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:
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Imperial River. The project site is located on the south side of Corkscrew Road, in Sections 29, 31, 32, Township 46 South, Range 27 East, Lee County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Take I-75 to Corkscrew Road. Exit east onto Corkscrew Road. Travel 25 miles east, the project site is on the south side of the road between Six L’s Farm Road and Carter Road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 26.43582◦
Basic: Single family residential development.
Overall: Construct a single family residential subdivision in southeast Lee County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The property is currently an active citrus grove with scattered areas of remnant native vegetation. Extensive ditching and berms have been constructed on the property. The existing area surrounding the project area consists of agricultural lands to the northwestern and southwestern boundaries, low density, and single family residences adjacent to the project’s southwestern and northeastern boundaries, and Panther Island Mitigation Bank along the southern boundary.
A total of 26 vegetation associations and land uses (i.e., FLUCFCS codes) were identified on the property. Active citrus groves occupy 1,161.44± acres or 79.5 percent of the site. The site contains scattered disturbed upland and wetland native habitats. These remnant native habitats have been impacted by the surrounding citrus groves, agricultural ditching and berming, and exotic vegetation infestation. Exotic vegetation infestation, primarily Brazilian pepper and melaleuca, exceeds 75 percent in most of the remnant native habitat area.
Melaleuca, Hydric (FLUCFCS Code 4241); Cypress, Disturbed (0-100% Exotics) (FLUCFCS Codes 6219 E1 through E4); Cypress/Pine, Disturbed and Drained (50-75% Exotics) (FLUCFCS Code 6245 E3); Cypress/Pine/Cabbage Palm, Disturbed (0-100% Exotics) (FLUCFCS Code 6249 E1 through E4); Freshwater Marsh, Disturbed (0-49% Exotics) (FLUCFCS 6419 E1 and E2); and Disturbed Land, Hydric (FLUCFCS Code 7401). Other surface waters (OSWs) total 77.20± acres or approximately 5.28 percent of the site. The prominent OSWs features are Ditches (FLUCFCS Code 514) and Disturbed Land, Other Surface Waters (FLUCFCS Code 7401)
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct a residential community that will require the discharge of dredged or fill material to only 1.5 percent (1.06± acres) of the total wetlands on-site. The remaining 98.5 percent of the existing wetlands will be preserved and enhanced by the Project.
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 site plan was designed taking appropriate and practicable steps to minimize wetland impacts. The applicant considered several design alternatives to minimize wetland impacts. The design of the site plan included appropriate and practicable steps to minimize (i.e., avoid) impacts to the higher quality wetlands and limit impacts to the lower quality, exotic infested wetlands.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
In order to offset the loss of wetland functions due to the Project’s proposed construction activities, the COE wetland mitigation plan consists of 9.45± acres of wetland enhancement and preservation, including 9.11± acres of mechanical removal of exotic vegetation with supplemental planting, and 0.34± acre of hand removal of exotic vegetation. A conservation easement granted to the SFWMD with third party enforcement rights granted to the COE will be placed over the 9.45± acre mitigation area.
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.
The Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources (DHR) issued a letter on March 7, 2016 indicating that the development of the Project site will have no effect on any historic properties eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, or otherwise of historical or archaeological value.
The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife concurrence with the following determinations pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act:
The Corps has made the determination of not likely to adversely affect for the eastern indigo snake and its designated critical habitat. The Corps has concurrence with this determination pursuant to The Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, January 2010 (Indigo Snake Key). Use of the Eastern Indigo Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A-B-C-NLAA. This determination is based on the applicant following Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake, February 2004.
The Corps has made the determination of not likely to adversely affect for the wood stork. The Corps has concurrence with this determination pursuant to The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, South Florida Ecological Services Field Office and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in South Florida, January 2010 (Wood Stork Key). Use of the Wood Stork Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A-B-C-D-NLAA. The project does not lie within any colony sites, and does not permanently affect suitable foraging habitat (SFH).
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has completed an evaluation of the impacts the work may have on the Florida Panther. The Corps utilized The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, South Florida Ecological Services Field Office and State of Florida Panther Effect Determination Key, February 19, 2007 (Panther Key). Use of the Panther Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A>B-May Effect since the project is located in a secondary focal area. Based on information available from a variety of sources, including the applicant plans, the project location in an already existing residential area, and the fact that it does not significantly increase traffic patterns, our initial determination is the project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the Florida Panther.
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 District Engineer through the 1520 Royal Palm Square, Suite 310, Ft. Myers, Florida 33919 within 21 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, Allison C. Murphy, in writing at the Ft. Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd., Ft. Myers, Florida, 33919; by electronic mail at Allison.C.Murphy@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (239)334-0797; or, by telephone at (239)334-1975 ext. 0008.
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.