Public Notice Notifications

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SAJ-2017-00970 (SCW)

Published July 29, 2019
Expiration date: 8/25/2019

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:  Mr. Jeffry B. Fuqua
                       Lafayette Timber, LLC
                       401 Ferguson Drive
                       Orlando, Florida 32805

LOCATION: The proposed project, identified as the 1,392-acre Mallory Swamp Mitigation Bank (MSMB), is located south of the intersection of NE County Road 352 and SE Canal Road, within Sections 8, 15, 16, 17, and 22, of Township 6 South, and Range 13 East, Lafayette County, Florida.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:  Latitude: 29.960171°
                                                                          Longitude: -83.024773°

PROSPECTUS SUMMARY: Pursuant to 33 CFR 332.8(d)(4), the Corps has posted a full copy of the MSMB 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 “Mallory Swamp 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 MSMB 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, restore, preserve and protect wetlands and uplands on the 1,392-acre property. The primary ecological goal of the MSMB is to improve functions and values of the existing wetland and upland habitats through cessation of silvicultural activities, restoring hydrology, restoring wetlands, and implementing a prescribed burn regime. The applicant stated specific restoration objectives include:

• Elimination of silvicultural activites, including harvesting, planting, and use of herbicides and fertilizers over 805.96 acres.
• Restoration of 813.78 acres of disturbed wetland communities through the removal of inappropriate species and replanting appropriate species.
• Restoration of 504.04 acres of disturbed upland communities through the removal of inappropriate species and replanting appropriate species.
• Restoration of natural hydrologic flows by culvert removal/blocking, ditch plugging and/or low water crossings.
• Implement a prescribed burning regime encompassing the 1,392 acre MSMB property.

The applicant stated, attainment of ecological goals, would be associated with long-term assurance of perpetual preservation and management. That applicant indicated that preservation of target habitats would occur via recordation of a conservation easement. Additionally the applicant indicated that perpetual management of preserved habitats would include a limited hunting plan, invasive/exotic plant control, and animal species control.

ECOLOGICAL SUITABILITY OF THE SITE: A review of available information indicates that the property historically consisted of a mosaic of hydric pine flatwoods wetlands, mesic pine flatwoods, and cypress basin swamp wetlands. Silvicultural activities including construction of the St. Regis grade road, St. Regis canal, logging roads and drainage ditches began in the 1940s and 1950s. Historically, the low relief ridge that bisects the property caused seepage into two recharge areas, the Suwannee River and Mallory Swamp. The St. Regis road and associated canal were constructed on the low relief ridge, and extend from the northwest project boundary to the southeast project boundary. The St. Regis canal diverts surface water northward to Adams and Pickett lakes, and is indirectly connected to the Suwannee River. Historic hydric pine flatwoods, mesic pine flatwoods, and cypress basin swamp wetland communities have been impacted by hydrologic alterations, and silvicultural activities. Currently the proposed MSMB site consists of the following land use/community types: Campground, Hardwood-Conifer Mixed, Coniferous Plantation, Dense Coniferous Plantation, Streams and Waterways, Mixed Hardwood Forests – Water Oak, Titi Swamps, Cypress, Slash Pine Swamp Forest, Wetland Forested Mixed, Freshwater Marsh, Disturbed Land and Roads. The southernmost boundary of the proposed MSMB abuts the Mallory Swamp Wildlife Management Area, while all other property boundaries abut silvicultural operations.

ESTABLISHMENT AND OPERATION OF THE BANK: The proposed MSMB would be established and operated by Lafayette Timber, LLC as the Sponsor with the assistance of BioTech Consulting, Inc. The property that comprises the MSMB is owned by Lafayatte Timber, LLC. The MSMB is proposed to be established as a single and complete project. Following MSMB successful implementation and attainment of final success criteria, long-term management activities will be implemented in order to ensure the sustainability of MSMB. In addition, the Sponsor will provide sufficient financial assurances to ensure construction and long-term management of the proposed MSMB.

PROPOSED SERVICE AREA: The project is located within the Little River-Suwannee River, Upper Mallory Swamp-Suwannee River, Lower Mallory Swamp-Suwannee River, Manatee Springs-Suwannee River, Suwannee River-Gulf of Mexico Watersheds, identified respectively as Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUC) 0311020504, 0311020505, 0311020506, 0311020507, and 0311020508 which is part of the larger Lower Suwannee River Subbasin (HUC 03110205). The Applicant proposes a Mitigation Service Area (MSA) that is coincident with the Lower Suwannee River Subbasin. The MSMB MSA is anticipated to include wetland habitat communities that could reasonably be expected to occur on the MSMB.

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the proposed RGRMB site. 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 proposal would have no effect on any listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.

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 in the Suwannee River and/or Gulf of Mexico. 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 Mrs. Shannon White by electronic mail at shannon.c.white@usace.army.mil, by fax at 904-232-1904, or by telephone at 904-232-1681 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.