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:
South Florida Water Management District
C/o Marissa Hodapp
3301 Gun Club Road
West Palm Beach, Florida 33406
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Cypress Creek (HUC 0309020603). The project site is located between the C-23 Canal and C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area, West of I-95 and east of Allapattah Wildlife Management Area.
Directions to the site are as follows: From the Cocoa Regulatory Section take I-95 S approximately 92 miles to SW Martin Highway/FL 714. Keep right at the fork and merge onto SW Martin Highway/FL 714. Approximately 1 mile west of the interchange the project extends north of SW Martin Highway/FL 714 to the C-23 canal and south of SW Martin Highway/FL 714 to the C-44 Reservoir
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude: 27.161453°
Basic: Water treatment
Overall: Water treatment of the C-23 canal prior to entering the St. Lucie Estuary.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site is split roughly into two segments by SW Martin Highway/FL 714. The northern parcel that extends to the C-23 canal is approximately three miles long and approximately 300 feet wide and consists of
roughly 108.5 acres of cleared land developed for agricultural use and is located in Palm City, unincorporated Martin County, Florida. The eastern part of the Subject Corridor and the surrounding agricultural properties to the east were historically developed for citrus cultivation, specifically orange groves, in the late 1960s. The citrus groves were converted into mostly cattle pasture with a small section of palm tree farms after 2008. The western part of the Subject Corridor consists of an access road and drainage canal.
The southern parcel is approximately 94 acres in area and has a north-south linear
configuration of approximately 3 miles with a width of 260 feet. The property was acquired by the District in 1971, was historically undeveloped and has not been further developed since the District’s purchase. The parcel is used for hunting.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to fill approximately 18.41 acres of wetlands and 10.72 acres of surface waters for construction of a pump station at the C-23 canal and approximately 6.85 mile Interconnect Canal between the C-23 canal and the C-44 Reservoir.
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:
“Effective means of sedimentation and erosion control devices shall be employed during all activities that may create turbidity within the work zone and shall remain in place until the area is stabilized. Turbidity monitoring will be conducted per conditions of the FDEP's CERPRA permit during activities that could result in project-generated turbidity levels beyond the work area that have the potential to be discharged to the receiving water body. All construction activities will be scheduled, coordinated and completed to avoid any impacts to State & Federally Threatened and Endangered Species. All construction staff will have Threatened and Endangered Species Training, Qualified Eastern Indigo Snake Training and Ground Nester Training through the SFWMD.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following two compensatory mitigation plans to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment which the Corps is still evaluating:
“In order to offset the unavoidable wetland impacts to 18.41 acres of jurisdictional wetlands and 10 acres of other surface waters in order to widen the existing Interconnect Canal. The Interconnect project will provide improved water quality improvement within the C-44 Canal and St. Lucie Estuary. In addition, with the improved overall water quality, it is expected that downstream benefits to plant and animal communities within the St. Lucie River and Estuary will occur.”
“We plan to use the C-44 Stormwater Treatment Area, Cell 2, which is 1,275 acres for the mitigation. Cell 2 is a freshwater marsh habitat where we have exotic treatment and native plantings, and the habitat will remain in perpetuity. We also have nesting by snail kites and use by wading birds and aquatic species. With the excellent habitat quality, acreage of the Cell and keeping the habitat a wetland in perpetuity, we believe the mitigation is sufficient to offset the impacts of the Interconnect project.”
The Corps is still working with the applicant to ensure the final mitigation satisfies the preference hierarchy identified in 33 CFR Part 332.3 (b)(1).
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 determination key.
The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect” the Wood Stork and its designated critical habitat. The Corps completed an evaluation of the project based upon the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) South Florida Ecological Services Field Offices Programmatic Concurrence for use with the Wood Stork (January 2010). Use of the Key for Wood Stork resulted in the following sequential determination: A (The project is more than 0.47 miles from a colony site.) > B (Project impacts SFH > 0.5 acres) >C (Project impacts to SFH within a Core Foraging Area of a colony site) >E (Project does not satisfy SFH compensation in accordance with the CWA section 404(b)(1) guidelines and is not contrary to the HMO; habitat compensation is within the appropriate CFA or within the service area of a Service-approved mitigation bank; and habitat compensation replaces foraging value, consisting of wetland enhancement or restoration matching the hydroperiod of the wetlands affected, and provides foraging value similar to, or higher than, that of impacted wetlands.) = May Effect. The Corps will initiate formal consultation with USFWS pursuant to the determination key.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect Everglades Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) and Audubon's Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway). The Corps will initiate formal consultation with USFWS pursuant to the determination key.
Based on existing habitat types, the Corps preliminarily determined the project will have no effect to red-cockaded woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis), Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus), Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus), and Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens).
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 29.13 acres of freshwater wetlands which discharge to the St. Lucie Estuary. 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 require permission under Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (33 USC 408) because the activity, in whole or in part, would 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.