[Federal Register: August 1, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 147)]
[Page 43510-43511]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Receipt of Three Applications for Incidental Take Permits for 
Construction of Five Single-Family Homes in Brevard County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Ali Markieh, Guruday Chunilall, and Anthony Thomas 
(Applicants) each request an incidental take permit (ITP), for a one-
year term, pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The Applicants anticipate taking about 
1.27 acres combined of Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) 
(scrub-jay) foraging and sheltering habitat incidental to lot 
preparation for the construction of five single-family homes and 
supporting infrastructure in Brevard County, Florida (Project). The 
destruction of 1.27 acres of foraging and sheltering habitat is 
expected to result in the take of two families of scrub-jays. The 
Applicants' Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) describe the mitigation 
and minimization measures proposed to address the effects of the 
Projects to the Florida scrub-jay. These measures are outlined in the 

DATES: Written comments on the ITP applications and HCPs should be sent 
to the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be received 
on or before August 31, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the applications and HCPs may 
obtain a copy by writing the Service's Southeast Regional Office, 
Atlanta, Georgia. Please reference permit number TE105729-0, for 
Markieh, number TE105730-0, for Chunillal, and number TE105728-0, for 
Thomas 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 Ms. Erin Gawera, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, 
Jacksonville Field Office, Jacksonville, Florida (see ADDRESSES above), 
telephone: 904/232-2580, ext. 121.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: If you wish to comment, you may submit 
comments by any one of several methods. Please reference permit number 
TE105729-0, for Markieh, number TE105730-0, for Chunillal, and number 
TE105728-0, for Thomas 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 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 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 (predominately in 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.
    Residential construction for Markieh will take place within section 
05, Township 29 South, Range 37 East, Palm Bay, Brevard County, Florida 
on lots 2, 3, and 4, Block 356. Residential construction for Chunilall 
will take place within Section 05, Township 29 South, Range 37 East, 
Palm Bay, Brevard County, Florida on Lot 12, Block 302. Residential 
construction for Thomas will take place within section 16, Township 29 
South, Range 37 East, Palm Bay, Brevard County, Florida on Lot 25, 
Block 758. Each of these lots are within 438 feet of locations where 
scrub-jays were sighted during surveys for this species from 1999 to 
    Scrub-jays using the subject residential lots and adjacent 
properties are part of a larger complex of scrub-jays

[[Page 43511]]

located in a matrix of urban and natural settings in areas of southern 
Brevard and northern Indian River counties. Within the City of Palm 
Bay, 20 families of scrub-jays persist in habitat fragmented by 
residential development. Scrub-jays in urban areas are particularly 
vulnerable and typically do not successfully produce young that survive 
to adulthood. Persistent urban growth in this 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 fire exclusion slowly results in 
vegetative overgrowth. Thus, over the long-term, scrub-jays within the 
City of Palm Bay are unlikely to persist, and conservation efforts for 
this species should target acquisition and management of large parcels 
of land outside the direct influence of urbanization.
    The Applicants' properties provide habitat for foraging and 
sheltering. Accordingly, loss of this habitat due to residential 
construction will result in the destruction of scrub-jay habitat. The 
lots combined encompass about 1.27 acres and the footprint of the 
homes, infrastructure, and landscaping preclude retention of scrub-jay 
habitat. On-site minimization may not be a biologically viable 
alternative due to increasing negative demographic effects caused by 
urbanization. Therefore, no on-site minimization measures are proposed 
to reduce take of scrub-jays.
    In combination, the Applicants propose to mitigate for the loss of 
1.27 acres of scrub-jay habitat by contributing a total of $15,977 
($9,660 for Markieh, $3,377 for Chunilall, and $2,940 for Thomas) to 
the Florida Scrub-jay Conservation Fund administered by the National 
Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Funds in this account are ear-marked for 
use in the conservation and recovery of scrub-jays and may include 
habitat acquisition, restoration, and/or management. The $15,977 is 
sufficient to acquire and perpetually manage 2.54 acres of suitable 
occupied scrub-jay habitat based on a replacement ratio of two 
mitigation acres per one impact acre. The cost is based on previous 
acquisitions of mitigation lands in southern Brevard County at an 
average $5,700 per acre, plus a $1,000 per acre management endowment 
necessary to ensure future management of acquired scrub-jay habitat. In 
addition, a 5 percent operating cost of $335 per acre will be included. 
Mr. Thomas's mitigation was calculated at a total cost of $5,250 per 
acre. He had been given prior information from the Service on the 
mitigation costs in August 2004.
    We have determined that the Applicants' 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 
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). This preliminary 
information may be revised based on our review of public comments that 
we receive in response to this notice. Low-effect HCPs are those 
involving: (1) minor or negligible effects on federally listed or 
candidate species and their habitats, and (2) minor or negligible 
effects on other environmental values or resources.
    We will evaluate the HCPs and comments submitted thereon to 
determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 
10(a) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). If we determine that those 
requirements are met, the ITPs will be issued for incidental take of 
the Florida scrub-jay. We will also evaluate whether issuance of the 
section 10(a)(1)(B) ITPs comply 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 ITPs. This 
notice is provided pursuant to section 10 of the Endangered Species Act 
and National Environmental Policy Act regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: July 3, 2006.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. E6-12303 Filed 7-31-06; 8:45 am]