November 20, 2018
FEDERAL PUBLIC NOTICE
The District Commander has received a joint application for Federal and State permits as described below:
NASA Wallops Flight Facility
WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The project is located in the Atlantic Ocean, Wallops Island, Virginia.
PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE: The applicant proposes to perform dredging and excavation, use the dredge material to nourish the shoreline and to place a total of 6 breakwaters in the Atlantic Ocean restoring the shoreline to pre Hurricane Sandy conditions. The applicant’s purpose is to reduce potential damage and/or loss of NASA, U.S. NAVY, and MARS assets from waves associated with storm events. Restoration is necessary as the existing seawall is being undermined due to little or no protective sand beach remaining in the proposed work area.
Work will include placing an estimated 1.3 million cubic yards of sand along approximately 19,850 feet of shoreline in the infrastructure protection area. The beach fill material will come from excavating and performing minor dredging at the north Wallops Island beach. Currently sand is accreting in the area due to longshore transport from the south.
A pan excavator will be used to remove sand from approximately 200 acres of north Wallops Island beach to the mean low water line. The average excavation depth is 2.35 feet. Sand will be stockpiled and then loaded onto dump trucks for transport on existing roads to the southern end of the island. Bulldozers will be used to spread the fill material once it is placed on the beach. All heavy equipment will access the beach from existing roads and established access points. No new temporary or permanent roads will be constructed to access the beach or to transport the fill material to re-nourishment areas. The beach fill will start approximately 1,500 feet north of the Wallops Island-Assawoman Island property boundary and extend north for approximately 3.7 miles. The initial fill will be placed so that there will be a 6-foot-high berm extending a minimum of 70 feet seaward of the existing seawall. The remainder of the fill will slope seaward; the amount of that distance will vary along the length of the beach fill.
Six rubble mound breakwaters will be constructed in two sets of three each approximately 200 feet offshore from the mean high water line of the re-nourished beach in the shoreline infrastructure protection area. Each breakwater will be constructed of Virginia Department of Transportation Type I armor stone for the outer layer (which ranges from 0.75 to 2 tons) and Class II Stone for the core layer (which ranges from 150 to 499 pounds). All stone will be placed parallel to the shore and will measure approximately 130 feet long and 10 feet wide at top crest elevation. The breakwaters will be placed approximately 100 feet apart from each other. Water depths in these areas is approximately 4 to 8 feet. The southernmost set of three breakwaters will be constructed approximated 4000 feet north of the southern extent of beach nourishment. The second set of three breakwaters will be constructed approximately 10,000 feet north of the southern extent of beach nourishment. The rocks for constructing each breakwater will be transported to the Wallops Flight Facility area by rail, offloaded, and then trucked to the handling or placement site on Wallops Island. The stone will then be loaded onto barges and placed using heavy lifting equipment.
The proposed dredging of sand (37,515 cubic yards) from the north end of Wallops Island will impact 31 acres of land seaward of MHW. This material along with material excavated from uplands will be used to re-nourish the beach.
The proposed beach nourishment will impact a total of 139.4 acres of subaqueous bottom seaward of MHW.
The proposed breakwaters placed seaward of MLW will impact a total of 1.64 acres of subaqueous bottom.
No mitigation is proposed for the impacts to subaqueous bottom.
American beach grass (Ammophila breviligulata, cultivar "Cape") will be planted at 18 inch intervals over the re-established dune. Plants will be installed between October 1 and March 31. The planting area will be approximately 150 feet wide along the entire length of the newly created dune in the beach nourishment area.
Project drawings are attached.
AUTHORITY: Permits are required pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403), Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act (Public Law 95-217) and Title 62.1 of the Code of Virginia.
FEDERAL EVALUATION OF APPLICATION: 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. The decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits which reasonably may be expected from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All of the proposal's relevant factors will be considered, including conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The Environmental Protection Agency's "Guidelines for Specification of Disposal Sites for Dredged or Fill Material" will also be applied (Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act).
The Corps of Engineers 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 direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity. Anyone may request a public hearing to consider this permit application by writing to the District Commander within 30 days of the date of this notice, stating specific reasons for holding the public hearing. The District Commander will then decide if a hearing should be held.
Preliminary review indicates that: (l) no environmental impact statement will be required; (2) after conducting the NAO ESA Project Review Process there may be an effect to listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Official Species List and Species Conclusion Table is attached for review and comment by Fish and Wildlife Service; and (3) properties eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places are in or near the permit area, or would likely be affected by the proposal.
As the lead agency NASA has initiated consultation with the USFWS regarding potential effects on Endangered Species Act-listed birds and sea turtles that could be affected by the project. NASA and USFWS developed a number of mitigation measures to reduce the probability and intensity of potential effects. These include:
1. No work will be conducted in the borrow area at the north end of the island during the plover or turtle nesting season April to September. NASA would employ a biological monitor to survey the project site on a daily basis should work occur between the months of April and September.
2. NASA will educate all personnel working in the construction area on recognizing protected species and their likely habitat so that appropriate avoidance and minimization measures can be incorporated into activities.
3. Wallops Flight Facility administers a Protected Species Monitoring Program for a number of protected species that are likely to occur at Wallops Island including: seabeach amaranth, red knot, piping plover, American oystercatcher, and sea turtles.
4. Annually between March and September, NASA regularly surveys the Wallops Island beach for piping plover, red knot, and sea turtle activity as a component of its Natural Resources Management Program. Any nests discovered are identified with signage. Program staff provide outreach to beach users, including security staff and recreational users.
As the lead agency NASA has consulted with Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR) regarding the beach nourishment and the breakwater construction and received a concurrence email dated August 14, 2018. The inadvertent discovery of any previously unidentified archaeological resources would result in immediate cessation of work and notification of the Wallops Flight Facility Cultural Resources Manager.
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-267), requires all Federal agencies to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service on all actions, or proposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency, that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH).
As the lead agency NASA has prepared an Essential Fish Habitat Assessment and is consulting with NMFS Habitat Conservation Division to identify any necessary mitigation measures. Any measures identified will be added as soon as the coordination with the agencies are concluded.
As the lead agency NASA has initiated consultation with NOAA regarding potential effects of the project on listed marine mammals, fish and in-water sea turtles. NASA will implement the any mitigation measures identified during the consultation to minimize impacts to protected species.
Additional information might change any of these findings.
For compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended for projects located in Tidewater, the applicant must certify that federally licensed or permitted activities affecting Virginia's coastal uses or resources will be conducted in a manner consistent with the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program (VCP) and obtain concurrence from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Office of Environmental Impact Review (OEIR). We have not received a certification from the applicant prior to publication of this public notice. It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit a consistency certification to the Office of Environmental Impact Review for concurrence or objection and proof of concurrence must be submitted to the Corps prior to final permit issuance. A template federal consistency certification can be found here: http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/EnvironmentalImpactReview/FederalConsistencyReviews.aspx#cert. For more information or to obtain a list of the enforceable policies of the VCP, contact the Department of Environmental Quality, Office of Environmental Impact Review at (804) 698-4330 or e-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
COMMENT PERIOD: Comments on this project should be in writing and can be sent by either email to email@example.com, or by regular mail, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN: CENAO-WR-R), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia 23510-1011, and should be received by the close of business on December 26, 2018.
PRIVACY & CONFIDENTIALITY: Comments and information, including the identity of the submitter, submitted in response to this Public Notice may be disclosed, reproduced, and distributed at the discretion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Information that is submitted in connection with this Public Notice cannot be maintained as confidential by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Submissions should not include any information that the submitter seeks to preserve as confidential.
If you have any questions about this project or the permit process, contact Brian Denson at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 757-201-7792.