[Federal Register: April 6, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 65)]
[Page 16745-16747]
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 
Construction on a Single-Family Lot, in Volusia County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Linda B. Walters (Applicant), is seeking an incidental take 
permit (ITP) from the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), pursuant to 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as 
amended. The ITP would authorize incidental take of the Florida scrub-
jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) and the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon 
corais couperi), both threatened species, on a single family lot for a 
period of twenty (20) years. The proposed taking is incidental to land 
clearing and other activities associated with the construction of a 
single family home on a .685-acre lot in Volusia County, Florida 
(Project). Surveys on the Project site indicate that one family of 
Florida scrub-jays occupies the Project site. No eastern indigo snakes 
have been reported on the property; however, the Applicant has 
requested that the eastern indigo snake be included in the ITP based on 
the chance that this species could occur on the project site. A 
description of the mitigation and minimization measures outlined the 
Applicant's Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to address the effects of 
the Project to the protected species is as described further in the 
    Further, the Service has determined that the Applicant's HCP 
qualifies as a ``low-effect'' HCP as defined by the Service's Habitat 
Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996). The Service has further 
determined that approval of the HCP qualifies as a categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as 
provided by the Department of Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 and 
516 DM 6, Appendix 1).
    Copies of the Applicant's HCP may be obtained by making a request 
to the Regional Office (see ADDRESSES). Requests must be in writing to 
be processed. This notice is provided pursuant to Section 10 of the Act 
and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).
    The Service specifically requests information, views, opinions from 
the public via this Notice, including information regarding the 
adequacy of

[[Page 16746]]

the HCP as measured against the Service's ITP issuance criteria found 
in 50 CFR Parts 13 and 17.

DATES: Written comments on the application and HCP should be sent to 
the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be received on 
or before May 6, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the HCP 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 Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6620 
South Point Drive, South, Suite 310, Jacksonville, Florida 32216-0912. 
Written data or comments should be submitted to the Regional Office. 
Requests for the documentation must be in writing to be processed. 
Comments must be submitted in writing to be processed. Please reference 
permit number TE008789-0 in such comments, or in requests of the 
documents discussed herein.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Rick G. Gooch, Regional Permit 
Coordinator, (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/679-7110, facsimile: 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 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. Surveys have indicated 
that one family of Florida scrub-jays inhabit the Project site. 
Construction of the Project's infrastructure, commercial construction 
and construction of the individual home sites will likely result in 
death of, or injury to, Aphelocoma coerulescens incidental to the 
carrying out of these otherwise lawful activities. Habitat alteration 
associated with property development will reduce the availability of 
feeding, shelter, and nesting habitat.
    Section 9 of the Act, and implementing regulations, prohibits 
taking the Florida scrub-jay and eastern indigo snake. Taking, in part, 
is defined as an activity that kills, injures, harms, or harasses a 
listed endangered or threatened species. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act 
provides an exemption, under certain circumstances, to the Section 9 
prohibition if the taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of 
otherwise lawful activities.
    Observations by Service biologists documented the presence of one 
family of Florida scrub-jays and use of suitable habitat on the 
applicant's property. The .685 acres of occupied habitat on the site is 
very overgrown due to fire suppression and a lack of any kind of 
management. The surrounding area is intensely developed with only 
scattered fragments of scrub habitat remaining. No evidence of eastern 
indigo snakes were found on the property; however, the applicant is 
requesting to be protected under an incidental take provision since 
this wide ranging species potentially may use the site. Initial 
construction of a single family home would sufficiently modify and 
cause impacts to occupied Florida scrub-jay habitat on the project 
site, as to meet the definition of ``take'' in the Act.
    The HCP describes measures the Applicant will take to avoid and 
mitigate such taking resulting from the Project. To minimize impacts, 
the Applicant will ensure clearing of vegetation within 150 feet of 
active nests will not take place during the nesting season for Florida 
scrub-jays (March 1 through July 1). Appendix C of the habitat 
conservation plan (HCP) details the avoidance measures that the 
Applicant has agreed to implement to reduce potential impacts to any 
eastern indigo snakes which may be found on the project site. To 
mitigate for the up to .685 acres of occupied habitat that would be 
eliminated on-site, the applicant will contribute $8631.00 to the 
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Fund for the conservation and 
management of the Florida scrub-jay. This money will be used, along 
with other funds received from Section (a)(1)(B) permits, to purchase 
scrub-jay habitat in Volusia County, Florida. This amount is based on 
replacement at a rate of 2:1 (replaced: lost), provides a $1,000 per 
acre management endowment for perpetual management, and includes a five 
percent fee for the administration of the National Fish and Wildlife 
Foundation account. Once purchased, the land will be transferred to a 
third party land management organization along with the $1,000 per acre 
management endowment for management into perpetuity. This will be 
accomplished through the use of a conservation easement, specifying 
that the land be left undeveloped and managed into perpetuity. It is 
believed that ensuring the protection and viability of quality, 
occupied habitat in a large contiguous preserve is more beneficial to 
the scrub-jay and indigo snake than any on-site mitigation plan could 
offer. No mitigation other than the standard protection measures are 
offered for the eastern indigo snake, although that species would also 
generally benefit from conservation and management of a large tract of 
    As earlier stated, the Service has determined that the Plan 
qualifies as a ``low-effect'' HCP as defined by the Service's Habitat 
Conservation Planning Handbook (November 1996). Low-effect HCPs are 
those involving: (1) Minor or negligible effects on federally listed 
and candidate species and their habitats, and (2) minor or negligible 
effects on other environmental values or resources. The Applicant's HCP 
qualifies for the following reasons:
    1. Approval of the HCP would result in minor or negligible effects 
on the Florida scrub-jay, eastern indigo snake, and their habitats. The 
Service does not anticipate significant direct or cumulative effects to 
the Florida scrub-jay or eastern indigo snake resulting from 
construction of the Project.
    2. Approval of the HCP would not have adverse effects on known 
unique geographic, historic or cultural sites, or involve unique or 
unknown environmental risks.
    3. Approval of the HCP would not result in any significant adverse 
effects on public health or safety.
    4. The project does not require compliance with Executive Order 
11988 (Floodplain Management), Executive Order 11990 (Protection of 
Wetlands), or the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, nor does it 
threaten to violate a Federal, State, local or tribal law or 
requirement imposed for the protection of the environment.
    5. Approval of the Plan would not establish a precedent for future 
action or represent a decision in principle about future actions with 
potentially significant environmental effects.
    The Service has therefore determined that approval of the Plan 
qualifies as a categorical exclusion under the NEPA, as provided by the 
Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6, 
Appendix 1). No further NEPA documentation will therefore be prepared.
    The Service will evaluate the HCP and comments submitted thereon to 
determine whether the eastern indigo

[[Page 16747]]

snake. The Service will also evaluate whether the issuance of a 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 consultation, 
in combination with the above findings, will be used in the final 
analysis to determine whether or not to issue the ITP; the final 
decision will be made no sooner than 30 days from the date of this 

    Dated: March 29, 1999.
H. Dale Hall,
Deputy Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 99-8403 Filed 4-5-99; 8:45 am]