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:
Attn: Jay Ahmad, P.E.
2885 Horseshoe Drive South
Naples, Florida 34104
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect two wetlands and waters of the United States known as Cypress Canal, Curry Canal, Corkscrew Canal, and Orange Tree Canal which are man-made drainage canals. The project site is located in the Golden Gate Estates area in Naples, Florida.
The project is located in the following Section, Township, and Range:
S:1-2 T:49 R: 26; S:5-6 T:49 R: 27; S:35-36 T:48 R:26; S:31-36 T:48 R:27.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-75 take Exit 111, Immokalee Road/CR-846. Take the exit ramp and head east on Immokalee Road for approximately 3.3 miles. Turn south on Collier Boulevard/CR-951. Head south on Collier Blvd. for approximately 2 miles. Turn east on Vanderbilt Beach Road. Project begins on Vanderbilt Beach Road approximately 840 feet east of Collier Boulevard.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Overall: To widen and extend Vanderbilt Beach Road to 16th Street Northeast to provide significant relief to traffic congestion on Golden Gate Boulevard and Immokalee Road and improve emergency services for the County. The total length of the roadway extension is 7.01 miles.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The total impact area within the proposed Vanderbilt Beach Road extension is 307.5 acres. The dominant vegetation communities within the proposed corridor are Pine Flatwoods (FLUCCS code 411), Cabbage Palm (FLUCCS code 428), and Pine - Cabbage Palm (FLUCCS code 450). Combined, these three communities cover 150.74 acres and represent almost half of the habitat within the project limits. The existing road is approximately 26.5 percent of the project length and approximately 73.5 percent of the proposed project extends through privately held parcels. Within the corridor, hydrologically connected wetlands cover 3.38 acres (1.1 percent) and man-made land use or altered habitats such as roadways, pastures, holding ponds and canals cover 73.92 acres (24 percent).
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks to widen and extend Vanderbilt Beach Road from Collier Boulevard to 16th Street Northeast. The first section is a proposed urban typical section from Collier Boulevard to Wilson Boulevard (approx. 4.98 miles) which includes an interim 4-lane urban facility with a 6-lane build-out. The second section, from Wilson Boulevard to 16th Street Northeast (approx. 2.03 miles), is proposed for an initial 2-lane urban facility, with a modified 4-lane facility, and an ultimate 6-lane build-out. The proposed area of impact (roadway, ponds, canal relocation) is approximately 307.5 acres.
Impacts include relocating 11.35 acres of the Cypress Canal and constructing bridges over the Curry Canal, Corkscrew Canal, and Orange Tree Canal, with bridge piling impacts resulting in 54 square feet per bridge. The proposed project will impact panther habitat in the secondary zone and impact approximately 3.38 acres of wetlands.
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: A corridor study was performed to determine alternatives with consideration of the presence of wetlands, protected species, and other natural resources. Viable alternatives were ranked based on human and natural environmental impacts. The results of the study indicated the proposed alignment as the preferred alternative. The proposed impacts are unavoidable and have been minimized to the greatest extent possible. Best management practices such as silt fences and floating turbidity barriers will be installed prior to construction and carefully maintained until all disturbed surfaces have been stabilized and construction has been completed. The roadway alignment runs perpendicular to the existing Curry Canal, Corkscrew Canal and Orange Tree Canal to reduce impacts to the greatest extent possible.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: All wetlands impacted within the ROW will be mitigated using the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Methodology (UMAM) to score the wetland functional value. Mitigation credits will be purchased from Panther Island Mitigation Bank Expansion and/or Corkscrew Regional Mitigation Bank. This purchase of mitigation credits will also satisfy any mitigation requirements for secondary panther habitat impacts by the proposed roadway construction. The applicant is proposing to purchase 1.01 credits for direct wetland impacts, 0.06 for secondary wetland impacts, and 1,561.44 Panther Habitat Units.
The Cypress Canal will be realigned and will require filling of 11.35 acres of man-made canal which will be replaced with 18.51 acres of new canal to be excavated to the south of the current canal location. It is anticipated that mitigation for impacts to the Cypress Canal is not needed since the proposed realignment will be larger than the original canal and the realignment will provide an additional 7.16 acres of storage. It is anticipated mitigation for Curry Canal, Corkscrew Canal, and Orange Tree Canal for bridge impacts will not be required since impacts will be negligible.
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 the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Florida Bonneted Bat (Eumops floridanus) or the Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi). The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
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 no impact on EFH habitat.
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 will be obtained through the South Florida Water Management District.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Ft. Myers Permits Section 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, Erin Campbell, in writing at the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd., Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida 33919 or by electronic mail at email@example.com; or by telephone at (239) 334-1975 ext. 0013.
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, food 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.