[Federal Register: February 13, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 29)]
[Page 7566-7567]
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: Carlos Bigord (Applicant) requests an incidental take permit 
(ITP) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (Act). The Applicant anticipates taking over a one-
year permit term, about 0.23 acre of Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma 
coerulescens)(scrub-jay) foraging, sheltering, and possibly nesting 
habitat, incidental to lot preparation for the construction of a 
single-family home and supporting infrastructure in Charlotte 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. The Service announces the 
availability of the HCP for the incidental take application.

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 March 15, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application and HCP may obtain 
a copy by writing the Service's Southeast Regional Office at the 
address below. Please reference permit number TE111605-0 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 
Field Supervisor, South Florida Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 1339 20th Street, Vero Beach, Florida, 

Coordinator, Southeast Regional Office (see ADDRESSES above), 
telephone: 404/679-7313, facsimile: 404/679-7081; or Mark Salvato, Fish 
and Wildlife Biologist, South Florida Ecological Services Field Office, 
Vero Beach, Florida (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 772-562-3909, 
ext. 340.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: If you wish to comment, you may submit 
comments by any one of several methods. Please reference permit number 
TE111605-0 in such comments. 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 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 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 west-
central Florida has been exacerbated by tremendous urban growth in the 
past 50 years. Much of the historic commercial and residential 
development has occurred on the dry soils which previously supported 
scrub-jay habitat. Based on existing soils data, much of the historic 
and current scrub-jay habitat of coastal west-central Florida occurs 
proximal to the current shoreline and larger river basins. Much of this 
area of Florida was settled early because few wetlands restricted urban 
and agricultural development. Due to the effects of urban and 
agricultural development over the past 100 years, much of the remaining 
scrub-jay habitat is now relatively small and isolated. What remains is 
largely degraded, due to the interruption of the natural fire regime 
which is needed to maintain xeric uplands in conditions suitable for 
    The scrub-jays using the subject residential lot and adjacent 
properties are part of a larger complex of scrub-jays located in a 
matrix of urban and natural settings in Charlotte County. The project 
site represents a portion of an isolated scrub-jay territory. 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 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 would 
result in harm to scrub-jays, incidental to the carrying out of these 
otherwise lawful activities. The destruction of 0.23 acre of habitat 
associated with the proposed residential construction would reduce the 
availability of foraging, sheltering, and possible nesting habitat for 
one family of scrub-jays. As minimization, however, the Applicant 
proposes to conduct clearing activities outside of the nesting season.

[[Page 7567]]

    The Applicant proposes to mitigate the take of scrub-jays through 
contribution of $14,458 to the appropriate scrub-jay conservation fund. 
Funds in this account are earmarked for use in the conservation and 
recovery of scrub-jays and may include habitat acquisition, 
restoration, and management.
    The Service has determined that the HCP is a low-effect plan that 
is categorically excluded from further National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) analysis, and does not require the preparation of an 
Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement. 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 
Applicants' HCP qualifies for the following reasons:
    1. Approval of the HCP would result in minor or negligible effects 
on the Florida scrub-jay population as a whole. The Service does not 
anticipate significant direct or cumulative effects to the Florida 
scrub-jay population as a result of the 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 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 NEPA, as provided by the 
Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6, 
Appendix 1).
    The Service has determined that approval of the HCP qualifies as a 
categorical exclusion under NEPA, as provided by the Department of the 
Interior Manual (516 DM 2, Appendix 1, and 516 DM 6, Appendix 1). 
Therefore, no further NEPA documentation will be prepared. 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 1506.6).
    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. 
The Service 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 an ITP.

    Dated: January 27, 2006.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
 [FR Doc. E6-1962 Filed 2-10-06; 8:45 am]