[Federal Register: May 17, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 95)]
[Page 27840]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Construction of an Elementary School in Lake County, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice: receipt of application for an incidental take permit; 
request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
availability of an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) Application and Habitat 
Conservation Plan (HCP). The Lake County School Board (applicant) 
requests an ITP for a duration of 20 years under section 10(a)(1)(B) of 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The applicant 
anticipates taking approximately 0.48 acre (ac) of sand skink (Neoseps 
reynoldsi)--occupied habitat incidental to constructing a two-story 
elementary school and accessory structures, play areas, and 
infrastructure in Lake County, Florida (Project). The applicant's HCP 
describes the mitigation and minimization measures the applicant 
proposes to address the effects of the Project to the sand skink.

DATES: We must receive any written comments on the ITP application and 
HCP on or before June 18, 2007.

ADDRESSES: If you wish to review the application and HCP, you may write 
the Field Supervisor at our Jacksonville Field Office, 6620 Southpoint 
Drive South, Suite 310, Jacksonville, FL 32216, or make an appointment 
to visit during normal business hours. If you wish to comment, you may 
mail or hand deliver comments to the Jacksonville Field Office, or you 
may e-mail comments to paula_sisson@fws.gov. For more information on 
reviewing documents and public comments and submitting comments, see 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paula Sisson, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, Jacksonville Field Office (see ADDRESSES); telephone: 904/
232-2580, ext. 126.


Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.
    Please reference permit number TE132192-0 for the Lake County 
School Board Project in all requests or comments. Please include your 
name and return address in your e-mail message. If you do not receive a 
confirmation from us that we have received your e-mail message, contact 
us directly at the telephone number listed under FOR FURTHER 


    The sand skink is known to occur in Lake County, primarily within 
the Lake Wales Ridge, and much less frequently within the Mt. Dora 
Ridge. Although originally thought to inhabit xeric, scrub habitat 
exclusively, the sand skink is currently being identified in non-
traditional areas with sub-marginal habitat, including pine plantation, 
abandoned citrus groves, and disturbed areas. Sand skinks require soil 
moisture for thermoregulation, egg incubation, and prey habitat. High 
activity periods, which have been associated with the breeding season 
for this species, range from mid-February to early May, with egg-
hatching typically occurring from June through July. Due to the 
reduction in quality and acreage and the rapid development of xeric 
upland communities, the sand skink is reportedly declining throughout 
most of its range. However, biological information regarding the sand 
skink is limited, due to the cryptic nature of the species.

Applicant's Proposal

    The applicant is requesting take of approximately 0.48 acres of 
occupied sand skink habitat incidental to the Project. The < plus-
minus>19.1 acre Project currently includes an elementary school site 
and accessory structures, play areas, and infrastructure encompassing 
16.0 acres. In order to mitigate for the loss of 0.48 acres 
of sand skink habitat, the Applicant proposes to restore and manage 
2.14 acres of occupied sand skink habitat to remain on-
site, as well as a 0.96 acre mitigation area (currently 
unoccupied by the species). Restoration will be achieved through a 
combination of tree removal (planted pine and citrus) and a planting 
effort of scrub oak species. Additional mitigation measures will 
include incorporation of a natural path with educational signage, to 
serve as an educational tool for the elementary school students. The 
conservation areas are expected to increase the overall functional 
value of the habitat given the existing conditions versus the proposed 
conditions of these conservation areas.
    We have determined that the applicant's proposal, including the 
proposed mitigation and minimization measures, would have minor or 
negligible effects on the species covered in the HCP. Therefore, the 
ITP is a ``low-effect'' project and qualifies for categorical 
exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as 
provided by the Department of the 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. A low-effect HCP is one 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 
    We 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 we determine that the 
application meets those requirements, we will issue the ITP for 
incidental take of the sand skink. 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. We will use 
the results of this consultation, in combination with the above 
findings, in the final analysis to determine whether or not to issue 
the ITP.

    Authority: We provide this notice under Section 10 of the 
Endangered Species Act and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: May 10, 2007.
David L. Hankla,
Field Supervisor, Jacksonville Field Office.
 [FR Doc. E7-9482 Filed 5-16-07; 8:45 am]