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Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Receipt of Application for Incidental Take Permit Transfer and Renewal; Availability of Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan and Associated Documents; Polk County, FL

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Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.


Notice of availability; request for comment/information.


We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of an incidental take permit Start Printed Page 15808(ITP) transfer and renewal application and a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). Solterra Resort Community Development District (CDD) and AK Oakmont LLC (co-applicants) request transfer and renewal of ITP TE098035-1 under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The co-applicants anticipate taking about 18.59 acres of feeding, breeding, and sheltering habitat used by the sand skink (Neoseps reynoldsi) and blue-tailed mole skink (Eumeces egregius lividus) (skinks) incidental to land preparation and construction in Polk County, Florida. The applicants' HCP describes proposed minimization measures and mitigation measures to address the effects of development on the covered species.


We must receive your written comments on the ITP application and HCP on or before April 24, 2015.


See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for information on how to submit your comments on the ITP application and HCP. You may obtain a copy of the ITP application and HCP by writing the South Florida Ecological Services Office, Attn: Permit number TE098035-1, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1339 20th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960-3559. In addition, we will make the ITP application and HCP available for public inspection by appointment during normal business hours at the above address.

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Mr. Al Begazo, South Florida Ecological Services Office (see ADDRESSES); telephone: 772-469-4234.

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Submitting Comments

If you wish to comment on the ITP application or HCP, you may submit comments by any one of the following methods:

Email: Use “Attn: Permit number TE098035-1” as your message subject line.

Fax: Al Begazo, 772-469-4234, Attn.: Permit number “TE098035-1.”

U.S. mail: Al Begazo, South Florida Ecological Services Field Office, Attn: Permit number “TE098035-1,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1339 20th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960-3559.

In-person drop-off: You may drop off comments or request information during regular business hours at the above office address.

Public Availability of Comments

Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comments, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can request in your comments that your personal identifying information be withheld from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Applicants' Proposed Project

We received an application from the co-applicants for an incidental take permit, along with a proposed habitat conservation plan. The co-applicants request a transfer and 15-year renewal of an ITP under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). If we approve the application, the co-applicants anticipate taking a total of approximately 18.59 acres of skink breeding, feeding, and sheltering habitat, incidental to land preparation and construction in Sections 9, 10, and 15, Township 26 South, Range 23 East, Polk County, Florida. The co-applicants currently have a specific site plan that includes the construction of one or more residences, buildings, roads, green areas, structures, and parking areas, and installation of associated utilities. The co-applicants propose to transfer and renew this project without changes, and have complied with all the mitigation requirements set forth in the initial review and permitting of the project.

The co-applicants propose to minimize impacts to skinks by preserving a total of 71.14 acres of suitable skink habitat on site. The preservation parcel has been put under a conservation easement granted to Polk County and will be managed in perpetuity. The Service listed the sand skink and the blue-tailed mole skink as threatened in 1987 (November 6, 1987; 52 FR 42658, effective December 7, 1987).

Our Preliminary Determination

The Service has made a preliminary determination that the co-applicants' project, including the mitigation measures, will individually and cumulatively have a minor or negligible effect on the species covered in the HCP. Therefore, issuance of the ITP is a “low-effect” action and qualifies as a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (40 CFR 1506.6), as provided by the Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM 2 Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6 Appendix 1). We base our preliminary determination that issuance of the ITP qualifies as a low-effect action on the following three criteria: (1) Implementation of the project would result in minor or negligible effects on federally listed, proposed, and candidate species and their habitats; (2) Implementation of the project would result in minor or negligible effects on other environmental values or resources; and (3) Impacts of the project, considered together with the impacts of other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable similarly situated projects, would not result, over time, in cumulative effects to environmental values or resources that would be considered significant. This preliminary determination may be revised based on our review of public comments that we receive in response to this notice.

Next Steps

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. 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 transfer and renew the ITP. If it is determined that the requirements of the Act are met, the ITP will be transferred and renewed.

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Authority: We provide this notice under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

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Robert (Bob) Progulske,

Everglades Program Supervisor, South Florida Ecological Services Office.

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[FR Doc. 2015-06787 Filed 3-24-15; 8:45 am]