For the first time in four years, Regulatory Division traveled Jacksonville District’s territory, from the Florida Panhandle to the Antilles, to offer a full day of information to stakeholders, partners, consultants and the public.
Billed as “Strategies for Success,” each of the open house events featured presentations about endangered species, mitigation, alternatives analysis and indirect effects as well as a programmatic overview. Each venue also included a presentation focused on issues relevant to that specific region.
“We have always found this type of outreach to have significant and long-lasting benefits, both for the public and for us,” said Donnie Kinard, chief of the Regulatory Division. “As a result of these events, we find we receive more complete permit applications and fewer inquiries that take our time and attention away from processing actions. This outreach also helps us to build productive relationships.”
Tori White, deputy chief of the Regulatory Division, agreed. “It had been about four years since the last time we did a series like this on the road, so we had a lot of new information to share, such as the proposed new Clean Water Act rule, and our new Indirect Effects Tool, both of which were open for public comment.
“We called this Open House series ‘Strategies for Success’ because the information we provided will help ensure more successful applications,” explained White. “And applications are successful when they demonstrate attention to identifying and analyzing potential alternatives that have less impact on aquatic resources; when they show that impacts to endangered species have been fully considered and minimized or eliminated; when direct and indirect or secondary and cumulative effects have been analyzed; and when they include a comprehensive mitigation plan to address unavoidable impacts to wetlands.”
Between June and September, Regulatory team members traveled to Bradenton, Duck Key, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Panama City and Orlando, Florida as well as to San Juan, Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Audiences in each venue were interested, engaged and appreciative.
In a note to Col. Alan Dodd, district commander, an attendee to the Bradenton and Orlando events wrote, “The Open Houses were very well done and informative. It was also a nice opportunity to chat informally with Army Corps representatives. Thank you for the effort and commitment to support these events. As a member of the regulated community, we were very pleased to attend and found the information provided valuable.”
In response to audience requests, presentations have been added to Jacksonville District’s website at: http://1.usa.gov/1nlxPnh. A series of video recaps is being prepared and will be posted at a later date.