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: Miami-Dade County,
Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources (DRER)
c/o Mr. Jack Osterholt
701 N.W. 1st Court
Miami, Florida 33136
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Atlantic Ocean. The project site is located at Atlantic Ocean, within Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve. The proposed project site is located approximately 2.4 nautical miles East, Northeast of Cape Florida Light House (located within Bill Bags State Park), in Section 02, Township 55 South, Range 42 East. The proposed project site would be referred to as “Bug Light Shoal Artificial Reef”.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Bill Bags State Park, Cape Florida Light House, travel by vessel ENE for approximately 2.4 nautical miles, follow GPS coordinates provided in the attached map.
FOUR CORNER COORDINATES:
Corner Points: Latitude N Longitude W Latitude N Longitude W
(DM) (DM) (DD) (DD)
Northwest 25 40.790° -80 06.792° 25.67983° -80.11320°
Northeast 25 40.790° -80 06.737° 25.67983° -80.11228°
Southwest 25 40.740° -80 06.792° 25.67900° -80.11320°
Southeast 25 40.740° -80 06.737° 25.67900° -80.11228°
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Latitude N Longitude W Latitude N Longitude W
(DM) (DM) (DD) (DD)
Center Point 25 40.765° -80 06.765° 25.67942° -80.11275°
Basic: To place suitable artificial reef material within U.S. waters to establish an artificial reef for shallow fisheries enhancement.
Overall: To establish an artificial reef by placing clean concrete and/or limerock material for fishery habitat enhancement to serve as shallow fishing area, offshore of Key Biscayne.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed project site is 300’ x 300’ (2.07acres) on size. The site depth is -23’ MLW. The proposed site is located, approximately 500’ east of any mapped benthic resources (Walker 2009). See enclosed submitted map and benthic report conducted on October 31, 2017 by Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources – Division of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) biologists on SCUBA. During the surveys, only barren sand was observed within the proposed project site and buffer areas. The closest mapped benthic resources are discontinuous seagrass beds approximately 500’ northwest of the project area. The entire footprint of the artificial reef site does not contain any consolidated hardbottom or corals.
The proposed artificial reef site will be an addition to the existing 8 permitted artificial reef sites offshore, managed by Miami-Dade County, and will serve as a shallow fishing site south of Government Cut. The Miami-Dade County Artificial Reef Program was
established in 1981 and is administered by the County’s Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources – Division of Environmental Resources Management (DERM).
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to deploy approximately 2,000 cubic yards of suitable artificial reef material within a 300-foot by 300-foot (2.07 acres) area to establish an artificial reef. The proposed deployment area has a water depth of -23’ mean low water (MLW) and will maintain a vertical clearance of -15.3’ MLW from the top of the reef profile relative to the MWL. The proposed deployment area would be referred to as the Bug Light Shoal Artificial Reef Site.
Reef materials will be transported to the site via tugboat and/or barge. All future deployments at this site will be limited to natural or processed calcium carbonate materials such as limestone boulders, large concrete based materials such as connection/junction boxes, large sections of bridge decking or other construction demolition, or pre-fabricated concrete artificial reef modules. Unsuitable material including vessels or barges will not be deployed.
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 selected a site that is devoid of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV’s) and where there are no natural rock outcrops or hard bottom formations.
Furthermore, the applicant proposes to conduct a biological survey immediately prior to the deployment of any materials. Although no benthic resources were identified in the pre-application survey, if benthic resources such as hardbottom or seagrass are found during this survey, the target position will be altered to provide appropriate buffer, a minimum of 150 feet buffer will be maintained from all submerged aquatic resources (i.e. harbottom, corals). If adequate buffer distances are not available, the initial target site will be abandoned and another location evaluated.
In water surveys will also be conducted immediately post deployment to verify that material was deployed where intended and does not exceed navigational clearance requirements.
The deployment site shall be clearly marked with buoys before and during material placement to insure containment within the permitted site.
All work will take place during daylight hours.
The applicant has also submitted the attached supplemental information which includes best management practices and micro-siting methods as part of their proposed work as to ensure accurate placement of artificial reef material.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has provided the following explanation as to why compensatory mitigation should not be required: No impacts to submerged aquatic vegetation are proposed or anticipated therefore no compensatory mitigation is proposed.
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 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has determined the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) or its designated critical habitat. Potential impacts to the endangered manatee were evaluated using The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida (Manatee Key), dated April 2013. Use of the Manatee Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C > G > N > O > P >5 “may affect, not likely to adversely affect”. Provided the applicant adheres to the standard manatee construction conditions during the in-water work, the key results in a may affect, not likely to adversely affect determination. Due to the programmatic concurrence obtained from USFWS on the Key, no further consultation with USFWS was required on this individual project.
The project site is located in waters that are potentially utilized by the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus), and several species of swimming sea turtles, including the Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Green (Chelonia mydas), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and Kemp's Ridley (Lepidochelys kempit). The aforementioned species may be affected by being unable to use the area for forage or refuge habitat due to potential avoidance of construction activities caused by the deployment of artificial reef material. Because these species are highly motile and likely to leave the area during construction, the risk of injury from this type of construction activity is insignificant. Furthermore, the applicant agrees to adhere to the "Sea Turtle and Smalltooth Sawfish Construction Conditions". The Corps determined that the proposed project "may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect" the smalltooth sawfish, Nassau grouper and swimming sea turtles or their designated critical habitat. The Corps will request concurrence with this determination from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Protected Resources Division (PRD) pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as amended, via separate letter.
The Corps has also determined the project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” for the Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmate), Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) and/or its designated critical habitat. The proposed project site falls within the species critical habitat; however, the proposed site is compose of sandy unconsolidated bottom, devoid of benthic habitats including seagrass, hardbottom or corals. Barren sandy areas of deployments are not suitable habitat for colonization of these species. Furthermore, the applicant has proposed to use BMP and the “Micro-Sitting Methodology” procedures to ensure all deployment occur only within unconsolidated sandy bottom. No benthic resources are currently present within the area proposed for deployment. The Corps will request the National Marine Fisheries Service’s concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act via a separate letter.
The Corps has determined that the project will have “no effect” on any other listed threatened or endangered species or its 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 proposal would impact approximately 2.07 acres of sand bottom utilized by various life stages of shrimp, reef fish, stone crab; and coastal migratory pelagics. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean. 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/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 Miami Permits Section, 9900 Southwest 107th Avenue, Suite 203, Miami, Florida, 33176 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, Gletys Guardia-Montoya, in writing at the Miami Permits Section, 9900 Southwest 107th Avenue, Suite 203, Miami, Florida, 33176; by electronic mail at Gletys.Guardia-Montoya@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (305)526-2515.
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.