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: Michael Foster
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard
Tallahassee, FL 32399
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Big Lagoon. The project is located at 12301 Gulf Beach Highway, in Sections 13 and 14, Township 3 South, Range 32 West, in Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From downtown Pensacola, proceed west on Garden Street and veer southwest onto Barrancas Avenue. Barrancas Avenue turns into Gulf Beach Highway then into Sorrento Road. Turn south on Bauer Road (County Road 293) and continue south into Big Lagoon State Park (immediately after crossing Gulf Beach Highway). Past the main gate, the road curves west and continues for one mile then curves south. As the road curves east, the site is located on the south side of the road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.311702°, Longitude -87.421944°
Basic: Boat Ramp
Overall: Expand an existing public boat ramp facility in Big Lagoon State Park, on Big Lagoon, in Pensacola, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The site is located at the existing boat ramp within the southwest portion of Big Lagoon State Park. The existing ramp has two lanes and is 30 feet in width. There is a 125 linear feet L-shaped accessory dock located on each side of the ramp. West of the existing ramp and dock, there is 802 square feet of emergent vegetation consisting primarily of Juncus roemerianus and Spartina alterniflora and 60 linear feet of riprap located along the shoreline. The northern upland portion of the site consists of a parking lot, restroom facility, and gazebos. The applicant has described the area surrounding the parking lot as “coastal scrub (FLUCCS 322) comprised of sand live oak, gopher apple, saw palmetto, yaupon holly, and Conradina.”
The existing area surrounding the project site consists of vacant forested State Park lands to the north, east, and west and Big Lagoon and the Intracoastal Waterway federal navigation channel to the south.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge fill over 0.06 acres of tidal waters and 209 square feet of emergent wetlands for the construction of a two-lane public boat ramp, two accessory docks, and two riprap and gravel breakwaters perpendicular to the shoreline (one on each side of the proposed boat ramp). The new work would be located immediately west of the existing two-lane boat ramp. The work also includes reconfiguration and upgrades to the existing upland parking lot and restroom facilities, the construction of a stormwater management facility, and the installation of a new sewer line via upland to upland directional bore beneath a wetland. The proposed project would also include transplantation of 209 square feet of emergent vegetation, as further described in the Compensatory Mitigation section below.
The new ramp would be comprised of a 30 foot wide concrete ramp (1184 square feet) bordered on each side by a breakwater. The breakwaters (1,625 square feet) would consist of riprap (8 feet wide, 2 feet high) and gravel (6.75 feet wide, at ramp grade). The gravel would be placed beneath the proposed docks between the riprap and concrete ramp. Riprap (6 feet wide) would also be installed along the toe of the ramp. A 79 square foot portion of the existing western dock would be removed and a 7 foot by 43 foot dock would be constructed (on the east side of the new ramp) that would tie into the existing dock located on the western side of the existing ramp (this would create a U-shaped dock connecting the two ramps). An L-shaped dock would be constructed on the west side of the new ramp measuring 7 feet by 90 feet. The docks would be for temporary mooring only.
The proposed upgraded parking lot and restroom facility and the construction of three ponds to provide stormwater treatment and management will be located entirely within uplands, north of the boat ramp. A sewer line would be constructed extending west from the new restroom facility to an existing sanitary force main located on the east side of Perdido Key Drive (SR 292). A section of the line will be installed beneath an unnamed tributary via directional drilling that begins and ends in uplands. The sewer line will be installed at a minimum depth of 3 feet below wetland grade. No wetland impacts are associated with this portion of the project. The entire project has been designed to be ADA compliant and the restroom and docks have been designed to accommodate wheelchair access.
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 location of the dock and ramp expansion was located within an area that impacts fewer emergent grasses than if the second boat ramp was installed immediately adjacent to the existing ramp. A gravel and riprap breakwater will be placed on either side of the boat ramp to provide substrate and shoreline stabilization. Mooring of boats will be temporary only, for loading and un-loading, in association with boat ramp use. The new boat ramp will be protected by rip rap to prevent potential scouring. Waste will be controlled through the provision of garbage receptacles within the uplands. New ADA-compliant restroom facilities will be provided in the uplands. BMPs will be installed prior to construction and include silt fence [double silt fence and hay bales along the upland limits of construction] and turbidity barrier [in the waterward limits of construction]. The location of the new ramp was limited by several factors including wetland impacts, impacts to the existing ramp, traffic flow needs, and water flow patterns in the Lagoon.
Alternative 1: The placement of the ramp to the east of the existing ramp was considered. This location would have less marsh impacts, as the wetland line and MHWL are the same and the shoreline is mostly beach sand. This location was not selected because the traffic routing would not be able to accommodate both the ramps at the same time, causing significant backups during high volume hours.
Alternative 2: Location of the new ramp immediately adjacent to the west of the existing ramp was considered. This proposal would impact a slightly greater amount of marsh grasses than the chosen alternative (#3). The usability of the ramp would also be affected by the closeness of the ramps, making the traffic pattern less ideal than Alternative #3.
Alternative 3 (Selected Alternative): This location will avoid the widest and most thick portion of the marsh grasses, which are located immediately to the west of the existing ramp. The marsh grasses become less wide and dense to the west and the Alternative 3 location is able to avoid the more abundant vegetation.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“There will be impacts to 209 square feet of this marsh grass. The vegetation is primarily Juncus roemerianus and Spartina alterniflora. The grasses within the impact area will be relocated to the west of the project area within suitable nearby shoreline habitat. The selected relocation area is currently not vegetated and shoreline vegetation is expected to help reduce erosion. The grasses will be excavated by backhoe or similar method and immediately transplanted in the relocation area at a similar and suitable elevation.”
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area. 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.
Eastern Indigo snake: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) as determined using the 2013 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, following couplets A> B> C> D> E.
West Indian manatee: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but would not likely adversely affect the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) as determined using the 2013 Manatee Key, following couplets A > B > C > G > H > I > J> L > N > O > P.
Gulf sturgeon, green turtle, loggerhead turtle, Kemp’s ridley turtle, smalltooth sawfish: The Corps has also determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Gulf sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi), Green turtle (Chelonia mydas), Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), Kemp’s ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), and Smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata). The Corps has requested National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination 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 0.06 acres of estuarine intertidal and subtidal habitat and 209 square feet of emergent tidal marsh utilized by various life stages of 4 shark species (Atlantic sharpnose, blacktip, bull, spinner), four shrimp species (brown, white, pink, Royal red), coastal migratory pelagic species, red drum, and 43 species of reef fish. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries. 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 Pensacola Permits Section, 41 North Jefferson Street, Suite 301, Pensacola, Florida, 32502 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, Holly Millsap, in writing at the Pensacola Permits Section, 41 North Jefferson Street, Suite 301, Pensacola, FL 32502, by electronic mail at Holly.M.Millsap@usace.army.mil, or by telephone at (850) 470-9823.
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.