Demands on Marion County’s water utility infrastructure required the County to expand the parking facilities and accommodate future expansion needs at Treatment Plant #5 in the Marion Oaks subdivision. As a result of the presence of the federally listed Florida scrub jays observed onsite, Water & Air ecologists were asked to conduct a scrub jay survey to assess impacts of the proposed construction to the scrub jay population and habitat. Water & Air personnel used the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) survey protocol to identify scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) use on the 15-acre subject property over a 5-day period.
- Assessed habitat conditions throughout the site.
- Evaluated the use of portions of the property by Florida scrub jays.
- Determined the number of scrub jays using the property.
- Reviewed preferred and contingent mitigation options with the County.
- Prepared an Incidental Take Permit Application and Habitat Conservation Plan.
Following the survey, an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) application and Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) were prepared for the USFWS to address impacts to the resident scrub jay population and allow plant expansion. The County requested Water & Air conduct an evaluation of other mitigation options on nearby public lands; however, no suitable lands were available to mitigate onsite impacts. The County decided to participate in the Scrub Jay Umbrella HCP. The ITP and the HCP were approved by the USFWS and construction plans moved forward.