Public Notice Notifications

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SAJ-2016-02715 (SP-MMB)

Published May 22, 2017
Expiration date: 6/12/2017


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) and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:

APPLICANT: City of Punta Gorda
c/o Mark W. Gering, P.E., City Engineer
326 West Marion Avenue
Punta Gorda, Florida 33950

CO-APPLICANT: Mr. Robert N. McQueen, Trustee
Post Office Box 511249
Punta Gorda, Florida 33951

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The proposed project would affect waters of the United States associated with River Bay Canal, an unnamed residential canal, Alligator Creek, and mangrove wetlands located within the Charlotte Harbor watershed. The proposed project site is located at an interior waterway in southwest Punta Gorda Isles connecting River Bay Canal with an unnamed residential canal north of Sea Edge Drive and a dredged channel in Alligator Creek (ultimately Alligator Creek outflows into Charlotte Harbor). It is adjacent and west of a private residence at 5552 Sea Edge Drive, Punta Gorda, Section 25, Township 41 South, Range 22 East, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: From US 41 (Tamiami Trail), take Rio Villa Drive, make a left on Almar Drive; make a left at the fork in the road on to River Bay Drive; make a left on Sea Edge Drive; the site is the westernmost vacant parcel at the end of the street just past 5552 Sea Edge Drive.

Latitude 26.88636º
Longitude -82.05933º


Basic: navigation
Overall: create a secondary navigation channel between Punta Gorda Island and Alligator Creek for residents in the southern portion of Punta Gorda Isles

EXISTING CONDITIONS: This site consists of a mix of saltwater wetlands and disturbed uplands. The project site is located on a parcel on the south side of River Bay canal, bifurcated by an unnamed residential canal along Sea Edge Drive, with the remaining parcel fronting Alligator Creek. The area surrounding the site consists of Punta Gorda Isles residential development to the north and east of the proposed channel location. The remaining area to the west and south of the project area consists of mangrove wetlands and disturbed uplands. The mangrove wetlands consist of red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle), white mangroves (Laguncularia racemosa), and black mangroves (Avicennia germinans). The transition areas between the mangroves and upland areas consisted of green buttonwoods (Conocarpus erectus) and cabbage palms (Sabal palmetto). The ground cover in the transition area consists of saltwort (Batis maritima) and sea purslane (Sesusivium maritimum). The uplands primarily consisted of Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius). Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) consisting of shoal grass (Halodule wrightii) are present within the area. However, the SAVs were not located within the project footprint.

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to create a secondary navigation channel by performing the following work:

Dredging/Excavation for channel creation 50:

• Dredging of 9,500 cubic yards (cy) of 0.71 acres (ac) of mangrove wetlands (0.57 ac consists of red mangroves).
• Dredging of 2,200 cy of non-vegetated substrate within 0.70 ac of a residential canal.
• Dredging of 2,400 cy of non-vegetated substrate within 0.66 ac of Alligator Creek.
• Excavation of 0.12 ac of disturbed uplands to accommodate the channel.
• Dredging will be accomplished through mechanical means: barge-mounted trackhoe and a containment cell and land-based long-reach backhoe to transfer spoil material/sediment from the barge to the material-handling site.
• Spoil material/sediments will be temporarily stored at an adjacent upland site at 5552 Sea Edge Drive, Punta Gorda, Florida. The material will then be allowed to dry and will then be trucked offsite to an approved landfill for final disposal.
• Of the total amount of dredging impacts listed above, there will be dredging impacts to ~0.67 ac of smalltooth sawfish critical habitat (0.11 ac was previously dredged under the previously authorized Corps permit SAJ-2014-02967).

Excavation/wetland creation/smalltooth sawfish critical habitat creation

• Excavation of 0.14 ac of disturbed uplands to (+) 1 foot Mean High Water (MHW) to create mangrove wetlands
• Excavation of 0.20 ac of disturbed uplands southwest of the proposed channel to (-) 1 foot MLW to create critical habitat for the smalltooth sawfish and essential fish habitat.
• Installation of 35 piles to restrict boat access.

Riprap: The dredged upland areas will be stabilized with 295 linear feet (lf) of riprap, marked with pilings, and supporting mangrove planting areas at the crest. Approximately, 500 cy will be located beneath the Mean High Water Line (MHWL). 3 informational signs are to be placed at the toe of the riprap on both sides of the channel to warn boaters of submerged rock (a total of 6).

Seawalls: Construct 1,051 lf of cantilevered seawalls to facilitate channel access with zero side slopes. Install 68 wood fender pilings along the face of the seawall on 15 foot centers. The pilings are proposed to define the limits of the channel and provide temporary mooring for the simultaneous passage of two large vessels.

Signage & Markers: Install 24 wood pilings on 5 foot centers at the entrance to Smugglers Cut to prevent motorized vessel access.

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: A comprehensive evaluation of alterative channel alignments located between Ponce De Leon cut and Alligator Creek was completed by the City of Punta Gorda to arrive at a location that minimized wetland impacts. The channel alignment and design was completed to balance navigation impacts, piggy back on an already permitted channel alignment, and result in enhancements to wetland resources on private and public lands. All construction will take place utilizing Best Management Practices to minimize impacts to resources.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: Direct impacts to 0.71ac of mangrove wetlands will be mitigated through the purchase of mitigation banks credits from the Little Pine Island Mitigation Bank.

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is aware of historic property/properties within or in close proximity of the permit area. The Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as applicable pursuant to 33 CFR 325, Appendix C and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, by separate letter.


1)      Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas)
         Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea)
         Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbracata)
         Kemp's ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii)
         Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta)
         Smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) and its designated critical habitat (DCH)
         Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus)

The Corps has determined the proposed project will result in a “may affect, likely to adversely affect” determination for these species and the designated CH. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.

3)     West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) and its DCH

The Corps has determined the proposed project will result in a “may affect, likely to adversely affect” determination for the West Indian manatee and its DCH. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.

3)     Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus)

The Corps has determined the proposed project will result in a “may affect, likely to adversely affect” determination for the Florida bonneted bat. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the FWS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.

4)     Wood stork (Mycteria americana)

The effects of the project on the wood stork were evaluated using the Wood Stork Effect Determination Key dated 25 January 2010, amended on 18 May 2010. Use of the Wood Stork Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C > D >, which is a “may affect, not likely to adversely affect” (MANLAA) determination. Use of this key for the wood stork that results in a MANLAA does not require further coordination with the FWS.

5)     Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) [EIS]

The effects of the project on the EIS were evaluated using the EIS Programmatic Effect Determination Key dated 9 November 2007 (amended on 25 January 2010 and 13 August 2013). The sequential determination is as follows: A > B > C > D > 1 which is a MANLAA determination. Use of this key for the EIS that results in a MANLAA determination does not require further coordination with the FWS.

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 have direct impacts to 0.71 ac. of mangrove wetlands and estuarine water column and 1.36 ac of non-vegetated, mud, and sand substrate and estuarine water column utilized by various life stages of red drum, reef fish, and shrimp. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would 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. The jurisdictional line has not been verified by Corps personnel.

AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued an Environmental Resource Permit and State-owned Submerged Lands Authorization on 5 May 2017 for the subject proposed project (Permit #0347059-001-E1).

COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Boulevard, Suite 310, Fort 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, Muriel M. Blaisdell, in writing at the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Boulevard, Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida 33919; by electronic mail at; by facsimile transmission at (239) 334-0797; or, by telephone at (239) 334-1975, ext. 0001.

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.