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: Lee County School District
c/o of Marc Mora
2855 Colonial Boulevard
Fort Myers, Florida, 33966
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Six Mile Cypress Slough watershed. The project site is located south of State Road 82 and east of Griffin Drive in Section 5, Township 45 South, Range 26E, Lee County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-75, take exit 138 (SR 82) and go east for 5 miles to the property, which is on the south side of SR 82 after the intersection with Griffin Drive.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 26.591379º
Basic: Construct a new high school.
Overall: Construct a new high school to meet the educational demands of the increasing student population in Lee County in order to meet State mandates.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The approximately 55.68-acre parcel contains 9.67 acres of disturbed freshwater herbaceous freshwater wetlands, 2.40 acres of man-made Waters of the U.S. (ditches), and 43.61-acres of uplands. Vegetation in the disturbed freshwater wetlands consists of torpedo grass (Panicum repens), West Indian marshgrass (Hymenachne amplexicaulis), pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) and spikerush (Eleocharis, sp.). The existing area surrounding the project consists of the Gateway and Magnolia Lakes residential developments to the south and west and Lehigh Acres to the north.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge 45,975 cubic yards of fill into 8.72-acres of wetlands and 27,122 cubic yards of fill into 2.38 acres of man-made waters of the U.S., and excavate 8,628 cubic yards of material from 0.95 acres of wetlands and 85 cubic yards of material from 0.02 acres of man-made waters of the U.S. for the construction of the new high school.
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:
Impacts will be limited to fragmented, low quality wetlands and man-made ditches with greater than 50% coverage by exotic vegetation that are surrounded by existing roadways and residential development.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant has conducted a wetland functional assessment of the impacts and proposes the purchase of mitigation credits at an approved federal wetland mitigation bank as compensatory mitigation. The mitigation credit purchase will provide enhanced regional ecological values within the watershed.
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.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). Based on the Eastern Indigo Snake Effect Determination Key (dated January 25, 2010; August 13, 2013 Addendum), the Corps determination sequence resulted in A > B > C > D > E > MANLAA. This determination is based on the applicant following Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake, February 2004. No further consultation with the Service is required.
The Corps has determined the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork (Mycteria americana). The Corps received FWS concurrence letter, dated May 18, 2010 (amended on August 13, 2013) for all work that results in a “may affect, not likely to adversely affect” determination using the May 18, 2010 Wood Stork Effect Determination Key (A>B>C>D-NLAA). The applicant will provide the required short/long hydroperiod compensation through the purchase of federal credits at a mitigation bank within the service area. No further consultation is required.
The project is located within the consultation area of the Florida bonneted bat (FBB) (Eumops floridanus). The project site is 5 ac or greater and includes more than 1 ac of the following FBB habitat types: upland forest; open freshwater wetlands; and open water. A FBB roost survey and acoustic survey were conducted by the applicant’s consultant and did not find evidence of FBB usage onsite. Based on the results of the roost survey and absence of FBB calls during the acoustic survey, the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the FBB. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The project is located within the consultation area of the Red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) consultation area. The Corps has determined the project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the red-cockaded woodpecker. The applicant has provided a species survey indicating there are no known RCW onsite. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has completed an evaluation of the impacts the work may have on the Florida Panther (Felis concolor coryi). The Corps utilized The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, South Florida Ecological Services Field Office and State of Florida Panther Effect Determination Key, February 19, 2007 (Panther Key). Use of the Panther Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A>B-May Effect since the project is in a focal area (secondary zone), greater than 1 ac, and will have a net increase and/or change in vehicle traffic patterns. The applicant calculated the impacts to panther habitat using the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service panther habitat assessment methodology and proposes to purchase the required panther habitat units (PHUs) at a mitigation or conservation bank within the service area. The Corps initial determination is the project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the Florida Panther due to proposed mitigation. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any other listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.
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 would only impact freshwater wetlands. Therefore, the Corps has determined that no substantial adverse impacts to EFH will result from the proposed action.
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 Ft. Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd., Ft. 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.
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.