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SAJ-2011-01210 (SP-EWG)

Published June 10, 2019
Expiration date: 7/8/2019

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:  Lykes Bros. Inc.

                       c/o Joe Collins

                       106 SW CR 721

                       Okeechobee, FL 34974

 

WATERWAY AND LOCATION:  The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the onsite wetlands which flow into the C-41 canal which drains into Lake Okeechobee.  The project site is located approximately 2.10 miles west of County Road 721and opposite to 20052 Reservation Road NE Okeechobee, FL 34974 in Sections 33 & 34, Township 38 South, Range 32 East, Glades County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows:  From the intersection of US 27 and State Road 70 in Highlands County, travel east on SR 70 for 14.7 miles. Tum right and head south on County Road (CR) 721 (aka Reservation Road) for 7.2 miles to a cell phone tower on the right (west) side of the road. The entrance to the project is a locked metal gate located approximately 100-feet south of the cell phone tower on the same (west) side of the road.

 

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:      

Latitude: 27.128611°

Longitude: -81.116111°

 

PROJECT PURPOSE:

Basic: Provide storm water management & flood relief to adjacent properties.

Overall:  Provide stormwater management from active farming operations within the Grove 6 and Cane Field areas and maintain pre-Thistle Pen Detention Pond project conditions for the neighboring properties upstream and downstream.

 

EXISTING CONDITIONS:  The project area contains 22 wetlands totaling 201.20 acres and other surface waters totaling 2.20 acres.   The wetlands and surface waters within the proposed project area are disturbed shrubby marsh and wet prairie systems, which have been hydrologically altered by localized agricultural ditching & practices, such as the construction of berms and ditches, and the excavation of the C-41 canal. The area is dominated by improved pasture (FLUCFCS Code 211; 196.24± acres), wet prairie with varying coverage by exotic vegetation (137.14± acres), and freshwater marsh (FLUCFCS Codes 641 & 6412; 66.55± acres). Woodland pasture (FLUCFCS Code 213), temperate hardwoods (FLUCFCS Code 425), berms (FLUCFCS Code 743), borrow areas (FLUCFCS Code 742) and ditches (FLUCFCS Code 514) are also present to a lesser extent. Wetland habitat types in the proposed project area total 203.69 acres and include wet prairie with varying coverage by exotics (FLUCFCS Codes 643, 643E2, 643E3 & 643E4; 137.14± acres), freshwater marsh (FLUCFCS Codes 641; 65.99± acres), and cattail marsh (FLUCFCS Code 6412; 0.56± acres); man-made ditches (FLUCFCS Code 514) total 2.20 acres.

 

PROPOSED WORK:  The applicant seeks authorization to construct a 418.27-acre storm and agricultural water control facility structures known as Thistle Pen Area (TPA). The project will build two above ground impoundments (AGIs) designed to provide water quality treatment and attenuation of stormwater runoff from the Grove 6 and Cane Field basins. The previously constructed berm under the Thistle Pen Detention Pond (TPP) project along the eastern property boundary will be lowered. The project includes the construction of conveyance elements to route runoff from the Cane Field basin to project culvert PC-23.

Construction will be done to route low-flow water from the proposed Cane Field detention toward PC-23 rather than Thistle Pen Pond (TPP) and PC-21. The project will allow new features to be constructed to address the concerns of the Seminole Tribe of Florida (STOF) raised by the TPP project and the conversion of the gravity drained pasture to cane production supported by a pumped discharge. The cane field and Grove 6 will have their detention areas rather than depending on the storage in Thistle Pen Pond. These two detention areas will allow the dike permitted and constructed around Thistle Pen Pond to be partially degraded to provide the same flow path for water from the STOF lands through the Pond, to STOF lands before discharging into C-41 at PC-21. Other construction will be done to route low-flow water from the proposed cane field detention toward PC-23 rather than Thistle Pen Pond and PC-21.

The first detention area is to serve a cane field.  The detention area has proposed berm length of 14,700 feet.  The location of this berm has been placed to minimize wetland impacts, and further impact reduction will be obtained by providing soil for the berm construction from an upland area and not the adjacent wetland area.  

The second detention area is south of Grove 6 and has a proposed length of 9,450 feet.  The proposed placement misses wetlands that are in the area.

The proposed swale is 9,150 long and winds its way from east to west.  Its location has been chosen to minimize wetland impacts.  The purpose of this swale is to reduce impacts to a neighboring property to the south of the applicant’s project site.

Two berm reductions will also be made.  The berm reduction along the eastern side is 800 feet long with tapers on each end to allow vehicular access on a 10 horizontal to 1 vertical slope.  This lowered berm elevation will be dry much of the year with water overtopping it during the wet season.  The second berm to be lowered is along the southern property line.  It is proposed to be about 1,800 feet long with tapers like the east-side berm reduction.  The control structure located in this area will also be removed.  A portion of this area will have rip-rap place on it to stabilize a surface for occasional access since it will be under water several months of the year.

Permanent wetland impacts associated with the project will total 6.40 acres, including 3.10 acres of wetland fill (31,700± CY), 3.30 acres of wetland excavation (33,700± CY) and 0.41 acres of surface waters (4,100± CY).   The project will require temporary surface water impacts to man-made ditches totaling 0.06 acres.

 

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:  Total avoidance of wetland impacts is not possible with the proposed linear berm and ditch construction based on the configuration and extent of wetlands in the project area. The proposed ditch has been reconfigured to avoid impacts to natural wetlands and fill material to construct the detention area berms will be obtained from non-jurisdictional areas to the extent practicable.  These revisions decreased direct wetland impacts proposed from 6.40 acres to 2.62 acres (26,892± cubic yards). Secondary wetland impacts will total of 2.44 acres. 

The project will require temporary surface water impacts to man-made ditches totaling 0.06 acres. The proposed temporary impacts are for a proposed culverted ditch crossing (View H on sheet E-05 of the plans) to allow access to the eastern stockpile area and removal of a water management control structure (View I on sheet E-05 of the plans) that was previously installed along the southern boundary of Lykes property under SFWMD application number 110711-12 and USACE Permit SAJ-2011-01210.  Upon completion of construction, the temporary surface water impact areas will be restored to pre-construction grade and allowed to revegetate naturally.  To minimize impacts to adjacent wetlands and water quality, construction adjacent to any type of wetland or surface water will require the use of erosion control measures, and double row silt fence will be used along all wetland areas.      

 

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:  The Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM) was utilized to assess the wetland impacts associated with the project.  In accordance with the UMAM methodology, existing site conditions were evaluated for location/landscape, water environment, and community structure to determine the functional value of the wetlands.

The proposed degrading of the dike around TPP will eliminate the hydrologic enhancement used as mitigation for SFWMD Application number 110711-12 and USACE Permit SAJ-2011-01210.  Therefore, the mitigation plan for the current application has been designed to sufficiently offset the functional loss from the current impacts as well as the impacts from SFWMD Application 110711-12 and USACE Permit SAJ-2011-01210.  

According to the UMAM analysis, a total of 3.63 functional units of mitigation is required.  This total includes 1.52 functional units for direct and secondary impacts from this application and 2.11 functional units of impacts from SFWMD Application 110711-12 and USACE Permit SAJ-2011-01210.    

The proposed mitigation for this permit application will result in a total functional gain of 5.62 units from hydrologic enhancement of existing wetlands north of TPP. Mitigation for the 2.11 functional units of impact from Application 110711-12 and USACE Permit SAJ-2011-01210 will be offset by hydrologic enhancement of Wetland 39.  Wetland 39 is currently unable to receive surface water flows from the Cane Field due to a large man-made ditch that redirects the flows to bypass the wetland system.  Wetland 39 is located west of the proposed Cane Detention area, as shown on sheets E-05 through E-07 of the plans.  The 5.62-unit functional gain offsets the 3.63-unit functional loss from the proposed impacts.

 

CULTURAL RESOURCES:  The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the proposed permit area.  The Corps had coordinated with the State Historic Preservation Office and those federally recognized tribes for the Thistle Pen Detention Pond area. However, since there is a change in the project footprint, 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. By copy of this public notice, the Corps is providing information for review.

 

ENDANGERED SPECIES:  The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect” the Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi).  This determination based on use of the Florida Panther Effect Determination Key (February 19, 2007).  Sequence: A > C “may affect”.

The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” the wood stork (Mycteeria Americana) or its designated critical habitat.  No further action is required.  This determination was based on use of the wood stork Effect Determination Key (May 18, 2010).  Sequence: A > B “not likely to adversely affect”.

The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” the red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis). 

The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Audubon’s crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii).

The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus).

The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus).

The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi).  This determination based on use of the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Concurrence Key (August 1, 2017).  No further action is required.  Sequence:  A > B > C > D “not likely to adversely affect”.

On May 10, 2016, the Corps request by separate letter initiation of formal consultation with the USFWS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act for the Thistle Pen Detention Pond project area.  This notice provides additional information for the proposed project.

 

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 as the project is inland of fisheries resources. 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 not been verified by Corps personnel.

 

AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES:  Water Quality Certification will be required from 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 Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610 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 Edgar W. Garcia, Project Manager in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; by electronic mail at edgar.w.garcia@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (813) 769-7061; or, by telephone at (813) 769-7062. 

 

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.