The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District released the Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and Proposed Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for updating the 1986 Okeechobee Waterway (OWW) and Lake Okeechobee (LO) Master Plan. A public workshop is scheduled in LaBelle and public comment will be accepted through September 21, 2018.
A Master Plan is required for each civil works project for which the Corps has administrative responsibility. It serves as a planning document that anticipates what could and should happen at a Corps project, but is flexible enough to address changing conditions. The primary goals of this Master Plan are to update the overall land and water management plan, resource objectives, and associated design and management concepts, which:
1. provide the best possible combination of responses to regional needs
2. contribute toward providing a high degree of recreation diversity within the region
3. emphasize the particular qualities, characteristics, and potentials of the project; and
4. exhibit consistency and compatibility with national objectives and other state and regional goals and programs.
This Master Plan update includes current and projected future land use and recreational sites adjacent to the OWW and LO Project. The project is located in south central Florida within Glades, Hendry, Lee, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, and Martin Counties.
This update of the OWW and LO Master Plan does not include operations of Lake Okeechobee or components of Herbert Hoover Dike Rehabilitation. Items related to those projects are or will be covered under separate studies and future NEPA assessments.
Features being considered for replacement from the current Master Plan are:
a. Conversion of the abandoned campground at Moore Haven West to a Wildlife Management Area with access to the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail and day use area. This area could potentially include a new canoe/kayak launching facility and repair or upgrading of the existing boat ramp.
b. Closure of the W.P. Franklin swim beach, while maintaining the picnic and fishing areas. Closing the beach would entail removing buoys and swimming signs and discontinuing sand renourishment, due to safety concerns. This site could include a canoe/kayak launch.
“Public health and safety were our primary considerations for the change at W.P. Franklin,” said Natural Resources Program Manager Nelson R. Colón. “We have had ongoing concerns regarding wildlife, water quality and proximity to boat traffic.”
The draft document and information regarding the public workshop and how to submit comments are available at: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/OWWMasterPlanUpdate/
The Corps invites interested parties to join us at a public workshop on Monday, August 13, 2018, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the LaBelle Civic Center (behind City Hall), 481 W. Hickpochee Avenue (State Road 80), LaBelle, Florida 33935.
The Corps will accept public comments on the Master Plan update during the 60-day period from July 23, 2018 through September 21, 2018.
Please submit comments by September 21, 2018 to OWWMasterPlan@usace.army.mil
or via mail to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
701 San Marco Blvd.
Jacksonville, Florida 32207-8915
The Corps invites the participation of federal and state agencies, Native American tribes, local agencies, interested parties, and individuals interested in providing comments and identifying any issues or concerns.
More information on Okeechobee Waterway Master Plan update is available at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/OWWMasterPlanUpdate/.