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Under the Corps' Regulatory Program, a public notice is the primary method for advising all interested parties of a proposed activity for which a permit is sought. Soliciting comments and information necessary to evaluate the probable impacts on the public interest. Public notices are also published to inform the public about new or proposed regulations, policies, guidance or permit procedures.

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  2011-00117 Permit Drawings
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Posted: 5/8/2012

Expiration date: 6/11/2012

SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Unionhouse Creek Channel Improvements Project, which would result in impacts to approximately 5.28 acres of waters of the United States in and adjacent to Unionhouse Creek. Impacts to waters would consist of approximately 5.24 acres of temporary impacts, and 0.04 acre of permanent impacts. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments.

AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.

APPLICANT: Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA)
                    Attn: Mr. Peter Ghelfi
                    1007 7th Street, 7th Floor
                    Sacramento, CA 95814

LOCATION: The approximately 30-acre site is located along Unionhouse Creek in Sections 15, 16 and 17, Township 7 N, Range 5 E, Mount Diablo Meridian, Latitude 38.46025°, Longitude -121.43269°, City of Sacramento, Sacramento County, California, and can be seen on the Florin, CA USGS topographic quadrangle.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to modify the channel of Unionhouse Creek for approximately 1.6 miles, from immediately west (downstream) of Bruceville Road to east (upstream) of Franklin Boulevard. The proposed channel modification would result in increasing channel’s capacity to contain 100-year storm flows within its banks. In its existing condition, Unionhouse Creek is a trapezoidal channel with a 12-foot-wide concrete bottom and steep, unlined banks. The proposed project would address two segments of the creek. The eastern segment of the proposed project consists of approximately 2,799 linear feet of Unionhouse Creek. This segment occurs between Bruceville Road (to the east), westward (downstream) to the channel’s crossing of Center Parkway. Concrete is proposed to be installed along the side slopes (banks) of this segment. The existing concrete channel bottom would also be repaired.

The western segment of the proposed project consists of approximately 5,334 linear feet of Unionhouse Creek. This segment occurs between Center Parkway (to the east), westward (downstream) to Franklin Boulevard. The approximately 12-foot-wide channel of this segment is proposed to be widened by an additional 8 feet (to a total approximately width of 20 feet), and the existing concrete channel bottom would also be repaired. Channel widening would involve excavating and grading the south bank of the channel; the north bank of the channel would not be excavated for widening purposes. At the completion of grading work, the south bank of the channel would be reseeded to restore vegetation conditions. While no new pumps or infrastructure is proposed with this project, an existing sump pump and outlet structure would be relocated approximately 8 feet south of its current position to accommodate the channel widening. For both segments of the project, the relative elevation of the channel bottom would not be changed (e.g., deepened). Constructing the channel improvements would temporarily affect approximately 5.24 acres (8,133 linear ft; 1.6 miles) of Unionhouse Creek for the in-channel work (e.g., grading, pouring concrete). An approximately 0.04 acre seasonal wetland swale that occurs south of the creek at the western end of the project area would be permanently impacted. Fill would be discharged into this wetland to support construction and operational access to the creek.

Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is flood risk reduction for properties adjacent the applicable segment of Unionhouse Creek. The applicant believes there is a need to adequately convey 100-year storm flows within the banks of Unionhouse Creek, which would additionally result in flood insurance relief for adjacent property owners (who are currently required to maintain flood insurance). Construction is proposed to occur between August and October of 2012. The attached drawings provide additional project details.


Environmental Setting. Pending verification of the project’s wetland delineation by the Corps, there are approximately 5.406 acres of waters of the U.S. within the approximately 30-acre project area. This consists of 5.369 acres of perennial streams (Unionhouse Creek and Strawberry Creek [which flows into Unionhouse Creek at the eastern end of the project area]), and 0.037 acre of a seasonal wetland swale. Unionhouse Creek is tributary to Morrison Creek, which drains in the Sacramento River. The project area is characterized by relatively level topography (with the exception of the creeks). The surrounding area consists of non-native annual grassland, suburban residential homes, and Cosumnes River College.

Alternatives. The applicant has provided information concerning project alternatives. Additional information concerning project alternatives may be available from the applicant or their agent. Other alternatives may develop during the review process for this permit application. All reasonable project alternatives, in particular those which may be less damaging to the aquatic environment, will be considered.

Mitigation. The Corps requires that applicants consider and use all reasonable and practical measures to avoid and minimize impacts to aquatic resources. If the applicant is unable to avoid or minimize all impacts, the Corps may require compensatory mitigation. The applicant has proposed several avoidance and minimization measures, and compensation for permanent impacts to upland giant garter snake habitat (see Endangered Species, below). The applicant does not propose compensatory mitigation for impacts to water of the U.S., on the basis that the majority of impacts would be temporary in nature, and offset by the avoidance and minimization measures. Also, constructing the project would result in a net gain of approximately 0.97 acre of waters based on widening the western segment of the Unionhouse Creek channel.

OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is required for this project. The applicant has indicated that they have applied for certification.

HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information (including the applicant's report entitled Unionhouse Creek Channel Improvements Project Cultural Resources Report [ICF International, April 2012]), no cultural resources were identified within the project's area of potential effect. The Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as appropriate.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: Based on the available information (including the applicant's report entitled Unionhouse Creek Channel Improvements Project Biological Assessment [ICF International, April 2012]), the proposed activity may affect Federally-listed endangered or threatened species. The Corps will initiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project will not adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) as defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

The above determinations are based on information provided by the applicant and our preliminary review.

EVALUATION FACTORS: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts, of the described activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the described activity, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the described activity will be considered, including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic 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, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The activity's impact on the public interest will include application of the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (40 CFR Part 230).

The Corps is soliciting comments from the public, Federal, State, and local agencies and officials, Indian tribes, and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.

SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-2012-00117 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before June 11, 2012.

Mary Pakenham-Walsh, Project Manager
Regulatory Division
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1325 J Street, Room 1350
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Corps is particularly interested in receiving comments related to the proposal's probable impacts on the affected aquatic environment and the secondary and cumulative effects. Anyone may request, in writing, that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests shall specifically state, with particularity, the reason(s) for holding a public hearing. If the Corps determines that the information received in response to this notice is inadequate for thorough evaluation, a public hearing may be warranted. If a public hearing is warranted, interested parties will be notified of the time, date, and location. Please note that all comment letters received are subject to release to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. If you have questions or need additional information please contact the applicant or the Corps' project manager Mary Pakenham-Walsh, 916-557-7718,

Attachments: 4 drawings