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Notice

Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit for Construction of Four Single-Family Homes in Brevard County, Florida

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION:

Notice.

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SUMMARY:

Laura and Tariq Hussain (Applicants) request an incidental take permit (ITP) for a duration of one year, pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The Applicants anticipate removal of about 0.97 acre of Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) (scrub-jay) foraging, sheltering, and possibly nesting habitat, incidental to lot preparation for the construction of four single-family homes and supporting infrastructure in Brevard 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 scrub-jay. These measures are outlined in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below.

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 November 17, 2006.

ADDRESSES:

Persons wishing to review the application and HCP may obtain a copy by writing the Service's Southeast Regional Office, 1875 Century Boulevard, Suite 200, Atlanta, Georgia 30345 (Attn: Endangered Species Permits), or the Service's Jacksonville Field Office, Fish and Wildlife Service, 6220 Southpoint Drive, Suite 310, Jacksonville, Florida 32216-0912. Please reference permit number TE118200-0 in such requests. Documents will also be available for public inspection by appointment during normal business hours at the Southeast Regional Office or the Jacksonville Field Office.

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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 Paula Sisson, Fish and Wildlife 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 TE118200-0 in such comments. You may mail comments to the Service's Southeast Regional Office (see ADDRESSES). You may also comment via the internet to “david_dell@fws.gov”. 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 above (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 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 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.

According to scrub-jay surveys accomplished from 1999 through 2003, proposed residential construction on the Applicants' four lots in the City of Palm Bay (Port Malibar Subdivision) would take place within 438 feet of locations where scrub-jays were sighted. Scrub-jays using the subject residential lots and adjacent properties are part of a larger complex of scrub-jays located in a matrix of urban and natural settings in areas of southern Brevard and northern Indian River counties. Within the City of Palm Bay, 20 families of scrub-jays persist in habitat fragmented by residential development.

Since the Applicants' four residential lots fall within the 438-foot buffer established for two known scrub-jay territories, the lots likely provide scrub-jays with foraging, sheltering, and possibly nesting habitat. Accordingly, loss of this habitat due to residential construction could result in the take of two scrub-jay families, by reducing the amount of available habitat.

The Applicants propose to minimize impacts to the scrub-jay by avoiding land clearing activities on any lot during the nesting season (March 1 through June 30) if active nests are found. The Applicants propose to mitigate the take of scrub-jays through contribution of $16,296 to The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Fund for the management and conservation of the Florida scrub-jay. Funds in this account are earmarked for use in the conservation and recovery of scrub-jays, including habitat acquisition, restoration, and management.

The Service has determined that the Applicants' proposal, including the proposed mitigation and minimization measures, would 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 would qualify as a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act, 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. 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 Service 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 would 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 an ITP. This notice is provided pursuant to section 10 of the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

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Dated: September 21, 2006.

Cynthia K. Dohner,

Deputy Regional Director, Southeast Region.

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[FR Doc. E6-17341 Filed 10-17-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4310-55-P