Public Notice Notifications

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Florida - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the State of Florida.

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SAJ-2018-01690 (SP-JED)

Published Aug. 8, 2018
Expiration date: 8/22/2018

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 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:

APPLICANT: Homosassa River Restoration Project
Attn: Steve Minguy
4088 South Washington Point
Homosassa, FL 34448

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Homosassa River. The project area covers a total of 25 acres which includes the following: a portion of Homosassa River beginning at the mouth of the manmade canal which runs adjacent to South Blue Water Point east to the end of the Homosassa River; the manmade canal which encircles the residences on South Blue Water Point; and the manmade canal which is adjacent to the residences on the north side of West Spring Cove Road. The project is generally located in Section 28, Township 19 South, Range 17 East, Homosassa, Citrus County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: A large portion of the project site is readily visible from the western extent of the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park located at 4150 South Suncoast Boulevard, Homosassa, Florida 34446. To reach the park, head south on Suncoast Boulevard from downtown Homosassa for approximately 0.20 mile. The park is located on the west side of road.

Start: Latitude 28.800540° Longitude -82.593998°
Stop: Latitude 28.796712° Longitude -82.586682°

Basic: The basic project purpose is maintenance dredging and aquatic vegetation restoration.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to maintenance dredge muck consisting of lyngbya spp. algae and detrital material from the eastern extent of the Homosassa River in order to expose a mineral substrate that is suitable for planting native aquatic vegetation.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed work would occur in the eastern extent of Homosassa River. In recent years, the Homosassa River system has suffered an influx of invasive species such as water hyacinth (Eichorna crassipes) and nutrient loading which has caused algal blooms of lyngbya spp. The natural die off and management of these invasive species along with the continued nutrient loading has caused a muck layer of lyngbya to settle on the riverbed and bottom of the canals replacing the mineralized substrate that used to support native submerged aquatic vegetation communities of tape grass (Vallisneria americana).

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks a 10-year authorization to suction dredge a total of 80,000 cubic yards of muck consisting of lyngbya spp. algae and other dead and decaying detrital material from a total of 25 acres in the eastern extent of the Homosassa River and two associated residential canals. Dredged material will be temporarily contained in geotube bags for dewatering and permanently disposed of in self-contained upland disposal areas. The applicant also seeks authorization to plant tape grass (Vallisneria americana) at various planting sites within both project areas. The applicant intends to directly plant individual sprigs of the vegetation throughout the proposed dredge area. Lastly, the applicant seeks to temporarily deploy a maximum of 1,531 herbivore exclusion cages over the proposed plantings in order to prevent grazing on the plantings until the vegetation is established and self-sustaining. The applicant anticipates that approximately 0.09 acre of the work area would be covered under the exclusion cages at any one time. The applicant estimates that an individual cage would need to remain in a single place for approximately 12 months prior to its relocation. The proposed dredging depths are limited to only that necessary to remove the muck layer down to natural, native mineralized sediments. The project is more particularly described on the attached project drawings.

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: In order to avoid impacts to any established aquatic resources within the work area, the applicant proposes to utilize precision vacuum dredge equipment. The applicant proposes to use a diver-controlled, handheld suction dredge when working in the vicinity of desirable submerged aquatic vegetation to ensure that the proposed work would not impact any existing communities of native submerged aquatic vegetation. Furthermore, the applicant proposes to utilize upland disposal for the dredge spoil, and to use a self-contained disposal cell while dredge work is ongoing. Also, the applicant proposes to deploy turbidity barriers and employ proper erosion control measures during all stages of the proposed work.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required: On September 27, 2017 the applicant performed benthic transect surveys of the proposed dredge area. The surveys revealed that the proposed project would occur within areas that do not support any significant concentrations of native submerged aquatic vegetation. Therefore, the proposed maintenance dredging would not impact any desirable communities of submerged aquatic vegetation. In addition, the applicant seeks to plant and establish native communities of submerged aquatic vegetation when the maintenance dredging is complete. In light of these facts, the applicant believes that compensatory mitigation is not warranted for the proposed project.

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps has determined that there is little likelihood that the proposed project would impact an historic property.

As to the proposed work that would occur in the manmade canals, there is no potential for this work to cause effect on an historic property or cultural resource. These areas have been extensively modified by previous work. Thus, the previous dredging of these canals likely removed any resources that may have been present.

As to the proposed work that would occur within Homosassa River, there is little likelihood an historic property may be affected. The applicant does not seek to dredge any of the mineralized parent substrate that may support historic or cultural resources.

However, the Corps is aware of an historic property 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.


Species under National Marine Fisheries Service Protected Resources Division’s purview:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District’s Programmatic Biological Opinion, NMFS, November 2017 (JAXBO): JAXBO analyzes the effects from 10 categories of minor in-water activities occurring in Florida and the U.S. Caribbean on sea turtles (loggerhead, leatherback, Kemp's ridley, hawksbill, and green); smalltooth sawfish; Nassau grouper; scalloped hammerhead shark, Johnson's seagrass; sturgeon (Gulf, shortnose, and Atlantic); corals (elkhorn, staghorn, boulder star, mountainous star, lobed star, rough cactus, and pillar); whales (North Atlantic right whale, sei, blue, fin, and sperm); and designated critical habitat for Johnson's seagrass; smalltooth sawfish; sturgeon (Gulf and Atlantic); sea turtles (green, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead); North Atlantic right whale; and elkhorn and staghorn corals in accordance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The Corps has determined that the proposed project falls within the scope of the JAXBO, and that JAXBO supports a determination that the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect these species. The Corps will request concurrence with this determination with the Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate correspondence.

Species under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s purview:

Since the proposal by the applicant is for in-water construction, potential impacts to the endangered West Indian manatee were evaluated using The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida, April 2013 (Key). Use of this Key resulted in the following sequential determination: AB(7); may affect. The proposed project involves in-water work within a Warm Water Aggregation Area. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.

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 25 acres of benthic area potentially utilized by various life stages of Penaeid shrimp complex; red drum; stone crab; spiny lobster; and/or the 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. The applicant seeks to specifically target and remove a muck layer from the work area that does not support the lifecycle or foraging needs of the species referenced above. Furthermore, the applicant proposes to replant and reestablish the native, historic vegetation community at the project site. Thus, it is likely that the proposed project would have a beneficial effect on EFH and 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 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 Jacksonville Permits Section, Gainesville Field Office, 2833 NW 41st Street Unit 130, Gainesville, Florida 32606, 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 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, James “Bo” Davidson, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Gainesville Field Office, 2833 NW 41st Street Unit 130, Gainesville Field Office; by electronic mail at; by facsimile transmission at (352) 264-7733; or, by telephone at (352)264-7672.

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.