Comments Period: September 17 – October 2, 2018
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Vineyard South Mine project, which would result in impacts to approximately 11.34 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands, in or adjacent to Elder Creek, for aggregate mining. 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: Granite Construction Company, Attn: Mr. Pete Dwelley, 4001 Bradshaw Road, Sacramento, CA 95827
LOCATION: The approximately 170-acre project site is located near Elder Creek, in the vicinity of Elder Creek Road, west of Bradshaw Road, Latitude 38.50620°, Longitude -121.34969°, Sacramento County, California, and can be seen on the Carmichael USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to discharge dredged and/or fill material into approximately 11.34 acres of waters of the U.S., including 11.92 acres of seasonal wetlands and 0.043 acre of ditch, for surface aggregate (sand and gravel) mining on approximately 146 acres of the Vineyard South Mine site. As proposed, the project would not avoid any on-site aquatic resources.
Mining would be initiated by the removal of topsoil and overburden using scrapers aided by a motor grader and bulldozer as needed. The topsoil and overburden would be stockpiled for future use in reclamation to backfill mine slopes and portions of the property. Following topsoil and overburden removal, approximately 13 million tons of marketable sand and gravel would be excavated using conventional mining equipment such as scrapers, front end loaders, excavators, and bulldozers. Mined materials would be transported by electric conveyor and/or truck to Granite's existing off‐site aggregate processing facility.
The maximum proposed depth of mining is 75 feet below ground surface (to elevation ‐18 feet mean sea level [msl]) with mining slopes of 1.5H:1V or flatter. According to the applicant, groundwater would not be encountered; a minimum buffer of 10 feet would remain between groundwater levels and the fully developed mine floor.
Mining is proposed in a small portion of the 100‐year floodplain of Elder Creek (the creek itself occurs close to, yet outside the project site boundary near its southeast corner; in-stream mining and/or work in the active waterway is not proposed). Prior to any mining activity in the
floodplain area, the Applicant would install an approximately three‐to‐five foot tall berm along an approximately 1,000‐foot portion of the southern limits of the southeast corner of the Project Area, to prevent surface water from entering into the mining areas. The mine would be developed and ultimately reclaimed to four pits: Northwest Pit, Northeast Pit, Southwest Pit and Southeast Pit. Planned end uses for the mine are open space (suitable for dryland grazing) and/or non‐prime agriculture.
Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to provide aggregate material to meet the future needs of Sacramento County. The applicant believes there is a need to conduct aggregate resource extraction to meet the regional demands for aggregate-based construction materials. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. Pending verification of the Applicant’s aquatic resources delineation, there are approximately 11.34 acres of waters of the U.S., including 11.92 acres of seasonal wetlands and 0.043 acre of ditch, within the project site. The site is located in an industrial/rural residential area of unincorporated Sacramento County, and is surrounded by a mix of land uses including agriculture. Terrain in the immediate vicinity of the project site is primarily flat; the site itself is also primarily flat. The elevation on the site ranges from approximately 56 to 61 feet above msl.
The site is almost entirely disturbed by a variety of historic and current land uses and as a result lacks native or naturalized vegetation communities. The project site consists primarily of fallow and active agricultural land as well as developed land in light industrial, recreational and residential uses. Farming on the site dates to at least the 1930’s. Currently, the northeastern portion of the site is actively-farmed for grass hay; the northwestern portion is an inactive grass hay field; the southern portion is mostly a paintball facility and residence, with the remainder inactive agricultural fields used for the production of row crops; and the center of the site is in industrial and residential uses with active grass hay farming around the residence. The project site also encompasses two rural residential parcels north of Elder Creek road.
Alternatives. The applicant has not 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 compensate for unavoidable impacts to waters of the U.S. through one or a combination of: (1) purchase of credits at a Corps-approved mitigation bank and/or payment into an in-lieu fee program, (2) preservation of an off-site property (permittee-responsible mitigation), or (3) fulfill Section 404 mitigation requirements associated with the (pending) South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan, if timing of project review vis-à-vis availability of SSHCP-related mitigation is amenable.
In addition, in order to minimize impacts, the applicant has proposed to minimize erosion and provide sediment control by retaining stormwater and runoff in the interior mining pits (basins). Surface runoff would be allowed to collect in the mine floor before it evaporates, infiltrates, or is used on‐site (e.g., for dust control). Prior to any mining‐related excavations, standard construction Best Management Practices (“BMPs”), such as installation of straw wattles, berms and stabilized construction entrances, would be implemented.
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 they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information (including applicant's report titled Cultural Resources Inventory and Evaluation Report, Vineyard South), 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 will initiate 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 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-2018-00773 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before October 2, 2018.
Mary Pakenham-Walsh, Senior Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1325 J Street, Room 1350
Sacramento, California 95814-2922
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, Mary.R.Pakenham-Walsh@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 4 drawings