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: Florida Department of Transportation, District 1
Attention: Nicole Monies
801 North Broadway Avenue
Bartow, Florida 33830
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The project site is located within the waters of Tampa Bay approximately 200 feet offshore and to the west of the Sunshine Skyway Causeway (Interstate 275) - South Skyway Fishing Pier, in Section 27, Township 33 South, Range 17 East, Terra Ceia, Manatee County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From St. Petersburg, take Interstate 275 (I-275) south over the Skyway Bridge to the South Skyway Fishing Pier, turn right onto the entrance road to the pier. The project is located within Tampa Bay to the left of the fishing pier.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude: 27.586155°
Basic: Erosion control
Overall: Provide wave attenuation resulting in the reduction of erosion along the existing Sunshine Skyway Causeway in Terra Ceia, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a saltwater estuarine system with an intertidal and subtidal subsystem. The onsite vegetation surrounding the project footprint consists of patchy and continuous seagrass. The existing area surrounding the project footprint consists of the Gulf of Mexico to the south and west, Tampa Bay to the north, estuarine and marine habitat to the east.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to place 3,065.5 cubic yards of concrete breakwaters consisting of triangular wave attenuation device (WAD) units each measuring 10.5 feet wide by 10.5 feet high and extending 6 feet above the waters’ surface. The breakwaters would be installed parallel to the southwestern portion of the Sunshine Skyway Causeway to assist with wave reduction and erosion control. The breakwaters would be installed in two (2) separate locations, southeast (location 1) and northwest (location 2) of the existing small bridge. Approximately 450 cubic yards of riprap would be placed as a base support for the breakwaters while 80 cubic yards of riprap would be placed as support at both ends of the breakwaters. The breakwater in location number 1 would extend approximately 1,200 feet in length, and 1,520 feet in length at location number 2. All work would take place within approximately 2,700 square feet (0.41-acre) of waters of the United States.
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 proposed project has been designed to avoid impacts to all benthic communities, including seagrass. The breakwaters would only be placed upon the sandy submerged bottom. Turbidity curtains would be installed around the project footprint during all phases of the work.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
Although compensatory mitigation would not be required as part of the proposed project, the applicant is proposing to create a permittee responsible on-site mitigation (PROMA) for future Florida Department of Transportation projects that may require mitigation. The PROMA aims to create approximately 8.5 acres of potential seagrass habitat, including 4.5 acres behind the breakwater at location number 1 and another 4 acres behind the breakwater at location number 2. The installation of the breakwaters would reduce high wave energy to very low wave energy, providing the conditions needed for seagrass recruitment and establishment between the breakwaters and the causeway. Additional seagrass establishment as proposed, would significantly improve ecological functions and services in Tampa Bay.
The Corps has evaluated 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 Green sea turtle (Chelnia mydas), Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata); smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata); Giant Manta Ray (Mobula birostris); West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus) and its designated critical habitat. The Corps determined that there would be no effect on the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) or 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.
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 0.41-acre of unvegetated sand, shell, and rock habitat 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: Based on the Florida State Plane coordinates provided by the applicant, the waterward edge of the proposed structure is 3.5 miles away from the near bottom edge of the Intracoastal Waterway and the Tampa Bay Harbor Federal Navigational 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 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 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, as well as the compensatory mitigation proposed.
QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, Michelle Gilbert, by electronic mail at Michelle.L.Gilbert@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (239) 334-1975 extension 0006.
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 South Florida Water Management District permit number 43043552.001, issued on November 9, 2022.
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.