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Notice

Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit for Construction of a Single-Family Home in Charlotte County, FL

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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.

SUMMARY:

Carmen and John Wilson (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 0.23 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 scrub-jay. These measures are outlined in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below.

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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 January 26, 2007.

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 South Florida Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1339 20th Street, Vero Beach, Florida 32960-3559. Please reference permit number TE118198-0 in such requests. Documents will also be available for public inspection by appointment during normal business hours at the Southeast Regional Office or the South Florida Ecological Services 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 Elizabeth Landrum, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, South Florida Ecological Services Field Office, Vero Beach, Florida (see ADDRESSES above), telephone: 772/562-3909, ext. 304, facsimile: 772/562/4288.

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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 TE118198-0 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.

Recent surveys by environmental consultants documented the presence of scrub-jays using the Applicants' property in Port Charlotte, Florida (Harbor Heights Subdivision). It was determined that one scrub-jay family, currently consisting of two adult birds, likely use the property as a portion of their territory. The scrub-jays using the subject 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.

Since the Applicants' residential lot falls within a known scrub-jay territory, it likely provides a portion of the foraging, sheltering and possibly nesting habitat needs for one scrub-jay family. Construction of the proposed Project may result in harm to scrub-jays, incidental to the carrying out of otherwise lawful activities. The destruction of 0.23 acre of habitat associated with the proposed residential construction may result in the take of one family of scrub-jays by reducing the amount of available habitat within their territory.

The Applicants propose to minimize impacts to the scrub-jay by conducting land clearing activities outside of the nesting season (March 1 through June 30). In addition, the Applicants would landscape only with native scrub oaks and other native scrub vegetation, and would avoid planting tall growing trees that could serve as perches for scrub-jay predators. The Applicants would not keep and would try to prevent free-roaming cats from residing on the property as these may prey upon young scrub-jays. The Applicants propose to mitigate the take of scrub-jays through contribution of $12,190 to an approved scrub-jay conservation fund. Funds in this account would be 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 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)(1)(B) 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 Act and National Environmental Policy Act regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

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Dated: November 9, 2006.

Cynthia K. Dohner,

Acting Regional Director, Southeast Region.

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[FR Doc. E6-22127 Filed 12-26-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4310-55-P