FEDERAL PUBLIC NOTICE
The District Engineer received a prospectus to establish a wetland compensatory mitigation site for federal and state permits as described below:
Back River at Howe Farms, LLC c/o Stokes Environmental Associates, Ltd. Attn: Thomas L. Stokes, Jr. 2310 Tower Place, Suite 107 Hampton, Virginia 23666
WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The proposed mitigation site is located on approximately 3.12 acres of farmland. The site is located in the Back River in Hampton, Virginia.
PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE: The sponsor proposes to establish, design, construct, and operate a compensatory wetland mitigation site to be known as the Howe Farms Mitigation Bank. The purpose of the mitigation project is to provide off-site compensatory mitigation for projects that result in unavoidable impacts to wetlands and other waters of the United States in the Lynnhaven-Poquoson and York River Drainage Basins.
The Sponsor plans to establish 2.72 acres of tidal wetlands and enhance 0.4 acres of upland buffer. The property where the project will occur currently consists 3.12 acres of grass pastureland with evidence of prior filling and is located adjacent to existing tidal wetlands along the Back River in Hampton, Virginia. The project plans involve grading and planting to restore wetland elevations, and will provide appropriate hydrology for the planted wetland vegetation though the grading and excavation of a tidal channel within the created wetlands. A vegetated buffer will also be planted to provide a transition between the created wetlands and existing upland areas on the property.
The sponsor proposed, for purposes of Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, that the geographic service area of this mitigation site would include the National Watershed Boundary Dataset Hydrologic Unit Codes 02080108 and 02080107. This proposed service area would include portions of the Cities of Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, and James City, New Kent, King and Queen, Gloucester, and York Counties.
Oversight of this mitigation site would be by an existing group of federal and state agency representatives. This interagency oversight group is known as the Interagency
Review Team (IRT). The Norfolk District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality chair the IRT.
This mitigation site may be one of a number of practicable options available to applicants to compensate for unavoidable wetland impacts associated with permits issued under the authority of Section 404 and 401 of the Clean Water Act (Public Law 95-217) in Virginia.
The actual approval of the use of this mitigation site for a specific project is the decision of the Corps pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and/or by the Department of Environmental Quality pursuant to Section 401 of the Clean Water Act and Title 62.1 of the Code of Virginia. The Corps and the Department of Environmental Quality provide no guarantee that any particular individual or general permit will be granted authorization to use this mitigation site tocompensate for unavoidable wetland impacts associated with a proposed permit. Authorization by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission may also be required for its use for specific projects.
AUTHORITY: Issuance of a public notice regarding proposed mitigation sites is required pursuant to the “Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources; Final Rule,” (Rule) as published in the April 10, 2008, Federal Register, Vol. 73, No. 70, Pages 19594-19705 (33 CFR Parts 325 and 332).
FEDERAL EVALUATION OF PROPOSAL: 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 this proposed mitigation site. This is not an application for work in Waters of the United States. The Corps of Engineers in evaluating this proposal will consider any comments received. Comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, 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, and consideration of property ownership.
Preliminary review indicates that: (1) no environmental impact statement would be required; (2) after conducting the NAO ESA Project Review Process, there may be an affect to listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973; and (3) no properties eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places may be in or near the permit area, or would likely be affected by the proposal. Additional information might change any of these findings.
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, orproposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency, that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). The Back River contains Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for the egg, larvae, juvenile and adult life stages of twelve species including Little Skate, Atlantic Herring, Red Hake, Windowpane Flounder, Winter Skate, Clearnose Skate, Sandbar Shark, Bluefish, Atlantic Butterfish, Scup, Summer Flounder, and Black Sea Bass. The habitat which this project would affect consists of shallow water,
intertidal and upland areas. The proposed project is described in Proposed Work and Purpose, above. Our assessment of the project leads us to a preliminary determination that it will not have a substantial adverse effect on EFH and therefore expanded EFH consultation is not required. Our rationale for this preliminary determination is based on the expected short-term nature of the direct impacts during construction and long-term benefits of the project on the aquatic environment caused by the proposed work. Based on comments from the National Marine Fisheries Service in response to this public notice, further EFH consultation may be necessary.
COMMENT PERIOD: Comments on this project should be made in writing, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers- (ATTN: CENAO-WRR), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia 23510-1096, and should be received by the close of business on December 9, 2021. The Prospectus and Drawings can be viewed at https://ribits.usace.army.mil/.
If you have any questions about this mitigation site, please contact:
Nicole Woodward at 757-201-7122 or firstname.lastname@example.org