TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received a complete prospectus proposing the establishment of a mitigation bank pursuant to the 2008 Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources regulations (33 CFR Part 332) as described below:
APPLICANT: Strategic Environmental Lands, LLC
1501 Doyle Carlton Drive, Suite 408
Tampa, FL 33602
LOCATION: The proposed project, identified as the 181.04-acre Hernando Beach Mitigation Bank (HBMB), is located north of Minnow Creek, east of the Gulf of Mexico and Coon Key Point, west of Shoal Line Road and Weeki Wachee Preserve, and south of Rice Creek within Sections 11 and 13, Township 23 South, Range 16 East in Hernando County, Florida.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude: 28.503972°
PROSPECTUS SUMMARY: Pursuant to 33 CFR 332.8(d)(4), the Corps has posted a full copy of the HBMB prospectus online so that it is available for review by the public. The prospectus may be downloaded from the Regulatory In-Lieu Fee and Bank Information Tracking System (RIBITS) at web address: https://ribits.usace.army.mil.
Once on the RIBITS homepage, select "Jacksonville" from the "ALL DISTRICTS" drop down menu located in the lower left corner of the screen. Once the district filter has been selected, click on the “Banks & ILF Sites” link located in the Navigation box (upper left corner). This will generate a list of projects, scroll down the list and click on the “Hernando Beach MB” link. On this page, click on the "Cyber Repository" link located on the menu bar above the General Information box, then click on the Prospectus Documents folder to access the prospectus associated with the HBMB project.
If you are unable to access the web address, a copy of the prospectus is available upon request to the project manager listed at the end of this public notice.
PROJECT GOALS AND OBJECTIVES: The applicant seeks authorization to enhance, preserve, and protect the diverse coastal wetland habitats found within the Hernando Beach Mitigation Bank. Specific restoration objectives include:
• The goal of preservation will be accomplished through the recording of a conservation easement that will encumber the entire area of the bank with the specific purpose of ensuring the site is protected in perpetuity. This mechanism (encumbering all areas within the bank boundaries) will be recorded immediately following the approval of the MBI/Permit and in accordance with the conditions of that document.
• Habitat enhancements on the HBMB will include removal of the fill associated with the upland spoil area from the dredging of Minnow Creek. This fill, and the exotic vegetation associated with it, will be removed completely from the site. The spoil area will be leveled to match the elevations of the natural mangrove fringe located directly adjacent to the restoration area. The restoration area will then be planted with red mangroves.
• All invasive and exotic plant species will be removed throughout the entire HBMB property. The property will then be maintained to remain free of all invasive and exotic plant species.
• All backwater tidal creeks within the property will be established as a No Area. Signage prohibiting motorized boats will be installed at all tidal creek entrances. Local law enforcement and FWC-Law Enforcement will be briefed on patrol of the property.
ECOLOGICAL SUITABILITY OF THE SITE: A review of available information indicates that the property historically consisted of tidal marsh estuary containing seagrass, saltmarsh, and mangroves.
ESTABLISHMENT AND OPERATION OF THE BANK: The proposed HBMB would be established and operated by Strategic Environmental Lands, LLC as the Sponsor with the assistance of Atlantic Ecological Services, LLC. The property that comprises the HBMB is owned by Triton Development, Inc. and Hernando Beach, Inc. The HBMB is proposed to be established as a single and complete project. Following HBMB successful implementation and attainment of final success criteria and relinquishment of all credits, long-term management activities will be implemented in order to ensure the sustainability of HBMB. In addition, the Sponsor will provide sufficient financial assurances to ensure construction and long-term management of the proposed HBMB.
PROPOSED SERVICE AREA: The project is located within the Jenkins Creek-Rocky Creek Frontal Subwatershed, identified as Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC 031002070304) which is part of the larger Crystal-Pithlachascotee Subbasin (HUC 03100207). The Applicant proposes a Mitigation Service Area (MSA) from western Taylor County in the big bend south to Boca Grande in Lee County. This includes HUC’s 03110102, 03110205, 03110101, 03100207, 03100206, 03100201, and 031002103. This was chosen as the service area due to the similarity in habitat type, tidal flow regime, and similarity of flora and fauna. Due to the unique location of the HBMB, it contains characteristics of coastal habitat found throughout the Gulf Coast of Florida.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The proposed bank is not expected to have any direct or indirect impact to cultural resources. Project review will, however, include review of the proposal for any potential impact to cultural resources.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The site will be reviewed for potential critical habitat and presence of endangered species. The findings will be coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The proposed bank contains 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.
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.
COMMENTS: Comments regarding the proposed mitigation bank should be submitted in writing to the District Engineer at the address below within 30 days from the date of this notice.
The initial evaluation pertaining to whether or not this mitigation bank proposal has the potential for providing compensatory mitigation for activities authorized by issued Department of the Army permits will be based on the information contained in the prospectus, received from this public notice and obtained during an inspection of the project site.
If you have any questions concerning this proposed project, you may contact Mr. Steven Currie by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by fax at 904-232-1904, or by telephone at 904-232-3701 or at the following address:
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
JACKSONVILLE DISTRICT CORPS OF ENGINEERS
P. O. BOX 4970
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA 32232-0019
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Preliminary review of this application indicates that an Environmental Impact Statement will not be required. 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. By means of this notice, we are soliciting comments on the potential effects of the project on threatened or endangered species or their habitat
EVALUATION: After the end of the comment period, the district engineer will review all comments received and make an initial determination as to the potential of the proposed project to provide compensatory mitigation for activities authorized by Department of the Army permits. That determination 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. Factors relevant to the proposal will be considered including 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.
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 proposed activity. All comments received will be considered by the Corps during the formulation of the initial determination of potential for the proposed activity.