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:
South Florida Water Management District
3301 Gun Club Road
West Palm Beach, FL 33406
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with canals and agricultural ditches which are tributaries to the Everglades Watershed (HUC 03090202). The project site is located in Sections 5,6,7,8, and 18, Township 47 South, Range 34 East, Hendry County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: The project site is located west of STA-5/6 in Hendry County, approximately 20 miles south of the SFWMD Clewiston Field Station. More specifically, it is located south of the Deer Fence Canal and west of STA 5/6 on the northern approximately 2,800 acres of the C- I 39 Annex. The project is bordered to the east by the L-3 Canal, to the south by District owned C-139 Annex property and to the west by an area known as Garcia Farms. From West Palm Beach, travel west on SR 80 W/US-98. Continue onto US-27 N. Turn left onto County Road 835/Evercane Road and continue to follow County Road 835 for 30 minutes. Turn left and travel for 1 minute. Final destination is a slight right.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: To provide water quality treatment.
Overall: The FEB will provide water quality treatment for STA 5/6.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed C-139 FEB project area encompasses 2,875.03 acres of land in southeastern Hendry County approximately 20 miles south of Lake Okeechobee. The majority of the site is abandoned citrus grove. The following wetland communities are onsite: Wetland Hardwood Forests, Vegetated Non-Forest Wetlands, Freshwater Marshes, and Disturbed Lands. The site includes four types of canals and ditches (surface water features). The largest ditch features include perimeter canals which enclose the entire property. The next largest ditch features extend across the property in and east-west direction and connect via culverts to the perimeter canals. The smallest surface water feature consists of numerous agricultural ditches that run north –south and the final ditch type is the “ring ditch” that surrounds many of the wetlands onsite. Overall, the FEB wetlands and ditches are dominated by exotic vegetation.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge fill material into waters of the United States to construct the Restoration Strategies (RS) recommended C-139 Flow Equalization Basin (FEB). A 690 cfs (cubic feet per second) pump station (6 pumps@ 115 cfs each) will pump excess C-139 Basin flows to the FEB, which will attenuate C-139 basin flows, and make them available to STA-5/6 when treatment capacity is [or becomes] available. The C-139 FEB has been designed to detain up to 10,115 +/- acre-feet of C-139 Basin flows and will include two discharge locations. Outflow Structure # I will discharge to the Deer Fence Canal while Outflow Structure #2 will discharge to the L-3 Canal. A seepage collection canal will be constructed just outside of the FEB, along its western and southern perimeters, and excess seepage will be returned to the FEB by a Seepage Pump Station which will be located in the southwest corner of the FEB. The project will also include replacement of Structure G-711. The replacement structure will include automation, will be constructed just west of G-711 's current location, and will be named "G-711 W".
The proposed project will require 700,000 +/- CY (Cubic Yards) of earthen fill to be placed into 217.1 +/- acres of degraded wetlands, and 828,000 +/- CY of earthen fill to be placed into 171.4 acres of other surface waters (agricultural ditches) in order to level the site to construct the 2,937 +/- acre (2,468 +/- acre interior) C-139 FEB.
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 project design considered several alternatives to avoid and minimize impacts to the ditches/other surface waters. Impacts were unavoidable because of the need to locate on the C-139 Annex, the need to maximize treatment, relatively poor quality of wetlands to be impacted and need to maximize storage capacity. In addition, erosion control measures, such as silt fences and turbidity barriers will be installed in order to minimize displacement of fill material, turbidity, and site runoff until the authorized work is completed and the soil has been stabilized.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required: The post project condition of this project which includes improved hydrology and recruitment of emergent vegetation within the FEB will offset the unavoidable impacts associated with construction.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is aware of historic property/properties within or in close proximity of the permit area. The Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as applicable pursuant to 33 CFR 325, Appendix C and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, by separate letter.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The project area has suitable habitat or is within the designated critical habitat for Audubon’s crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii), Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), Wood stork (Mycteria americana), Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi), Eastern Indigo snake ((Drymarchon corais couperi) and Florida Bonneted Bat (Eumops floridanus).
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Audubon’s crested caracara and the Everglade snail kite or their designated critical habitat.
Using the September 2008 effect determination key for the wood Stork (A-B-C-D), the Corps has a programmatic concurrence that the proposal may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork; no further consultation necessary.
Using the January 25, 2010 effect determination key for the eastern indigo snake, as updated August 13, 2013 (A-B-C-D), the Corps has determined that the proposal may affect the eastern indigo snake. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the USFWS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
Based on the February 19, 2007 effects determination key for the Florida panther (A-B-C), the Corps has determined that the proposal may affect the Florida panther and the Corps will request formal consultation with USFWS.
Bonneted bats typically roost in forests with tall, mature trees but may also use buildings, or other artificial structures. The only suitable roosting habitat currently present is in the cypress wetlands in the northwest corner of the property. These wetlands will be avoided during project construction. However, there are existing structures and utility poles within the interior of the FEB that will be removed as part of this project. The conversion of citrus grove to emergent marsh should benefit the prey base of the bonneted bat through an increase in insect emergence. Based on the October 22, 2019 effects determination key (1a-2b-13a-14a-15b) the proposal would be a MANLAA-P with programmatic concurrence if BMP’s are utilized.
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 South Atlantic Region. 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 Mining Team Attention: Dianne Rosensweig, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610 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.
QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, Dianne Rosensweig, in writing at the West Permits Branch, Mine Team, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; by electronic mail at Dianne.M.Rosensweig@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (813)769-7061; or, by telephone at (813)769-7069.
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 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.
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.