[Federal Register: August 23, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 164)]
[Page 44368-44369]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of a Draft Environmental Assessment and Receipt of 
an Application for an Incidental Take Permit for a Multi-Phase 
Commercial and Residential Development, in Flagler County, Florida

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


    Palm Coast Blue Water International Corporation and Matanzas Shores 
Owners Association (Applicant), seek 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 the take of two families of the threatened 
Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) and the threatened eastern 
indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) in Flagler County, Florida, 
for a period of twenty (20) years. The proposed taking is incidental to 
land clearing activities and development on a multi-phase project site 
(Project). The Project contains about 19.5 acres of occupied Florida 
scrub-jay habitat, and the potential exists for the Project to provide 
over 200 acres of habitat to the Eastern indigo snake. A description of 
the mitigation and minimization measures outlined in the Applicant's 
Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to address the effects of the Project 
to the protected species is described further in the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section below.
    The Service also announces the availability of a draft 
environmental assessment (EA) and the HCP for the incidental take 
permit application. Copies of the EA and HCP 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 issuing the ITP 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 
Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is based on information 
contained in the EA and HCP. The final determination will be made no 
sooner than 60 days from the date of this notice. This notice is 
provided pursuant to section 10 of the Act and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 
    The Service specifically requests information, views, and opinions 
from the public via this Notice on the federal action, including the 
identification of any other aspects of the human environment not 
already identified in the Service's EA. Further, the Service 
specifically solicits information regarding the adequacy of the HCP as 
measured against the Service's ITP issuance criteria found in 50 CFR 
Parts 13 and 17.
    If you wish to comment, you may submit comments by any one of 
several methods. Please reference permit number TE038885-0 in such 
comments. You may mail comments to the Service's Regional Office (see 
ADDRESSES). You may also comment via the internet to 
``david__dell@fws.gov''. Please submit comments over the internet as an 
ASCII file avoiding the use of special characters and any form of 
encryption. Please also include your name and return address in your 
internet message. If you do not receive a confirmation from the Service 
that we have received your internet message, contact us directly at 
either telephone number listed below (see FURTHER INFORMATION). 
Finally, you may hand deliver comments to either Service office listed 
below (see ADDRESSES). Our practice is to make comments, including 
names and home addresses of respondents, available for public review 
during regular business hours. Individual respondents may request that 
we withhold their home address from the administrative record. We will 
honor such requests to the extent allowable by law. There may also be 
other circumstances in which we would withhold from the administrative 
record a respondent's identity, as allowable by law. If you wish us to 
withhold your name and address, you must state this prominently at the 
beginning of your comments. We will not, however, consider anonymous 
comments. We will make all submissions from organizations or 
businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as 
representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, available 
for public inspection in their entirety.

DATES: Written comments on the permit application, EA, and HCP should 
be sent to the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be 
received on or before October 22, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the 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 Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 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 and requests for the documentation must be in writing to be 
processed. Please reference permit number TE038885-0 in such comments, 
or in requests of the documents discussed herein.

Coordinator, (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/679-7110; or Mr. 
Miles A. Meyer, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, Jacksonville Field Office, 

[[Page 44369]]

ADDRESSES above), telephone: 904/232-2580, extension 114.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Florida scrub-jay is geographically 
isolated from other species of scrub-jays found in Mexico and the 
western United States. The Florida scrub-jay is found 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.
    Historically, the eastern indigo snake occurred throughout Florida 
and into the coastal plain of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. 
Georgia and Florida currently support the remaining, endemic 
populations of eastern indigo snake. Over most of its range, the 
eastern indigo snake frequents a diversity of habitat types such as 
pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, xeric sandhill communities, tropical 
hardwood hammocks, edges of freshwater marshes, agricultural fields, 
coastal dunes and human altered habitats. Due to its relatively large 
home range, this snake is especially vulnerable to habitat loss, 
degradation, and fragmentation. The wide distribution and territory 
size requirements of the eastern indigo snake make evaluation of status 
and trends very difficult.
    Surveys have indicated that two families of Florida scrub-jays (5 
individuals) utilize habitat associated with the coastal scrub habitat 
on the Project site. Approximately 9.11 acres of occupied scrub-jay 
habitat are proposed to be impacted. Additionally, 41.1 acres of 
potential habitat for the eastern indigo snake are proposed for 
development. Eastern indigo snakes have not been observed on the 
project site. Construction of the Project's infrastructure and 
residential buildings will likely result in death of, or injury to, 
Florida scrub-jay and eastern indigo snake incidental to carrying out 
these otherwise lawful activities. Habitat alteration associated with 
property development will reduce the availability of habitat used for 
feeding, nesting, and shelter.
    The draft EA considers the environmental consequences of two 
alternatives. The no action alternative may result in loss of habitat 
for the Florida scrub-jay and eastern indigo snake, and exposure of the 
Applicant under section 9 of the Act. The applicant's proposed action 
alternative is issuance of the ITP with on-site mitigation. The on-site 
preservation would restore and preserve 10.75 acres of unoccupied 
scrub-jay habitat and 15.95 acres of occupied scrub-jay habitat along 
the coastal dune east of the old SR A1A roadbed. This on-site habitat 
would remain suitable for any eastern indigo snakes in the Project 
area. The affirmative conservation measures outlined in the HCP to be 
employed to offset the anticipated level of incidental take to the 
protected species are the following:
    1. The impacts associated with the proposed project include 9.11 
acres of permanent impacts associated with infrastructure and lot 
development. To mitigate for the proposed impacts to occupied habitat 
the applicant will restore and preserve habitat within two areas of the 
project site. Approximately 10.75 acres of unoccupied scrub habitat and 
15.95 acres of occupied habitat will be enhanced and preserved east of, 
and including, the old SR A1A roadbed. This amount provides mitigation 
at a ratio of 2.9:1 (2.9 acres restored for every one acre impacted). 
Management of the mitigation sites will be conducted on a regular basis 
by the applicant and funding will be provided by the applicant and 
homeowners association dues. After initial habitat restoration of the 
27.1-acre on-site mitigation area, the property would be set apart 
through an easement, requiring preservation and management for Florida 
scrub-jays and eastern indigo snakes into perpetuity.
    2. No construction activities would occur within 150 feet of an 
active Florida scrub-jay nest during the nesting season.
    3. The HCP provides a funding mechanism for these mitigation 
measures. Funding will be provided by the applicant and the homeowners 
association dues.
    As stated above, the Service has made a preliminary determination 
that the issuance of the 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 draft EA and HCP. 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 ITP would not have significant effects on the 
human environment in the project area.
    2. The proposed take is incidental to an otherwise lawful activity.
    3. The Applicant has ensured that adequate funding will be provided 
to implement the measures proposed in the submitted 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 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 the 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 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 biological 
opinion, in combination with the above findings, will be used in the 
final analysis to determine whether or not to issue the ITP.

    Dated: August 3, 2001.
J. Mitch King,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 01-21273 Filed 8-22-01; 8:45 am]