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Notice

Receipt of Two Applications for Incidental Take Permits for Construction of Single-Family Homes in Brevard County, FL

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AGENCY:

Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

Debra Jorden and Edward Webster (Applicants) each request an incidental take permit (ITP) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The Applicants anticipate taking a total of about 0.48 acre of Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) (scrub-jay) foraging habitat incidental to lot preparation for the construction of two single-family homes and supporting infrastructure, each over a one-year term, in Brevard County, Florida (Projects). The destruction of 0.48 acre of foraging habitat is expected to result in the take of two families of scrub-jays. The Applicants' Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) describe the mitigation and minimization measures proposed to address the effects of the Projects to the Florida scrub-jay. These measures are outlined in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below.

DATES:

Written comments on the ITP applications and HCPs should be sent to the Service's Regional Office (see ADDRESSES) and should be received on or before June 12, 2006.

ADDRESSES:

Persons wishing to review the applications and HCPs may obtain a copy by writing the Service's Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, Georgia. Please reference permit number TE111878-0 for Jorden, and permit number TE111877-0 for Webster, 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.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mr. David Dell, Regional HCP Coordinator, (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 404/679-7313, facsimile: (404) 679-7081; or Ms. Paula Sisson, General Biologist, Jacksonville Field Office, Jacksonville, Florida (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 904/232-2580, ext. 126.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

If you wish to comment, you may submit comments by any one of several methods. Please reference permit number TE111878-0 for Jorden, and permit number TE111877-0 for Webster, 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 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 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 Start Printed Page 27509xeric uplands (predominately in 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 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 which previously supported scrub-jay habitat.

Residential construction for Debra Jorden is proposed within Section 05, Township 29 South, Range 37 East, Palm Bay, Brevard County, Florida. Lot 8, Block 339, is within 438 feet of locations where scrub-jays were sighted during surveys for this species from 1999 to 2002. Residential construction for Edward Webster is proposed within Section 16, Township 29 South, Range 37 East, Palm Bay, Brevard County, Florida. Lot 16, Block 765, is within 438 feet of locations where scrub-jays were sighted during surveys for this species from 1999-2000.

Construction of the Applicants' 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 residential construction projects will reduce the availability of foraging habitat for two families of scrub-jays. On-site minimization measures are not practicable as the footprint of the two homes; infrastructure and landscaping will utilize all the available land area. The two lots encompass about 0.48 acre. Retention of scrub-jay habitat on these two sites may not be a biologically viable alternative due to increasing negative demographic effects caused by urbanization.

The Applicants propose to mitigate for the loss of 0.48 acre of scrub-jay habitat by contributing a total of $6,736 to the Florida Scrub-jay Conservation Fund administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Funds in this account are ear-marked for use in the conservation and recovery of scrub-jays and may include habitat acquisition, restoration, and/or management. The $6,736 is sufficient to acquire and perpetually manage 0.96 acre of suitable occupied scrub-jay habitat based on a replacement ratio of two mitigation acres per one impact acre.

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 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 HCPs would result in minor or negligible effects on the Florida scrub-jay population as a whole. We do not anticipate significant direct or cumulative effects to the Florida scrub-jay population as a result of the construction projects.

2. Approval of the HCPs would not have adverse effects on known unique geographic, historic or cultural sites, or involve unique or unknown environmental risks.

3. Approval of the HCPs would not result in any significant adverse effects on public health or safety.

4. The projects do not require compliance with Executive Order 11988 (Floodplain Management), Executive Order 11990 (Protection of Wetlands), or the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, nor do they threaten to violate a Federal, State, local or tribal law or requirement imposed for the protection of the environment.

5. Approval of the Plans 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).

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Dated: April 13, 2006.

Cynthia K. Dohner,

Acting Regional Director.

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[FR Doc. E6-7210 Filed 5-10-06; 8:45 am]

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