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SAJ-2024-00711 (SP-TDS)

Jacksonville District
Published April 17, 2024
Expiration date: 5/7/2024

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) as described below:

APPLICANT:  Clay County Board of Commissioners

                       Mr. Richard Smith

                       477 Houston Street

                       Green Cove Springs, Florida 32043



WATERWAY AND LOCATION:  The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Peters Creek and Lower St. Johns River.  The project site is located on County Road 315 between Maryland Avenue and the CSX Railroad in Section 32, Township 5 South, Range 26 East, Clay County, Florida.


Directions to the site are as follows:  From Jacksonville, take Interstate 10 westbound to Interstate 295, take Interstate 295 southbound to US 17, take US 17 southbound to CR 315. Turn right onto CR 315 westbound.


APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:         Latitude         30.021778°

                                                                                 Longitude -81.717694°




Basic:  To improve an existing road.


Overall:  To enhance the ability to meet anticipated traffic demands, improve safety, improve water quality, and serve existing and future land uses along the CR 315 corridor of Clay County.


EXISTING CONDITIONS:  The approximate 22.5-acre project area has environmental resources and land uses that have been characterized pursuant to the Florida Department of Transportation publication Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS).



Low Density and Rural Residential (FLUCFCS 1100) (0.95 ac)

Multiple single-family residences are located adjacent to and throughout the extent of the project area. These residences contain single-family homes with various attendant

features unique to each individual home, such as pools, detached garages, and storage

sheds. These features can be best described as 1100: Residential, Low Density <Less

than two dwelling units per acre, per the (FLUCFCS 1999).


Commercial Services (FLUCFCS 1400) (1.26 ac)

One area falling adjacent to the easternmost limits of the proposed project area serves

as the location of the Clay County Public Safety- Logistic Support Facility. This feature is best described as 1400: Professional Services.


Upland Coniferous Forests (FLUCFCS 4100) (0.89 ac)

This community type was observed near the southern extent of the proposed project area. These areas can be best described as 4110: Upland Coniferous Forests, per the

FLUCFCS. This area differs from a coniferous plantation habitat in that the area is illdefined from planted and rowed areas of pine that you would traditionally find in a

coniferous plantation. The canopy in this area is dominated by slash pine (Pinus elliottii). Observed herbaceous groundcover included scattered saw palmetto (Serenoa repens),gallberry (Ilex glabra), sarsaparilla vine (Smilax pumila), and blackberry vine (Rubus spp.).


Upland Hardwood Forests (FLUCFCS 4200) (3.26 ac)

This vegetative community type is a large forested system found along the southern

extent of the proposed project limits and is best described as 420: Upland Hardwood

Forests. This community type is made up of large, mature hardwood species including

live oak (Quercus virginiana), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), water oak (Quercus nigra),

and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua). Groundcover consisted of saw palmetto,

gallberry, pineland threeawn (Aristida stricta), blackberry vine, and Virginia creeper

(Parthenocissus quinquefolia).


Upland Scrub, Pine and Hardwoods (FLUCFCS 4360) (1.33 ac)

This community type was observed to the east of the project area. Historical aerial

imagery and photographs indicate this area was likely subjected to previous disturbance

as a result of construction associated with the Safety and Logistics Office. This area can

best be described as 436: Upland Scrub, Pine and Hardwoods. The canopy in this area

is not dominated by any one species, but rather contains a mix of pine and hardwoods.

The understory consisted of a mix of various intermittent hardwoods with some scattered immature pines present. Groundcover consisted of saw palmetto, gallberry, and various species of vines.


Roads and Highways (FLUCFCS 8140) (6.07 ac)

This community type is representative of the existing project corridor and County Road

315, which transverses west from Maryland east to U.S. Highway 17. This county owned and maintained roadway is the subject of the proposed roadway expansion project and can further be described as 8144: County Maintained


Railroads (FLUCFCS 8160) (0.10 ac)

The CSX Railroad bisects the central limits of the project corridor and runs from northwest to southeast. This feature is best described as 8160: Railroads


Utilities (FLUCFCS 8300) (0.07 ac)

A lift/water pump station was observed situated adjacent to an existing stormwater pond

along the central southern proposed project limits in the vicinity of the Quigley House.

This feature is best described as 830: Utilities, per the FLUCFCS.


Reservoirs (FLUCFCS 5300) (0.25 ac)

This land use includes artificial impoundments of water used for water treatment,

floodplain compensation, or irrigation and is representative of several stormwater ponds

falling within or adjacent to the project corridor. Three (3) stormwater retention ponds exist within 500-feet of the roadway project area. Two (2) of these stormwater ponds have been identified as residential ponds. One (1) commercial pond is located near the southern limits, adjacent to and west of the CSX railroad. These ponds generally consist of open water with no or little littoral shelf containing wetland vegetation. These features are best described as 5300: Stormwater ponds and can further be described as 5340: reservoirs <10 acres, per the FLUCFCS.


Mixed Wetland Hardwoods (FLUCFCS 6170) (6.58 ac)

The mixed wetland hardwoods community can be found throughout the extent of the

proposed project limits. The canopy was comprised of a variety of species including water oak (Quercus nigra), laurel oak, sweet gum, and black gum (Nyssa biflora). The

understory consists of wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), and intermittent immature slash pine. The herbaceous groundcover consists of chalky bluestem, cinnamon fern

(Osmundastrum cinnamomea), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), Virginia chain fern

(Woodwardia virginica), pennywort, soft rush (Juncus effusus), and various species of

sedges (Carex spp.). This community type is best described as 6170: Mixed Wetland

Hardwoods, per the FLUCFCS.


PROPOSED WORK:  The applicant seeks authorization for the discharge of approximately 24,581 cubic yards of fill material into 2.38 acres of palustrine forested wetlands and 1.72 acres of herbaceous wetlands, as well as the excavation (cut) of 44,506 cubic yards of material from 4.47 acres of forested wetlands and 0.01 of herbaceous wetlands to widen and reconstruct a section of County Road (CR) 315 and 315B. Secondary impacts to 3.76 acres of palustrine forested wetlands are also proposed for a total of 12.35 acres of permanent impacts. The dredged material, if suitable, may be used as fill. Unsuitable material would be disposed of at an approved self-contained upland disposal location or at an approved landfill.  The proposed work involves widening and reconstructing CR 315 from a two-lane rural roadway to a four-lane urban section to include bike lands and sidewalks, as well as two wet detention stormwater ponds. The work also includes intersection improvements by adding a roundabout at 315B.


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 stated the following:


Potential impacts to jurisdictional wetland and surface waters were avoided and minimized to the extent possible while still providing the described purpose for the project which include widening and improvements to CR 315 and required stormwater management ponds. The existing CR 315 corridor (roadway and right-of-way) dictated the location of widening and proposed improvements and jurisdictional features within that footprint could not be avoided. Alternative locations were investigated for the stormwater ponds. The selection of stormwater pond locations was based on an evaluation of available properties for acquisition, site topography, and avoidance of environmental impacts. To eliminate the potential for additional impacts from drawdown and dewatering, the stormwater ponds will be constructed either with a liner or with the outlet control elevation set at the approximate seasonal highwater level (SHWL) of adjacent wetlands to prevent drawdown and dewatering.


• Pond 1 (Sheets 3 and 4) will utilize an impermeable liner up to and above the SHWL of the

remaining adjacent wetlands portions of WTL-4 and WTL-5 (27.00 ft.).


• The Pond 2 (Sheet 6) outlet control elevation (17.60 ft.) has been designed at or above the SHWL of the wetland on the north side of CR 315 which is under an existing conservation easement.


To further minimize the impacts to the other wetland and surface waters adjacent to the proposed impact areas, best management practices will be utilized during project implementation. These include the installation of silt fencing around construction areas just beyond the limits of clearing and grading to prevent soil erosion and runoff into adjacent features. The silt fencing will remain in place until the project is completed and soil surfaces have stabilized. All impacts will be restricted to the aerial limits shown on project design sheets. No operation of heavy machinery will be conducted outside of these aerial limits. All heavy vehicle traffic will access the wetland areas being cleared from the adjacent uplands. All clearing activities will take place from inside the area to be cleared. No heavy machinery or vegetation will be staged or stockpiled within adjacent wetland areas.


COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:


“The applicant proposed to purchase 5.209 UMAM credits (4.61 Forested and 0.59 herbaceous credits) from Sundew Mitigation Bank.”





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.





a. The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to

adversely affect the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). The Corps

evaluated potential impacts to the eastern indigo snake using the Eastern Indigo Snake

Programmatic Determination Key 2013. Use of this key resulted in the sequential

determination A > B > C > Not Likely to Adversely Affect due to the project area having no gopher tortoises, no burrows, holes, cavities, or other refugia where a snake could be buried or trapped, and due to the permit verification being conditioned for the use of the USFWS’s Standard Protection Measures For The Eastern Indigo Snake during site

preparation and project implementation. In consideration of the key sequence,

additional coordination with the USFWS is not required. 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.


b. Wood Stork (Mycteria americana): The Corps has determined the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork.  The project site is not within a Core foraging area.  The work proposed would affect suitable foraging habitat (SFH).  In consideration of this information, the Corps utilized 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, to determine potential effects upon this species.  Upon Corps receipt of a general concurrence issued by the JAFL through the Programmatic Concurrence on this key, determinations of projects made pursuant to this key require no further consultation with JAFL. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A-B-C-D may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) previously indicated that they concur with determinations of may affect, not likely to adversely affect based on the key for Wood Storks; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.


c. Tricolored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus) - The project area hosts forested habitat; therefore, the Corps evaluated routes to effect for this speciesThe species is listed as an IPAC species in the ClayCounty range, per U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and there is tricolored bat habitat within the project site. Therefore, the Corps evaluated potential effects to this species. The tricolored bat is one of the smallest bats native to North America. The once common species is wide ranging across the eastern and central United States and portions of southern Canada, Mexico and Central America. During the winter, tricolored bats are found in caves and mines, although in the southern United States, where caves are sparse, tricolored bats are often found roosting in road-associated culverts. During the spring, summer and fall, tricolored bats are found in forested habitats where they roost in trees, primarily among leaves. During the spring, summer and fall - collectively referred to as the non-hibernating seasons - tricolored bats primarily roost among live and dead leaf clusters of live or recently dead deciduous hardwood trees. In the southern and northern portions of the range, tricolored bats will also roost in Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) and Usnea trichodea lichen, respectively. In addition, tricolored bats have been observed roosting during summer among pine needles, eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), within artificial roosts like barns, beneath porch roofs, bridges, concrete bunkers, and rarely within caves. Female tricolored bats exhibit high site fidelity, returning year after year to the same summer roosting locations. Female tricolored bats form maternity colonies and switch roost trees regularly. Males roost singly. During the winter, tricolored bats hibernate - which means that they reduce their metabolic rates, body temperatures and heart rate - in caves and mines; although, in the southern United States, where caves are sparse, tricolored bats often hibernate in road-associated culverts, as well as sometimes in tree cavities and abandoned water wells. Tricolored bats exhibit high site fidelity with many individuals returning year after year to the same hibernaculum. The project site hosts habitat conducive to host tricolored bats. According to the applicant’s environmental consultant, the bats have not been recorded on site; however, a survey has not been completed. The proposed work would result in tricolored bat habitat removal as the CR 315 Widening would impact 6.85 acres of forested wetlands. Additionally, if the tricolored bat were to be present, the species is mobile and it could move to other forested habitat on site or adjacent to the west of the project site. Therefore, the Corps has determined the proposed work may affect, but would not be likely to adversely affect the tricolored bat. Because there is no programmatic agreement or Standard Local Operating Procedures for Endangered Species (SLOPES), a may affect, not likely to adversely affect determination by the Corps could require a conference opinion coordination with the USFWS. However, the species is not listed at this time; therefore, the Corps is not required to open coordination. The applicant’s environmental consultant stated that work would begin immediately following any permit authorization from the Corps and the state. Therefore, the work could begin prior to the species being officially designated as listed and the Corps has determined that a conference opinion would not be conducted as the work would occur and be completed prior to the species being designated. In the event that work does not occur prior to the species being listed, the applicant would be required to conduct their own Section 10 consultation with USFWS for the tricolored bat. Any authorization would be conditioned to include language that requires Section 10 consultation in the event that the work is not completed prior to designation. 


d. On 27 March 2023, the Corps executed an RAR report. The RAR indicated that the Information for Planning and Consultation (IPAC) species that Eastern Black rail (Laterallus jamaicensis ssp. jamaicensis) and Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) are found within Clay County. These species’ ranges do not include this area or habitat to support these species is not found on site. Therefore, routes to effects for these species were not reviewed. The RAR did not indicate that the site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any federally listed threatened or endangered species, other than those mentioned above. 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 federally listed, threatened, or endangered species, other than those mentioned above. 


e. Whooping Crane (Grus americana): This project site is located within wetland habitat which could be utilized by the species for foraging and breeding. This species breeds, migrates, winters, and forages in a variety of wetland and other habitats, including coastal marshes and estuaries, inland marshes, lakes, ponds, wet meadows and rivers, and agricultural fields. For feeding, whooping cranes primarily use shallow, seasonally, and semi permanently flooded palustrine wetlands for roosting, and various cropland and emergent wetlands. Whooping cranes are omnivorous, probing the soil subsurface with their bills and taking foods from the soil surface or vegetation. While the habitat features in the proposed project area have the potential to be utilized by this species, there is a low likelihood of them being impacted by the proposed project due to their small range and estimated population size of this species in Florida. Therefore, the Corps determined the proposed work would have no impact on this 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 12.35 acres of palustrine wetlands which are upstream and inland of tidal wetlands and waters utilized by various life stages of Summer Flounder Grouper and Blue Fish.  Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in a Puckett Creek.  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 activity 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 Jacksonville Permits Section, 701 San Marco Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207 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, Tracy D. Sanders, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, 701 San Marco Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207; by electronic mail at; or, by telephone at (904) 232-1171.   


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 may be required from the St. Johns River Water Management District.


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.