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) Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (33 U.S.C. §1411) as described below:
APPLICANT: United States Navy
Attn: LCDR. Nathan V. Chenarak
Naval Station Mayport
1 Massey Avenue
Mayport, FL, 32228
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The proposed project would affect waters of the United States associated with the St. Johns River adjacent to Navy Fuel Pier 111 at 8820 Somers Road South, Section 44, Township 1 South, Range 27 East, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-95 take Zoo parkway exit 358A east, continue onto Zoo parkway until you reach 8820 Somers Rd S Jacksonville, FL 32226, on the right.
Basic: The basic project purpose is navigation restoration.
Overall: The overall project purpose is dredging to restore the navigable capacity of the existing Navy Fuel Pier.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed project site is a 25-acre area abutting Navy Fuel Pier 111 on the St. Johns River. The project area is subject to high levels of commercial vessel traffic. According to an April 2022 geotechnical survey, the project area consists of bare, unconsolidated bottom which does not support concentrations of submerged aquatic vegetation, live hard bottom, or corals. The depth of the project site and heavy vessel traffic discourage the recruitment of submerged aquatic vegetation and other benthic resources within the proposed dredge template. The applicant last maintenance dredged the project area in 2012.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to maintenance dredge 21,000 cubic yards of material from a 25-acre dredge template adjacent to the existing Navy Fuel Pier to return this area to a depth of -38 feet Mean Lower Low Water with 2 feet of allowable overdepth. In addition, the applicant seeks to transport the dredge material for disposal in the Jacksonville Offshore Dredge Material Disposal Site.
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:
To minimize impacts to the aquatic environment and accomplish the project purpose, the applicant determined it would be appropriate to confine the proposed maintenance dredging to the previously authorized dredge template and the previously authorized target depth. This area does not support submerged aquatic vegetation, live hard bottom, or corals.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
According to the applicant, the proposed dredge area does not support submerged aquatic vegetation, live hard bottom, or corals. Thus, the applicant stated that compensatory mitigation is not warranted for the proposed project.
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 Corps has determined that the project would have No Potential to Cause Effects to Historic Properties. The dredge template was originally dredged to the proposed target depth in the early 2000’s. The applicant has also performed regular maintenance dredging since that time. The last maintenance dredge event occurred in 2012. The proposed maintenance dredging is confined to the previous dredge template. Thus, the bottom sediment the applicant seeks to disturb is of recent deposition and would not contain any resources listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. In light of these facts, the Corps has determined that the project would have No Potential to Cause Effects to Historic Properties.
The Corps determined that the proposed project may affect, not likely to adversely affect the following species or any designated critical habitat: Sea turtles (Kemps Ridley, Green, Hawksbill, Leatherback, Loggerhead), North Atlantic Right Whale, Shortnose Sturgeon, and Atlantic Sturgeon. The applicant would utilize the criteria provided in the South Atlantic Regional Biological Opinion for Dredging and Material Placement Activities in the Southeast United States for both the dredging and disposal aspects of the proposed project.
The Corps determined that the project may affect, not likely to adversely affect (MANLAA) the West Indian Manatee. The Corps has concurrence with this determination pursuant to the Effect Determination Key for the Manatee, dated April 2013 (Key). Use of the Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C >D>G>N > O > P4 > MANLAA. The proposed project is not located in an Important Manatee Area. The project involves a maintenance dredge of 21,000 cubic yards. The project would not impact submerged aquatic vegetation. The project would not increase watercraft access at the project site. Any authorization the Corps may provide for the proposed project would require the applicant to abide by the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work, 2011. Therefore, the Key resulted in a MANLAA determination.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): This notice initiates consultation on EFH as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1996. The proposal would impact approximately 25 acres of marine water column and bare, previously dredged, unconsolidated substrate potentially utilized by various life stages of Brown Shrimp (Farfantepenaeus aztecus), Pink Shrimp (Farfantepenaeus setiferus), White Shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus), Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus), Black Seabass (Centropristis striata), Mutton Snapper (Lutjanus analis), Gray Snapper (Lutjanus griseus), Lane Snapper (Lutjanus synagris), Yellowtail Snapper (Lutjanus chrysurus). Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries within the Atlantic Ocean. 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.
CONCURRENCY: By letter dated June 10, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided its concurrence that the dredge material that would result from the proposed work is suitable for offshore disposal at the Jacksonville Offshore Dredge Material Disposal Site.
Navigation: The Corps will seek coordination with the Navigation Section via separate correspondence to ensure that the proposed maintenance dredging would have no adverse effect on any other federal navigation project.
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, P.O. Box 4970, Jacksonville, FL 32207-8175 within 15 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 Jacksonville Permits Section, P.O. Box 4970, Jacksonville, FL 32207-8175; by electronic mail at email@example.com; 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.
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.
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: WQC, or a waiver, is required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). The applicant is seeking an exemption pursuant to 403.183(3) F.S. This maintenance dredging exemption is applicable to ODMDS placement.
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.