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: City of Punta Gorda
C/o Howard Kunik
326 W Marion Ave
Punta Gorda, Florida 33950
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Burnt Store Isle canal system. The project site is located in Section 19, Township 41 South, Range 23 East, immediately west of 3713 Candia Drive, Punta Gorda, Charlotte County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From US 41 S in Punta Gorda, take Monaco Drive west for about a ¼ mile. Turn right on Tripoli Boulevard for ¾ mile. Turn right on Candia Drive. The City of Punta Gorda owns the lot at 3713 Candia Drive where the staging area is proposed. The site is not accessible by car, but can be viewed from the lot.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 26.89702°
Basic: Increased boat access
Overall: To widen a decommissioned lock for increased boat access in a residential canal system.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a forested saltwater system. The onsite vegetation consists of red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle). The existing area surrounding the project site consists of concrete seawalls, riprap, articulated mat, remnants from a decommissioned lock, and upland disturbed land.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to remove remnants of a decommissioned lock to include the support structures and seawall, dredge 296 cubic yards of material along the banks and cut into the uplands to widen the channel and maintain a depth of -6 feet as measured at mean lower low water (MLLW), install new 210 linear foot concrete seawall, 2,780 square feet of articulated concrete mat, and place dredge spoil material in deep areas of the canal system in association with Corps permit SAJ-2011-02755 (IP-BEM). All vegetation to include roots, concrete, metal, or any other debris that is not dredge spoil will be taken off-site and disposed of in accordance with applicable Federal, State, and local regulations.
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 will utilize turbidity curtains and follow sawfish, sea turtle, and manatee construction conditions. The applicant will avoid impacting the mangroves to the north and only impact the southern portion of the decommissioned lock for the widening of the channel.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant has proposed to purchase saltwater forested mitigation credits from an approved mitigation bank to offset the functional loss of the saltwater forested wetland system.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps has determined the permit area has been extensively modified by previous work and there is little likelihood an historic property may be affected.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: May affect, not likely to adversely affect; programmatic consultation required for these species: West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) and wood stork (Mycteria americana)
Basis for determination(s): The Corps has made the determination of “may affect, not likely to adversely affect” (MANLAA), for the West Indian manatee and its designated critical habitat. The Corps has concurrence with this determination pursuant to The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida, April 2013 (Manatee Key) and the May 13, 2019 addendum. Use of the Manatee Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A>B>C>G>H>I>N>O>P>4 MANLAA, with no further consultation necessary. This determination is based on the applicant following the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work, 2011 for the proposed activity.
The Corps has made the determination of MANLAA for the wood stork. The Corps has concurrence with this determination pursuant to The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, South Florida Ecological Services Field Office and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in South Florida, January 2010 (Wood Stork Key). Use of the Wood Stork Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A>B>Project impact to suitable foraging habitat (SFH) is less than ½ acre> MANLAA. The project lies within the buffer for the 615002 N Port Charlotte S, 619012, 616165 Morganton, and 615040 N Port Charlotte nesting colony sites, but affects less than ½ acre of SFH. No further consultation with the Service is required.
May affect, not likely to adversely affect; informal consultation required for these species: green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) (STSF)
Basis for determination(s): The Corps has made the determination of MANLAA for the STSF and three species of swimming turtles. The sea turtle species and the STSF, if present in the project area, may be injured if struck by construction equipment or materials. This risk is discountable due to the species mobility and the fact that the proposed work will be completed from land. Additionally, the applicant’s implementation of the Sea Turtle and Smalltooth Sawfish Construction Conditions will further reduce the risk of effects to listed species.
May affect, likely to adversely affect; formal consultation required for the following: smalltooth sawfish designated critical habitat (STSF DCH)
Basis for determination(s): The Corps made the determination of may affect, likely to adversely affect, for STSF DCH, which is characterized by two essential features, red mangroves and shallow, euryhaline waters. On 21 July 2020, the Corps initiated formal consultation with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for the project under separate letter.
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 3,050 square feet of unconsolidated bottom and 464 square feet of red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) utilized by various life stages of marine organisms. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the 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.
NAVIGATION: Propose to widen decommissioned lock for improvements to navigation in a manmade canal system.
SECTION 408: The applicant will not require permission under Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (33 USC 408) because the activity, in whole or in part, would not alter, occupy, or use a Corps Civil Works project.
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 Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd, Suite 310, Fort Myers, FL 33919 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, Steven Rabney, in writing at the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd, Suite 310, Fort Myers, FL 33919; by electronic mail at Steven.J.Rabney@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (239)334-1975 x0009.
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.