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) and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1344) as described below:
APPLICANT: National Park Service
Gulf Islands National Seashore
c/o Daniel R. Brown, Superintendent
1801 Gulf Breeze Parkway
Gulf Breeze, FL 32563
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Gulf of Mexico. The project area is located between parking lots 19A and 17A on the southern shoreline of Santa Rosa Island in the Fort Pickens Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore (GUIS), in Section 28, Township 2 South, Range 26 West, Pensacola Beach, Escambia County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Gulf Breeze Pkwy in Gulf Breeze, Florida, take the exit toward Pensacola Beach/Fort Pickens. Continue onto FL-399 S / Pensacola Beach Road. Turn right onto Fort Pickens Road. Travel 1.5 miles from the Fort Pickens Area boundary to parking lot 19A. You will have to enter through the visitor fee booth. Project area is located between parking lots 19A and 17A on the southern shoreline of Santa Rosa Island in the Fort Pickens Area of GUIS.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.318019°
Basic: Debris removal.
Overall: To remove asphalt and miscellaneous non-natural debris from nearshore areas over approximately 2 linear miles between parking lots 19A and 17A along the southern shoreline of Santa Rosa Island in the Fort Pickens Area of GUIS.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The site is on the southern shoreline of Santa Rosa Island within the National Park Service’s GUIS. The barrier island shoreline rises to sandy, open beach and dunes here, with no interdunal wetlands present. There is no emergent or submerged aquatic vegetation found within the project area. The land uses include recreation and wildlife management. Past hurricanes and their associated storm surges have eroded and lifted sections of asphalt road and road base materials and fragmented and scattered these materials considerable distances along the beaches of GUIS.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to remove asphalt debris (derelict pavement, fragments of asphalt and road-base materials), as well as miscellaneous non-natural debris such as PVC pipes, cables less than or equal to 1 inch in diameter, concrete, and boat debris (<4 feet x 4 feet) scattered throughout nearshore areas over approximately 2 linear miles between parking lots 19A and 17A on the southern shoreline of Santa Rosa Island in the Fort Pickens Area of GUIS. Past hurricanes and their associated storm surges have eroded and lifted sections of asphalt road and road base materials and fragmented and scattered these materials considerable distances along the beaches of GUIS. This project is specifically for removal of asphalt and miscellaneous non-natural debris located from supratidal, intertidal and sub-tidal areas throughout the Gulf of Mexico shore of the Fort Pickens Area of GUIS only. An estimated volume of 900 cubic yards of asphalt debris has been identified for removal from approximately 5.5 acres. For the removal work that would occur in the intertidal and subtidal zones, equipment similar to a large backhoe with a long arm and bucket or grapple on the end may be used. Equipment may include utility vehicles, skid steers, front end loaders, dump trucks, backhoes, or excavators. No work would be done from boats or barges. The equipment would operate near the mean low water (MLW) line and reach out no more than 20 feet to retrieve materials. Maximum water depth encountered may be 3 feet. Depth of removal from these zones is not known but estimated to be in the 0-3 feet deep range with maximum digging depth of 3 feet. Staging/temporary debris holding areas are located on parking lots at the outer limits of the project area where debris will be dumped into containers. Once containers are full, material will be hauled offsite by the contractors on paved roads to approved local disposal/recycling facilities. Any ruts and or holes greater than 12-inches deep will be filled when reasonably possible with adjacent material. Equipment and vehicles are to be staged overnight in the parking lot closest to debris removal activities. Equipment and vehicles are not authorized to remain on the beach after daily/weekly work has completed.
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:
No work will be authorized from boats and/or barges. No work, including beach driving, will occur at night. Any ruts and or holes greater than 12-inches deep will be filled when reasonably possible with adjacent material. Work including mobilization / demobilization would occur November 1 - February 15, outside of sea turtle and shorebird nesting seasons.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The project is not expected to result in functional loss to the aquatic environment, and no compensatory mitigation plan has been offered.
The Corps is aware of historic property/properties within or in close proximity of the permit area. The applicant, NPS, has previously initiated consultation for these activities with the State Historic Preservation Office and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as applicable pursuant to 33 CFR 325, Appendix C and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The applicant received concurrence the project would have no adverse effect on historic properties with professional archaeological staff monitoring project activities.
The applicant, NPS, has previously initiated consultation for these activities with both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service, Protected Resources Division (NMFS PRD) pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. USFWS concurred that the project is not likely to adversely affect leatherback, Kemp’s ridley, hawksbill, Northwest Atlantic loggerhead or green sea turtles, piping plover, red knot, West Indian manatee, and Perdido Key beach mouse, and designated critical habitat for Perdido Key beach mouse, piping plover and Northwest Atlantic loggerhead sea turtle. NMFS PRD concurred that the project is not likely to adversely affect leatherback, Kemp’s ridley, hawksbill, loggerhead or green sea turtles, or gulf sturgeon; or designated or proposed critical habitat for these species.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The applicant, NPS, has previously initiated consultation for these activities with National Marine Fisheries Service, Habitat Conservation Division (NMFS HCD). on EFH as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 1996. NMFS HCD concurred that adverse impacts on EFH would be short-term and minor, and noted it had no EFH conservation recommendations.
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.
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 Pensacola Permits Section, 41 N. Jefferson Street, Pensacola, FL 32502 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, Ed Sarfert, in writing at the Pensacola Permits Section, 41 N. Jefferson Street, Pensacola, FL 32502; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by facsimile transmission at (850)433-8160; or, by telephone at (850)439-9533.
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.