Corps of Engineers and City of Jacksonville officials sign agreement for
Big Fishweir Creek Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration project
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District commander signed a project partnership agreement with the City of Jacksonville for the Big Fishweir Creek Aquatic Restoration project June 7.
With the signed agreement, the aquatic restoration project now moves into the design and permitting phase.
“Signing this agreement with the City of Jacksonville is good news for the community and its residents who will benefit from this local-federal partnership,” said Col. Jason Kirk, District commander. The project comes under Section 206 of Continuing Authorities Program.
Big Fishweir Creek is an urban tributary of the St. Johns River, located roughly 4 miles south of downtown Jacksonville. The creek enters the St. Johns River (an American Heritage River) just north of the Ortega River, and is considered Essential Fish Habitat.
Due to urbanization, including encroachment along the banks of the creek, sediments transported by storm events have covered the natural creek bottom. This has caused a degradation of the natural habitat of the creek and creek banks. Big Fishweir Creek is classified by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as a Florida Class III Waterbody. In short, a Class III Waterbody should be “swimmable and fishable.”
The goal of the Big Fishweir Creek project is to restore healthy aquatic habitat in the creek by providing ecological benefits. The plan includes removing sediment, restoring habitat for manatee and other native species, removing exotic vegetation, restoring submerged and emergent aquatic vegetation, and restoring wetlands. The most notable benefit of the plan is the restoration of suitable habitat for the federally endangered manatee. Re-establishment of deep stream channels will once again allow manatee access and assist them in migration.
“The signing of the project partnership agreement signifies our continued partnership with the City of Jacksonville. Our team is ready to move forward with designing and permitting for this significant aquatic ecosystem project in our local community,” said Project Manager Jason Harrah.
A Corps team is starting the project design this month and estimates its completion in June 2019. Project construction is subject to future federal and non-federal appropriations. Harrah estimates the team will be ready to advertise a construction contract in July 2019 barring any unforeseen issues.
The Corps will host a community meeting in August to provide an update on the project, and the public will have an opportunity to comment. Harrah says the Corps will announce the meeting details in late July.
For more information about the Continuing Authorities Program and the project, go to www.saj.usace.army.mil, missions.
District Commander Col. Jason Kirk, and project managers' 1st Lt. Evan Hansen and Jason Harrah smile broadly as Col. Kirk signs a project partnership agreement with the City of Jacksonville for Big Fishweir Creek June 7. (USACE photo by Joe Sahl)
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