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 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
APPLICANT: Ms. Katie Konchar Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) 620 South Meridian Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with West Bay. The project site is located along the western shoreline of West Bay.
Directions to the site are as follows: Navigate to shoreline boat ramp at 3721 Shoreline Circle, Panama City, Florida. Launch boat and travel across the bay to the central location of the project area at
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.253904° - Longitude -85.852002°
Basic: Aquatic vegetation restoration.
Overall: A small scale seagrass transplant study to provide information for full implementation of aquatic vegetation restoration in West Bay, Bay County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a saltwater system. The onsite vegetation consists of unconsolidated bottom and Cuban shoal grass (Halodule wrightii). The existing area surrounding the project area consists of open water and undeveloped land.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to conduct a small scale seagrass transplant study in West Bay section of the St. Andrew Bay system ahead of full implementation of the larger seagrass transplanting effort: Phase IV of the West Bay Oyster Reef Restoration project. This pilot study would provide a better understanding of seagrass donor site recovery and seagrass establishment at the restoration site for the project. FFWCC plans to use a bare root method of transplantation to move up to 2,160 plants to the project area. Planting units would be from donor sites (0.017 acre) within West and North Bay. Using a small hand trowel, FFWCC would remove groups of seagrass genets from the sediment which includes roots, shoots, and rhizomes. FFWCC would remove no more than 1 eight inch diameter area of seagrass per square meter. Plants would be transferred to an on-site boat and stored in containers filled with ambient site water and driven directly to the restoration area. They would be re-planted the same day within Sections 2 through 6. Plants would be separated into groups within each restoration plot arranged in 3 by 4 planting clusters with 9 planting units per cluster and clusters spaced on 2 meter centers. Each unit would be stapled down with degradable stables and the remains would be removed 6 months after planting. The planting area would cover 0.237 acre. To prevent bioturbation from stingrays, FFWCC would install ½ inch diameter wooden dowels on 1 foot centers resulting in a configuration of 9 per square meter. This project is funded through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation – Gulf Environmental Benefit Funding program.
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:
To minimize turbidity and maintain visibility, in-water harvesters would use snorkels and float with a device if necessary over the harvest area as much as possible to minimize contact with the bottom.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
As impacts are considered minimal and restoration of seagrass is proposed, no compensatory mitigation is proposed.
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 Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect swimming sea turtles, including green turtle (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricate), Kemp’s Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), Gulf Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi), and Smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata). The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has determined, based on the use of The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida (April 2013), that the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee with the inclusion of conditions a, b, c, d, and e of the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-water Work (2011).
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 have a minor adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in West Bay. By email dated August 28, 2018, NMFS-Habitat Conservation Division anticipate any adverse effects that might occur on marine and anadromous fishery resources would be minimal and therefore do not object to the issuance of the forthcoming Corps permit(s) regarding these activities.
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 Panama City Permits Section, 1002 West 23rd Street, Suite 350, Panama City, Florida 32405 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, Mrs. Lisa S. Lovvorn, in writing at the Panama City Permits Section, 1706 East 5th Street, Panama City, Florida 32401; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or, by telephone at (850) 784-4594.
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 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.