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) and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
APPLICANT: Hammock Dunes Owners’ Association, Inc.
Attention: Ralph Dumke
21 Montilla Place
Palm Coast, Florida 32137
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Atlantic Ocean. The project site is located along 2.3 miles of shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean between Jungle Hut Road and Varn Park, which is between Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Coastal Range (R) Monuments R-35.1 and R-47.9, in Sections 3, 4, 10, 15, Township 11 South, Range 31 East, Palm Coast, Flagler County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Flagler Beach Florida (south of site): Drive north on Florida A1A for 5.3 miles toward Varn Park. Varn Park is the southern limit of the project site. To reach the northern limit of the project site, continue north on A1A for 3.1 miles and turn right onto Jungle Hut Road. Continue east on Jungle Hut Road for 0.7 miles to reach Jungle Hut Park (northern limit of project). The project site is the
2.3-mile shoreline reach bounded to the north by Jungle Hut Park and the south by Varn Park. These limits are approximately Florida Department of Environmental Protection Coastal Range Monuments R-35.1 to R-47.9.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is shoreline stabilization.
Overall: The overall project purpose is shoreline stabilization along the Atlantic Ocean Shoreline between R-35.1 and R-47.9 in Palm Coast, Flagler County, Florida.
PROJECT HISTORY: Beach renourishment was previously authorized to Flagler County Board of County Commissioners (SAJ-2017-01052) at this site on September 5, 2017, with expiration September 6, 2027 between portions of R-2 and R-100. The work authorized sand placement landward of the mean high waterline, but waterward of the high tide line. One prior sand placement event occurred under SAJ-2017-01052. This placement was between January 2018 and February 2019 when Flagler County placed approximately 407,200-cubic-yards of sand to restore roughly 11.4 miles of dune between R-3 and R-65 in response to the damages caused by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Of this amount, approximately 110,000-cubic-yards were placed as dune fill along the Hammock Dunes shoreline between R-36 and R-47. No other renourishment events have occurred under this project number along the Hammock Dunes shoreline to date.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The onsite ecosystems consist of unvegetated beach and remnant dunes. The waters of the United States consist of the Atlantic Ocean saltwater system between the mean high-water line and the high tide line. The existing area surrounding the project area consists of single-family residences, condominiums, commercial businesses, and public parks. From the western to eastern borders of the dune fill project sand placement area, the natural communities, based on the Florida Land Cover Classification System (FLUCCS) can be described as Coastal Scrub (FLUCCS 322, approximately 9.0 acres) and Sand Beach – Dry (FLUCCS 181, approximately 12.3 acres). The project does not seek to change the community classification from pre to post-construction.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks a 10-year authorization to discharge approximately 110,000-cubic-yards of upland sourced sand waterward of the high tide line, but landward of the mean high-water line, along a 2.3-mile shoreline between FDEP monuments R-35.1 and R-47.9. The dune design is intended to replicate dune conditions that existed prior to erosion caused by Hurricane Matthew (2016), Irma (2017), and Dorian (2019). The applicant proposes to initiate construction in 2022 or 2023 for initial project construction and is requesting authorization for up to 4 additional renourishment/maintenance events over the duration of the permit authorization.
Dune Template: All sand placements would occur above the mean high-water line (+1.52 ft, NAVD88), but below the high tide line. Upon completion of sand placement, the upper area of the dune would be planted with appropriate salt-tolerant vegetation, concurrent with that of the native dune. It is acknowledged that future fill sand and vegetation needs/quantities may vary at the time of construction and would be updated with a pre-construction survey. The proposed sand dune template for this project is consistent with the pre-Matthew dune configuration and the recommended template of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Statewide Programmatic Biological Opinion 2015 (SPBO). The project features a varying dune crest width at elevations approximately equal to the pre-Matthew dune profile (typically +17 to +22 ft NAVD88), a seaward slope of 1(v):1.5(h) to elevation +14.0 ft, and thence sloping at 1(v):5(h) to intersect the existing (April 2021) beach profile grade above the MHW line. The project would seek to minimize impacts to mature dune vegetation where feasible.
Sand Sources: Material for the dune project would be obtained from upland sand mines that are identical to and previously identified in Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL) Permit FL-410. Sand from upland mines would be obtained from one or more commercial mines in north and central Florida. The five proposed mines include: (1) Vulcan – Goldhead; (2) Vulcan – Keuka; (3) Vulcan – Grandin; (4) Cemex – Davenport; and (5) E.R. Jahna – Independent North. Sand from the upland mines would be transported to beach access points along the Hammock Dunes shoreline by highway trucks. The material would be temporarily stored at the access points and re-handled to off-road trucks for transport to the required fill locations. Once material is placed on the beach it would be graded and shaped to the required configuration, according to the prescribed construction template. It is anticipated that additional consolidation and compaction of the beach fill would occur following initial placement. To accommodate this, the requisite (“in-place”) fill volume may be sized appropriately based on the anticipated compaction of the bulked upland material. The degree of mechanical and natural consolidation of material following placement is not expected to have an adverse effect on sea turtle nesting conditions. Nonetheless, standard post-construction compaction monitoring and tilling conditions of the SPBO would be followed.
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:
“The proposed dune restoration project would only place sand above (landward of) the mean high-water line and therefore avoid/minimize impacts to nearby waters.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
“The proposed project would place sand completely above (landward of) the MHW line that exists at the time of sand placement and would not impact any wetland or hardbottom communities. The project seeks to reestablish the dune to pre-Hurricane Matthew conditions, and it is determined that no compensatory
mitigation shall be required.”
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.
a. West Indian Manatee (Trichecus manatus): The Corps has determined the proposed project would not affect the West Indian Manatee. The project site is within a Manatee Consultation Area. Therefore, 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 as the manatee would not have access to waters above the mean high tide line and below the high tide line. In consideration of the key sequence, additional coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is not required.
b. Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens): The project site is within a consultation area identified by the Corps and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for this species. Therefore, this species could utilize the area encompassed by the ESA scope of analysis for this project; and the Corps evaluated potential effects to this species. Information from FWS indicates that the Florida Scrub Jay has extremely specific habitat requirements. It is endemic to peninsular Florida inhabiting fire dominated, low-growing, oak scrub habitat found on well-drained sandy soils. The species may persist in areas with sparser oaks or scrub areas that are overgrown, but at much lower densities and with reduced survivorship. According to FWS, bare sand patches are essential for foraging and acorn-caching. Scrub habitat is a community composed of evergreen shrubs, with or without a canopy of pines, and is found on dry, infertile, sandy ridges. The signature scrub species, three species of shrubby oaks, Florida rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides), and sand pine (Pinus clausa), are common to scrubs throughout the state. The dominance of these species, however, is variable from site to site. The most common form is oak scrub, dominated by three species of shrubby oaks – myrtle oak (Quercus myrtifolia), sand live oak (Quercus geminata), and Chapman’s oak (Quercus chapmanii) -- plus rusty staggerbush (Lyonia ferruginea) and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). Due to the proposed work being between the mean high-water line and the high tide line, scrub jay habitat is absent from the project area. Therefore, the Corps has determined the proposed project would have no effect on the avian species.
c. Rufa Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa) and Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus): The Corps has determined that the proposed work may affect, but would be not likely to adversely affect the Rufa Red Knot and the Piping Plover. The project site is host to beach habitat; therefore, the Corps utilized Piping Plover Programmatic Biological Opinion May 22, 2013, to determine potential effects upon this species. The project would follow the Project Design Criteria in the P3BO for the Piping Plover and those same PDCs would be applied for the Rufa Red Knot. In consideration of the PDCs the Corps has determined that the project may affect, but not likely to adversely affect these species; therefore, the Corps will open Section 7 informal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for concurrence with this determination.
d. Wood Stork (Mycteria americana): The proposed project site is approximately 6 miles southeast of an active Wood Stork colony; and, within the core forage area of that colony. Therefore, this species could be present within the project area. In consideration of this information, the Corps utilized The Corps of Engineers,
Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville Ecological Services Office and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork, September 2008 (Key), to determine the potential effects on the species. Use of the Key resulted in the sequence A-B no effect.
e. Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate), Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta): The project site is located on beaches utilized for nesting sea turtles. Therefore, this species could be present within the project area. In consideration of this information, the Corps utilized the Statewide Programmatic Biological Opinion 2015 (SPBO) to determine the potential effects on the species. The proposed sand dune template for this project is consistent with the pre-Matthew dune configuration and the recommended template of the USFWS Statewide Programmatic Biological Opinion (SPBO). The project features a varying dune crest width at elevations approximately equal to the pre-Matthew dune profile (typically +17 to +22 ft NAVD88), a seaward slope of 1(v):1.5(h) to elevation +14.0 ft, and thence sloping at 1(v):5(h) to intersect the existing (April 2021) beach profile grade above the MHW line. The cross-shore position of the dune crest seaward edge is fixed in geographic space. The project would seek to minimize impacts to mature dune vegetation where feasible. The Corps has determined that the proposed work would follow the PDCs of the SPBO; therefore, in consideration of the PDCs, the Corps has determined that the project may affect, but not likely to adversely affect these species. The Corps will open Section 7 informal consultation with the FWS for concurrence with this determination.
f. 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.
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 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 Jax Permits Section, 701 San Marco Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207-8175, 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 Mashour, in writing at the Jax Permits Section, 701 San Marco Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207-8175; by electronic mail at Terri.M.Mashour@usace.army.mil or by telephone at (904)570-4512.
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.