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:
Lee County Natural Resources Division
c/o Michael Campbell
1500 Monroe Street
Ft. Myers, Florida 33901
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Gulf of Mexico and Big Carlos Pass ebb shoal. The project site includes the Gulf of Mexico shoreline between 500 feet north of R-215 to R-221 on Lovers Key and between R-226 and R-230 on Little Hickory Island, aka, Bonita Beach. The project site is located in Sections 10, 13, 14, 24, and 25 Township 47 South, Range 21 East, in Lee County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-75 South take Exit 116, merge onto Bonita Beach Road SE (becomes Hickory Blvd. as it turns north after approximately 5.8 miles). Stay straight approximately 2.1 miles to Beach Access #10 (Little Hickory Island Beach Park) on your left for Bonita Beach. From Bonita Beach Access #10, exit to the right and then take the first left onto Estero Boulevard and in 2.6 miles turn left into the Park entrance for Lovers Key.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Beach renourishment
Overall: To renourish approximately 1.2 miles shoreline on Lovers Key and approximately 0.8 miles shoreline on Bonita Beach, Lee County Florida over a 15-year period.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The Project consists of a beach and nearshore coastal saltwater system. There are two permitted beach fill areas, Lovers Key and Bonita Beach. Lovers Key is a State Park and development is limited to the Park infrastructure. Little Hickory Island is developed and includes single family, multi-family, condominium residences, and County beach park. The beaches within the Project Area are publicly accessible. The Lovers Key State Park primary structures include the pavilion and restrooms. Secondary structures include dune walkovers. Structures along Little Hickory Island include seawalls and dune walkovers for the residential and park properties. A dune system is present along some sections of the beach fill areas. The most commonly observed dune vegetation species include sea oats (Uniola paniculata), sea purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum), sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera), and salt-grass (Distichlis spicata). There are no hardbottom resources or seagrass beds adjacent to or within the beach fill areas.
The Project includes three borrow areas. Two permitted borrow areas, located within the Big Carlos Pass ebb shoal complex in state waters, have been utilized for prior restoration and renourishment on the two beach fills. The sediment from the ebb shoal borrow areas is characterized by medium to fine-grained gray sand, which contains low silt concentrations less than 5%. One proposed borrow area is located on the Outer Continental Shelf in federal waters. The sediment from the offshore borrow areas is characterized by medium to fine-grained gray sand, which contains low silt concentrations less than 3%. A compatibility analysis was completed comparing the native beach data and borrow area data which indicates that the sand from the borrow areas is compatible with the native beach sand. There are no hardbottom resources or seagrass beds adjacent to the three borrow areas.
The Project includes permitted sediment pipeline corridors from the ebb shoal borrow area to the beach fill areas, and proposed sediment pipeline corridors and pump-out areas from the offshore borrow area to the two beach fill areas. There are no hardbottom resources or seagrass beds adjacent to or within the pipeline corridors and pump-out areas. Octocorals (Leptogorgia sp.) were observed and located at three discrete points along the primary corridor from the offshore borrow area to the Lovers Key beach fill area. The occurrences of Leptogorgia sp. were limited to a few individual colonies.
Inland mines within the vicinity of the Project area including but are not limited to Stewart Mining Industries’ Immokalee Mine, Vulcan Materials Company’s Witherspoon Mine, E.R. Jahna Industries’ Ortona Mine, and CEMEX Lake Wales Mine are proposed to address hot-spot maintenance and assist with post-storm recovery efforts over the 15-year permit duration.
BACKGROUND: The original Bonita Beach restoration project took place in 1995 and the first maintenance nourishment was completed in May 2004. The Lovers Key initial restoration project was completed in October 2004 as a construction contract extension of the first Bonita Beach maintenance project. The Corps permit SAJ-2012-00198 (IP-MJD), dated September 3, 2013, authorizes beach renourishment of Lovers Key and Bonita Beach utilizing the two ebb shoal borrow areas in Big Carlos Pass for a 15-year time frame.
In 2014, Lee County completed construction of the Bonita Beach and Lovers Key Beach Nourishment Project. Approximately 140,200 cubic yards (CY) and 342,400 CY were excavated from the Ebb Shoal Borrow Areas and placed within the permitted limits of the Bonita Beach and Lovers Key beach fills, respectively. The current Corps permit expires September 3, 2028.
PROPOSED WORK: The current permit authorizes periodic beach renourishment of Lovers Key and Bonita Beach for a 15-year period. The applicant proposes additions to the permitted work to include the following:
- Lovers Key Beach Fill: Routine nourishment along the permitted fill limits; raise berm elevation to account for sea level change
- Bonita Beach Fill: Routine nourishment along the permitted fill limits; increase beach fill template width to sustain storm damage reduction benefits throughout nourishment cycle; raise berm elevation to account for sea level change
- Ebb Shoal Borrow Areas: Utilize permitted dredge limits for future nourishment events
- Offshore Borrow Area: Add new Offshore Borrow Area on Outer Continental Shelf; utilize for next nourishment event and subsequent nourishment events
- Sediment Pipeline Corridors and Pump-out Areas: Add new Sediment Pipeline Corridors from Offshore Borrow Area to Lovers Key and Bonita Beach; add new Pump-Out Areas
- Hopper Dredging and Cutterhead Dredge-Scow Barge Construction Methods: Add these construction methods for mining the Offshore Borrow Area
- Upland sand quarries: Add inland mines to provide beach compatible sand for future hot-spot maintenance and post-storm recovery.
The beach fill limits on Lovers Key extend from 500 feet north of R-215 to R-221. The proposed beach fill template includes the same permitted footprint and a new berm elevation of +3.5 feet NAVD88 to account for sea level change. The proposed nourishment volume for the next event is 601,000 CY. The total volume proposed the 15-year period including renourishment equals 1,372,000 CY.
The beach fill limits on Bonita Beach extend from R-226 to R-230. The proposed beach fill template includes a 75-foot-wide design beach plus 95 feet to account for advanced nourishment and equilibrium profile adjustment, and a new berm elevation of +4.9 feet NAVD88 to account for sea level change. The proposed nourishment volume for the next event is 264,000 CY. The total volume proposed the 15-year period including renourishment equals 591,000 CY.
Two construction methods for excavation of the Offshore Borrow Area are proposed including the hydraulic cutterhead dredge and scow barge method and the hopper dredge method. One construction method, specifically the hydraulic cutterhead dredge direct discharge method, is permitted for excavation of the Ebb Shoal Borrow Area.
For all three methods (hopper, cutterhead-scow barge, cutterhead-direct), the dredged sediment will be transported through the submerged sediment pipeline which will exit the Gulf and come onto the dry beach, then discharged into the fill template, where it will be graded using conventional earth moving equipment. Multiple booster pumps may be required for the process.
Two sediment pipeline conveyance corridors and pump-out areas have been delineated to connect the Offshore Borrow Area to the fill templates. They have been thoroughly surveyed for depth, sonar targets, and magnetic anomalies, and sited to avoid potential cultural resource targets as possible. The corridors do not require any excavation for pipeline installation, as the weighted sediment discharge pipelines will be placed directly on the sea floor. Anchoring limits shall be confined to the areas that have been surveyed and culturally cleared.
The in-water work will be conducted using barge/vessel-based heavy equipment (vessel draft: 4 feet to 8 feet offshore, 3 feet to 4 feet inshore) with no blasting. The land-based work for beach fill construction, hot-spot maintenance, upland sand truck hauls, and maintenance grading would be conducted by bulldozers, excavators, front-end loaders, dump trucks, and off-road vehicles.
Work will be conducted 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Work is proposed to be conducted during sea turtle nesting season.
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 designed the project to have a net increase in improved beach habitat. There will be no impacts to hardbottom resources or seagrass beds.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required. The project will result in a net increase of enhanced dry beach habitat. Environmental protection plans are proposed to implement best management practices during nesting season.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area. 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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps determined the proposal may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect, the endangered West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), endangered red knot (Calidris canutus), and the endangered piping plover (Charadrius melodus). The Corps has also determined that the proposed project may affect the threatened/endangered nesting sea turtles (Chelonia mydas, Eretmochelys imbricata, Lepidochelys kempii, Dermochelys coriacea, Caretta caretta). The Corps will initiate ESA consultation as required with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the above listed species.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect the threatened/endangered swimming sea turtles (Chelonia mydas, Eretmochelys imbricata, Lepidochelys kempii, Dermochelys coriacea, Caretta caretta). The Corps has also determined that the project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect, the endangered smalltooth sawfish
(Pristis pectinata) and Giant manta ray (Manta birostris). The Corps will initiate ESA consultation as required with the National Marine Fisheries Service for the above listed 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. 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. 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.
BUREAU OF OCEAN ENERGY MANAGEMENT (BOEM): A lease for use of Federal sand resources from the Outer Continental Shelf Lease Block 606 is required from BOEM. If you have any questions concerning the lease application, you may contact Brian Cameron at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please furnish BOEM a copy of all public notice comments. Copies can be emailed to Tershara Matthews, Chief, Office of Emerging Programs, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management at Tershara.Matthews@boem.gov.
Note: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has sole regulatory authority over the use of Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) sand resources and conveyance on the OCS under the OCS Lands Act. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) requires a permit for all other aspects of the project, including dredging of any state water bottom areas, as well as conveyance and placement of sand resources. BOEM and the Corps are working collaboratively to ensure effective implementation of the required National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) process, the required Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7 consultations, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery and Conservation Management Act Essential Fish Habitat consultation (Section 305), the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 process, and the Coastal Zone Management Act Section 307 consistency determination.
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 Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Boulevard, Suite 310, Fort Myers, 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.
QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, Stephen Fleming, in writing at the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd. Suite 310, Fort Myers, FL 33919; by electronic mail at Stephen.J.Fleming@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (239) 334-0797; or,
by telephone at 239-334-1975 x0003.
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, aesthetics, 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.
WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). The project is being reviewed under FDEP application no. 0311811-004-JM.
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.