Comments Period: December 13, 2018 – January 14, 2019
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Almost A Ranch Access project, which would result in impacts to approximately 0.15 acre of waters of the United States, including fen wetlands, abutting an unnamed tributary to Nary Draw, which is tributary to Haviland Lake. 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: Terry Hunt, Attn: Mr. Terry Hunt, 1955 Highland Avenue, Tarpon Springs, Florida 34688
LOCATION: The approximately 0.43-acre project site is located at 42574 US Highway 550, Latitude 37.53243°, Longitude -107.81689°, Durango, La Plata County, Colorado., and can be seen on the Electra Lake USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to construct a 350-foot long by 17-foot wide gravel driveway to provide access to an existing residence. The project would result in the permanent loss of 0.08 acre of fen wetland and 28 square feet of unnamed tributary, along with the temporary impact of 0.07 acre of fen wetland and less than 16 square feet of tributary. Two 20-foot long, 18-inch diameter corrugated metal culverts with riprap will be placed within the access road. It is estimated that the riprap would extend out approximately 4 feet on either side of the driveway for a width of 10 feet at each culvert.
Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to access an existing residence. The applicant believes there is a need to provide access to the residence at 42574 U.S. Highway 550 from the existing access road at a location west of a condominium complex to reduce disturbances caused by vehicular traffic to the residents of the condo complex that occur when utilizing the existing driveway (located southeast of the condo complex). According to the permit application, the current driveway route was designed approximately 40 years ago for a project that did not come to fruition. To access the existing driveway, vehicles pass just south of a group of four condos (which are accessed from the access road by a separate driveway and parking lot to the north prior to/west of the complex). Vehicles drive as close as 15 feet from the condo residents’ decks and 20 feet from their front doors/living room windows when accessing the residence at 42574 U.S. Highway 550. This vehicular traffic disturbs the condo residents’ use and enjoyment of their property, especially during the warmer months when the driveway is dusty, as windows and doors may be open, and residents are outside more. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 0.23 acre of fen wetland within the project area. The wetland within the project area is part of a larger wetland complex that extends off site. The wetlands abut an unnamed tributary to Nary Draw which flows directly into Haviland Lake. Haviland Lake is an impoundment of Elbert Creek, which flows directly into the Animas River, a traditional navigable waterway. The site is characterized by rural residential and open space and is bounded by US Highway 550 on the west, residential condominiums, a single-family residence, and driveway on the north and east and open space to the south. Havilland Lake is directly east of the project site.
Alternatives. The applicant feels that the proposed project is the only practicable alternative. According to the permit application, shifting the driveway north or south within the property would have greater impacts to aquatic resources. 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 purchase 0.08 wetland credit from the Animas River Wetlands, LLC mitigation bank to compensate for the loss of 0.08 acre of fen wetland.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, 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: Based on the available information (including the applicant's report titled Class I Records Search for Bear Ranch Driveway Project), 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: The project would not affect any Federally-listed threatened or endangered species or their critical habitat that are protected by the Endangered Species Act.
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-2016-00668 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before January 14, 2019.
Kara Hellige, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1970 E. 3rd Ave, #109
Durango, Colorado 81301
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 Kara Hellige, (970) 259-1604, Kara.A.Hellige@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 5 drawings