WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Lake Harris. The project site is located at Leesburg International Airport, 8807 Airport Boulevard, in Section 21 and 22, Township 19 South, Range 25 East, Leesburg, Lake County, Florida. .
Directions to the site are as follows: Procced east on Florida State Road 44 to Leesburg. Turn right onto U.S. Highway 441. Turn right onto Wilco Drive. Turn right onto Airport Boulevard. The specific project site is located at the southeastern extent of Taxiway A associated with runway 13-31.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is infrastructure development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to construct the seaplane launching and docking facilities necessary to support a full service seaplane maintenance facility to service seaplanes operating in the Harris Chain of Lakes region.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a freshwater system. Mixed Wetland Hardwoods (FLUCFCS 6170) is the dominate wetland system for the project area. The observed canopy vegetation primarily consisted of red maple (Acer rubrum), black willow (Salix nigra), pop ash (Fraxinus caroliniana), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), cypress (Taxodium distichum), Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia viginiana), water tupelo (Nyssa
aquatica). Other vegetation observed include lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus),
primerose willow (Lugwigia peruviana), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea),
royal fern (Osmunda regalis), netted fern (Woodwardia areolate), and Virginia
chain fern (Woodwardia virginica). However, a Mixed Wetland Scrub-Shrub (FLUCFCS 6460) wetlands scrub-shrub vegetative community is noted to occur in the southern portion of Seaplane Ramp area that was previously considered forested habitats, but have been regularly maintained by cutting down the tall trees to provide a clear line of sight and to provide safe airport operations. The dominant vegetation observed is Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana) and red maple (Acer rubrum). There is a wetland conservation area located to the west of the project site. Mixed residential and commercial development lies to the east of the project site.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge 15,000 cubic yards of fill material into 3.8 acres of wetlands and waters of the United States associated with Lake Harris in order to construct a 550 linear foot extension with hold ramp to taxiway A; a 40-foot-wide by 98-foot-long concrete seaplane ramp at the end of the proposed taxiway extension; a parking area for the extension and ramp; and a riprap revetment to stabilize the shoreline of the proposed development. The work also includes the construction of a T-shape dock consisting of an 8-foot-wide by 112-foot-long floating dock deployed parallel and connected to an 8-foot-wide by 75-foot-long floating dock via two 8-foot-wide by 25-foot-long platforms deployed in a perpendicular fashion to each of the floating docks all of which is connected to the parking area shoreline by a 5-foot-wide by 25-foot-long gangway leading to a 6-foot-wide by 127-foot-long access pier.
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION – The applicant has provided the following information in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment:
According to the applicant, the project involves the minimum amount of fill discharge necessary to accomplish the project purpose, and construct the proposed structures in accordance with the applicable safety standard. In addition, the applicant proposes to utilize the appropriate best management practices related to erosion and turbidity control.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant proposes to purchase credits from a Corps approved mitigation bank.
The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area. By copy of this public notice, the Corps is providing information for review. Our final determination relative to historic resource impacts is subject to review by and coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.
Furthermore, by letter dated April 23, 2015, the State Historic Preservation Officer provided an opinion that the proposed project would have no effect on historic properties listed, or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places provided that the applicant adhere to specific conditions and procedures related to any unexpected discoveries that may occur during construction. Reference DHR Project File Number 2015-1713 (2000-9800).
(a) Wood Stork: The Corps has determined the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect (NLAA) the wood stork (Mycteria americana). Since the applicant’s proposal involves construction within suitable foraging habitat for wood storks, the Corps utilized The Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office, and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida, September 2008 (key) to evaluate the proposed project’s potential impact on wood storks. Use of the key produced the following sequence indicating that that the project is not likely to adversely affect (NLAA) the wood stork: ABCDE(1). The proposed project site is located 9.6 miles southwest of the nearest known nesting colony. The proposed project would impact 3.8 acres of suitable foraging habitat. However, the applicant proposes to compensate for this habitat loss through the purchase of mitigation bank credits with a service area that encompasses the project site. In light of these facts, the key indicated that the project is NLAA the wood stork. In correspondence that accompanied the 2008 wood stork key, FWS stated that for projects which the Corps reaches a NLAA determination on the key with respect to the wood stork and/or its designated critical habitat, the FWS concurs with the Corps determination, in accordance with 50 CFR 402.14(b)1; and, no further consultation with the FWS is required.
(b) Everglades Snail Kite: The Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to affect the Everglades Snail Kite. The project site is not located within Everglades Snail Kite Designated Critical Habitat. Furthermore, the applicant did not observe any Everglades Snail Kites on or within the vicinity of the project site during any wildlife surveys or other required field work. The Corps will seek USFWS concurrence with this determination via separate letter.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): This notice initiates consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service on EFH as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 1996. The proposal would not impact any habitat type utilized by any anadromous or catadromous fish species. The proposed work would affect the waters and littoral wetlands of a freshwater lake which is not utilized by any such species. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico/Atlantic Ocean. Our final determination relative to project impacts and the need for mitigation measures is subject to review by and coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
NOTE: This public notice is being issued based on information furnished by the applicant. This information has not been verified or evaluated to ensure compliance with laws and regulation governing the regulatory program. The jurisdictional line has not been verified by Corps personnel.
AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and/or one of the state Water Management Districts.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Tampa Permits Section, Gainesville Field Office, 2833 NW 41st Street Unit 130, Gainesville, FL 32606 within 30 days from the date of this notice.
The decision whether to issue or deny this permit application will be based on the information received from this public notice and the evaluation of the probable impact to the associated wetlands. This is based on an analysis of the applicant's avoidance and minimization efforts for the project, as well as the compensatory mitigation proposed.
QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, James “Bo” Davidson, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, Gainesville Field Office, 2833 NW 41st Street Unit 130, Gainesville, FL 32606; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by facsimile transmission at (352)373-7733; or, by telephone at (352)264-7672.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Marine Fisheries Services, and other Federal, State, and local agencies, environmental groups, and concerned citizens generally yields pertinent environmental information that is instrumental in determining the impact the proposed action will have on the natural resources of the area.
EVALUATION: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including cumulative impacts thereof; among these are conservation, economics, esthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historical properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food, and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership, and in general, the needs and welfare of the people. Evaluation of the impact of the activity on the public interest will also include application of the guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, EPA, under authority of Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act or the criteria established under authority of Section 102(a) of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, State, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other Interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this determination, comments are used to assess impacts to endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT CONSISTENCY: In Florida, the State approval constitutes compliance with the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan. In Puerto Rico, a Coastal Zone Management Consistency Concurrence is required from the Puerto Rico Planning Board. In the Virgin Islands, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources permit constitutes compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Plan.
REQUEST FOR PUBLIC HEARING: Any person may request a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer within the designated comment period of the notice and must state the specific reasons for requesting the public hearing.