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SAJ-2018-01490 (SJC)

Published Sept. 6, 2019
Expiration date: 10/6/2019

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:  T. Mims Corporation
                       c/o Mr. William T. Mims
                       439 South Florida Avenue, Suite 202,
                       Lakeland, FL 33801

LOCATION: The proposed project, identified as the Alafia River Wetland Mitigation Bank (ARWMB), is a 51.13 acre project located south of Mulberry in Sections 15, 22, Township 30S and Range 23E, Polk County, Florida.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:  Latitude: 27.867435°N
                                                                          Longitude: -82.619978°W

PROSPECTUS SUMMARY: Pursuant to 33 CFR 332.8(d)(4), the Corps has posted a full copy of the ARWMB 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 “Alafia River Wetland 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 ARWMB 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:

Goal 1: Preserve and enhance 18.34 acres of wetlands, hydrologically connected to Bird Branch Creek along with the Bird Branch Creek tributary.

Objective 1: To preserve the project wetlands from future mining activities that have heavily impacted the aquatic resources within the watershed.

Objective 2: To remove non-native and invasive vegetation, which may affect wetland dependent wildlife use in the system.

Objective 3: To maintain existing hydrologic connections, so that floodplain attenuation during the wet season is maintained throughout the project wetlands.

Objective 4: To provide habitat that encourages the foraging and nesting of wading birds, specifically state and federally listed species such as Snowy egret (Egretta thula), roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja), reddish egret (Egretta rufescens), little blue heron (Egretta caerulea), tricolored heron (Egretta tricolor), great egret (Ardea alba), wood stork (Mycteria americana), white ibis (Eudocimus albus).

Objective 5: To preserve wetland connectivity to the floodplain of Bird Branch Creek which will provide attenuation of floodwaters and nutrient uptake (especially for phosphorus and nitrogen) to support downstream systems, specifically the Tampa Bay estuary.

Objective 6: To remove non-native and invasive vegetation, such as hydrilla that may obstruct the system flow.

Objective 7: To maintain existing crossings locations, so that flow is maintained through the project area.

Goal 2: Preserve 32.79 acres of upland buffer which includes a minimum of 50 feet from the wetland boundary.

Objective 1: To preserve the project adjacent uplands from future mining activities that have heavily impacted the aquatic resources within the watershed.

Objective 2: To provide a buffer between future adjacent activities and the project wetlands. This buffer includes mitigating the potential adverse effects of sedimentation, noise and lighting.

Objective 3: To provide a buffer between future adjacent activities and the project wetlands that is sufficient to allow for wading bird foraging and nesting.

Goal 3: Preserve the corridor for aquatic resources by maintaining hydrologic connectivity to the Alafia River through Bird Branch Creek and its associated wetlands.

Objective 1: To preserve the project adjacent uplands from future mining activities that have heavily impacted the aquatic resources within the watershed.

Objective 2: To provide a buffer between future adjacent activities and the project wetlands. This buffer includes mitigating the potential adverse effects of sedimentation, noise and lighting.

Objective 3: To provide a buffer between future adjacent activities and the project wetlands that is sufficient to allow for wading bird foraging and nesting.

ECOLOGICAL SUITABILITY OF THE SITE:

The preservation of wetlands in their current condition protects them against potential impacts due to future mining activities and allows the site to stabilize and be utilized by listed species. Over time, the forested systems will mature and allow for natural recruitment.

Through the removal of invasive vegetation, specifically the removal of hydrilla, water levels within the wetlands will continue to correspond with rainfall within the drainage basin. This should provide a permanent pool of inundation within the creek channel and in floodplain wetlands immediately adjacent to the channel. The permanent inundation will provide optimum nesting habitat for wading birds, which typically begin nesting activities during the hydrologic dry season. Additionally, the direct connectivity of floodplain wetlands to the channel of Bird Branch Creek will provide significant habitat for aquatic macroinvertebrates, amphibians, fish and other prey items. These prey items result in a significant location for wading bird foraging.

PROPOSED SERVICE AREA: The service area is proposed to include Hydrologic Unit Code 03100204 (Alafia).

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The proposed bank is not expected to have any direct or indirect impact to cultural resources. Project review will, however, include review of the proposal for any potential impact to cultural resources.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The site will be reviewed for potential critical habitat and presence of endangered species. The findings will be coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service.

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The proposed bank is not located in 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. 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 Mr. Steven Currie by electronic mail at steven.j.currie@usace.army.mil, by fax at 904-232-1904, or by telephone at 904-232-3701 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.