Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
Robert Aulbach and Elizabeth Aulbach (Applicants) request an incidental take permit (ITP) for a one-year term pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The Applicants anticipate taking about 0.46 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 Applicants' 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.
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 May 8, 2006.
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 TE113867-0 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 32960-3559.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Mr. David Dell, Regional HCP Coordinator, Southeast Regional Office (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/679-7313, facsimile: 404/679-7081; or Mr. Mark Salvato, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, South Florida Ecological Services Field Office, Vero Beach, Florida (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 772/562-3909, extension 340.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
If you wish to comment, you may submit written comments by any one of several methods. Please reference permit number TE113867-0 in such comments. You may mail comments to the Service's Southeast Regional Office (see ADDRESSES). You may also comment via the Internet to email@example.com. Please 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 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1990. Recovery plan for the Florida scrub-jay, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, Georgia).
The scrub-jays using the Applicants' 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. Construction of the Project's infrastructure and facilities will result in the destruction of 0.46 acre of foraging, sheltering, and possibly nesting habitat and is expected to result in the take, in the form of harm, of one family of scrub-jays, incidental to the carrying out of these otherwise lawful activities. The Applicants propose to minimize and avoid incidental take by conducting clearing activities outside of the nesting season, removal of exotic vegetation from the lot, and maintenance of the remaining area in native vegetation for use by the resident scrub-jays. The Applicants propose to replace any scrub oaks and wax myrtles that might be removed during land clearing. The Applicants propose to avoid landscaping with trees that will grow greater than 30 feet tall and potentially provide perch trees for predators that may prey on scrub-jays on this lot and surrounding unimproved lots. The Applicants propose to implement measures to remove and to discourage the presence of free-roaming cats on the lot as they can be a potential predator on young scrub-jays.
The Applicants propose to mitigate the take of scrub-jays through contribution of $25,822 to the Charlotte County Florida Scrub-Jay Conservation Fund or other appropriate conservation fund approved by the Service. Funds in this account are earmarked for use in the conservation and recovery of scrub-jays and may include habitat acquisition, restoration, and management. A similar account is also in development between the Service and The Nature Conservancy. Start Printed Page 17485
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 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as provided by the Department of 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. 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 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 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 the ITP. This notice is provided pursuant to section 10 of the Endangered Species Act and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).Start Signature
Dated: March 24, 2006.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. E6-4988 Filed 4-5-06; 8:45 am]
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