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: Palm Beach County Parks
2700 6th Avenue
South Lake Worth, Florida 33461
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Loxahatchee River and Dubois Park Lagoon. The project site is located at 19075 DuBois Road, Section 32, Township 40 South, Range 43 East, Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Take Interstate 95 to Exit 87A for FL-706/East Indiantown Road and travel east until it ends at A1A/Ocean Boulevard. Turn left (north) onto N. Highway A1A and turn right onto Jupiter Beach Road. Turn left onto DuBois Road. Follow to the end and project is located on the left.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Recreational Swimmer Safety and Shoreline Stabilization
Overall: The overall project purpose is to improve the safety for recreational swimmers and patrons by stabilizing the shoreline and reducing currents at DuBois County Park, Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed project is located within DuBois Park, a Palm Beach County public park, located on the southwest side of the Jupiter Inlet, with two swimming areas, termed the tidal creek and lagoon area, that are sheltered from wave activity and have shallow depths.
The lagoon area is critically eroded. Riprap on the southern side of the lagoon has been removed from the revetment by public usage and by other natural causes into the lagoon area. There are steep drop offs in the vicinity of the breakwater gaps. While there are warning signs within the area, additional measures are needed to ensure the public swimming areas are safe for public recreational users. The pools are a function of water flowing between the breakwaters. The project intends to deepen the entire swimming area and provide a more consistent slope with the lagoon area to lessen the danger associated with the steep side of the pools. Deepening the lagoon area also provides a safe area for swimming. Currently, most of the lagoon is too shallow for swimming tempting patrons to go beyond the breakwaters and into Jupiter Inlet.
The shoreline surrounding the tidal creek is also critically eroded, as the previously buried retaining walls, tie backs and geotextile tubes are now exposed and pose a hazard to the public. The lifeguards have had to make several swimmer rescues, particularly on outgoing tides where swimmers are pulled along by the current, underneath the bridge and towards the inlet. The County has installed a floating rope underneath the bridge to assist swimmers. By realigning the tidal creek and providing a
sediment basin and larger area closer to the bridge, the currents will be lower allowing swimmers to safely exit the lagoon. The proposed placement of sand will also improve the stability of the shoreline and cover the hard engineered structures which are currently exposed and hazardous to public patrons.
A benthic survey and shoreline characterization study was completed June 1-28, 2021, which documented the locations of corals, mangroves, and seagrass adjacent to the proposed project. Corals were identified on the breakwaters within the lagoon areas and along the riprap at the mouth of the tidal creek. Species include Sidastrea radians, Oculina diffusa, Phyllangia americana, and Carijoa sp.. The majority of the corals were observed on the outer edge of the breakwaters within the Lagoon swimming area. Seagrass species: Halophila johnsonii, Halophila decipiens, Halodule wrightii, and Thalassia testudinum were observed upstream of the tidal creek and the proposed project. Mangroves, specifically red Rhizophora mangle and black, Avicennia germinans, are located adjacent to the proposed dredging footprint in the tidal creek. There are no seagrass, mangroves, or corals within the project footprint.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to conduct in-water work to improve the public swimming areas at Palm Beach County’s DuBois Park within the lagoon on the north side of the park in the Loxahatchee River and within the tidal creek located directly south of Jupiter Inlet. Specifically, activities include the following:
1. Relocate displaced riprap within the swim zone in the Lagoon area, back to the original location on the existing riprap revetment.
2. Hydraulically dredge a 0.6-acre areas within the Lagoon to a depth of minus 5 feet National Atlantic Vertical Datum (NAVD) with a 1:10 horizontal to vertical side slope, removal of 1,600 cubic yards of material. Dredge material will be piped from the lagoon to the west side of the tidal creek to the disposal area;
3. Extend two of the existing bulkheads to the south (along the west side of the tidal creek) by installing 24.4 linear feet of sheet pile to the existing middle bulkhead and 44 feet, 7 inches to the most landward bulkhead;
4. Mechanically dredge 0.6 acres of the tidal creek (removal of 1,050 cubic yards) to a depth of minus 4 feet NAVD with a 1:5 horizontal to vertical side slope, including a 0.5 foot overdredge; and
5. Proposed inwater placement of dredged material (from lagoon and tidal creek) with a 1:5 horizontal to vertical side slopes within the 1.2-acre tidal creek disposal area (below the mean high water line) directly adjacent to dredge footprint.
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 is developing a temporary coral relocation plan, to relocate the corals located on the Lagoon Breakwaters to a different location during dredging and then return them once construction is complete.
• The top of the dredge footprint will be a minimum of 15 feet from the toe of the breakwaters in the lagoon.
• Dredging and sand placement within the tidal creek will be a minimum of 10 feet from the edge of existing mangrove wetlands
• Adherence to the “Vessel Strike Avoidance Measures and Reporting for Mariners”, revised May 2021, for marine turtles and marine mammals.
• Adherence to with National Marine Fisheries Service’s “Protected Species Construction Conditions, NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office” dated May 2021.
• All work will occur during daylight hours
• Comply with the Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work – 2011
• A manatee observer will be on-site and operations will be shut down if a manatee is observed and only restart once the manatee has left the area of their own volition.
• Turbidity curtains, erosion control devices and other best management practices will be used to contain sediments onsite and not enter into adjacent waters.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
The proposed project will not permanently impact any corals, seagrass or mangroves. Additionally, the applicant is proposing to relocate corals adjacent to the dredge footprint to avoid any indirect impacts from turbidity during construction. Therefore, the applicant believes that no compensatory mitigation is required to the implementation of avoidance and minimization measures.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is aware of recorded historic resources within or adjacent to the permit area and 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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposal may affect the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) and its designated critical habitat. Use of the Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida dated April 2013, results in a pathway of A-B (couplets 2 and 5), for a may affect determination. The Corps will ensure the project is consistent with the Biological Opinion for the manatee dated March 21, 2011, and request initiation of informal consultation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
The proposed project is located within the piping plover (Charadrius melodus) consultation area, within 1-mile of an inlet in a county owned and managed park and is proposing dredging and sand placement within nearshore intertidal region. Therefore, the Corps has determined that the project may affect the piping plover. Using the P3BO the applicant has agreed to adhere to the reasonable and prudent measures as well as the conservation recommendations. Therefore, the Corps is requesting consultation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the swimming sea turtles: (green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata); Giant Manta Ray (Mobula birostris); Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi); and wood stork (Mycteria americana). 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 or obtain programmatic concurrences by separate letter, if applicable.
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 2.86 acres of sand utilized by various life stages of penaeid shrimp complex, reef fish, stone crab, spiny lobster, migratory/pelagic fish, and snapper/grouper complex. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the South Atlantic Region. 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 activities are not located in the vicinity of a federal navigation channel and will not occur within the Jupiter Inlet.
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 Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410 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, Jerilyn Ashworth, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410; by electronic mail at Jerilyn.Ashworth@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (561)545-3171.
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 will be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). The project is being reviewed under FDEP permit application: 50-0126128-004 EI.
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.