[Federal Register: February 22, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 34)]
[Page 8603-8604]
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 the 
Florida Scrub-Jay Resulting From the Proposed Construction of a Single-
Family Home in Charlotte County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Mr. and Mrs. Glen A. Van Brunt (Applicants) request an 
incidental take permit (ITP) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973 (U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), as amended (Act). 
The Applicants anticipate taking about 1.0 acre of occupied Florida 
scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) (scrub-jay) nesting, foraging, and 
sheltering habitat, incidental to land clearing of their 5.5-acre lot 
and subsequent residential construction of a single-family home and 
supporting infrastructure in Charlotte County, Florida (Project).
    The Applicants' Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) describes the 
mitigation and minimization measures proposed to address the effects of 
the Project on the Florida scrub-jay. These measures are outlined in 
the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service) announces the availability of the HCP and the 
Environmental Assessment for the ITP application. Copies of the HCP may 
be obtained by making a request to the Service's Southeast 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 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations 
(40 CFR 1506.6).
    The Service specifically requests information, views, and opinions 
from the public via this Notice on the Federal action. Further, the 
Service specifically solicits information regarding the adequacy of the 
HCP as measured against the Service's permit issuance criteria found in 
50 CFR Parts 13 and 17.

DATES: Written comments on the ITP application, supporting 
documentation, EA, and HCP should be sent to the Service's Southeast 
Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be received on or before 
April 25, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application, supporting 
documentation, EA, and HCP may obtain a copy by writing the Service's 
Southeast Regional Office at the address below. Please reference permit 
number TE095181-0 in such requests. Documents will also be available 
for public inspection by appointment during normal business hours at 
the Southeast Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1875 
Century Boulevard, Suite 200, Atlanta, Georgia 30345 (Attn: Endangered 
Species Permits), or the Service's South Florida Ecological Services 
Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1339 20th Street, Vero Beach, 
Florida, 32960-3559 (Attn: Field Supervisor). Written data or comments 
concerning the application, supporting documentation, EA, or HCP should 
be submitted to the Southeast Regional Office. Requests for 
documentation 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

[[Page 8604]]

TE095181-0 in such comments, or in requests of the documents discussed 

Coordinator, Southeast Regional Office (see ADDRESSES above), 
telephone: 404/679-7313, facsimile: 404/679-7081; or George Dennis, 
Fish and Wildlife Biologist, South Florida Ecological Services Office, 
Vero Beach, Florida (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 772/562-3909, 
ext. 309.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: If you wish to comment, you may submit 
comments by any one of several methods. You may mail comments to the 
Service's Southeast 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 above 
(see FURTHER INFORMATION). Finally, you may hand-deliver comments to 
either Service office listed above (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 addresses 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.
    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 (mostly consisting of oak-dominated scrub). 
Increasing urban and agricultural development has resulted in habitat 
loss and fragmentation, which has adversely affected the distribution 
and numbers of scrub-jays. The total estimated population is between 
7,000 and 11,000 individuals. The decline in the number and 
distribution of scrub-jays in Florida has been exacerbated by 
tremendous urban growth in the past 50 years.
    Xeric upland vegetative communities in southwestern Florida are 
restricted primarily to ancient coastal dunes which are typically much 
dryer and less susceptible to flooding due to their deep, well-drained 
soils. Historically, these areas extended in a nearly continuous, 
narrow band along the western mainland portions of northern Charlotte 
to southern Hillsborough County. However, the same physical attributes 
that resulted in the evolution of xeric vegetation on these sandy dunes 
also provided sites for both agriculture and urban development. Over 
the past 50 years, these ancient dunes have served as the backbone of 
residential and commercial growth in southwestern Florida. The Project 
area is under tremendous development pressure, as is much of Charlotte 
County. Much of the remaining scrub-jay habitat is now relatively small 
and isolated. What remains is largely degraded due to interruption of 
the natural fire regime, which is needed to maintain xeric uplands in 
conditions suitable for scrub-jays.
    Florida scrub-jays using the Project area were documented on 
several occasions by researchers collecting data on scrub-jays in the 
subdivision and surrounding areas. Based on preliminary information, it 
appears that a family of scrub-jays, of up to five individuals 
maintains a territory that includes the Project area. It is not known 
whether these families of scrub-jays previously nested on the subject 
lot, though the birds apparently use the scrub vegetation on site for 
foraging and shelter. Scrub-jays using the Project site are part of a 
metapopulation of scrub-jays in Charlotte County that occurs east of 
the Peace River and Punta Gorda. The continued survival and recovery of 
scrub-jays in this area may be dependent on the maintenance of suitable 
habitat and the restoration of unsuitable habitat.
    Scrub-jays in urban areas are particularly vulnerable and typically 
do not successfully produce young that survive to adulthood. Persistent 
urban growth in the Project area will likely result in further 
reductions in the amount of suitable habitat for scrub-jays. Increasing 
urban pressures are also likely to result in the continued degradation 
of scrub-jay habitat as exclusion of the natural fire regime slowly 
results in vegetative overgrowth. Thus, over the long term, scrub-jays 
are unlikely to persist in urban settings, and conservation efforts for 
this species should target acquisition and management of large parcels 
of land outside the direct influence of urbanization.
    Construction of the Project's infrastructure and facilities will 
result in harm to scrub-jays, incidental to the carrying out of these 
otherwise lawful activities. Habitat alteration associated with the 
proposed residential construction will reduce the availability of 
nesting, foraging, and sheltering habitat for a family of scrub-jays. 
The Applicants propose to minimize take of scrub-jays by preserving 4.5 
acres of scrub-jay habitat on their 5.5-acre lot in perpetuity. This is 
a 4.5:1 mitigation ratio.
    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, 
the ITP will be issued for incidental take of the Florida scrub-jay. We 
will also evaluate whether issuance of the section 10(a)(1)(B) ITP 
complies with section 7 of the Act by conducting an intra-Service 
section 7 consultation. The results of this consultation, in 
combination with the above findings, will be used in the final analysis 
to determine whether or not to issue the ITP.

    Dated: February 9, 2005.
Noreen Walsh,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. 05-3278 Filed 2-18-05; 8:45 am]