[Federal Register: June 13, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 114)]
[Page 31944-31946]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of a Safe Harbor Agreement and Receipt of an 
Application for an Enhancement of Survival Permit Associated With 
Proposed Habitat Restoration Activities for Schaus Swallowtail 
Butterfly Within Cheeca Lodge, Upper Matecumbe Key, Monroe County, 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


    Cheeca Lodge (Applicant) proposes to enter into a Safe Harbor 
Agreement (SHA) with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to 
restore habitat for the endangered Schaus swallowtail butterfly 
(Papilio aristodemus ponceanus) (butterfly) for a period of 10 years. 
The Service's Safe Harbor Policy provides that landowners may return 
properties enrolled under SHAs to conditions that existed prior to 
entering into the SHA (hereinafter referred to as baseline conditions). 
Returning enrolled properties to baseline conditions may result in the 
take of federally listed species, but such taking may be authorized 
under section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.), as amended (Act), provided that the actions taken 
pursuant to a signed SHA result in a net conservation benefit to the 
species. The Applicant has committed to implement such conservation 
measures for the butterfly and requests issuance of an enhancement of 
survival permit (ESP) in order to address the take prohibitions of 
section 9 of the Act should the Applicant choose to return the enrolled 
property to baseline conditions in the future.
    The proposed conservation measures, and the possible future 
activities that could reduce the effectiveness of these conservation 
measures, will occur within a golf course owned and maintained by the 
Applicant in section

[[Page 31945]]

32, Township 63 South, Range 37 East, Monroe County, Florida.
    The passage of hurricane Georges in 1998 destroyed natural and 
planted vegetation in the middle and lower Florida Keys. Efforts are 
currently underway by many landowners to restore vegetation on their 
properties. The Applicant intends to restore native tropical hardwood 
vegetation on portions of the enrolled property that currently are 
maintained as a golf course. With the assistance of the University of 
Florida Department of Entomology and using funding provided through the 
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Applicant proposes to plant 
up to 600 native shrubs and trees within the enrolled property. These 
vegetation plantings will help create an estimated eight acres of 
native tropical hardwood forest on the property. Cheeca Lodge contains 
approximately 27 acres which will be covered under the subject SHA.
    Future activities of the Applicant may result in the removal of 
some or all of the planted native vegetation. Removal of this 
vegetation could return the enrolled property to the baseline 
condition. Future alterations to the planted vegetation may destroy all 
or part of the potentially suitable butterfly habitat that will be 
    A more detailed description of the proposed conservation benefits 
and potential effects of returning the enrolled property to baseline 
conditions is provided in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below.
    The SHA may be obtained by making a request to the Regional Office 
(see ADDRESSES). Requests must be in writing to be processed. This 
notice also advises the public that the Service has made a preliminary 
determination that issuance of the ESP will not result in significant 
environmental, economic, social, historical or cultural impacts and is, 
therefore, categorically excluded from review under the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA), pursuant to 516 
Departmental Manual 2, Appendix 1 and 516 Departmental Manual 6, 
Appendix 1. This notice is provided pursuant to section 10 of the Act 
and the Service's Safe Harbor Policy (Federal Register Vol. 64, No. 
116, June 17, 1999, pp. 32717-32726). The Service specifically requests 
information, views, and opinions from the public via this notice. 
Further, the Service is specifically soliciting information regarding 
the adequacy of the SHA as measured against the Service's Safe Harbor 

DATES: Written comments on the SHA and ESP application should be sent 
to the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be received 
on or before July 13, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the SHA and ESP application 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, Post Office Box 2676, Vero Beach, Florida 32961-2676. 
Written data or comments concerning the SHA or ESP application should 
be submitted to the Regional Office and must be in writing to be 
processed. Comments must be submitted in writing to be adequately 
considered in the Service's decision-making process. Please reference 
permit number TE-022736-0 in your comments, or in requests of the 
documents discussed herein.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Lee Andrews, Regional Safe Harbor 
Program Coordinator, (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/679-7217, 
facsimile: 404/679-7081; or Mr. Mike Jennings, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, South Florida Field Office, Vero Beach, Florida (see 
ADDRESSES above), telephone: 561/562-3909.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Schaus swallowtail butterfly is a large 
dark brown and yellow butterfly that inhabits tropical hardwood 
hammocks of extreme south Florida. Historically, the Schaus swallowtail 
butterfly was distributed from south Miami to Lower Matecumbe Key. More 
recently, Schaus swallowtail butterflies were known only from 
undisturbed tropical hardwood hammocks from Elliott Key in Biscayne 
National Park south to northern Key Largo. Reintroductions have 
recently occurred from southern Dade County to Lower Matecumbe Key. 
This species was Federally listed as endangered in 1984 due to habitat 
destruction, mortality associated with application of pesticides for 
mosquito control, and over-harvesting by collectors. These factors 
acting in combination with high natural mortality associated with 
predation of caterpillars resulted in substantial declines in the 
number and range of this species.
    The Schaus swallowtail butterfly prefers dense, mature tropical 
hardwood hammocks where direct sunlight is filtered or dappled. Adults 
feed on a number of nectar producing plant species endemic to hardwood 
hammocks but have most often been observed feeding on guava (Psidium 
guajava), cheese shrub (Morinda royoc), and wild coffee (Psychotria 
undata). Adults rarely feed in open areas exposed to direct sunlight. 
The eggs of this species are typically laid on wild lime (Zanthoxylem 
fagara) and torchwood (Amyris elemifera) with larva subsequently eating 
the young, tender shoots of these species.
    The proposed planting of native vegetation within the two enrolled 
properties will provide important food resources for dispersing 
butterflies. Currently, butterflies traveling south from core 
population centers on Key Largo and Biscayne National Park do not have 
dependable sources of nectar producing vegetation and, as a result, 
many of the dispersing butterflies are thought to perish during their 
dispersals. Suitable unoccupied habitat exists in the lower Florida 
Keys, but butterflies are not currently able to travel from the core 
population centers in the upper Florida Keys to these locations because 
food supplies are limited between these areas. The proposed 
conservation measures will reduce the distance butterflies will have to 
fly in order to find nourishment, resulting in increased survival of 
dispersing butterflies. Increased survival of dispersing butterflies is 
believed to enhance the probability of natural recolonization of 
unoccupied, suitable habitat in the lower Florida Keys.
    The Applicant recognizes the inherent benefits of implementing the 
conservation measures for the butterfly, however, the Applicant also 
wishes to retain flexibility with respect to future land use of their 
property. Though not anticipated in the immediate future, such 
alterations in land uses may require the removal of some or all of the 
planted vegetation which could reduce, or remove entirely, the overall 
conservation value of these plantings to the butterfly. Accordingly, 
the Service has entered into the SHA with the Applicant and proposes to 
issue the requested ESP to cover the potential removal of butterfly 
habitat by the Applicant in the future to baseline conditions. The 
Service has established the baseline conditions at the enrolled 
property as zero (0) butterflies and no currently suitable butterfly 
    The Service will also evaluate whether the issuance of the ESP 
complies with section 7 of the Act by conducting an intra-Service 
section 7 consultation. The results of the biological opinion, in 
combination with the above findings and any public comments, will be 
used in the final analysis to determine whether or not to issue the 
requested ESP.

[[Page 31946]]

    Dated: May 29, 2001.
H. Dale Hall,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 01-14860 Filed 6-12-01; 8:45 am]