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 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
Tampa Electric Company
Attn: Stanley Kroh
702 North Franklin Street
Tampa, FL 33602
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with a manmade canal opening to the Gulf of Mexico. The project site is located at the TECO Manatee Viewing Center, 6990 Blackman Road, in Section 16, Township 31 South, Range 19 East, Apollo Beach, Hillsborough County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Take Exit 246 off Interstate 75 to Big Bend Road. Turn left onto Big Bend Road. Turn right onto Wyandotte Road. The project site is on the left.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is waterway observation.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to provide an extended observation platform for an existing manatee viewing center at the project site.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site supports an existing, previously authorized manatee observation platform within an existing, tidally influenced discharge canal which opens to the Gulf of Mexico. The applicant seeks to expand the existing platform. The proposed structure would extend into the open waters of the south side of the canal. The expansion would protrude 152 feet into a point on the canal that is approximately 370 feet wide from the existing observation platform across the canal to the opposing seawall on the north canal bank.
The proposed platform location does not support submerged aquatic vegetation, mangroves, live hardbottom, and/or corals.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct a T-shape, pile-supported extension onto an existing observation pier consisting of a 12-foot-wide by 140-foot-long access pier constructed perpendicular to the existing observation pier and a 12-foot-wide by 50-foot-long terminal platform constructed perpendicular to the end of the access pier and parallel to the existing observation platform.
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: In order to avoid and minimize impacts to the aquatic environment, the applicant proposes to construct the observation platform in a location that does not support submerged aquatic vegetation, mangroves, live hardbottom, and/or corals.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required: The applicant offered that compensatory mitigation is not warranted for the proposed project because the proposed observation platform location does not support submerged aquatic vegetation, mangroves, live hardbottom, and/or corals.
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. Due to the previous dredging of the manmade canal at the project site which likely destroyed any such resources in the vicinity of the proposed work, the Corps has determined that the project would have No Potential to Cause Effect to Historic Properties.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: Since the proposal by the applicant is for in-water construction, potential impacts to the endangered West Indian manatee were evaluated using The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida, April 2013 (Key). Use of this Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A>B(7); may affect. The proposed project involves in-water work within a Warm Water Aggregation Area. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
The Corps has determined the proposal is not likely to adversely affect the Wood stork (Mycteria americana). Since the applicant’s proposal involves work within a core foraging area of a known Wood stork colony, the Corps utilized The Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office, and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida, September 2008 (wood stork key) to evaluate the proposed project’s potential impact on wood storks. Use of the wood stork key produced the following sequence indicating that that the project is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork: A>B(1). The proposed work would not impact suitable foraging habitat for the wood stork. The water depth in the proposed work area exceeds 15 inches. Therefore, the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork. In correspondence that accompanied the wood stork key, the FWS stated that for proposed activities analyzed with the September 2008 version of the wood stork key in which the Corps reaches a not likely to adversely affect determination with respect to the wood stork and/or its designated critical habitat, the FWS concurs with the Corps determination in accordance with 50 CFR 402.14(b)1 and no further consultation with the FWS is required.
The Corps evaluated the proposed work utilizing the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Jacksonville District’s Programmatic Biological Opinion (JAXBO), dated 20 November 2017. The JAXBO analyzed 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, sei, blue, fin, and sperm); and designated critical habitat for Johnson’s seagrass; smalltooth sawfish; sturgeon (Gulf and Atlantic); sea turtles (green, hawksbill, leatherback, and loggerhead); North Atlantic right whales; and corals (elkhorn and staghorn) in accordance with Section 7 of the ESA. Based on past permitting practices of the Corps and review of consultations with similar in-water construction activities, Project Design Criteria (PDC) were identified in the JAXBO that typically have been applied to permitted, in-water construction activities. These PDC ensure effects of in-water construction activities are minimal in nature and do not result in adverse effects to listed species or to essential features of designated critical habitat. For this verification, the Corps conducted a project specific review to ensure that all of the PDC were met. In accordance with the project-specific review process established in the JAXBO, a PDC checklist, certification that the activity meets the applicable PDC, and supporting documentation for the proposed activity were emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com on March 16, 2022. The Jacksonville District satisfied the project-specific review requirements stipulated in the JAXBO and satisfied its obligation under the ESA for the above-listed species and critical habitats with the NMFS purview.
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 .05 acres (2,280 square feet) of benthic habitat utilized by various life stages of coastal migratory pelagics, red drum, reef fish, and shrimp. 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. According to the applicant, the proposed structure location does not support submerged aquatic vegetation, corals, mangroves, and/or live hardbottom. 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. The jurisdictional line has not been verified by Corps personnel.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Tampa Permits Section Gainesville Field Office, in writing at the Gainesville Field Office c/o Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; or by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org (preferred);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, James Davidson, in writing at the Gainesville Field Office c/o Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; by electronic mail at email@example.com (preferred); or, by telephone at (850) 496-3906.
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.