All Interested Parties: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District (USACE), in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR), is proposing to dredge offshore shoals in federal waters to obtain sand for the Atlantic Coast of Maryland Shoreline Protection Project (project) by the year 2022. The project is located in the Town of ·Ocean City, Worcester County, Maryland. The project places sand on the beach of Ocean City, generally every four years, to reduce risk of coastal storm damage. The most recent beach replenishment contract, completed in December 2017, exhausted the sand from nearby offshore shoals in state waters. USACE and MD DNR have sometimes placed sand on Ocean City beach more frequently than every four years following severe storms, and sand from federal waters may be needed sooner than 2022.
Offshore shoals contain large quantities of suitable sand that can be cost-effectively obtained. USACE prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in 2008 evaluating four shoals in federal waters beyond the 3-mile limit as sources of sand for the project: Weaver Shoal, Isle of Wight Shoal, Shoal "A," and Bass Grounds (also known as First Lump and Shoal "B") (Enclosure). Shoal "B" was determined to be unsuitable at that time because of its high value as a fishing ground. The project has not utilized any of these offshore shoals in federal waters as borrow sources yet, because sufficient sand has been available from sources in nearby state waters. USACE is re-evaluating the four offshore shoals in federal waters as sand sources. Bass Grounds would not be utilized unless re-evaluation finds that its relative value as a fishing ground has declined substantially. Future dredging in federal waters would be conducted following guidelines to minimize long-term impacts to the offshore shoals. Because 10 years have elapsed since the 2008 EIS, USACE is preparing a supplemental environmental assessment (EA) documenting findings of the re-evaluation to ensure compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The draft EA is expected to be publicly released in Fall 2018.
USACE and MD DNR are seeking input on offshore shoal concerns which may assist in the reevaluation. Study efforts are being coordinated with other federal and state agencies, local governments and the public. For federal and state agencies receiving a copy of this notice, we request that you provide information concerning interests within your organization's area of responsibility or expertise. All comments are requested within 30 days of the date of this notice to the address below.
If you have any questions regarding this assessment, please contact Christopher Spaur by email at Christopher.C.Spaur@usace.army.mil, telephone at 410-962-6134, or mail at USACE, Planning Division, 2 Hopkins Plaza, Baltimore, MD 21201. Information about the assessment will be posted on the Worldwide Web at http://www.nab.usace.army.mil/.