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:
Levy County Board of County Commissioners
Attn: Wilbur Dean
P.O. Box 310
Bronson, FL 32621
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Gulf of Mexico. The project site is located at 8000 Highway 40 West (a.k.a. Bird Creek Boat Ramp), in Section 14, Township 17 South, Range 15 East, Yankeetown, Levy County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From U.S. Highway 19 in Inglis, head west on Southeast 193rd Place/40A then continue west on Highway 40 for approximately 3.5 miles. The project site is located at the westernmost extent of Highway 40.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is to provide access to navigable waters.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to expand boating access to the Gulf of Mexico in Yankeetown, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a saltwater system. The project site is located on a finger of land that supports the westernmost extent of Follow That Dream Parkway / Highway 40A. There is an existing public boat ramp with trailer parking spaces along the road way shoulder with a limited turn around area at the top of the existing ramp. The north side of the project site is adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico. The shoreline of the north side of the project site supports patchy concentrations of low marsh species such as mangrove and black needle rush, with higher marsh species such as salt bush and Christmas berry along the edge of the existing roadway, turn around area. The south side of the project site lies along the westernmost extent of the Withlacoochee River which is highly channelized and experiences high levels of wave action due to high traffic in the channel. Thus, the shoreline of the south side exhibits extensive areas of bare bank and dilapidated riprap revetment. There are some sparse concentrations of cord grass in this area, and cabbage palm trees. The benthic habitat at the project site consists of mud bottom with patches of relict oyster concentrations. The proposed work areas do not support submerged aquatic vegetation.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to complete the following work:
Demolish and haul away the existing Bird Creek Boat Ramp, courtesy docks, and associated parking area; Discharge 200 cubic yards of stone underlayment below the mean high water line to construct a 100-foot-long by 30-foot-wide concrete push slab boat ramp;
Discharge 185 cubic yards of riprap material over a 0.06 acre area below the mean high water line to construct a 10-foot-wide riprap revetment around all sides of the proposed ramp;
Discharge 393 cubic yards of riprap material into 0.163 waters of the United States consisting of mangrove (above the mean high water line) and salt marsh wetlands to construct a 2:1 slope riprap revetment to stabilize the north and south banks of the roadway and parking area improvement;
Construct a 225-foot-long by 8-foot-wide boardwalk to the south of the proposed ramp along the bank of the Withlacoochee River. The boardwalk would have a 15-foot-long by 15-foot-wide terminal observation platform on each end, a 20-foot-long by 20-foot-wide covered picnic pavilion at its center. Two 27-foot-long by 8-foot-wide access piers would connect the boardwalk to the shoreline.
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: The applicant stated that it has designed the proposed project to avoid the highest quality wetland habitats present within the proposed project site. Specifically, the applicant shifted the proposed infrastructure away from the higher quality wetland resources on the north side of the project site in favor of impacting the lower quality wetland resources on the south side of project site.
Furthermore, the applicant stated that it has minimized the proposed impacts to the greatest extent practicable to be able to construct a safe ramp with sufficient roadway access, and suitable parking to accommodate the typical use at the ramp.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: In order to offset the unavoidable impacts associated with this project, the applicant proposes to create 0.142 acres of living shoreline salt marsh to the north of the proposed Bird Creek Boat Ramp. To establish the living shoreline, the applicant proposes to: remove areas of existing riprap revetment north of the ramp; grade the shoreline to match the elevations of adjacent, functioning marsh; plant high marsh species such as Sea Myrtle, Saltwort, Christmas Berry, Sea meadow Cord Grass, and black needle rush; plant low marsh species such as saltmarsh cordgrass, Black mangrove, and red mangrove; and construct a breakwater with swim through gaps waterward of the plantings to ensure their establishment.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area. By letter to the applicant dated January 30, 2019, the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) stated that the proposed project is unlikely to adversely affect and historic properties or cultural resources. However, SHPO requested that any authorization the Corps may provide for the proposed project include conditions advising the applicant of the procedures it must follow in the event that it uncovers any unanticipated resources while completing the proposed work. (DHR Project File Number 2019-257)
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposal may affect the West Indian Manatee. Since the proposal by the applicant is for in-water construction, potential impacts to the endangered West Indian manatee were evaluated using The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida, April 2013. Use of this key resulted in the following sequential determination: A>B>C>D>G>H>I>J>L>M(2)>May affect. The proposed project involves the expansion of a multi-slip facility in a designated Important Manatee Area in Levy County. Thus, this key recommends an initial determination of may affect. However, the applicant agreed to abide by the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work, 2011, the project involves land-based excavation of the proposed ramp, and the project would not impact submerged aquatic vegetation. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
Sea turtles (loggerhead, leatherback, Kemp's ridley, hawksbill, and green); smalltooth sawfish; Johnson's seagrass; Gulf sturgeon; corals (elkhom, staghom, boulder star, mountainous star, lobed star, rough cactus, and pillar), smalltooth sawfish, and elkhom and staghom corals: The Corps determined that the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect these species. The Corps completed programmatic consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service Protected Resources Division (NMFS) on these species. The NMFS provided the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District’s Programmatic Biological Opinion (JAXBO), dated 20 November 2017, file 1514-22.F.4, Reference F/SER31:NMB SER-2015-17616. The JAXBO analyzes the effects from 10 categories of minor in-water activities occurring in Florida. The Corps conducted a project specific review, and received NMFS permission to utilize JAXBO for the proposed project via separate correspondence. Based on a review of the information above, the Corps has determined that it has fulfilled its responsibilities under Section 7(a) (2) of the Endangered Species Act for these species.
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. The proposal would impact approximately 0.163 acres of salt marsh and .07 acre of mud bottom potentially utilized by various life stages of Penaeid shrimp complex; red drum; stone crab; spiny lobster; and/or the snapper/grouper complex. Our initial determination is that the proposed action, in conjunction with the proposed compensatory mitigation, would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the 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. The jurisdictional line has 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 Tampa Permits Section, Gainesville Field Office, 2833 NW 41st Street, Unit 130, Gainesville, FL 32606, 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 the project manager, James Davidson, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, Gainesville Field Office, 2833 NW 41st Street, Unit 130, Gainesville, FL 32606; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by facsimile transmission at (352)264-7733; or, by telephone at (352)264-7672.
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.