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: National Park Service
c/o Pedro Ramos
40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, FL 33030
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Everglades National Park. The project site is located at Tamiami Trail/ US41 within Sections 6-12, Township 54 South, Range 37 East and Sections 7-11, Township 54 South, Range 38 East, in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: The project area is Tamiami Trail extending approximately 10.7 miles from Structure S-333 east to approximately 0.25 miles east of Structure S-334 in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 25.76083°
Basic: The basic project purpose is wetland restoration through hydrologic restoration and roadway raising and modification.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to raise the existing Tamiami Trail roadway to accommodate the future Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) design high water (DHW) of 9.7 ft. (NGVD 29) in the adjacent L-29 Canal, to construct conveyance improvements to enhance water flow through Tamiami Trail, and to construct a stormwater management system to satisfy state water-quality criteria.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The existing Tamiami Trail roadway is at an approximate elevation of 10.0 ft. (NGVD 29). The L-29 Canal runs along the north side of Tamaimi Trail and the Everglades National Park extends from the roadway embankment along the south side of Tamiami Trail. The surface water system of the L-29 Canal consists of an open water, freshwater system. The wetland system of the Everglades consists of a blended forested, scrub-shrub, and herbaceous freshwater system. The onsite vegetation consists of pond apple forests, mixed forested and scrub-shrub systems, and emergent herbaceous areas consisting of arrowhead, pickerelweed, spikerush and maidencane. These areas all have a presence of sawgrass. Most areas are disturbed and have ranging levels of nuisance species including cattails and Brazilian pepper.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge fill material over waters of the United States consisting of 33.23 acres of impacts to the Everglades system. In addition the project would include dredging in waters of the United States resulting in temporary impacts to 0.06 acres of the Everglades system and 0.14 acres to the surface water system of the L-29 Canal.
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:
Wetland impact avoidance and minimization has been a primary focus of the project design team, beginning in the conceptual design phase and continuing as various design elements have been evaluated and refined. Impact avoidance and minimization efforts continued during the project’s Value Analysis (VA) Workshop that was recently conducted in October 2019 and attended by FDEP staff. The refined roadway typical
section, treatment swale and access safety improvements, which resulted from the numerous discussions during the VA Workshop, have been incorporated into the production of the project’s Design Concept Plans.
As the design was refined, key areas of the project and specific design elements were identified that offered the greatest opportunities for wetland avoidance and minimization. The identified areas and design elements include the 1) maximum allowable slopes for the roadway and treatment swale, 2) access solutions to the Native American villages and businesses along the corridor, 3) proposed roadway alignment shifts to minimize the project footprint, and 4) incorporating vertical wall sections where practical to further avoid and minimize impacts. Wherever avoidance was not possible, the resulting unavoidable impacts were minimized to the greatest extent possible based on safe and sound engineering judgment, construction constraints and Florida Department of Transportation standards.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The functional values of the on-site aquatic resources were established using the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM). These assessments conclude that the project would incur a total of 17.64 UMAM Functional Loss units for wetland impacts.
Mitigation for jurisdictional Corps functional losses would be fulfilled through functional gain units obtained through National Park Service’s (NPS) Old Tamiami Trail Road Removal project (OTTRR Project). Removal of Old Tamiami Trail will improve the area’s ability to provide wetland functions such as flood flow attenuation, aquifer recharge, and habitat functions. UMAM scoring was conducted to assess the functional gain the OTTRR project would provide to wetlands and surface waters. It is anticipated that the OTTR Project will provide a net functional gain of 28.76 units that will be used to offset the unavoidable wetland impacts associated with the Tamiami Trail Modifications: Next Steps Phase 2 project.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: Seven historic properties have been identified within the APE that have required evaluation and verification of impacts under Section 106 of the NHPA. These properties include Old Tamiami Trail (8DA6510), Old Tamiami Canal (8DA6453), Coopertown (8DA6767), Airboat Association of Florida (8DA6768), Gator Park (8DA10088) (ineligible for the HRHP), Miccosukee Osceola Camp, and Tiger Tail (unevaluated but assumed eligible for this project).
Currently, the cultural resource impacts to the Tamiami Trail roadway would be less than the original design, since 2.8-miles of additional bridging would not occur. There would still be no direct impacts to historic structures, but adjacent entrance roads and parking areas would be reconstructed to match the raised roadway. NPS is further coordinating with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and anticipates SHPO concurrence for the final design.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Cape Sable seaside sparrow (Ammodramus mariitimus mirabilis), Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi), Wood stork (Mycteria Americana), Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus), Eastern black rail (Laterallus jamaicensis ssp. jamaicensis), Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais cooperi), Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), West Indian manatee (Trichecus manatus).
The Corps has determined that the project will not affect any other federally listed species that the ones listed above.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a Biological Opinion for this project in 2010 and an amended Biological Opinion in 2014 based on changes to the project design. Due to the long term nature of the project NPS has reinstated consultation with USFWS regarding Section 7 species determinations.
The NPS has indicated they will follow the general mitigation measures for threatened and endangered species under the Modified Alternative as described in the FElS which includes the following:
Pre-construction surveys would be conducted to identify any federal- and state-listed species occurring in the project area. Should any individuals or active breeding sites be identified, additional protective measures would be taken to avoid impacts (e.g., providing additional information to contractors about the species) and the FWC and Service would be notified of the presence of these species in the project area.
During the environmental training, construction contractors would receive training on federally- and state-listed species and how to recognize and avoid impacts to these species.
NPS is further coordinating with the U.S. FWS and anticipates FWS concurrence for the final design.
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 have no impacts on tidally influenced waters. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would have a no impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries within Biscayne Bay. 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/has not] been verified by Corps personnel.
AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: The project is under the Florida Department of Environmental Protection jurisdiction for Water Quality Certification and wetland impacts.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Miami Permits Section, 9900 SW 107th Avenue, Suite 203, Miami, FL 33176 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, as well as the compensatory mitigation proposed.
QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, Mr. Albert Gonzalez, in writing at the Miami Permits Section, 9900 SW 107th Avenue, Suite 203, Miami, FL 33176; by electronic mail at Albert.Gonzalez@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (305)526-7184; or, by telephone at (305)779-6055.
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 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.