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:
APPLICANT: City of Orlando
c/o Mr. Ed Bryant
400 South Orange Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32801
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The Econlockhatchee Trail Improvements project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Upper St. Johns River Hydrologic Unit (Hydrologic Unit Code 03080101); project is located along South Econlockhatchee Trail from Curry Ford Road south to Lee Vista Boulevard. The project site is located within Sections 7, 18, & 19, Township 23 South, Range 31 East, in Orange County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Take SR528 to SR417. Exit onto SR417 north and procees to Exit 27, Lee Vista Boulevard. Travel on Lee Vista Boulevard to Econlockhatchee Trail.
APPROXIMATE TERMINAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Public roadway
Overall: Widening of Econlockhatchee Trail from Curry Ford Road south to Lee Vista Boulevard, Orange County, Florida.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The proposed Econlockhatchee Trail Improvements project is a transportation project located within the greater Orlando area. The initial phase of this project was previously authorized under SAJ-1998-01319 and SAJ-1998-01320 by two standard permits.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: On-site land use types/vegetative communities were identified utilizing the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System, Level III (FLUCCS, FDOT, 1999). The on-site upland land use types/vegetative communities include:
FLUCCS 814 – Roadways & Highways
This upland association is characterized by existing roadway and sodded right-of-way. Vegetation consists of bahiagrass.
A total of 0.21 acres of wetlands and 0.05 acres of surface waters occur on-site and include:
FLUCCS 510 – Streams & Waterways
Econlockhatchee Trail traverses two artificial canals. Both waterways are inundated year-round and are mostly void of vegetation along the canal banks as they are lined with Fabriform (concrete stabilization material) from previous permitting (Permit Nos: SAJ- SAJ-1998-01320 and SAJ-1998-01319). Dominant vegetative species include bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum), cattail (Typha spp.), and other hydrophytic opportunistic species. Proposed roadway structures will span the top of the canal’s bank; therefore, no discharge, embankment alterations, or piles are proposed within the limits of either canal.
FLUCCS 617 – Mixed Wetland Hardwoods
There are multiple forested wetland fringe areas along the edge the existing right-of-way (ROW). Although historically dominated by a native canopy of cypress (Taxodium spp.) and slash pine (Pinus elliottii), the fringes of these systems within the project boundary are overgrown with grapevine (Vitis spp.), dogfennel (Eupatorium cappillifolium), blackberry (Rubus spp.), Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia), and ceasarweed (Urena lobata). Remaining canopy species included, cypress, red maple (Acer rubrum), red bay (Persea borbonia), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), and wax myrtle (Morella cerifera).
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to fill 0.21 acres of waters of the United States previously authorized and mitigated for under SAJ-1998-01319 and SAJ-1998-01320. The roadway improvements will update Econlockhatchee Trail to current roadway standards, widen for current capacity and travel demands, and improve safety conditions
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 proposed improvements have been previously authorized under USACE permits SAJ-1998-01319 and SAJ-1998-01320. The original review of the project considered corridor alternatives and minimization efforts based on several factors, ensuring that the preferred alignment was the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative (LEDPA). No additional stormwater ponds or expansion of the stormwater system is proposed, and no further wetland impacts beyond what was originally permitted is proposed. Therefore, the current design is consistent with the original LEDPA, and needs no further evaluation for avoidance.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“Construction of the project will result in the unavoidable loss of 0.21 acres of wetlands that remain within the ROW. Details regarding the location of discharge and limits of proposed impacts are provided on attached Dredge and Fill Sketches. Because impacts are incidental, were previously authorized, and mitigation was provided for these same impacts to ensure no net loss of wetlands, per Section 404, no additional mitigation is proposed.”
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 applicant indicated no federally listed plant species occur on the project site. The Corps has completed preliminary federally listed species affect determinations which include the following:
Crested caracara: The proposed work occurs within the consultation area for the caracara. Following the Standard Local Operating Procedures for Endangered Species (SLOPES) guideline, no suitable habitat will be impacted by the proposed work therefore, the Corps determined the proposed project would have “no affect” on the crested caracara.
Everglades Snail Kite: The proposed work occurs within the consultation area for the snail kite. Following the Standard Local Operating Procedures for Endangered Species (SLOPES) guideline, no suitable habitat will be impacted by the proposed work therefore, the Corps determined the proposed project would have “no affect” on the Everglades snail kite.
Florida scrub-jay - The project is in the consultation area for Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens). Florida scrub-jay are largely restricted to scattered, often small and isolated patches of sand pine scrub, xeric oak, scrubby flatwoods, and scrubby coastal stands in peninsular Florida. They avoid wetlands and forests, including canopied sand pine stands. Optimal Scrub-jay habitat is dominated by shrubby scrub, live oaks, myrtle oaks, or scrub oaks from 1 to 3 m (3 to 10 ft.) tall, covering 50% to 90 % of the area; bare ground or sparse vegetation less than 15 cm (6 in) tall covering 10% to 50% of the area; and scattered trees with no more than 20% canopy cover. Based on existing habitat types the Corps preliminarily determined the project will have “no effect” on Florida scrub-jay.
Red cockaded woodpecker: The proposed work occurs within the consultation area for the red cockaded woodpecker. Following the Standard Local Operating Procedures for Endangered Species (SLOPES) guideline, no suitable habitat will be impacted by the proposed work therefore, the Corps determined the proposed project would have “no affect” on the red cockaded woodpecker.
Sand Skink - The project site is within the consultation area for sand skink (Neoseps reynoldsi). Locations within the limits of this consultation area that are located at elevations greater than 80’ and contain suitable (moderate-to-well drained) soils are believed by FWS to be areas of potential sand skink habitat. The subject site is not located on or near a sandy ridge of Central Florida, where sand skink are typically found. Based on existing habitat types and previous concurrence within the same project footprint, the Corps preliminarily determined the project will have “no effect” on bluetail mole skink (Eumeces egregious lividus) and sand skink.
Wood Stork - The Corps has determined the proposed project is “not likely to adversely affect” (NLAA) wood stork (Mycteria Americana). The proposed activity is within the Core Foraging Area (CFA) of two rookeries; the project supports Suitable Foraging Habitat (SFH) for wood stork. The Corps completed an evaluation of the project based upon the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) North Florida Ecological Services Field Offices Programmatic Concurrence for use with the Wood Stork (September 2008). Use of the Key for Wood Stork resulted in the following sequential determination: A (The project is more than 2,500 feet from a colony site.) > B (Project impacts SFH.) > C (Project impacts to SFH less than 0.5 acres.) = NLAA. 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 (Drymarchon corais couperi). Based on the Eastern Indigo Snake Effect Determination Key (dated January 25, 2010; August 13, 2013 Addendum), the Corps determination sequence is as follows: A (The project is not located in open water or salt marsh.) > B (The permit will be conditioned for use of the Service’s standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo snake during site preparation and construction) > C = NLAA. The Corps has USFWS concurrence for the proposed activities through use of the aforementioned determination key.
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 0.21 acres of freshwater wetlands and surface waters which ultimately discharge to the Upper St, Johns subbasin. The Corps’ initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on downstream EFH or Federally managed fisheries. 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 been verified by Corps personnel.
AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification will be required from the South Florida Water Management District.
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 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 any compensatory mitigation proposed.
QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, John Baehre, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section (address above), by electronic mail at John.M.Baehre@usace.army.mil, or by telephone at (321) 504-3771 x13.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with USFWS, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the NMFS, 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 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.
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.