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:
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP)
Attn: Marshall Flake
3900 Commonwealth Blvd.
Tallahassee, FL 32399
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Gulf of Mexico. The project site is located at along the beach of Gasparilla Island State Park at the south end of Gasparilla Island at 880 Belcher Road, in Section 26, Township 43S, Range 20E, Boca Grande, Lee County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From the intersection of US-41 and County Road 776 (El Jobean Road), proceed southwest on County Road 776 to County Road 771 (Gasparilla Road). Turn left onto Gasparilla Road and follow to the Boca Grande Causeway. Take the Causeway and follow Gasparilla Road, which becomes Park Avenue. Turn Right at 1st St. W., then left onto Gulf Blvd. Follow Gulf Blvd until it ends at the Gasparilla State Park entrance. The project is along the beach located at west end of Belcher Road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 26.719095º
Basic: The basic project purpose is beach nourishment/shoreline stabilization.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to perform beach (re)nourishment to stabilize the shoreline at Gasparilla Island State Park at the south end of Gasparilla Island.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: Gasparilla Island is an approximately 6.6 mile long barrier island separating the Gulf of Mexico from inland bays and Charlotte Harbor in Southwest Florida. Development on the island is primarily single family residential, with some low rise condominium and low rise commercial structures. The southernmost tip of the island is bordered by Boca Grande Pass, which is part of a federal navigation project with a design dredge depth of 32 feet. Adjacent to the inlet is Gasparilla Island State Park, which provides public beach access and includes a historic lighthouse structure. The State Park has experienced chronic erosion since the 1990’s and the beach was previously nourished in 2007 as part of the federal Gasparilla Island Shore Protection Project (SPP) implemented by Lee County. When a second nourishment was conducted by the Corps in 2013, the Park south of R-24 was not included in the fill placement area. The park is not planned to be included within the current SPP nourishment design.
PROPOSED WORK: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) seeks authorization for a 15-year permit authorization to (re)nourish approximately 3.06-acres/2,500 linear feet (760 meters) of the beach at Gasparilla Island State Park at the south end of Gasparilla Island to the previously approved elevations with some minor modifications at the south end to adapt to the eroding shoreline conditions. The project spans Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Monuments (also commonly referred to as FDEP R-monuments) R-24 (tie into south taper of Corps SPP fill template) to R-26.5 (fill template tapers off at this monument). The design berm width will vary from 120 to 200 feet (36 to 65 meters) and the top of berm is proposed at a design elevation of +3.0 feet NAVD (+0.9 meters) sloping at 1V:10H to a toe elevation of approximately -7.0 to -10.0 feet (-2.1 to -3.0 meters) to grade. A total estimated quantity of 165,000 cubic yards of sand will be placed on the beach to restore the beach to the previously approved design template based on the September 2017 survey. The final quantity will be based on the conditions at the time of construction. A similar quantity of sand placement would be anticipated with future nourishment cycles. The means of construction from the proposed 420-acre offshore sand borrow area, located approximately 1.85 miles offshore the southern tip of Gasparilla Island and south of FDEP reference monument R-25 and adjacent to Boca Grande Pass, is anticipated to be conducted by hydraulic dredging with specific methods to be determined by the selected contractor. The proposed work is anticipated to occur immediately upon completion of the Corps’ Gasparilla Island Shore Protection Project (SPP), using the same contractor and the same offshore sand borrow area, which is in the same vicinity used for previous re-nourishment projects. The applicant also seeks authorization to provide fill from a DEP approved upland source if needed to respond to emergency situations during the period between SPP projects.
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:
All fill material will be placed in the dynamic, sandy swash zone adjacent to a major inlet. Best management practices will be followed during sand placement to minimize turbidity through the construction of temporary dikes in advance of the fill. No hardbottom or seagrasses have been identified within this proposed project area in the past and new surveys will be required. Standard manatee, shorebird and sea turtle conditions of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Statewide Programmatic Biological Opinion (SPBO) and Programmatic Piping Plover Biological Opinion (P3BO), and the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Gulf of Mexico Regional Biological Opinion (GRBO) will be adhered to throughout the project.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION –The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
No hardbottom or seagrasses have been identified within this proposed project area. The proposed beach fill will improve and restore sea turtle and shorebird habitat, and well as recreational use and storm protection at the park. Therefore, the project is self-mitigating and will provide an increase in aquatic function and habitat protections.
The Corps is aware of historic property/properties within or in close proximity of the permit area. Consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer was conducted in 2003, at which time no significant sites were identified within the fill area. Two historic sites which include the remains of an iron-hulled vessel and two wooden hulled vessels are located within the proposed borrow area. A 200-foot no-work buffer zone has been established around these three areas to be avoided by project activities. The Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as applicable pursuant to 33 CFR 325, Appendix C and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, by separate letter.
Name of species potentially present managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS):
• Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi)
• Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens)
• Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)
• Rufa Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa)
• Nesting Sea Turtles: Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill sea turtle (Eremochelys imbricate), Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), and/or Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta).
• West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus)
Name of species potentially present managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS):
• Smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectintata)
• Swimming Sea Turtles: Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill sea turtle (Eremochelys imbricate), Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), and/or Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta).
Designated Critical Habitat (DCH): West Indian Manatee and Loggerhead sea turtle critical habitat.
The terms and conditions of the 1997 NMFS GRBO and related coordination, which applies to sea turtles in the water and smalltooth sawfish, the 2015 FWS SPBO, which applies to nesting sea turtles and the manatee, and the 2013 P3BO will be followed for these species, with exception of the red knot.
West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus): The proposed project is located within the manatee consultation area and critical habitat. The proposed project will not impact submerged aquatic vegetation or mangrove habitat. The proposed project will not occur in a designated Important Manatee Area or Warm Water Aggregation Area. The Corps has determined that the proposed project in its entirety may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian Manatee per a previous FWS Biological Opinion, dated September 29, 1999 and FWS log number 4-1-99-F-812, for the Lee County Shoreline Protection project which included the proposed project location. In this biological opinion, FWS concurred with the Corps’ determination that the project “would not affect” the West Indian Manatee. Finally, in accordance with the FWS SPBO, revised 27 February 2015, since the applicant elects to adhere to the Standard Manatee Conditions for In- Water Work, 2011, Section 7 requirements are fulfilled. Therefore, based upon previous Biological Opinions and may effect, not likely to adversely affect concurrences, the Corps will not conduct any further consultations with FWS regarding effects to the West Indian manatee.
Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi): The Corps has determined that the proposed project will have no effect on the eastern indigo snake since the project location is strictly beach habitat and does not support eastern indigo snake habitat. Therefore, no further consultation with FWS is required when this determination is reached.
Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens): The project is located within the Florida Scrub jay consultation area. There is no designated critical habitat for the scrub jay listed in the federal register (52 FR 20715-20719). Persistent breeding populations of Florida scrub-jays exist only where there are scrub oaks in sufficient quantity to provide an ample winter acorn supply, cover from predators, and nest sites during the spring. The project site is located along a public beach and it does not support scrub jay foraging or nesting habitat. Any scrub jay sightings at the project site would be incidental. The Corps has determined that the proposed project will have no effect on Florida Scrub-Jay and no further consultation with FWS is required.
Wintering Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus): The project is located within the Piping Plover consultation area, but is not located within piping plover critical habitat. The Corps has determined that the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Piping plover. In accordance with the Programmatic Piping Plover Biological Opinion (P3BO), dated 22 May 2013, the Corps has determined that the proposed project in its entirety is located within optimal habitat and the Applicant has agreed to follow and implement the Reasonable and Prudent Measures and Terms and Conditions outlined in the P3BO that apply to the project. The Corps will request concurrence with this effect determination with the FWS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa): The Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the red knot. Critical Habitat has not been designated for this species. Red knots may occasionally occur within the project’s beach placement area. Minimal direct impacts to red knots should occur from project construction because motile birds can avoid construction activities. The disposal of sand on the beach may temporarily interrupt foraging and resting activities of shorebirds that use the project beach area. This limited interruption would occur on the immediate area of disposal and last for the duration of construction. Red knots may occasionally occur within the project’s beach placement area. The Corps will request initiation of consultation with the FWS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata): The Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect (MANLAA) this species pursuant to the 2003 Gulf of Mexico Regional Biological Opinion (GRBO). The project is located adjacent to, but not within, the Charlotte Harbor Estuary Unit of Smalltooth Sawfish Critical Habitat. The Corps will evaluate applicable biological opinions and request initiation of formal with the NMFS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter, if required.
Sea Turtles: Five species of sea turtle inhabit the Gulf of Mexico. These are the Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelyc imbricata), and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), collectively referred to as “sea turtles” in this document.
Swimming Sea Turtles: Pursuant to the GRBO, the Corps has determined that the proposed project in its entirety may affect, and is likely to adversely affect (MALAA) Loggerhead, Green, Kemp’s ridley, and Hawksbill sea turtles and is not likely to adversely affect (NLAA) Leatherback sea turtles. The Corps has also determined that the proposed project in its entirety may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect designated Critical Habitat Unit LOGG-N-FL-29 for the Loggerhead sea turtle. The Applicant has committed to implement the Reasonable and Prudent Measures identified in the GRBO, including revisions 1 and 2, which apply to the project. The Corps will further evaluate applicable biological opinions and request initiation of formal consultation with the NMFS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter, if required.
Nesting Sea Turtles: The Corps has determined that the proposed project in its entirety may affect, and is likely to adversely affect these species in the terrestrial environment. The Applicant has committed to implement the Reasonable and Prudent Measures and Terms and Conditions identified in the 2015-SPBO that apply to the project. The Corps has also determined that the proposed project in its entirety may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect designated Critical Habitat Unit LOGG-T-FL-21 for the Loggerhead sea turtle. The Applicant has agreed to follow and implement the Reasonable and Prudent Measures, and Terms and Conditions outlined in the SPBO that apply to sea turtles within the project area. The Corps will further evaluate applicable biological opinions and request initiation of formal consultation with the FWS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter, if 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 impact the water column, non-vegetated substrate, and West Florida shelf associated with the proposed borrow area and the 3.06-acre beach area beneath the MHWL of water column and non-vegetated substrate. Both areas could be utilized by various life stages of penaeid shrimp complex, red drum, reef fish, stone crab, spiny lobster, migratory/pelagic fish, and snapper/grouper complex. 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/has not] been verified by Corps personnel.
AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification has been received from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. It is provided in Joint Coastal Permit (JCP) Number 0358239-001-JC.
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 or preferably, via email to the project manager at Katy.R.Damico@usace.army.mil within 30 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, Katy Damico, in writing at the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Boulevard, Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida 33919; by electronic mail (preferred) at Katy.R.Damico@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (813) 769-7061; or, by telephone at (813) 769-7076.
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 a