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) as described below:
APPLICANT: City of Port St. Lucie
900 SE Ogden Lane
Port St. Lucie, Florida 34983
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project, referred to as McCarty Ranch Extension Dispersed Water Management Project, would affect waters of the United States associated with C-23 Canal. The project site is located in Sections 33-36, Township 37 South, Range 38 East, St. Lucie County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-95, exit at SW Martin Highway (SR 714), go west to SW Allapatah Rd. Turn north (right) on SW Allapatah Road, which will turn into Rangeline Road at the Martin/St. Lucie County line. The property is west of Rangeline Road, just north of the county line/C-23 Canal.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Water storage
Overall: Store excess surface water from the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD’s) C-23 Basin when it would otherwise be lost to tide and to retain all direct precipitation.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site consists of approximately 1,300 acres and lies within the McCarty Ranch properties. It is located within St. Lucie County. The site is part of a large watershed that contributes to the C-23 Canal. The project site consists of fallow citrus groves and associated land uses. The site is fallow with remnant citrus trees, cleared areas recently used for agricultural purposes, and ditching. The property is bordered to the south by the C-23 canal, agricultural lands on all sides, Rangeline/Dairy Road to the east. The project site contains a 210-acre above ground impoundment currently under construction using earthen berms.
PROPOSED WORK: The proposed project includes the construction of six above ground impoundments to store water from the C-23 Canal that will result in the placement of fill within 0.87 acres of wetlands. The construction of the six above ground impoundments has the potential to affect approximately 25 acres of wetlands and 50 acres of ditches located onsite. Impoundment one is currently under construction and is characterized to have similar ditch impacts as a result of the work. The proposed pump stations will utilize existing dikes adjacent to already disturbed areas and will tie into the existing canals that discharge into the C-23 canal.
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 berms were adjusted to avoid impacts to perimeter wetlands and each of these wetlands will be surrounded by a 25 foot buffer.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
Mitigation for the proposed impacts will be provided by purchasing credits from either Bluefield Mitigation Bank or Platt's Creek.
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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The project site is located within the consultation area for the following species: Audubon’s crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii), Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), and the Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus). In addition, the following species are likely to be present at the project site: Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) and the wood stork (Mycteria americana). The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern indigo snake, wood stork, Everglade snail kite, Florida grasshopper sparrow, and the Audubon’s crested caracara. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any other listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.
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 0.87 acres of freshwater wetlands and 50 acres of freshwater ditches and canals. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the South Atlantic Region. 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 Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410 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, Krista Sabin, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410; by electronic mail at Samantha.L.Rice@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (561)472-3536.
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.