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 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act of 1972 (33 U.S.C. §1344) as described below:
APPLICANT: South Florida Water Management District
c/o Ernie Marks
3301 Gun Club Road
West Palm Beach, FL 33406
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States along the L-29 Canal. The project site is located at the L-67A Canal, just upstream of its confluence with the L-29 Canal, in Section 06, Township 54 south, Range 38 east, Unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida (Folio Number: 30-4706-000-0010).
Directions to the site are as follows: From the intersection of Tamiami Trail (US 41) and Krome Avenue (FL 997), head west on Tamiami Trail a distance of 12 miles. Use bridge to right to cross L-29 Canal. Proposed S-333N site is just north of existing S-333 structure.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 25.761918º
Basic: The basic project purpose is to increase hydraulic connectivity.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to increase hydraulic connectivity within Everglades National Park, Unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The S-333N structure is a component of the USACE’s congressionally approved Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) and is intended to increase hydraulic connectivity between Water Conservation Area-3A (WCA-3A) and Everglades National Park, specifically Northeast Shark River Slough. The work was recommended within CEPP’s Final Integrated Project Implementation Report and Environmental Impact Statement, dated July 2014, revised December 2014, and approved by the Chief of Engineers on December 23, 2014. Operations will be consistent with the USACE’s most currently approved Operating Plan.
With exception of 0.28 +/- acres of adjacent Cattail Marsh and 0.09 +/- acres of adjacent exotic wetland hardwood hammocks (totaling 0.37 acres), the environmental baseline/existing conditions are fairly typical of SFWMD’s maintained levee/canal system in Miami-Dade County. The majority of the proposed earthwork will occur at the junction of the L-67A and L-29 levees, and within the adjacent L-67A and L-29 Canals, all of which were constructed by the U.S. Army corps of Engineers USACE) as part of the Central & South Florida Flood Control Project (C&SF Project).
The trapezoidal shaped L-67A and L-29 levees, which are non-jurisdictional, were constructed when the USACE side cast limestone spoils resulting from excavation of the adjacent L-67A and L-29 canals. Generally devoid of vegetation, the levees are periodically denuded by mowing or chemical means and do not provide high value or unique upland functions.
The trapezoidal excavated L-67A and L-29 canals convey water from WCA 3A and 3B to Everglades National Park (ENP) and [at times] to the eastern basins. Relatively deep (approximately 10-16’), with steep (approaching 1:1) side slopes, and periodically maintained, the canals also do not appear to provide high value or unique functions.
The 0.28 +/- acres of adjacent Cattail Marsh appears to be dominated by cattail (Typha spp), interspersed with sparse sawgrass (Cladium spp.), while 0.09 +/- acres of adjacent exotic wetland hardwood hammocks appear to be dominated by Primrose Willow (Ludwigia grandiflora), with a slight Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia) fringe. Below these jurisdictional areas, the USDA SCS Soil Survey of Dade County, Florida indicates the presence of a single mapped surficial soil (36” to 51” deep), Pahokee Muck depressional. The dominance by nuisance plant species within these two highly abundant habitat types certainly decreases the wetland values and functions which they might otherwise provide.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant has modified the scope of work. The revised proposal includes the discharge 2,924 cubic yards (CYs) of earthen material over 0.95 acres of freshwater wetlands and surface waters for the construction of structure S-333N, a fully automated, electrically operated two (2) gate spillway adjacent to (just north of) the existing S-333 structure. In order to accommodate the proposed structure, 3,119 cubic yards of sediment and riprap will be excavated from 0.39 acres of upland, wetland, and surface waters. The proposed S-333N will work in conjunction with the existing S-333 Structure to increase hydraulic connectivity between Water Conservation Area-3A (WCA-3A) and Everglades National Park (ENP). The design flow of S-333N was established to reach a combined conveyance of 2,500 cfs with the existing S-333 Structure (1,350 cfs). The new S-333N structure will be comprised of a 76-foot long sheetpile box, control gates, security fence and gates, staff gauges, hand rails, boat barriers on either side of the station. The canal banks will be stabilized by 4 sheetpile wingwalls to be installed along each corner of the proposed structure. The wingwalls will vary in size for a combined length of 210 linear feet of sheetpile. A 3-foot wide concrete cap will be installed in all sections of wall. The area between wingwalls along the canal banks will be backfilled with clean fill. 952 linear feet of canal bottom and banks upstream and downstream of the proposed structure will be stabilized with riprap.
A pile supported, grated T-shaped monitoring station will be installed upstream and a pier monitoring station will be installed downstream of the proposed S-333 structure. A stilling well and gauge will be installed along the terminal ends of each station.
The work will also require modifications to the L-67 and L-29 levees involving excavation and filling a total of 0.39 acres of existing manmade canals/surface waters along the L-67A and L-29. As a result of this project, an existing Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) airboat ramp and associated pile supported boat signs will need to be relocated east of the L-67A levee. The new 75.2 foot long by 16 foot wide boat ramp will be constructed with articulated concrete block mats and stabilized by riprap revetment on all sides. Sheetpile will be installed along the L-67 Canal for dewatering prior to construction activities. The sheetpile will be temporary in nature and will be removed once construction of the new structure is complete. In addition, temporary silt fences and enviro-fences will be installed to avoid impacts outside of the construction footprint. Work is proposed in Waters of the U.S. in accordance with the attached site plans.
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 proposed S-333N structure is intended to convey water between two aquatic environments, specifically, the L-67A and L-29 Canals, and there is therefore no practicable alternative to locating this water dependent activity within the aquatic environment. With respect to minimization, several alternatives were considered but discarded because of having greater wetland impacts, and the current design went through several iterations to reduce the total wetland impact to 0.37 +/- acres of low grade, invasive dominated wetlands. It is important to recognize that the further modifications to the current site plan are constrained by the presence of the existing S-333 structure, Tamiami Trail Bridge construction, FWC facilities, and perhaps most importantly, the ValuJet Flight 592 Memorial.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The S-333N structure is a component of the USACE’s congressionally approved Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) and is intended to increase hydraulic connectivity between Water Conservation Area-3A (WCA-3A) and Everglades National Park, specifically Northeast Shark River Slough. The S-333N will work in conjunction with the existing S-333 structure to help reduce detrimental effects of prolonged high-water events and lessen adverse impacts to tree islands and associated wildlife within WCA3 which is managed as part of the Francis S. Taylor Wildlife Management Area. These overarching benefits will clearly more than off-set the impacts to 0.37 acres of non-unique nuisance dominated wetlands within WCA 3B.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The project area is located west of the ValuJet Flight 592 Memorial. By copy of this public notice, the Corps is providing information for review. In addition, consultation with the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida will be initiated under separate cover.
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 Corps has determined the proposed project has the potential to affect the following species: Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus mirabilis), the Florida Panther (Puma (=Felis) concolor coryi), Everglades Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), the Florida Bonneted Bat (Eumops floridanus), Wood Stork (Mycteria Americana), Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), and American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus).
Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow (CSSS): The project site is located in the Consultation Area for the CSSS. Due to anticipated improvements in hydroperiod associated with the work, the Corps has determined that the proposed project will have a beneficial effect, and thereby “may affect, not likely to adversely affect” the CSSS or its designated critical habitat. The Corps will request FWS concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
Florida Panther: The project site is located within the Florida Panther Focus Area. Potential impacts were evaluated using the Corps Florida Panther Effect Determination Key, February 19, 2007 (Panther Key). The cumulative work area is greater than 1 acre. Use of the Panther Key resulted in the sequence A>C> “may affect”. However, the project site is not located within the core habitat and does not provide ideal hunting habitat due to the highly frequently managed nature of the areas of impact. The main diet of the Florida panther consists of white-tailed deer, sometimes wild hog, rabbit, raccoon, armadillo, and birds. It is expected that the proposed project will increase prey resources downstream due to rehydration of the area. Therefore, the Corps determined that the proposed project will have a discountable effect, and therefore “may affect but is not likely to adversely affect” the Florida panther. The Corps will request FWS concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
Everglades Snail Kite: The project area is located in critical habitat for the Everglades Snail Kite. However, nesting habitat is not found within or close to the proposed project area, nor is construction likely to cause an effect on feeding, nesting or fledging of nestlings downstream. The canal itself is too deep to support vegetation for nesting kites within the project area. The Corps has determined that the proposed project “may affect but is not likely to adversely affect” the Everglades snail kite or its designated critical habitat. The Corps will request FWS concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
Florida Bonneted Bat (FBB): The project site is located in the Consultation Area for the FBB. Although the FBB’s habits are not very well known and its calls have been heard inside Everglades National Park, the FBB has not been observed in areas near or within the project site. Furthermore, construction activities will involve heavy earth-moving machinery, whose operations might generate enough noise to temporarily disturb roosting bats, but this effect would be of short duration, and would be unlikely to cause permanent adverse impacts on bat colonies. The project site is over 5 acres and does not include more than 1 acre (alone or combined) of FBB habitat types (upland or wetland forest; upland or wetland shrub; open freshwater wetlands; or open water) and does not include potential roost sites (e.g., large cavity trees or trees with hollows, snags, abandoned buildings, bridges and overpasses); therefore, use of the 2013 FBB Effect Determination Guidelines resulted in the sequence 1>2>d “MANLAA”. The Corps has concurrence with this determination pursuant to the 2013 FBB Effect Determination Guidelines for the FBB.
Wood Stork: Potential impacts to the Wood Stork were evaluated using Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Florida, May 18, 2010 (Key). Use of the Key resulted in the sequence A>B “NLAA” since the project will result in impacts to SFH that are less than 0.5 acres and the work is not expected to have a measureable effect on wood storks. Furthermore, foraging wood storks often are observed alongside highways and agricultural machinery in partially flooded fields; therefore, even during earth-moving activities they are unlikely to show disturbance due to construction. Based on this information, the Corps has determined that the project is not likely to adversely affect the species. The Corps has concurrence with this determination pursuant to the Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork dated 18 May 2010.
Eastern Indigo Snake: Potential impacts to the eastern indigo snake were evaluated using the August 1, 2017, Determination Key for the Eastern Indigo Snake. Use of the Key resulted in the sequence: A>B>C>D>E: "not likely to adversely affect". The Corps has concurrence with this determination pursuant to the Effect Determination Key for the Eastern Indigo Snake.
American Crocodile: While the project is located within the crocodile consultation area and the parcel may be accessible to crocodiles, the site does not support areas that are suitable for nesting; therefore, the Corps has determined that the proposal would have no effect on the crocodile. Where the Corps makes a “no effect” determination to a listed species, no further consultation is required.
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 have no impacts on tidally influenced waters. Therefore, our initial determination is that the proposed action would have no impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries.
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 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 107the Avenue, Suite 203, Miami, Florida 33176 within 15 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 waters of the United States. 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, Nicole Fresard, in writing at the Miami Permits Section, 9900 Southwest, Suite 203, Miami, Florida 33176; by electronic mail at Nicole.D.Fresard@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (305)526-7184; or, by telephone at (305)779-6053.
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.