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: Gulf County Board of County Commissioners
1000 Cecil Costin, Senior Boulevard
Port St. Joe, Florida 32546
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Gulf of Mexico. The project site is located along the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico on the west side of County Road (CR) 30A approximately 10 miles from the intersection of CR 30A and Highway 98 in Section 19, Township 09 South, Range 11 West, Port St. Joe, Gulf County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Port St. Joe – travel south approximately 2
miles along US 98/State Road (SR)-30, and keep right at the fork to stay on SR-30-A. Travel 6.6 miles along 30-A, and turn right on Cape San Blas Road. Travel 3.9 miles. The south end of the project is at monument 105.5, just north of the Stump Hole.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 29.687536°
Basic: Shoreline protection
Overall: To address chronic erosion at the south end of St. Joseph Peninsula and to reduce the frequency of beach nourishment activities in the area between Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) beach markers R-100 to R-105.5.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The aquatic system consists of a marine system and adjacent sandy shoreline within the Gulf of Mexico. The primary natural community types in the project area include Beach Dune and Marine Unconsolidated Substrate. The coastal grassland behind the dunes have been disturbed and no longer represent the natural community. The project area has experienced severe erosion and the shoreline has been stabilized by large rock riprap that was installed to protect the adjacent road. CR 30A provides the only ingress and egress for the Cape San Blas peninsula which includes the St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. There is an existing permit that authorizes nourishment of the shoreline and sand was placed within the project area in 2020.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to modify the active permit to impact 2.77 acres of shallow marine habitat associated with construction of seven (7) submerged breakwaters and three (3) T-Head Groins in the nearshore area offshore of the southern end of St. Joseph Peninsula (R-100 to R-105.5). The proposed structures would be sited within the permitted beach nourishment template and would be accompanied by 800,000 cubic yards of beach compatible sand to be mined from permitted Borrow Area “F” using a hopper dredge.
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 project was designed to address chronic erosion at the southern end of St. Joseph Peninsula while minimizing adverse impacts to adjacent properties and aquatic resources. The proposed design would maximize sand retention through the use of emergent T-groins while reducing potential impacts to listed species by limiting the number of structures and limiting erosion of adjacent properties through the use of submerged structures.
Since T-Groins have been documented to efficiently trap more sand in the lee of the structures and due to their emergent nature, the number of T-groins proposed was restricted to three. The submerged breakwaters to the north of the T-groins are designed to lessen the downdrift impacts typically associated with groin structures along the shoreline while reducing transmitted waves, minimizing longshore transport interruption, and reducing potential environmental impacts to nesting sea turtles. The proposed submerged breakwaters would be constructed in segments to create breaks that would allow turtles to access the beach.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
Compensatory Mitigation for the proposed project is not required as no direct impacts to protected and listed species are proposed. The proposed project location is within a shoreline segment that is highly erosive and dynamic and has been subjected to several beach nourishment projects in the past. The natural community impacted by the proposed project consists of Marine Unconsolidated Substrate (sandy bottom) with no known marine submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) or hard bottom habitats present within or near the proposed project limits. Best management practices and conservation measures would be implemented at all times during construction to ensure no adverse impacts as a result of project construction.
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 wood stork and black rail or their designated critical habitat. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has determined the proposal may affect the St. Andrew beach mouse, piping plover, red knot, Gulf sturgeon, loggerhead sea turtle, green sea turtle, hawksbill sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, and the West Indian manatee or their designated critical habitat. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
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 2.77 acres of shallow marine habitat utilized by various life stages of coastal pelagic species. 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.
Navigation: The proposed activity is not located in the vicinity of a federal navigation channel.
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 Panama City Permits Section, 415 Richard Jackson Boulevard, Suite 411, Panama City Beach, Florida 32407 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, Tracey L. Wheeler, in writing at the Panama City Permits Section, 415 Richard Jackson Boulevard, Suite 411, Panama City Beach, Florida 32407; by electronic mail at email@example.com; by telephone at (850) 287-0138.
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: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).
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.