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: Graves Brothers Company
Attn: David Howard
2770 Indian River Blvd., Suite 201
Vero Beach, Florida 32960
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Sebastian River. The project site is located at 7801 85th Street, Vero Beach, Florida 32960.
Directions to the site are as follows: From the intersection of SR 512 and SR 510 proceed south on SR 510. Limited access to the site is available via a dirt trail road connecting to County Road 510 west of 7801 85th Street. The project site is gated and no public access is authorized.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 27.7395°
Basic: Water Storage & Nutrient Reduction
Overall: Construct a shallow water storage and nutrient reduction system within the property owned and managed by Graves Brothers Company in Indian River County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The site was converted from native land to citrus. Citrus has since been removed from the site due to production losses from canker and greening. Major drainage ditches and control structures remain in place but are not operated to maintain surface water on the site. Common agricultural management practices of disking and mowing for exotic plant control have been implemented in the project area after removal of the citrus.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to dredge, fill, and flood 4.56 acres of waters of the United States to construct a Water Storage & Nutrient Reduction Pilot Project with St. John's River Water Management District to reduce excess runoff and associated nutrient loading to the Sebastian River and Indian River Lagoon. The applicant would construct a 186.5 acre above-ground impoundment with inflow pump stations that will retain and treat excess runoff from the Sebastian River Improvement District canals.
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: “Various project layouts were conceptualized. The chosen project footprint selected, minimized fill of other surface waters while maximizing water quality and quantity performance estimates.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required: “The project is expected to remove excessive nutrients and freshwater volumes causing environmental harm in the lagoon.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: 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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The action area includes the entire 186.5± acre project site.
The Corps used the Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in South Peninsular Florida (dated May 2010) and concluded the determination sequence is as follows: A (Project impacts SFH at a location greater than 0.47 miles from a colony site) > B (Project impact to SFH is less than 0.5 acre) = NLAA. The Corps has U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) concurrence for the proposed activities through use of the aforementioned determination key.
The Corps used the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key (dated August 1, 2017) and concluded the determination sequence is as follows: A (The project is not located in open water or salt marsh.) > B (The permit will be conditioned for use of the Service’s Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake during site preparation and construction.) > C (The project will impact more than 25 acres of eastern indigo snake habitat.) = may affect. The Corps will initiate formal consultation with USFWS pursuant to the aforementioned determination key.
The proposed action is located within the consultation area for the Audubon’s crested caracara. The project site previously contained trees suitable for nesting by caracara; however, the applicant has recently removed the trees as part of the ongoing habitat management plan. Additionally, suitable nest trees are abutting the project site and caracara have been sited near the action area. Based on the information above the Corps has determined the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect Audubon’s crested caracara.
Based on existing habitat types and/or provided information, the Corps preliminarily determined the project will have no effect on the grasshopper sparrow, Florida scrub jay, or red-cockaded woodpecker.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The proposed work would have no effect to EFH.
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 Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926 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, Andrew Phillips, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida, 32926; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by fax at (321) 504-3803, or by telephone at (321) 504-3771 extension 14.
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.