Comments Period: March 21, 2017 – April 21, 2017
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Sykes Pond project, which would result in impacts to approximately 0.193 acre of waters of the United States, including wetlands, in or adjacent to West Miller Creek. 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: Mr. Rick Chapman,
Miller Creek-M/R White River Ranch, LLC,
Post Office Box 838,
Meeker, Colorado 81641
LOCATION: The project site is located on West Miller Creek, approximately 12 miles southeast of the Town of Meeker, Colorado, within the SE ¼ NE ¼ of Section 14, Township 2 South, Range 93 West, Sixth Principal Meridian, Latitude 39.878346°, Longitude
-107.794023°, Rio Blanco County, and can be seen on the CO-VEATCH GULCH USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to construct a pond on channel using dam or berm fill in the channel. Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to construct an in-channel pond for recreational and aesthetic purposes. The applicant believes there is a need to build the pond for recreational and aesthetic purposes, to create a recreational fishery, and for stream stability and maintenance of wetland habitats at this location.
The berm is an earthen embankment as shown on the attached plans. The west or north side of the channel area would remain undisturbed. The east or south side of the channel would be excavated to obtain material and achieve overall depth. The pond maximum depth would be 14 feet with that depth achieved through excavation on the east side, no excavation is planned in the channel or wetlands, although those areas would be inundated as shown on the plans. The spillway is on the south (east) side of the berm and is 50 feet wide and at elevation 7,058 feet above mean sea level (AMSL), or approximately 8 feet above native ground at the channel location. The spillway would be rock lined, and include a narrow channel to convey inflow and outflow. The narrow channel through the spillway would provide the normal outlet. A pipe and outlet gate valve though the dam would provide the ability to release water for water rights calls on the pond.
The dam would require a discharge of fill material into 2,390 square feet (SF) (0.055 acre) of the channel and its adjacent wetlands. This would require 600 cubic yards of native fill material. The pond would inundate 6,025 SF (0.138 acre) of the channel and its adjacent wetlands. The top of the berm would include a roadway to the south side of the channel; this road currently fords the creek in the project area just upstream of the proposed dam. The pond margins on the southeast edge would become a wetland fringe. Although man-made, the pond will look and function like one of the large beaver ponds on other reaches of Miller Creek.
In summary, 600 cubic yards of native fill material would be discharged into West Miller
Creek and its abutting wetlands to create a dam and the overall impact is 8,415 SF (0.193 acre) with approximately 2,700 SF (0.062 acre) of that impact to open water of the channel and 5,715 SF (0.131 acre) of wetlands.
Excess excavated material from the pond site would be trucked down valley to the disposal area identified on the plans. The disposal area is downstream on the face of the lower existing pond, and it is dry habitat. The dam is fairly vertical at this location, and the plan is to add material to reshape the dam face creating a more natural landscape. No work is proposed in the pond or any other waters of the US for the disposal area. Erosion control measures including straw wattles will be placed at the new toe of fill once the work is complete.
Environmental Setting. The project area is located within the Veatch Gulch, Colorado U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 7.5 minute quadrangles. West Miller Creek is located in the Upper White River sub-basin of the White River watershed within Upper Colorado Region watershed, HUC 14020005. The U.S. Geological survey maps West Miller Creek as a perennial stream. The south facing slopes are primarily pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) and juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) woodland and the north facing slopes are Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) on the upper slopes with Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens) on the lower slopes. Riparian habitats are present on the valley floor with natural wetlands, altered grasslands, and scattered blue spruce. On the south side of the valley is a dense stand of hawthorn (Crataegus rivularis). There are stands of sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) on older debris fans on the edges of the hill slopes. The part of the valley floor where the pond is proposed has been altered by debris flows from the north from a small ravine, and from the south slopes. Other than the creek channel the majority of the area is grassland with smooth brome (Bromus inermis), timothy (Phleum pratense), slender wheatgrass (Elymus trachycaulus), Great Basin wild rye (Leymus cinereus) and western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii). The creek channel through the project area is mostly incised with greater incision occurring in the north, and active incisions present. The vegetation along the channel is a mix of beaked sedge (Carex utriculata), water sedge (Carex aquatilis), Baltic rush (Juncus balticus), redtop (Agrostis gigantea) and reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea). Just upstream of the proposed pond is large wetland complex that extends basically across the valley floor.
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 to restore a large mire/fen complex, which has been disturbed and dewatered by historic irrigation and ranching activities. The fen/mire wetland restoration proposed as compensatory mitigation is located downstream on Miller Creek on a hillside terrace east of the creek.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is required for this project. The applicant has indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: 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 project may affect Federally-listed threatened or endangered species and their critical habitat due to water depletions. These include the Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychochelius lucius), razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus), bonytail chub (Gila elegans), and humpback chub (Gila cypha), and their designated Critical Habitats. An estimate of 5.33 acre-feet per year of new water depletions would result from development of this project. The Corps will review the documentation and initiate formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to address ESA compliance for the regulated activity.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project would 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-2015-00412 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before April 21, 2017.
Tyler Adams, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
Colorado West Regulatory Branch
400 Rood Avenue, Room 224
Grand Junction, Colorado 81501
FAX (970) 241-2358
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 Tyler Adams, (970) 243-1199, extension 1013, Tyler.R.Adams@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 5 drawings