COMMENTS PERIOD: April 16, 2020 – May 16, 2020
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application for the discharge of dredged and/or fill material in approximately 3.55 acres and 27,266 linear feet of waters of the United States to construct the Wasatch Peaks Ranch Development project. 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: WPR Development Company, Attn: Mr. Vance Bostock, 136 East South Temple, Suite 245, Salt Lake City, UT, 84111.
LOCATION: The approximately 12,800-acre project site is located on the east slope of the Wasatch Mountains, extending roughly from Weber Canyon on the north end to Farmington Canyon on the south, with the approximate midpoint of the property near Latitude 1.1067°, Longitude -111.8341°, near Davis and Morgan County, Utah, and can be seen on the Snow Basin USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to discharge dredged and/or fill material into waters of the United States to construct roads, utilities, alpine ski runs, and golf courses associated with a recreation-driven private residential development. These discharges would result in permanent impacts to approximately 1.32 acres of emergent marsh wetland, 0.99 acre of scrub-shrub wetland, 0.81 acre of forested wetland, 0.43 acre of open water pond, 10,835 linear feet of perennial channel, 12,836 linear feet of intermittent/ephemeral channel, and 3,595 linear feet of irrigation channel.
Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to provide recreation-based residential housing. The applicant believes there is a need to construct and operate a high-quality, master-planned residential community with multi-seasonal resort facilities to positively contribute to Morgan County’s long-term economic stability through new employment and increased tax base. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
The proposed impacts to aquatic resources would result from multiple road and utility crossings, grading and recontouring for ski trails and ski area access roads, and grading for construction of golf courses. All proposed buildings, parking areas, private homes and driveways, detention basins, storm water management systems, and other infrastructure would be constructed in uplands, having no impact on aquatic resources. Fewer than 750 residences would be constructed and would include a mix of single-family homes, townhomes, multi-family units and large ranch parcels. Other proposed buildings would include a community lodge, restaurants, retail space, and overnight accommodations. As proposed, the project would maintain over 75% of the property as open space and all avoided aquatic resources and associated 50-foot upland buffers, would be restricted from development.
Environmental Setting. The project area contains an estimated 53.74 acres of wetlands, consisting of 9.3 acres of emergent marsh wetlands, 19.6 acres of scrub shrub wetlands, and 16.6 acres of forested wetlands; 8.24 acres of open water ponds; 311,312 linear feet of streams, consisting of 108,085 linear feet of perennial streams, 97,752 linear feet of intermittent streams and 105,475 linear feet of ephemeral streams; and 33,409 linear feet of irrigation channel.
The site is characterized by varying elevation, topography, and habitat from east to west, as well as from north to south. However, the property is predominately contained within the montane region with some extension into the sagebrush flats near the northeastern portion of the property. Elevations range from 4,200 to 9,500 feet above sea-level. The entire property is privately owned.
Livestock grazing and sport hunting have been the principal land use practice within the property. Although sheep have grazed the hillsides in the past, cattle currently graze on the property during the spring, summer, and early fall. The area is located within an important watershed that contributes irrigation water for agricultural uses and contributes to the Weber River. The entire property is within the Weber River watershed.
Palustrine wetlands on the property are dominated by Nebraska sedge (Carex nebrascensis), blue-joint reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis), hard-stem bulrush (Scirpus acutus), field mint (Metha arvensis), few-flower spikerush (Eleocharis quinqueflora), false hellebore (Veratrum viride), and common/seep monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus). Scrub-shrub and forested wetlands are dominated by thinleaf alder (Alnus incana), red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea), Narrowleaf cottonwood (Populus angustifolia), black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii), and four species of willow (Salix exigua, Salix lutea, Salix wolfii and Salix bebbiana).
Alternatives. The applicant has provided information concerning project alternatives. Specifically, the applicant has stated that no other off-site alternatives are available that would meet the project purpose and need, and that the on-site alternatives previously considered would result in 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 establish new wetlands and enhance existing wetlands adjacent to the Weber River in the northern portion of the project area to offset impacts associates with the proposed development.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Quality is required for this project. Projects are usually certified where the project may create diffuse sources (non-point sources) of wastes which will occur only during the actual construction activity where best management practices would be employed to minimize pollution effects. Written comments on water quality certification should be submitted to Ms. Leanna Littler, Utah Division of Water Quality, P.O. Box 144870, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-4870, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org within 30 days of the beginning of this public notice period. The applicant has not indicated whether they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information (including applicant's report titled “Class III Cultural Resource Inventory for Wetland and Stream Impacts of the Wasatch Peaks Ranch Development Project, Morgan County, Utah”), 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: Based on the available information, the project would not affect any Federally-listed threatened or endangered species or their critical habitat that are protected by the Endangered Species Act. 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-2018-00538 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before May 16, 2020.
Michael Pectol, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
The Bountiful Regulatory Office
533 West 2600 South, Suite 150
Bountiful, Utah 84010
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 Michael Pectol at Michael.A.Pectol@usace.army.mil or (801) 295-8380 X 8315.
Attachments: 90 drawings