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SAJ-2020-03722 (SP-EWG)

Jacksonville District
Published Nov. 29, 2021
Expiration date: 12/29/2021

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 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:          Ms. Melanie Weed

                          Pinellas County Environmental Management

                                22211 US Highway 19 North, Building 10

                               Clearwater, FL, 33765

WATERWAY AND LOCATION:  The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Grand Canal (Pine Key Cutoff), Dents Channel, Pass-A-Grille Channel & the Gulf of Mexico.  The dredging portion of the project is located at Grand Canal – Dents Channel, in Section 20, Township 32 South, Range 16 East, and the beach nourishment (disposal) portion of the project is located at Pass-A-Grille Beach, in Section 19, Township 32 South, Range 16 East, Pinellas County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows:  From I-275 in Tampa to St. Petersburg approximately 26 miles. Take Exit 17 to merge onto FL-682/54th Ave South / Pinellas Bayway towards St. Pete Beach. Turn left onto Gulf Boulevard. Continue onto Pass A Grille Way and turn right onto 11th avenue.



Project Component













(beach Nourishment)







Basic:  Dredging & Beach Nourishment

Overall:  To maintain safe navigable access from Dents Channel & Pine Key Cutoff (Grand Canal) to Pass-A-Grille Channel & the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, to provide donor sand Treasure Island and Long Key Beach Nourishment Project

EXISTING CONDITIONS:  Over the course of decades, Shell Key developed from the relict shoals of the historic Pass-A-Grille inlet system into a natural island, which has been managed by Pinellas County (County) since 2000 as the Shell Key Preserve (Preserve). As the island has been evolving and migrating landward, sediment moving eastward along the northern shoreline of the Preserve closed the former Shell Key North Pass (North Pass) and has started to shoal in the adjacent areas of Grand Canal (Dents Channel & Pine Key Cutoff).  Seagrasses exists outside of the dredging footprint or pipeline corridor. However, five distinct seagrass beds were found within 150 m of the proposed dredging activity. All the seagrass beds were found in the same area, to the north and east of the mouth of Grand Canal. Four of the seagrass beds consisted solely of Thalassia testudinum, and the fifth consisted of a mix of Thalassia testudinum and Halodule wrightii. Seagrass abundance across all five beds ranged from 0 to 85%, with a mean abundance of 28.4%.

The Treasure Island and Long Key shorelines are densely developed. The close proximity of development to the water line has exacerbated the effects of coastal erosion in this area by preventing the beach and dune system to naturally fluctuate and migrate. The Pass-A-Grille Beach Nourishment (disposal) area has been evaluated in a number of previous Corps and Pinellas County Beach Erosion Control Project (PCBECP) planning documents. This disposal area includes 13.6 acres of subtidal/unconsolidated sediment (below MHW) and 13.8 acres of beach habitat (above MHW). There are no benthic resources (seagrass or hardbottom) or designated critical habitat located within the permitted (and previously constructed) Pass-A-Grille Beach fill template. 

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to conduct an initial and periodic maintenance dredging (between 2 – 3 years intervals) of the Grand Canal Dredge Channel and create a Grand Canal Deposition Basin.  The dredge material would be placed in the Pass-A-Grille Beach fill template between R-160-200 and R-165+500. The Pass-A-Grille Beach fill template between R-160-200 and R-165+500 permitted by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Permit No. 0221569-016-JN and part of the federal Treasure Island and Long Key Beach Nourishment Project.

The Grand Canal Dredge Channel would be dredged and maintained to -11.5 ft NAVD with a 1 ft overdredge allowance to -12.5 ft NAVD. The 150-ft wide channel plus 1:3 side slopes cover 15.5 acres and contain approximately 12,000 cubic yards (CY) within the channel template based on February 2021 conditions.

The creation of the Grand Canal Deposition Basin would capture sediment moving east along northern Shell Key and delay infilling within the Grand Canal Dredge Channel. The proposed Grand Canal Deposition Basin will be dredged and maintained to -8.0 ft NAVD with a 1 ft overdredge allowance to -9.0 ft NAVD. As this area evolves, a portion of the deposition basin would have a dynamic boundary. The dynamic boundary intends to capture the greatest sand flow which occurs near shore while remaining outside of private parcels or drylands. At the time of construction, MHW (+0.34 ft NAVD) along northern Shell Key will be surveyed, and dredging will be offset from MHW by 25 feet to allow room for a 1:3 side slope between the current MHW and deposition basin’s -8.0 ft design elevation. The deposition basin plus side slopes covers 13.1 acres and contain approximately 57,000 CY based on February 2021 conditions. 

Material dredged as part of the Grand Canal maintenance dredging project (both the channel and deposition basin) will be placed on Pass-A-Grille Beach (between R-160-200 and R-165+500) within the fill placement area. This approximately 5,500 linear foot area encompasses approximately 27.5 acres (13.8 acres above MHW and 13.7 acres below MHW). The proposed disposal site is critically eroded, is proximal to the dredging project, and has ample capacity to receive material from this project (approximately 98,500 CY as of August 2020).

The County estimates that approximately 33,000 CY/year are moving east along northern Shell Key. Studies conducted by the County indicate that Grand Canal Dredge Channel infilling is delayed by the construction of the Grand Canal Deposition Basin, resulting in a potential project life of 2-3 years. Post-construction monitoring will analyze project performance, channel infilling rates, Northern Shell Key changes and allow for planning for future maintenance events.  The County proposes coordinating with the Corps before each Grand Canal dredging event to ensure capacity within the beach fill template for dredged material disposal.

Dredging operation would be completed using either a hydraulic cutterhead or mechanical dredge. If a hydraulic dredge is used, a submerged pipeline will be laid from Grand Canal to the Pass-A-Grille Beach disposal area (R-160-200 to R-165+500), avoiding any known SAV and utilizing authorized pipeline corridors to access the beach disposal area. The dredge will connect to the submerged pipeline by a floating line. Booster pumps and accessory vessels may be needed to accomplish the work. The project may also be performed by mechanical methods, with a bucket, backhoe, excavator, or similar equipment mounted on a barge. If this alternative method is used, the mechanical dredge would remove the material from the dredge areas and place it in a scow that would then be towed to the disposal area and emptied. Sand will be pumped onto the Pass-A-Grille beach fill area (R-160-200 to R-165+500), where it will be graded within the lines and grades of the permitted template.

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 Grand Canal Maintenance Dredging Project has been designed to avoid any impacts to seagrass resources in the project vicinity. Based on findings from Pinellas County's 2020 benthic survey, summarized in the "Grand Canal Dredging Project Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Survey Results" (January 2021), the Grand Canal dredge template was designed to avoid seagrass. The closest seagrass is located approximately 54 ft from the Grand Canal dredge template and at least 18 ft from the calculated side slopes (sloughing). Pinellas County will conduct pre- and post-construction monitoring of seagrass within the 150 m mixing zone of the dredge area.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:  The proposed project will not impact any resources; therefore, no compensatory mitigation is proposed

CULTURAL RESOURCES:  State of Florida Division of Historical Resources (DHR) letter dated December 9, 2020, DHR Project File No.: 2020-7142 states that “the area was extensively modified during the original Tierra Shores and Tierra Verde developments. Although there are two archaeological sites recorded in the Florida Master Site File in the vicinity of the project, PI51 and PI1691, both sites appear to be destroyed by the previous development.” Also, “our office does not recommend a cultural resources assessment survey for the project area and it is our opinion that the project is unlikely to affect historic properties.” The Corps has determined the permit area has been extensively modified by previous work and there is little likelihood a historic property may be affected. Also, DHR letter of August 3, 2017 (Project File No.: 2010-3879) “the proposed project will have no effect on historic properties” for the beach nourishment fill template.

ENDANGERED SPECIES:  The Corps made the following determinations pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The Corps has determined the proposed project “May affect, not likely to adversely affect” the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), Piping Plover (Aphelocoma coerulescens), Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), Smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) (STSF) and the Red knot (Calidris canutus rufa).

Piping Plover (Aphelocoma coerulescens): The project area is located within the Piping Plover Consultation Area. According to the 22 May 2013 Programmatic Piping Plover Biological Opinion, Piping Plover habitat includes publicly owned land where coastal processes are allowed to function, mostly unimpeded. It generally does include public lands consisting of parks, preserves, and natural undeveloped shorelines and dunes. Piping Plover wintering habitat includes beaches, mudflats, sandflats, and barrier island beaches and spoils islands (Haig 1992). Piping Plover can be seen on ocean beaches and sand or algal flats in protected bays (Wilkinson and Spinks 1994). The project boundaries are within such habitats. The Applicant agreed that the Corps would include Reasonable and Prudent measures in the P3BO to the project proposal.  Therefore, based on the P3BO, the Corps has determined that the proposed project “May affect, not likely to adversely affect” is appropriate, and consistent with the P3BO. No further  consultation for the Piping Plover is not required. On August 7, 2017 FWS issued a Biological Opining (BO) FWS Log No. 04EF1000-2017-F-0070 that covers the Piping Plover.

Red knot (Calidris canutus rufa): The Corps has made the determination of “may affect, not likely to adversely affect” (MANLAA) for the Red knot. Critical habitat for the red knot has not been designated or proposed.  Consultation with USFWS is complete by Biological Opining (BO) FWS Log No. 04EF1000-2017-F-0070 received by correspondence dated August 7, 2017. The applicant will follow the Reasonable and Prudent Measures, and requirements of the BO.

West Indian (Florida) manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris): The Corps has made the determination of “may affect, not likely to adversely affect” (MANLAA) for the West Indian manatee and its designated critical habitat. The Corps has concurrence with this determination pursuant to the Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida, April 2013 (Manatee Key). Use of the Manatee Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A>B>C>G>N>O>P(12) MANLAA, with no further consultation necessary. This determination is based on the applicant following the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work, 2011 for the proposed activity.

Nesting Sea Turtles: The Corps has determined the proposed project “May affect, not likely to adversely affect” the Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), and the Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta). Consultation with USFWS is complete by Biological Opining (BO) FWS Log No. 04EF1000-2017-F-0070 received by correspondence dated August 7, 2017. In order to minimize take of nesting and hatchling sea turtles, the USACE will abide by the terms and conditions in the Statewide Programmatic Biological Opinion (SPBO; USFWS, 2015).

Note: On September 30, 2020, FWS Log No. 04EF1000-2020-E-01929 reviewed the Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment (EA) with Proposed Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) Manatee County Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Pinellas County, Florida Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) feasibility study and its effects on nesting sea turtles: loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), piping plover (Charadrius melodus), rufa red knot (Calidris canutus rufa) and West Indian (Florida) manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris). The minimization measures, reasonable and prudent measures, and terms and conditions in the SPBO, P3BO, and Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work must be adhered to. The FWS determined that it is appropriate to apply to the SPBO and the P3BO by the Corps, and concurred with these defeminations.

Smalltooth sawfish and Swimming Sea Turtles:  The Corps utilized the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Jacksonville District’s Programmatic Biological Opinion (JAXBO), dated November 2017, to analyze the effects from 10 categories of minor in-water activities occurring in Florida and the U.S. Caribbean on sea turtles (loggerhead, leatherback, Kemp's ridley, hawksbill, and green); smalltooth sawfish; Nassau grouper; scalloped hammerhead shark, Johnson's seagrass; sturgeon (Gulf, shortnose, and Atlantic); corals (elkhorn, staghorn, boulder star, mountainous star, lobed star, rough cactus, and pillar); whales (North Atlantic right whale, sei, blue, fin, and sperm); and designated critical habitat for Johnson's seagrass; smalltooth sawfish; sturgeon (Gulf and Atlantic); sea turtles (green, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead); North Atlantic right whale; and corals (elkhorn and staghorn) in accordance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The Corps has determined that the proposed project falls within the scope of the JAXBO. 

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.

Navigation:  Based on the Florida State Plane coordinates provided by the applicant, the waterward edge of the proposed project is 0.0 Nautical Miles away from the near bottom edge of the Intracoastal Waterway Federal channel.

SECTION 408: The applicant will require permission under Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (33 USC 408) because the activity, in whole or in part, would 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.  The jurisdictional line [has/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 District Engineer through the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610-8302 within 21 days from the date of this notice. Comments can also be submitted by electronic mail to with the project number, SAJ-2020-03722, in the subject line.

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, Edgar W. Garcia by electronic mail at, or in writing at the Tampa Permits Office at 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610, or by telephone at 813-769-7062.

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.

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