CONCORD, Mass. – Sacred Heart University, of Fairfield, Conn., on the behalf of and Sporting Good Properties, Inc., is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District to conduct work in waters of the U.S. in conjunction with protecting a 900 linear foot section of existing coastal dune and shoreline in Stratford, Conn. This work is proposed in tidal waters of the Housatonic River at 1207 Prospect Drive, Lordship Point, in Stratford.
The applicant proposes to expand upon an existing living shoreline, at the site of the former Lordship Gun Club, with the construction of a 900-foot-long by 8-foot-wide by 2-foot-high sill (7,200 square feet) 25 feet seaward of the toe of the existing dune slope. The sill will be made from locally-sourced, sterilized loose shell (cultch) and an area of approximately 0.51 acre behind the shell sill will be backfilled with one-foot of gravel and cobble bedding, then blended to grade with a mix of sand and organic sediment for the construction of an intertidal wetland "planting bench."
The applicant also proposes to anchor large, woody debris landward of the shell sill to dissipate wave energy and provide microhabitat complexity. In total, the project will result in the discharge of 1,965 cubic yards of fill consisting of shell "cultch" (265 cubic yards), gravel and cobble (830 cubic yards), and sand and organic medium (830 cubic yards).
The purpose of the proposed work is to protect a 900 linear foot section of the existing coastal dune and shoreline on the northern shore of Stratford Point from ongoing erosion and to create a suitable elevation behind the constructed sill for the establishment of tidal wetland vegetation. The proposed work is intended to minimize the adverse impact of shoreline erosion and provide a gradual rate of nourishment to re-establish resident shoreline flora and fauna.
The applicant has indicated that the project as currently designed seeks to avoid and minimize impacts to regulated resources onsite whereby the living shoreline-sill would maintain the natural functions of the aquatic ecosystem, add beneficial estuarine wetland habitat, and eliminate the erosion occurring along the steep embankment. Placement of the shell cultch and its backfill is anticipated to result in the conversion of approximately 0.68 acre from existing gravel-cobble upper intertidal habitat to sill and associated vegetated high marsh. The project as proposed will ultimately result in a net increase of approximately 0.51 acre (22,500 square feet) of re-established emergent wetland. Thus, compensatory mitigation is not being proposed by the applicant for permanent impacts to the disturbed intertidal environment.
This proposed project has the potential to have an adverse effect on approximately 0.51 acre of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for various species and life stages. However there is no Habitat Areas of Particular Concern designed at, or near, the site. The habitat at the proposed work location consists of an intertidal north-facing beach with a substrate of rock, cobble and coarse sand. Loss of hardbottom habitat may adversely affect benthic resources above by altering the type of epibenthic forage resources available and eliminating areas used for shelter. Natural shellfish habitat occurs waterward of the proposed work location, but will not be impacted by the proposal.
The Corps has made a preliminary determination that site-specific impacts of this project require expanded consultation for EFH. Accordingly, the Corps will submit an EFH assessment to National Marine Fisheries Service, who in tum will provide conservation recommendations to the Corps. The Corps will coordinate with the applicant regarding implementation of these recommendations. The EFH consultation will be concluded prior to the final permit decision.
The public notice, with more specifics on the work proposed by Sacred Heart University, can be viewed on the Corps website at www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx. The application for the federal permit was filed with the Corps in compliance with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which provides for federal regulation of any work in, or affecting navigable waters of the U.S.; and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge or fill of material in U.S. waters, including wetlands.
Public comments on this work proposed by the Sacred Heart University (file # NAE-2013-01681) should be forwarded no later than June 15, 2017 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Cori Rose), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Cori Rose at 978-318-8306 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.