Public Notice Notifications

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Florida - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the State of Florida.

Antilles - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the Antilles area (this includes Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands).

Tropical Storms & Other Emergencies - These public notices provide information on procedures for emergency permitting requirements due to specific tropical storm events or other emergency situations.

Special Issues - These are public notices that involve the Regulatory program but which are generally not limited to one particular geographic area. These would include public notices for the establishment or modification of Restricted Areas/Danger Zones, re-issuance of General Permits or Nationwide Permits, changes to guidance and policies, etc.

Administrative Penalty - These public notices provide information associated with Administrative Penalties. An Administrative Penalty can be assessed to address violations associated with issued Department of the Army permits.

SAJ-2018-00396 (SP-MGH)

Published April 4, 2018
Expiration date: 4/24/2018

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: Garcia Family Farm, LLC.
6605 Garcia Drive
Clewiston, FL 33440

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Lard Can Slough (030902020800). The project site is located at Garcia Drive in Clewiston, in Sections 10,14,15,22 &23 of Township 47 South and Range 33 East, in Hendry County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: From downtown Clewiston, head east for two miles on Highway 27/E. Sugarcane Highway, turn right (south) on to Evercane Road (CR 835) and continue on for 30 miles until it ends. Turn left (South) on to CR 833, continue 6 miles. The project site is the row crop field on the left (east) side of the road.

Latitude 26.387758°
Longitude -81.012037°


Basic: Mining
Overall: The construction and operation activities associated with sand and structural fill mining in Hendry County, Florida.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The Garcia Mine (Project) totals 600.2+/- acres and consists of approximately 53.7 acres of non-wetland waters, including 48.3 +/- acres of agricultural ditches and 5.4 acres of excavated areas. There are no jurisdictional wetland systems within the project area. The dominant existing land use or land cover type for the project site is row crop fields. The property has been under long term agricultural use (pasture land) and was more recently converted to row crop fields. The row crop fields are, depending on the time of the year, disked and barren, planted with crop and monotypic, or fallow with temporary cover crop. Each field is lined by a sugarcane hedge that acts as a wind break for the cultivated crops. There are several small remnant forested upland areas scattered within the project area. These areas are characterized by a live oak and cabbage palm canopy. The sub-canopy and groundcover are typically non-native, disturbed by the previous cattle usage and lack of natural fires and supporting habitat.

The adjacent land uses or cover types include similar row crop fields, citrus grove, improve pastures, remnants of natural areas including upland forest and wetlands, and above-ground reservoirs used for water storage and conveyance.

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks a twenty (20) year permit for the construction and operation activities for sand and structural fill mining, which will require disturbance to 53 +/- acres of non-wetland waters of the United States (40.7 acres excavated and 13 acres filled).

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 considered several design alternatives for the Project to minimize the discharge of dredge and fill material to regulated waters. Ultimately, the applicant designed the mining site to avoid all wetland Waters of the United States and as a result, no wetland waters of the United States are proposed for impact, thus achieving 100% avoidance. The proposed impacts are limited to non-wetland waters of the United States (Agricultural ditches used for drainage, irrigation, and conveyance of surface water for the row crop fields). Due to their linear and continuous nature, avoidance of non-wetland waters is not practicable with the proposed activity. The non-wetland waters of the United State proposed for impact will be replaced in kind by the reclaimed mining pit, post completion of the mining activities.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
The proposed project results in 100% avoidance of wetland waters of the United States There are no proposed direct wetland impacts as a result of the proposed project. Potential secondary impacts to adjacent offsite wetland will be temporary in nature (during the mining of a phase adjacent to an offsite wetland). In the long term, post-project, the mine pits will provide greater landscape support and forage opportunities to water dependent wildlife and the remaining offsite wetland habitats. The reclaimed mine pits will provide open water habitats instead of the current row crop fields, and emergent aquatic vegetation along the proposed planted littoral zones instead of the barren ditches.

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The applicant conducted a Cultural Resource Assessment Survey (CRAS) over the entire property in January 2018. This survey was prepared to fulfill the historic resource requirements in response to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (1966) and submitted to the State Historical Preservation Officer (SHPO) for review. The CRAS was prepared to conform to the specifications set forth in Chapter 1A-46, Florida Administrative Code and Florida Division of Historic Resources (FDHR) Module 3 guidelines. The CRAS did not identify any previously recorded archaeological sites on site. Six previously recorded archeological sites occur within one mile of the parcel. As a result of the field investigations and shovel tests, no archeological site or remain were found or regarded as archaeologically significant. SHPO issued a letter dated February 21, 2018 concurring with the findings of the CRAS.

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 site is located in an area where the Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) may occur. The Project will impact over 25 acres of agricultural fields. Based on the Eastern Indigo Snake Effect Determination Key (dated August 1, 2017), the Corps determination sequence is as follows: A > B > C > “may affect”. The permit instrument, if issued, would contain the Standard Protective Measures for Eastern Indigo Snake which must be followed during all construction activities. The Corps determined the proposed project “may affect” the eastern indigo snake and will request formal consultation on this species from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) via a separate letter.

The Project site is within wood stork (Mycteria americana) core foraging areas and supports marginally Suitable Foraging Habitat (SFH) for the wood stork. The applicant has proposed a plan of mitigation that will entail the creation of 13.1 acres of vegetated littoral zones as part of the mine reclamation activity and that can provide habitat support for the wood stork. A wood stork foraging biomass analysis has been prepared demonstrated that there will be no net loss of wood stork core foraging habitat. The Corps completed an evaluation of the project based upon the USFWS South Florida Ecological Services Office Programmatic Concurrence for use with the Wood Stork (May 18, 2010). Use of the Key for the Wood Stork resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C > E. The Corps determined the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” (MANLAA) the wood stork. As indicated in the USFWS letter dated January 25, 2010 and the May 18, 2010 addendum, a determination of MANLLA by use of the key indicates USFWS concurrence and written concurrence of NLAA from the USFWS is not necessary: “With an outcome of “no effect” or “NLAA” as outlined in this key, and the project has less than 20.2 hectares (50 acres) of wetland impacts, the requirements of section 7 of the Act are fulfilled for the wood stork and no further action is required.”

The Project site is within USFWS designated Focus Areas for the Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) and is greater than one acre. Using the Florida Panther Effect Determination Key (February 19, 2007), the proposal keyed as follows: A > C, resulting in a “may affect” determination for the panther. Pursuant to Section 7 of ESA, the Corps will request the USFWS to initiate formal consultation (for this species) via a separate letter.

The Project site is located within a USFWS designated consultation area for the Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus). The Project site does not contain USFWS designated snail kite critical habitat and is not within a Priority Management Zone for the snail kite. Surveys conducted by the applicant found no use of the Project site by Everglade snail kite. The Corps preliminary determination is that the Project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” (MANLAA) for the snail kite and will request concurrence from the USFWS via a separate letter.

The Project site is located within a USFWS designated consultation area for the Audubon’s crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii). The project site offers some suitable foraging and limited nesting habitat for the caracara. A formal caracara survey is being conducted for the 2017-2018 nesting season. To date, no caracara nest has been identified on site however; a potential caracara nest has been identified off site. The potential nest site is located off site, across CR 833, over 1,200 feet west of the proposed project area. Consequently, the area within a 985 foot-radius of the potential nest and that is typically considered the nest primary zone, is entirely located off site, west of CR 833, and will not be affected by the proposed activity. The Corps preliminary determination is that the Project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” (MANLAA) for the Audubon’s crested caracara and will request the USFWS to initiate formal consultation (for this species) 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. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in 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 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 West Permits Branch Mining Team,10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 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, Mindy Hogan-Charles, in writing at the West Permits Branch Mining Team, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; by electronic mail at ; by facsimile transmission at (813)769-7061; or, by telephone at (813)769-7066.

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.