Public Notice Notifications

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SAJ-2017-00149 (TMF)

Published May 17, 2018
Expiration date: 6/16/2018
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received a complete prospectus proposing the establishment of a mitigation bank pursuant to the 2008 Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources regulations (33 CFR Part 332) as described below:

APPLICANT:  Westco Properties, LLC
                       509 Guisando de Avila, Suite 200
                       Tampa, FL 33613

LOCATION: The proposed project, identified as the 382.33-acre Moss Creek Mitigation Bank (MSCMB), is located on the north side of Lake Hancock and directly abuts the south side of Hayman Road approximately 6.5 miles southeast of Brooksville within Sections 30, 31 and 32 of Township 23 south, and Range 20 east, Hernando County, Florida.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:  Latitude: 28.443833°N
                                                                          Longitude: 82.339722°W

PROSPECTUS SUMMARY: Pursuant to 33 CFR 332.8(d)(4), the Corps has posted a full copy of the MSCMB) prospectus online so that it is available for review by the public. The prospectus may be downloaded from the Regulatory In-Lieu Fee and Bank Information Tracking System (RIBITS) at web address: https://ribits.usace.army.mil.

Once on the RIBITS homepage, select "Jacksonville" from the "ALL DISTRICTS" drop down menu located in the lower left corner of the screen. Once the district filter has been selected, click on the “Banks & ILF Sites” link located in the Navigation box (upper left corner). This will generate a list of projects, scroll down the list and click on the “Moss Creek MB” link. On this page, click on the "Cyber Repository" link located on the menu bar above the General Information box, then click on the Prospectus Documents folder to access the prospectus associated with the MSCMB project.

If you are unable to access the web address, a copy of the prospectus is available upon request to the project manager listed at the end of this public notice.

PROJECT GOALS AND OBJECTIVES: The applicant seeks authorization to enhance, preserve and protect wetlands and uplands on the 382.33-acre property. The primary ecological goal of the MSCMB is to enhance and preserve wetlands and upland buffers, improving water quality and benefitting fish and wildlife in the Lake Hancock ecosystem. Specific ecological objectives include:

• Create approximately 26.02 acres of lake-fringe wetlands
• Enhance approximately 7.37 acres of wetlands
• Enhance 103.39 acres of upland pine plantation, by pine thinning and re-vegetation of understory with native flora
• Treatment and control of nuisance and exotic vegetation
• Cessation of cattle operations
• Preservation of 131.45 acres of wetland habitat, 40.01 acres of open water (Lake Hancock) and 210.87 acres of associated upland buffer habitat.

ECOLOGICAL SUITABILITY OF THE SITE: A review of available information indicates that the property historically consisted of pine flatwoods dominated uplands surrounding forested wetlands/seepage streams and slopes. Aerial imagery from 1974 indicates much of the flatwoods were converted to citrus. The northern citrus areas were later converted to pine plantation and the areas closer to the lake were converted to pasture. Currently the northern portion of the property consists of a network of forested seepage wetlands surrounded by pine plantation, and improved pasture. The southern portion of the property consists of the edge of Lake Hancock.

ESTABLISHMENT AND OPERATION OF THE BANK: The proposed MSCMB would be established and operated by Westco Properties, LLC as the Sponsor with the assistance of Cardno and Clark Hull and Associates, LLC. The property that comprises the MSCMB is owned by Westco Properties, LLC. The MSCMB is proposed to be established as a single and complete project. Following MSCMB successful implementation and attainment of final success criteria, long-term management activities will be implemented in order to ensure the sustainability of MSCMB. In addition, the Sponsor will provide sufficient financial assurances to ensure construction and long-term management of the proposed MSCMB.

PROPOSED SERVICE AREA: The project is located within the Hancock Lake Subwatershed, identified as Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC 031002070401) which is part of the larger Crystal-Pithlachascotee Subbasin (HUC 03100207). The Applicant proposes a Mitigation Service Area (MSA) that is coincident with the Crystal-Pithlachascotee Subbasin. The MSCMB MSA is anticipated to include wetland habitat communities that could reasonably be expected to occur on the MSCMB.

CULTURAL RESOURCES: If archaeological resources are identified by State Division of Historical Resources (DHR) or are found within the MSCMB, provisions will be made in the mitigation plan to ensure that the site receives protection according to the DHR recommendations. Project review will include coordination with DHR and review of the site for potential cultural resources.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The site will be reviewed for potential critical habitat and presence of endangered species. The findings will be coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. Potential federally listed species that may occur on the MSCMB:

Common Name                           Scientific Name                        Federal Status
Eastern Indigo Snake                  Drymarchan corais couperi      Threatened
Red-Cockaded Woodpecker       Picoides borealis                      Endangered
Wood Stork                                 Mycteria Americana                  Endangered
Florida Scrub Jay                        Aphelocoma coerulescens        Threatened

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The project proposal will be coordinated with the pertinent federal agencies to minimize the risk for any potential impact to EFH.

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.

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.

COMMENTS: Comments regarding the proposed mitigation bank should be submitted in writing to the District Engineer at the address below within 30 days from the date of this notice.

The initial evaluation pertaining to whether or not this mitigation bank proposal has the potential for providing compensatory mitigation for activities authorized by issued Department of the Army permits will be based on the information contained in the prospectus, received from this public notice and obtained during an inspection of the project site.

If you have any questions concerning this proposed project, you may contact Ms. Teresa Frame by electronic mail at Teresa.M.Frame@usace.army.mil, by fax at 904-232-1904, or by telephone at 904-232-1677 or at the following address:

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
JACKSONVILLE DISTRICT CORPS OF ENGINEERS
P. O. BOX 4970
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA 32232-0019

IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Preliminary review of this application indicates that an Environmental Impact Statement will not be required. 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. By means of this notice, we are soliciting comments on the potential effects of the project on threatened or endangered species or their habitat

EVALUATION: After the end of the comment period, the district engineer will review all comments received and make an initial determination as to the potential of the proposed project to provide compensatory mitigation for activities authorized by Department of the Army permits. That determination 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. Factors relevant to the proposal will be considered including 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.

The 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 proposed activity. All comments received will be considered by the Corps during the formulation of the initial determination of potential for the proposed activity.