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SAJ-2020-03318 (SP-JMB)

Published Nov. 9, 2020
Expiration date: 11/30/2020

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) and Section 404 of the Clean Waters Act (33 U.S.C. §1344) as described below:

APPLICANT:  Volusia County Public Works, Coastal Division
                       Attn: Jessica Winterwerp
                       515 South Atlantic Avenue
                       Daytona Beach, Florida 32118

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The Volusia County 3-Mile Artificial Reef Project parallels the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean from Ponce Inlet stemming north 9 miles and south 6 miles, Volusia County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: The project sites are located north 9 miles, north 2 miles, and south 6 miles approximately 3 miles off-shore. Accessibility is only by boat.

Reef Site – 1 (Sunsplash Park Reef)



Northwest Corner



Northeast Corner



Southeast Corner



Southwest Corner






Reef Site – 2 (Inlet / Lighthouse Point Reef)



Northwest Corner



Northeast Corner



Southeast Corner



Southwest Corner






Reef Site – 3 (Bethune Beach Reef)



Northwest Corner



Northeast Corner



Southeast Corner



Southwest Corner








Basic: Construct multiple offshore artificial reefs.

Overall: To enhance structure and dynamics along featureless sea bottom to enhance production and aggregation of sport fish species and increase settlement of marine biota in Volusia County, Florida.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The substrate within the action area is primarily coarse, bare sand. Site 1 is 158± acres in size with water depths that range from -59 feet to -63 feet NAVD88. Site 2 is 158± acres in size with water depths that range from -64 feet to -68 feet NAVD88. Site 3 is 158± acres in size with water depths that range from -61 feet to -63 feet NAVD88.

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to create 3 concrete rubble artificial reefs to enhance fish habitat in between the previously permitted inshore and offshore artificial reefs off Volusia County beaches and to provide the local fishing and diving community with well managed and successful recreational sites. The 3 artificial reef sites proposed for this project will help to provide a 'stepping stone' for organisms between the existing inshore and offshore reefs. The locations of the sites were determined by looking at the locations of existing reefs, known cultural resources, and potential BOEM sand sources. As the proposed sites are closer to shore than most of the existing reefs, it will allow boaters with smaller vessels to safely access artificial reefs, much like the two existing inshore reefs.

DEPTH, PROFILE & CLEARANCE: The approximate water depth within these sites vary from approximately -59’ to -69’ NAVD88. The applicant proposes a maximum reef height of 20’ with a minimum clearance of 36’ between the top of the reef and MLLW at Reef 1. The applicant proposes a maximum reef height of 20’ with a minimum clearance of 41’ between the top of the reef and MLLW at Reef 2. The applicant proposes a maximum reef height of 20’ with a minimum clearance of 38’ between the top of the reef and MLLW at Reef 3.

AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION: The applicant has offered the following comments to address avoidance and minimization measures.

“To minimize impacts to right whales, deployments will occur in summer (April 15 – November 14) and all transiting vessels wills comply with right whale requirements. Any vessel used on this project finding itself within the 500-yard (1500 ft) buffer zone created by a surfacing right whale must depart immediately at a safe, slow speed. Federal regulations prohibit approaching a right whale within a 500-yard (1500 ft) buffer zone. Any sighting of any whale or striking of a whale will be reported immediately to 877-942-4357 (877-WHALE-HELP). That said, the project sites are south of the main concentration of north Atlantic right whale sightings off the Florida coast. Based on the number of sightings reported at relatively few additional encounters may be expected.

All in-water activities will follow Standard Manatee Construction Conditions for In-Water Work and Sea Turtle & Smalltooth Sawfish Construction Conditions. Each contractor will be required to carry a copy of that document during deployments and follow all applicable rules. In accordance with those conditions, and to further minimize potential impacts to right whales, operations will cease if any of the above species are observed within 50’ of construction activities (or 500’ in the case of the right whale).

During deployment, dedicated observers will observe from a chase vessel to ensure that operations are conducted to protect listed and managed species seen while at the deployment site and going to and from the deployment site. The small chase vessel will also stay vigilant for signs of marine life. The noise of the barge, placement of anchors, and general noise in preparation for deployment should serve to elicit avoidance of the deployment area by marine life.

The artificial reef sites have been situated well outside of any shipping lanes, federal navigation channels, or potential sand sources. See Figures 3, 7, & 11 provided in the Permit Drawings for details. Additionally, any material to be placed will not exceed 20-ft from the sea floor, leaving a minimum of 36-ft of clearance to the surface of the water.

Per state regulations regarding artificial reefs, the material to be used shall be clean concrete or rock, clean steel ships & barges, other clean, heavy gauge steel products with a thickness of ¼ inch or greater, or prefabricated structures that are a mixture of clean concrete and heavy gauge steel. Additionally, the material shall be free of soils, oils and greases, debris, litter, putrescible substances, or other pollutants. There shall be no “white goods” (inoperative and discarded refrigerators, freezers, ranges, water heaters, washers, and other similar domestic and commercial appliances), asphalt material, tires, other polluting materials used in construction of the reef. A list of the current stockpile at the county staging area has been included in the Supplemental Information – Attachment 3: Reef Stability Analysis. The project will not include turbidity controls. The materials used for artificial reefs is clean and does not produce significant turbidity during its passage from the barge to the ocean bottom. The reef material falls to the ocean bottom, producing a temporary and minor disturbance of the coarse sand sediments, insufficient to cause turbidity related impacts.

Each site will maintain a 150' buffer between the reef deployment boundary and the outer boundary of the permitted site to minimize impacts outside of the permitted reef sites. Furthermore, proposed deployment locations within each site have been situated to avoid all anomalies identified in surveys, and as shown in the Permit Drawings, by at least a 250' buffer. In the future, Volusia County may investigate those anomalies by direct diver survey. If direct diver survey finds no biological or cultural resources, the county may apply for permit modification to deploy reefs in such areas within the currently proposed site boundaries.

Volusia County uses an upland riverfront property in north New Smyrna Beach for the staging and storage of materials used in artificial reef construction. The facility, located approximately one mile inside Ponce de Leon Inlet along the Intracoastal Waterway, includes a 200’ wide by 600’ long barge canal and wharf along the site’s northern boundary, which provides for safe reef material barge loading.

Following arrival at the upland facility, coordination of offloading, storing, staging, and photo documentation is conducted for all materials. The materials will then be loaded into an American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) rated barge (maneuvered by an ABS rated tug). The project manager also coordinates the materials transport schedule from the upland staging facility to the reef site at sea and ensures construction oversight.

Once the barge is anchored at the reef site, the material is deployed to the sea floor. All efforts possible are made to reduce movement and swing of the barge from side to side and to maintain a single deposit location each deployment event. Depending on the sea state at the time double anchoring techniques are often employed to better fix the barge position for material off-loading.

Following each deployment, a 'Florida Artificial Reef Materials Cargo Manifest and Pre-Deployment Notification' form and a 'Florida Artificial Reef Materials Placement Report and Post-Deployment Notification' form will be completed and submitted as required by USACE for each future deployment.”

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:

“No mitigation is proposed.”

CULTURAL RESOURCES: No known cultural resources have been identified within or directly adjacent to any of the proposed artificial reef sites. A search of the Florida Master Site File conducted by Eman M. Vovsi, Sr. Data Base Analyst, Florida Master Site File ( indicated no known conflicts.

U.S FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICES (USFWS): The Corps executed a Resources At Risk (RAR) report for the area within a 2 mile radius of the centroid of each individual reef location. The RAR indicated that the proposed project overlaps with Atlantic salt marsh snake (Nerodia clarkii taeniata). Due to the nature of the in-water work and the delivery method of the reef materials, the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) was also considered in this evaluation. The Corps will request concurrence from the USFWS with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

ATLANTIC SALT MARSH SNAKE: The Corps has evaluated the proposed project with regards to its potential effects on Atlantic salt marsh snake (Nerodia clarkii taeniata). The Atlantic salt marsh snake inhabits coastal salt marshes and mangrove swamps. Specifically, it occurs along shallow tidal creeks and pools, in a saline environment ranging from brackish to full strength. It is often associated with fiddler crab burrows. These conditions do not present themselves in the Action Area. In consideration of the location of the project site and the information noted above, the Corps determined the project would have “no effect” on this species.

WEST INDIAN MANATEE: The Corps has evaluated the proposed activities and their potential to affect the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Manatees traverse the nearby inlet for feeding or thermal refuge during winter. Pursuant to review of the “State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida” (April 2013), a review of the Manatee key resulted in the following sequential determination: A>B>C>G>N>O>P, “may affect, but not likely to adversely affect”. The applicant agrees to follow the ‘Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work (2011)’ and provide a dedicated manatee observer during in-water work. Reef material placements will occur during calm weather in summer (between April 15 and November 14). Provided compliance with these conditions, it is the Corps’ determination that the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” the West Indian manatee.

NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE (NMFS): The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect swimming sea turtles; the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata); and also the North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis), finback whale (Balaenoptera physalus), humpback whale (Magapter novaengliae), sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis), and sperm whale (Physeter catodon). The Corps will request concurrence from the National Marine Fisheries Service with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.

SWIMMING SEA TURTLES: The transport and placement associated with the creation of the Reef projects will not require any dredging, explosives or unique operations that could harm swimming sea turtles including Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate), Kemps Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii). The applicant has agreed to adhere to the Sea Turtle and Smalltooth Sawfish Construction Conditions. Therefore, the Corps has determined that this project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” swimming sea turtles.

WHALES: The transport and placement associated with the creation of the Reef projects will not require any dredging, explosives or unique operations that could harm whale species including Northern Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis), finback whale (Balaenoptera physalus), humpback whale (Magapter novaengliae), sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis), and sperm whale (Physeter catodon). North Atlantic right whale Critical habitat does extend 5 nautical miles from the shoreline. To avoid potential encounters with whales, the applicant has agreed to implement the NOAA’s Vessel Strike Avoidance Measures. Therefore, the Corps has determined that this project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” whale species.

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): This public notice initiates consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service on EFH as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 1996. The proposed reefs would impact approximately 472 acres of sandy marine substrate that lacks submerged aquatic vegetation and hard bottom habitat. While EFH was identified within the RAR, the nearest identified offshore hardbottom is located 1.5 miles from the centroid of Reef 1. The three proposed artificial reef sites may be utilized by various life stages of red drum, Snapper/Grouper complex and penaeid shrimp. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean. 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 Corps has verified the extent of Federal jurisdiction.

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, 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 and waters. 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, John Baehre, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926, by electronic mail at or by telephone at (321)504-3771 extension 13.

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.