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) Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act as described below:
Jacksonville Port Authority
Attn: James Bennett
2831 Talleyrand Avenue
Jacksonville, FL 32206
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The proposed dredging would affect waters of the United States associated with the St. Johns River abutting the south side of Blount Island. Specifically, the applicant proposes to dredge JAXPORT berths 33, 34, and 35.
Directions to the site are as follows: From East Beltway Interstate 295 take Heckscher Drive eastbound to Dave Rawls Boulevard, then continue south to Container Way.
Basic: The basic project purpose is dredging to increase navigable capacity.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to dredge to increase the navigable capacity of berths adjacent to the deepened Jacksonville Harbor Federal Channel.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: JAXPORT Berths 33, 34, and 35 are currently constructed to -40 mean low low water (MLLW) feet plus 2 feet of over depth. The benthic conditions of the proposed dredge area consist of unconsolidated substrate and rock consisting primarily of loose to firm silts, shell, and sands, and underlying soft to hard limestone rock.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to dredge approximately 350,000 cubic yards of material from JAXPORT Berths 33, 34, and 35 to a depth of -50 feet MLLW with an allowable over-depth of 2 ft. Furthermore, the applicant seeks authorization to transport the dredge material to the Jacksonville Offshore Dredged Material Disposal Site (ODMDS) for disposal. The equipment to be used for the proposed dredging activities includes mechanical (clamshell, excavator), hopper, and cutterhead dredges and drag bar for bed-leveling activities.
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:
In order to avoid impacts to the aquatic environment, the applicant selected a dredge template that does not support aquatic resources such as sea grass, corals, or live hardbottom. The proposed dredge area has been subject to previous dredging, and regular commercial vessel disturbance. The area is of unnatural depth and exhibits a bare bottom of primarily unconsolidated material. Thus, the proposed project would not impact high quality aquatic resources.
In order to minimize impacts to the aquatic environment, the applicant would adhere to the terms and conditions of the State of Florida Water Quality Certification for the proposed project to ensure that the proposed project would not result in a water quality decline in the vicinity of the project site.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION –The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required: The proposed dredge template consists of unconsolidated sand bottom at a depth that does not support seagrass, corals, or live hardbottom. Thus, the applicant stated that compensatory mitigation is not warranted for the proposed project.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps determined that the proposed work would have no adverse effect on historic properties. By letter dated January 3, 2019, the State Historic Preservation Officer concurred with this determination under file number DHR File number 2017-5655-C. 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 determined that the project may affect, not likely to adversely affect (MANLAA) the West Indian Manatee. By letter dated March 12, 2019, the Corps received U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with this determination. Reference FWS Log No. 04EF1000-2019-1-0162. The applicant would adhere to the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work, 2011 as well as additional conditions for observers, nighttime illumination, and various restrictions on gravity releases of any clam shell dredge in accordance with this letter.
The Corps determined that the proposed project may affect, not likely to adversely affect the following species or any designated critical habitat: Sea turtles (Kemps Ridley, Green, Hawksbill, Leatherback, Loggerhead), North Atlantic Right Whale, Shortnose Sturgeon, and Atlantic Sturgeon. The applicant proposes to adhere to the criteria provided in the Jacksonville Harbor Deepening and Widening Project, Duval County, Florida Revised Biological Opinion, National Marine Fisheries Service, 2014. The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
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 25.35 acres of EFH consisting of marine water column and primarily unconsolidated substrate. The following species may utilize the project area Brown Shrimp (Farfantepenaeus aztecus), Pink Shrimp (Farfantepenaeus setiferus), White Shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus), Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus), Black Seabass (Centropristis striata), Mutton Snapper (Lutjanus analis), Gray Snapper (Lutjanus griseus), Lane Snapper (Lutjanus synagris), Yellowtail Snapper (Lutjanus chrysurus). Our determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean. The habitat quality within the dredge template is low. The berths the applicant seeks to dredge are of unnatural depth, and subject to frequent disturbance due to commercial vessel traffic. By letter dated December 4, 2018 National Marine Fisheries Service concurred with this determination. Our final determination relative to project impacts and the need for any additional mitigation measures is subject to review by and coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
CONCURRENCY: The Corps has determined that based on the analysis of the dredge materials, as required, the dredge material is acceptable for ocean disposal. This determination is based on analysis of sediments collected following the “Green Book” methodologies and summary in the Testing section above. The Corps will submit to EPA a 103 Evaluation Report and a request for concurrence that the dredged materials are suitable for disposal at the Jacksonville Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site ODMDS.
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 Tampa Permits Section, Gainesville Field Office, 2833 NW 41st Street, Unit 130, Gainesville, FL 32606 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, James Davidson, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, Gainesville Field Office, 2833 NW 41st Street, Unit 130, Gainesville, FL 32606 by electronic mail at email@example.com; by facsimile transmission at (352)264-7733; or, by telephone at (352)264-7672.
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.