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Florida - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the State of Florida.

Antilles - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the Antilles area (this includes Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands).

Tropical Storms & Other Emergencies - These public notices provide information on procedures for emergency permitting requirements due to specific tropical storm events or other emergency situations.

Special Issues - These are public notices that involve the Regulatory program but which are generally not limited to one particular geographic area. These would include public notices for the establishment or modification of Restricted Areas/Danger Zones, re-issuance of General Permits or Nationwide Permits, changes to guidance and policies, etc.

Administrative Penalty - These public notices provide information associated with Administrative Penalties. An Administrative Penalty can be assessed to address violations associated with issued Department of the Army permits.

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SAJ-2012-01716 (SP-MRE)

Posted: 12/14/2017

Expiration date: 1/15/2018


TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received an application for a Department of the Army permit pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1344) as described below:

APPLICANT: City of Palm Coast
                      160 Lake Ave
                      Palm Coast, Florida 32164-2400

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States (wetlands) associated with Hominy Branch, which is a tributary to Styles Creek and, downstream, Pellicer Creek. The project site is located north of Matanzas Woods Parkway between Interstate 95 and North Old Kings Road, in Sections 23 and 26, Township 10 South, Range 30 East, City of Palm Coast, Flagler County, Florida.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 29.610076°
                                                                         Longitude -81.249046°

PROJECT PURPOSE:

Basic – The basic project purpose is the establishment of advance ecological mitigation for work that would adversely affect waters of the United States, including wetlands.

Overall – The overall project purpose is the establishment of advance ecological mitigation for several proposals that are planned, or being planned, by the City of Palm Coast, which would adversely affect waters of the United States, including wetlands.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site encompasses nine communities identified by the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCCS) developed by the Florida Department of Transportation.

Uplands – Two distinct upland communities encompassed by the property are Shrub and Brushland (FLUCCS code 320) and Pine Mesic Oak (FLUCCS code 414).

The Shrub and Brushland community is found throughout the property and represents a large portion (approximately 150 acres) of the site that was cleared for development and now is an early successional community. This community supports sapling slash pine (Pinus elliottii) of varying ages and densities, wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), grapevine (Vitis rotundifolia), rust weed (Rumex spp.), broomsedge (Andropogon spp.), gold-topped goldenrod (Euthamia minor), scattered saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), and goldenrod (Solidago spp.).

The Pine Mesic Oak community is located in the southwest region of the property and supports large live oak (Quercus virginiana), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) with an understory dominated by saw palmetto, wax myrtle, and gallberry.

Wetlands – Six distinct wetland communities encompassed by the property are Cypress (FLUCCS code 6210), Slash Pine Swamp Forest (FLUCCS code 6250), Wetland Forested Mixed (FLUCCS code 6300), Wetland Scrub (FLUCCS code 6310), Wet Prairies (FLUCCS code 6430), and Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (FLUCCS code 6440).

The Cypress community encompasses approximately 101 acres of the property and is present throughout the west and east portions of the site. These wetlands support varying densities of pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens) and scattered groups of swamp tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora). The understory supports fetterbush (Ludwigia lucida), wax myrtle, bogbutton (Lachnocaulon sp.), redroot (Lachnanthes caroliana), yellow-eyed grass (Xyris sp.), and Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica). Portions of the western cypress system have little or no cypress or other tree recruitment, as this wetland was previously clear-cut and experienced an intense wildfire in 2004. Distinct hummocks, buttressing, and moss lines are visible throughout this system; and, it continues off-site to the north and ultimately becomes a tributary of Pellicer Creek.

The Slash Pine Swamp Forest community is located in the northeast corner of the site and encompasses approximately 6 acres. This community is dominated by mature pine mixed with a few small pond cypress and an understory of wax myrtle, buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), fetterbush, and Virginia chain fern. Slash pines are extremely dense and numerous dead pond cypress are present within the pines.

The Wetland Forested Mixed community is located along the southwest region of the property. This community is dominated by slash pine, red maple (Acer rubrum), laurel oak, wax myrtle, Virginia chain fern, sedges (Cyperus spp.), and rushes (Juncus spp.).

The Wetland Scrub community type is found throughout the property and is best characterized as early successional wetlands due to past clearing activities. These wetlands are dominated by dense slash pine and wax myrtle with an understory dominated by various sedges, Virginia chain fern, yellow-eyed grass (Xyris spp.), and rushes.

The Wet Prairie community is located in the south region of the property. This community is best characterized as herbaceous wetlands dominated by beak-rush (Rhynchospora spp.), meadow beauty (Rhexia spp.), panic grass (Panicum spp.), yellow-eyed grass, and wax myrtle.

The Submerged Aquatic Vegetation community is found throughout the property and is associated with borrow pits dug by the previous land owner that are now open water bodies dominated by coontail (Ceratophyllum sp.) and bladderwort (Utricularia spp.). These borrow pits have very steep banks and appear to be 4 to 8 feet deep.

Surface Waters – Surface Water (FLUCCS code 500) specifically refers to a dredged ditch in the northeast corner of the site that flows north and connects into a ditch network on property to the north managed by the St. Johns River Water Management District. This community also includes the open water component of several borrow pits that were excavated when the site was cleared for development. These borrow pits have very steep banks and appear to be 4 to 8 feet deep.

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to create wetlands (by excavating upland areas and planting those areas with wetland vegetation), mechanically and manually remove target vegetation from existing wetlands (e.g., slash pine and nuisance/exotic vegetation), and conduct prescribed burns. The work would create wetlands and enhance existing wetlands.

AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION – The intent of the project is the creation, enhancement, and preservation of wetlands. To accomplish that goal, work within portions of the onsite wetlands is necessary and the total avoidance of work within wetlands would preclude the implementation of the project and attainment of the project goals.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The work is expected to generate ecological functional lift (gain); and, therefore, compensatory mitigation is not warranted for the work proposed.

USE OF FUNCTIONAL UNIT GAIN: The functional units (gain) generated by the project (a potential total of 20 functional units) would be used as compensatory mitigation for several City of Palm Coast future proposals, such as, but not limited to, the widening of Belle Terre, Old Kings Road, and/or Matanzas Woods Parkway; the Matanzas Woods, Pine Lakes, and/or Quail Hollow neighborhood parks; the establishment of the Central and/or Satellite community centers; and/or, several water control structure improvement projects. The applicant would compile a final list of proposals in conjunction with the finalization of any determination of ecological lift generated by any work authorized at the project site.

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps has determined the permit area has been extensively modified by previous work and there is little likelihood a historic property may be affected.

ENDANGERED SPECIES:

Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens): The project site is approximately 3 miles from the nearest identified nest or cluster location for Florida Scrub Jay; and, within the consultation area identified by the Corps and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for this species. Therefore, this species may utilize the project site. There is no designated critical habitat for the Florida Scrub Jay listed in the federal register (52 FR 20715-20719). However, information from the FWS indicates that the Florida Scrub Jay has extremely specific habitat requirements. It is endemic to peninsular Florida’s ancient dune ecosystem or scrubs, which occur on well drained to excessively well drained sandy soils. Relict oak-dominated scrub, or xeric oak scrub, is essential habitat to the Florida Scrub Jay. Optimal habitat incorporates four species of stunted, low growing oaks [sand live oak (Quercus geminata), Chapman oak (Quercus chapmanii), myrtle oak (Quercus myrtifolia), and scrub oak (Quercus inopina)] that are 1-3 meters high, interspersed with 10 to 50 percent non-vegetated sandy openings, with a sand pine (Pinus clausa) canopy of less than 20 percent. Therefore, Florida Scrub Jay habitat is absent from the project site. It is likely that this species only opportunistically forages within forested areas in the vicinity of the project site, which the project would not preclude. In consideration of the lack of appropriate habitat at the site, the local abundance of foraging habitat, and the distance to the nearest colony, the Corps determined that the project would have no effect upon this species.

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana): The project site is within the Core Foraging Area of the Matanzas Marsh (606109) Wood Stork colony. The project would alter less than 0.5 acre of suitable foraging habitat (the littoral fringe of several steep borrow pits) but create approximately 1 acre of suitable foraging habitat (freshwater marsh) for Wood Storks. In consideration of this information, the Corps utilized The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida, September 2008, to determine potential effects upon this species. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A-B-C-may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect.

The Corps executed a Resources At Risk (RAR) report. The RAR did not indicate that the site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species. The Corps also reviewed geospatial data and other available information. The Corps has not received or discovered any information that the project site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species.

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): This notice initiates consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service on EFH as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 1996. The project site does not encompass estuarine or marine habitat. Therefore, the Corps has determined that the proposed action would not have an adverse impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries in Pellicer Creek or other downstream waters. Our final determination relative to project impacts and the need for mitigation measures is subject to review by and coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

NOTE: This public notice is being issued based on information furnished by the applicant. This information has not been verified or evaluated to ensure compliance with laws and regulation governing the regulatory program. The jurisdictional line has been verified by Corps personnel.

AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and/or one of the state Water Management Districts.

COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232 within 30 days from the date of this notice.

The decision whether to issue or deny this permit application will be based on the information received from this public notice and the evaluation of the probable impact to the associated wetlands. This is based on an analysis of the applicant's avoidance and minimization efforts for the project, as well as the compensatory mitigation proposed.

QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, Mark R. Evans, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232; by electronic mail at mark.r.evans@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (904)232-1940; or, by telephone at (904)232-2028.

IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Marine Fisheries Services, and other Federal, State, and local agencies, environmental groups, and concerned citizens generally yields pertinent environmental information that is instrumental in determining the impact the proposed action will have on the natural resources of the area.

EVALUATION: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including cumulative impacts thereof; among these are conservation, economics, esthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historical properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food, and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership, and in general, the needs and welfare of the people. Evaluation of the impact of the activity on the public interest will also include application of the guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, EPA, under authority of Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act or the criteria established under authority of Section 102(a) of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, State, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other Interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this determination, comments are used to assess impacts to endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.

COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT CONSISTENCY: In Florida, the State approval constitutes compliance with the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan. In Puerto Rico, a Coastal Zone Management Consistency Concurrence is required from the Puerto Rico Planning Board. In the Virgin Islands, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources permit constitutes compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Plan.

REQUEST FOR PUBLIC HEARING: Any person may request a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer within the designated comment period of the notice and must state the specific reasons for requesting the public hearing.

Flagler County permit public notice U.S. Army Corps of Engineers USACE