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 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
APPLICANT: Citrus County Aquatic Services
Attn: Mark Edwards
1300 South Lecanto
Brooksville, FL 34601
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed project involves the deployment of additional material within the artificial reef area designated Citrus County Fish Haven 1 (CCFH 1). Citrus County Fish Haven 1 is generally located approximately 25 miles west of the Town of Homosassa. Specifically, CCFH 1 is a 31.96 acre area (625-feet-wide by 2,229-foot-long rectangular area) located 19.2 miles off of the Crystal River sea buoy on a heading of 246 degrees.
Directions to the site are as follows: From the Crystal River sea buoy take a 246 degree heading for 19.2 miles to arrive at CCFH 1.
CCFH 1 (31.96 acres)
Basic: The basic project purpose is marine fisheries enhancement.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to reinitiate deployments within an existing artificial reef site to further enhance fisheries resources in order to provide additional marine life habitat, recreational fishing locations, and scuba diving sites off the coast of Citrus County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed project site is an existing 31.96 acre artificial reef site which was first established in 1982. The substrate at the site is characterized by a 3 to 6 inch layer of firmly packed sand over a limestone formation. Benthic surveys of the site ranging in time from its establishment to 2007 reveal that the project site continues to exhibit these characteristics. Since the reef site’s inception, the applicant has consistently deployed concrete materials within CCFH 1 consisting of items such as concrete “Lincoln Logs” and culverts. The site continues to exhibit sufficient areas of bare bottom to accommodate additional deployments of similar materials without impacting submerged aquatic vegetation, live hardbottom or corals.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to reinitiate and continue deployments of concrete material, natural rock boulders, and pre-fabricated artificial reef modules within the existing boundaries of the CCFH 1 artificial reef site for 10 years.
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 selected sites that are devoid of submerged aquatic vegetation or corals, and where there are no natural rock outcrops or hard bottom formations. In order to ensure that the deployed materials remain in place within the authorized boundaries, the applicant agrees to deploy materials that weigh a minimum of 500 pounds. Furthermore, the applicant seeks to deploy only materials clean and free from asphalt, creosote, petroleum, other hydrocarbons and toxic residues, loose free floating material or other deleterious substances.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION –The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
The applicant does not propose impacts to submerged vegetation, macro algae, corals, or live hardbottom. Therefore, the applicant did not provide a compensatory mitigation plan.
DEPTH, PROFILE & CLEARANCE: According to the applicant water depths at the site range from 27 to 32 feet deep. The applicant proposes to deploy structures with a vertical height of 10 feet or less. Thus, the minimum depth clearance the applicant proposes is -17 feet relative to mean low water at the project site.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: Benthic surveys of the CCFH 1 site consistently reveal a 3 to 6 inch deep sand layer laying over a limestone rock formation. Thus, the applicant has not observed any evidence that the proposed deployment sites contain any cultural resources, or sites listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also important to note that the deployment of types of material described above does not involve substantial ground-disturbing activity. The applicant stated that the weight of the modules is sufficient to anchor them at the deployment site. Furthermore, 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.
(a) National Marine Fisheries Service Florida Statewide Programmatic Biological Opinion: On December 4, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) signed the Florida Statewide Programmatic Biological Opinion (SWPBO). The SWPBO is based on the NMFS review of the impacts associated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District's (USACE's) authorization of minor in-water activities throughout Florida. The SWPBO analyzes the effects from 11 categories of activities, including the deployment of artificial reefs, on sea turtles (loggerhead, leatherback, Kemp's ridley, hawksbill, and green); smalltooth sawfish; Johnson's seagrass; sturgeon (Gulf, shortnose, and Atlantic); corals (elkhom, staghom, boulder star, mountainous star, lobed star, rough cactus, and pillar); North Atlantic right whales; and designated critical habitat for Johnson's seagrass, smalltooth sawfish, Gulf sturgeon, loggerhead sea turtle, North Atlantic right whale, and elkhom and staghom corals in accordance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The Corps has determined that the proposed project falls within the scope of the SWPBO. The Corps will request concurrence with this determination with the Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate correspondence.
(b) Manatee: The Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus). Since the proposal by the applicant is for in-water construction, potential impacts to the endangered West Indian manatee were evaluated using The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida, April 2013 (Key). Use of this Key resulted in the following sequential determination: ABCGNOP5 may affect, not likely to adversely affect. The proposed project neither involves dredging, nor increases watercraft access to the project site. Furthermore, the applicant elects to adhere to the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work, 2011. Therefore, according to the key, a may affect but is not likely to adversely affect determination is appropriate. By letter dated 25 April 2013, the FWS stated that for proposed in-water activities analyzed with the April 2013 version of the Manatee Key in which the Corps reaches a may affect, not likely to adversely affect determination with respect to the manatee 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.
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 deployments would occur over 31.96 acres of marine bottom potentially utilized by various life stages of the following species covered within the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Plan: Shrimp; Reef Fish; Stone Crab; and, Coastal Migratory Pelagics. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries within the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed deployment areas support a bare bottom as described above. 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 15 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 email@example.com; by facsimile transmission at (352) 264-7733; 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. Artificial reefs that are constructed in Florida's coastal zone require coordination with the state for Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Consistency as required under Section 307(c) of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1456(c)). This coordination is required even when the state does not issue or require a state permit.
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.