Department of the Army
Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District
Planning and Policy Division
February 9, 2023
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District (Corps) is beginning preparation of an integrated Feasibility Study and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document to address coastal storm damages and risks in the City of St. Augustine, St. Johns County, Florida. The City of St. Augustine is the Non-Federal Sponsor (NFS) for this feasibility study, utilizing authority granted under House Resolution 2646, in accordance with Section 110 of the River and Harbor Act of 1962, Public Law 87-874. The Corps is currently gathering information to define issues and concerns that will be addressed in an analysis to be prepared in compliance with the NEPA.
The City of St. Augustine is located on the Atlantic Coast in the vicinity of the Tolomato, Matanzas, and San Sebastian rivers which includes a portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in St. Johns County, Florida (see Figure 1). The study area encompasses the City of St. Augustine’s municipal boundary which consists of residential dwellings, commercial businesses, significant historic and cultural areas, as well as wetlands, waterways, fish and wildlife resources, and Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) units (Usina Beach Unit P04A, Conch Island Unit P05, and Conch Island P05P - Otherwise Protected Area (OPA)) as designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see Figure 2).
Section 110 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1962 provides authority for the Corps to develop and construct projects for coastal storm risk management (CSRM). The purpose of the St. Augustine Back Bay CSRM Feasibility Study is to reduce the risk of future coastal storm damages in the study area driven by flooding, erosion, and wave attack, along with the effects of future sea level rise and tidal flooding. These hazards threaten infrastructure and public safety in the City’s municipal boundary from the surrounding rivers and waterways and reduce the environmental quality of the adjacent waters and wetlands. Infrastructure located in the study area includes residential homes, public parkland, residential and commercial properties, cultural resources, roads, and major hurricane evacuation routes (Florida State Road A1A, State Road Route 1, State Road 312, State Road 16, State Road 214, San Marco Avenue, Anastasia Park Road, and A1A Beach Boulevard).
The objectives of the study include (1) reduce flooding caused by coastal storms, extreme high tides, and future projected sea level rise in the study area; (2) explore opportunities to increase community resiliency from future coastal storms. Issues that are anticipated include concern for aesthetics, cultural resources, recreation, socioeconomics, environmental justice, wetlands, fish and wildlife resources, threatened and endangered species, CBRA Units, and water quality. CSRM measures to be evaluated may include a combination of structural (i.e., tidal gates, seawalls, revetments, levees, drainage improvements, building elevation, etc.), non-structural (i.e., relocation, buyouts, etc.), and natural and nature-based features (i.e., living shorelines, vegetated features, oyster reefs, and maritime forests).
The Corps welcomes your scoping comments, views, and information about environmental and cultural resources, study objectives, and important features within the described project area. There will be an opportunity to participate in a public NEPA scoping meeting on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Lightner Museum (City of St. Augustine) - 1st Floor, City Commission Meeting Room - 75 King Street, St. Augustine FL 32084.
Detailed meeting information, including how to access the meeting via livestream link will be published on the project’s website (https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Shore-Protection/St-Johns-County/St-Augustine-Beach-Florida-Back-Bay-Feasibility-Study/) and social media platforms (https://www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleDistrict/ and @JaxStrong). The Corps will accept written scoping comments regarding the proposed project via email to CESAJ-St.AugBackBayCSRM@usace.army.mil (recommended subject line: “St. Augustine Back Bay CSRM NEPA Scoping Comments”) or by U.S. mail to the address below through March 10, 2023.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District
Attn: Mr. Darren Pecora
701 San Marco Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32207-8915
All individuals who respond with scoping comments will be included in future mailings. Others may be added to the mailing by making a written request by email to the address above. All comments will be summarized, addressed, and used to inform the St. Augustine Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study.
If you have questions, please contact Mr. Darren Pecora at 904-232-2286 or via email at Darren.J.Pecora@usace.army.mil. Thank you for your assistance.
Gretchen S. Ehlinger, Ph.D.
Chief, Environmental Branch