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: The Chemours Company FC LLC
P.O. Box 753
Starke, FL 32091
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Turkey Creek, a tributary of the St. Mary’s River (HUC 03070204). The project site is located on the west side of CR 228 (Maxville-Mcclenny Road), west of the applicant’s North Maxville Mine, approximately 3.6 miles south of the intersection of Interstate 10 and CR 228, in Sections 11, 14, and 23, Township 3 South, Range 22 East, Mcclenny, Baker County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-10, take the CR 228 exit and head south on CR 228 approximately 3.6 miles; the site is on the west side of the road. From U.S. 301, take CR 228 west and then north approximately 3.6 miles; the site is on the west side of the road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.227854
Basic: To mine mineral sands
Overall: To mine mineral sands from identified deposits in the vicinity of the existing North Maxville Mine
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed expansion site totals approximately 415.4 acres, including approximately 31.36 acres for a roadway relocation (referred to as Phase 1 of the project) and 384.04 acres for the mine expansion (Phase 2 of the project). The predominant existing land use is upland pine plantation (FLUCCS 441), totaling 347.29 acres. Additional upland land uses include 5.17 acres of dirt roads (8146) and 27.10 acres of CR 228 (8144). Onsite wetlands and surface waters include 8.35 acres of wetland pine plantation (441W), 25.96 acres of mixed forested wetlands (630), 1.47 acres of shrub wetlands (631), and 0.06 acre of ditches.
The area surrounding the project area consists of additional pine plantations and Turkey Creek to the west, and the currently operating mine to the east.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to impact 43.15 acres of aquatic resources, including 7.49 acres of wetland impacts associated with the road relocation (1.5 acres wetland pine plantation and 5.99 acres mixed forested wetland) and 35.66 acres of aquatic resource impact associated with the additional mine area (13.28 acres wetland pine plantation, 20.34 acres mixed forested wetland, 1.47 acres shrub wetlands, and 0.57 acre of ditches). The attached site plans show the work as currently proposed.
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 applicant states that there are no alternative sites that have the necessary mineral deposits that are not already active mines themselves. Onsite, the applicant states that it is necessary to move the road to accommodate the proposed dredge method of mining, as is predominantly used on the existing mine, and it is necessary to move the road to the western boundary of the expansion parcel to maximize the mining area. The applicant also states that the mine plan as shown is necessary because the dredge and wet mill cannot maneuver around small features such as avoided wetlands. In both cases, the applicant states that the maximized mining area is necessary to provide an economically viable project.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant states that the road relocation will result in a loss of 3.999 wetland functional units (using UMAM), and proposes to purchase 3.999 mitigation credits from the Brandy Branch Mitigation Bank to offset this loss. The applicant states further that the proposed mining will result in a loss of 17.732 functional units. To offset this loss the applicant proposes permittee-responsible onsite mitigation, specifically, the establishment of 40.24 acres of mixed forested wetlands onsite in conjunction with reclamation as required by the state of Florida.
The Corps notes that the project is within the service areas of two additional approved mitigation banks (Loblolly Mitigation Bank and Longleaf Mitigation Bank) and will consider the mitigation hierarchy described in the 2008 Compensatory Mitigation Rule in its review of this project.
The applicant provided a copy of a May 8, 2017, letter from the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) (DHR File No. 2017-0371), stating that the SHPO concurred with a determination that the proposed project will have no effect on cultural resources listed, or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, or otherwise of archaeological, historical, or architectural significance within the study area. The Corps notes that the letter also states that the referenced review did not constitute a review under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
Therefore, 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 project area has suitable habitat for the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) and the wood stork (Mycteria americana). The applicant estimates that the site has 30-50 gopher tortoise burrows. The site does not have any xeric habitat (scrub, sandhill or scrubby flatwoods) present. It is not within the Core Foraging Area of any wood stork colony sites. The site is within the consultation area for the red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis). The applicant states that in the areas considered to be pine plantation, the canopy is exclusively slash pine (Pinus elliottii), and there is no mature canopy present. Following mining, the applicant proposes to reclaim pine plantation areas as pine plantation, in accordance with state requirements.
Using the September 2008 effect determination key for the wood stork (A-B-C-D), the Corps has programmatic concurrence that the proposal may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork; no further consultation is necessary.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the red-cockaded woodpecker or its designated critical habitat. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
Using the January 25, 2010 effect determination key for the eastern indigo snake, as updated August 13, 2013 (A-B-C-D), the Corps has determined that the proposal may affect the eastern indigo snake. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the USFWS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by 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 would impact inland freshwater wetlands. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries. 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. Corps personnel have not verified the jurisdictional line.
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 Mining Team, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, FL 33610 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, John Fellows, in writing at the Mining Team, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, FL 33610; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by facsimile transmission at (813)769-7061; or, by telephone at (813)769-7070.
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.