Public Notice Notifications

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SAJ-2017-02025 (SCW)

Published March 2, 2020
Expiration date: 4/1/2020

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:  Missing Link Mitigation Preserve, LLC
                       Attn: Mr. Ryan Deibler
                       17561 Cedarwood Loop
                       Lutz, Florida 33618

LOCATION: The proposed project, identified as the 620.66-acre Missing Link Mitigation Bank (MLMB), is located adjacent to and north of Dean Still Road, approximately 1.8 miles west of State Road 27, within Sections 26, 27, 34, and 35, Township 25 South, Range 26 East, and within Sections 2 and 3, Township 26 South, Range 26 East, Polk County, Florida.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:  Latitude: 28.269293°
                                                                          Longitude: -81.692650°

PROSPECTUS SUMMARY: Pursuant to 33 CFR 332.8(d)(4), the Corps has posted a full copy of the MLMB 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 “Missing Link 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 MLMB 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: The applicant seeks authorization to rehabilitate, preserve, and protect wetlands and uplands on the 620.66-acre property. The primary ecological goal of the MLMB is to restore and permanently protect the hydrology and wildlife habitat of 620.66 acres of wetland habitats and adjacent upland buffer habitats while increasing the wetland function of the Palatlakaha River nested in the Ocklawaha River watershed. Specific restoration objectives include:

• Rehabilitation of 117.89 acres of cypress wetlands
• Rehabilitation of 133.96 acres of mixed forested wetlands.
• Rehabilitation of 234.00 acres of wet pine flatwoods forested wetlands.
• Rehabilitation of 119.58 acres of wet prairie.
• Rehabilitation of 9.16 acres of adjacent upland buffer pine flatwoods.
• Management of 0.33 acre of low water crossings and 5.72 acres of maintenance trails.
• Preservation of all 620.66 acres of rehabilitated wetland habitat and associated upland buffer habitat,

ECOLOGICAL SUITABILITY OF THE SITE: A public notice for a 418.50-acre MLMB proposal was published on September 28, 2017. By letter dated November 22, 2017, the Corps, in consultation with other members of the IRT, determined that the MLMB project had potential for providing appropriate compensatory mitigation to offset impacts to waters of the United States associated with activities authorized by Department of the Army permits. The current public notice includes an additional 202.16 acre parcel abutting the 418.50 acre parcel to the south. The total acreage for the proposed MLMB is 620.66 acres.

A review of available information indicates that historically the MLMB property consisted of cypress domes and strands hydrologically connected through wet prairie sloughs and wet pine flatwoods. The property is nearly flat and historically the surface water moved via sheetflow towards the northwest. Currently, the MLMB property consists of cypress domes and strands connected by wet prairie sloughs, with wet prairie flatwoods, wetland forested mixed wetlands and small pine flatwood islands associated with the Palatlakaha River. The applicant states that the existing wetland communities have been degraded by intensive silviculture, construction of raised roadways, prolonged fire suppression and habitat conversion.

According to the applicant the MLMB is a large (620.66 acres), single ownership tract with significant wetland acreage (610.49 acres). The site is the missing link between two large conservation areas and is targeted for acquisition as an “Essential Parcel Remaining” in the Florida Forever Project referred to as the Green Swamp – Hilochee Corridor (Florida Forever 2012). Additionally, the applicant states that the restoration plan for the MLMB includes the restoration of natural hydrology, revegetation of native wetland habitats and adjacent upland buffer habitats, enhancement of wildlife habitat and landscape corridors, and maintenance of all ecological functions in perpetuity. Because of the significant size, position in the landscape and watershed, and compatibility with adjacent land uses, wetland and upland buffer restoration will be successful. Finally, the applicant postulates that the MLMB is well suited for achieving successful restoration and will support the aquatic resources and functions in the future.

ESTABLISHMENT AND OPERATION OF THE BANK: The proposed MLMB would be established and operated by Missing Link Mitigation Preserve, LLC the Sponsor with the assistance of GreenSource Environmental Professionals, Inc. The property that comprises the MLMB is owned by Missing Link Mitigation Preserve, LLC. The MLMB is proposed to be established as a single and complete project. Following MLMB successful implementation and attainment of final success criteria, long-term management activities will be implemented in order to ensure the sustainability of MLMB. In addition, the Sponsor will provide sufficient financial assurances to ensure construction and long-term management of the proposed MLMB.

PROPOSED SERVICE AREA: The MLMB project is located within the Upper Withlacoochee Swamp subwatershed, identified as Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC 031002080104), which is part of the larger Ocklawaha River subbasin (HUC 03080102). The Applicant proposes a Mitigation Service Area (MSA) that includes the entirety of the Ocklawaha River subbasin. The MLMB MSA is anticipated to include wetland habitat communities that could reasonably be expected to occur on the MLMB.

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the proposed NSMMB. 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:

a) Wood stork: The Corps has determined that the proposed project would have no effect on the wood stork. Potential impacts to the endangered Wood stork were evaluated using The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office and State of Florida Effect Determination Key For the Wood Stork In Central And North Peninsular Florida, September 2008. Use of this Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A>B> no effect and no further consultation with FWS is required.

b) Everglades Snail Kite: The Corps has determined that the proposed project would have no effect on the endangered snail kite because the proposed MLMB does not contain suitable habitat for snail kites.

c) Florida Grasshopper Sparrow: The Corps has determined that the proposed project would have no effect on the grasshopper sparrow. Grasshopper sparrows prefer treeless, dry prairie that have a history of frequent fires. The proposed MLMB does not support or propose this vegetation community type.

d) Florida Scrub Jay: The Corps has determined that the proposed project would have no effect on the scrub jay. Scrub jays prefer xeric oak scrub, scrubby pine flatwoods, scrubby coastal strand, and citrus groves. The proposed MLMB does not support or propose these vegetation community types.

e) Audubon’s Crested Caracara: The Corps has determined that the proposed project would have no effect on the caracara. Caracara commonly occur on dry or wet prairies with scattered cabbage palms or lightly wooded areas. The proposed MBMB does not support or propose these vegetation community types.

f) Florida Panther: The Corps has determined that the proposed project would have no effect on Florida Panther. Potential impacts to the endangered Florida panther were evaluated using the Florida Panther Effect Determination Key, dated February 19, 2007. Use of this key resulted in the following sequential determination: A>B, no effect, and no further consultation with the FWS is required.

g) Eastern Indigo Snake: The Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the indigo snake. Potential impacts to the indigo snake were evaluated using Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, revised July 2017. Use of the Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A>B>C>D, not likely to adversely affect and no further consultation with FWS is required.

h) Sand Skink: The Corps has determined that the proposed project would have no effect on sand skink. The proposed project site does not support the vegetation community types or well-drained soils required by sand skinks.

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 Suwannee River and/or Gulf of Mexico. 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 Ms. Shannon White by electronic mail at shannon.c.white@usace.army.mil, or by telephone at 904-232-1681 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.