[Federal Register: March 25, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 58)]
[Page 15357-15358]
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 Brevard County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Michael Hoffman (Applicant), seeks 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), 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 1.21-acre lot in Brevard County, Florida (Project).
    The Applicant's Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) describes the 
mitigation and minimization measures proposed to address the effects of 
the Project to the Florida scrub-jay. These measures are outlined in 
the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. We have determined that 
the Applicant's proposal, including the proposed mitigation and 
minimization measures, will individually and cumulatively have a minor 
or negligible effect on the species covered in the HCP. Therefore, the 
ITP is a ``low-effect'' project and would qualify as a categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as 
provided by the Department of Interior Manual (516 DM2, Appendix 1 and 
516 DM 6, Appendix 1). We announce the availability of the HCP for the 
incidental take application. Copies of the 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 Endangered Species Act and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 

DATES: Written comments on the permit application, supporting 
documentation, categorical exclusion and HCP should be sent to the 
Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be received on or 
before April 26, 2004.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application and HCP may obtain 
a copy by writing the Service's Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, 
Georgia. Please reference permit number TE070282-0 in such requests. 
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.

Coordinator, (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/679-7313, facsimile: 
404/679-7081; or Mr. Michael Jennings, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, 
Jacksonville Ecological Services Office, (see ADDRESSES above), 
telephone: 904/232-2580 extension 126.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: If you wish to comment, you may submit 
comments by any one of several methods. Please reference permit number 
TE070282-0 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 us that we 
have received your internet message, contact us directly at either 
telephone number listed below (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). 
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

[[Page 15358]]

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 
    The Florida scrub-jay (scrub-jay) is geographically isolated from 
other species of scrub-jays found in Mexico and the Western United 
States. The scrub-jay is found exclusively in peninsular Florida and is 
restricted to xeric uplands. 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 at least one family of Florida 
scrub-jays inhabit the Project site. Construction of one and possibly 
two homes on this site will likely result in death of, or injury to, 
scrub-jays 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.
    Research conducted by Breininger in 2001 and submitted to the 
Service in an annual progress report in 2002, indicated at least one 
family of Florida scrub-jays and their use of suitable habitat on the 
Applicant's property. Land clearing in preparation of residential 
construction will destroy occupied Florida scrub-jay habitat on the 
property, and adversely affect the ability of individual birds to feed, 
breed or shelter within the property to such an extent as to meet the 
definition of ``take'' in the Act.
    The HCP describes measures the Applicant will take to avoid and 
mitigate impacts resulting from the Project. To minimize impacts to 
scrub-jays, the Applicant will not clear vegetation or begin 
construction during the scrub-jay nesting season (March 1-June 30). 
Minimization measures for the eastern indigo snake including educating 
the contractors about how to identify the species and what to do if one 
is seen on site, will be implemented. The Applicant has agreed to a 
number of measures to avoid injury or death of any eastern indigo 
snakes which may be found on the project site. To mitigate for the 1.21 
acres of occupied scrub-jay and eastern indigo snake habitat that would 
be destroyed on-site, the Applicant will purchase 3.26 acres of habitat 
that supports Florida scrub-jays and transfer fee title of the property 
to the Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL's) program. 
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 than any on-site mitigation plan could offer.
    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 and the eastern indigo snake populations as a 
whole. The Service does not anticipate a significant reduction in 
population numbers as a result of the construction 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 issuance of an ITP to the 
Applicant 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 application meets the requirements of section 
10(a) of the Act. If it is determined that those requirements are met, 
an ITP will be issued for the incidental take of the Florida scrub-jay 
and the eastern indigo 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 notice

    Dated: March 11, 2004.
J. Mitch King,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 04-6665 Filed 3-24-04; 8:45 am]