Regulatory Division February 8, 2023
Antilles-Miami Permits Section
Permit Application No. SAJ-2022-01434 (SP-CGR)
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 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
APPLICANT: Mr. Benjamin T. Johnson
Johnson Consulting, LLC
165 Ponce de León Avenue, Suite 201
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00917
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Ensenada Comezón (east side of the inlet) at the Atlantic Ocean. The project site is located at Playita Rica, Land parcel #18, Section B-4, Camino Las Picúas, Punta Las Picúas Sector (West of Punta Las Picúas Sector), Zarzal Ward, Municipality of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.
Directions to the site are as follows: From San Juan to Rio Grande, take PR-26 to the east side of the Island, exit at left side toward expressway PR-66 to Rio Grande, exit at the right side at the end of PR-66 and take PR-3 toward Rio Grande, turn left at PR-968 turn right at Camino Las Picúas, and turn right at Palmas Street.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 18.414121°
Basic: The basic purpose is for water access.
Overall: The overall purpose is for water access at Playita Rica within the Municipality of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed site has shallow depths between 1 foot and 13 feet. Based on the Addendum Benthic Communities Assessment – Marine and Fauna Survey August 2022 performed for the proposed project, the dominant benthic habitat at the project site is seagrasses (Thalassia testudinum). The seagrasses are covering 90-100 percent of the substrate. Also, juvenile stages of fish in the few small patches of sand were observed in the project site. The landward area surrounding the project site has various houses on parcels of land near the project site and south of the ocean. The proposed project site is located at the Espiritu Santo River State Natural Reserve. Also, the proposed site is located within a critical coastal wildlife (CCW) area designated by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources: Ensenada Comezón, and Espíritu Santo River Natural Reserve, Barrio Zarzal, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Critical Wildlife Areas (PRCWA), DNER, January 2005). The PRCWA divided the whole area into three areas: Espíritu Santo River, Punta Picúas, and Coastal-Marine Zone. The Ensenada Comezón is an inlet, surrounded by Punta Miquillo to the west side and Punta Picúa to the east side of the inlet.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to install a 2,800 square foot floating dock in order to gain water access. The measures of the pre-fabricate plastic and foam floating pier are 530 feet long by 5 feet wide with two sections at the end of the pier measuring: 50 feet long by 5 feet wide, and 30 feet long by 5 feet wide. Also, thirty-two galvanized screw anchors will be installed in the maritime floor with ¾ inch galvanized chains on the screw anchors attached to the floating pier to provide support. Jet-skies and vessels of 40 feet or less in size would use their anchors at the end of the floating pier.
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION – The applicant has not provided efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment at this time.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has not provided a compensatory mitigation plan at this time.
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.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Caribbean Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii); West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus); Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas); Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata); Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea); Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta); Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea); Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus); Giant manta ray (Manta birostris); Scalloped hammerhead shark (Spyrna lewini); Oceanic white tip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus); and Elkhorn corals (Acropora palmata), Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis), Boulder star coral (Orbicella franski), Mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata), Lobed star coral (Orbicella annularis), Rough cactus coral (Mycellophyllia ferox), Pillar collar (Dendrogyria cylindrus). These corals are not present at the footprint of the proposed project but would be present near the project site, for example at the adjacent backreef located at the north side of project site. The coast of Puerto Rico was designated as a critical habitat for listed Acropora corals (Staghorn and Elkhorn coral) provided the presence of a physical feature essential for this specie. However, based on the Addendum Benthic Communities Assessment – Marine and Fauna Survey August 2022 performed for the proposed project, the habitat found within the project footprint is seagrasses. No physical feature essential (Primary Constitute Element) to the conservation of the acropora corals, such as the presence of hardbottom within the footprint of the project is present. No designated critical habitat is present at the project site for acropora corals as well as for any other listed species. 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.
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 0.064 acres of seagrasses utilized by various life stages of fish. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Caribbean. 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 structure 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 Antilles-Miami Permits Section, Fund. Angel Ramos Annex Bldg., Suite 202, 383 F.D. Roosevelt Ave, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00918 or at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 impacts..
QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, Ms. Carmen G. Román, in writing at the Antilles Permits Section, Fund. Angel Ramos Annex Bldg., Suite 202, 383 F.D. Roosevelt Ave, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00918, or by electronic mail at email@example.com; or, by telephone at (787) 370-3482.
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.
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.