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SAJ-2021-00271 (SP-TMM)

Jacksonville District
Published March 26, 2021
Expiration date: 4/26/2021

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 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1344) as described below:

APPLICANT:                       City of Jacksonville

                                             Attn: Robin Smith

                                             214 North Hogan Street

                                             Jacksonville, Florida 32202

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States (tidal wetlands, wetlands, and open water) within the tidal McCoy’s Creek, a tributary of the St. Johns River. The project site encompasses the channelized McCoy’s Creek and associated wetlands, beginning at the connection of McCoy’s Creek and the St. Johns River and terminating at Leland Street, in Sections 15, 16, 40, 41, and 56, Township 2 South, Range 26 East, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: From downtown Jacksonville, take I-95 heading north and exit right onto Park Street. Turn right onto Park Street, and then turn left onto Forest Street in approximately 0.3 miles. Continue west for approximately 0.9 miles and turn right onto Stockton Street heading north. Make an immediate right onto McCoy Creek Boulevard heading east. The project begins at the intersection of Leland Street and McCoy Creek Boulevard and runs east along the channelized McCoy’s Creek, terminating at the outfall of McCoy’s Creek into the St. Johns River.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:                                 Latitude     30.328294°

                                                                                                         Longitude -81.686798°


Basic: The basic project purpose is wetland restoration, enhancement, and establishment.  

Overall: The overall project purpose is wetland restoration, enhancement, and establishment to restore McCoy’s Creek and associated floodplain to its historical condition, to reduce flooding associated with the creek system, to improve the water quality of the stream and its outfall into the St. Johns River, and to improve public recreation.


a. Soils: According to the Soil Survey of City of Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida (U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service), the soil types mapped within the project area are: Arents, nearly level (Soil Identification No. 7); Evergreen-Wesconnett complex, depressional (22); Pelham fine sand (51); Urban land (69); Urban land-Ortega-Kershaw complex (72); Pelham-Urban land complex (74), and Urban land – Hurricane – Albany complex (75). Mapped soils.

b. Vegetative Communities: Land use/land cover types were identified within and around the project area. These communities were classified using the Florida Department of Transportation Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS, 1999). The on-site wetlands were delineated pursuant to SJRWMD methodologies (62-340, F.A.C.).

    (1) High Density Residential Uplands: 0.62 acres (FLUCFCS 130) – Several residential areas south of McCoy’s Creek Boulevard have been acquired by COJ for this project. Within Phase One, two residential structures currently exist at the intersection of King Street and McCoy’s Creek Boulevard. Along the southern edge of McCoy’s Creek Boulevard from Nixon Street to Acosta Street, portions of residential lawn are encompassed by the project. Within Phase Two, there are minor inclusions of High-Density Residential habitat.

    (2) Commercial Services Uplands: 0.26 acres (FLUCFCS 140) – This classification is used to describe existing commercial facilities within the boundary that have been acquired by COJ for the restoration purpose of this project.

    (3) Light Industrial Uplands: 8.94 acres (FLUCFCS 150) – Portions of industrial facilities have been acquired as part of this project. A small edge in the southern portion of Childers Roofing & Sheet Metal on Swan Street and the southern portion of the Burger Roofing Co. located on Ernest Street are located within the project boundary. The land from Childers Roofing & Sheet Metal is utilized as lawn with property fencing and the Burger Roofing Co. is currently utilized as a staging area for materials and equipment.

    (4) Recreational Uplands: 9.73 (FLUCFCS 180) – The western terminus of the project area contains small lawn fringes of the Hollybrook Park on the eastern side of Leland Street and west of the existing COJ stormwater pond. Recreational lawn habitat continues south of the existing COJ stormwater ponds, north of McCoy’s Creek Boulevard, and eastward. Brooklyn Park is also located within the proposed project boundary. Landscape vegetation includes planted crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), and slash pine (Pinus elliottii). Groundcover consists of mowed and maintained bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) and St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum).

    (5) Open Land Uplands: 15.81 acres (FLUCFCS 190) – The areas designated as open land contain sparsely planted landscape canopy species such as laurel oak, crape myrtle, and bald cypress. They are devoid of subcanopy species due to maintenance. Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) dominates the groundcover stratum.

    (6) Upland Hardwood Forests Uplands: 7.08 acres (FLUCFCS 420) - This is the only forested upland community present within the project area. Dominant species include paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera), laurel oak, live oak (Quercus virginiana), sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora), and beautyberry (Callicarpa americana).

    (7) Transportation: 3.85 acres (FLUCFCS 810) – Several roadways and sections of CSX rail line are included within the project area. McCoy’s Creek Boulevard, the Lemon Street Bridge, and a small portion of Haywood Dowling Drive will be removed as a part of this project. Stockton Street, Leland Street, and several sections of CSX Rail Line are all within the project boundary and will remain as is. There is also a portion of the Phase 2 project area that consists of elevated skyway rail.

    (8) Ditched Creek: 11.53 acres (FLUCFCS 512) – McCoy’s Creek has been ditched and channelized since the 1940s to allow for expanding development along the riparian edges. The current channel contains bulkheads along either side. McCoy’s Creek is lined with nuisance/exotic species such as bulrush (Typha latifolia), Peruvian primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana), Mexican petunia (Ruellia simplex), and Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana).

    (9) Reservoirs: 4.14 acres (FLUCFCS 530) – A total of three reservoirs are located within the boundary of Phase 1, the only habitat of this type found within the project limits. These areas are man-made surface water features and are devoid of native vegetation.

    (10) Bottomland Forest Slope: 10.93 acres (FLUCFCS 617) – This forested wetland community is associated with the riparian edge of McCoy’s Creek. Portions of this community revegetated with hardwood species after being utilized as ash disposal sites. The canopy of this community is dominated by red maple (Acer rubrum) laurel oak, cabbage palm, Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera), camphor tree, American elm (Ulmus americana), Chinaberry (Melia azedarach), paper mulberry, wax myrtle, and southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). Groundcover species include Mexican petunia, Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera), lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus), shield fern (Thelypteris kunthii), and trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans).

    (11) Willow and Elderberry: 3.80 acres (FLUCFCS 618) – Work performed within the footprint of the channelized creek resulted in this disturbed habitat. Where it occurs, this habitat abuts McCoy’s Creek as it transitions to forested wetland habitat. Nuisance/exotic vegetation is prevalent in this community type. Dominant species include Carolina willow, elderberry (Sambucus nigra), Mexican petunia, Chinese tallow, Peruvian primrose willow, and red maple.

    (12) Vegetated Non-Forested Wetlands: 1.18 acres (FLUCFCS 640) – Within Phase Two, a vegetated nonforested wetland is located just east of the I-95 overpass. This mowed and maintained habitat is dominated by St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), bahia grass (Paspalum notatum), shortleaf spike sedge (Cyperus brevifolius), Baldwin’s flat sedge (Cyperus croceus), soft rush (Juncus effuses), and bunched beaksedge (Rhynchospora cephalantha).

PROJECT HISTORY: Historically, McCoy’s Creek existed as a natural tributary of the St. Johns River with the connection to the river located substantially north of the current outlet. Development of downtown Jacksonville in the mid 1900’s resulted in the “relocation” of the creek to its current position. It is presently an artificial waterway that was created by the channelization and bulkheading of the relocated McCoy’s

Creek. Wetland floodplain adjacent to the creek is highly disturbed, with large areas historically used as incinerator ash disposal areas. While the placement of McCoy’s Creek within the historic footprint is impossible, the restoration of McCoy’s Creek would replicate the historic meander of the tributary. Historic habitats would be restored through ash removal, re-grading, and the planting of appropriate species. Wetland creation would provide additional support to restored natural systems, establishing a contiguous network of forested and herbaceous wetlands bordering McCoy’s Creek.

PROPOSED WORK:  The applicant seeks authorization to discharge fill material over 2.45 acres of wetlands, tidal wetlands, and a portion of the stream channel as well as to remove ash and other fill to restore the McCoy’s Creek channel and associated wetlands. Improvements include the removal of artificial fill and ash material along the banks of McCoy’s Creek, removal of bulkheads along either side of the creek, reshaping of McCoy’s Creek, expanding and enhancing the associated floodplain wetlands adjacent to the creek system, removing McCoy’s Creek Boulevard to allow for the expansion of the natural floodplain, restoring historic tidal and non-tidal marsh habitat, and restoring the tidally influenced portion of the creek to the original lagoon and wetland chain system. Wetland creation would consist of the removal of material from adjacent uplands to establish appropriate wetland grades. Wetland enhancement would encompass the conversion of surface waters to vegetated wetlands, and the improvement of existing surface waters and wetlands. The proposed work aims to restore McCoy’s Creek to mimic its historic condition as a natural tributary of the St. Johns River within areas of available land. Best management practices would be required in project construction, including compliance with the Incinerator Ash Material Management Plan associated with the project.

Construction of the project would be separated into two phases. Phases would be implemented as funding becomes available. Moving from east to west, Phase One begins at the western side of I-95 overpass. Adjacent wetlands would be restored to a chain-of-wetlands type habitat, referred to as McCoy’s Strand. At this location, the creek would be channelized into a freshwater meandering stream. To facilitate the shaping of the channel, the existing forested wetland north of the creek would be harvested, incinerator ash and fill would be excavated, and historic elevations would be achieved, allowing for the return of the natural marsh system that was present at this location. As the proposed restoration continues west, wetland and creek portions would be graded to allow for water to naturally access its adjacent floodplain, returning the creek to its original grade and function. Lagoons would be placed intermittently to recreate the original flow patterns of the creek. To reduce short-circuiting of flow, the lagoons would not interconnect via open channel and would instead be hydrologically connected by intervening swamps to achieve the best wetland treatment for water quality and stormwater control. This array would create selective access for fish, creating a nursery habitat for McCoy’s Creek faun, a while excluding large predators. This assemblage of tidal swamp and lagoons would be flanked by bottomland swamp. Adjacent bottomland forest within this creek segment currently contains artificial fill and ash in the riparian wetlands, which would be removed as part of the creek restoration project and cleanup order from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As the project moves towards its western terminus, the creek would be transformed into a long stretch of slow flowing forested wetland, where the gradual slope and lack of stream power would not carve a well-defined meandering stream channel. This action would require reshaping of two existing City Of Jacksonville stormwater ponds to accommodate wetland floodplain vegetation that would surround the newly reshaped McCoy’s Creek.

The eastern terminus of Phase Two is located at the outfall of McCoy’s Creek into the St. Johns River. Within this portion of the project, McCoy’s Creek is highly channelized, and the waterway flows under existing development. The creek emerges at the May Street Jacksonville Transportation Authority Skyway building, where sheet piling defines the edges of the waterway. The remainder of Phase Two consists of the channelized creek and adjacent upland and wetland habitat, with the western terminus at the I-95 overpass. McCoy’s Creek and riparian edge would be temporarily stabilized with Type 4 biodegradable rolled erosion control product (RECP). Utilizing historic aerials and documented site conditions, the wetland communities associated with McCoy’s Creek would be restored to their natural assemblages. In order to achieve this restoration, appropriate historic grades would be restored and planted with desirable native vegetation species. Existing wetlands are providing diminished functions and values due to decades of disturbance. These wetlands would be enhanced through nuisance/exotic vegetative species removal, re-grading to historic elevations, and the installation of desirable native vegetation. The removal of McCoy’s Creek Boulevard would take place in order to fully restore the floodplain on either side of the creek.

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:

Impacts to wetlands have been eliminated and reduced to the maximum extent practicable. Historically, this creek system naturally meandered and flooded adjacent wetlands. However, due to the surrounding development that has taken place since the early 1940s, the creek was relocated, and adjacent wetlands have been disturbed. To restore the original nature of the creek and surrounding wetlands, areas of adjacent uplands would be excavated to accept floodwaters from McCoy’s Creek, allowing for the original expanse of natural floodplain. The restoration of the creek to its natural meander and associated vegetative communities would enhance a downtown urban stream, providing higher quality habitats and wetlands associated with this system and its outfall into the St. Johns River. The temporary disturbance of current stream and

wetland conditions would ultimately lead to higher quality wetlands with a more naturalized community that would be able to support wetland and wildlife species. Environmental Resource Solutions concludes that the project has minimized its impacts to wetlands to the greatest extent practicable and would in fact enhance and create on-site wetlands.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:

The applicant proposes all work to be self-mitigating; therefore, the proposed project would not require mitigation. The proposed work would result in a net benefit of wetland functions and values, as the project includes creation of approximately 23.99 acres of wetlands and enhancement of approximately 28.26 acres of wetlands. The net benefits to the watershed would be increased flood control, improved water quality, enhanced wetland systems, and a significant increase in wetland habitat. This project would also provide improved nature recreation for the surrounding community to utilize.

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is aware of historic properties within or in close proximity of the permit area.  The Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as applicable pursuant to 33 CFR 325, Appendix C and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, by separate letter.


a. The Corps has determined the proposed project would have no effect on the West Indian Manatee (Trichecus manatus). The project site is not within an area accessible to manatees; however, the site is located in a Manatee Consultation Area and a Marine Protected Area for Florida 2013. In consideration of this information, the Corps utilized The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida, April 2013, to determine potential effects upon this species. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A > no effect. In consideration of the key sequence, additional coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is not required.

b. The Corps has determined the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana). The project site is within the 13 mile Woodstork Nesting Colony Buffer for the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens; therefore, this species may be present at the project site. In consideration of this information, the Corps utilized The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida, September 2008, to determine potential effects upon this species. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A > B > C > D > E >not likely to adversely affect due to the enhancement, restoration or creation in a project phased approach that provides an amount of habitat and foraging function equivalent to that of impacted Suitable Foraging Habitat, is not contrary to the FWS’ Habitat Management Guidelines for the Wood Stork in the Southeast Region, and in accordance with the Clean Water Act (ESA) Section 404(b)(1) guidelines. In consideration of the key sequence, additional coordination with the FWS is not required.

c. 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.  The environmental consultant did not indicate gopher tortoise burrows have been documented on site. In consideration of this information, 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 would be required to implement the Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake, August 12, 2013.  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.

d. Red Cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis):  The project site is approximately 11.88 miles northwest of the nearest identified nest or cluster location for Red Cockaded Woodpecker; and, within the consultation area identified by the FWS and the Corps for this species.  Habitat for Red Cockaded Woodpecker typically incorporates mature pine woodlands; and, optimal habitat is characterized as a broad savanna with a scattered overstory of large pines and a dense groundcover containing a diversity of grass and shrub species.  Nesting and roosting occur in cavity trees that are almost exclusively old, living, flat-topped pine trees.  The project site does not encompass typical or optimum habitat; or, trees capable of supporting cavities.  The Corps concludes that the project would have no effect on this species.

e. The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to affect the shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus), smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata). The project’s design falls under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District’s Programmatic Biological Opinion (JAXBO) and the associated Project Design Criteria. Therefore, additional coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service is not required.

f. The Corps executed a Resources At Risk (RAR) report on January 28, 2021. 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.  The proposal would impact approximately 7.57 acres of degraded estuarine and wetland habitat utilized by various life stages of shrimp and snapper/grouper complex associated with vegetated non forested wetlands and ditched, channelized creek that would undergo restoration.  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.

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 not been verified by Corps personnel.

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; by facsimile transmission at (904) 232-1940; or, by telephone at (904) 570-4512. 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.