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: Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resource Management
c/o Deborah Drum
2300 N. Jog Road
West Palm Beach, FL 33411
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Lake Worth Lagoon and the Intracoastal Waterway. The project site is located approximately 0.25 miles south of Everglades Island along a sandy, rocky island that is a component of the Anastasia formation in Lake Worth Lagoon (Section 35, Township 43 South, Range 43 East), Town of Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-95 South, take Exit 68 to Southern Boulevard. Turn east onto US-98E/FL-80/FL-700/ Southern Blvd and travel to the causeway on Bingham Island. The project site is located approximately 0.7 miles north of the causeway in Lake Worth Lagoon.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Restore and enhance the aquatic environment.
Overall: Reestablish a mangrove island to restore and enhance the aquatic environment of Lake Worth Lagoon in eastern Palm Beach County, FL.
The project site is located on a portion of the Anastasia formation that runs the length of the Lake Worth Lagoon. The project site occurs where the Anastasia rock structure approaches the MLW line and has collected rocks and medium to coarse sand. As recently as 2004, the project site supported a small mangrove island surrounded by rocky shallows. Over time, the mangroves have eroded leaving just the rock and surrounding coarse sediments. A benthic resource survey conducted April 14, 2020 confirmed that a patch of paddle grass (Halophila decipiens) is present to the east of the project site beyond the proposed fill footprint.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization for the reestablishment of a 0.38 acre mangrove island and the installation of 6 intertidal breakwaters and 23 oyster reef modules. Proposed work includes:
-Placement of 1,158 yd3 of fill material within a 0.62 acre area to an elevation of -0.5 NAVD 88
-Placement of 9,204 yd3 of 2’-3’ limestone boulders within a 0.08 acre area
-Placement of 17,402 yd3 of 9”-18” limestone rock over a 0.17 acre area
-Planting of 1,500 red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle)
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:
A turbidity curtain will be anchored along the eastern project boundaries separating and protecting the existing seagrasses from impacts. Turbidity curtains will surround the work area preventing turbidity from moving off-site. Shallow draft vessels (<4 draft) will be used to access the site and avoid bottom scouring. A barge-based long stick excavator will be used to reach across shallow water and place and grade the sand and rock. The result of project construction will be the re-establishment and expansion of the eroded mangrove island.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
Compensatory mitigation should not be required since the project will re-establish and expand a previously eroded mangrove island. The addition of mangroves, oyster reefs, and a shorebird nesting mound provide more valuable estuarine resources than currently exist at the site. The proposed work will provide increased fish and wildlife habitat value compared to the current eroded condition of the site.
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.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus). Use of The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida (the Key) dated April 2013 and the May 2019 Addendum produced the sequential determination of A-B-C-G-N-O-P, paragraph 4 and 5 “may affect, not likely to adversely affect”. The MANLAA determination is based on the applicant adhering to the “Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work (2011)”. Furthermore, the spacing and configuration of the breakwaters and oyster reef modules will prevent these structures from acting as barriers or restricting manatee movement. By letters dated 25 April 2013 and 13 May 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) stated that for proposed in-water activities analyzed with the April 2013 version of the Manatee Key and May 2019 Addendum in which the Corps reaches a MANLAA determination with respect to the manatee, the FWS concurs with the Corps determination in accordance with 50 CFR 402.14(b) 1; and no further consultation with the FWS is required.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Green (Chelonia mydas), and Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles, Smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) and the North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis). The Corps will evaluate the proposed work utilizing National Marine Fisheries Service’s Jacksonville District’s Programmatic Biological Opinion (JAXBO) dated 20 November 2017.
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 0.63 acres of subtidal and intertidal barren rocky substrate and sand utilized by various life stages of penaeid shrimp complex, reef fish, stone crab, spiny lobster, migratory/pelagic fish, and snapper/grouper complex. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the South Atlantic Region. 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.
NAVIGATION: The waterward edge of the proposed fill is approximately 950 feet away from the near bottom edge of the Intracoastal Waterway Federal channel.
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.
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 Virginia King by email at Virginia.E.King@usace.army.mil or via mail at Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 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, Virginia King, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410; by electronic mail at Virginia.E.King@usace.army.mil ; or, by telephone at (561) 331-1822.
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.
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.