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: Palm Beach County Roadway Production
2300 North Jog Road
West Palm Beach, Florida 33411
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with freshwater wetlands and the M-Canal. The project site is located along Royal Palm Beach Boulevard adjacent to the M-Canal to south of Orange Boulevard, Royal Palm Beach (Section 35, Township 42 south, Range 41 east), Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Exit I-95 onto Okeechobee Boulevard. Head west on Okeechobee Boulevard to Royal Palm Beach Boulevard. Turn right onto Royal Palm Beach Boulevard. The project begins approximately 0.5 mile north of 61st Street North.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is linear transportation.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to improve the traffic conditions of the Royal Palm Beach Boulevard transportation corridor within the Indian Trails Improvement District
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The site is an existing two lane roadway within a rural residential area. The wetland system consists of a freshwater system. The onsite vegetation consists of torpedo grass (Panicum repens), bog button (Lachnocaulon spp.), red root (Lachnanthes carolinana), bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus), soft rush (Juncus effuses), yellow-eyed grasses (Xyris spp.), tickseed (Coreopsis spp.), wedelia (Sphagneticola spp.), and St. John’s wort (Hypericum cistifolium). Algal matting was observed in the wetland area. Exotic/Nuisance canopy (less than five percent vegetative canopy coverage) include Melalueca (Melaleuca quinquenervia), earleaf acacia (Acacia auriculiformis), wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), Australian pine (Casaurina equisetifolia), and slash pine (Pinus elliotii). The existing area surrounding the project area consists of low density residential dwellings and residential drainage canals.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to excavate 2.56 acres of wetlands and place fill within 0.16 acres of other surface waters for the purpose of expanding Royal Palm Beach Boulevard from a two-lane highway to a three-lane highway. The excavation will occur within potential pond sites 3 and 4 which totals 2.56 acres for the purposes of providing stormwater treatment.
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:
Project will be designed to meet current standards to improve safety and avoid adverse impact to adjacent properties. Applicable temporary erosion control measures will be utilized during construction to minimize erosion and sediment impacts.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant believes the project as proposed is self-mitigating. No formal mitigation plan was submitted for review.
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 project is within the range and consultation area of the threatened Audubon’s crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audobonii), Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), wood stork (Mycteria americana), endangered Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), threatened Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), and red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis).
Based on information available from the applicant our initial determination for the project is listed below:
• Not likely to Adversely Affect the Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). The project will impact less than 25 acres of xeric habitat. By use of the FWS Eastern Indigo Snake Key dated August 2017, the following key sequence A>B>C>D>E would result in a “Not Likely to Adversely Affect” (NLAA) determination.
• Not Likely to Adversely Affect the wood stork (Mycteria americana). By use of the FWS Wood Stork Key dated January 25, 2010 and the May 18, 2010 addendum, the following key sequence A>B>C>E would result in a “Not Likely to Adversely Affect” (NLAA). The project is located within the Core Foraging Area (CFA) of three wood stork colonies (619315, 619220 PBC SWA, and Loxahatchee 1). Freshwater wetlands and surface waters are present within the project area. Some of the features consist of habitat that is suitable for foraging wood storks, and other wading birds have been observed foraging within the proposed project corridor. The closest colony to the project is 4.73 miles away (619220 PBC SWA). Since impacts to wetlands and surface waters total 2.56 acres, a Wood Stork Foraging Biomass Assessment was not required. Any loss of wood stork foraging biomass resulting from the proposed activity will be compensated by a compensatory mitigation plan and the creation of an onsite surface water management system (ponds and vegetated littoral zones). This determination is dependent on the impending proposal by the applicant that adequate compensation will be provided.
• No Effect to the Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus). The project area does not contain suitable habitat to forage (apple snails) or roost such as freshwater marshes and shallow vegetated edges of lakes therefore the project would have no effect on the species.
• No effect to the Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis). The project area does not contain suitable Red-cockaded woodpecker habitat (open woodlands with large old growth pines, limited subcanopy, and abundant native bunchgrass and forb groundcover) therefore the Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.
• No Effect to the Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens). The project area does not contain suitable scrub jay habitat (oak scrub and scrubby flatwoods near sand dunes) therefore the Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on threatened scrub jay.
• No Effect to the Audubon’s crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audobonii). The project area does not contain suitable caracara habitat (wet prairies with cabbage palms, cypress, or scrub oaks) therefore the Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on endangered caracara.
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. The project site contains 2.56 acres of freshwater wetlands and 0.16 acres of freshwater residential canals. 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 region. 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 through the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410 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, Samantha L. Rice, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410; by electronic mail at Samantha.L.Rice@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (561)626-6971; or, by telephone at (561)472-3536.
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.