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SAJ-2020-03075 (SCW)

USACE - REGULATORY
Published July 29, 2021
Expiration date: 8/28/2021

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:  Otter Sink, LLC
                       871 NW Guerdon Street
                       Lake City, Florida 32055

LOCATION: The proposed project, identified as the 8,807.3-acre Otter Sink Mitigation Bank (OSMB), is located within Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, and 35 of Township 12 South, and Range 12 East, Dixie County, Florida.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:  Latitude: 29.424421°
                                                                          Longitude: -83.106084°

PROSPECTUS SUMMARY: Pursuant to 33 CFR 332.8(d)(4), the Corps has posted a full copy of the OSMB 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 “Otter Sink 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 OSMB 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 8,807.3-acre property. The primary ecological goal of the OSMB is to support wetland functions, plant communities, and wildlife habitats through the implementation of hydrologic enhancements and habitat preservation in a variety of ecotypes. Specific restoration objectives include:

• enhancement of approximately 2,538.3 acres of basin marsh wetlands
• enhancement of approximately 441.2 acres of hydric hammock wetlands
• preservation of approximately 1,603.5 acres of basin marsh wetlands
• preservation of approximately 2.5 acres of depression marsh wetlands
• preservation of approximately 3.5 acres of shrub bog wetlands
• enhancement of approximately 3753.6 acres of mesic flatwood uplands
• enhancement of approximately 312 acres of mesic hammock uplands
• preservation of approximately 3.7 acres of mesic hammock uplands

ECOLOGICAL SUITABILITY OF THE SITE: A review of available information indicates that the property historically consisted of pine flatwoods, basin marsh, hydric hammock, wet pine flatwoods, and cypress swamp ecosystems. Silvicultural activities (logging, construction of logging road, etc.) within the boundaries of the proposed OSMB is visible on aerial photographs beginning in the early 1950s. The Sponsor states that the EMMB has been identified as an excellent potential mitigation bank because of its location in the Suwannee River Watershed and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and will provide quality habitat and connectivity for native species in an area with existing conservation land.

ESTABLISHMENT AND OPERATION OF THE BANK: The proposed OSMB would be established and operated by Otter Sink, LLC as the Sponsor with the assistance of Environmental Research and Technology, LLC and Environmental Consulting and Design, Inc. The property that comprises the OSMB is owned by Anderson Land & Timber Company. The OSMB is proposed to be established as a single and complete project. Following OSMB successful implementation and attainment of final success criteria, long-term management activities will be implemented in order to ensure the sustainability of OSMB. In addition, the Sponsor will provide sufficient financial assurances to ensure construction and long-term management of the proposed OSMB.

PROPOSED SERVICE AREA: The project is located within the Johnson Creek-Bumblebee Creek Frontal (identified as Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 031101020903), and the Suwannee River (HUC 031102050805) Subwatersheds, which are part of the larger Econfina-Steinhatchee (HUC 03110102) and Lower Suwannee River (HUC 03110205) Subbasins, respectively. The Applicant proposes a Mitigation Service Area (MSA) that is coincident with the Econfina-Steinhatchee and Lower Suwannee River Subbasins. The OSMB MSA is anticipated to include wetland habitat communities that could reasonably be expected to occur on the OSMB.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.