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:
Osceola County Transportation and Transit
C/o Mr. Steven Kane
1 Courthouse Square, Suite 3100
Kissimmee, Florida 34741
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Reedy Creek Swamp (Hydrologic Unit Code 0309010106). The project site is located at on the west side of Poinciana Boulevard between Pleasant Hill Road and Trafalgar Boulevard, within Sections 6, 7, 15, 23, 25, 26, 31, 36, Townships 26 and 27 South, Ranges 28 and 29 East, Osceola County Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From the Cocoa Regulatory Section head west on FL-528 to FL-417 S. Take exit 3 for Osceola Parkway and head west approximately 2 miles. Turn right onto N Poinciana Boulevard and head south for approximately 6.7 miles to Trafalgar Boulevard which is the Northern terminus of the project.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 28.188484°
Basic: Road construction
Overall: Construct a road to provide increased traffic capacity between Kissimmee and Poinciana.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The onsite land uses, and vegetative community types were classified according to the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS). Refer to FLUCCS Map.
100– Roadway These areas are not natural communities and provide minimal habitat for wildlife. Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) medians and landscaped / natural shoulders constitute this land use.
414 – Pine - Mesic Oak
This natural community includes slash pine (Pinus elliottii), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), live oak (Q. virginiana), red bay (Persea borbonia), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), water oak (Q. nigra), and loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus). Subcanopy and shrub species include wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), salt bush (Baccharis halimifolia), and dahoon holly (Ilex cassine). Areas of pine flatwoods are interspersed throughout the uplands and have been included within this vegetative community due to similarities and the difficulty of parsing out the mostly small areas of flatwoods.
4.2 Wetlands & Surface Waters
630– Wetland Forested Mixed
As with the upland community, there are several different forested wetland communities found within the Wetland Forested Mixed areas. The wetland forested mixed community is composed of a variety of canopy species including pop ash (Fraxinus caroliniana), cypress (Taxodium spp), slash pine, pond pine (P. serotina), red maple (Acer rubrum), American elm (Ulmus americana), sweetgum, swamp bay (Persea palustris), sweet bay magnolia (M. virginiana), loblolly bay, swamp tupelo (Nyssa spp.), laurel oak, live oak, water oak, and cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto). Subcanopy, shrub, and groundcover species include buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), wax myrtle, dahoon holly, red maple, dwarf huckleberry (Gaylussacia dumosa), highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), swamp fern (Blechnum serrulatum) pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), and lizards’ tail (Saururus cernuus).
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to fill approximately 38.11 acres of wetland and 7.20 acres of surface waters to widen Poinciana Boulevard.
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 applicant has considered all alternatives to minimize and avoid wetland
impacts. There are no alignment alternatives that allow for unavoidable impacts. Any unavoidable impacts to wetlands will be mitigated to achieve a no net loss of wetland function. The original design iteration included ten (10) stormwater ponds and extensive wetland impacts associated with the construction of the roadway. All of the ponds, with the exception of Pond 2B, have been removed and wetland impacts associated with the proposed roadway significantly decreased. The current design iteration eliminates the pond impacts (with the exception of Pond 2B); a 55.50 acres reduction, and reduces the impacts associated with the roadway by 11.03 acres.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“The estimated functional losses associated with the proposed direct impacts were assessed utilizing the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Methodology (UMAM), see Appendix 3. The UMAM analysis determined that the proposed direct and secondary impacts would result in a functional loss of 29.08 functional units. Mitigation to offset the 29.08 units of functional loss will be provided through the purchase of 29.08 forested mitigation credits from an approved Mitigation Bank. A letter of reservation from an approved Mitigation Bank will be provided upon approval of the mitigation plan.”
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.
The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect” the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi). Based on the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key (dated August 1, 2017), the Corps determination sequence is as follows: A (The project is not located in open water or salt marsh.) > B (The permit will be conditioned for use of the Service’s Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake during site preparation and construction.) > C (The project will impact more than 25 acres of eastern indigo snake habitat.) = May Affect. The Corps will initiate formal consultation with USFWS pursuant to the aforementioned determination key.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork and its designated critical habitat. Based on the Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in South Peninsular Florida (dated May 2010), the Corps determination sequence is as follows: A (Project impacts SFH at a location greater than 0.47 miles from a colony site) > B (Project impact to SFH is greater in scope than 0.5 acres > C Project impacts to SFH within the CFA of a colony site > E The project provides SFH compensation within the CFA consisting of enhancement, restoration or creation (and federal mitigation bank credits) that provides an amount of habitat and foraging function equivalent to that of the impacted SFH; in accordance with the Clean Water Act section 404(b)(1) guidelines, and is not contrary to the habitat management guidelines. The Corps has U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence for the proposed activities through use of the aforementioned determination key.
The Corps has determined the proposed project will have “no effect” to the Florida Bonneted Bat (Eumops floridanus). Based on the Florida Bonneted Bat Consultation Key (dated October 22, 2019), and the bat survey provided by the applicant, the Corps determination sequence is as follows: 1a>2a>3b>6b = “no effect”
Based on existing habitat types, the Corps preliminarily determined the project will have no effect on red-cockaded woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis), Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus), Everglades Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), and Audubon’s crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii)
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 downstream waters. 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.
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 Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida within 21 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, Brandon J. Conroy, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida; by electronic mail at Brandon.J.Conroy@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (321) 370-8694.
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 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.