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:
c/o Charlie Hunsicker
5502 33rd Avenue Drive West
Bradenton, Florida 34209
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Gulf of Mexico. The project site is located at Coquina Beach, Anna Maria Island, Manatee County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-75, take Exit 217 and head west on SR 70 / 53rd Ave. for approximately 11 miles. Turn right onto 75th St. W, then left on Cortez Road, cross over drawbridge to Anna Maria Island. Turn left onto Gulf Dr. to Coquina Beach (on right)
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is shoreline protection.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to place compatible beach fill material on Coquina Beach, Anna Maria Island, improving recreational areas and increasing storm protection for the island.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a saltwater system. There is no onsite vegetation. The existing area surrounding the project area consists of the Gulf of Mexico to the west and a dune system landward of the project area, followed by a public recreation area at Coquina Beach. The project area includes beach and nearshore marine waters, which includes primarily unconsolidated sediment and areas of nearshore hardbottom. All nearshore hardbottom within the equilibrium toe of fill (ETOF) for the Coquina Beach Nourishment Project has been mitigated through construction of a nearshore artificial reef in 2011.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct an additional nourishment of the Coquina Beach project area on Anna Maria Island, Manatee County. The project includes placement of approximately 252,000-cubic-yards of compatible beach material within the previously permitted and constructed fill area, including approximately 1.6 miles of shoreline on Coquina Beach between R-33 and R-41+305. The constructed beach will include a berm elevation of +4 feet NAVD on a slope of 1 foot vertical to 15 feet horizontal. The sand will be dredged from any of three previously permitted borrow areas located on the Passage Key Inlet ebb tidal shoal, approximately 2,000 feet offshore of the north end of Anna Maria Island, in the Gulf of Mexico, Class III Waters.
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: Turbidity monitoring will ensure turbidity levels remain within permitted limits, and sediment QA/QC monitoring will ensure that only beach compatible sand is placed. Shorebird and sea turtle monitoring will be conducted per permit requirements.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required: The County previously constructed an artificial reef as mitigation for this project and biological monitoring is in place for hardbottom resources. The proposed project falls within the previously permitted Coquina Beach project limits, therefore no additional impacts are anticipated and no additional mitigation is proposed.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area. 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 that the proposed activity may affect nesting sea turtles, and may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect (MANLAA) manatee, piping plover and rufa red knot. Protection measures for nesting sea turtles, piping plovers, and red knots shall be incorporated into the project plans and specifications in compliance with the terms and conditions of the Statewide Programmatic Biological Opinion (SPBO) (USFWS, 2015) and Programmatic Piping Plover Biological Opinion (P3BO) (USFWS, 2013). The Corps has determined MANLAA for swimming sea turtles and smalltooth sawfish, and determined that the Coquina Beach Nourishment project is authorized under the Gulf of Mexico Regional Biological Opinion (GRBO) (NMFS, 2003, as amended). The project will have no effect on any designated critical habitat, as there are no loggerhead or piping plover critical habitat units located in the project vicinity. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/National Marine Fisheries Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
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 up to approximately 523 acres of water column and non-vegetated substrate within three offshore borrow areas, utilized by various life stages of penaeid shrimp complex, reef fish, stone crab, spiny lobster, migratory/pelagic fish, snapper/grouper complex, and calico scallop. The previously permitted and constructed fill placement area includes water column, non-vegetated substrate, and ephemeral hardbottom. All hardbottom habitat located within the area of potential project impact (within the equilibrium toe of fill) was mitigated through construction of a 5.16 acre artificial reef in 2011. No additional impacts are anticipated and no new mitigation is proposed. Our initial determination is that the proposed action 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 not 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 within 21 days from the date of this notice. For electronic mail (preferred) submit comments to Caitlin.S.Hoch@usace.army.mil. For standard mail submit comments to 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610-8302. Please reference this permit number, SAJ- 2000-03874 (SP-CSH), on all submittals.
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, Caitlin Hoch-Nussbaum by electronic mail at Caitlin.S.Hoch@usace.army.mil or by telephone at (813)355-0789.
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: 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 of 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 decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act 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.