CONCORD, Mass. – The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) 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 the placement of dredged sand onto Nantasket Beach in Hull, Mass. This work is proposed in Massachusetts Bay/Nantasket Beach from State Park Road to Phipps Street in Hull.
Proposed work involves placement of 372,900 cubic yards of sand below the high tide line (HTL) on Nantasket Beach. Sand will cover 2.26 million square feet (52 acres) below the HTL at depths ranging up to 3.6 feet. Sand will be sourced from a dredging project on the Piscataqua River in New Hampshire and Maine sponsored by the Corps of Engineers. Vessels (tug/scows) with sand will make multiple trips between the Piscataqua River site and Nantasket Beach to reload with sand. The sand will be pumped to shore from a barge (carrying the pump) anchored approximately 2,600 feet from shore. The frequency of trips by the tugs/scows will be determined by the dredging schedule at the Piscataqua River site. At some point in the future the applicant intends to place an additional 322,000 cubic yards of sand on Nantasket Beach; however, the source and timing of this nourishment is not known and therefore not part of this permit review.
The applicant proposes that project impacts have been minimized to the extent possible, impacting the minimum area of tidal waters in order to ensure shoreline stabilization and public access to the beach. The sand to be utilized is compatible with Nantasket Beach sand grain size and composition. Work vessels traveling to/from Nantasket Beach will travel no faster than 10 knots to minimize the risk of injuring marine species (i.e. federally listed whales). The time window for receiving dredged material at Nantasket Beach would be 5 ½ months (October 15 to March 31) to protect sensitive species during migration, nesting and breeding.
This proposed project will impact 52 acres of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). This habitat consists of intertidal shoreline. Loss of this habitat may adversely affect species that use these waters and substrate. The Corps has made a preliminary determination that the site-specific adverse effect will not be substantial. Following the 2017 EFH programmatic agreement between the Corps and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the Corps will submit an EFH assessment to NMFS, who in turn 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 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. The public notice, with more specifics on the work proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, can be viewed on the Corps website at www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx.
Public comments on this work proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (file # NAE-2018-00495) should be forwarded no later than June 14, 2018 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Sarah Wilkinson), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Sarah Wilkinson at 978-318-8513 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.