[Federal Register: October 17, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 202)]
[Page 61898-61899]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-ES-2008-N0281; 50120-1112-0000-F2]

Incidental Take Permit Application for Pleasant Rifts Housing 
Development, Dorchester County, MD

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: Draft environmental assessment and 
habitat conservation plan; receipt of application for an incidental 
take permit; request for comments.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that RB & JH Properties, LLC 
(applicant) has applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
for an incidental take permit under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended. The proposed permit 
would authorize incidental take of the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel 
(Sciurus niger cinereus) (DFS) that is likely to occur on the Pleasant 
Rifts Housing Development, a 29.6-acre property owned by the applicant 
near Secretary, in Dorchester County, Maryland. We also announce the 
availability for public comment of a draft habitat conservation plan 
(HCP) prepared under the Act in support of the permit application and a 
draft environmental assessment (EA) for the action prepared in 
accordance with requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act 

DATES: All comments from interested parties must be received on or 
before December 1, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments to Field Office Supervisor, 
Chesapeake Bay Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 177 
Admiral Cochrane Drive, Annapolis, Maryland 21401. You may also send 
comments by facsimile at 410-269-0832.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cherry Keller, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES above), 
telephone: 410-573-4532.


Availability of Documents

    The permit application materials, which include a draft HCP and a 
draft EA, are available for public inspection, by appointment between 
the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Chesapeake Bay Field Office (see 
ADDRESSES above). You may also request copies of the documents by 
contacting the Service's Chesapeake Bay Field Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT above). Finally, you may also visit the Chesapeake 
Bay Field Office Web site (http://www.fws.gov/chesapeakebay/) to view 
the documents.


    Section 9 of the Act and Federal regulations prohibit the ``take'' 
of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered or threatened. Take 
of federally listed fish and wildlife is defined under the Act to 
include ``harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture, or collect, or

[[Page 61899]]

to attempt to engage in any such conduct.'' The Service may, under 
limited circumstances, issue permits to authorize incidental take 
(i.e., take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, the carrying 
out of an otherwise lawful activity). Regulations governing incidental 
take permits for threatened and endangered species are found in 50 CFR 
17.32 and 17.22.
    The applicant proposes to subdivide and develop the Pleasant Rifts 
Housing Development on a 29.6-acre property that contains 19.8 acres of 
mature forest habitat. The property will be developed into 13 single-
family residences, and 4.83 acres of mature forest will be cleared. 
Development activities on, and subsequent residential uses of, the 
property may result in the death of, or harm to, DFS through the loss 
and degradation of habitat.
    The HCP will minimize take of DFS by minimizing the amount of 
clearing and by retaining 14.97 acres of suitable forest habitat on the 
project site. The habitat is retained through a declaration of 
covenants and restrictions, and existing State environmental 
requirements, which have incidental benefits to DFS and its habitat. It 
also commits to secure off-site compensatory mitigation for the forest 
clearing and degradation of this project through permanent protection 
of 39.2 acres of DFS habitat in close proximity to the Blackwater 
National Wildlife Refuge, which supports a large population of DFS. The 
HCP also limits activities and uses of DFS habitat retained on the 
site, provides for distribution of educational materials regarding DFS 
to construction personnel and homeowners, requires property signage to 
permanently designate the boundary of the authorized forest clearing 
area, and provides for the establishment of a homeowners' association 
to implement, coordinate, monitor, and enforce the provisions of the 
HCP following project-related construction. Finally, the HCP requires 
that any subsequent homeowner be subject to the provisions of the HCP 
and responsible for its implementation. The EA considers the 
environmental consequences of three alternatives, including the 
proposed action. The proposed action alternative is issuance of the 
incidental take permit and implementation of the HCP as submitted by 
the applicant.

Public Review

    The Service invites the public to review the HCP and EA during a 
60-day public comment period (see DATES). Before including your 
address, phone number, electronic mail address, or other personal 
indentifying 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 indentifying information from public 
review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(a) of the Act and 
the regulations for implementing NEPA, as amended (40 CFR 1506.6). We 
will evaluate the application, associated documents, and comments 
submitted thereon to determine whether the application meets the 
requirements of NEPA regulations and section 10(a) of the Act. If we 
determine that those requirements are met, we will issue a permit to 
the applicant for the incidental take of the DFS.

    Dated: October 7, 2008.
Michael G. Thabault,
Acting Regional Director, Region 5.
 [FR Doc. E8-24819 Filed 10-16-08; 8:45 am]