[Federal Register: April 6, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 66)]
[Page 17485-17486]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Receipt of an Application and Availability of an Environmental 
Assessment for an Incidental Take Permit for Florida Scrub-Jays During 
Construction for the Expansion of the Deltona Regional Library, 
Deltona, Volusia County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The County of Volusia, Environmental Management Division 
(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 two families of Florida scrub-
jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens) (scrub-jay) over the requested 30-year 
permit term as a result of the destruction of 1.9 acres of foraging, 
sheltering, and possible nesting habitat, incidental to land clearing 
for the expansion of the Deltona Regional Library and supporting 
infrastructure in Volusia 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. We announce the 
availability of the ITP application and HCP and an environmental 

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 June 5, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the application, environmental 
assessment, and HCP may obtain a copy by writing the Service's 
Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, Georgia. Please reference permit 
number TE103648-0 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 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 
TE103648-0 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). 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

[[Page 17486]]

habitat loss and fragmentation that 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 east-
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 that previously supported 
scrub-jay habitat. Based on existing soils data, much of the historic 
and current scrub-jay habitat of coastal east-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 exclusion of fire that is needed to 
maintain xeric uplands in conditions suitable for scrub-jays.
    Surveys conducted during the summer of 2004 found two scrub-jay 
family groups using a total of about 2.5 acres that will be impacted by 
the Project. The remaining habitat for these two families of scrub-jays 
is protected within the Lyonia Preserve, a county-owned and managed 
parcel dedicated to scrub and scrub-jay conservation. Lyonia Preserve 
is contiguous with the Project site and contains another 18 families of 
    Scrub-jays using the Project site are part of a larger complex of 
scrub-jays located in a matrix of urban and natural settings in areas 
of western Volusia County. 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. The retention of 
small patches of habitat similar to the onsite mitigation proposed by 
the Applicant can provide benefits to scrub-jays by creating ``stepping 
stones'' used by scrub-jays dispersing between larger parcels of 
conservation lands in Volusia County.
    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 expansion of the regional library and associated 
infrastructure will reduce the availability of foraging, sheltering, 
and possible nesting habitat for two families of scrub-jays.
    The Applicant proposes to minimize impacts to scrub-jays by 
reducing the Project's footprint and avoiding active nest sites during 
the breeding season. The Applicant proposes to mitigate the take of 
scrub-jays by protecting and managing scrub-jay habitat within Lyonia 
Preserve pursuant to an agreement between the Service and County of 
Volusia. In that agreement, Volusia County agreed to provide long-term 
protection of scrub-jay habitat and to implement land management 
activities that will enhance habitat for this species. Until the 
Service and County of Volusia entered into this agreement, no such 
protection was afforded to scrub-jays in Lyonia Preserve. In return for 
their commitment to protect and manage scrub-jay habitat within Lyonia 
Preserve, the agreement stipulates that the County of Volusia's Public 
Works Department and Volusia County School District may use the Lyonia 
Preserve as a scrub-jay mitigation site for locally sponsored projects, 
such as the expansion of the regional library. The Applicant proposes 
to use a portion of their scrub-jay enhancement credits as mitigation 
for the Project.
    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 (NEPA). 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 
    We 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 the 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: January 27, 2006.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. E6-4985 Filed 4-5-06; 8:45 am]