Public Notice Notifications

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SAJ-2020-00520-SCW

USACE - Regulatory
Published Jan. 27, 2021
Expiration date: 2/26/2021

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:  Cow Creek Preservation, LLC
                       Mr. Larry Castro
                       2025 East 7th Avenue
                       Tampa, Florida 33605

LOCATION: The proposed project, identified as the 1,975.2-acre Cow Creek Mitigation Bank (COWMB), is located south of NE County Road 138 within Sections 25, 26, and 27, Township 7 South, Range 15 East, and Sections 30 and 31, Township 7 South, Range 16 East, Gilchrist County, Florida.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:  Latitude: 29.846710°
                                                                          Longitude: -82.772476°

PROSPECTUS SUMMARY: Pursuant to 33 CFR 332.8(d)(4), the Corps has posted a full copy of the COWMB 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 “Cow Creek 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 COWMB 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 enhance, preserve, and protect wetlands and uplands on the 1,975.2-acre property. The primary ecological goal of the COWMB is to restore historic hydrologic conditions and enhance water quality within the Santa Fe River and Lower Suwannee River sub-basins. Specific restoration objectives include:

• Enhancement of 9.9 acres of herbaceous wetlands (Management Area HWE)
• Enhancement of 85.0 acres of hydric pine flatwoods (Management Area HPFE)
• Enhancement of 353.2 acres of mixed forested wetlands (Management Area MFWE-1)
• Enhancement of 93.4 acres of mixed forested wetlands (Management Area MFWE-2)
• Preservation of 13.6 acres of wet prairie wetlands (Management Area HWP)
• Preservation of 16.1 acres of hydric pine flatwoods (Management Area HPFP)
• Preservation of 319.6 acres of basin swamp wetlands (Management Area MFWP)
• Preservation of 10.9 acres of upland forest (Management Area UFP)
• Enhancement of 382.3 acres of upland pasture (Management Areas UHE and UBHE)
• Enhancement of 677.9 acres of upland forest (Management Areas UFE and UBFE)

ECOLOGICAL SUITABILITY OF THE SITE: A review of available information indicates that the property historically consisted of bottomland forested wetlands, hydric pine flatwoods, wet prairies, mesic pine uplands abutting Cow Creek. Cattle and silvicultural operations have been ongoing on the property since the 1960s. Currently the proposed COWMB contains 20 distinct vegetation community types, which includes a mosaic of both upland and wetland habitats, of which many are heavily disturbed. Cow Creek, a tributary of the Santa Fe River, runs through the eastern portion of the site and historically relied on the area’s wetlands to buffer surface water input. According to information provided by the applicant, the proposed COWMB would provide additional habitat and forage for native flora and fauna, and hydrologic enhancements to the watershed.

ESTABLISHMENT AND OPERATION OF THE BANK: The proposed COWMB would be established and operated by Cow Creek Preservation, LLC as the Sponsor with the assistance of Environmental Consulting and Design. The property that comprises the COWMB is owned by Busch Junction Enterprises, LLP and John and Melissa Taylor. The COWMB is proposed to be established as a single and complete project. Following COWMB successful implementation and attainment of final success criteria, long-term management activities will be implemented to ensure the sustainability of COWMB. In addition, the Sponsor will provide sufficient financial assurances to ensure construction and long-term management of the proposed COWMB.

PROPOSED SERVICE AREA: The majority of the proposed project is located within the Cow Creek-Santa Fe River subwatershed, identified as Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 031102060703, and portions of the Upper Mallory Swamp-Suwannee River (031102050601) and Cow Creek Slough (031102060702) subwatersheds which are part of the larger Santa Fe River and Lower Suwannee River subbasins (HUC 03110206 and 03110205, respectively). The Applicant proposes a Mitigation Service Area (MSA) that is coincident with the Santa Fe River and Lower Suwannee River subbasins. The COWMB MSA is anticipated to include wetland habitat communities that could reasonably be expected to occur on the COWMB.

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 proposal would have no effect on any listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.

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 Gulf of Mexico. 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.

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 Mrs. Shannon White by electronic mail at shannon.c.white@usace.army.mil, 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.