The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville District released the East Lake Tohopekaliga Drawdown and Habitat Enhancement (East Lake Toho) Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for public comment. Public comments are due by September 3, 2019.
The East Lake Toho Drawdown and Habitat Restoration Final EIS evaluates environmental effects of alternatives associated with a Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Regulatory permit application to lower the water level in the lake to facilitate removal of vegetation and other organic material in approximately 100 acres of littoral zone, and prescribed burning of roughly 200 acres of exotic vegetation. Project benefits include the reduction of organic sediment and nuisance vegetation; improved recreational fishery habitat and water quality in the littoral zone; improved foraging habitat for the Everglades Snail Kite; and improved navigation and boat access around the lake. Spoil material would be stored in two in-lake disposal islands totaling approximately six acres.
Based on public comment received in response to the Draft EIS, the Final EIS clarifies issues concerning water quality monitoring, vegetation management, upland disposal, impacts to Florida Sandhill Crane, property owner concerns with habitat islands, and secondary impacts. USACE also revised the compensatory mitigation analysis to clarify that the project provides a net benefit in aquatic resource functions and services, and no compensatory mitigation is required.
The proposed activity is regulated through USACE, pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 United States Code [U.S.C.] § 1344), Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. § 403) and Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C § 408). Additional authority is provided in 33 C.F.R. § 222.5, Water Control Management. The East Lake Toho Final EIS informs the public and agency decision-makers of FWC’s East Lake Toho Habitat Enhancement Project alternatives and effects on the quality of the human environment.
The EPA published the Notice of Availability (NOA) in the Federal Register on August 2, 2019. This information can be found on the Federal Register website: https://www.federalregister.gov/ . Interested parties may submit comments on the East Lake Toho Final EIS to USACE by September 3, 2019. In accordance with NEPA, USACE will not issue a Record of Decision (ROD) on the proposed action until at least 30 days after the NOA publication date. The ROD will state the Corps’ decision whether to authorize the proposed East Lake Tohopekaliga Drawdown and Habitat Enhancement project and, if authorized, the conditions under which it would be allowed to occur and the factors considered in the decision.
The East Lake Toho Final EIS is currently available on the USACE Jacksonville District website at: www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Items-of-Interest/
Scroll down to the East Lake Tohopekaliga Drawdown Environmental Impact Statement heading for additional information.
The documents may be downloaded directly at the following links:
Note: large files may take a few minutes to download
East Lake Toho FINAL EIS (and Appendices A-I): https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16021coll7/id/11916
East Lake Toho FINAL EIS Notice of Availability: https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16021coll7/id/11906/rec/10
A hardcopy of the East Lake Toho Final EIS is available at both the Cocoa Permits Section office (400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, FL 32926) and the St. Cloud Civic Center (3001 17th Street, St. Cloud, FL 34769).
Interested parties may submit comments on the East Lake Toho Final EIS to USACE by September 3, 2019.
- Comments may be submitted by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. All comments should include “East Lake Tohopekaliga Final EIS Comments” in the subject line.
- Comments may also be submitted by mail or hand-delivered to: Jeffrey S. Collins, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, FL 32926.
Questions about the Proposed Action and East Lake Toho Final EIS should be directed to Mr. Collins at 321-504-3771 or by email: email@example.com.
Info from FWC regarding the Proposed East Lake Tohopekaliga Habitat Enhancement Project: https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/habitat/ahcr/freshwater/tohopekaliga/