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 (DA) permit pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1344) as described below:
APPLICANT: Lee County BOCC
c/o Lee County Dept. of Parks & Recreation
Attention: Richard P. Whalen
1500 Monroe Street
Fort Myers, Florida 33902
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project site is located within Section 35, Township 43 South, Range 24 East, at 2400 Joel Boulevard, Alva, Lee County, Florida. The approximate 29.52 acre project site contains approximately 17.3 acres of disturbed wetlands in the Middle Caloosahatchee River Watershed (HUC-10 # 0309020504).
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-75, head east onto SR-80. Travel approximately 12.5 miles to Joel Blvd. Turn south onto Joel Blvd. and travel approximately 1.5 miles. Property is on the east side of Joel Boulevard.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Lat: 26.688104º
Long: - 81.596479º
Basic: Construct a passive-use park.
Overall: Construct a passive-use park with an outdoor classroom, trail/boardwalk system, restroom facilities, maintenance building, shade buildings, picnic areas, and the required parking in Alva, Lee County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The approximate 29.52 acre parcel contains approximately 17.3 acres of disturbed freshwater wetlands. Historically the subject parcel was in agricultural use and later it was scraped down for its topsoil. The property contains a 2.20 acre upland dry prairie, a 2.35 acre disturbed upland Pine Flatwood, a 5.01 acre disturbed freshwater marsh, a 12.29 acre disturbed wet prairie and 7.67 acres of other disturbed uplands.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks DA authorization to clear, grade, excavate, dredge and fill approximately 14.77 acres of wetlands to construct and maintain a passive use public park. The proposed project would excavate 51,811 cubic yards of native materials from 5.31 acres of wetlands and discharge 26,422 cubic yards of fill into approximately 9.46 acres of wetlands.
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION: The applicant states the following:
The proposal would preserve the higher quality natural upland habitats on the property some of which contain gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) habitat. The proposal would impact primarily the higher disturbed areas of the property for the required infrastructure and environmental enhancements. There is a history of disturbance on the property ranging from clearing and ditching for agricultural purposes to the further removal of topsoil resulting in low-quality wetland habitats. The existing wetlands provide reduced function and values for the watershed. The project design would create approximately 6.5 acres of marsh/lake habitat that will enhance wading bird foraging habitat.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant proposes to mitigate for all unavoidable wetland impacts (net functional loss) at Lee County’s Island Park Regional Mitigation Area.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is unaware of any known historic properties within the review area. Our final determination relative to historic resource impacts is subject to review by and coordination with SHPO and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the permit area.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The project site is within US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) designated consultation areas (CA) for the caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii), Everglades snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus), Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), and Florida bonneted bat [(FBB) Eumops floridanus]. The project site also contains suitable habitat for the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi) and is within a nesting colony buffer (18.6 miles) for a wood stork (Mycteria americana) colony. The site is also within a Secondary Zone of a FWS designated Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) Focus Area.
The Corps will conduct programmatic consultation for the wood stork and initiate consultation, with the FWS, for all other species referenced above via a separate letter.
NOTE: This public notice (PN) 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 formally verified by Corps personnel.
AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and/or the South Florida Water Management District.
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 a permit, for this application, will be based on the information received from this PN and the evaluation of the probable impacts 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 firstname.lastname@example.org; or faxed to (239)-334-0797. Phone number is (239)-334-1975 X-0012.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with FWS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS), 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 the evaluation of probable impacts including cumulative effects 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 EPA Administrator, under authority of Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act and/or the criteria established under authority of Section 102(a) of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. A permit will be authorized unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is soliciting comments, to this PN, 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.