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: South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)
3301 Gun Club Road
West Palm Beach, Florida 33416
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project is located in waters of the United States west of the Town of Labelle and south of State Road 80 in the Caloosahatchee River Watershed, within Sections 32 and 33, Township 44 south, Range 28 east, Hendry County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: The site can be accessed by traveling approximately 5.8 miles west of the Town of Labelle on State Road 80 from the intersection of State Road 29. Turn south on Congen Drive and the north border of the reservoir is approximately 0.5 mile south of State Road 80.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude: 26.691842°
Basic: Surface water management.
Overall: Construction and maintenance of an 170,000 ac-ft. capacity aboveground reservoir south of the Caloosahatchee River (C-43 Canal) and west of the Ortona Lock (S-78) to improve the timing, quantity and quality of freshwater flows from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River Estuary (CRE). The reservoir is in Hendry County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site is approximately 11,500 acres and the project is impacting approximately 1057.88 acres of jurisdictional waters of the United States (US) comprised of 124.78 acres of jurisdictional palustrine wetlands and 933.1 acres of historical agricultural canals and ditches.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks a time extension to an existing Corps authorization (Permit No. SAJ-2005-05958) previously authorizing the filling and excavation of approximately 124.78 acres of wetlands and 933.1 acres of canals and ditches to construct the Caloosahatchee River (C-43) West Basin Storage Reservoir (CRWBSR). Construction of the CRWBSR is ongoing and no additional impacts to wetlands are proposed. This application is specifically for a time extension to construction timeline of the existing Corps permit referenced above.
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 CRWBSR, as authorized, would impact approximately I 057.88 acres of waters of the US comprised of 124.78 acres of palustrine wetlands and 933.1 acres of other waters as a result of filling, excavating, mechanical land clearing to construct levees, embankments and other structures associated with the CRWBSR design. Unavoidable impacts to wetlands and other surface waters within the footprint of the CRWBSR, would be offset by the improvement of the timing, quantity and quality of freshwater flows to the Upper Caloosahatchee Estuary.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The project is expected to result in improving the timing, quantity and quality of freshwater flows from Lake Okeechobee to the CRE. The expected improvements to tidal wetlands and other waters of the CRE are quantified below.
The Unified Mitigation Assessment Methodology (UMAM) was used to assess the functions and values of the proposed impacts to waters of the US within the C-43 project area and to calculate the anticipated functional gains to the CRE after project construction. Construction of the CRWBSR was determined to result in a loss of 361.67 functional units. The construction and operation of the CRWBSR is expected to result in a gain of 435.59 functional units in the CRE long-term. The Corps determined that no further wetland compensation was required for the loss of wetland functions and values resulting from the project.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: 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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES Act (ESA): During the processing of the application for the existing permit the Corps initiated consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Determinations for ESA listed species considered were the following:
No affect: The Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), FL scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), FL grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus), Red cockaded woodpecker [RCW (Picoides borealis)], Okeechobee gourd (Cucurbita okeechobeensis), and the Beautiful pawpaw (Deeringotha mnus pulchellus).
May affect, but not likely to adversely affect (MANLAA): The West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), and the wood stork (Mycteria americana).
May adversely affect: Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi), Audubon's crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii), and eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi).
That FWS issued a Biological Opinion (BO) for this project on 27 July 2007. The Formal Consultation initiated for the panther, caracara and the indigo snake during that consultation resulted in the following final determinations by the FWS. The project “is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence” of the Florida panther, the caracara or the indigo snake. The FWS provided Reasonable and Prudent Measures for the project to follow for those three species.
The FWS provided concurrence with the no affect and MANLAA determinations for the other species considered referenced above. The Florida bonneted bat [FBB (Eumops floridanus)] has since become an ESA listed species and the Corps will consult with the FWS for the FBB via a separate letter.
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 proposal is not expected to adversely impact EFH habitat type utilized by various life stages of species of the Gulf of Mexico. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico. 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 been verified by Corps personnel.
AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Boulevard Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida, 33919, within 21 days from the date of this PN.
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 submitted in writing to the project manager, Robert Tewis, by mail to the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Boulevard Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida 33919; or via email at email@example.com; or faxed to (239)-334-0797. Phone number is (239)-334-1975 X-0012.
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.