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 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
APPLICANT: City of Jacksonville – Public Works Department
214 North Hogan Street, 10th Floor
Jacksonville, Florida 32202
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the St. Johns River. The project site is located at 4638 Ocean Street and 4652 Ocean Street (Duval County Property Appraiser Parcel Identification Numbers 168956-0000, 168957-0000, and 168958-0000), in Section 38, Township 1 South, Range 29 East, Mayport, Duval County, Florida.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.393901°, Longitude -81.431502°
Basic: The basic project purpose is access to navigable waters.
Overall: The overall project purpose is the establishment of a new docking facility by the City of Jacksonville in Mayport for the Ocearch vessel.
Aerial imagery indicates that the site historically included multiple docking facilities. The site remained developed with functional docking structures and associated infrastructure on the uplands into the early 2000s. The uplands historically provided parking and other associated infrastructure for the docks. Most of the in-water and upland structures were removed circa 2008-2010. The remaining in-water structures include a concrete bulkhead and deteriorated remnant pilings, which were once associated with a dock structure.
The project site encompasses two community types characterized by the Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS). These communities are Open Land (FLUCFCS code 190) and Streams and Waterways (FLUCFCS code 510). The uplands support sparse vegetation that includes cowpea (Vigna luteola), St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), crabgrass (Digitaria spp.), Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum), crowfoot grass (Dactyloctenium aegyptium), and horseweed (Conyza canadensis var. pusilla). The waters of the St. Johns River at the site do not support emergent or submerged vegetation (i.e., non-vegetated, open waters). The shoreline is reinforced with a concrete bulkhead and riprap.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct a 7,344-square-foot fixed dock and install a 2,003-square-foot floating dock.
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 applicant indicates that the proposed structures are the minimum necessary to accommodate specific vessels identified by the City of Jacksonville, including the Ocearch vessel. To minimize potential effects to various fauna, the applicant would implement the Sea Turtle and Smalltooth Sawfish Construction Conditions (March 2006) and the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work (2011). In addition, the applicant would adhere to the Project Design Criteria (PDC) for In-Water Activities associated with the pertinent components of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District's Programmatic Biological Opinion (JAXBO), including the installation of North Atlantic Right Whales Educational Signs. Further, the applicant would implement a turbidity/sedimentation control plan and limit work to daylight hours only.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The work proposed would not result in the loss of aquatic functions or services; and, as such, the applicant did not propose compensatory mitigation.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: In consideration of the Jacksonville District Regulatory Division Standard Operating Procedures for Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act Compliance for the State of Florida, 25 July 2018 the Corps compiled a Resource at Risk (RAR) report, which indicated that a Cultural Resource Assessment Survey (CRAS) may be required. However, the report identified potential structures that have been removed from the project site and adjacent properties. Since all of the in-water structures (docks) and upland structures have been removed. The Corps has determined the permit area has been extensively modified by previous work; and, therefore, the proposed project would have No Potential to Cause Effect. 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.
Wood Stork (Mycteria americana): The project site is within the Core Foraging Area of four Wood Stork colonies. Therefore, this species could forage at the project site. However, the shoreline of the site is reinforced with a vertical bulkhead; the waters of the river do not support emergent nor submerged vegetation; and, the river currents are swift. As such, the project site does not support, nor would the work proposed affect, suitable foraging habitat (SFH). In consideration of this information, the Corps utilized 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, to determine potential effects upon this species. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A-B-no effect. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) previously indicated that they concur with determinations of no effect based on the key for Wood Storks; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.
Manatee (Trichechus manatus): Manatee utilize waters of the St. Johns River; and, as such, may be present in those waters at the project site. The Corps reviewed the project utilizing The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida, April 2013. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A-B-C-G-H-I-J-K-N-O-P-may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect. The Corps partially based this determination on the implementation of the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work, 2011. The FWS previously indicated that they concur with determinations of may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect based on the key for manatee; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.
Marine turtles [e.g., hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), green turtle (Chelonia mydas), loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), and Kemp’s ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)], Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) and/or shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), and/or smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) could be present in the waters of the St. Johns River. In consideration of that information, the Corps evaluated the proposed work utilizing the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) JAXBO dated 20 November 2017. The JAXBO analyzes the effects from 10 categories of minor in-water activities occurring in Florida and the U.S. Caribbean on sea turtles (loggerhead, leatherback, Kemp's ridley, hawksbill, and green), smalltooth sawfish, Nassau grouper, scalloped hammerhead shark, Johnson's seagrass, sturgeon (Gulf, shortnose, and Atlantic), corals (elkhorn, staghorn, boulder star, mountainous star, lobed star, rough cactus, and pillar), whales (North Atlantic right whale, sei, blue, fin, and sperm), and designated critical habitat for Johnson's seagrass, smalltooth sawfish, sturgeon (Gulf and Atlantic), sea turtles (green, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead), North Atlantic right whale, and elkhorn and staghorn corals in accordance with Section 7 of the ESA. Based on past permitting practices of the Corps and review of consultations with similar in-water construction activities, Project Design Criteria (PDCs) were identified in the JAXBO that typically have been applied to permitted in-water construction activities. These PDCs ensure effects of in-water construction activities are minimal in nature and do not result in adverse effects to listed species or to essential features of designated critical habitat. For this verification, the Corps conducted a project specific review to ensure that all of the PDCs were met. In accordance with the project-specific review process established in the JAXBO, a PDC checklist, certification that the activity meets the applicable PDCs, and supporting documentation for the proposed activity were coordinated with the NMFS. Therefore, the Jacksonville District has satisfied the project-specific review requirements stipulated in the JAXBO and has satisfied its obligation under the ESA for the above-listed species and critical habitats within the NMFS purview.
The RAR did not indicate that the site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species. The Corps also reviewed geospatial data and other available information. The Corps has not received or discovered any information that the project site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): This notice initiates consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on EFH as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 1996.
The RAR report indicates that the project site is within an area identified as a “coastal inlet”; and, the NMFS has indicated that coastal inlet areas support EFH for shrimp (Farfantepenaeus spp., Penaeus sp., and/or Litopenaeus spp.). Areas that meet the criteria for essential fish habitat-habitat areas of particular concern (EFH-HAPCs) for penaeid shrimp include all coastal inlets, all state-designated nursery habitats of particular importance to shrimp, and state-identified overwintering areas. The NMFS has identified waters of the St. Johns River as EFH-HAPC for shrimp.
The NMFS also has indicated that coastal inlet areas support snapper (Lutjanus spp.) and grouper (Mycteroperca spp. and/or Epinephelus spp.). Areas that meet the criteria for EFH-HAPCs for species in the snapper-grouper management unit include medium to high profile offshore hard bottoms where spawning normally occurs; localities of known or likely periodic spawning aggregations; nearshore hard bottom areas; mangrove habitat; seagrass habitat; oyster/shell habitat; all coastal inlets; all state-designated nursery habitats of particular importance to snapper grouper; and Council-designated Artificial Reef Special Management Zones. The NMFS has identified waters of the St. Johns River as EFH-HAPC for snapper/grouper.
The project would temporarily disturb approximately 0.2 acre of open-water, non-vegetated habitat utilized by various life stages of shrimp and/or snapper-grouper. Shrimp and/or Snapper/Grouper within the area would vacate the area (mobility) due to the presence of workers/work. However, these species could/would repopulate/utilize the work area immediately upon the cessation of work activities. In addition, the pilings associated with the proposed structures would provide habitat for colonization by barnacles, oysters, and mussels. In consideration of this information, the Corps determined that any affect upon the noted species would not only be temporary, but negligible.
In consideration of the information reviewed, our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse effect on EFH or federally managed fisheries in the St. Johns River. 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 Corps has verified the proposed extent of wetlands encompassed by the project site.
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 Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232 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, Mark R. Evans, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by facsimile transmission at (904)232-1940; or, by telephone at (904)232-2028. Please note, due to office staffing precautions associated with CoVid-19, electronic mail correspondence is preferred.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the FWS, the NMFS, 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.