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) as described below:
Pinellas County BOCC, Public Works
c/o Susan Goebel-Canning
22211 US Highway 19 N., Bldg. 1
Clearwater, FL 33765
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Mullet Creek. The project site is located northeast of the intersection of McMullen Booth Road and Union Street, in Section 33, Township 28 South, Range 16 East, Pinellas County. The project corridor is located within the limits of the City of Safety Harbor, with the upstream contributing area located within unincorporated Pinellas County. The project area for Mullet Creek runs easterly from McMullen Booth Road past the Cypress Trace condominiums for approximately 1,300 feet. The first approximately 260 feet of Mullet Creek downstream from McMullen Booth Road is stabilized with riprap from a previously complete County project. The focus of the proposed project is stabilization of approximately 1,600 feet of stream bank downstream from the currently riprap stabilized area.
Directions to the site are as follows: Traveling east on Gulf to Bay Blvd (SR 60) from Tampa, turn right on to McMullen Booth Road. Travel north on McMullen Booth Road for approximately 2.3 miles. Mullet Creek is located on the right just north of Cedar Street and immediately south of the Cypress Trace Condominiums.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is erosion control and bank stabilization.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to address erosion and sedimentation issues in Mullet Creek by armoring the sides and bottom of the creek while maintaining flooding level of service.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a freshwater system. The existing Mullet Creek channel is a shallow stormwater conveyance system that flows from west to east, it is generally grassed on the side slopes with a bare sandy bottom. The creek shows signs of disturbance and is surrounded by invasive plant species including Guinea grass (Megathyrsus maximus), Johnson grass (Sorhum halepense) and Paragrass (Urochloa mutica).
The distances from the Cypress Trace condominium buildings to the top edge of the northern bank vary from approximately 15 to 30 feet. The top of bank (TOB) width of the channel is approximately 30 feet. The bottom width of the channel varies from approximately 2 to 20 feet throughout the project area. The depth of the channel varies between 8 to 9 feet deep along the western end to 5 to 7 feet deep at the eastern end. This tapers off to channel depths of approximately a few feet in the eastern portions of the project corridor. The County has a 10 foot drainage and utility access easement along the north side of the drainage right-of-way. The southern side of the channel is heavily overgrown with large trees. Riprap is present along the creek for approximately 260 feet downstream of McMullen Booth Road, placed during previous restoration efforts. There is also spot placement of riprap where the County repaired some failures along the project area.
The floodplain expansion area of the Mullet Creek erosion control project is located on vacant property between McMullen Booth Road and Elm Street in Safety Harbor. The property contains a variety of mature tree species that have created a successional hardwood forest with a nearly closed canopy. The dominant tree species on the property are Carrotwood (Cupaniopsis anacardioides), Chinaberry (Melia azedarach), and Ear tree (Enterolobium cyclocarpum). The lack of light penetration and heavy leaf litter on the forest floor has suppressed ground cover growth, creating a community that lacks herbaceous vegetation. There is a limited number of mature native trees on the project site including Pond cypress (Taxodium ascedens), Sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), Red maple (Acer rubrum), and numerous Laurel oaks (Quercus laurifolia). Muscadine grape vine (Vitis rotundifolia) and Old World climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum) are growing into the canopy, jeopardizing the health of the mature native trees.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to stabilize approximately 1,600-feet of stream bank downstream from the currently riprap stabilized area and create an additional 1.2-acres of hydraulically connected area for floodplain and water quality enhancement. Construction would consist of installation of a vertical wall (gabion baskets) on the south bank and channel bottom and Flexamat® lining on the north bank. The channel section would maintain an approximate minimum bottom width of 5 feet. The depth of the channel would mimic existing conditions and vary between 8 to 9-feet deep along the western end to 5 to 7-feet deep at the eastern end.
The proposed floodplain area would be provided within the County’s Tract E parcel and the County owned parcel downstream of Tract E. The proposed floodplain extends to the property boundary within the aforementioned parcels, resulting in approximately 1.2-acres of additional floodplain area. Graded “islands” are proposed around trees greater than 4-inches DBH that occur above the proposed floodplain area bottom elevation. Construction of an access road, impacting approximately 0.03 acres, is proposed to facilitate access to the proposed floodplain expansion area during construction activities and post-construction for maintenance purposes.
The proposed work would impact a total of roughly 0.25 acres of wetlands. The volume to be excavated is 3,265-cubic-yards and the volume to be filled is approximately 1,351-cubic-yards, including 1,296-cubic-yards of gabions and 55-cubic-yards of riprap.
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 design will implement minimal use of gabions and concrete matting, which provide adequate voids to promote aquatic and upland vegetation to naturally recruit. Impacts are limited only to areas with fluvial erosion and mass failure. A floodplain expansion area is provided and designed around wetland areas that have a higher quality. To minimize the impacts of the project, ecological friendly concepts were incorporated into the design including the addition of an extended and diversely vegetated littoral shelf, varying adjacent wetland communities, retaining native trees by creating tree islands and horizontal snags for wildlife utilization.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: A floodplain expansion area with native plants and trees will be created to reduce the risk of flooding, improve water quality and restore wildlife habitat. The proposed mitigation will provide greater long-term ecological benefits than the existing wetland/surface waters currently provide.
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: The Corps has determined the proposed work is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) based on 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. Therefore, additional coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not required.
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. There is no EFH found within the project area. The Corps’ initial determination is that the proposed action would have no impact on EFH. Our final determination relative to project impacts is subject to review 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 potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Tampa Permits Section within 15 days from the date of this notice. For electronic mail submit comments to Caitlin.S.Hoch@usace.army.mil. Please reference this permit number, SAJ-2015-00337 (SP-CSH), on all submittals.
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, Caitlin Hoch, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, by electronic mail at Caitlin.S.Hoch@usace.army.mil or, by telephone at (813)355-0789.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Preliminary review of this application indicates that an Environmental Impact Statement will not be required. 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. By means of this notice, we are soliciting comments on the potential effects of the project on threatened or endangered species or their habitat
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 of 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.