Comment Period: July 6, 2020 – August 5, 2020
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application for the discharge dredged or fill material and/or work in approximately 62.09 acres of waters of the United States to construct the Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage project. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments.
AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 for structures or work in or affecting navigable waters of the United States and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.
APPLICANT: California Department of Water Resources, Attn: Mr. Dean Messer, 3500 Industrial Boulevard, West Sacramento, CA 95691-6521
LOCATION: The approximately 102.76-acre project site is located on the right bank of the Sacramento River, between River Mile (RM) 82 and RM 84, along the northern boundary of the Yolo Bypass, Latitude 38.764844°, Longitude -121.636151°, Yolo County, California.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to construct a gated notch within Fremont Weir to allow increased flow from the Sacramento River to enter the Yolo Bypass. The invert of the notch would be 18 feet below the crest of Fremont Weir and allow up to 6,000 cubic feet per second through the gated notch to provide open channel flow for adult fish passage, juvenile emigration, and floodplain inundation. The 108-foot wide headworks structure would include three gates, a larger gate measuring 34 feet wide and two smaller gates measuring 27 feet wide. The proposed project would also construct an intake channel from the Sacramento River, a transport channel to the existing Tule Pond, and modifications to the existing Tule Channel and Agricultural Crossing 1. Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to enhance floodplain rearing habitat and fish passage in the Yolo Bypass and/or other suitable areas of the lower Sacramento River to benefit Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, and the Southern DPS of North American green sturgeon. The applicant believes there is decreased habitat quality in the Sacramento River and an inadequate ability to access higher quality habitat, which has led to a decline in abundance, spatial distribution, and life history diversity associated with native Federal and State-listed fish species. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. The project site includes the Fremont Weir and the Fremont Weir Wildlife Area portion of the northern Yolo Bypass. The Fremont Weir is the northern end of the Yolo Bypass and serves at the primary input of water flows as it conveys floodwaters from the Sacramento and Feather Rivers. The project site consists of freshwater emergent marsh, riverine, riparian wetland, riparian scrub, woodland, perennial grassland, and agriculture.
Alternatives. Project alternatives were evaluated in the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), published on June 7, 2019. 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 provide compensatory mitigation through onsite establishment, enhancement, or preservation, or to purchase credits at an existing bank or in-lieu fee program.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) is providing funding for the project and is the lead Federal agency for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other Federal laws and regulations. USBR completed a Final EIS on June 7, 2019, and signed a Record of Decision on September 10, 2019. 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 will apply for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: The USBR has completed a Programmatic Agreement for impacts to potentially eligible cultural resources. The Corps will coordinate with the State Historic Preservation Officer, as appropriate.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed activity may affect Federally-listed endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat. Consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), was conducted by the USBR, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The Corps will coordinate with both services, as appropriate.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project would adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat. The USBR completed consultation with NMFS for effects to EFH.
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-2017-00905 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before August 5, 2020
Zachary Simmons, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, Regulatory Division
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 Zachary Simmons, (916) 557-6746, Zachary.M.Simmons@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 5 drawings