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 Power & Light Co.
c/o Loretta Cranmer
15430 Endeavor Drive D01/JW
Jupiter, Florida, 33478
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with lower Caloosahatchee River. The proposed project site is located in Section 19, Township 42 South, Range 26 East, Tucker’s Corner, Charlotte and Lee Counties, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Line begins at the existing Calusa Substation on Palm Creek Drive, north of State Road 78, and then goes north and east along existing transmission line right of way and road right of ways and ends at the existing Hercules Substation adjacent to State Road 31.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 26.763617°
Longitude - 81.759490°
Basic: Transmission Line
Overall: Electrical transmission line, and associated access and patrol road and pads to service Charlotte and Lee Counties.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: Wetlands along the route consist of marginal quality herbaceous marshes and marginal scrub/shrub wetlands. Most of the herbaceous marshes have been impacted by agricultural use or altered by drainage improvements in the area. The scrub/shrub wetlands mostly appear to be historic marshes that have converted to scrub/shrub nature due to hydrologic alterations and fire exclusion. These areas are primarily vegetated with a mixture of maiden cane, West Indian marsh grass, wax myrtle, primrose willow, broom sedge, smartweed, as well as laurel oaks and slash pine. The subject wetlands have been previously impacted by onsite and adjacent drainage improvements, as well as the construction and existence of roadways and the adjacent gas transmission line.
PROPOSED WORK: The proposed Calusa-Hercules 230kV line consists of the construction of a new electrical transmission line within FPL’s existing transmission line easement as well as adjacent to road right of ways, to connect FPL's existing Hercules Substation to their existing Calusa Substation, which will supply the public with electrical service. Work will include the repair of the existing patrol road within the existing easement, installation of culvert crossings, installation of work access pads, and installation of the transmission poles and conductors. The line and associated improvements will be installed within the existing easement and new ROW/easement limits. The majority of the proposed route is within the future State Road 31 (SR31) ROW and immediately adjacent to a maintained gas transmission line easement, as well as within developed/to be developed portions of Babcock Ranch. All improvements are proposed at grade, no net fill is proposed. Outside of access/patrol road and pad areas, vegetation removal within wetlands will be limited to selective clearing of trees which can exceed 14' in height, with no grubbing or surface disturbance proposed. The proposed access/patrol road is 14' in width, will be at grade, and constructed with a rock aggregate material. Total area of at-grade roads and pads is 1.391 acres, with the largest area within a given wetland being 0.273 acres. No work is proposed within or near an OFW or Aquatic Preserve.
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 construction access/patrol road has been severed and shortened in several of locations, to reduce wetland impacts as the line passes through wetland areas, and to eliminate issues related to flow alteration. Pad dimensions were also thoroughly evaluated so that the smallest, safely usable pad could be proposed. The pad dimensions which are proposed are the smallest which will allow for the necessary construction equipment to be safely present at the given location for construction and for long term. All improvements are proposed at grade, no net fill is proposed. Outside of access/patrol road and pad areas, vegetation removal within wetlands will be limited to selective clearing of trees which can exceed 14' in height, with no grubbing or surface disturbance proposed. The proposed access/patrol road is 14' in width, will be at grade, and constructed with a rock aggregate material. Total area of at-grade roads and pads is 1.391 acres, with the largest area within a given wetland being 0.273 acres. No work is proposed within or near an OFW or Aquatic Preserve.
The line and associated improvements will be installed within the existing easement and ROW limits. There will also be selective clearing of tree vegetation within scrub/shrub tree areas, to allow for safe clearance for the conductors. The selective clearing will consist of the cutting or mowing of trees and dense shrub vegetation, but will not involve grubbing or soil disturbance, and groundcover vegetation will remain in place. Work will be performed manually or by utilizing low ground pressure equipment, in order to minimize rutting. Any rutting that does occur will be repaired. Large, woody material will be removed from the wetland areas so as to not create surfacewater flow impediments. Following the selective clearing these areas will be allowed to revegetate in the groundcover and subcanopy strata.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant will provide mitigation in the form of mitigation bank credits from the Little Pine Island Mitigation Bank, consisting of 1.69 credits of herbaceous freshwater. These credit amounts were determined utilizing the Little Pine Island assessment methodology.
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 the Florida Bonneted Bat (Eumops floridanus), Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis), Grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus), Audubon’s crested caracara (Polyborus corais couperi), Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi), and the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi). The Corps has initiated consultation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife for concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The work is proposed above mean high water, therefore the determination is no effect to EFH.
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 District Engineer through the 1520 Royal Palm Square, Suite 310, Ft. 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, Allison C. Murphy, in writing at the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd., Fort Myers, Florida, 33919; by electronic mail at Allison.C.Murphy@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (239)334-0797; or, by telephone at (239)334-1975 ext. 0008.
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.