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: Joseph Reiter
1020 Sea Acres Way
North Palm Beach, FL 33408
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with jurisdictional wetlands. The project site is located at 1030 Sea Acres Way, in Section 34, Township 41 South, Range 43 East, in North Palm Beach, within Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-95 Exit 79B, take PGA Blvd. east for 2.8 miles and turn north onto US-1N. Turn east (right) onto Seminole Blvd. then south (right) onto Banyan Rd. The project property is 0.3 miles down Banyan Rd.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Longitude: - 80.045967°
Basic: The basic project purpose is to increase water drainage and stormwater capacity.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to increase water drainage of an existing ditch proximate to single-family residences in northeast Palm Beach County, Florida.
The project site consists of a wetland drainage ditch that extends through residential properties and connects ponds to tidal waters north of the Lake Worth Lagoon. Vegetation of the tidal, saltwater/brackish wetland system existing in the ditch and ponds consists of red (Rhizophora mangle) and black (Avicennia germanins) mangroves, approximately 16 to 30 feet tall. The area surrounding the project site consists of single-family residential development and several small tidally influenced ponds.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to place temporary matting pads and dredge an existing pond located within a 0.22 acre wetland (67 cubic yards) on the south of the property, labeled as Wetland 1, and dredge an existing pond located within a 0.73 acre wetland (691 cubic yards), labeled as Wetland 2, to a maximum depth of -4 feet for a total of 758 cubic yards of material to be removed. As a result of the proposed work, 0.037 acres of mangrove wetlands would be impacted.
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:
Prior to the initiation of work the applicant will install turbidity and erosion control measures along the perimeter of all work areas to prevent the displacement of dredged material outside the work area. The applicant will dispose of dredged material at an appropriate upland disposal site via dump truck. The dump truck beds will include high-density polyethylene (HDPE) lining to prevent discharge of sediment material during transportation.
“The four areas where the machinery will make entry into the pond were chosen as these areas appear to have the least amount of native vegetation present along the shoreline. Access into the pond area is not possible from the existing bridge due to the size and weight of the machinery required. Additionally, the height of the bridge with respect to the bottom of the pond would restrict the range that the boom can reach.
Temporary pads will be placed beneath all heavy machinery to avoid compaction of soils while in the pond area. By placing the machinery in the dewatered pond, the majority of the mangrove fringe can be avoided, drastically reducing impacts to the system. In places where a track hoe does not fit, a vacuum truck will be used to further reduce damage to the surrounding mangrove branches and root systems.
In addition to the previous statements regarding avoidance the applicant will attempt to conduct excavation activities from uplands at the northernmost end of Wetland 2 and as requested the applicant will avoid any impacts to swamp fern located at the southern end of Wetland 2.
Minimization of temporary wetland impacts will be accomplished through the selective clearing of only those mangroves that will block the swing arc of the boom attached to the excavator. Regarding the potential of secondary impacts associated with the removal of pneumatophores; the applicant has previously demonstrated through the exact same activities permitted with SAJ-2015-00858 that the remaining mangroves do not suffer any setback or die off from the removal of some of their pneumatophores.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
“Decades of detritus have accumulated within the pond creating a stagnant water environment and its downstream connections to Little Lake Worth Lagoon are 100% blocked. With the restored tidal flushing that will occur; the project, at a minimum, is self-mitigating. Based on the improvement of water quality within the system, UMAM scores reflect an overall net gain in wetland function for the system with the proposed activity. This shows that no compensatory mitigation is required as there is no net loss of functionality to the system.”
The Corps has determined the permit area has been extensively modified by previous work and there is little likelihood a historic property may be affected. 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 Florida State Historic Preservation Officer and if applicable, those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the permit area.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) and wood stork (Mycteria americana). Utilizing the “Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key” (dated 1 August 2017), produced the following sequential determination: A-B-C-D-E, not likely to adversely affect. This determination is based on the applicant implementing the “Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake” and inspection of any potential gopher tortoise burrows and other refugia, if present. By letter dated 1 August 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) stated that for proposed activities analyzed with the indigo snake key in which the Corps reaches a not likely to adversely affect determination with respect to the indigo snake, the USFWS concurs with the Corps determination in accordance with 50 C.F.R. § 402.14(b)(1); and, no further consultation with the USFWS is required. The proposed project is located more than 0.47 miles from an active, known colony site. The project may impact foraging habitat. If foraging habitat is impacted, the impact area would be less than 0.5 acres. Utilizing the “Wood Stork Key” (dated 18 May 2010), produced the sequential determination: A-B, not likely to adversely affect. By letter dated 18 May 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) stated that for proposed activities analyzed with the (May 2010) wood stork key in which the Corps reaches a not likely to adversely affect determination with respect to the wood stork, the USFWS concurs with the Corps determination in accordance with 50 C.F.R. § 402.14(b)(1); and, no further consultation with the USFWS is required.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The proposal would impact approximately 0.037 acres of mangrove utilized by various life stages of penaeid shrimp complex, reef fish, stone crab, spiny lobster, migratory/pelagic fish, and snapper/grouper complex. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally Managed Fisheries in the South Atlantic. Our final determination relative to project impacts and the need for mitigation measures is subject to review by and coordination with the NMFS.
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 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 Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 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, Kelly Egan, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410; by electronic mail at Kelly.Egan@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (561) 472-3514.
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.