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: Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners
c/o: Jim Trifilo
12540 North Eglin Parkway, Suite 100
Shalimar, Florida 32579
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The proposed buoy sites would be located in the Gulf of Mexico near the DeSoto Canyon, south southwest of the mouth of East Pass in Destin, ranging between 40 and 80 nautical miles south of the Florida shoreline.
Location Latitude Longitude
Buoy 1 29.669429° N -86.832420° W
Buoy 2 29.597946° N -86.938497° W
Buoy 3 29.526379° N -87.044423° W
Buoy 4 29.465848° N -87.133802° W
Buoy 5 29.405462° N -87.222779° W
Buoy 6 29.359334° N -86.879810° W
Buoy 7 29.242293° N -86.879810° W
Buoy 8 29.125251° N -86.879810° W
Overall: Establish network of eight (8) surface mooring buoys in the Gulf of Mexico to enhance recreational fishing opportunities.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed buoy sites would be located in the Gulf of Mexico near the DeSoto Canyon, ranging between 40 and 80 nautical miles south of the Florida shoreline. The habitat at each of the proposed buoy locations consist of soft sediments with no natural rock or hard bottom formations. The water depths of the proposed project area range from approximately -689 feet to -1857 feet at MLW.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks to place eight (8) surface mooring buoys in the northern Gulf of Mexico to enhance recreational fishing opportunities. The specific design of the buoys and mooring system would vary depending on the manufacturer selected to construct the system. Potential mooring line material may consist of cable or heavy gauge nylon with mooring components consisting of heavy gauge steel shackles, chains, and swivels with an anchor composed of heavy gauge steel and/or concrete. The buoy and mooring system would be designed to withstand the oceanographic conditions within the project area for the proposed design life, approximately 5 to 7 years, after which the buoy and mooring system would either be removed or replaced. Each buoy would include the following: Coast Guard approved solar-powered light, integrated radar reflection, and a remotely tracked GPS signaling device (for buoy retrieval in the event of mooring system failure). One of the buoys would be designed to carry an additional, limited amount of scientific equipment.
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 a site that is devoid of natural rock outcrops and hard bottom formations.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
No compensatory mitigation is proposed.
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 Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect, Gulf Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi), smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) and the following species of swimming sea turtles: green turtle (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricate), Kemp’s ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta). The Corps also determined the proposed project may affect species of marine mammals. The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
ESSIENTIAL 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 unvegetated bottom in the Gulf of Mexico which may be utilized by various life stages of species within the following Fisheries Managements Plans (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 in the Gulf of Mexico. 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.
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 Pensacola Permits Section, 41 North Jefferson Street, Suite 301, Pensacola, Florida 32502 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, Steve Andrews Jr., in writing at the Pensacola Permits Section, 41 North Jefferson Street, Suite 301, Pensacola, Florida 32502, by electronic mail at email@example.com, by fax at (850) 433-8160, or by telephone at (850) 439-0707.
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 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 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.