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: City of Riviera Beach
Attn: Randy Sherman
200 West Blue Heron Boulevard
Riviera Beach, Florida 33404
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Lake Worth Lagoon. The project site is located within Lake Worth Lagoon east of the Intracoastal Waterway and south of Peanut Island in Section 06, Township 49 South, Range 43 East, Palm Beach County, Florida.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is to improve public mooring.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to improve public mooring within the Lake Worth Lagoon, in Palm Beach County, Florida.
The project site is located within the Lake Worth Lagoon, which are tidal waters assessable to fish and aquatic wildlife species as well as federally listed species such as manatees, sea turtles, smalltooth sawfish, and giant manta rays. The site is within one mile south of Peanut Island Park, Port of Palm Beach, Palm Beach, and several marinas. The project area contains depths that range from -4 feet NAVD to -20 feet NAVD.
The applicant did not provide an aquatic benthic survey; however, the Corps is aware that seagrass has been documented within the vicinity of the project footprint. According to the Lake Worth Lagoon Management Plan dated 2021, more than 43 acres of habitat was restored or enhanced from 2013-2020. In 2018, a total of 1,552 acres of seagrass was observed in the Lagoon, with 1,301 acres (83.8%) in the Northern Lagoon, 249 acres in the Southern Lagoon (16%) and 1 acre (.06%) in the Central Lagoon. This is a decrease of 30 acres from the previous Lagoon-wide mapping effort in 2013. Seagrass cover increased by 94 acres in the north segment between 2013 and 2018. Habitat restoration contributed an additional 30 acres of potential seagrass habitat in 2018 through construction of County restoration projects. The proposed project is located within the Northern Lagoon, with its generally higher salinities and clear waters strongly influenced by tidal flushing, remains a stronghold for seagrasses in the Lagoon.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to create a 208.43-acre mooring field consisting of 100 permanent mooring buoys. Each mooring buoy contains a 24” diameter mooring ball and perimeter buoy fixed to helical anchors.
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 has stated that the proposed installation of the helictical anchors would not adversely impact seagrasses, if present. Having a permanent mooring field for the public could reduce impacts to submerged aquatic resources by reducing the possibility of anchor chain scars.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
The applicant has stated that the proposed project would not adversely impact aquatic resources, therefore no compensatory mitigation should be required.
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, those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and other interested parties.
The Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus), Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Green (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles, Smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), and the Giant Manta Ray (Mobula birostris). The Corps will evaluate the proposed work and request concurrence from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service by separate letter, or obtain programmatic concurrence, as appropriate.
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 occur across approximately 208.43-acres of submerged substrate known to contain seagrass and is 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 project would not occur within the setback of a Federal Navigation Channel.
SECTION 408: The Corps has determined 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 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 waters. 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, Linda C. Knoeck, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410; or by e-mail at Linda.C.Knoeck@usace.army.mil.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency, 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 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.
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.