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: Georgia Pacific Consumer Operations, LLC
215 County Road 216
Palatka, FL 32177
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Rice Creek. The project site is located at 215 County Road 216 in Section 27, Township 9 South, Range 26 East, Palatka, Putnam County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Interstate 95, take exit 305 for State Road 206 and travel west for 8.4 miles to State Road 207. Turn left and travel 9.5 miles to Highway 100 (US 17) and turn left. Travel 5.6 miles to County Road 216 and turn right. The project site is located in the northeast corner of the Georgia Pacific plant property approximately 0.9 miles on the left.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 29.685870°
Basic: Improvements to an industrial facility.
Overall: Improvements to an industrial facility in North Central Putnam County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a freshwater system. The wetlands are connected to a manmade ditch along its northern boundary and discharges through a culvert northward into a larger forested wetland system. Vegetative species observed within the canopy strata include cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), red maple (Acer rubrum), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia) and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua). Understory species observed include saltbush (Baccharis halimifolia), smartweed (Polygonum sp.), chalky bluestem (Andropogon virginicus), soft rush (Juncus effusus), elderberry (Sambucus nigra), and cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica). The wetland is known to have standing water which flows north via culverts.
The existing area surrounding the project area consists of largely undisturbed wetlands and open water creeks/rivers. The entire southern boundary of the project site is an active pulp mill industrial facility.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge fill over 3.26 acres of wetlands to construct paved roadways as an improvement for plant operation. An additional 1.44 acres of surface waters will be impacted by the construction.
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 stormwater management system design process involved the consideration of measures to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands to the maximum extent practicable. These included minimizing dredge/fill within the wetland. The stormwater treatment pond was designed to accommodate the required volume of stormwater runoff. Temporarily impacted wetlands and buffers would be restored immediately following construction. The developed compensatory mitigation plan will be implemented to offset unavoidable impacts.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
Compensatory mitigation to offset the functional loss of wetlands in the impact areas will be provided in the form of off-site mitigation. Off-site mitigation includes the purchase of mitigation bank credits from Sundew Mitigation Bank, which is permitted to provide ratio credits. Applying a 2:1 ratio to the functional loss of 1.3 units, a total of 2.6 credits will be purchased.
The Corps has determined the permit area has been extensively modified by previous work and there is little likelihood a historic property may be affected.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) and the sand skink (Neoseps reynoldsi) or their designated critical habitat. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife/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. 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 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, P.O. Box 4970, Jacksonville, FL 32232 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, Michael Ornella, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, P.O. Box 4970, Jacksonville, FL 32232; by electronic mail at Michael.Ornella@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (904)232-1904; or, by telephone at (904)232-1498.
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.