Comment Period: March 19, 2021 – April 3, 2021
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application for the discharge of dredged or fill material in approximately 1.6 acres of waters of the U.S. to construct the Sky Tavern 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: Sky Tavern, Attn: Mr. Yale Spina, 21130 Mr. Rose Highway, Reno, Nevada 89511.
LOCATION: The approximately 3.4-acre project site is located at 21130 Mount Rose Highway, Latitude 39.336114°, Longitude -119.872292°, Reno, Washoe County, and can be seen on the Washoe City USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to discharge dredged or fill material into 1.6 acres of aquatic resources including 1.5 acres of palustrine emergent wetlands and 0.074 acre (512 linear feet) of perennial streams for improvements to the Sky Tavern Ski Area. The proposal includes the expansion of an existing parking lot and the construction of a new water storage pond for snowmaking (Enclosure 2). Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to increase recreational use and to provide high mountain water storage. The applicant believes there is a need to develop snowmaking options on the mountain to allow the area to open on time, stay open for longer periods of time, and to provide a better snow base for the ski area resulting in increased winter programs for the local communities. The applicant also believes there is a need for high mountain water storage for the City of Reno that would aid in addressing fire threats during the year.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 1.9 acres of wetlands and 0.074 acre (512-lienar feet) of perennial stream channels present on site that fall under the Corps’ jurisdiction within the 3.4-acre project area (Enclosure 3). The project is located on the eastern slope of Mount Rose, bordered to the north by Mount Rose Highway, to the east by Bums Gulch Road, to the south by a paved entrance to Sky Tavern, and to the west by a parking lot for Sky Tavern. The project area is characterized by willow scrub-shrub and emergent wetland communities. A perennial stream enters the project area through a culvert on the south and flows north until it reaches the northern project boundary. The channel continues to flow into drainages and creeks ultimately flowing into the Truckee River, the nearest traditional navigable water, approximately 16 linear miles northeast of the Project Area.
The aquatic resources are located in an area known as Grassy Lake. Information submitted by the applicant indicates that Grassy Lake used to be open water at least into the 1950’s. The area has since been partially drained during the construction of the Mount Rose Highway and has gradually filled with sediment from surface water run-off from the surrounding area.
The property is owned by the City of Reno and leased long-term by Sky Tavern, which is a non-profit organization that provides ski instruction to elementary through high school children.
Alternatives. The applicant has provided information concerning project alternatives. Additional information concerning project alternatives may be available from the applicant or their agent.
Off-site alternatives were not considered in the applicant’s permit application. An on‑site alternative for the installation of a water tank in lieu of the proposed aquatic resources fill was presented. The applicant has indicated that installing a water tank on-site would provide sufficient water storage for snow making and serve as a water source for fire suppression. However, the tank would need to be manually filled by pumping. This would remove the water from the environment and would store it until it is returned to the site via snow making, thus further drying out the surrounding areas and losing the benefits of open water. A tank would also require an impervious pad as a base which would reduce water penetration into the soil increasing surrounding runoff.
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 a permittee responsible mitigation project that includes enhancement, establishment, and restoration of aquatic resources as well as erosion control practices upslope of the project site (Enclosure 4).
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Nevada Division for Environmental Protection, is required for this project. The applicant has indicated they have not yet applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information, potentially eligible cultural resources may be affected by the proposed project. The Corps will initiate consultation with the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office, pursuant to Section 106 of the Nation Historic Preservation Act, as appropriate.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The project may affect 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, Native American 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‑2011‑00714 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before April 3, 2021.
Nicole Fresard, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
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 Nicole Fresard, (801) 295-8380 ext. 8321, Nicole.D.Fresard@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 4 drawings