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: Florida Department of Transportation, District 2
Attn: Mr. Van Humphreys
1109 South Marion Avenue
Lake City, Florida 32025
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the South Fork Black Creek. The project is located within Sections 27, 28, 33, and 34 of Township 6 South, Range 24 East, Clay County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From downtown Jacksonville, take I-10 West for approximately 11 miles and take exit 350 for SR-23 South. Continue on SR-23 South for approximately 15 miles and turn right onto SR-21 South. Go approximately 13 miles on SR-21 South to project site where SR-21 crosses the South Fork Black Creek.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 29.94277°
Basic: Linear transportation improvements.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to replace an existing bridge at SR 21 over South Fork Black Creek in Clay County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a freshwater system. SR 21 at the project location is a two lane paved rural highway, and is carried over South Fork Black Creek by a narrow two-lane bridge. All on-site habitats and land uses were classified according to the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS) (FDOT, 1999).
The existing two lane roadway, the entrance to a side road (Turkey Trot Road), and maintained road shoulders are classified as Roads and Highways (FLUCFCS 814). A church Religious (172) and an associated Cemetery (148) are located on the east side of the road at the southern end of the project.
On the east side of the road, the edges of two forested wetland types occur within the project area. The largest is associated with the South Fork Black Creek floodplain system. This wetland community is classified as Stream and Lake Swamps (615). Dominant species include bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), red maple (Acer rubrum), tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora), hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), bluestem palm (Sabal minor), and cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea).
The edge of a smaller forested wetland occurs south of the creek system on the east side of the road. This wetland is not part of the creek floodplain, and is dominated by different species. These include loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), slash pine (Pinus elliottii), netted chain fern (Woodwardia aerolata), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), red maple, and poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix). This wetland is classified as Wetland Forested Mixed (630).
The actual creek channel in the project area is classified as Streams and Waterways (510). his designation is given to the open water habitat that has little to no vegetation.
On the west side of the road, wetlands within the ROW are limited to Wetland Cut Ditches (511 WCD). This habitat type occurs as a long maintained narrow channel that flows south from north of Turkey Trot Road and into the main South Fork Black Creek channel on the west side of the bridge. Its purpose is stormwater conveyance. Vegetation in this wetland cut ditch consists of submerged vegetation such as red ludwigia (Ludwigia repens) and watergrass (Luziola fluitans).
The project area includes one Upland Cut Ditch (511 UCD) in the southeast quadrant of the existing bridge. This ditch section drains into South Fork Black Creek. This upland cut ditch is considered an other surface water (not a wetland).
Uplands within the project area (other than the existing roads and road shoulders) consist of Pine – Mesic Oak (414) habitat. Dominant species include slash pine, live oak (Quercus virginiana), water oak (Q. nigra), saw palmetto, bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum), gallberry (Ilex glabra), red maple, and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua).
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge fill material over 2.245 acres of waters of the United States (surface waters and wetlands) for the construction of a new bridge along SR-21 over the South Fork Black Creek.
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:
Avoidance and minimization of wetland impacts has been a major consideration of this project since its inception. Wetland impacts have been avoided and minimized to the maximum extent practicable. Some impact to wetlands and surface waters are unavoidable in order to construct the bridge over the creek. Impacts have been limited to the roadside edges of wetlands, where wetland functional value is already lower due to the presence of the existing road and bridge. The project will incur a total of 2.245 acres of fill which will require mitigation.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The functional values of the on-site wetlands and surface waters were established using the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM). This assessment concludes that the project will incur a total of 1.58 units of functional loss. FDOT proposes to purchase 1.58 wetland mitigation credits from a federally approved mitigation bank that is within the geographical service area covering the proposed project.
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 project is located within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Consultation Areas for the Eastern Indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couper) and Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis).
Eastern indigo snake: Potential impacts to the Eastern indigo snake were evaluated using The Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, January 2010 and revised August 2013. The Corps has programmatic concurrence with the sequential determination of A > B > C > NLAA pursuant to the Key. This determination is based on the applicant implementing the Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake and there are no gopher tortoise burrows, holes, cavities, or other refugia where a snake could be buried or trapped and injured during project activities.
Woodpecker: A large portion of the project area consists of existing roadways along the SR 21 corridor and improved pastures with only scattered trees. The woodpecker live and forage in mature pine forests, specifically those with longleaf pines averaging over 80 to 120 years old and loblolly pines averaging 70 to 100 years old. The red-cockaded woodpeckers live in groups with a breeding pair and as many as four helpers, usually male offspring from the previous year. Each group needs about 200 acres of old pine forest to support its foraging and nesting needs. There are no pine stands in or adjacent to the project area and the remnant pines are too young for nesting by red-cockaded woodpeckers. Therefore the Corps determination for the proposed project is “no effect” to the woodpecker.
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. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries in the unnamed wetlands. 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/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 Panama City Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232 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, Mr. Randy Turner, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232, by electronic mail at Randy.L.Turner@usace.army.mil, by fax at (904) 232-1904, or by telephone at (904) 232-1670.
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.