Public Notice Notifications

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SAJ-2014-03663 (SP-RLT)

Published July 11, 2018
Expiration date: 7/30/2018
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) and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:

APPLICANT: Florida Department of Transportation, District 5
                      Attn: Ms. Casey Lyon
                      719 South Woodland Blvd.
                      Deland, Florida 32720

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Tomoka River. The project site is located along approximately 2.26 miles of SR 600 (US 92) from I-4 Ramps to Tomoka Farms Road in Sections 27, 32, 33 and 34, Township 15 South, Range 32 East and Sections 4 and 5, Township 16 South, Range 32 East, Volusia County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: From Orlando: I-4 EB to the US 92 Exit; Project begins at ramp terminals and US 92. From Jacksonville: I-95 SB to the US92 Exit; Project begins at Tomoka Farms Road and US92.

                                                                         Longitude -81.103024°


Basic: Linear transportation improvements.

Overall: The overall project purpose is to construct roadway improvements within the SR 600 (US 92) corridor to reduce congestion, improve traffic operations, and improve public safety in northeastern Volusia County.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: SR 600 (US 92) is an existing typical section that consists of a four-lane divided rural roadway with roadside ditches and crosses the Tomoka River over a four-lane bridge. The proposed typical section consists of a six-lane rural roadway with the new lanes being constructed to the outside of the existing lanes. The westbound lanes will be reconstructed and raised to match the existing eastbound roadway profile. The eastbound lanes will be milled and resurfaced, matching the existing profile. The stormwater management system will consist of three new pond sites located on the south side of SR 600 (US 92) along with conveyances and improvements to existing surface water features and associated structures throughout the project corridor. All on-site habitats and land uses were classified according to the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS) (FDOT, 1999).

Upland Communities:

FLUCFCS 110, 120 and 139 – Residential, Low, Medium, and High Density land uses consist of single-family developments and high density residential areas that are in the process of construction. These land uses best describes parts of the project located near the west end of the project at Old Deland Road (Low Density); land use located at the east end of the project at Frances Drive (Medium Density); and, land use associated with the development located at Grand Champion Blvd (High Density).

FLUCFCS 140 – Commercial and Services land uses consist of commercial areas associated with the distribution of products and services. The category includes all secondary structures including sheds, warehouses, office buildings, driveways, etc. that are associated with the main buildings. This land use best describes the areas located in the vicinity of Frances Drive and Tomoka Farms Road.

FLUCFCS 211 – Improved Pastures are the most intensively managed of the pastureland classes. They are usually cleared, tilled, reseeded with specific grass types and periodically improved with brush control and fertilizer application. In most cases they show some direct evidence of cattle, such as watering ponds, troughs, feed bunkers, fencing, corrals, barns or cow trails. Improved pastures are found at the southern extent of the project corridor at Tomoka Farms Road.

FLUCFCS 310 – Herbaceous (Dry Prairie) land uses include upland prairie grasses which occur on non-hydric soils but may occasionally be inundated with water. These grasslands are generally treeless with a variety of vegetation types dominated by grasses, sedges, rushes, and other herbs including wire grasses with occasional saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). The largest remnant grassland areas are located adjacent to LPGA Blvd.

FLUCFCS 320 – Upland Shrub and Brushland communities include saw palmetto, gallberry (Ilex glabra), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera) and other shrubs and brush. Areas mapped as shrub and brushland are located adjacent to and south of Pond 2.

FLUCFCS 330 – Mixed Upland Non-Forested communities is one of three land cover classes used for upland non-agricultural, non-forested lands which contain no evidence of cattle grazing. The mixed upland non-forested classification is used for areas in which neither herbaceous species nor shrubs cover more than 67% of the area and may include areas where tree species are regenerating naturally after clear cutting or fire but are less than 20 feet tall. Typical herbaceous species include the bluestems, threeawns, panic grasses, and lovegrasses. Typical shrubs include fetterbush (Lyonia racemosa), rusty lyonia (Lyonia ferruginea), dwarf blueberry (Vaccinium tenellum) and wax myrtle. Also included are saw palmetto and Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), but only where they are not the dominant species.

FLUCFCS 411 – Pine Flatwoods is an upland forested land use that includes naturally generated pine species with a 67 percent crown canopy dominance. Originally, longleaf pines were common on drier sites while slash pines, which are less fire-resistant, were confined to moist sites - wildfire being the contributing factor in this distribution. However, fire control and artificial reforestation have extended the range of slash pine (Pinus elliottii) into former longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) sites. Pine flatwoods are located predominantly at the west end of the project corridor.

FLUCFCS 434 – Upland Hardwood Forest communities are forested areas in which either hardwoods or conifers achieve a 66 percent crown canopy dominance. Areas mapped as upland hardwood forest are also located predominantly at the east end of the project corridor associated with uplands adjacent to the Tomoka River.

FLUCFCS 441 – Coniferous Plantations are pine plantations which consist of pine species planted for purposes of pulp or wood production. The class is relatively easy to recognize due to the characteristic red brick colors, small crowns and straight rows. The largest areas mapped as pine plantations are located centrally along the project corridor, west of the Tomoka River.

FLUCFCS 443 – Forest Regeneration Areas are areas in which it is clear that open areas will be reforested through prescribed silvicultural practices rather than take on another land use or be abandoned. The area may appear disturbed, thus producing a wide variety of photo-signatures, depending on the stage of re-growth following timber harvest. The boundaries of this class are somewhat irregular and can meander through an area of existing pine flatwoods.

Wetland Communities and Surface Waters:

FLUCFCS 530 – Reservoirs are artificial impoundments of water or water bodies that have been significantly modified from their natural state. They are used for irrigation, flood control, municipal and rural water supplies, stormwater treatment, recreation and hydro-electric power generation. Dams, levees, other water control structures or the excavation itself usually will be evident to aid in the identification.

FLUCFCS 617 – Mixed Wetland Hardwood communities are forested areas composed of a large variety of hardwood species tolerant of hydric conditions. The mixed wetland hardwood community is the majority of the forested areas adjacent to the open waters of the Tomoka River and Bennett Swamp. Dominant species include water oak (Quercus nigra), pond pine (Pinus serotina), bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) and cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto). The USFWS habitat classification is PFO6E.

FLUCFCS 621 – Mixed Wetland Hardwood consists of forested wetland communities in which pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens) or bald cypress comprises over 67% of the forest canopy. In the case of pond cypress, common associates are swamp tupelo (Nyssa biflora), slash pine and black titi (Cliftonia monophylla). In the case of bald cypress, common associates are water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica), swamp cottonwood (Populus heterophylla), red maple (Acer rubrum), American elm (Ulmus americana), pumpkin ash (Fraxinus profunda), Carolina ash (Fraxinus caroliniana), overcup oak (Quercus lyrata) and water hickory (Carya aquatica). Bald cypress may be associated with laurel (Quercus laurifolia) and water oaks, sweet gum and sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana) on drier sites. The USFWS habitat classification is PFO6F.

FLUCFCS 625 – Wet Pinelands/Hydric Pine consists of wetland coniferous forests with a sparse to moderate canopy of longleaf and/or slash pine. This community may be naturally generated or the result of pine plantations through flatwoods depressions. Hydric pinelands appear similar to mesic pine communities where the high water table favors hydrophytic shrubs, grasses and herbs, and inhibits the establishment of saw palmetto, gallberry and other typical upland species. The USFWS habitat classification is PFO4A.

FLUCFCS 630 – Wetland Forested Mixed communities are forested areas which neither hardwoods nor conifers achieve 66 percent dominance in the canopy composition. The largest areas mapped as wetland forested mixed occur within Bennett Swamp near the western end of the project corridor. Another wetland forested mixed community occurs in the proposed location of Pond 4 at the eastern end of the project corridor. The USFWS habitat classification is PFO6/3C.

FLUCFCS 641 – Freshwater Marshes communities are wetlands communities characterized by herbaceous plant species that occur on sites where surface water is present for extended periods during the growing season but is absent by the end of the growing season in most years. Freshwater marshes tend to be open expanses of grasses, sedges, rushes and other types of herbaceous plants. The only freshwater marsh community within the project corridor is a small area located at the existing bridge over the Tomoka River. The USFWS habitat classification is PEM1C.

FLUCFCS 643 – Wet Prairies are communities of grasses, sedges, rushes and herbs typically dominated by sand cordgrass, maidencane or a mixture of species. They are subject to frequent fire and naturally occur on mineral soils that are inundated for a relatively short duration each year, but with prolonged soil saturation. Areas within the project corridor mapped as wet prairie occur as wetlands within the existing I-95/US 92 interchanges. The USFWS habitat classification is PEM1A.

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge fill material over 17.75 acres of waters of the United States (surface waters and wetlands) to widen approximately 2.26 miles of SR 600 (US 92) from the Interstate 4 Ramps to just east of Tomoka Farms Road. In addition, the project would incur approximately 3.45 acres of secondary wetland impacts. The FDOT would widen the existing four-lane rural roadway to a six-lane rural roadway with depressed median and roadside ditches to improve traffic capacity and safety. The proposed work also includes the construction of sidewalk along both sides of the roadway for access to existing bus stops as well as to provide connectivity with future trails and residences.

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 widening alignment has been dictated by the presence of a Florida Gas Transmission natural gas line and large drainage canal on the north side of SR 600. Additional right of way is required on the south side of the existing roadway for the planned widening improvements and to reduce impacts on the natural gas line. Pond sites have been selected to the greatest extent practical to avoid wetlands. The abundance of wetlands in the corridor have made pond selection difficult. Higher quality wetlands associated with the Tomoka River were given a higher avoidance priority over wetlands that have been previously impacted by timber operations. In addition, high quality uplands within the Tomoka River Riparian Habitat Protection Zone were avoided at the guidance of both USACE and SJRWMD staff.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:

The functional values of the on-site wetlands and surface waters were established using the Wetland Rapid Assessment Procedure (WRAP). The WRAP scores demonstrate that the project impacts are expected to result in a functional loss of no more than 11.70 units. Mitigation will be provided through the purchase of 11.70 WRAP credits from the Farmton Mitigation Bank (SAJ-1998-01836).

CULTURAL RESOURCES: 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 is located within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Consultation Areas for the Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) and Eastern Indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couper).

Scrub jay: The Florida scrub-jay lives only in the scrub and scrubby flatwoods habitats of Florida. This type of habitat grows only on nearly pure, excessively well-drained sandy soils, and occurs along present coastlines in Florida, on paleodunes of the high central ridges and other ancient shorelines of the Florida Peninsula, and inland on scattered alluvial deposits bordering several major rivers. No appropriate habitat occurs within the project area and no individuals were noted during field surveys; therefore, this project would have no effect on the species.

Eastern indigo snake: Potential impacts to the Eastern indigo snake were evaluated using The Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, January 2010 and revised August 2013. The potential impacts to the endangered Eastern Indigo snake were evaluated using The Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, August 2013. Use of the Eastern Indigo snake key resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C > D > E “not likely to adversely affect” the Eastern Indigo snake. This is due to the project impacting less than 25 acres of xeric habitat (scub, sandhill, or scrubby flatwoods) and less than 25 active and inactive gopher tortoise burrows. Also the applicant proposes to follow the FWS approved Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake during the clearing and construction phases of the project.

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 unnamed wetlands. 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. The applicant indicated the project was evaluated by the National Marine Fisheries (NMFS) as part of the FDOT’S Efficient Transportation Decision Making (ETDM) screening process. The NMFS determined that the proposed project would not impact areas that support fishery resources and that no further action is required.

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 Panama City Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232 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, Mr. Randy Turner, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232, by electronic mail at, by fax at (904) 232-1904, or by telephone at (904) 232-1670.

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.