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Public Notices

Under the Corps' Regulatory Program, a public notice is the primary method for advising all interested parties of a proposed activity for which a permit is sought. Soliciting comments and information necessary to evaluate the probable impacts on the public interest. Public notices are also published to inform the public about new or proposed regulations, policies, guidance or permit procedures.

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SPK-2008-00699, Public Notice of a Permit Application, Valley Children's Hospital Infrastructure project, Madera County, California

Published Aug. 17, 2020
Expiration date: 9/16/2020

Comments Period:  August 18, 2020 September 16, 2020

SUBJECT:  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Valley Children's Hospital Infrastructure project, which would result in permanent fill impacts to approximately 1.05 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands.  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 fill material into waters of the United States.

APPLICANT:      Valley Children's Hospital
                             Attn: Mr. Jessie Hudgins
                             9300 Valley Childrens Place
                             Madera, California  93636

LOCATION:  The approximately 120.0-acre project site is located near the San Joaquin River, just west of State Route 41, in Sections 16, 17, 19, and 20, Township 12 South, Range 20 East, MDB&M, Latitude 36.88197°, Longitude -119.81054°, Gunner Ranch West Area Plan, Madera County, California, and can be seen on the Fresno North USGS Topographic Quadrangle.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  The applicant is proposing to construct infrastructure to further develop the Valley Children’s Hospital Complex area.  The project proposes to install new roads, improve existing roads, install underground utilities lines to the area, create parking lots, and construct three building pads.  The applicant proposes to fill 0.06 acres of non-wetland channel and 0.99 acres of vernal pools for the construction of this project.  Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to expand the medical campus of the Valley Children’s Hospital in the Gunner Ranch West Area Plan.  The applicant believes there is a need to proceed with this project.  The attached drawings provide additional project details.


Environmental Setting.  The project site is located on an historic vernal pool landscape that has been farmed and partially developed.  Waters of the United States on-site include approximately 0.06 acres of non-wetland channel and 0.99 acres of vernal pools within the project area.  The project site is within and around the existing Valley Children’s Hospital Complex, and proposes to add to this development.  The project is approximately one half mile west of the San Joaquin River and just west of State Route 41.  The site is located at an approximately 350-foot elevation above sea level.  The site is currently used as dry land farming for wheat and hay.  Agriculture is the main use of the land in and around the existing complex with a few businesses, the expanding hospital complex, and some residential areas near the site.

Alternatives.  The applicant has provided some 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 mitigate for impacts to waters of the United States at a Corps’ approved mitigation bank.

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.  Certification for this project has been issued. 

HISTORIC PROPERTIES:  Based on the available information, 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 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 Corps will initiate consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service, pursuant to Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as appropriate.

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, submitted in electronic form, referencing Public Notice SPK-2008-00699 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before September 16, 2020.

Ms. Kathy Norton, Sr. 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, the applicant’s consultant Gallaway Enterprises Inc., at, or the Corps' project manager Ms. Kathy Norton, (916) 557-5260, Thank you for reviewing this notice.

Attachments:  11 drawings