[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 234 (Thursday, December 7, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 57784-57785]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-26360]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-ES-2017-N145; FXES11130400000EA-123-FF04EF1000]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Availability of a 
Proposed Amendment to a Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the 
Florida Scrub-Jay, Manatee and Hardee Counties, FL

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received an 
application from Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC (Applicant) for amendment of 
incidental take permit (ITP) number TE236128-1 under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended, in Manatee and Hardee Counties, 
Florida. We request public comments on the application and accompanying 
proposed amended habitat conservation plan (HCP) as well as on our 
preliminary determination that the plan qualifies as low-effect under 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). To make this 
determination, we used our environmental action statement and low-
effect screening form, which are also available for review.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
January 8, 2018.

ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments or request copies of the 
application, HCP, environmental action statement, or low-effect 
screening form, by any one of the following methods:
    Email: [email protected]. Use ``Attn: Permit number TE236128-2'' 
as your subject line.
    Fax: Field Supervisor, (904) 731-3191, Attn: Permit number 
TE236128-2.
    U.S. Mail: Field Supervisor, Jacksonville Ecological Services Field 
Office, Attn: Permit number TE236128-2, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
7915 Baymeadows Way, Suite 200, Jacksonville, FL 32256.
    In-person: You may deliver comments during regular business hours 
at the office address listed above under U.S. Mail or inspect the 
application, HCP, environmental action statement, or low-effect 
screening form by appointment during normal business hours at the same 
address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin M. Gawera, telephone: (904) 731-
3121; email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Section 9 of the ESA and our implementing Federal regulations in 
the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 50 CFR part 17 prohibit the 
``take'' of fish or wildlife species listed as endangered or 
threatened. Take of listed fish or wildlife is defined under the ESA as 
``to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or 
collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct'' (16 U.S.C. 
1532(19)). However, under limited circumstances, we issue permits to 
authorize incidental take--i.e., take that is incidental to, and not 
the purpose of, the carrying out of an otherwise lawful activity.
    Regulations governing incidental take permits for endangered and 
threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively. The 
ESA's take prohibitions do not apply to federally listed plants on 
private lands unless such take would violate State law. In addition to 
meeting other criteria, an incidental take permit's proposed actions 
must not jeopardize the existence of federally listed fish, wildlife, 
or plants.

Applicant's Proposal

    Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC, is requesting amendment to existing 
incidental take permit number TE236128-1, which was issued on May 18, 
2012, and made available via the Federal Register on February 28, 2012 
(77 FR 12074). Permit number TE236128-1 authorized the take of 
approximately 75 acres (ac) of occupied Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma 
coerulescens) habitat incidental to land clearing and phosphate mining 
and of no more than three eastern indigo snakes (Drymarchon corais 
couperi) within each 5-year period throughout the 41-year-long duration 
of the permit within the 4,345-ac project area located on parcel 
#45400059, within sections 13, 22-27, and 34, Township 34 South, Range 
22 East, Manatee County, Florida. The requested amendment is to expand 
the area in which eastern indigo snakes may be incidentally taken to 
include an additional 900 acres located in sections 17, 18, 19, 20, 29, 
and 30 of Township 34 South, Range 23 East, in western Hardee County 
adjacent to the Manatee County parcel. No increase in the amount of 
take for the eastern indigo snake or the Florida scrub-jay has been 
requested. The HCP describes the measures the Applicant proposes to 
undertake to mitigate and minimize the effects of the project on the 
threatened Florida scrub-jay and threatened eastern indigo snake.

Our Preliminary Determination

    We have determined that the Applicant's proposal, including the 
proposed mitigation and minimization measures, would have minor or 
negligible effects on the species covered in the HCP. Therefore, we 
have determined that the ITP for this project would be ``low effect'' 
and qualify as a categorically excluded under NEPA, as provided by 43 
CFR 46.205 and 46.210. A low-effect HCP is one 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.

Next Steps

    We will evaluate the HCP and comments we receive to determine 
whether the ITP application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of 
the ESA. We will also evaluate whether issuance of the ITP complies 
with section 7 of the ESA by conducting an intra-Service consultation. 
We will use the results of this consultation, in combination with the 
above findings, in our final analysis to determine whether or not to 
issue the amended ITP. If the requirements are met, we will issue ITP 
number TE236128-2 to the applicant.

Public Comments

    If you wish to comment on the permit application, HCP, or 
associated documents, you may submit comments by any one of the methods 
listed above in ADDRESSES.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment

[[Page 57785]]

to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, 
we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

    Authority: We provide this notice under section 10 of the ESA 
and NEPA regulation 40 CFR 1506.6.

Jay B. Herrington,
Field Supervisor, Jacksonville Field Office, Southeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2017-26360 Filed 12-6-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P