TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received a complete prospectus proposing the establishment of a mitigation bank pursuant to the 2008 Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources regulations (33 CFR Part 332) as described below:
APPLICANT: SCP Ironhead, LLC
Mr. Gray Stevens, Manager
1030 3rd Avenue South #304
Naples, Florida 34102
LOCATION: The proposed project, identified as the 2,018-acre Ironhead Mitigation Bank (IHMB), is located eight miles east of Immokalee within Sections 15, 22, and 27 of Township 46 South, and Range 30 East, Collier County, Florida.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude: 26.461658°
PROSPECTUS SUMMARY: Pursuant to 33 CFR 332.8(d)(4), the Corps has posted a full copy of the IHMB prospectus online so that it is available for review by the public. The prospectus may be downloaded from the Regulatory In-Lieu Fee and Bank Information Tracking System (RIBITS) at web address: https://ribits.ops.usace.army.mil/ords/f?p=107:2.
Once on the RIBITS homepage, select "Jacksonville" from the "ALL DISTRICTS" drop down menu located in the lower left corner of the screen. Once the district filter has been selected, click on the “Banks & ILF Sites” link located in the Navigation box (upper left corner). This will generate a list of projects, scroll down the list and click on the “Ironhead MB” link. On this page, click on the "Cyber Repository" link located on the menu bar above the General Information box, then click on the Prospectus Documents folder to access the prospectus associated with the IHMB project.
If you are unable to access the web address, a copy of the prospectus is available upon request to the project manager listed at the end of this public notice.
PROJECT GOALS AND OBJECTIVES: The applicant seeks authorization to restore, preserve and protect wetlands and uplands on the 2,018-acre property. The primary ecological goal of the IHMB is to rehabilitate, re-establish and preserve wetland and upland ecosystems to improve fish and wildlife habitat use, connectivity, and the overall ecological integrity of the communities within the OK Slough ecosystem and Big Cypress watershed. Specific restoration objectives include:
• Rehabilitation of 259.17 acres of Logged Cypress habitat by cessation of logging, elimination of cattle grazing, treatment of undesirable vegetation, reduction of shrub coverage, supplemental planting of cypress trees to reference site densities, and reintroduction of fire into shallower habitat edges.
• Rehabilitation of 456.84 acres of Cypress habitat by cessation of logging, elimination of cattle grazing, the treatment of undesirable vegetation, reduction of shrub coverage, and reintroduction of fire into shallower habitat edges.
• Rehabilitation of 84.47 acres of Cypress-Pine-Cabbage Palm habitat through cessation of logging, elimination of cattle grazing, treatment of undesirable vegetation, reduction of shrub coverage, supplemental planting of cypress and pine trees to reference site densities, and restoration of a healthy fire regime.
• Rehabilitation of 38.52 acres of Logged Mixed Wetland Forested habitat by cessation of logging, elimination of cattle grazing, treatment of undesirable vegetation, reduction of shrub coverage, supplemental planting of pine trees to reference site densities, and the restoration of a healthy fire regime.
• Rehabilitation of 140.30 acres of Mixed Wetland Forested habitat by elimination of cattle grazing, treatment of undesirable vegetation, reduction of shrub coverage, supplemental planting of pine trees to reference site densities, and restoration of a healthy fire regime.
• Rehabilitation of 209.46 acres of Hardwood Hammock habitat by treatment of undesirable vegetation, elimination of cabbage palm harvesting and cattle bedding, and reduction of fire events to allow canopies to heal.
• Rehabilitation of 262.05 acres of Inland Pond and Slough habitat by treatment of undesirable vegetation, improvement of surrounding buffers, and elimination of cattle grazing.
• Rehabilitation of 29.58 acres of Wet Prairie habitat by treatment of undesirable vegetation, improvement of surrounding buffers, elimination of cattle grazing, and restoration of a healthy fire regime.
• Rehabilitation of 121.70 acres of Wet Pasture habitat to Wet Prairie by elimination of intense cattle grazing, treatment of undesirable vegetation, supplemental planting of desirable groundcover species, and restoration of a healthy fire regime.
• Rehabilitation of 264.87 acres of Freshwater Marsh habitat by elimination of cattle grazing, treatment of undesirable vegetation, thinning of nuisance shrubs, and the restoration of a healthy fire regime to maintain shallower habitat edges.
• Rehabilitation of 3.53 acres of Ponds and Ditches to Cypress habitat by backfilling to restore topography, planting of groundcover species and cypress trees to reference site densities, elimination of cattle grazing, and ongoing management of undesirable vegetation.
• Rehabilitation of 56.08 acres of Hardwood Conifer Mixed upland habitat through removal of threats of logging or clearing, treatment of undesirable vegetation, elimination of cattle grazing, and restoration of a healthy fire regime.
• Re-establishment of 64.50 acres of Cropland to Wet Prairie habitat by the elimination of rim ditching and intense agricultural operations, selective grading to add topographic diversity, exotic treatments to remove exotic monocultures, elimination of cattle grazing, and planting/seeding to re-establish desirable herbaceous groundcover.
• Re-establishment of 5.97 acres of Berms to Cypress habitat by grading the areas to restore topography, planting of groundcover species and cypress trees to reference site densities, and the ongoing management of undesirable vegetation.
ECOLOGICAL SUITABILITY OF THE SITE: A review of available information indicates that the property historically consisted of a mosaic of freshwater wetlands, with deep marsh, cypress, hardwood hammocks, mixed forested wetlands, wet prairies, and hydric pine flatwood. Currently the property is in agricultural use, with cattle utilizing most of the onsite habitats as grazing lands. Surrounding land uses are natural state forest and mitigation wetlands to the north; cattle rangeland with significant wetland coverage to the west and south; and a mix of cattle range, native wetlands and row crops on the remainder of the Half Circle L Ranch to the east. The Bank receives most flows from the OK slough north of the site and is hydrologically connected to the portions of the Middle Caloosahatchee River (HUC 0309020504), Upper Caloosahatchee River (HUC 0309020503), and Caloosahatchee River Headwaters (HUC 0309020502) basins south the Caloosahatchee River.
ESTABLISHMENT AND OPERATION OF THE BANK: The proposed IHMB would be established and operated by SCP Ironhead, LLC as the Sponsor with the assistance of EarthBalance. The property that comprises the IHMB is owned by Half Circle L Ranch Partnership, LLP. The IHMB is proposed to be established as a single and complete project. Following IHMB successful implementation and attainment of final success criteria, long-term management activities will be implemented in order to ensure the sustainability of IHMB. In addition, the Sponsor will provide sufficient financial assurances to ensure construction and long-term management of the proposed IHMB.
PROPOSED SERVICE AREA: The project is located within the Okaloacoochee Slough Watershed, identified as Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 0309020409 which is part of the larger Big Cypress Swamp Subbasin (HUC 03090204). The Applicant proposes a Mitigation Service Area (MSA) that is includes the entire Big Cypress Swamp Subbasin, and the southern portions of Middle Calossahatchee River (HUC 0309020504), Upper Caloosahatchee River (HUC 0309020503), and Caloosahatchee River (HUC 0309020502) Watersheds. The IHMB MSA is anticipated to include wetland habitat communities that could reasonably be expected to occur on the IHMB.
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 project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Audubon’s crested caracara (Polyborus plancus), Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus), Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), and Wood stork (Mycteria americana). The Corps requests U.S. Fish and Wildlife concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
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. 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.
SECTION 408: The applicant will not require permission under Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (33 USC 408) because the activity, in whole or in part, would not alter, occupy, or use a Corps Civil Works project.
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.
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.
COMMENTS: Comments regarding the proposed mitigation bank should be submitted in writing to the District Engineer at the address below within 30 days from the date of this notice.
The initial evaluation pertaining to whether or not this mitigation bank proposal has the potential for providing compensatory mitigation for activities authorized by issued Department of the Army permits will be based on the information contained in the prospectus, received from this public notice and obtained during an inspection of the project site.
If you have any questions concerning this proposed project, you may contact Ms. Shannon White by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by fax at 904-232-1904, or by telephone at 904-232-1681 or at the following address:
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
JACKSONVILLE DISTRICT CORPS OF ENGINEERS
P. O. BOX 4970
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA 32232-0019
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: After the end of the comment period, the district engineer will review all comments received and make an initial determination as to the potential of the proposed project to provide compensatory mitigation for activities authorized by Department of the Army permits. That determination 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. Factors relevant to the proposal will be considered including 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.
The 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 proposed activity. All comments received will be considered by the Corps during the formulation of the initial determination of potential for the proposed activity.