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:
APPLICANT: Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX)
Attn: Mr. Cole Popp
1 Rocket Road
Hawthorne, California 90250
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The SpaceX Roberts Road project would affect wetlands and surface waters located within the Indian River Lagoon Watershed (12-digit Hydrologic Unit Code 030802020302); site drains west ~2.2 miles to the Indian River Lagoon. The project is located within National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC); west of Kennedy Parkway North, in Section 25, Township 22 South, Range 36 East, Brevard County, Florida (Approximate Central Coordinates Latitude: 28.542672° Longitude: -80.668707°).
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-95, take Exit 215 and proceed east on SR 50 toward Titusville; turn right onto SR 405 East (Columbia Blvd.), and continue east on NASA Causeway, which becomes NASA Parkway W. Turn left onto Kennedy Parkway N and continue north for approximately 1.1 miles until turning left onto Roberts Road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude: 28.542672°
Basic: Commercial space manufacturing development
Overall: To expand SpaceX operations to meet the increasing demands of their national and international commercial and governmental customers, within proximity of their existing operations in Brevard County, Florida. The action also furthers the goals of KSC long-term planning initiatives, NASA programmatic objectives, and ultimately increases American competitiveness in commercial space.
The project site is an approximate 43.99 acre portion of the western half of a large overall 67 ac.+/- property located in Section 25, Township 22 South, Range 36 East in Brevard County. The project will impact a portion of a forested exotic hardwood wetland (WL1). This wetland is predominantly Australian-pine (Casuarina equisetifolia), with a man-made ditch cut through the center. The portion of the wetland dominated by Australian-pine has no understory, and during the site visit had mucky soils with a high-water table and observable saturation. The dominant vegetation immediately outside of the Australian-pine wetland consists mainly of Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia) with a heavy understory of cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica). Topographic features beneath the Brazilian pepper have been highly disturbed due to remnant citrus bedding. The wetland extends outside of the project area to the west.
Throughout the abandoned citrus grove there are wet rills dominated by Brazilian pepper with an understory of Cogongrass and Guineagrass. The Surface Water community consists of upland cut surface water canals, ditches and borrow ponds with vegetation limited to upper edge of the banks.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to fill 8.84 acres of waters of the United States (1.4 acres of wetlands, 6.15 acres of wet rills, and 1.29 acres of surface waters) for construction of a new manufacturing facility.
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:
“Multiple alternatives were eliminated due to increase hazard risks to KSC personnel, greater adverse environmental impacts, security reasons, or inability to meet other site selection standards, such as line of sight requirements. The project site is isolated from other NASA facilities and operations, eliminating issues with required quantity distances and buffers. There is easy access to SR 3 and infrastructure including water, sewer, electric, and gas distribution. The site is abandoned and was previously comprised of citrus groves. The current onsite wetland is low quality, offering connection via a series of man-made ditches and vegetation consisting mainly of invasive Australian-pine and Brazilian pepper.
The project has been designed to minimize impacts to fish and wildlife by utilizing disturbed land (previous agriculture site) designated for citrus grove operations. The site is densely vegetated with Brazilian pepper and cogongrass. The delineated wetland on the west side of the project also consists of invasive species such as Brazilian Pepper and Australian-pine. Due to limited community structure and alteration of hydrology due to manmade ditches throughout the site, the site has little habitat value.
There are no documented cultural resource sites within the boundary of the SpaceX Roberts Road development location. There are two historic areas in the general vicinity. One is located 215m (705-ft) south of the southeast corner of the project area and is comprised of two structures that appear to have been associated with a homestead. The second is 325m (1,066-ft) west of the southwest corner of the project area and contained six structures that were part of a large citrus grove. No impacts are expected to any cultural resources from the proposed project.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“Mitigation will be purchased from Neoverde Mitigation Bank to offset the 7.55 acres of permanent wetland impact”
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The US Army Corps of Engineers (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.
The Corps determined the proposed project would have no potential to cause effect to historic properties. The Corps reviewed the project consistent with REGULATORY DIVISION STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES FOR SECTION 106 OF THE NATIONAL HISTORIC PRESERVATION ACT COMPLIANACE FOR THE STATE OF FLORIDA (21 NOV 2016). The Corps evaluated cultural resources in the original permit application based on results from the Resources At Risk report, which includes Florida Master Site File data. This report indicated there were no known cultural resource sites located within the permit area and the activity is of such limited scope there is little likelihood of impact upon a historic property; therefore, the proposed project would have “No Potential to Cause Effect”.
Wood Stork: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect, wood stork (Mycteria americana). The proposed activity is within the Core Foraging Area (CFA) of a wood stork rookery; the project supports marginally Suitable Foraging Habitat (SFH) for wood stork. Based on the Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida (dated September 2008), the Corps determination sequence was A>B>C>D>E = NLAA. The project provides SFH compensation in accordance with the Clean Water Act section 404(b)(1) guidelines and is not contrary to the habitat management guidelines. The determination is supported by SFH compensation provided through mitigation credit purchase within the service area of a federal mitigation bank, and provides an amount of habitat and foraging function equivalent to that of impacted SFH; and is not contrary to the Service’s “Habitat Management Guidelines for the Wood Stork in the Southeast Region”. No further consultation is required.
Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) and Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi): The Corps will utilize the existing Biological Opinion provided to NASA from USFWS for the Roberts Road site (FWS Log No. 04EF1000-2019-F-00193 dated December 21, 2018), which included this property. All reasonable and prudent measures, terms and conditions, and monitoring and reporting requirements will be implemented as part of the Corps permit.
The site is located within the consultation area for Atlantic salt marsh snake (Nerodia clarkii taeniata), and piping plover (Charadrius melodus). Suitable habitat for these species does not occur on, or adjacent to, the subject property. The Corps determined there would be no effect on these species. The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any other federally 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. The proposal would impact approximately 8 acres of freshwater wetlands and surface waters which ultimately discharge to the Indian River Lagoon. 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 (NMFS).
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 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 Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926, within 15 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, Brandon J. Conroy, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by facsimile transmission at (321) 504-3803; or, by telephone at (504) 321-3771 x11.
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 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.