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: White Owl Management, LLC Attention: John Arrowsmith
11288 St. Andrew’s Way
Concord, Ohio 44077
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States (wetlands) associated with the tidal Doctor’s Lake. The project site is located at on Lot 12, parcel number 31-04-26-021258-000-00, on White Owl Road, in Section 31, Township 4 South, Range 26 East, Fleming Island, Clay County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From 295 South, take the Highway 17 exit and travel south for 6 miles. Turn west onto County Road 220 and travel 2 miles. Travel north onto Lakeshore Drive West and travel 0.74 miles. Turn west onto White Owl Road. Travel 0.08 mile until you note a slight right curve. The project site location is on the left in an empty lot.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.111875°
Basic: The basic project purpose is residential development and access to navigation.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to construct a single-family residence with associated infrastructure, single family dock, and construct a bulkhead with rip rap in Fleming Island, Clay County, Florida
Soils: The Soil Survey of St. Johns County, Florida (U.S.D.A., Soil Conservation Service, 1983) indicates that Sapelo fine sand is located on the property.
Vegetative Communities: The property is characterized by two generalized vegetative communities per the Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System [(FLUCFCS) Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), State Topographic Bureau, Thematic Mapping Section, 1999)]. These include Wetland Forested Mixed (FLUCFCS 6300) 0.41 acres and Upland Mixed Coniferous/Hardwood (FLUCFCS 4340) 0.01 acres. The wetland canopy is dominated by a mix of red maple (Acer rubrum), water oak (Quercus nigra), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum). The understory is comprised of poison ivy (Toxicodendrons radicans), dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor), Juncus sp., Smilax sp., Rubus sp., salt bush (Baccharis halimifolia), dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), Myrtle dahoon (Ilex myrtifolia), and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens).
PROJECT HISTORY: The Corps originally evaluated the proposed work and issued an Intent to Issue on May 11, 2021. It was determined that there were additional wetlands on site due to off site drainage issues, resulting in additional wetland impacts. Also, the applicant proposed a dock and rip rap as new proposed work.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization for the following, as updated from the previous public notice that was advertised on January 15, 2021:
1. To place 1,525-cubic-yards of clean fill into 0.32-acre of waters of the United States (palustrine forested wetlands adjacent to tidal) to construct a single family residence and associated infrastructure.
2. To construct a 2,232-square-foot single-family dock over waters of the United States (open, tidal water). The structure would consist of a 5-foot by 350-foot access pier, a 16-foot by 33-foot covered boat slip with a 2-foot overhang, a 3-foot by 16-foot catwalk, and a 3-foot by 33-foot catwalk. Also included is a 12-foot by 15-foot open boat lift, a 3-foot by 15-foot catwalk, and a partially covered 20-foot by 15-foot terminal platform. The roof cover is 504-square-feet with a 1-foot overhang with measurements of 12-feet by 38-feet by 35-feet by 23-feet by 23-feet by 15-feet. The dock would have two boat slips and one boat lift. There would be 102 piles made of wood that would be 10-inches wide installed by water jetting. A 5-foot by 42-foot boardwalk would be placed in wetlands adjacent to tidal; however, there would be no fill; therefore, the activity is not regulated by the Corps.
3. To install a 100-foot long by 1.5-foot-wide bulkhead with 1,525-cubic-yards of backfill in waters of the United States (palustrine forested wetlands adjacent to tidal). The bulkhead structure would be 5-feet in height and would be placed in wetlands landward of the mean high water line.
4.To install 37-cubic-yards of rip rap into waters of the United States (palustrine forested wetlands adjacent to tidal). The rip rap would be 103-feet-long by 7-feet-wide from the face of the proposed bulkhead. The rip rap would be placed at a 2 to 1 slope.
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:
Lot 12 is a historically platted single-family residence. Due to the location of the uplands within the White Owl Road setback, the house must be placed within the wetland portion of the lot. The lot owner wanted to construct their home adjacent to the lake, and also wished to construct a pool. To minimize wetland impacts, the house pad was moved eastward away from the lake, and the pool was removed from the plan completely. In order to allow for proper drainage, perimeter swales are proposed along the northern and southern property boundaries. There is no way to further minimize the fill while still allowing for proper and efficient drainage of the property. All wetland impacts are proposed solely to forested wetlands. No marsh, submerged aquatic vegetation, or essential fish habitat will be affected.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
To offset the 0.32 acres of wetland impact, we propose the purchase of 0.18 palustrine forested wetland mitigation credits from a mitigation bank whose service area includes the subject property.
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. Due to on 14 January 2021, the Corps Project Manager Consulted with the Corps Regulatory Archaeologist. On 14 January 2021, the Corps Regulatory Archaeologist stated that the environmental characteristics (poorly drained soils), past archaeological investigations in the immediate vicinity indicate the undertaking has very little likelihood of containing cultural resources. These factors, combined with the minimal activities planned in areas of archaeological potential, indicate the project has no potential to effect historic properties.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus). The work proposed would result in the installation of a dock with two slips in an Important Manatee Area. Use of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Manatee Key Florida, April 2013 resulted in the sequence A > B > C > D > G > H > I > N > O > P4 > may affect, not likely to adversely affect. The USFWS previously indicated that they concur with determinations of not likely to adversely affect based on that key; and, that no additional consultation is required.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana). The project site is not within the 13-mile United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) North Florida core foraging area for a Wood Stork nesting colony. The Corps evaluated potential effects to Wood Stork using The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida, September 2008. Use of this key resulted in the sequential determination A > B > C > D not likely to adversely affect, as the project is not located within a Core Foraging Area of a colony site, and no Wood Storks have been documented foraging on site. The USFWS previously indicated that they concur with determinations of not likely to adversely affect based on that key; and, that no additional consultation is required.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). Eastern Indigo Snake frequents several habitat types, including pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, high pine, dry prairie, tropical hardwood hammocks, edges of freshwater marshes, agricultural fields, coastal dunes, and human-altered habitats. Therefore, this species could utilize the area encompassed by the ESA scope of analysis for this project. Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) burrows are commonly utilized as refuge from winter cold and/or desiccating conditions in xeric habitats; and, hollowed root channels, hollow logs, or burrows of rodents, armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), or land crabs (Cardisoma guanhumi) provide shelter in wetter habitats. A recent evaluation of the project site identified only two active gopher tortoise burrows. One location would be affected by the WRF project construction; however, the other is on the JEA property but outside of the limits of construction and would not be affected. Prior to clearing or grubbing of tortoise-occupied habitat, a state-issued gopher tortoise relocation permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) would be obtained. In consideration of the potential presence of eastern indigo snake habitat, the Corps utilized The Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, August 2013. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A-B-C-not likely to adversely affect, as the applicant has agreed to implement the Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake, August 12, 2013 and there are no gopher tortoise burrows, holes, cavities, or other refugia where a snake could be buried or trapped and injured during project activities. The FWS has indicated that they concur with determinations of may affect, not likely to adversely affect based on the key for eastern indigo snakes; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.
The Corps has determined the proposed project would have no effect on the Shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus), smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata). The project site location is over 40 miles southwest of the St. Johns River Inlet to the Atlantic Ocean, therefore, there is little likelihood that these species would be present at the site. Additionally, per the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Endangered Species Act Section 7 Mapper Southeast Region October 2021 Beta Version, these species would not be located at the site. Based on this information, the Corps has determined that the proposed work would not affect these species. Therefore, no additional consultation is required.
The Corps executed a Resources At Risk (RAR) report on February 28, 2023. The RAR did not indicate that the site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species. The Corps also reviewed geospatial data and other available information. The Corps has not received or discovered any information that the project site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species.
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 0.16 acres of open, tidal water utilized by various life stages of bull shark, summer flounder, blue fish. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species areas or Gulf Atlantic Fisheries Management Council areas. 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 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 Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232 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, Terri M. Mashour, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232; by electronic mail at Terri.M.Mashour@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (904)232-2028.
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.
WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION: Water Quality Certification was obtained from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection under permit number 10-0231549-003-EI on November 3, 2022, with an expiration date of November 3, 2027.
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. State approval was obtained from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection under permit number 10-0231549-003-EI on November 3, 2022, with an expiration date of November 3, 2027.
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.