TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received an application for a Department of the Army permit pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1344) as described below:
APPLICANT: Naval Air Station Key West,
c/o Bobby J. Baker, Capt.
P.O. Box 9001
Key West, FL 33040
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Atlantic Ocean. The project site is located on an undeveloped jurisdictional wetland parcel immediately adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean; legally described as undeveloped Government land, Lot 6, of Big Coppitt Key, in Section 22, Township 67 South, Range 26 East, Big Coppitt Key, Monroe County, Florida 33040 (RE# 00121735-000000) (MM 10.5±). This project has been assigned permit application number SAJ-2017-00163 (SP-GGM), which should be referenced on all future correspondence.
Directions to the site are as follows: Take U.S. 1 South to MM10.5± Oceanside; turn left onto Boca Chica Road; project site is an undeveloped parcel (Lot #6) on the right hand side of the road. Contact the Naval Air Station Key West prior to visit the site for access to the property.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Latitude: 24.592807º North
Longitude: 81.652821º West
Basic: The basic purpose is habitat enhancements for the Roseate Tern and other shorebirds.
Overall: The overall purpose is to construct two nesting platforms for the Roseate Terns and other shorebirds to enhance habitat for the species within a protected area not accessible to the public within Big Coppitt Key, Monroe County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed project site consists of 5.8 acres of undeveloped jurisdictional wetlands dominated by red mangrove vegetation. The parcel is bordered by multiple undeveloped high quality wetland parcels on the east and by waters of the Atlantic Ocean on the south, north and west. The area proposed for the two nesting platforms is on the southwest end of the property near an existing borrow pit; this is the most disturbed wetland area and this is the area with the highest elevation within the entire parcel. A site inspection was conducted by the Corps on January 24, 2017 revealed no vegetation within the area proposed for impact. The ground was a sandy, mucky and marl soils with particles smaller than 3 centimeters stones. The parcel is tidal influenced and it is regularly inundated. The area propose for impact is covered with a thick layer of algal matting. The wetland system surrounding the area of impact consists of a pristine saltmarsh wetland with a coverage of mostly red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) and black mangrove (Avicennia germinnans). The parcel is dominated by tidal habitats such as red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle), juvenile fish, eastern oysters, tulip conch snail, and multiple other seashell species. Multiple seashore bird species such as the Reddish egret and Osprey were observed utilizing the site. The substrate is wet and regularly covered with tidal water.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct two (2) 288- square feet (ft²) Roseate Tern Nesting platform. The work involves the construction of one 288 ft² (24’ long by 12’ wide) elevated platform and the placement of 16 cubic yards (y³) of clean fill material to construct a second 288 ft² (24’ long by 12’ wide) at grade graveled bird nest platform with a 6:1 riprap slope and a silt fence will be install to contain the fill from spilling into adjacent wetland areas. Work is proposed in U.S. navigable waters in accordance with the enclosed site plans (6 pages).
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:
The applicant has designed the project to reduce wetland impacts by placing the proposed structure on the lowest wetland quality area, an unvegetated area at higher elevation than the surrounding wetland areas. Erosion control measures, such as silt fence, will be implemented in order to minimize potential secondary impacts to adjacent wetland areas. Materials will be taken to the site via non-motorized vessels and place by hand on site. No motorized equipment would be allowed on site. Furthermore the applicant has stated that the project would be overseen by the environmental Director of NASKW as to comply with all regulations.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
If compensatory mitigation is required, the appropriate number of mitigation credits shall be purchased from the Keys Restoration Fund (KRF). The functional assessment associated with this in-lieu-fee is the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM), which will be used to derive the appropriate mitigation credits.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: 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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has determined the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect (“MANLAA”) the Silver rice rat (Oryzomys palustris natator), Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri), the threatened Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) and the Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii dougallii). The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with these determinations pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has determined that the project will have “no effect” on any other listed threatened or endangered species, and/or designated critical habitat. Pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, no further consultation is required.
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 impact approximately 288 square foot of tidally influenced wetland which is considered EFH. The project site is located directly adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, a borrow pit and a red mangrove dominated wetland system that supports a submerged aquatic habitat in close proximity to the impact area and that can be utilized by various life stages of shrimps, fish, crabs, worms, sessile filter feeders such as oysters and sponges, and by microcrustaceans. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Florida Keys. 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 Miami Permits Section, 9900 Southwest 107th Avenue, Suite 203, Miami, Florida, 33176, within 21 days from the date of this notice (i.e. on or before March 14, 2017).
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, Gletys Guardia-Montoya at the letterhead address, by electronic mail at Gletys.Guardia-Montoya@usace.army.mil, or by telephone at 305-526-2515.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Preliminary review of this application indicates that an Environmental Impact Statement will not be required. 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. By means of this notice, we are soliciting comments on the potential effects of the project on threatened or endangered species or their habitat
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 of 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 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 decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act 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.