project that is designed with a different mitigation strategy focusing 
on management of existing lands surrounding the project area. The 
proposed action alternative is issuance of the ITP as requested to be 
amended to minimize and mitigate the loss of an additional 4.96 acres 
of occupied scrub-jay habitat. This provides for restrictions of 
construction activity during the species' nesting season. Further, the 
revised HCP and ITP proposes to increase, in relative proportion 
compared to the original project, and purchase of additional offsite 
habitat for the Florida scrub jay, and the endowment fund for the 
offsite acquired habitat.
    As stated above, the Service has made a preliminary determination 
that the issuance of an amended 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 EA, HCP, and appropriate 
amendments. An appropriate excerpt from the FONSI reflecting the 
Service's finding on the application is provided below:
    Based on the analysis conducted by the Service, it has been 
determined that:
    1. Issuance of an amended ITP would not have significant effects on 
the human environment in the project area.
    2. The additional proposed take is incidental to an otherwise 
lawful activity.
    3. The applicant has ensured that adequate additional funding will 
be provided to implement the measures proposed in the submitted 
revisions to the HCP.
    4. Other than impacts to endangered and threatened species as 
outlined in the documentation of this decision, the indirect impacts 
which may result from issuance of the amended ITP are addressed by 
other regulations and statutes under the jurisdiction of other 
government entities. The validity of the Service's ITP is contingent 
upon the Applicant's compliance with the terms of his permit and all 
other laws and regulations under the control of State, local, and other 
Federal governmental entities.
    The Service will also evaluate whether the issuance of the amended 
Section 10(a)(1)(B) ITP complies with Section 7 of the Act by 
conducting an intra-Service Section 7 consultation. The results of the 
biological opinions, in combination with the above findings, will be 
used in the final analysis to determine whether or not to issue an 
amended ITP.

    Dated: February 26, 1998.
H. Dale Hall,
Deputy Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 98-5664 Filed 3-4-98; 8:45 am]