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:
Santa Rosa County
c/o Tanya Linzy
6051 Old Bagdad Highway, Suite 301
Milton, Florida 32583
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Escambia Bay. The project site is located at the Floridatown Park, at 3900 Floridatown Road, Tax Parcel ID 23-1N-29-1210-00600-0010, Section 23, Township 1 North, Range 29 West, Pace, Santa Rosa County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Pensacola, head east on E Main Street toward Commendencia Street. Turn left onto S Tarragona Street and turn right onto E Chase Street. Take a slight left onto I-110 N ramp toward I-10. Take Exit 6 toward FL-291/ David Hwy. Keep right at the fork and merge onto FL-291 N/ N Davis Hwy. Keep left to continue on US-90 Alt E. Continue onto US-90 E and turn right onto Diamond Street. Turn right onto Floridatown Road and the road will dead end at the Floridatown Park.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.580791°
Basic: To stabilize the shoreline and enhance the aquatic environment.
Overall: To construct a living shoreline to stabilize the shoreline and enhance the aquatic environment at the Floridatown Park in Santa Rosa County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project is located at the Floridatown Park, a county owned park situated on the north shoreline of Escambia Bay, near the mouth of Escambia River. The park has a boat ramp with remains of an attendant dock. The park also exhibits a sandy, unvegetated shoreline that has experienced erosion contributed by wave action and heavy run off during intense storm activity. The total coastal retreat based on historic aerials of the site from 1999 through 2019 was 22.17 feet. This equates to an average erosion rate of 1.1 to 1.7 feet per year. The existing area surrounding the project area consists of primarily residential properties developed with single family housing. Some shorelines within this portion of the waterbody have been stabilized with seawalls and riprap, and construction of single family docks are common within Escambia Bay.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct a living shoreline to enhance the habitat and stabilize the shoreline at Floridatown Park. The project involves the discharge of 834 cubic yards of sandy material over 0.23 acres along the intertidal zone below the Mean High Water Line (MHWL). The project involves the placement of riprap, totaling 1645 cubic yards below the MHWL, to construct two nearshore breakwaters measuring 22 feet by 100 feet and three irregular J-shaped breakwaters and riprap sill vent to protect the marsh sill. In addition, 69 cubic yards of riprap would be placed along a small area within the marsh sill for erosion control. The project also involves a total of 17,590 square feet of marsh planting of Spartina patens and Spartina alterniflora between the J-shaped breakwaters.
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:
“This design was further modified by the County in 2021 to minimize the impacts and reduce the overall project footprint and focus on the environmental restoration required to restore the beach and surrounding habitats to their original condition while protecting the beach from erosion. The project was originally designed with a footprint of 1.08 acres while the new design intends to only impact 0.66 acres as the footprint was reduced to minimize the in-water activity.
The overall project goal is to restore the shoreline, reduce erosion, and create resiliency for future sea level rise conditions and minimize loss of coastal habitat due to wind exposure and sea level rise. The current footprint is based on significant modeling and sized to withstand the anticipated conditions to prevent future loss of the shoreline and beachhead along this area.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
“The project purpose is to restore coastal habitat and minimize future loss of the beachhead and shoreline along the park fronting the bay. The project was specifically designed to create nearshore wetland habitat and provide opportunity for nutrient polishing of stormwater. The current shoreline has retreated over the years as shown by the historically significant cypress tree with exposed roots. The placement of the breakwaters specifically avoided sensitive habitats and will serve as a new attachment surface for oyster recruitment. It seems contradictory to require compensatory mitigation for a project that is intended to restore the coastal fringe along the park and create additional habitat for aquatic resources. The combined selected features (renourishment, vegetation plantings, and breakwaters) of the project are essential to restoring former conditions present at the site and provide long term protection considering the existing exposed conditions and future sea level rise. If the system works as designed, additional sediment accretion may result in additional shoreline habitat and opportunity for coastal marsh species to colonize the area. Based on these anticipated outcomes, compensatory mitigation should not be required for this habitat restoration project.”
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 but is not likely to adversely affect the Gulf Sturgeon or its designated critical habitat, swimming sea turtles (loggerhead, green, kemps ridley), and the West Indian Manatee. 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 0.66 acres of estuarine habitat utilized by various life stages of several shark species, shrimp species, coastal migratory pelagics, reef fish, and red drum. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Escambia Bay. 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 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 Pensacola Permits Section, 41 North Jefferson Street, Suite 301, Pensacola, Florida 32502 within 15 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, Mia Zarbo, in writing at the Pensacola Permits Section, 41 North Jefferson Street, Suite 301, Pensacola, Florida 32502; by electronic mail at Maria.D.Zarbo@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (850) 439-3474 Extension 5.
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 may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). The project is being reviewed under FDEP application no. ERP-0405808-001
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.