TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received an application for an emergency Department of the Army permit pursuant to the provisions of 33 CFR §325.2(e)(4), 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: Marine Solutions
Attn: Colby Rosenquist
2980 SW 23 Terrace #104
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33312
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Glover Bight, which flows into the Caloosahatchee River. The project site is located at a shallow shoal in Glover Bight east of Tarpon Point Marina at the south end of Cape Coral, Lee County, Florida. The temporary dredged material management area would be at Tarpon Point Marina, 6179 Black Marlin Lane, Section 22, Township 45 South, Range 23 East, Cape Coral, Lee County, Florida 33914.
Directions to the site are as follows: The project site can be accessed by vessel only. Travel by vessel to the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River toward Tarpon Point Marina in Glover Bight on the north side of the Caloosahatchee River. The project site is approximately 0.25 miles east of the easternmost dock at Tarpon Point Marina.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
PROJECT PURPOSE: Basic: Recreational vessel recovery/removal
Overall: The overall purpose of the project is to recover a seaworthy recreational vessel that was deposited in shallow waters and mangrove fringe within Glover Bight on the North side of the Caloosahatchee River, Lee County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project area is an open-water estuarine system that is fringed by red mangroves and may contain seagrass habitat. The area to be dredged consists mainly of shallow, euryhaline waters with depths between -2 and -3 feet Mean High Water (MHW). The west side of the project area contains a steep drop-off into deeper waters. The existing area surrounding the project area consists of mangrove wetlands to the north, east, and south, open water to the west, with an existing marina, Tarpon Point Marina located northwest of the project site. The project site is an important smalltooth sawfish “hotspot” (high use area) that provides nursery functions for the endangered smalltooth sawfish.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to mechanically dredge a 40,600 square foot temporary channel, removing approximately 3,100 cubic yards of material, through Glover Bight to create barge access to the grounded 100-foot Ocean Alexander vessel (vessel name: Far Niente), to allow the vessel to be pulled through the channel to navigable waters. The dimensions of the proposed channel are 55 feet wide by 656 feet long with a maximum depth in the center of the channel of -6.5 feet MHW. The -6.5 feet deep section of the channel would be 28 feet wide to allow passage of the vessel, with the remaining channel width dredged to a maximum of -4.5 feet MHW to allow barge passage.
Dredged material is proposed to be temporarily staged at the nearby Tarpon Point Marina, located northwest of the dredge site at 6179 Black Marlin Lane, Cape Coral, Florida 33914. A double sediment control fence will surround the dredged material management area (DMMA) at all times.
Bathymetric restoration will commence immediately following the vessel recovery. Material will be transported from the DMMA along with any additional fill necessary to restore the temporary channel to pre-project bathymetry within the tolerances specified in the “Yacht Recovery & Restoration Plan” (attached). Material will be placed into the temporary channel mechanically utilizing a barge mounted excavator. Floating turbidity curtains will surround the project work area at all times. The work will be completed in 100’ sections or “cells”. A bathymetric survey of each section will be completed before moving onto the next section to verify proper restoration depths have been achieved. Filling of the next section will commence immediately following the survey of the previous section. Turbidity barriers will surround each completed section and remain in place for one (1) week following initial fill to allow the sediment to settle without any interference from tidally influenced currents.
Additional project details and project drawings may be found in the attached “Yacht Recovery & Restoration Plan”.
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 following alternatives to the proposed project were considered during the review process, but each was rejected for the reasons listed:
- No project alternative – rejected because not doing the project would result in loss of the seaworthy vessel.
- Using roller bags to roll the vessel over the shoal – rejected after consultation with the vessel manufacturer indicated rolling the vessel, which has a V-shaped, fiberglass hull, would tip the vessel and damage the hull, resulting in a total loss.
- Using helicopters to airlift the vessel – rejected because the weight of the vessel (220,000 pounds) greatly exceeds the maximum lift capability of available helicopters.
- Loading the vessel onto a barge to reduce the maximum channel depth – rejected because the weight of the vessel would increase the draft of the barge to a point that deeper dredging over a wider area would be required to accommodate the loaded barge.
- Scrapping the vessel, cutting it up and removing it in smaller parts – rejected because this would result in a total loss of the vessel.
The following actions will be taken before the grounded vessel is removed to remove potential pollutants from the vessel, and reduce the draft of the vessel to the greatest extent practicable:
- The 4,000-gallon fuel tank will be pumped empty prior to vessel recovery.
- The 200-gallon holding tank will be pumped empty prior to vessel recovery.
- An attempt will be made to remove the vessels propeller, stabilizers, and rudder. The drive shaft may be bent in a way that would prevent removal in the field. The vessel will be suspended from the barge mounted crane during the attempted removal.
- Inflatable ballasts will be attached to the sides of the vessel to the greatest extent feasible prior to removal. This will provide a shallower vessel draft and reduce the temporary channel profile.
Turbidity curtains that extend to within 1 foot of the bottom shall be used throughout the activities. Vessel extraction will be done during the highest high tide of the day.
Initial vessel recovery and restoration activities will be completed outside of the smalltooth sawfish pupping season to the greatest extent possible but may continue into March 2023 (Pupping season is March through October). Monitoring for smalltooth sawfish will occur throughout the onsite activities. If placement of additional sediment is needed at a later date to maintain bathymetry, the placement will occur outside of smalltooth sawfish pupping season.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant has provided a “Yacht Recovery & Restoration Plan” (attached). A summary of the restoration and monitoring plan is as follows:
- The temporary channel will be backfilled with the sediments that were removed and additional sediments from a compatible approved source will be used if needed to restore bathymetry to pre-project conditions.
- An annual seagrass (benthic) and bathymetric survey will be completed and submitted to the Corps. Supplemental seagrass plantings will be done, if needed, to reach similar seagrass coverage as the proposed seagrass reference site.
- The vessel owner will fund the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to conduct smalltooth sawfish monitoring for 5.5 years under the guidance of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). FWC will provide annual reports to NMFS for use in an eventual biological opinion for the project.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: 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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposal may affect the smalltooth sawfish or its designated critical habitat. The Corps is currently engaged in informal emergency consultation with NMFS for the project and is working closely with NMFS in reviewing the attached “Yacht Recovery & Restoration Plan”.
The Corps has determined that the proposal may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the giant manta ray; hawksbill, green, Kemps Ridley, or loggerhead sea turtles, and the West Indian manatee, or their designated critical habitats. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife/National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, if necessary.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The Corps is currently engaged in informal emergency consultation with NMFS on EFH as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 1996. The proposal would impact approximately 0.93 acres of shallow euryhaline habitat and potential seagrass habitat utilized by various life stages of marine organisms. Our initial determination is that the proposed action, including proposed restoration activities, would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Caloosahatchee River. 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. No impacts to navigation are anticipated as a result of the proposed activity.
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.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Boulevard, Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida 33919, or by email to Heather.M.Mason@usace.army.mil within 10 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 waters of the United States. 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, Heather M. Mason, in writing at the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Boulevard, Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida 33919; by electronic mail at Heather.M.Mason@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (239) 850-2171.
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 was granted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Emergency Field Authorization number 428088-001, issued on November 7, 2022.
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT CONSISTENCY: In Florida, the State approval constitutes compliance with the approved 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.