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: Indian River Lagoon Restoration and Enhancement, LLC
11300 US Hwy. 1, Suite 100
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, 33408
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Indian River Lagoon Watershed (12-digit Hydrologic Unit Code 030802030307; St. Sebastian River – Indian River). The site is located along the east shoreline of Chambers Cove, along the western side of Sago Palm Road, within Sections 13 and 18, Township 32 South, Range 40 East, in the City of Indian River Shores, Indian River County, Florida (Latitude: 27.693393°; Longitude: -80.379868°).
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-95, take Exit 147 and proceed east on SR 60 toward Indian River Shores; turn left onto SR A1A, and continue north on SR A1A to Fred Tuerk Drive; turn left onto Fred Tuerk Drive. Road curves north and becomes Sago Palm Road. Continue north to the John’s Island gate (Identification Required); continue north for approximately 0.20 miles and the site is on the left.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Project Site: Latitude 27.693393°; Longitude -80.379868°
Basic: Single-Family Residential.
Overall: Development of two (2) single-family waterfront residential lots/homesites with associated docks with access to the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) within the Johns Island Community in Indian River Shores, Indian River County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site consists of approximately 2.97 acres (wetlands: 2.66 acres; uplands: 0.31 acres), and is comprised of mangrove forest with man-made upland spoil piles and excavated mosquito control ditches intermixed. On-site wetlands consist of an altered (via historic mosquito ditching and associated spoil mounds) saltwater Mangrove Swamp (FLUCFCS 612) system. These areas are dominated by a mixture of red mangrove, black mangrove, white mangrove, buttonwood, and Brazilian pepper. The upland areas primarily consist of Spoil Areas (FLUCFCS 743) created from the historic mosquito ditching activities and are dominated by dense cover of Brazilian pepper. The immediately surrounding areas consist of existing single-family residences with docks, and Chambers Cove (a cove located within the Indian River) to the west.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to fill 1.21 acres of wetlands, construct 0.09 acre of elevated dock structures over Section 10 waters/wetlands, and trim 1.76 acres of mangroves.
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:
“It is not practicable for the preferred alternative and alternative sites to avoid all wetland impacts and still meet the project purpose. … The original Plan “A” proposed wetland impacts of 1.71 acres to develop two homesites totaling 1.99 acres in size…”
Through subsequent site plan iterations, the applicant proposes the following:
“Wetland impacts were further reduced for the Final Plan “C” which proposes wetland impacts of 1.21 acres to develop two homesites totaling 1.47 acres in size… The project has been designed to minimize impacts through a series of plans considered for the site. The preferred plan reduced impacts to already highly impacted wetlands by 27%...”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“…The applicant proposes a combination of wetland restoration and enhancement. All the mitigation will be conducted at an off-site location since on-site mitigation is not feasible, proposed within the same basin of the IRL, approximately 0.6 miles from the impact site in a location targeted for restoration for many years.
Enhancement activities associated with the reconnection and management of McCullers Point impoundment include removing the Brazilian peppers and other invasive/exotics from the northwest portion of the Point, installing six new culverts within the mosquito control dike system to reconnect the impounded wetlands to the IRL, and implementing a RIM plan for the impoundment in conjunction with the Indian River Mosquito Control District (IRMCD).
Culvert installation and RIM management of 77.41 acres within the impoundment will improve and expand the ecological functions this impoundment provides by providing access to the entire marsh by IRL species, improving flushing and circulation, and providing a means for export of detritus to the Lagoon. The proposed culverts will be in areas where historical tidal creeks existed in order to maximize exchange between the IRL and the impoundment and to mimic historical conditions to the greatest extent possible. The entire impoundment will be reconnected and managed as one system as a result of these improvements.
The IRCMCD will be the entity responsible for carrying out the operation of the RIM management plan and the surrounding owners have provided legal access to the District and the IRMCD and have entered into an operational agreement with the IRMCD to allow the perpetual management of this area.
Additionally, the applicant will remove Brazilian Pepper and Australian Pine from 1.1 acres of buffer in the northwest corner of the site and plant this area with native species. The applicant will assist with exotic plant species control on the existing levee surrounding McCullers Point by providing funding to IRMCD for these purposes.
The mangrove wetland areas located outside of McCullers Point impoundment that contain exotics will be enhanced by removal of exotic vegetation… Approximately 5.19 acres of un-impounded marsh enhancement will occur on the waterward side of the McCullers Point impoundment.”
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.
Wood Stork: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork and its designated critical habitat. The Corps completed an evaluation of the project based upon the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) South Florida Ecological Services Field Offices Programmatic Concurrence for use with the Wood Stork (January 2010). Use of the Key for Wood Stork resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B (impact to SFH is less than 0.5 acre) = “not likely to adversely affect” for Wood Storks. The Corps has FWS concurrence for the proposed activities through the use of the aforementioned determination key.
Eastern Indigo Snake: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern Indigo Snake and its designated critical habitat. The Corps completed an evaluation of the project based upon review of the FWS South Florida Ecological Services Field Offices Programmatic Concurrence for use with the Eastern Indigo Snake (August 2017). Use of the Key for the Eastern Indigo Snake resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C > D (project has no known holes, cavities, active or inactive gopher tortoise burrows, or other underground refugia where a snake could be buried, trapped, and/or injured during project activities) = “not likely to adversely affect” for Eastern Indigo Snake. The Corps has FWS concurrence for the proposed activities through the use of the aforementioned determination key.
West Indian Manatee: 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 > G > H > I > N > O > P (If project is a residential dock facility, shoreline stabilization, or dredging, the determination of “May affect, not likely to adversely affect” is appropriate12 and no further consultation with the Service is necessary.) = May Affect, Not Likely to Adversely Affect. The Corps partially based this determination on the implementation of the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work, 2011, which the applicant agreed to implement. No further consultation was required.
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 1.21 acres of brackish water wetlands connected to the Indian River Lagoon and the off-site mitigation improvements may alter hydrologic conditions within 77.41 acres of brackish water wetlands nearby and in the same watershed. 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 (NMFS).
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 Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926, 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, Jason D. Perryman, in writing at Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by facsimile transmission at (321) 504-3803; or, by telephone at (321) 504-3771 x10.
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.