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SAJ-2024-00882 (SP-TDS)

Jacksonville District
Published May 22, 2024
Expiration date: 6/11/2024

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 the CSX Railroad and Highway 17 in Sections 32, 33 and 39, Township 5 South, Range 26 East, in Green Cove Springs, 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       30.024167°

                                                                                  Longitude -81.709889°




Basic:  To improve an existing road.


Overall:  To provide improvements to  improve the existing CR 315 corridor between the CSX and US 17  inClay County.




It is important to note that the portion of the proposed widening of CR 315 between Maryland Avenue and the CSX Railroad is being reviewed as a separate Department of the Army permit application, SAJ-2024-00711. A Corps public notice for the SAJ-2024-00711 was issued on April 17, 2024.



The approximate 7.6-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) (0.69 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 and Services (FLUCFCS 1400) ( 2.83 acre)

Commercial areas are linked with the distribution of products and services and this designation includes a broad spectrum of developed locations. Easily identifiable areas include commercial strip developments, warehouses, and shopping centers. This land use type occurs around Highway 17, specifically the Speedway gas station, U-Store, and the Springs car wash.


Streams and Waterways (FLUCFCS 510)(0.73 ac)


Reservoirs less than 10 acres (FLUCFCS 534)(0.09 ac)


Transportation (FLUCFCS 810) (2.97 ac)

Transportation facilities are used for the movement of people and goods; therefore, they are major influences on land and many land use boundaries are outlined by them. Highways are easily identifiable on medium altitude photography. Highways include areas used for interchanges, limited access rights-of-way and service facilities. The center median, pavement and sizable buffer zone should be included even if exact boundaries cannot be detected. The Transportation category encompasses rail-oriented

facilities including stations, round-houses, repair and switching yards and related areas. Airport facilities include runways, intervening land, terminals, service buildings, navigational aids, fuel storage, parking lots and a limited buffer zone and fall within the

Transportation category.


Vegetated Non-Forested Wetlands (FLUCFCS 640) (0.12 ac)

Vegetated Non-forested Wetlands include marshes and seasonably flooded basins and meadows. These communities are usually confined to relatively level, low-lying areas. This category does not include areas which have a tree cover which meets the crown closure threshold for the forested categories When the forest crown cover is less than the threshold for wetland forest or is non-woody, it will be included in this

category. Sawgrass and cattail are the predominant species in freshwater marshes while spartina and needlerush are the predominant species in the saltwater

marsh communities.



Railroad (FLUCFCS 812) (0.17 ac)


PROPOSED WORK:  The applicant seeks authorization for the discharge of approximately 2,884 cubic yards of fill material into 0.94 acre of herbaceous wetlands to widen County Road (CR) 315. Permanent secondary impacts to 0.06 acre of palustrine emergent wetlands are also proposed for the construction of the associated stormwater pond. 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 one wet detention stormwater pond.


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 the required stormwater management pond. 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 pond. The selection of stormwater pond location 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 pond will  be controlled at a normal water level elevation 12.80, which is between EL 12.9, the average of ESHWL and GWT and EL 12.72, the permitted control elevation of the existing adjacent pond. 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 total functional loss to jurisdictional features from the unavoidable proposed project impacts is 0.25 WRAP  credits. This includes 0.01 forested wetland credits and 0.24 herbaceous wetland credits. All impacts to jurisdictional features are proposed to receive compensatory mitigation based on the calculated functional loss.


The applicant proposes to purchase 0.25 WRAP credits from an approved 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. Tricolored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus) - The project area hosts forested habitat; therefore, the Corps evaluated routes to effect for this species. The species is listed as an IPAC species in the Clay County 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 that is 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. 


c. 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.


d. Wood Stork (Mycteria Americana):  The project site is not located 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. Use of this key resulted in the sequence  A-B-C-D Not Likely To Adversely Affect.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) previously indicated that they concur with determinations of not likely to adversely affect based on the key for Wood Storks; and, that no additional consultation is necessary. 



e. On 6 May 2024, 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) are found within Clay County. This 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. 



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 0.94 acre of herbaceous 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 the Lower St. Johns River above Black 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 21 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.