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:
APPICANT: City of Boca Raton
Attention: Zach Bihr
2500 NW 1st Avenue
Boca Raton, FL 33431
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Boca Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean. The project site is located at 1100 S. Ocean Boulevard, Section 29, Township 47 South, Range 43 East, Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Exit 44 East from Interstate 95 (Palm Beach County) and travel approx. 0.6 miles on W. Palmetto Park Road. Turn Right on SW 8th Terrace (0.4 mile); Turn left on W. Camino Real (0.9 mile); Turn left to stay on W. Camino Real (0.9 mile). (After crossing S. Dixie Hwy road becomes E. Camino Real). Take 2nd exit at traffic circle to stay on E. Camino Real (.4 mile) and cross Boca Raton Cable Bridge. Turn right on S. Ocean Blvd (0.2 mile); and turn left on De Soto Rd. (0.1 mile). Parking available at 1100 S. Ocean Blvd (South Inlet Park) and site is immediately to the north.
Beach Placement Area
Basic: Navigation and beach renourishment
Overall: The overall project purpose is to improve navigation within the Boca Inlet and improve shoreline stabilization south of the jetty.
The City of Boca Raton has conducted the on-going maintenance activities since 1972 on an as-needed basis. The Corps issued a standard permit dated December 20, 1979 under permit number 79K-1065 to “periodically maintenance dredge by hydraulic means for a 10-year period to a finished depth of no greater than -8 feet mean low water and to deposit material into navigable waters as beach renourishment.” The 1979 fill template included placement both within uplands and within the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1996, the Corps issued Permit SAJ-1994-01196 (IP-DSG) to dredge shoals within the inlet and place the material along the beach south of the inlet between R-223 and R-227. The dredging of the inlet and sand bypass was removed from SAJ-1994-01196 (IP-DSG) and issued under SAJ-2002-08890.
The Corps issued a standard permit under SAJ-2002-08890 (SP-MJW) dated October 31, 2012, with an expiration date of October 31, 2022. The permit authorized the project to conduct sand bypass operations at the Boca Inlet by annually dredging up to 80,000 cubic yards per year from 9.94 acres of sand on an as-needed basis year-round. The sand is dredged by a 10-inch cutter suction dredge on a small barge transferred to the down-drift beach and placed above the mean high water line within 500-feet of the jetty. The discharge of the dredge material via a pipeline, is placed along the beach approximately 75 feet south of the south jetty. Dredging operations occur during day light hours only. When dredging is not occurring, the small dredge is moored along the south seawall inside the inlet.
The City provided information that it dredges 20,000 to 82,000 cubic yards of sand annually from the 9.94 acres dredge footprint. Continued inlet sand bypassing operations are necessary and augment beach nourishments of the South Boca Raton beaches in efforts to meet the bypassing objective.
Boca Raton Inlet Dredge Footprint: The 9.94-acre area of the Boca Raton Inlet, has depths that range from 0 feet to 5 feet National Atlantic Vertical Datum 1988 (NAVD88). Target depths within the inlet are -8 feet mean low water (MLW) and -10.2 NAVD 88. The dredge material maintains a mean grain size ranging between 0.30 and 0.50 mm, a wet Munsell color ranging between 2.5Y 5/1 to 2.5Y 7/1, greater than 90% sand content, and less than 3% silt content. Table 1 provides a summary of the dredged and bypassed material completed annually from July 1 to June 30 each year since 2016.
Table 1. History of Bypassed material
Sand placement area: Proposed sand placement is within 500 feet south of the Boca Inlet Jetty from Florida Department of Environmental Protection Reference Monument (R) R-223 to R-223A. The estimated toe of fill (ETOF) is located 218 feet waterward of the high tide line. The coral survey completed January 31-February 1, 2023, as part of the reissuance of SAJ-1994-01196 (SP-PRC), issued on March 23, 2023, indicated that there is hard bottom habitat located within 500 feet of the ETOF.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks a 10-year re-authorization to bypass 83,000 cubic yards annually of sand from a 9.94-acre area of the Boca Raton Inlet to be placed along the shoreline south of the south Jetty. Specifically, activities include:
1. Dredging 9.94 acres of the Boca Raton Inlet to a depth of minus 8 feet Mean Low Water (MLW)/ -10.2 feet National Atlantic Vertical Datum 1988 (NAVD88) including a 2-foot overdredge with a 5:1 horizontal to vertical slope. The sand will be dredged by a 10-inch cutter suction dredge on a small barge transferred to the down-drift beach by a fixed pipe on the beach approximately 75 feet south of the south jetty. When dredging is not occurring, the small dredge is moored along the south seawall inside the inlet.
2. Sand placement will occur both landward and waterward of the high tide line within 500 feet of the south jetty adjacent to Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Reference Monument (R) R-223 and R-223A. The estimated toe of fill (ETOF) is located 218 feet waterward of the high tide line.
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 will complete daily turtle nesting surveys from March 1 through September 30
• The applicant will complete escarpment monitoring and leveling within the placement area.
• All material placement will be located landward of the mean high water line (MHWL)
• The City will conduct escarpment monitoring and leveling efforts within the 500-foot disposal site in conjunction and consistent with the South Boca Raton Beach Nourishment Project specific conditions and protocol (FDEP Permit No.: 0182699-001-JC, Specific Condition 15l).
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
“The proposed dredging will occur within a previously authorized dredging footprint and material will only be placed landward of the mean high water line (MHWL) and no impacts to resources are proposed.”
Impacts to offshore hardbottom habitat within the sand placement area were mitigated for under SAJ-1994-01194. The City of Boca Raton constructed a 2.39 acre mitigation reef in 2003 to offset impacts identified as a result of this project and the South Boca Raton Beach Renourishment (SAJ-1994-01194). The mitigation efforts and habitat performance has been accepted by state and federal regulatory agencies as sufficient for this project and the South Boca Raton Beach Renourishment.
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 proposed project may affect the threatened/endangered nesting sea turtles (Chelonia mydas, Eremochelys imbricate, Lepidochelys kempii, Dermochelys coriacea, Caretta caretta), the piping plover (Charadrius melodus), the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), and would not affect the manatee’s designated critical habitat. The Corps has also determined that the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the red knot (Chalidris canutus), and the Loggerhead sea turtle designated breeding (Unit # LOGG-N-19) and migratory critical habitat. Corps determined that the request is consistent with the Statewide Programmatic Biological Opinion (2015-SPBO, Service 2015) and the Programmatic Piping Plover Biological Opinion (P3BO, Service 2013). The project was previously reviewed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Activity Code: 41420-2011-CPA-0149. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife concurrence with this determination and need for reinitiation of consultation 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 endangered/threatened swimming sea turtles, the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), the Giant Manta Ray (Manta birostris), and the loggerhead critical habitat.
The Corps is reviewing the project for compliance with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) South Atlantic Regional Biological Opinion (SARBO) dated March 2020.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any other listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.
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 9.94 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 via dredging. 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 is not located within a federal channel nor a federal project. The applicant has provided information that the proposed periodic dredging of the inlet will not cause a hazard to navigation within the Boca Raton 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 is required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and a modification was issued on December 14, 2020 extending the expiration date of the permit for another five years under modification number: 0208818-004.
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.