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:
APPLICANT: Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) – District 1
Attn: Mr. Brent Setchell
801 N. Broadway Avenue
Bartow, Florida 33830
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District (LA-MSID) Canals, which ultimately flow to the Caloosahatchee River, a Traditional Navigable Waterway. The project site is located along an approximate 3.1 mile segment of State Road (SR) 82, from Homestead Road to the Lee/Hendry County Line, in Sections 26, 27, 28 34, 35 and 36 of Township 45 South, Range 27 East, in Lehigh Acres, Lee County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Interstate 75 (I-75) (northbound or southbound), exit at SR 82 (Exit # 138) and travel east for approximately 13.6 miles to Homestead Road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 26.524943°
Basic: The basic project purpose is linear transportation.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to provide additional capacity, improve transportation safety, enhance emergency evacuation capabilities, and increase regional connectivity of a critical roadway network which would accommodate the projected future population and regional growth, and meet the needs of the community, the central corridor of Lee County, and the north/central corridor of Collier County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: State Road 82 is currently a two-lane, rural highway which provides an important corridor for traffic movement between I-75 and Fort Myers to SR 29 and the Immokalee Community. The overall project area (limits of disturbance) encompasses approximately 77 acres, all of which are located within the maintained existing SR 82 right of way (ROW). Approximately 64.5 acres are proposed to be disturbed. There are three existing cross drains within the project limits. West of Eisenhower Boulevard., at Station 1143+13.09, there is a triple 58-inch by 91-inch elliptical reinforced concrete pipe. East of Wildcat Drive, at Station 1195+13.63, there is an existing 36-inch round reinforced concrete pipe. There is an existing triple seven-foot by six-foot box culvert at Station 1226+13.99. The first two cross drains serve as equalizers for the existing roadway ditches. The box culvert conveys water from the south to the north. (The existing drainage boundaries, local drainage basins, and outfall locations would be maintained in the proposed condition.)
Using the Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS), land uses within 500 feet of the existing SR 82 ROW (500 feet from each side of the existing pavement) occurrence include Herbaceous (Dry Prairie) (FLUCFCS 3100), Citrus Groves (FLUCFCS 2210), Roads and Highways (FLUCFCS 8140), Improved Pastures (FLUCFCS 2110), Pine Flatwoods (FLUCFCS 4110), Channelized Waterways with exotics (FLUCFCS 5129), Row Crops (FLUCFCS 2140), Palmetto Prairies (FLUCFCS 3210), Unimproved Pastures (FLUCFCS 2120), Wet Prairies (FLUCFCS 6430), Freshwater Marshes/Graminoid Prairie-Marsh (FLUCFCS 6410), Mixed Shrubs (FLUCFCS 6172), Reservoirs (FLUCFCS 5300), and Channelized Waterways, Canals (FLUCFCS 5120). These land uses account for approximately 100% of the land use/land cover within the project corridor. The applicant evaluated the waters of the United States boundaries within and abutting the project limits in accordance with Chapter 62-340 Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), the 1987 Federal Manual for Identifying and Delineating Jurisdictional Wetlands, and the 2010 Regional Supplement for Atlantic and Gulf Coast States. Following is the information provided by the applicant: The project is solely comprised of the existing SR 82 ROW (FLUCFCS 8140) and two small easements which include Channelized Streams and Waterways with exotics, Freshwater Marshes/Graminoid Prairie-Marsh, and Wet Prairies land covers. Other habitats adjacent to the proposed ROW include some areas of Herbaceous (Dry Prairie), Improved Pastures, and Citrus Groves. The surface waters (OSW) and wetlands were identified by the applicant and characterized according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Classification System of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United States.
Freshwater Marshes (Wetland 1 and Wetland 3): USFWS Classification: PEM1 / FLUCFCS Code: 6410 – Freshwater Marsh: Wetland 1 and Wetland 3 are classified as freshwater marsh/palustrine emergent wetlands with persistent vegetation (FLUCFCS 6410/PEM1). Both wetlands appear to be disturbed by the adjacent land development activities and existing roadway. This was evident from the presence of exotic plant species and mowing. The wetlands are comprised of cattail (Typha sp.), Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana), Peruvian primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana), dogfennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), and saltbush (Baccharis halimifolia). The systems contain moderate cover of nuisance/exotic vegetation (25-50%), primarily cattail and Peruvian primrose willow. (Permanent direct impacts to these wetlands are anticipated to be approximately 2.06 acres, consisting of 1.25 acres for Wetland 1 and 0.81 acres for Wetland 3. Secondary impacts are anticipated since the wetlands continue beyond the existing ROW; secondary impacts were estimated 25 feet outside the proposed ROW and are anticipated to be 0.25 acres to Wetland 1 and 0.29 acres to Wetland 3 due to construction and edge effects associated with adjacency to the proposed roadway.)
Wet Prairies (Wetland 2): USFWS Classification: PEM1 / FLUCFCS Code: 6430 – Wet Prairies: Wetland 2 is classified as a wet prairie/palustrine emergent wetland with persistent vegetation (FLUCFCS 6430/PEM1). This wetland appears to be disturbed by the adjacent land development activities and existing roadway. This was evident from tire tracks, presence of exotic plant species, and mowing. The wetland is comprised of bahia grass (Paspalum notatum), maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), and prostrate false buttonweed (Spermacoce prostrate). The system contains a low cover of nuisance/exotic vegetation (<25%), primarily Peruvian primrose willow. (Permanent direct impacts to Wetland 2 are anticipated to be approximately 0.32 acres. Secondary impacts are anticipated since the wetland continues beyond the existing ROW. Secondary impacts were estimated 25 feet outside the proposed ROW and are anticipated to be 0.14 acres to Wetland 2 due to construction and edge affects associated with adjacency to the proposed road.)
Surface Waters (OSW 3, OSW 4, OSW 5, OSW 6, OSW 7, OSW 8, OSW 10, OSW 11,
OSW 12, OSW 13, OSW 14, OSW 15, OSW 16, OSW 17, OSW 18): USFWS Classification: PEM1x / FLUCFCS Code: 5129 – Channelized Waterways with Exotics: These man-made drainage conveyances are classified as excavated palustrine wetlands with persistent, emergent vegetation (PEM1x). These systems are comprised of cattail, Carolina willow, Peruvian primrose willow, maidencane, dog fennel, and pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata). Some linear ditches are located in historic hydric soils, while others are located within upland soils. These features appear to provide foraging habitat for wood storks (Mycteria americana). (Surface water acreage impacts in the project area total 14.64 acres.)
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge dredged and/or fill material into waters of the United States associated with proposed improvements to a segment of SR 82. The work includes widening of SR 82 from a two-lane rural minor arterial roadway to a four-lane roadway, with an eight-foot inside shoulder, 10-foot outside shoulder (seven-foot paved). The median would ultimately be used to widen the proposed four-lane roadway to a six-lane suburban roadway in the future. A five-foot sidewalk is proposed for the northern side of the roadway, and an eight-foot multi-use path is proposed along the southern side of the roadway. The overall drainage design includes onsite linear treatment ponds designed to meet water quality (treatment) and water quantity (attenuation) requirements. The facilities would discharge into the LA-MISD Canals. The typical ROW width for this roadway section is 200 feet. The project area is approximately 77 acres, all of which are located within the maintained existing SR 82 ROW. No additional ROW or land acquisitions will be needed for the mainline roadway for this project. However, one additional parcel was purchased to accommodate the storm drain pipe to connect the roadway runoff to the LA-MSID Canal. Additional easements have also been recorded to accommodate the connection between the FDOT drainage system and the LA-MSID Canals. Approximately 2.38 acres of palustrine emergent wetlands are proposed to be directly/permanently impacted, and approximately 0.68 acre of palustrine emergent wetlands are proposed to be indirectly/secondarily impacted. Additionally, approximately 14.64 acres of other surface waters are proposed to be directly/permanently impacted. The project is associated with FDOT Financial Project ID Number 425841-4-32-01.
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 proposed roadway improvements have undergone previous federal, state, and local agency review, comment, and coordination through the FDOT Advance Notification and Project Development & Environment (PD&E) Study process. All practical efforts have been made to minimize and avoid wetland impacts within the project boundaries. It was determined by the applicant that the proposed design represents the minimum amount of fill required in order to achieve the project purpose and meet the FDOT’s safety criteria and drainage requirements. Natural wetland impacts within the existing ROW are proposed to edges of systems that are already of lower quality, as they currently collect and treat some current runoff. The project would be constructed in accordance with the Section 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC), and Best Management Practices (BMPs) would be implemented during construction to prevent water quality degradation. The stormwater treatment facility would be improved and upgraded to fully treat and attenuate all anticipated stormwater. In accordance with the latest edition of FDOT's Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Construction, the adjacent offsite waters would be protected by erosion control measures, including staked turbidity barriers, floating turbidity barriers, geotextile hay bales, or a combination thereof, as well as sediment monitoring.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: The applicant utilized both the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM) and the Wetland Rapid Assessment Procedure (WRAP) to evaluate the aquatic resources proposed to be impacted. The applicant’s findings indicated that the project would result in 5.40 UMAM units of functional loss and 5.17 WRAP units of functional loss. In order to offset the functional loss, the applicant proposes to purchase 5.40 palustrine emergent UMAM credits or 5.17 palustrine emergent WRAP credits from a federally-approved mitigation bank, or a combination of federally-approved mitigation banks. The mitigation bank credit purchase(s) are anticipated to also fully offset impacts to 24.21 kg of wood stork foraging biomass, as discussed in the Endangered Species section of this Public Notice. The potential mitigation bank options include the Little Pine Island Mitigation Bank, Panther Island Mitigation Bank, or Corkscrew Regional Mitigation Bank. Additionally, the applicant proposes to offset the loss of 12.56 acres of marginally suitable Florida panther habitat, as discussed in the Endangered Species section of this Public Notice, through the purchase of 71 PHUs from a USFWS-approved wetland mitigation bank and/or panther habitat mitigation bank.
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 the Florida panther (Puma Concolor) and Audubon’s crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii). The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the USFWS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter. Additionally, the Corps has determined that the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus), wood stork (Mycteria americana), and Eastern Indigo snake (Drymarchon couperii corais). The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with these determinations pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. Finally, the Corps has determined that the proposed project would have no effect on the Everglade Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis), Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), and Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus).
Florida Panther: The project occurs within the USFWS focus area for the Florida panther. The majority of the project area is located within the USFWS Florida panther secondary zone--approximately 53.98 acres are located within the Florida panther Secondary Zone, and 17.71 acres are located outside of any Florida panther zone. The proposed project would result in the conversion of approximately 12.56 acres of marginally suitable panther habitat within the USFWS Florida panther Secondary Zone. Additionally, the applicant has indicated that there have been multiple vehicle-caused Florida panther mortalities since the evaluation period of 2012. A Florida Panther Biological Assessment (BA) was prepared by the applicant and submitted to the USFWS in 2014. The BA included that compensation for the loss of 12.56 acres of marginally suitable habitat would be through the purchase of PHUs, estimated at 71 units, from a USFWS-approved wetland mitigation bank and/or panther habitat mitigation bank. On December 19, 2014, the USFWS provided concurrence with the applicant’s BA findings that the project may affect, not likely to adversely affect the Florida panther. Based on the above information, the Corps utilized the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Florida Panther Effect Determination Key, February 19, 2007. Use of the key resulted in the following sequential determination: A > C = may affect. Although the USFWS provided concurrence with the applicant’s BA determination, the Corps will initiate formal consultation with the USFWS due to the timeframe since the USFWS concurrence determination was made, and the may affect sequential determination of the Key.
Audubon’s Crested Caracara: The project is entirely within the USFWS Consultation Area of the Audubon’s crested caracara. Audubon’s crested caracara typically nest in cabbage palms. The applicant conducted crested caracara nest surveys during spring 2015, in accordance with the FWS South Florida Ecological Field Services Office's April 20, 2004 Caracara Survey Protocol. One active nest was identified. Given the presence of a crested caracara nest within the project ROW limits, the Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect the Audubon’s crested caracara. Therefore, the Corps will initiate formal consultation with the USFWS.
Florida Bonneted Bat: The project occurs entirely within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Consultation Area for the Florida bonneted bat. Potential roost sites for the Florida bonneted bat include, but are not limited to, large cavity trees or trees with hollows, snags, abandoned buildings, bridges and overpasses. Habitat types include upland or wetland forest, upland or wetland shrub, open freshwater wetlands, or open water (e.g., lakes, ponds, canal, streams, rivers). The applicant conducted pedestrian surveys on October 7, 2014 document potential Florida bonneted bat roosts within the project footprint. All potential bat roost areas were inspected for bat occupancy. The findings of the surveys were that potential bat roost habitat was absent within the project footprint, with the exception of two small forested patches with pines occurring on both the north and south sides of SR 82 to the west of Columbus Boulevard. The dominant tree species of both patches is slash pine (Pinus elliottii), and both patches occur primarily outside of the SR 82 ROW. The overall acreage of potential habitat is approximately 0.54 acre. Based on the above information, the Corps utilized the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Florida Bonneted Bat guidelines to make an effect determination. Use of the key resulted in the following sequential determination: 2.d = may affect, but not likely to adversely affect the Florida bonneted bat. Additionally, on December 19, 2014, the USFWS provided concurrence with the applicant’s findings that the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Florida bonneted bat.
Wood Stork: This species nests colonially in a variety of inundated forested wetlands, including cypress strands and domes, mixed hardwood swamps, sloughs, and mangroves. Foraging habitat includes shallow water in freshwater marshes, swamps, lagoons, ponds, tidal creeks, flooded pastures and ditches, where fluctuating water levels concentrate food sources. The project area is located within the core foraging area (CFA) of four wood stork colonies (#619141, #619310, #619018 Corkscrew, and #619041). This species was not observed by the applicant in the project area but may forage within wetlands and surface waters in the vicinity of the project. The applicant prepared a Wood Stork Foraging Analysis per the FWS approved “Wood Stork Foraging Habitat Assessment Methodology” dated July 12, 2012. As part of this analysis, wood stork foraging biomass calculations were conducted for the wetlands and surface waters/drainage swales proposed to be impacted by the project. Based on the foraging analysis, the project would result in a total forage biomass loss of 24.21 kg. This includes 4.98 kg of short hydroperiod foraging habitat and 19.23 kg of long hydroperiod foraging habitat. In order to offset proposed impacts to wood stork suitable foraging habitat, the FDOT is proposing to purchase 5.40 UMAM credits or 5.17 WRAP credits, or a combination thereof, from a federally-approved mitigation bank, or a combination thereof. Using the above project information, the Corps reviewed the Wood Stork Key for South Florida Programmatic Concurrence (2010). Use of the key resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C > E = not likely to adversely affect the wood stork.
Eastern Indigo Snake: This species is found in a variety of habitats, including swamps, wet prairies, xeric pinelands and scrub areas. It may utilize gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) burrows for shelter during the winter and to escape the heat during the summer. This species feeds on snakes, frogs, salamanders, toads, small mammals, birds and young turtles. The applicant did not observe any gopher tortoises or gopher tortoise burrows during their site evaluations. The nearest recorded Eastern Indigo snake observation occurred approximately 6.5 miles to the southwest of the project area in 1970. None have been observed by the applicant within the project area during the course of this project evaluation. Given the variety of habitats utilized by this species, and the potential for this species to occur within the project limits, the applicant would adhere to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake. Based on the above information, the Corps utilized The Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, August 2013, Revised August 1, 2017. Use of the Eastern Indigo snake key resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C > D = not likely to adversely affect the Eastern Indigo snake.
Everglade Snail Kite: The project limits are within the USFWS Consultation Area of the Everglade snail kite. Everglade snail kites inhabit large, open, freshwater marshes and lakes, and usually nest over the water in low trees or shrubs, including cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), coastal plain willow (Salix caroliniana), and buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis). Shallow wetlands with emergent vegetation such as spikerush, duck potato and pickerelweed provide good Everglade snail kite foraging habitat, provided the density of vegetation does not prevent the snail kites from spotting apple snails from above. No Everglade snail kites were observed during the applicant’s field surveys specific to this project. The applicant’s consultants did observe one snail kite individual immediately south of SR 82 in August 2013 approximately three miles northwest of the project area. On a separate occasion, the applicant’s consultants observed evidence of foraging snail kites in the form of many empty apple snail shells in one area to the southwest of this project. No snail kites have been previously documented within the project area, however. No impacts to this species are anticipated because wetland loss would be mitigated for through the purchase of wetland credits from a federally approved mitigation bank, and suitable foraging habitat exists outside of the project area. Based on the above information, the Corps has determined that the proposed project would have no effect on the Everglade snail kite.
Florida Scrub Jay: The project limits are proposed within the USFWS Consultation Area for the Florida scrub jay. Optimal Florida scrub jay habitat consists of low growing, scattered scrub canopy species with patches of bare sandy soil such as those found in sand pine scrub, xeric oak scrub, scrubby flatwoods and scrubby coastal strand habitats. In areas where these types of habitats are unavailable, Florida scrub jays may be found in less optimal habitats such as pine flatwoods with scattered oaks. According to the information provided by the applicant, the nearest Florida scrub-jay sighting occurred 11.2 miles to the southeast in 1992. No appropriate habitat for the species exists near the project area, and none were observed during the listed species surveys or other field work conducted by the applicant’s consultants. Based on the above information, the Corps has determined that the project would have no effect on the Florida scrub jay.
Florida Grasshopper Sparrow: The project limits are within the USFWS Consultation Area of the Florida grasshopper sparrow. The Florida grasshopper sparrow is non-migratory and generally occurs in open in open spaces where saw palmettos (Serenoa repens) are small. A low, but sparse growth of saw palmetto, woody shrubs, bluestems (Andropogon sp.), and wiregrass (Aristida stricta), rather than sod forming grasses, is needed for nesting. Minimal areas of potentially suitable habitat of palmetto prairie occur adjacent to the project, and for the most part contain low-density housing. The project area contains some pastureland; however, the majority of the pasture is managed, and, therefore does not support the grasshopper sparrow. The nearest Florida grasshopper observation was documented approximately 29 miles to the northeast of the project area in 1984. Additionally, no Florida grasshopper sparrows were observed by the applicant’s consultants within the project corridor; therefore, no impact to the species is anticipated. Based on the above information, the Corps has determined that the proposed project would have no effect on the Florida grasshopper sparrow.
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 receiving waters of the Caloosahatchee River. 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 at the Palm Beach Gardens Office, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410-6557 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, Mrs. Tarrie Ostrofsky, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Office, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410-6557, by electronic mail at Tarrie.L.Ostrofsky@usace.army.mil, by fax at (561) 626-6971, or by telephone at (561) 472-3519.
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.