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: Donald West
St. Lucie County
2300 Virginia Avenue
Fort Pierce, FL 34982
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Taylor Creek and the Indian River Lagoon. The project site is located between Old Dixie Highway and the Intracoastal Waterway within Taylor Creek, in Section 3, Township 35 South, Range 40 East, Fort Pierce, Saint Lucie County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Take Interstate 95 to Exit 131 and merge onto FL-68 east/Orange Avenue. Travel approximately 2.5 miles east and turn left onto North 25th Street. Travel 1.8 miles and turn right on Juanita Avenue. Travel 0.9 miles and turn right onto U.S. Highway 1. Travel 0.2 miles and turn left onto Florida A1A south (north Causeway) and turn right onto Harbortown Drive. Go to the end and project is located within Taylor Creek/Indian River Lagoon south of the Harbortown Marina.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Muck Removal
Overall: Enhance the aquatic ecosystem within Taylor Creek and Indian River Lagoon, in Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County, Florida
PERMIT HISTORY: The Corps issued an individual permit on February 23, 2004 to the applicant to hydraulically dredge 72,000 cubic yards of accumulated sediments within the Taylor Creek Navigation Channel. The dredged material was authorized to be pumped to a Dredge Material Management Area (DMMA) located south of the project boundary. A second individual permit was issued to the applicant on July 18, 2013 to conduct the Taylor Creek Restoration Phase II Project by using a cutter head dredge to remove 126,350 cubic yards of sediment, including a one-foot overdraft allowance from 23.98 acres within an existing channel in Taylor Creek to depths ranging from minus 7.5 feet Mean Low Water (MLW) to minus 14.5 feet MLW. The Dredge Material will be pumped into the Taylor Creek DMMA. The July 2013 permit included dredge areas west of Old Dixie Highway and the Florida East Coast Railway and it included the dredge areas 1A and 1B identified in this application.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project is located within Taylor Creek and the Indian River Lagoon estuaries where Taylor Creek discharges to the Lagoon. The July 2013 permit included dredge areas 1A and 1B as proposed within this application, however the applicant never dredged within these areas. For the existing application the Corps will consider these areas as new dredging.
A recent seagrass survey has not been submitted to the Corps. The Corps does not anticipate any seagrass species or other benthic resources within the project footprint, since the purpose of the project is to remove accumulated muck and restore the area back to a sandy substrate. However, historically seagrass has been found adjacent to the proposed dredge footprint, specifically south of Dredge Area 1B within the Indian River Lagoon. The Corps has requested a benthic survey for the areas identified as 1A and 1B located outside the navigation channel for Taylor Creek and an additional 25 feet outside the proposed dredging boundary for the assessment of secondary impacts. The applicant is working on the survey and can be provided upon request once received.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to conduct a muck removal project within 12.17 acres of Taylor Creek and the Indian River Lagoon. The project includes dredging a total of 95,000 cubic yards of material within the 12.17-acre area. The Taylor Creek navigation channel will be dredged to a depth of minus 14.5 feet mean low water by hydraulic cutterhead dredge. Dredge Areas identified as 1A (north of the navigational channel) and 1B (south of the navigation channel) will be dredged to a depth of minus 9 feet mean low water using a hydraulic dredge pipeline. A section of dredge area 1A located north of the Taylor Creek and south of the adjacent Harbortown marina will be dredged mechanically and material will be offloaded at the marina and trucked to the upland Taylor Creek Dredge Material Management Area (DMMA), permitted under SAJ-1998-02437(NPR-LAO). All material dredged by hydraulic cutterhead dredge will be pumped by a 1.75-mile-long, 14-inch floating pipeline to the Taylor Creek DMMA. The pipeline will be anchored every 25 feet and with lit buoys at each anchor to assist in navigation.
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION – The applicant has provided the following information statement in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment:
“The project is to restore and enhance the aquatic environment by removing accumulated muck. If our survey reveals any resources within the proposed muck dredge areas, we will eliminate these areas from the dredge template and add up to 10 ft buffer and BMP measures to protect the resources. In the current plan set, we specify up to a 10 ft buffer around the mangroves that exist in the project area as was previously permitted. If the turbidity measurements raise concern at any point during construction, the contractor will be asked to install staked turbidity barriers around the resources as a secondary measure of protection. Our intent is to avoid and minimize all impacts to resources in this restoration dredging project to benefit water quality and protect the existing resources.”
Additional BMPs to be implemented include:
• Floating turbidity barriers will surround the dredge barge and will be maintained as the dredge moves to various locations
• Marine mammal/manatee observers with required equipment will be present
• Turbidity monitoring/measurements will be taken during construction to ensure NTUs do not exceed 29 NTUs above background levels. A log will be maintained and submitted to the agencies, if required. We propose that measurements will be made outside of the turbidity barrier surrounding the dredge based on tide and 200 feet away from the barge. Secondary turbidity curtains will be utilized, if needed.
• If any significant plume should be observed, all dredging activity will be stopped and additional turbidity barrier measures will be employed.
• The pipeline will be floated, anchored and placed such that sufficient depth is available for safe manatee passage and the pipeline will also be placed along the edge of an armored canal and will not impede manatee movement.
• The County will contract with a fulltime construction manager to ensure construction activities adhere to all environmental compliance criteria.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
The purpose of the proposed project is to enhance the aquatic environment. The applicant is committed to avoid all impacts to resources and therefore no compensatory mitigation should be required.
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, if applicable, those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) and its designated critical habitat; swimming sea turtles: (green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), and Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)); smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata); Johnson’s seagrass (Halophila johnsonii); and Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi). The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife/National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any other listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.
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 12.17 acres of mucky bottom utilized by various life stages of penaeid shrimp complex, reef fish, stone crab, spiny lobster, migratory/pelagic fish, and snapper/grouper complex. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the South Atlantic Region. 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 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 Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410 within 15 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, Jerilyn Ashworth, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410; by electronic mail at Jerilyn.Ashworth@usace.army.mil; or by telephone at (561)472-3516.
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.