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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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SPK-1991-01139

Posted: 6/28/2013

Expiration date: 7/29/2013


Public Notice of Proposed Mitigation Bank

Action ID: SPK-1991-01139

Comments Period:  June 28, 2013 – July 29, 2013

SUBJECT:  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a proposal to establish the Yosemite Lake Mitigation Bank, which would result in the preservation of approximately 48.3 acres of waters, 297.1 acres of grasslands, re-habilitation of approximately 11.1 acres of waters, and re-establishment of approximately 31.0 acres of waters and 5.0 acres of riparian habitat in the Middle San Joaquin-Lower Chowchilla (HUC 18040001) watershed.  This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments.  This notice may also be viewed at the Corps web site at www.spk.usace.army.mil/Media/RegulatoryPublicNotices.aspx.  A copy of the Bank sponsor’s Yosemite Lake prospectus is available upon request or online at the following location: https://rsgisias.crrel.usace.army.mil/ribits/f?p=107:25:750533226186524::NO::P25_REPORT_ID,P3_LOCATION,P3_LOCATION_ID:4912,BANK,1751.

 

AUTHORITY:  This proposal is being evaluated for compensatory mitigation for losses of aquatic resources authorized under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.  The proposed mitigation bank would also meet mitigation requirements through the Endangered Species Act and relevant California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) program requirements.  This prospectus is being evaluated under 33 CFR Part 332.8.

 

Bank Sponsor:            Joseph Gallo Farms

Attn: Michael Gallo

P.O. Box 775

Atwater, California  95301

 

LOCATION:  The 397.5-acre site is located along the western shore of Yosemite Lake, situated between the lake and the Main/Crocker-Huffman Canal (MID Main Canal), northeast of the terminus of Old Lake Road, approximately 3 miles northeast of the City of Merced in eastern Merced County, in Sections 27 and 28, Township 6 South, Range 14 East, Mount Diablo Meridian, Latitude 37.38444°, Longitude -120.43830°, Merced County, California, and can be seen on the Yosemite Lake USGS 7.5 minute Topographic Quadrangle.

 

PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  The bank sponsor is proposing to establish an approximately 397.5-acre mitigation bank.  The site was previously disked and farmed, resulting in a reduction of the amount and extent of existing wetlands.  The proposal would re-establish wetlands onsite similar to natural conditions, based on evidence of historical wetlands from vegetation characteristics observed in the field and the interpretation of historical aerial photography.  The proposed densities have been designed based on the same soil type, to achieve similar densities as found on adjacent wetland preserves.  The proposed design would result in the preservation of approximately 19.7 acres of vernal pools, 28.6 acres of lagoon/marsh habitat, and 297.1 acres of annual grassland.  Re-habilitation would include approximately 0.3 acre of vernal pools and 10.8 acres of lagoon/marsh converted to deep vernal pools.  Re-establishment would include approximately 31.0 acres of vernal pools and 5.0 acres of riparian habitat.  The attached drawings provide additional project details.

 

      Proposed Service Area:  The bank sponsor has proposed a service area for endangered species credits and a separate service area for wetland credits.  The proposed service areas are subject to review and approval by the agency or agencies with authority over the resource in question.  The service areas presented below have not been approved at this time.

 

1.      The proposed endangered species service area (Figure 5a) would be the Southern Sierra Foothills Vernal Pool Region identified in the December 15, 2005, Recovery Plan for Vernal Pool Ecosystems of California and Southern Oregon.

2.      The proposed wetlands service area (Figure 5b) includes the USGS Hydrologic Units: Tulare-Buena Vista Lakes (18030012), Middle San Joaquin-Lower Chowchilla (18040001), Middle San Joaquin-Lower Merced-Lower Stanislaus (18040002), and Upper Chowchilla-Upper Fresno (18050007).

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

 

      Environmental Setting:  The site is characterized by annual non-native grassland adjacent to the Lake Yosemite recreation area.  There are approximately 20 acres of vernal pools, 39.4 acres of lagoon/marshes, and 333.1 acres of seasonal grasslands within the proposed bank site.  The bank site is directly bordered by the Cyril Smith Trust preserve on the north.  The Virginia Smith Trust and UC-Merced Natural Reserve lands lie within the immediate vicinity of the bank.  Together these three preserve areas encompass 9,600 acres of protected vernal pool habitat; the proposed Yosemite Lake bank would add another 397.5 acres to this interconnected regional preserve system,

 

A Department of the Army permit may be required for re-habilitation/re-establishment activities.

OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS:  The Inter-agency Review Team responsible for the review and approval of the proposed mitigation bank include representatives from the Corps, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  The CDFW has not participated at this time, but is expected to review the bank once the bank sponsor initiates the application process. 

 

HISTORIC PROPERTIES:  Based on the available information (including bank sponsor's March 1999 report entitled, Cultural Resources Survey Report for Yosemite Lake Estates, Merced County, California, and the May 2, 2011 report entitled, Cultural Resources Summary Memorandum for the Yosemite Lake Estates Project, Merced County, California), potentially eligible cultural resources may be affected by the proposed project.  The Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as appropriate.

 

ENDANGERED SPECIES:  The proposed activity may affect Federally-listed endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat.  The Corps has initiated consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as appropriate.

 

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 bank sponsor and our preliminary review.

 

EVALUATION FACTORS:  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 assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and other public interest factors.  Comments may be used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.

 

SUBMITTING COMMENTS:  Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-1991-01139 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before July 29, 2013.

 

Zachary Simmons, Project Manager

US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District

1325 J Street, Room 1350

Sacramento, California  95814-2922

Email: Zachary.M.Simmons@usace.army.mil

 

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 bank sponsor or the Corps' project manager Zachary Simmons, 916-557-6746, Zachary.M.Simmons@usace.army.mil.

 

Attachments: 8 drawings