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: White Owl Management, LLC
Attention: John Arrowsmith
11288 St. Andrew’s Way
Concord, Ohio 44077
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States (wetlands) associated with the tidal Doctor’s Lake. The project site is located on Lot 12 on White Owl Road, two lots south of 1654 White Owl Road, in Section 31, Township 4 South, Range 26 East, Fleming Island, Clay County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From 295 South, take the Highway 17 exit and travel south for 6 miles. Turn west onto County Road 220 and travel 2 miles. Travel north onto Lakeshore Drive West and travel 0.74 miles. Turn west onto White Owl Road. Travel 0.08 mile until you note a slight right curve. The project site location is on the left in an empty lot.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.111875°
Basic: The basic project purpose is residential development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to construct a single-family residence with associated infrastructure in Fleming Island, Clay County, Florida.
Soils: The Soil Survey of St. Johns County, Florida (U.S.D.A., Soil Conservation Service, 1983) indicates that Sapelo fine sand is located on the property.
Vegetative Communities: The property is characterized by two generalized vegetative communities per the Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System [(FLUCFCS) Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), State Topographic Bureau, Thematic Mapping Section, 1999)]. These include Wetland Forested Mixed (FLUCFCS 6300) 0.35 acres and Upland Mixed Coniferous/Hardwood (FLUCFCS 4340) 0.08 acres. The wetland canopy is dominated by a mix of red maple (Acer rubrum), water oak (Quercus nigra), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum). The understory is comprised of poison ivy (Toxicodendrons radicans), dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor), Juncus sp., Smilax sp., Rubus sp., salt bush (Baccharis halimifolia), dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), Myrtle dahoon (Ilex myrtifolia), and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens).
The applicant seeks authorization to discharge clean fill material over 0.25 acre of forested wetlands adjacent to tidal waters in association with construction of a single-family residence and associated infrastructure. The work associated with the establishment of the residence would affect tidal wetlands associated with Doctor’s Lake, which flows into the St. Johns River.
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:
Lot 12 is a historically platted single-family residence. Due to the location of the uplands within the White Owl Road setback, the house must be placed within the wetland portion of the lot. The lot owner wanted to construct their home adjacent to the lake, and also wished to construct a pool. To minimize wetland impacts, the house pad was moved eastward away from the lake, and the pool was removed from the plan completely. In order to allow for proper drainage, perimeter swales are proposed along the northern and southern property boundaries. There is no way to further minimize the fill while still allowing for proper and efficient drainage of the property. All wetland impacts are proposed solely to forested wetlands. No marsh, submerged aquatic vegetation, or essential fish habitat will be affected.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
To offset the 0.25 acres of wetland impact, we propose the purchase of 0.15 Wetland Rapid Assessment Method (WRAP) mitigation credits. The mitigation credits would be forested and acquired from a mitigation bank whose service area includes the subject property.
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.
Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi): Eastern Indigo Snake frequents several habitat types, including pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, high pine, dry prairie, tropical hardwood hammocks, edges of freshwater marshes, agricultural fields, coastal dunes, and human-altered habitats. Therefore, this species could utilize the area encompassed by the ESA scope of analysis for this project. Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) burrows are commonly utilized as refuge from winter cold and/or desiccating conditions in xeric habitats; and, hollowed root channels, hollow logs, or burrows of rodents, armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), or land crabs (Cardisoma guanhumi) provide shelter in wetter habitats. A recent evaluation of the project site identified only two active gopher tortoise burrows. One location would be affected by the WRF project construction; however, the other is on the JEA property but outside of the limits of construction and would not be affected. Prior to clearing or grubbing of tortoise-occupied habitat, a state-issued gopher tortoise relocation permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) would be obtained. In consideration of the potential presence of eastern indigo snake habitat, the Corps utilized The Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, August 2013. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A-B-C-not likely to adversely affect, as the applicant has agreed to implement the Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake, August 12, 2013 and there are no gopher tortoise burrows, holes, cavities, or other refugia where a snake could be buried or trapped and injured during project activities. The FWS has indicated that they concur with determinations of may affect, not likely to adversely affect based on the key for eastern indigo snakes; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.
The Corps executed a Resources At Risk (RAR) report. The RAR did not indicate that the site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species. The Corps also reviewed geospatial data and other available information. The Corps has not received or discovered any information that the project site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species.
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 Doctor’s Lake. 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 previously finalized an Approved Jurisdictional Determination, which verified the extent of Federal jurisdiction at the site.
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 Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232 within 30 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, Terri M. Mashour, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232; by electronic mail at Terri.M.Mashour@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (904)232-1940; or, by telephone at (904)232-2028. Please note, due to office staffing precautions associated with CoVid-19, electronic mail correspondence is preferred.
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.