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 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
APPLICANT: William Blackwood
627 Bay Esplanade
Clearwater, Florida 33676
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Mandalay Channel in Clearwater Harbor. The project site is located waterward of 627 Bay Esplanade, in Section 05, Township 29 South, Range 15 East, Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-275 S, take FL-60 W to Mandalay Avenue in Clearwater; continue onto Mandalay Avenue; drive to Bay Esplanade.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Overall: Mooring Field in Clearwater Harbor with access to support facilities
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project area is in the Mandalay Channel area of Clearwater Harbor. There is no submerged aquatic vegetation as determined by Schedule Ecological from the survey dated April 15, 2016, rechecked on June 28, 2016. The average water depth is 20-feet with sandy, unconsolidated sediment.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to install 42 mooring and 17 regulatory buoys for the operation of a 42-slip mooring field located on an approximate 20-acre portion of privately-owned submerged lands, within Mandalay Channel. The mooring field as designed shall accommodate vessels of various lengths up to a maximum length of 60 feet. The mooring field will be open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis. Support facilities for the mooring field will be provided by the Cove Apartments and its associated commercial marina property which includes restrooms, laundry, sewage pump-out facilities, fueling facilities, and garbage receptacles. An approved professional mooring installer will be contracted to install each buoy’s anchoring system. The helical screw system will be anchored into the sand bottom using a barge-mounted hydraulic tool. Chain, floats, and buoys will be installed according to the manufacturer specifications. Best management practices will be implemented by the marine contractor for the proposed installation activities.
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION: The applicant has provided the following information in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment:
The project area was surveyed and there are no protected aquatic resources present.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
The project area is in the Mandalay Channel area of Clearwater Harbor. There is no submerged aquatic vegetation present in the project area, as determined by Schedule Ecological on April 15, 2016 and rechecked on June 28, 2016. Since no resources will be impacted by the proposed project, no mitigation is proposed.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area. By copy of this public notice, the Corps is providing information for review. Our final determination relative to historic resource impacts is subject to review by and coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Smalltooth sawfish, or three species of swimming Sea Turtles. The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has determined the proposal may affect the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus mantus). Since the proposal by the applicant is for in-water construction, potential impacts to the endangered manatee were evaluated using the Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida (Key), dated April 2013. Use of the Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A-B-C-G-H-I-J-L-M > “May Affect”. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
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. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Mandalay Channel. 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.
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 Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610-8302 within 21 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, Caitlin Hoch, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; by electronic mail at Caitlin.S.Hoch@usace.army.mil; by fax at (813)769-7061; or, by telephone at (813)769-7074.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Preliminary review of this application indicates that an Environmental Impact Statement will not be required. 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. By means of this notice, we are soliciting comments on the potential effects of the project on threatened or endangered species or their habitat
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 of 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 decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act 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.