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) as described below:
APPLICANT: Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) – District 7
Attn: Ms. Virginia Creighton
11201 N. McKinley Drive
Tampa, Florida 33612
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the U.S. (wetlands and surface waters) associated with the Chassahowitzka River. The project is located along approximately 6.81 miles of US 19 (State Route (SR) 55) from Hernando County Line to West Green Acres Street in Sections 01, 12, 13, 24, 25, and 36, Township 19 South, Range 17 East, Citrus County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Brooksville, FL, take US 98 northwest for approximately 16.6 miles to US 19. The project begins approximately 1.9 mil.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude: 28.742435 °
Longitude: - 82.553629 °
Basic: Linear transportation improvements.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to rehabilitate, add a sidewalk and shared-use path along an existing corridor of US 19 (SR 55) in southwest Citrus County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a freshwater system. All habitats within the project area were classified using the Florida Land Use Cover and Forms Classification System (FDOT 1999) (FLUCFCS), while wetland habitats were also classified using the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Classification of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United States (Cowardin, et. al., 1979).
Residential, Low Density <Less than two dwelling units per acre>
FLUCFCS – 110
This land use consists of less than two dwellings per acre. These residential buildings are non-mobile permanent structures. This upland land use is found on the west side of US 19 throughout the project study area. While these areas have homes present, the land surrounding the homes remains mostly undeveloped and consists primarily of hardwood-conifer mixed forests. However, some homeowners have cleared the natural vegetation for trails or yards.
Residential, Medium Density <Less than two dwelling units per acre>
FLUCFCS – 110
The medium density residential land use classification includes areas with two (2) to five (5) fixed family dwellings or mobile home units per acre. This urban land use is found on the east side of US in the north end of the project study area. While these areas have homes present, there are some areas of shrub or forested areas surrounding the homes.
Commercial and Services
FLUCFCS – 140
The commercial and services land use classification includes areas associated with the distribution of products and services. This upland land use is found throughout the project study area on both sides of US 19 and is comprised of several businesses, including gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, private businesses, salons, and gyms. These areas are developed with no natural habitat present.
FLUCFCS – 170
The institutional land use classification includes areas associated with educational, religious, health, and military facilities. This upland land use is found on the west side of US 19 near the center of the project study area and is comprised of the Homosassa Forestry Station and the Crystal River NWR Resident Volunteer Campgrounds.
FLUCFCS – 190
The open lands land use classification includes undeveloped land within urban areas and inactive land with street patterns but without structures. Open land normally does not exhibit any structures or indication of intended use. Within the project study area, this classification consists of scattered open parcels of land that are dominated by cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica), bahiagrass, sporadic wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), live oak (Quercus virginiana), and weedy ruderal vegetation.
Shrub and Brushland
FLUCFCS – 320
The shrub and brushland land use generally includes saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) as the prevalent plant cover intermixed with a wide variety of other woody scrub plant species as well as various types of short herbs and grasses. Within the project study area, this land use is dominated by saw palmetto, turkey oak (Quercus laevis), wax myrtle, bluestem (Andropogon spp.), and narrowleaf silkgrass (Pityopsis graminifolia). Shrub and brushland communities are located at the north end of the project area.
FLUCFCS – 411
Pine flatwoods are forest areas dominated by either slash pine (Pinus elliottii), longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), or both and less frequently, pond pine (Pinus serotina). Within the project study area, the canopy is dominated by both longleaf and slash pine with sporadic live oak and turkey oak mixed throughout the canopy. The understory is dominated by saw palmetto, cabbage palm, bluestem, narrowleaf silkgrass, and cogongrass. This land use type is scattered throughout the project area.
Longleaf Pine-Xeric Oak
FLUCFCS – 412
Longleaf pine-xeric oak communities are dominated by longleaf pine with a mid-story canopy of blue-jack oak (Quercus incana), turkey oak, post oak (Quercus stellata), and/or other dry-site tolerant oaks and hardwoods. Within the project study area, the canopy is dominated by longleaf pine and the mid-story is dominated by live oak, sand live oak (Quercus geminata), and turkey oak. The understory is dominated by saw palmetto, bluestem, threeawn (Aristida spp.), and magnolia (Magnolia spp.).
FLUCFCS – 421
Xeric oak includes communities similar to longleaf pine-xeric oak communities except that the pines, if present, are not the dominant species. Within the project study area, species common to these communities include live oak, sand live oak, turkey oak, with scattered slash pine and sand pine (Pinus clausa) and an understory of saw palmetto, saw greenbriar (Smilax bona-nox), narrowleaf silkgrass, and cabbage palm. X eric oak communities are located throughout the project study area but concentrated towards the middle of the project area.
FLUCFCS – 434
Hardwood-conifer mixed communities are forested uplands in which neither hardwoods nor conifers achieve 66-percent dominance of the crown canopy composition. This habitat is found throughout the project study area with dominant vegetation consisting of slash pine, longleaf pine, cabbage palm, live oak, turkey oak, salt bush (Baccharis halimifolia), wax myrtle, saw palmetto, prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa), dogfennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), narrowleaf silkgrass, bluestem, and knotroot foxtail (Setaria parviflora).
FLUCFCS – 440
Tree plantations are large parcels of land that are planted with specific tree species. Within the project study area, tree plantations are dominated by slash pine with cabbage palm scattered throughout. This habitat is found on the west side of US 19 at the north end of the project area.
FLUCFCS – 810
Transportation communities are facilities that are used for the movement of people and goods and consist of highways, right-of-ways, center medians, pavement, and roads. Within the project study area, this classification is the US 19 and adjacent roadways. Natural habitats within the roadway have been cleared and the corridor is maintained free of trees. Vegetation found within the roadway medians and right-of-ways consist of ruderal grasses.
Wetlands and Surface Waters (SW):
Streams and Waterways
USFWS: PEM1Cx, PEM1Fx, PSS1Cx, PSS1Fx, PUB2Fx
This habitat type includes rivers, creeks, canals, ditches, and other linear water bodies. Within the project study area, the streams and waterways habitat consists of man-made ditches or canals crossing under or running parallel to US 19. Vegetation within these areas include duckpotato (Sagittaria lancifolia), lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus), Peruvian primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana), Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana), maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), water hyssop (Bacopa monnieri), marsh pennywort (Hydrocotyle umbellata), busy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus), torpedo grass (Panicum repens), soft rush (Juncus effusus), spadeleaf (Centella asiatica), and swamp smartweed (Persicaria hydropiperoides). There are 1.81 acres (0.9 percent) of streams and waterways located within the project area.
Mixed Wetland Hardwoods
USFWS: PFO1C (Palustrine, Forested, Broad-Leaved Deciduous, Seasonally Flooded) Mixed wetland hardwood communities consist of forested wetlands that are composed of a variety of hardwood species tolerant of hydric conditions. Vegetation within these areas includes red maple (Acer rubrum), dahoon holly (Ilex cassine), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), Carolina willow, wax myrtle, and saltbush. This habitat type is found in the south end of the project study area, on the west side of US 19. There are 2.19 acres (1.1 percent) of mixed wetlands hardwoods within the project area.
USFWS: PFO2C (Palustrine, Forested, Needle-Leaved Deciduous, Seasonally Flooded)
Cypress wetland communities consist of forested wetlands that are dominated by cypress species. Vegetation within these areas is dominated by cypress (Taxodium spp.) and common associates are red maple, Carolina willow, dahoon holly, wax myrtle, slash pine, and saltbush. This habitat type is found scatted throughout the project study area. There are 3.17 acres (1.5 percent) of cypress wetlands within the project area.
USFWS: PSS1C (Palustrine, Scrub-Shrub, Broad-Leaved Deciduous, Seasonally Flooded)
Wet prairies consist of grassy vegetation on hydric soils having less water and short herbage. Dominant vegetation within these areas include bushy bluestem and Carolina redroot. Sporadic vegetation along the exterior of the wetland community includes wax myrtle, dahoon holly, and red maple. This habitat type is found at the south end of the project study area. There are 0.39 acres (0.2 percent) of wet prairies within the project area.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge fill material over 2.97 acres and incur 4.10 acres of secondary wetland impacts for a total of 7.07 acres of impacts to waters of the United States (wetlands and surface waters) to construct roadway improvements that consist of milling and resurfacing 6.81 miles of existing roadway; adding a northbound right turn lane at Cardinal Street; widening existing right turn lanes to provide a 5-foot bike keyhole lane and outside paved shoulder; adding a 5-foot sidewalk and 10-foot shared-use path along the roadways west and east sides (FPN 437514-1-32-01).
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 proposed construction activity will result in unavoidable impacts to wetlands. Given that the project involves improvements to an existing roadway, opportunities to completely avoid wetland impacts were not available. Impacts have been avoided and minimized to the greatest extent possible. The proposed project was designed to avoid and minimize construction within wetlands where practical by keeping construction within the existing ROW. In addition, the multiuse trail and sidewalk were meandered throughout the project corridor to avoid wetlands where ever possible. As this project is not a capacity improvement project and minimal impacts to natural habitats will occur due to construction, impacts to wildlife habitat have also been minimized.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The wetland and surface water areas being impacted by the project and mitigated were assessed using Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM). The 2.97 acres of wetland and surface water direct impacts and 4.10 acres of wetland secondary impacts resulted in a loss of 2.20 wetland functional units. The applicant proposes the purchase of 2.20 palustine UMAM credits from the Old Florida Mitigation Bank.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps has determined the permit area has been extensively modified by previous work and there is little likelihood a historic property may be affected.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The project is located within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Consultation Areas for wood stork (Mycteria americana), Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis), and Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens)
Wood Stork: This species typically inhabits freshwater and brackish wetlands, primarily nesting in cypress and mangrove swamps. They can be found foraging in shallow water in freshwater marshes, wet prairies, narrow tidal creeks, and flooded tidal pools, as well as roadside ditches and pasturelands. The proposed project is within the buffer of two (2) wood stork nesting colonies. Also the proposed project would impact greater than 0.5 acre of wetlands which exhibit the parameters of suitable foraging habitat for the wood stork. Based upon review of the Wood Stork Key for South Florida, dated May 18, 2010, the proposed project resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C > D > E = “not likely to adversely affect” the wood stork. This is due to the applicant proposing to provide mitigation at an approved mitigation bank which is within the appropriate CFA and of matching hydroperiod of the proposed impacts, and the project is not contrary to the Habitat Management Guidelines for the Wood Stork in the Southeast Region. Given the above information, the Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork.
Eastern indigo snake: The potential impacts to the endangered Eastern Indigo snake were evaluated using The Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, August 2013. Use of the Eastern Indigo snake key resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C > D > E “not likely to adversely affect” the Eastern Indigo snake. This is due to the project will impact less 25 acres of xeric habitat within the project area. Also the applicant proposes to follow the FWS approved Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake during the clearing and construction phases of the project.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis): The project area consists of an existing roadway and wetlands. The woodpecker live and forage in mature pine forests, specifically those with longleaf pines averaging over 80 to 120 years old and loblolly pines averaging 70 to 100 years old. The red-cockaded woodpeckers live in groups with a breeding pair and as many as four helpers, usually male offspring from the previous year. Each group needs about 200 acres of old pine forest to support its foraging and nesting needs. Therefore the Corps determination for the proposed project is “no effect” to the woodpecker.
Florida scrub jay: The proposed project falls within the USFWS consultation area for the Florida scrub-jay. This species typically inhabits fire-dominated, low-growing, oak scrub habitat found on well-drained sandy soils and may persist in areas with sparser oaks or scrub areas that are overgrown. No appropriate habitat for the species exists near the project area, and none were observed during listed species surveys or other field work conducted by the applicant’s consultant. Additionally, the project is along and abuts the existing US 19 roadway. Therefore, the Corps has determined that the proposed project would have “no effect” on this species.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any other 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 unnamed wetlands. 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 Panama City Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232 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, Mr. Randy Turner, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232, by electronic mail at Randy.L.Turner@usace.army.mil, by fax at (904) 232-1904, or by telephone at (904) 232-1670.
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.