[Federal Register: February 14, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 30)]
[Page 7796-7797]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Receipt of an Application and Availability of Environmental 
Assessment for an Incidental Take Permit for Commercial Development in 
Lake County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Richard E. Bosserman and Charles E. Bosserman III (Applicants) 
request an incidental take permit (ITP) for a 10-year term, pursuant to 
section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(Act). The Applicants anticipate taking sand skinks (Neoseps reynoldsi) 
and bluetail mole skinks (Eumeces egregious) (cumulatively referred to 
as skinks) resulting from land clearing and site preparation for 
commercial construction on about 75 acres near Clermont, Lake County, 
    The Applicants' HCP describes the mitigation and minimization 
measures proposed to address the effects commercial construction on the 
skinks. These measures are outlined in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION 
section below. We announce the availability of the ITP application, 
HCP, and an Environmental Assessment (EA).

DATES: Written comments on the ITP application, EA, and HCP should be 
sent to the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be 
received on or before April 17, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application, EA, and HCP may 
obtain a copy by writing the Service's Southeast Regional Office, 
Atlanta, Georgia. Please reference permit number TE105732-0 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-

Coordinator, (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/679-7313, facsimile: 
404/679-7081; or Mr. Michael Jennings, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, 
Jacksonville Field Office, Jacksonville, Florida (see ADDRESSES above), 
telephone: 904/232-2580, ext. 113.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: If you wish to comment, you may submit 
comments by any one of several methods. Please reference permit number 
TE105732-0 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 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 blue-tailed mole skink is a small, slender lizard that occupies 
xeric upland habitats in central peninsular Florida. It requires open, 
sandy patches interspersed with vegetation. The blue-tailed mole skink 
is highly adapted for life in the sand; it spends the majority of time 
below the surface where it moves through loose sand in search of food, 
shelter, and mates. Much of the blue-tailed mole skink's historic 
habitat has been destroyed or degraded because of fragmentation due to 
residential, commercial, and agricultural development. Habitat 
protection and management are essential for the survival of this 
    The sand skink is a small, semi-fossorial lizard that occurs on the 
sandy ridges of interior central Florida from Marion County south to 
Highlands County. The species is vulnerable because of habitat loss due 
to conversion to residential, commercial, and agricultural uses and 
from habitat degradation due to fire exclusion. The recovery of sand 
skinks will require restoration of habitat and possible reintroduction 
of individuals into successfully restored habitat.
    Xeric uplands within the Lake Wales Ridge have declined in 
distribution and ecological quality over the past 100 years. Urban and 
agricultural development in this area has resulted in substantial 
losses of habitat; by the early 1980's habitat loss was estimated at 66 
percent. Since then additional losses are attributed to increasing 
urban growth, particularly in the northern portions of the action area. 
Severe freezes during the mid-1980's also resulted in a shift in citrus 
production from north central Florida to south Florida which resulted 
in further loss of xeric uplands. Recent estimates indicate that 70 to 
80 percent of the xeric uplands in Florida have been lost or degraded. 
Within the Lake Wales Ridge, about 85 percent of xeric uplands have 
been lost.
    In addition to the direct destruction of xeric uplands within the 
Project area, increasing fragmentation has resulted in the degradation 
of many of the remaining parcels of habitat. These xeric communities 
require periodic fire to maintain their ecological and biological 
functions and values. Urban and agricultural uses now interspersed 
between xeric upland habitats do not allow the natural periodicity or 
magnitude of fires that once spread across this xeric landscape. In 
most instances, fire suppression is practiced to protect human health 
and the safety of property. Lacking fire, xeric uplands tend towards 
more mesic conditions, which include denser vegetative canopies and 
more heterogeneous vegetative structure. Under these conditions, many 
of the species that

[[Page 7797]]

evolved in presence of periodic fires and low structural diversity 
diminish in abundance and eventually are extirpated.
    The Applicants biological surveys determined that about 5.5 acres 
of the 75-acre parcel is occupied by sand skinks and the Fish and 
Wildlife Service believes that bluetail mole skinks also occupy the 
same 5.5 acres. The Applicants' proposed construction activities would 
result in harm to skinks due to destruction of foraging, sheltering, 
and nesting habitat. The Applicants' proposed commercial construction 
would result in the loss of 5.5 acres of occupied skink habitat that is 
isolated due to surrounding urban development. Avoidance or minimized 
impact of the occupied skink habitat was determined to be too costly to 
the Applicant. In addition, conserving skink habitat on site would only 
maintain habitat that would be increasingly isolated from other skink 
habitat. The Applicants' mitigation proposes to acquire, perpetually 
protect, and manage 10 acres of skink habitat at an off-site location 
and donate $20,000 for use in skink habitat acquisition. Take of skinks 
is anticipated due to commercial development of the Applicants' 
property, while the off-site mitigation proposed by the Applicants will 
result in conservation benefits to skinks and several other species 
endemic to xeric scrub.
    The Service has made a preliminary determination that issuance of 
the requested ITP is not a major Federal action significantly affecting 
the quality of the human environment within the meaning of Section 
102(2)(C) of National Environmental Policy Act. This preliminary 
information may be revised due to public comment received in response 
to this notice and is based on information contained in the EA and HCP. 
This notice is provided pursuant to Section 10 of the Endangered 
Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 
    The Service will evaluate the HCP and comments submitted thereon to 
determine whether the application meets the issuance criteria 
requirements of section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. By conducting an intra-
Service section 7 consultation the Service will also evaluate whether 
issuance of the section 10(a)(1)(B) ITP would comply with section 7 of 
the Act. 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: January 29, 2006.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. E6-1960 Filed 2-13-06; 8:45 am]