TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: To simplify and speed processing of Department of the Army permits, the Jacksonville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) proposes to reissue Programmatic General Permit (PGP) SAJ-67 for minor activities in Lake Okeechobee and the Okeechobee Waterway. The current PGP is set to expire on April 24, 2022. The proposed reissuance removes the installation of subaqueous utility lines, adds the activity of private, single-family boat ramps, and updates and reorganizes the terms and conditions. The list of minor activities that would be covered under this PGP include the following:
1) placement of riprap revetments,
2) maintenance dredging,
3) maintenance of boat slips,
4) construction of minor structures,
5) construction and/or maintenance of single-family mooring facilities (i.e., docks and piers),
6) construction and/or maintenance of private multi-family mooring facilities (docks and piers) having a surface area of 1,000 square feet or less, and
7) construction and maintenance of private, single-family boat ramps.
The list of activities would occur within navigable waters of the United States identified under the Lake Okeechobee and Okeechobee Waterway Shoreline Management Plan (SMP), August 2003, or most current version. This area is defined by Lake Okeechobee and the Lake Okeechobee Waterway, between St. Lucie Lock (in Martin County) and W.P. Franklin Lock (in Lee County), Florida.
BACKGROUND: On April 24, 2017, the Jacksonville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reissued the above PGP for minor activities in Lake Okeechobee and the Okeechobee Waterway. This PGP was originally issued on February 14, 2007 and re-issued in 2012 and 2017 pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. This PGP is administered by the Jacksonville District’s Operations Division in coordination with Regulatory Division. Estimates over the past year indicate that approximately 380 shoreline activities under this permit were verified. The Corps anticipates continued utilization of this PGP to address future requests for minor work within the project area limits. This PGP improves efficiencies for the review and verification of minor activities, thus improving service to the regulated public. This PGP will be coordinated with Federal and State resource agencies to address Federal laws such as the Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act.
The Jacksonville District has issued a State PGP (or SPGP), which authorizes the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to issue Department of the Army permits for minor activities within the majority of the State of Florida. The activities proposed for re-issuance under PGP SAJ-67 will require coordination with Operations Division for compliance with the SMP.
The term “General Permit” means a Department of the Army authorization that is issued on a nationwide or regional (District) basis for a category of activities when: those activities are substantially similar in nature and cause only minimal individual and cumulative impacts. General permits are a way to reduce the burden of the regulatory program on the public and ensure timely issuance of permits while effectively administering the laws and regulations which establish and govern the program. General permits are reviewed every five years. After five years general permits may be re-issued, suspended, or revoked.
An assessment of the cumulative impacts of work authorized under a general permit is performed prior to authorization. In most instances, projects which comply with the conditions of a general permit can receive project specific authorization. Projects that do not comply with the conditions of a general permit may still receive authorization via a “standard permit”, but the application must be individually evaluated and coordinated with third parties, including the Federal and State resource agencies. Review of an application for a “standard permit” takes additional time to complete as conflict resolution may be required.
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION – This PGP re-issuance removes any fill in wetlands and construction of new boat ramps. No fill in wetlands is proposed with this PGP. Only minor fill in navigable waters would occur as a result of rip-rap revetment activities. All activities must comply with the Lake Okeechobee and Okeechobee Waterway SMP.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – No activities would be authorized in wetlands or any other special aquatic site. Fill in waters, associated with rip-rap revetments, would be limited to 500 feet in length and not exceed 1 cubic yard per running foot, including any backfill below the plane of the ordinary high-water line. Due to the minor nature of impacts, and no impacts to wetlands, no mitigation will be required for the proposed activities.
CULTURAL RESOURCES – The Corps has evaluated the undertaking for effects to historic properties as required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and has followed the guidelines of 33 CFR Part 325, Appendix C. The permit area has been extensively modified by previous work and there is little likelihood a historic property may be affected. Additionally, the activity is of such limited scope there is little likelihood of impact upon a historic property; therefore, the Corps has determined that the project would have No Potential to Cause Effects to Historic Properties.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee and the Everglade snail kite or its designated critical habitat. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any other 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. The proposal would impact approximately unconsolidated bottom in the freshwater habitat of Lake Okeechobee. 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.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of Krista Sabin at firstname.lastname@example.org 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, Krista Sabin, by electronic mail at email@example.com or, by telephone at (561)335-8099.
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.
WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION: This public notice serves as the notification to the EPA pursuant to section 401(a)(2) of the Clean Water Act. Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
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.