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Regulatory Public Notice 23-49; LRN-2023-00944

USACE - Nashville District, Regulatory Division
Published Dec. 19, 2023
Expiration date: 1/18/2024

SUBJECT:  This notice announces a request to modify the Tennessee Mitigation Fund (TMF) Statewide Wetland In-Lieu Fee Program Instrument (ILF Instrument) to include the Walker Branch In-Lieu Fee Wetland Mitigation Project.  

ILF PROGRAM SPONSOR:  Tennessee Mitigation Fund
                                                 300 Orlando Avenue
                                                 Nashville, Tennessee 37209

BACKGROUND:  The TMF Statewide Wetland In-Lieu Fee Program Instrument was approved on April 2, 2012, and modified on September 7, 2017, by the Nashville and Memphis Districts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The Walker Branch In-Lieu Fee Wetland Mitigation Project has been submitted as a proposed addition to the ILF Instrument pursuant to 33 CFR 332, Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources (Federal Register: April 10, 2008, effective June 9, 2008). Pursuant to 33 CFR 332.8 (d), the district engineer will provide public notice of the proposed addition of an in-lieu fee (ILF) program mitigation site. As such, we are issuing a public notice to solicit comments for the instrument modification due to the proposed addition of an ILF mitigation site.  

PURPOSE:  The Walker Branch In-Lieu Fee Wetland Mitigation Project would provide compensatory wetland mitigation for permitted impacts within the Lower Tennessee River Geographic Service Area in accordance with TMF’s approved ILF Instrument.  Wetland mitigation would be accomplished through the restoration and enhancement of 47.54 acres of wetland. 

LOCATION:  The Walker Branch In-Lieu Fee Wetland Mitigation Project is located at central coordinates 35.167°, -88.273° approximately 1.5 miles south of Savannah in Hardin County, Tennessee.  The property is natural area own by the State of Tennessee.  The proposed project boundary is located within the Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee USGS Topographic Quadrangle and consists of approximately 47.54 acres.

GENERAL INFORMATION:  An ILF program involves the restoration, establishment, re-establishment, enhancement, rehabilitation and/or preservation of aquatic resources through funds paid to a governmental or non-profit natural resources management entity to satisfy compensatory mitigation requirements for Department of the Army permits.  Similar to a mitigation bank, an ILF program sells compensatory mitigation credits to permittees whose obligation to provide compensatory mitigation is then transferred to the ILF program sponsor.  The operation and use of an ILF program are governed by an ILF program instrument. 

A group of federal and state regulatory and resource agency representatives known as the Interagency Review Team (IRT) oversee the establishment and management of the program.  The IRT is chaired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).  The primary role of the IRT is to facilitate the establishment of the ILF program through the development of an ILF Instrument.  The IRT also reviews ILF mitigation proposals and provides comments to the Corps.  

In Tennessee, the approval of the use of the ILF program for specific projects is the decision of the Corps pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and/or Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and/or the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation (TDEC) pursuant to Section 401 of the CWA and/or applicable state of Tennessee statute(s) and regulation(s).  The Corps and TDEC provide no guarantee that any particular individual or general permit proposing to use the ILF program for compensation mitigation would be authorized.  

PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  The sponsor proposes to re-establish 2.57 acres of palustrine forested wetlands and rehabilitate 8.15 acres of palustrine emergent wetlands.  Proposed restoration activities include removal of a farm road and berm to increase saturation and inundation of surface flows, removal of a non-native loblolly pine plantation, and treatment of invasive species where necessary.  Planting native hydrophytic vegetation after construction activities will assist in restoring and enhancing the natural, historic functions of the wetland area.  The sponsor also proposes to enhance 36.82 acres of farmed forested wetland by planting native hydrophytic tree and shrub species and end agricultural practices and mowing activities. 

Table 1:  Walker Branch Project Summary of Mitigation Approach

The wetland credits would be allocated to the Lower Tennessee River Geographic Service Area (See Exhibit A).

Details are contained in the Walker Branch In-Lieu Fee Wetland Mitigation Project Plan dated November 2023.  The plan can be viewed at: http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Media/PublicNotices.aspx.  Information in the plan would serve as the basis for deriving and releasing credits for the ILF program.  

HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps has reviewed the latest published version of the National Register of Historic Places, lists of properties determined eligible and other sources of information. No historic resources were identified within two (2) miles of the proposed project site in Hardin County, Tennessee.  The Corps invites responses to this public notice from American Indian Tribes or tribal governments; Federal, State, and local agencies; historical and archeological societies; and other parties likely to have knowledge of or concerns regarding historic properties and sites of religious and cultural significance at or near the project area.  After receipt of comments from this public notice, the Corps will evaluate potential impacts and consult with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and American Indian Tribes in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as appropriate.  Copies of this public notice are being provided to the SHPO and American Indian Tribes.  This public notice serves to initiate the public involvement requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended.  The Corps will continue to consult with the SHPO, American Indian Tribes, and other consulting parties in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. 

ENDANGERED/THREATENED SPECIES REVIEW:  A review of federally-listed species that are known to or believed to occur in Hardin County, Tennessee identified the following list:

A copy of this notice is being furnished to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) for their review. After receipt of any comments, the Corps will evaluate the potential effects to proposed and/or listed species and their designated critical habitat, and initiate consultation with the USFWS, if required.

OTHER APPROVALS:  Water Quality Certification from Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) pursuant to Section 401 (a)(1) of the CWA is required for the proposed project.  Other federal, state, and/or local approvals may be required for the proposed work.

EVALUATION:  After the end of the comment period, the district engineer will review all comments received and make an initial determination as to the potential of the proposed project to provide compensatory mitigation for activities authorized by DA permits. That determination 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. Factors relevant to the proposal will be considered including 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 Corps is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, State, and local agencies and officials; American Indian Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the proposed activity. All comments received will be considered by the Corps during the formulation of the initial determination of potential for the proposed activity.

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.

COMMENT PERIOD:  Written statements received in this office within 30 days from the date of this notice will become a part of the record and will be considered in the determination.  Any response to this notice should be directed to the Nashville District Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Division, Attention: Mark G. McIntosh at the above address or email:  mark.g.mcintosh@usace.army.mil.  

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Mark G. McIntosh
Acting Chief, Technical Services Branch
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

 

 


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