Comment Period: June 29, 2021– July 29, 2021
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 367.61 acres of waters of the United States to construct the Kern River Channel Maintenance 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/or Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.
APPLICANT: City of Bakersfield, Attn: Ms. Kristina Budak, 1000 Buena Vista Road, Bakersfield, California 93301
LOCATION: The approximately 367.61-acre project site is located in the Kern River in Sections 13, 23, and 24, Township 30 South, Range 25 East; Sections 1 and 18, Township 30 South, Range 26 East; Section 6, Township 30 South Range 27 East; Sections 13, 23, 24, 26, and 31-34, Township 29 South, Range 28 East, MDB&M, Latitude 35.40781°, Longitude -119.01048°, City of Bakersfield, Kern County, California, and can be seen on the 7.5-minute USGS Topographic Quadrangles of Tupman, Stevens, Gosford, and Oildale.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Within the Kern River the applicant is proposing to execute the redistribution of sand and soil within the primary floodplain and limited areas within the secondary floodplain, and the removal of vegetation within these areas. Work is proposed to be done annually when the river channel is dry. The project would maintain the storm flow carrying capacity of the Kern River to handle intermediate regional flood flows. The project is a continuation of activities described in the Final Environmental Impact Report certified in December 1985, for the Kern River Channel Maintenance Program Project. The attached drawings provide additional project details. The applicant proposes to redistribute 70,000 cubic yards per year for a total of 350,000 cubic yards over five years. Sediment is proposed to be redistributed from upstream weirs to downstream areas where erosion has occurred.
Within the Kern River and its floodplains for Reach I the applicant proposes to impact 270.96 acres of non-wetland waters, and 52.71 acres of wetlands waters of the United States. This includes 10.75 acres of emergent wetlands, 28.34 acres of emergent forested wetlands, and 13.62 acres of emergent shrub wetlands that will be permanently removed from the Kern River. For Reach II the applicant proposes to impact 41.28 acres of non-wetland waters, and 2.66 acres of wetlands waters of the United States. This includes 2.66 acres of emergent wetlands that will be permanently removed from the Kern River. See the attached project plan drawings for further details.
Environmental Setting. The project sites consist of two reaches of the Kern River. These sites are located in the San Joaquin Valley on either side of the City of Bakersfield. Reach I is approximately 9.0 miles long and covers 323.67 acres and located on the eastern side of Bakersfield. Reach II is approximately 3.0 miles long and covers 43.94 acres and is located just east of the Interstate 5 Highway. The elevation of the sites range from 315 to 410 feet above mean sea level. Reach I is surrounded by development outside of the floodplain. Reach II is located in a more undeveloped area and is part of the City’s groundwater recharge facilities. The habitat type for Reach II is described as Great Valley Mesquite Scrub or Mesquite Savanah. This is considered a rare habitat type by the California Natural Diversity Database.
Alternatives. The applicant has provided some information concerning project alternatives. Additional information concerning project alternatives may be available from the applicant. 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.
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. The applicant is required to obtain a Streambed Alteration Agreement from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information, cultural resources may have been 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. Based on available information, the species of concern for this project include, but are not limited to, the California jewelflower (Caulanthus californicus), Kern mallow (Eremalche kernensis), San Joaquin woollythreads (Monolopia congdonii), blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia silus), southerwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus), Tipton kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides nitratoides), Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew (Sorex ornatus relictus), and the San Joaquin kt fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica). 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 may 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, in electronic form, referencing Public Notice SPK-2020-00880 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before July 29, 2021.
Ms. Kathy Norton, Sr. Project Manager
U.S. 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 or the Corps' project manager Ms. Kathy Norton, (916) 557-5260, Kathy.Norton@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 38 drawings