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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.

Public Notices published by the Sacramento District under the Regulatory Program are posted on this page. Once a public notice is available on-line, an email notification is sent to individuals on the appropriate mailing list.

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SPK-2009-00260, Public Notice of Proposed Lazy K Ranch Heritage Preserve Mitigation Bank, Merced County, California.

REGULATORY DIVISION
Published Jan. 5, 2024
Expiration date: 2/7/2024

Comment Period: January 9, 2024 – February 7, 2024

SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a proposal to establish the Lazy K Ranch Heritage Preserve Mitigation Bank, which would result in the establishment, enhancement, and/or preservation of approximately 541.0 acres of vernal pool landscape and some riparian habitat in and adjacent to the Chowchilla River within the Chowchilla River watershed. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments.  A copy of the Lazy K Ranch Mitigation Bank, August 9, 2023, prospectus is available online at the following location https://ribits.ops.usace.army.mil/ords/f?p=107:278:4537697276362::::P278_BANK_ID:1353  

AUTHORITY: This prospectus is being evaluated under 33 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 332.8.

SPONSOR:         Mitigation Investment Holdings

                              248 Southwoods Centre

                              Columbia, IL 62236-2462

                              Contact:  Mr. Carl Jensen, 916-205-7991,

                              carl@mitigationholdings.com

LOCATION: The approximately 541.0-acre site is located in Section 12, Township 9 South, Range 16 East, and in Sections 7-9, Township 9 South, Range 17 East, all of MDB&M, Latitude 37.16336°, Longitude -120.15300°, near the town of Chowchilla, Merced and Madera Counties, California.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The prospective Sponsor proposes to establish an approximately 541.0-acre mitigation bank. The project would result in the establishment, re-establishment, rehabilitation, enhancement, and/or preservation of approximately 541.0 acres of vernal pool landscape. The project site is located within the

Raynor Creek- Chowchilla River watershed. The bank proposes to preserve existing functioning habitat and re-establish 63.5-acres of vernal pools that were leveled, but not ripped, in the 1940’s. The mitigation bank proposes to offer 11.67 acres of restored vernal pool habitat, 46.43 acres of preserved vernal pools. The bank would also provide credits for other agencies including 53.50 acres of restored annual grassland,

421.25 acres of preserved annual grassland, 7.0 acres of restored riparian woodland, and 3.17 acres of preserved riparian woodland.

Proposed Service Areas: 

For Riparian Woodlands:  The proposed service area includes the Middle San Joaquin-Lower Chowchilla (HUC# 18040006), Lower San Joaquin River (HUC#18040006), Fresno River (HUC# 18040007), and Upper Merced River (HUC# 18040008) along the Central Valley floor which includes portions of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Mariposa, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Kern Counties.

The proposed Service Area for vernal pool credits corresponds to the Southern Sierra Foothills Vernal Pool Region along the San Joaquin Valley floor which includes portions of San Joaquin, Calaveras, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Mariposa, Merced, Madera, and Fresno Counties.

The associated drawings provide additional details.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Environmental Setting. The proposed mitigation bank area is approximately

541.0 acres of which 421.0 acres is proposed to be preserved as a vernal pool landscape.  The proposed mitigation bank site is adjacent to other properties within the Lazy K Ranch that have already been preserved as mitigation for other projects. The total preserved area of the ranch is approximately 1,556 acres of vernal pool landscape associated with the Chowchilla River. This area contains vernal pools, breeding pools for California tiger salamanders, along with riparian and upland habitats.

A Department of the Army permit may be required for restoration activities.

OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: The Interagency Review Team responsible for the review and approval of the proposed mitigation bank includes representatives from the Corps, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, and State Water Resources Control Board.

HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information, potentially eligible cultural resources may be affected by the proposed mitigation bank. 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 mitigation bank 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 and/or the National Marine Fisheries Service, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as appropriate. The project site supports breeding populations of California tiger salamander, western spadefoot toad, vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi), vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi), and midvalley fairy shrimp (Branchinecta mesovallensis). A population of succulent owl’s clover is also located on-site.  

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed mitigation bank may 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 Sponsor and our preliminary review.

EVALUATION FACTORS: 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 mitigation bank. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and other public interest factors. Comments are used in the evaluation of the proposed mitigation bank per

33 CFR Part 332.8 and in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.

SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice

SPK-2009-00260 must be submitted via email to the office listed below on or before February 7, 2024.

Mr. Zachary Fancher

Sr. Project Manager

US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District

Email: zachary.j.fancher@usace.army.mil

Telephone: (916) 557-6643

Attachments:  20 drawings