[Federal Register: August 1, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 147)]
[Page 43511-43512]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Receipt of Application for an Incidental Take Permit for 
Construction of Three Single-Family Homes in Brevard County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Duke Construction Corporation (Applicant) requests an 
incidental take permit (ITP) for a duration of two years pursuant to 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). The Applicant anticipates taking about 0.77 acre of Florida 
scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) (scrub-jay) foraging, sheltering, 
and potential nesting habitat incidental to lot preparation for the 
construction of three single-family homes and supporting 
infrastructure, over a two-year term, in Brevard County, Florida 
(Project). The destruction of 0.77 acre of foraging, sheltering, and 
possibly nesting habitat is expected to result in the take of one 
family of scrub-jays. 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.

DATES: Written comments on the ITP application and HCP 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 application and HCP may obtain 
a copy by writing the Service's Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, 
Georgia. Please reference permit number TE109694-0 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 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 
TE109694-0 in such requests. 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 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

[[Page 43512]]

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 have 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 Duke Construction Corporation will 
take place within Section 23, Township 23 South, Range 35 East, Port 
St. Johns, Brevard County, Florida on Lots 09, 10, and 11, Block 42. 
These lots are within locations where scrub-jays were sighted during 
surveys for this species from 1999-2003.
    Scrub-jays affected by the issuance of this permit are found on the 
extreme western edge of a large area supporting a 16-family cluster of 
birds that inhabits urban areas, commercial development, and 
undeveloped native habitat in the Tico and Grissom territory cluster 
just south of Port St. Johns, Florida. This cluster of scrub-jays is 
part of a larger metapopulation complex of scrub-jays that persists in 
northern Brevard County. The number of scrub-jay families in the 
vicinity of the project site and in the northern Brevard County 
metapopulation has declined in recent years. Survey results indicate 
that the number of scrub-jay families has declined in the Tico and 
Grissom cluster from 72 in the early 1990s to 47 in 2002 (33 percent 
decline). Similarly, the number of families of scrub-jays within the 
northern Brevard County metapopulation, which includes the Tico and 
Grissom territory cluster, has declined from 102 to 67 families (34 
percent decline) during this same time period. Both of these observed 
rates of decline approximate the four percent per year decline 
estimated by recent research findings.
    The decline in numbers of scrub-jay families in northern Brevard 
County is the cumulative result of habitat destruction, fragmentation, 
and degradation. Metapopulation viability analysis suggests that this 
metapopulation of scrub-jays has a high quasi-extinction risk if no 
further conservation efforts are undertaken to acquire and manage land 
for the benefit of scrub-jays.
    The Applicant agrees to confine construction activities to a time 
period outside of the nesting season, will look for active nests nearby 
during the nesting season, and will contact the Service if active nests 
are found onsite, but no other on-site minimization measures are 
proposed to reduce take of scrub-jays. The lots combined encompass 
about 0.77 acre (0.24 acre for Lot 9, 0.24 acre for Lot 10, and 0.29 
acre for Lot 11) and the footprints 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.
    The Applicant proposes to mitigate for the loss of 0.77 acre of 
scrub-jay habitat by contributing a total of $10,318 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 $10,318 is sufficient 
to acquire and perpetually manage about 1.54 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.
    The Service has 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 
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.
    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 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). If it is determined that 
those requirements are met, an ITP will be issued for incidental take 
of the Florida scrub-jay. The Service will also evaluate whether 
issuance of the section 10(a)(1)(B) ITP 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 an ITP. 
This notice is provided pursuant to section 10 of the Endangered 
Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act regulations (40 CFR 

    Dated: July 3, 2006.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. E6-12304 Filed 7-31-06; 8:45 am]