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: Eglin Air Force Base
96th Civil Engineer Group
Mark A. Schlueter
501 Deleon Street, Suite 100
Eglin AFB, Florida 32542
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with an unnamed bayou and Choctawhatchee Bay. The project site is located south of the Post’l Point Campgrounds located on Eglin Air Force Base, Section 30, Township 01 South, Range 22 West, in Okaloosa County, Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Fort Walton Beach, head east on US-98/ Miracle Strip Pkwy. Turn left on FL-85 N/ Eglin Pkwy NE. Turn right on 8th Street and turn left on Cypress Rd/ Lido Rd. Turn left on Flagler Rd/ Desota Circle. The north point segment of the project site is located at the end of Desota Circle.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
North Point: Latitude 30.475942, Longitude -86.480353
South Point: Latitude 30.476911, Longitude -86.480114
Basic: Aquatic habitat enhancement and shoreline protection.
Overall: Enhance and protect the shoreline of the project area within Choctawhatchee Bay in Okaloosa County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site is located at the mouth of a small, unnamed bayou that connects to Choctawhatchee Bay. The parcel, owned by Eglin Air Force Base, are associated with the Post’l Point Campground immediately to the north of the project site. The project site exhibits a natural shoreline and supports seagrass.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct a living shoreline project along a total of 1,445 linear feet of shoreline. The living shoreline project would be constructed along two segments of the project site referred to as the north point and south point. The north point segment of the living shoreline extends 511 linear feet and the south point segment extends 934 linear feet. The living shoreline would include a total of fifty seven (57) near-shore oyster reefs to serve as breakwaters. Twenty (20) oyster reefs would be installed along the north point and thirty seven (37) oyster reefs would be installed along the south point. Each oyster reef would measure 20 feet x 5 feet x 2 feet (L x W x H) and would be located no further than 17 feet waterward of the mean high water line (MHWL). Adjacent oyster reefs would be separated by a minimum of 5 feet as measured from the base of each reef section. Native vegetation, consisting of Spartina alterniflora and Juncus spp., would be installed within the intertidal zone along the length of the project.
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 oyster reef breakwaters are situated in an area that does not impact existing submerged aquatic vegetation. Fossilized oyster shell will be bagged offsite at a staging area in Valparaiso and transported to the Post'l Point site by truck and trailer where CBA staff and volunteers will move shell to the marked reef footprints by two motor-less john boats and hand placed in the pictured design. Turbidity curtains will be installed prior to the initiation of construction activities. Construction is expected to last 3-6 months based on volunteer availability, and work would occur during daylight hours.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required: Compensatory mitigation has not been 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 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed an evaluation of potential impacts to the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus) using The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for Manatee in Florida, April 2013. Based on use of the Manatee Key, the Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Gulf Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi) or its designated critical habitat, and swimming sea turtles, specifically the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), and hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
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 Choctawhatchee Bay. 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 15 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, Mia Zarbo, in writing at the Pensacola Permits Section, 41 North Jefferson Street, Suite 301, Pensacola, Florida 32502; by electronic mail at Maria.D.Zarbo@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (850) 433-8160; or, by telephone at (850) 439-3474.
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.
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.