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:
c/o Becky Hope, Environmental Manager
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Biscayne Bay, the North Port Channel, and Government Cut. The project site is located on the north side of PortMiami (Dodge and Lummus Islands) in Miami, Section 37, Township 54 South, Range 42 East in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-95, take SR 836, I-395 east to US-1 south to Port Boulevard east onto the Port of Miami. The Project is located on the north side of the Port.
LATITUDE & LONGITUDE: Latitude: 25.774167º
Longitude: - 80.163611º
Basic: The basic project purpose is shoreline stabilization/bulkhead replacement.
Overall: The overall project purpose is shoreline stabilization/bulkhead replacement at an existing port in Miami-Dade County, FL.
PROPOSED WORK: The permittee received authorization to construct the program in up to four (4) phases over a 10-year period. Phase 1 includes 1,918 linear feet of bulkhead and 275 linear feet of riprap shoreline to be replaced by 1,925 linear feet of bulkhead. Phase 1 will require dredging an area (approximately 142,295 ft2) behind the existing bulkhead and into the existing riprap area east of the bulkhead and filling an area (approximately 10,162 ft2) behind a new bulkhead on the western end. Phase 2 includes 1,452 linear feet of riprap being replaced by 1,687 linear feet of bulkhead requiring approximately 267,206 ft2 of dredging. Phase 3 includes a 262 linear foot extension west of the bulkhead created in Phase 1 and fill of an approximate 47,000 ft2 area behind the new bulkhead. Phase 4 includes the replacing of the existing 6,480 linear feet of bulkhead approximately 50 feet north of its existing location requiring approximately 352,000 ft2 of fill area. Phases may be combined or constructed over the years to accommodate the existing cruise commerce at the Port.
The Permittee is requesting a modification to the work associated with the permit. This request related to Phases 3 and 4 (Berths 1-6) of the original permit and can be broken down into 3 parts: (1) combining Phases 3 and 4 with certain overall impact reductions, (2) construction methodology changes, and (3) a time extension.
1. The initial Phase 4 (Berths 1-6) and Phase 3 (extension of Berth 7) have been combined into one construction phase (Phase 3+4) and is planned to begin in 2023. Phase 3 will no longer go out 178 ft waterward, but rather only 54 ft (to match the alignment of Phase 4 extension) and Phase 4 has been extended 40 ft west from the western limits of Berth 1 (to align with the Berth H project). This results in a total reduction of bulkhead length by approximately 100 ft, and a reduction of approximately 11,000 sq ft of filled submerged lands.
2. Since originally planned, the bulkhead construction methodology for this combined Phase 3+4 has been modified. Most notably, the port will be installing caissons instead of traditional king and sheet pile structures. This requires excavation in the berthing areas to level the area in advance of caisson placement and minimizes noise impacts associated with pile driving.
3. Since it is projected that this project will take up to 7 years to complete as individual berths are completed sequentially on an annual basis, a time extension is also being requested. This request is for a five (5) year time extension, or until May 31, 2032, in case there is any unanticipated slippage in the program schedule.
EXISTING CONDITIONS (from previous public notice): The intertidal area within the riprap contains one small black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) tree and one small white mangrove (Laguncularia
racemosa) tree (one in Berth 7 and one in Berth 8). No seagrasses were found in recent surveys within the project area. Some of the project area is 30 feet water depth or greater along the existing seawall. The area around the existing rip rap was also surveyed and no seagrasses were found.
A survey of the coral species was performed within the project area. The initial survey of the Berth 7 bulkhead documented a total of 72 individual (greater than 10 cm) coral colonies comprised of nine coral species growing on the bulkhead wall within the survey zones evaluated. In addition to these corals, several small colonies (below 10cm) of Isophyllastrea rigida (rough star coral) were observed colonizing the bulkhead wall. The majority (~70%) of significant corals were observed in the top 5-foot survey zone on the bulkhead wall. The number of coral colonies in each zone decreased with depth. Extrapolating this to the total area of the bulkhead, it is estimated that there may be approximately 220 colonies on the Berth 7 bulkhead. Of note, is the presence of three colonies of Orbicella sp. (boulder star coral), which is a listed species.
Two transects were conducted within the rip-rap area in Berth 7 to document corals greater than 10 cm representing a survey of approximately 40% of the total submerged riprap area in Berth 7. Nine coral species (six scleractinians and three octocorals) were observed within the Berth 7 transects. Extrapolating this to the total area of the riprap, it is estimated that there may be approximately 190 colonies on the Berth 7 riprap area.
The survey of corals within Berth 8 is ongoing. To date, a total of 17 individual coral colonies comprised of nine coral species (four scleractinian species and five octocoral genera) were documented growing on the Berth 8 substrate within the survey zones evaluated. The corals observed in this area were dominated by octocorals, which comprised ~76% of the corals documented.
Extrapolation estimates approximately 750 coral colonies on the bulkheads for phases 1- 4 and approximately 1,000 coral colonies on the Berth 7 and 8 riprap areas.
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:
“An Alternatives Analysis was provided that discusses those measures reviewed to design the project that causes the least environmental impacts, but meets the safety requirements of the Port and the cruise industry…
Dispersal of suspended sediment and silt material will be minimized to the extent feasible by the use of silt curtains, including weighted turbidity skirts or pile-supported turbidity curtains. Turbidity from surface water runoff from upland work will be controlled using standard retention and filtering practices and equipment.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“The authorized coral relocation plan is still in effect, this modification request does not impact the plan.”
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 (from previous public notice): A preliminary review the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Protected Resource Divisions (NMFS-PRD)’s list of Endangered and Threatened Species indicates the following listed species may occur in the project area:
West Indian Manatee: The Corps has determined the project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” (MANLAA) the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) or its designated critical habitat. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter
Smalltooth Sawfish and Swimming Sea Turtles: The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) and their critical habitat, hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), Kemp’s ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii), leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), and smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata). The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service’s concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
Federally Listed Corals: The Corps has determined the project will have “No effect” on elkhorn and staghorn corals (Acropora palmata, Acropora cervicornis) and their designated critical habitat. However, the proposed project “may affect but is not likely to adversely affect” the 5 listed coral species found in Dade-County: pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus), lobed star coral (Orbicella annularis), mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata), knobby star coral (Orbicella franksi), and rough cactus coral (Mycetophyllia ferox). The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service’s concurrence pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
Johnson’s Seagrass: The Corps has determined that the project will have “no effect” Johnson’s seagrass (Halophila johnsonii) or its designated critical habitat.
This notice serves as request for information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Protected Resource Division, and any other interested party, on whether any species listed or proposed for listing may be present in the area.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH) (from previous public notice): 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 short-term impact from project construction would be the loss of the community of attached plants (e.g., algae) and invertebrates (e.g., sponges, bryozoans, oysters, tunicates, and soft and hard corals) on the bulkheads (Phases 1, 3, and 4) and the riprap (Phases 1 and 2). In phase 1, the proposal would impact approximately 1.09 acres of bulkhead and 0.53 acres of riprap utilized by various life stages of invertebrates and fishes that may use those areas. In phase 2, the proposal would impact approximately 2.89 acres of riprap utilized by various life stages of invertebrates and fishes that may use those areas. In phase 3, the proposal would impact approximately 0.35 acres of bulkhead rap utilized by various life stages of invertebrates and fishes that may use those areas. In phase 4, the proposal would impact approximately 5.77 acres of bulkhead utilized by various life stages of invertebrates and fishes that may use those areas. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in Biscayne Bay. 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 application should be submitted in writing to the District Engineer at the above address within 15 days from the date of this notice.
If you have any questions concerning this application, you may contact Megan L. Clouser at the letterhead address, by electronic mail at Megan.L.Clouser@usace.army.mil, by fax at 305-526-7184, or by telephone at 305-526-7182.
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.
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 decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act 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.