Comment Period: May 10, 2023 – May 25, 2023
Subject: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District (Corps) is evaluating a permit application for the discharge of fill material in approximately 4.21 acres of open water and 6.385 acres of low-quality fringe wetlands which are waters of the United States to construct the remaining shoreline development of the Lake Las Vegas 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 fill material into water of the United States.
APPLICANT: Lake Las Vegas Master Association (LLVMA), Attn: Mr. Cody Winterton, 2030 Lake Las Vegas Parkway, Henderson, NV 89011.
LOCATION: The approximately 140-acre project site is located on Lake Las Vegas, near 2030 Lake Las Vegas Parkway, Latitude 36.117161° N, Longitude -114.915433°W Henderson, Clark County, Nevada and can be seen on the Henderson and Frenchman Mountain USGS Topographic Quadrangles.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The construction of Lake Las Vegas and the shoreline development thereof, was originally permitted by the Corps in 1989. That authorization had been in effect until August 26, 2016, when the permit expired. The discovery of the permit lapse was not discovered until June 2022, at which time construction along the Lake Las Vegas shoreline ceased. The applicant is seeking authorization to finish the shoreline development and for maintenance activities of Lake Las Vegas. The proposed project is composed of three project elements:
Element 1. After-the-Fact authorization of all development activities that occurred from August 26, 2016—when the Corps’ previous permit expired— through June 2022 when all development activities ceased upon discovery the Corps authorization lapse. This work is primarily limited to the fill activities associated with the development of "The Island" area. This area is highlighted as Element 1 in the attached Figure 2. Within this area, there were impacts to both the open water of Lake Las Vegas and low-quality fringe wetlands on the edge of the lake. The approximate location and boundaries of the fringe wetlands are shown in the attached Figures 3-5. Figure 6 illustrates the open water work that was conducted under Element 1. All impacts associated with Element 1 are permanent and this work resulted in impacts to 3.53 acres of open water and 3.136 acres of fringe wetlands. The attached Figure 7 summarizes the impacts to aquatic resources under Element 1.
Element 2. Request for authorization to complete all remaining shoreline development work. This work is comprised of the remaining fill activities for the completion of "The Island" development and the future development between "The Island" and the dam. The installation of up to four boat ramps is also included in this element. Two of these ramps would serve as maintenance access ramps for launching barge-sized vessels that are needed for lake maintenance and two of these ramps are planned for smaller, public recreation uses. The Element 2 area is highlighted on the attached Figure 2, and Figures 3-6 illustrate the location of aquatic features within Element 2. Under this element the final shoreline conditions of the Element 1 and Element 2 areas would be finalized and the channel that was constructed in the uplands area of “The Island” development area would be connected to the existing open water of the lake, resulting in the creation of additional open water resources. The final shoreline conditions for this area of the lake are presented in the attached Figure 8 and the location and plans for the proposed boat ramps are presented in the attached Figures
9-12. As proposed, this element would result in additional permanent impacts to 0.88 acre of open water and 2.92 acres of fringe wetlands and 1.209 acre of temporary impacts to fringe wetlands.
Element 3. The applicant has developed an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Manual for the Lake Las Vegas project to identify all O&M activities expected to be needed to support the property. After reviewing the activities and proposed operations for conducting the work, the Corps has determined that the only O&M activity that requires authorization under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act is the maintenance dredging of the lake. As the proposed dredging methods would result in discharging the return water flows back to the lake, this is a regulated activity that would require authorization. Larger dredging operations would generally be limited to the southwest end of the Lake where stormwaters overflow into the Lake; this larger dredging operation is anticipated to occur as frequently as every 10 years, depending on the magnitude and frequency of storm events. Annual dredging estimates for spot dredging needs is approximately 30 cubic yards of material from areas as large as half an acre and would be limited to suction dredging where the material would be dewatered on a barge and then loaded directly into trucks to be hauled off site and disposed of in upland locations. Request for authorization for this activity has been requested by the applicant.
The applicant has identified the purpose is to complete the shoreline development of Lake Las Vegas and to efficiently carry out lake operations and maintenance in an efficient manner into the future. The applicant believes there is a need to develop the Lake Las Vegas resort property as has been previously approved at the federal, state, and local level. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 316 surface acres of open water at the OHWM elevation of 1403.0 (Lake Las Vegas Datum) in Lake Las Vegas and 6.385 acres of low-quality fringe wetlands within the proposed development area. The development site is characterized by graded soils, as the site was under construction until all shoreline activities ceased in June 2022 when the permitting lapse was discovered. The fringe wetlands are limited to the littoral zone of the lake. Lake Las Vegas was sited in its existing location as the result of a 1966 land exchange with the federal government and was constructed specifically for the purpose of developing a lakeside residential resort property. Construction of the Lake Las Vegas Dam was completed, the lake began filling in 1991 and shoreline development was initiated soon thereafter. Lake Las Vegas was determined to be a traditionally navigable water of the U.S. in 2008 when the Corps made a navigable in-fact determination.
Alternatives. The applicant has provided 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 or minimize impacts to waters of the United States, including wetlands, and may require compensatory mitigation. The applicant has proposed to avoid permanent impacts where possible by incorporating native vegetation as the final shoreline condition in areas where the vegetation can withstand wind and wave action. The applicant has proposed to minimize impacts to water quality through the use of construction best management practices that have already been installed within the proposed development area and while performing operational and maintenance work. Additional minimization efforts include managing for the re-colonization of the fringe wetlands within the littoral zone of the lake following the completion of construction activities. As proposed, Elements 1 and 2 would create a net gain of 1.99 acre of open water. Under the original authorization for the construction and development of Lake Las Vegas a compensatory mitigation plan was developed and executed, no additional compensatory mitigation is being proposed by the applicant.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection is required for this project. The applicant has applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: The Corps completed consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, for the original permit authorization for the project. As the proposed development area has already been disturbed under the authorization of the original permit, there is no potential to affect historic properties for the current undertaking.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed activity may affect Federally-listed endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat. The Corps completed consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, resulting int the Service issuing a Biological Opinion (BO, File No. 1-5-90-F-19) dated September 25, 1990, for the Desert Tortoise (Gepherus agassizii). Subsequent amendments to the Biological Opinion have been approved by the Corps and the Service. The conditions of this Biological Opinion and the subsequent amendments are continuing to be implemented on the LLV property.
The USFWS Information, Planning, and Consultation website found the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empiodonax trailii extimus) and the Yellow-billed Cuckoo (coccyzu americanus) are listed species in the project area, in addition to the Desert Tortoise. Both the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher and Yellow-billed Cuckoo have designated critical habitat, but none occur within the project boundaries. Additionally, the habitat requirements for both species include dense riparian and marsh habitats which are not found within the project area.
The above determinations are based on information proved 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 the 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 determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.
SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-1901-08562 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before May 25, 2023.
Samuel Bohannon, Regulatory Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
the Reno Regulatory Field Office, 300 Booth Street, Room 3050,
Reno, Nevada 89509-1328
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 Samuel Bohannon, (775) 784-5304, Samuel.T.Bohannon@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 12 drawings