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Biological Assessments (BA) for the Use of Bed-Leveling Devices at Port Canaveral, Port of Miami, Port Everglades, and the Palm Beach Entrance Channels

USACE Jacksonville District contracted ANAMAR to research, collect, and compile baseline information through interviews and document and database searches regarding the use of bed-leveling devices during dredging operations and the potential effects on sea turtles in Port Canaveral, Port Everglades, Port of Miami, and the Port of Palm Beach Entrance Channels.  A “bed-leveler” is considered to be any type of dragged device used to smooth sediment bottom irregularities left by the dredge.  Bed-levelers are used by dredge contractors following new work and maintenance dredging primarily to level out ridges and trenches created by dredging equipment or to reduce the height of dredged material disposal mounds that have reached an excessively high elevation. 

Four BAs were prepared for the use of bed leveling devices in the four specific channels.  The BAs include results from (1) research of existing data regarding the use of bed-leveling devices and the amount of hopper and bucket dredging conducted in the ports over the last 15 years; (2) compilation of stranding reports for turtles stranded within a 4-mile radius of the entrance channels for dates coinciding with dredging projects; and (3) interviews with dredging industry professionals concerning bed-leveling devices used by their companies and how these devices are used.  These BAs were submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to initiate ESA consultation.

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