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SAJ-2017-03089(SP-JKA)

Published Oct. 30, 2018
Expiration date: 11/20/2018
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 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: Palm Beach County
                      Attention: Deb Drum
                      2300 N. Jog Road
                      West Palm Beach, Florida 33411

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Lake Worth Lagoon adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The project site is located immediately south of the Southern Boulevard/ State Road 80 Bridge where it crosses the ICW, and east of South Flagler Drive, Section 03, Township 44 South, Range 43 East, in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: Take Interstate 95 to Exit 68 for Southern Boulevard/ State Road 80. Travel approximately 1.5 miles east to where Southern Boulevard/State Road 80 crosses the Intracoastal Waterway. Project is located southwest of the bridge, immediately east of Flagler Drive.

APPROXIMATE COORDINATES:

 

Proposed Reef Site Expansion Boundaries

Latitude/Longitude Coordinates

Decimal Degrees

Degrees, Decimal Minutes

Degrees, Minutes, Seconds

NW corner

26.674383, -80.048016

26° 40.463’,

-80° 02.881'

26° 40' 27", -80° 02' 52"

NE corner

26.6743833, -80.0476166

26° 40.463', -80° 02.857'

26° 40' 27", -80° 02' 51"

SE Corner

26.6728833, -80.0474167

26° 40.373', -80° 02.845'

26° 40' 22.38", -80° 02' 50.70"

SW Corner

26.6728833, -80.048000

26° 40.373', -80° 02.880'

26° 40' 22.38", -80° 02' 52.80"



PROJECT PURPOSE:

Basic: Fisheries enhancement

Overall: The overall project purpose is to enhance local fisheries within Lake Worth Lagoon, Palm Beach County, Florida.

PROJECT HISTORY: The Corps issued a Standard Permit, SAJ-2017-03089, on May 2, 2018 to Palm Beach County, which authorized the placement of re-used concrete bridge and rebar material within a 1.98 acre area to create an artificial reef to enhance local fisheries within Lake Worth Lagoon. The Southern Boulevard Bridge is currently being replaced and concrete from the old bridge will be used to create the artificial reef site within the existing 16-30 feet of water. The reef structure was permitted to maintain a 12-foot clearance from the top of the material relative to mean low water.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: A new benthic survey of Lake Worth Lagoon was conducted on September 28, 2018 to survey the additional 0.52 acre reef material deployment area. The benthic substrate was recorded as sand and silt devoid of seagrass or other benthic resources with depths ranging from 18-24 feet. The proposed expansion of the deployment area is located outside of the 100 foot setback of the federal channel.

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to modify an existing Standard Permit, SAJ-2017-03089, to expand an existing 1.98 acre artificial reef deployment site, by adding an additional 0.52 acres to the north. Additional bridge material from the demolition of the Southern Boulevard Bridge is available for deployment. All additional structures would maintain a 12-foot clearance from the top of deployed material relative to mean low water as previously issued.

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:

• An environmental resource survey depicting the exact location of the artificial reef site, locations of observed resources and a stability analysis shall be submitted 30 days prior to the commencement of the artificial reef deployment.
• All artificial reef material will be placed in barren sandy bottom locations void of all environmental resources.
• All reef materials shall be clean concrete or rock, other clean heavy gauge steel products with a thickness of ¼ inch or greater, and prefabricated structures that are a mixture of clean concrete and heavy gauge steel.
• All reef materials shall be cleaned so that they are free of soils, oils and greases, debris, litter, putrescible substances or other pollutants.
• At no time shall the distance between the top of the reef and the surface of the water be less than 12 feet. Reef construction shall not occur in a shipping lane or navigational channel.
• The deployment site shall be clearly marked with buoys before and during material placement to insure containment within the permitted site.
• Placement of reef material shall be accomplished through the use of tugs and/ or barges as the situation requires.
• Materials used shall be long lasting and of sufficient weight and form to resist migration across the bottom even during severe storm conditions.
• Material deployment will only be conducted when wave heights are less than 4 ft and short term (day) weather forecasts are favorable.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – “Compensatory mitigation should not be required because no benthic resources will be impacted by the placement of an artificial reef in this area. The placement of artificial reef material in this location will create fisheries habitat in an area composed of seawalls along the shoreline and is void of natural fisheries habitat.”

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, if applicable, those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus) or its designated critical habitat; swimming sea turtles: (green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), and Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)); and smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata).

The Corps has determined that the project is located within waters accessible to manatees and it’s located within its designated critical habitat. Use of The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida (Manatee Key) dated April 2013 results in a path of A-B-C-G-N-O-P (paragraph 5). Provided the applicant adheres to the standard manatee construction conditions during the in-water work, the key results in a may affect, not likely to adversely affect determination.

Work will occur in waters accessible to the swimming sea turtles and smalltooth sawfish. Smalltooth sawfish and swimming sea turtles may be affected by being unable to use an area for forage or refuge habitat due to potential avoidance of construction activities caused by the deployment of artificial reef material. Because these species are motile and likely to leave the area during construction, the risk of injury from this type of construction activity is insignificant. The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.

The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any 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 0.52 acres of sandy and silt utilized by various life stages of penaeid shrimp complex, 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 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 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 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, Jerilyn Ashworth, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410; by electronic mail at Jerilyn.K.Ashworth@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (561)626-6971; or, by telephone at (561)472-3508.

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.