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Notice

Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for Sand Skink; Polk County, FL; Categorical Exclusion

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AGENCY:

Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION:

Notice of availability; request for comments and information.

SUMMARY:

We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce receipt of an application from Ernie Caldwell Properties, LLC (applicant) for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act. The applicant requests the ITP to take the federally listed sand skink incidental to construction in Polk County, Florida. We request public comment on the application, which includes the applicant's proposed habitat conservation plan (HCP) and the Service's preliminary determination that this HCP qualifies as “low-effect,” categorically excluded under the National Environmental Policy Act. To make this determination, we used our environmental action statement and low-effect screening form, both of which are also available for public review.

DATES:

We must receive your written comments on or before February 18, 2020.

ADDRESSES:

Obtaining Documents: You may obtain copies of the documents by any of the following methods:

  • Telephone: Alfredo Begazo, 772-469-4234.
  • Email: alfredo_begazo@fws.gov.
  • U.S. mail: Alfredo Begazo, South Florida Ecological Services Office, Attn. Sunbeam Properties, Inc. Permit TE54008D-0, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1339 20th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960-3559.
  • In-person: The documents may be reviewed by appointment during regular business hours at the above address. Please call to make an appointment.
  • Fax: Alfredo Begazo, 772-562-4288, Attn: Permit number TE54008D-0.

Submitting Comments: If you wish to submit comments on any of the documents, you may do so in writing via the above email address, U.S. mail address, or fax number, or you may hand-deliver comments to the above address during regular business hours.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Alfredo Begazo, by U.S. mail (see ADDRESSES), or via phone at 772-469-4234. Individuals who are hearing impaired or speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339 for TTY assistance.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce receipt of an application from Ernie Caldwell Properties, LLC (applicant) for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The applicant requests the ITP to take the federally listed sand skink (Neoseps reynoldsi) incidental to the construction of a residential development project in Polk County, Florida. We request public comment on the application, which includes the applicant's proposed habitat conservation plan (HCP) and the Service's preliminary determination that this HCP qualifies as “low-effect,” categorically excluded under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). To make this determination, we used our environmental action statement and low-effect screening form, both of which are also available for public review.

Project

Ernie Caldwell Properties, LLC, requests a 10-year ITP to take sand skink by converting approximately 7.81 acres of occupied skink foraging and sheltering habitat incidental to construction of a residential development on a 122.57-acre parcel in Section 15, Township 26 South, Range 27 East, Polk County, Florida. The applicant proposes to mitigate for take of the sand skink by purchasing credits equivalent to 15.62 acres of skink-occupied habitat from a Service-approved mitigation bank in Polk County. The Service would be required to purchase the credits prior to engaging in any phase of the project.

Public Availability of Comments

Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made available to the public. While you may request that we withhold your personal identifying information, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Our Preliminary Determination

The Service has made a preliminary determination that the applicant's project, including land clearing, construction of the residential development, and the proposed mitigation measure, would individually and cumulatively have a minor or negligible effect on the sand skink and the environment. Therefore, we have preliminarily concluded that the ITP for this project would qualify for categorical exclusion and the HCP would be low effect under our NEPA regulations at 43 CFR 46.205 and 46.210. A low-effect HCP is one that would result in (1) minor or negligible effects on federally listed, proposed, and candidate species and their habitats; (2) minor or negligible effects on other environmental values or resources; and (3) impacts that, when considered together with the impacts of other past, present, and reasonable foreseeable similarly situated projects, would not result in significant cumulative effects to environmental values or resources over time.

Next Steps

The Service will evaluate the application and the comments to determine whether to issue the requested permit. We will also conduct an intra-Service consultation pursuant to section 7 of the ESA to evaluate the effects of the proposed take. After considering the preceding findings, we will determine whether the permit issuance criteria of section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA have been met. If met, the Service will issue ITP number TE54008D-0 to Ernie Caldwell Properties, LLC for incidental take of sand skink.

Authority

The Service provides this notice under section 10(c) (16 U.S.C. 1539(c)) of the ESA and NEPA regulation 40 CFR 1506.6.

Start Signature

Roxanna Hinzman,

Field Supervisor, South Florida Ecological Services Office.

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[FR Doc. 2020-00630 Filed 1-15-20; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4333-15-P