TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received an application for a 10-year 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: Port Miami
c/o Becky Hope, Chief, Planning and Property Development
1015 North America Way, Suite 200
Miami, Florida 33132
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Biscayne Bay, the North Port Channel, and Government Cut. The project site is located on the north side of PortMiami (Dodge and Lummus Islands) in Miami, Section 37, Township 54 South, Range 42 East in Miami-Dade County, Florida (folio #01-4205-000-0010).
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-95, take SR 836, I-395 east to US-1 south to Port Boulevard east onto the Port of Miami. The Project is located on the north side of the Port.
LATITUDE & LONGITUDE: Latitude: 25.768056°
Longitude: - 80.1475°
Basic: The basic project purpose is to provide new boating access.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to provide new boating access at an existing port in Miami-Dade County, FL.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct approximately 1,000 feet of bulkhead with a 95-ft return wall and a 155-ft toe wall. Excavation of Berth 10 above Mean High Water (MHW) will result in 90,000 ft2 of submerged lands being created to a depth of -36.0 ft + 2 ft over dredge and 150,000 ft2 of new dredge surface area below MHW lands being created to a depth of -36.0 ft + 2 ft over dredge. Excavation and dredging will result in 251,000 yd3 removed during construction.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project area consists of a saltwater system. The intertidal area within the riprap of proposed Berth 10 contains two (2) small red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle). The area around the existing riprap was surveyed for seagrasses. A single species of seagrass, paddle grass (H. decipiens), was documented in the eastern portion of the survey area. The density was sparse (0-20% coverage) and the total estimated area of seagrass within the survey area was 0.06 acre.
A survey of the coral species was performed within the project area. The report is Appendix D of the permit application. The survey of Berth 10 riprap area methodology consisted of 10 survey transects, each four (4) meters (m) wide and 50 m long (covering approximately 16.5% of the Berth 10 survey area). A total of 505 coral colonies were observed, including seven (7) genera of octocoral and nine (9) genera of scleractinian coral. Octocoral and scleractinian coral comprised 34.1% and 65.9% of the corals observed, respectively. The white telesto (Carijoa riisei) and the mustard hill coral (Porites astreoides) were the two most commonly observed species. Other commonly observed species included the common sea fan (Gorgonia ventalina), clubtip finger coral (Porites porites), and massive starlet coral (Siderastrea siderea). The majority (~88%) of corals observed within the transects fell within the medium (10-30 centimeters (cm)) size class, with ~12% of corals in the large (31-60 cm) size class, and 0% in the extra-large (>60 cm) size class. Octocoral colonies were observed throughout the surveyed depth range from -5 to -40 ft. Most of the scleractinian coral colonies were observed at less than -7 ft. Extrapolating this to the total area of the Berth 10 survey area, it is estimated that there may be approximately 2,225 coral colonies within Berth 10, including 1,178 scleractinian coral colonies and 1,047 octocoral colonies.
Of note is the presence of two (2) colonies of Orbicella faveolata (mountainous star coral). The group of Orbicella spp., formerly Montastraea faveolata, were listed as threatened by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in September 2014. Using the transect data, it is estimated there could be five (5) colonies of Orbicella faveolata on the hardbottom (riprap) in Berth 10. A recovery plan has yet to be developed for Orbicella spp.
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:
“An Alternatives Analysis was provided that discusses those measures reviewed to design the project in a manner that causes the least environmental impacts while still meeting the safety requirements of the Port and the cruise industry. Mitigation for all phases includes endangered species protection within the construction area by compliance with the Corps/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Standard Manatee Conditions for In-water Work and compliance with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Sea Turtle and Smalltooth Sawfish Construction Conditions. Project construction monitoring will include observation by all personnel for manatees, sea turtles, and smalltooth sawfish. All in-water operations, including vessels, will be shut down if manatees, sea turtles, or smalltooth sawfish come within 50 ft of the operation. Activities will not resume until the manatee, sea turtle, or smalltooth sawfish has moved beyond the 50-ft radius of the project operation, or until 30 minutes elapses if the manatee, sea turtles, or smalltooth sawfish has not reappeared within 50 ft of the operation. Animals must not be herded away or harassed into leaving. Collisions with or injuries to manatee, sea turtle, or smalltooth sawfish will be reported to the agencies. Temporary signs concerning manatees will be posted prior to and during in-water project activities.
No blasting or explosives are expected to be used in the construction of the project (see Construction Methodology – Appendix A of the permit application). The 1000’ of bulkhead and the 95-foot return wall will be installed on dry land resulting in little or no sound propagation into the water. During the installation of the 155-foot toe-wall, should the Contractor encounter very hard materials (i.e. dense limerock), he would be permitted to pre-drill the hard materials thereby, allowing the toe-wall to be installed without sustaining structural damage. The pre-drilling would be limited to one (1) foot above the specified toe-wall tip elevation.
Dispersal of suspended sediment and silt material will be minimized to the extent feasible by the use of silt curtains, including weighted turbidity skirts or pile-supported turbidity curtains. Turbidity from surface water runoff from upland work will be controlled using standard retention and filtering practices and equipment.
Additionally, monitoring of turbidity during dredging will be performed (see Turbidity Plan – Appendix A of the permit application). The project proposes to establish a mixing zone for the fill activities pursuant to Chapter 62-4.244, Florida Administrative Code (FAC), Mixing Zone Standards for Surface Waters. The mixing zone includes 150 meters from the proposed bulkhead. Pursuant to Chapter 62-4.244 FAC, water within and outside of the approved mixing zone will be monitored during construction to ensure that all relevant water quality standards are met.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“The construction will result in short term, temporary impacts to some organisms from the potential for turbidity in the water column. The short-term impacts from project construction would be the loss of the community of attached plants (e.g., algae) and invertebrates (e.g., sponges, bryozoans, oysters, tunicates, and soft and hard corals) on the riprap. The existing community on the riprap would be replaced by a new bulkhead for colonization by the same community. It has been estimated from past studies of the bulkheads that there is no difference in the communities of the older and new bulkheads after 5 years. That represents a five-year lag time for the existing community to be replaced by a new community.
The proposed project, as referenced above, will create new bay bottom during new berth creation. Therefore, no additional mitigation is being proposed for this work as there is no overall loss in Essential Fish Habitat (EFH).”
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The 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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: A preliminary review the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Protected Resource Divisions (NMFS-PRD)’s list of Endangered and Threatened Species indicates the following listed species may occur in the project area:
West Indian Manatee: The Corps has determined the project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” (MANLAA) the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) or its designated critical habitat. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter
Smalltooth Sawfish and Swimming Sea Turtles: The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) and their critical habitat, hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), Kemp’s ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii), leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) and Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus).The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service’s concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
Federally Listed Corals: The Corps has determined the project will have “No effect” on elkhorn and staghorn corals (Acropora palmata, Acropora cervicornis) and their designated critical habitat. However, the proposed project “may affect but is not likely to adversely affect” the 5 listed coral species found in Dade-County: pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus), lobed star coral (Orbicella annularis), mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata), knobby star coral (Orbicella franksi), and rough cactus coral (Mycetophyllia ferox). The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service’s concurrence pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
Johnson’s Seagrass: The Corps has determined that the project will have “no effect” Johnson’s seagrass (Halophila johnsonii) designated critical habitat and would have “no effect” on Johnson’s seagrass (Halophila johnsonii).
This notice serves as request for information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Protected Resource Division, and any other interested party, on whether any species listed or proposed for listing may be present in the area.
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 short-term impact from project construction would be the loss of the community of attached plants (e.g., algae) and invertebrates (e.g., sponges, bryozoans, oysters, tunicates, and soft and hard corals) on the riprap. The proposal would impact approximately 0.75 acres of riprap utilized by various life stages of invertebrates and fishes that may use those areas. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in 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 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 application should be submitted in writing to the District Engineer at the above address within 30 days from the date of this notice.
If you have any questions concerning this application, you may contact Megan L. Clouser at the letterhead address, by electronic mail at Megan.L.Clouser@usace.army.mil, by fax at 305-526-7184, or by telephone at 305-526-7182.
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.
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 decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act 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.