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: Queens Harbor Yacht & Country Club Owners Association
c/o Mr. Chuck Martello
238 Queens Harbor Boulevard
Jacksonville, Florida 32225
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Queens Harbor Yacht and Country Club (QHYCC) navigation channel that connects to the Intracoastal Waterway. The project site is approximately located at within the QHYCC navigation Channel near Duval County Property Appraiser – Parcel Identification Number 162194 0000, in Section 6, Township 2 South, Range 29 East, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From downtown Jacksonville, take Interstate 95 south to Atlantic Boulevard (US-90 E). Stay on Atlantic Boulevard for approximately 10 miles to Queens Harbour Boulevard. Go through the neighborhood gate and turn right onto Shipwatch Drive East and go approximately 1.8 miles. Then turn right onto a dirt road that leads to the lock and travel 0.1 miles to the parking lot. The site is located within the water along the north bank shoreline of the QHYCC navigation channel.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.3525°
Basic: The basic project purpose is shoreline stabilization and aquatic habitat restoration/enhancement.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to provide shoreline stabilization and restoration of the salt marsh shoreline along the north bank of an existing navigational channel for Queens Harbour Yacht and County Club.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project is located in an estuarine intertidal system known as the QHYCC navigation channel that connects to the Intracoastal Waterway. This area is a subdivision known as QHYCC which many homes are offered access to navigable waters through the QHYCC lock that allows access to the QHYCC navigation channel, or the homes are located directly adjacent to the QHYCC navigation channel. The north bank of the QHYCC consists of a vegetative community of salt marsh (FLUCCS 5240) and Tisonia mucky peat, 0 to 1 percent slopes, very frequently flooded (map unit 68) soil. The marsh system along the north bank of the QHYCC has experienced shoreline recession and degradation due to erosion and the loss of the salt marsh habitat.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct a living shoreline for bank stabilization along approximately a 1,000-linear foot section of the north bank of the QHYCC navigation channel. The living shoreline will consist of planting Florida native marsh vegetation consisting of spartina (Spartina alterniflora) and/or black need rush (Juncus roemerianus) protected by an oyster gabions that are composed of galvanized metal gabions filled with oyster shells and installed over a non-plastic base (e.g., coir fiber or jute mats) to resist sinking. The project proposes two rows of staggered oyster gabions that will include 5-foot gaps to be placed at every 100 feet along the gabion row, and 5-foot gaps between the two parallel oyster gabion rows. The oysters shell to be used in the gabions will be recycled shell that has been properly quarantined. The oyster gabions fill footprint covers less than 0.1 acres (2,500 cubic yards) of the intertidal habitat. There will be four reef warning signs that will be 24-inches by 36-inches and mounted on 8-inch timber piles to assist with navigation during high tide to ensure vessels avoid the living shoreline.
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 project encompasses the length of a salt marsh shoreline that has experienced erosion along the navigation channel. The project does not impact the existing salt marsh vegetation, submerged aquatic vegetation, or other resources within the project area. The project was designed to allow spacing between the proposed gabion structures as a method to reduce the risk of entrapment of marine mammals and marine turtles. The spacing and staggered design will support the project purpose in reducing wave energy transmission to the marsh while allowing tidal water exchange and encourage sediment accretion behind the gabions. The oyster shells that will be used within the gabions are from the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR) oyster shell recycling program which have been quarantined to prevent the spread of any shellfish diseases. The use of oyster shells will promote for oyster recruitment which overtime may improve water quality and clarity within the area. In addition, the oyster gabions will provide habitat for multiple species of fish and invertebrates within the intertidal area. The planting of Florida native salt marsh species behind the gabion structures will facilitate restoration of the marsh shoreline that has experienced erosion.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
The project requires approximately 2,500 cubic yards of fill material (i.e., oyster shell) placed over the existing Intertidal (FLUCSS 5200) habitat; the fill footprint (measured by the gabion plan view area) covers less than 0.1 acre of Intertidal habitat. The oyster shell provides an excellent substrate for natural oyster growth and formation of an oyster reef. Accordingly, the proposed project provides a net benefit by creating oyster habitat that inherently improves water quality. Additionally, the oyster reef is intended to stabilize the eroding marsh shoreline and protect the proposed marsh vegetation planting, thereby protecting existing and creating additional marsh habitat. Based on these benefits, no compensatory mitigation is required.
The Corps is evaluating the undertaking for effects to historic properties as required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. This public notice serves to inform the public of the proposed undertaking and invites comments including those from local, State, and Federal government Agencies with respect to historic resources. Our final determination relative to historic resource impacts may be subject to additional coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer, those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and other interested parties.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee, Wood Stork, shortnose sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon, smalltooth sawfish, and whales. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife/National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
a. West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus): Since the proposal by the applicant is for in-water construction, potential impacts to the 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. Use of this key resulted in the sequential determination A-B-C-G-N-O-P4 – May affect, not likely to adversely affect. This determination is based on the applicant adhering to the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work, 2011. The FWS previously indicated that they concur with determinations of May affect, not likely to adversely affect based on the key for manatees; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.
b. Smalltooth sawfish, Atlantic sturgeon and shortnose sturgeon and whales (North Atlantic right whale, sei, blue, fin, and sperm): The project site is just over 5.8 miles southwest of the St. Johns River Inlet at the Atlantic Ocean; therefore, the abovementioned species could be found on site. The Corps evaluated the proposed work utilizing NMFS’s Jacksonville District’s Programmatic Biological Opinion (JAXBO) dated 20 November 2017. The JAXBO analyzes 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 elkhorn and staghorn corals in accordance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. Based on past permitting practices of the Corps and review of consultations with similar in-water construction activities, Project Design Criteria (PDCs) were identified in the JAXBO that typically have been applied to permitted in-water construction activities. These PDCs ensure effects of in-water construction activities are minimal in nature and are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or adverse modification to designated CH. On 21 February 2018, NMFS listed the giant manta ray as threatened. On 5 November 2021, SAJ-RD provided NMFS PRD with a Section 7(a)(2) and 7(d) Endangered Species Act (ESA) analysis to verify that the activities covered in JAXBO are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the giant manta ray (Manta birostris). The Section 7(a)(2) and 7(d) ESA analysis validates that the Corps’ continued use of the JAXBO, while Section 7 ESA consultation is ongoing, remains compliant with the ESA’s requirements to avoid jeopardy and irreversible or irretrievable commitments of resources. For this verification, the Corps conducted a project specific review to ensure that all of the PDCs were met. In accordance with the project-specific review process established in the JAXBO, a PDC checklist, certification that the activity meets the applicable PDCs, and supporting documentation for the proposed activity were emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com on April 29, 2022. Therefore, 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 within the NMFS purview.
c. Wood Stork (Mycteria Americana): The project site is approximately 5.5 miles from the 594003 Cedar Point Road Wood Stork Colony; and, within the Core Foraging Area of this colony, therefore, the Corps evaluated potential effects to this species. In consideration of this information, the Corps utilized The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida, September 2008, to determine potential effects upon this species. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A-B-C-may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) previously indicated that they concur with determinations of may affect, not likely to adversely affect based on the key for Wood Storks; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.
d. On 29 November 2021, the Corps executed a Resources at Risk (RAR) report. The RAR did not indicate that the site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species. The Corps also reviewed geospatial data and other available information. The Corps has not received or discovered any information that the project site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed, threatened, or endangered species.
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 0.1 acres of estuarine habitat utilized by various life stages of shrimp, spiny lobster, snapper grouper, summer flounder, and bluefish. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Queens Harbor channel that connects to the Intracoastal Waterway. 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: The work proposed is greater than 100-feet from the design edge of the federal channel and therefore coordination with Navigation was not required.
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 Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232 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, Janice Price, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232; by electronic mail at Janice.R.Price@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (904)232-1940; or, by telephone at (904)570-4542.
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.
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.