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: Monroe County Board of County Commissioners
c/o Cary Knight, Director of Project Management
1100 Simonton Street
Key West, FL 33040
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Atlantic Ocean. The project site, known as Higgs Beach, is located at 1000 Atlantic Avenue, in Section 05, Township 68 South, Range 25 East, Key West, Monroe County, Florida 33040 (RE# 00058800-000000).
Directions to the site are as follows: From US-1 (Overseas Highway), entering Key West, take South Roosevelt Boulevard. Continue on South Roosevelt Boulevard to Bertha Street. Turn left onto Atlantic Boulevard and continue for approximately 0.75 miles. Higgs Beach will be located on the left hand side.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 24.546986°
Basic: The basic project purpose is for beach re-nourishment on an as-needed basis.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to reduce shoreline erosion and improve shoreline conditions for recreational use along Higgs Beach in Key West, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project area is an existing recreational beach that has eroded over time. The area surrounding the project area to the south consists of the Atlantic Ocean, to the west a public pier, and to the east a sandy recreational area stabilized with a concrete seawall. North of the project area are several recreational facilities, multi-family developments and single-family residences. According to the benthic survey submitted by the Applicant, the submerged substrate generally consists of sand and shell rubble throughout the area. Scattered rocky areas and occasional patches of seagrass are located within the project area. Approximately 58 square feet of sparse seagrass, 21.5 square feet of sparse to moderately dense seagrass, and 153 square feet of moderate to dense seagrass was observed within the proposed project area. No corals were documented within the proposed project footprint during the benthic survey.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to place beach compatible sand (3,956 cubic yards) along 500 linear feet (total area of 1.97 acres) of Higgs Beach at a 1:20 slope. Nourishment is anticipated on an as-needed basis and in response to erosion events over a 10 year period. One Florida-based upland sand source (SDI Quarry, Inc. in Florida City, Florida) will be utilized. Fill material will be transported to the beach via the uplands.
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION – Beach restoration is proposed to the minimal level necessary to restore the beach back to historic 2006 limits using a 1:20 slope as requested by Florida Fish and Wildlife to facilitate potential sea turtle nesting. As shown in the attached field observation report, approximately 58 square feet of sparse shoal grass, 21.5 square feet of sparse to moderately dense turtle grass, and 153 square feet of moderate to dense manatee grass would be impacted by the initial fill. These seagrasses impacts are within the slope and are expected to naturally return upon project completion. Floating turbidity barriers will be in place around the project site throughout construction to minimize sediments and other material from entering the adjacent waters.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: If necessary, payment into the Keys Restoration Fund (KRF) will be provided commensurate to unavoidable project impacts.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is aware of historic property/properties within or in close proximity of the permit area. 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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The project is located within American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) consultation area. According to the 28 October 2014 American Crocodile Key, the property supports suitable nesting habitat for the crocodile as the shoreline consists of a beach that is bare of vegetation; however, due to the location of the project adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean in Key West in an area of limited crocodile nesting, the Corps has reached a “may affect not likely to adversely affect” determination on the American crocodile and its suitable nesting habitat. The Corps has will seek concurrence with this determination from the FWS via separate correspondence.
For the on-shore (nesting portion) of their life cycle, the Corps has made the determination of “may affect but is not likely to adversely affect” the Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), or Smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata). The Corps has will seek concurrence with this determination from the FWS via separate correspondence.
The project is located in potential habitat for the piping plover (Charadrius melodus) and roseate tern (Sterna dougallii). The Corps determined the project “may affect, not likely to adversely affect” the piping plover and roseate tern. The Corps has will seek concurrence with this determination from the FWS via separate correspondence.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has determined the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) or its designated critical habitat. Use of the Key resulted in the sequence A-B-C-G-H-I-N-O-P5 may affect, not likely to adversely affect. This determination partially was based on the implementation of the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work. The Corps has concurrence with this determination pursuant to the Effect Determination Key for the manatee dated April 2013.
The real estate parcel number is 00058800-000000 and is on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Suitable Habitat List, dated August 2010, for Monroe County for the following species: the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), the Key Tree Cactus (Pilosocereus robinii), and the Stock Island Tree Snail (Orthalicus rese, not incl. nesodryas).
The subject parcel is listed on the FWS 2011 Suitable Habitat List for the Eastern Indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). Since critical habitat has not been designated for the indigo snake, potential impacts to D. c. couperi were evaluated using the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key dated August 1, 2017 (Snake Key). Due to the permit being conditioned for use of the Service’s Standard Protection Measures for The Eastern Indigo Snake during site preparation and project construction, use of the Snake Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C > D (1), “may affect but is not likely to adversely affect”. Therefore, pursuant to the Snake Key, no further consultation with the FWS is required.
Potential impacts to the Key tree cactus were evaluated using the Key Tree Cactus Species Key, dated July 29, 2013, and resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B (1), “may affect, but not likely to adversely affect” for the listed species. The proposed project is occurring on previously disturbed beach and is not removing or making modifications to the Key tree-cactus native habitat. The Corps received programmatic concurrence from the FWS for projects that have a NLAA determination; therefore, no incidental take will occur and no further consultation with the FWS is required.
Potential impacts to the Stock Island tree snail (Orthalicus reses, not incl. nesodryas) were evaluated using the Stock Island Tree Snail Species Key, dated July 29, 2013, and resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B (1), “may affect, but not likely to adversely affect” for the listed species. The proposed project is occurring on previously disturbed beach and is not removing or making modifications to the Stock Island tree snail native habitat. The Corps received programmatic concurrence from the FWS for projects that have a NLAA determination; therefore, no incidental take will occur and no further consultation with the FWS is required.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect (“MANLAA”) Acropora sp. critical habitat, the swimming green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) and their critical habitat, hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), kemps ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii), leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), and the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), and the Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus). A no effect determination was reached on smalltooth sawfish critical habitat, Acorpora sp. and listed corals species; (Dendrogyra cylindrus, Orbicella annularis, Orbicella faveolata, Orbicella franksi, Mycetophyllia ferox). The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with these determinations pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
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 approximately 1.97 acres of submerged bottom utilized by various life stages of marine species. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Florida Keys. 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 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 107th Avenue, Suite 203, Miami, Florida 33176 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, Jessica Hogan, in writing at the Miami Permits Section, 9900 Southwest 107th Avenue, Suite 203, Miami, Florida 33176; by electronic mail at Jessica.M.Hogan@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (305)779-6052.
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.