Comments Period: October 5 – November 5
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Fremont Pass Recreation Pathway project, which would result in impacts to approximately 0.96 acre of waters of the United States, including wetlands, adjacent to Tenmile 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: Federal Highway Administration,
Attn: Mr. James Herlyck,
12300 W Dakota Ave,
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
LOCATION: The approximately 69-acre project site extends from the Copper Mountain Ski Area Far East Parking Lot and runs south along Ten Mile Creek and State Highway (SH) 91, approximately 3 miles to where SH 91 widens from two to three lanes, Latitude 39.4972472°, Longitude -106.1357°, Summit County, Colorado., and can be seen on the Copper Mountain USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The Federal Highway Administration, Central Federal Lands Highway Division (FHWA-CFLHD), in cooperation with U.S. Forest Service-White River National Forest (USFS) and Summit County, is proposing to construct a paved recreational trail on land owned by the USFS. The proposed project involves constructing approximately 3.3 miles of a new recreational pathway paralleling SH 91, located on the east side of Tenmile Creek. The proposed alignment would utilize segments of an abandoned rail bed. The rail bed currently is used for accessing overhead and buried utilities, as well as for accommodating motorized equipment for construction and maintenance of utilities along the corridor. The average width of the current bench is 15 feet. The proposed trail typical section is a 12-foot-wide asphalt path with 2-foot gravel shoulders on each side. In areas where the existing rail bed is narrower, such as at the south end of the trail alignment, the shoulder width is reduced to 1 foot for approximately 1,200 feet to minimize impacts to adjacent undisturbed areas. Work will also require the replacement/installation of culverts in streams that cross the proposed path alignment. A 460-foot long elevated boardwalk would be constructed over a wetland-fen complex along the project alignment to minimize impacts to this sensitive resource. In addition, a 12-foot-wide pedestrian overpass would be constructed over SH 91 and Tenmile Creek on the south end of the project area, where the proposed trail crosses the highway to the access point west of the highway.
The project would result in 0.80 acre of permanent impacts to wetlands, 0.06 acre of permanent impacts to stream channels, 0.09 acre of temporary impacts to wetlands, and 0.01 acre of temporary impact to streams. The specific activities that require a Department of the Army permit include the permanent impacts to wetlands and streams as a result of the trail construction and installation of culverts for 14 stream crossings, the temporary impacts to wetlands associated with equipment access, and the temporary impacts to streams associated with dewatering activities.
Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to improve the safety of cyclists traveling along SH 91 in Tenmile Canyon. The applicant believes there is a need to accomplish its objectives to maintain, enhance, connect, and expand the recreation pathway system. The Tenmile Canyon corridor south of Copper Mountain has been identified as a high priority pathway in Governor Hickenlooper’s “Colorado the Beautiful: 16 in 2016” trails initiative. According to the applicant, the proposed project would complement the current recreation pathway in Summit County by offering an extension of this system with the proposed pathway towards Fremont Pass. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. The project area occurs along the relatively narrow alluvial valley floor of Tenmile Creek, a perennial stream that flows into Dillion Reservoir and the Blue River. Vegetation types within the Project area include Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir forests, riparian and wetland habitats, upland meadows, and disturbed roadside habitats. The 600 feet of vertical relief within the project area ranges in elevation from a high of 10,320 feet mean sea level (msl) in the south to a low of 9,720 feet (MSL) in the north. There are approximately 19.16 acres of wetlands within the project area, including approximately 0.74 acre of forested wetlands, 17.59 acres of scrub-shrub wetlands, and 0.47 acre of emergent wetlands. In addition, the project area contains 0.04 acre of ponds, 0.27 acre of perennial streams, 0.05 acre of intermittent streams, and 0.01 acre of ephemeral stream. Finally, 0.42 acre of histosol, also referred to as fen soils, were identified in 12 locations.
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 mitigation at three separate locations: one onsite, and two offsite. Onsite mitigation proposes removal of a secondary abandoned railroad bed at two locations in order to re-establish a wetland-fen complex consisting of scrub-shrub wetlands. Offsite mitigation proposes re-establishment of palustrine scrub-shrub wetlands at the South Forty Parcel north of the town of Silverthorne by removal of existing fill, and restoration of a spring flowpath impacted by an abandoned road within the White River National Forest near Frey Gulch.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment is required for this project. The applicant has indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: In a letter to FHWA-CFL dated August 24, 2017, the SHPO concurred that the proposed pathway would have no adverse effect to historic properties.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: In a letter to FHWA-CFL dated April 10, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurred that the proposed pathway may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Canada lynx.
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-2018-00840 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before November 5, 2018.
Matthew Montgomery, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
400 Rood Avenue, Room 224
Grand Junction, Colorado 81501
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 Matthew Montgomery, (970) 243-1199 X 1017, Matthew.R.Montgomery@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: (15) Figures