SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Gooseberry Road Phase IV project, which would result in impacts to approximately 2.97-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 by the Corps under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States and by the State of Utah for Section 401 Water Quality Certification.
APPLICANT: Federal Highway Administration, Central Federal Lands Highway Division, Attn: Chris Longley
12300 West Dakota Avenue, Lakewood, Colorado 80228-2580
LOCATION: The 9.5-mile linear project site is located along Forest Highway 39 (FH-39) (Gooseberry Road) in Sections 10, 15, 22, 26, 27, 34 and 35, Township 24 South, Range 2 East; Sections 2, 11, 13, 14, and 24, Township 25 South, Range 2 East, Salt Lake Meridian; between Latitude 38.67390°, Longitude -111.66915° and Latitude 38.7865°, Longitude -111.6368°, Sevier County, Utah, and can be seen on the UT-Gooseberry Creek USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Gooseberry Road extends 29 miles, beginning approximately 7 miles east of Salina and extending south to the intersection of Forest Highway 42 (Fremont River Road) and Utah Forest Highway 13 (Fish Lake Road). The applicant is proposing to improve a 9.5 mile section of Gooseberry Road referred to as Phase IV. The applicant believes there is a need to improve FH-39 to provide better seasonal access to Fishlake National Forest, to improve highway safety and to reduce dust/erosion impacts. The basic project purpose is a linear transportation project. The proposed project would impact a total of 2.97 acres of jurisdictional wetlands, which includes 2.28-acres of shrub scrub wetland, 0.67-acres of palustrine emergent wetland and 0.02-acres of forested wetland.
A typical section for the improved road would have two 12-foot travel lanes; two 1-foot paved shoulders; two 5-foot taper zones; and a 5-foot ditch on one side of the road. The reconstruction project includes grading; drainage structures; subsurface drainage; erosion control; placement of earth fill including select borrow, crushed aggregate base, and asphalt pavement; and signing, striping, and other safety-related features. Road realignment would take place near the southern section of the project to avoid the Sevenmile Creek floodplain.
The original Gooseberry Road Phase I project was permitted and constructed under Corp permit number SPK-199550275. Phase II was permitted and partially constructed in 2010 under Corp permit number SPK-200550618-UO. The remaining 3.4-miles of Phase II and work planned work under Phase III have been combined and re-identified as Phase IV. Phase IV is the section of road that is being analyzed under this action. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. The 230-acre study area consists of a 100-foot buffer on either side of the existing road alignment, which includes approximately 11.88-acres of Corp jurisdictional waters. The site is located in the Fishlake National Forest and is mainly characterized by sub-alpine meadows with adjacent coniferous forest. The existing road crosses and parallels many waters of the U.S. such as Sevenmile Creek, Sawmill Creek, White Creek, Gottfredsen Creek and many unnamed tributaries. Wetlands within the project are classified as palustrine emergent, shrub-scrub and forested wetlands. Common species identified within the Palustrine emergent wetlands are tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa), artic rush (Juncus articus), alpine timothy (Phleum alpinum), clustered field sedge (Carex praegracilis) and small winged sedge (Carex microptera). Typical species identified in the shrub scrub wetlands were shining willow (Salix lucida) and Booth willow (Salix boothii). The forested wetlands are mainly comprised of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmanii) and Bebb’s willow (Salix Bebbiana).
Alternatives. The applicant has provided information concerning project alternatives. Alternatives were assessed under the original Phase I project approved in 2001. In addition to the Preferred Alternative and the No Action Alternative, other evaluated Alternatives included partial pavement and small sections of realignment. These additional Alternatives were all removed from further consideration due to not meeting the project purpose and need. 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 create a wetland mitigation site at a 2:1 ratio; 1.5-acres of palustrine emergent, 4.5-acres of shrub-scrub and 0.2-acres of forested wetland. The proposed mitigation site is located adjacent to Sevenmile Creek and FH-39. The proposed 6.2-acre mitigation site has been overgrazed and does not currently contain any wetland areas. Hydrologic investigations at the end of the growing season in 2010 identified the groundwater level between 18 and 36 inches. The mitigation site would be graded to these approximate levels to ensure wetland hydrology late in the season. Prior to planting, topsoil would be spread across the site. The site would be planted with native wetland species, using 10 inch containers and seeds for herbaceous vegetation, cuttings for shrubs and one gallon containers for trees.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Utah Division of Water Quality is required for this project. The Utah Division of Water Quality will review the project to determine if the proposed work will comply with applicable water quality standards. Projects are usually certified where the project may create diffuse sources (non-point sources) of waste which would occur only during the actual construction activity and where best management practices would be employed to minimize pollution effects. Written comments on water quality certification should be submitted to Mr. William Damery, Utah Division of Water Quality, 288 North 1460 West, P.O. Box 144870, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-4870, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, on or before January 11, 2013.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information, no 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 United States Fish and Wildlife Service previously made a no effect and no adverse effect determination based on the species addressed in the original January 1996 Biological Evaluation. A Biological Opinion was issued based on the 1996 information. Biological Re-evaluations were completed with the same conclusions in 2006, 2007, and 2012. The applicant’s 2012 report recommended no effect and no adverse effect on threatened or endangered species. The Corps will review the 2012 Biological Evaluation and consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when appropriate, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project will not adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) as defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act as no EFH habitat exists within the project area.
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, referencing Public Notice SPK-2005-50618 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before January 8, 2013.
Hollis Jencks, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Utah Regulatory Office
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 Hollis Jencks, 801-295-8380, Hollis.G.Jencks@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 27 drawings