SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the East Sacramento Ranch Project, which would result in impacts to approximately 4.48 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands, in or adjacent to Frye Creek, Morrison Creek, and unnamed tributaries to Morrison Creek and Elder Creek. 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: East Sacramento Ranch, LLC.
Attn: Mr. Michael Koewler
11350 Kiefer Boulevard
Sacramento, California 95830
AGENT: Gibson & Skordal, LLC.
Attn: Mr. Tom Skordal
2617 K Street, Suite 175
Sacramento, California 95814
LOCATION: The approximately 810-acre site is located south of Kiefer Boulevard, and west of Sunset Boulevard, in Sections 19, 24, 25, and 30, Township 8 North, Ranges 6 and 7 East, Mount Diablo Meridian, Latitude 38.51981° North, Longitude 121.25592° West, in Sacramento, Sacramento County, California.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to place fill material into approximately 4.48 acres of waters of the U.S., consisting of 1.45 acres of seasonal wetlands, 1.42 acres of seasonal wetland swales, and 1.61 acres of vernal pools to construct a mixed-use development. Proposed development would include approximately 204.1 acres of low-density residential, 86.1 acres of medium-density residential, 29.9 acres of high-density residential, 9.1 acres of commercial uses, a 9.4 acre elementary school site, 32.7 acres of parks, 19.5 acres of multi-use areas, 34.3 acres of landscaped parkways, and 331 acres of naturally-maintained open space preserve. The proposed project would involve the establishment of three open space preserve areas, the approximately 197.8-acre West Zinfandel Preserve, the approximately 88.2-acre East Zinfandel Preserve, and the approximately 45-acre Frye Creek Preserve. The three proposed open space areas would contain approximately 17.75 acres of preserved waters of the U.S., consisting of approximately 9.58 acres of vernal pools, 3.86 acres of seasonal wetlands, 3.26 acres of seasonal wetland swales, and 1.05 acres of intermittent stream.
Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to develop a large-scale, mixed-use development within the Urban Services Boundary of south-eastern Sacramento County. Approximately 50 acres of the proposed project site contains a rendering plant owned and operated by the Sacramento Rendering Company (SRC). According to the applicant, recent adjacent development in the area has resulted in a land-use problem between commercial and residential developments and the rendering plant. Therefore, SRC plans to move the rendering facility to a new location in the Sacramento Region. According to the applicant, development of the proposed project would provide the funding needed for the relocation and construction of a new rendering plant at a new location, would result in land-use compatibility, and would allow for future estimated growth in the region.
Background: The East Sacramento Ranch Project is part of the greater NewBridge Specific Plan, which is approximately 1,095 acres in size. A rendering plant currently utilizes approximately 50 acres of the East Sacramento Ranch site, which provides rendering services to most of Northern California and Northern Nevada, recycling approximately 240 million pounds of animal waste materials from grocery stores, butcher shops, restaurants, feedlots, ranches, and dairies in the region.
Environmental Setting. The proposed project site is located within the Mather Core Recovery Area for vernal pool species, and the western portion of the site is designated critical habitat for vernal pool species. There are approximately 22.23 acres of waters of the U.S., consisting of 1.05 acres of intermittent stream, 5.31 acres of seasonal wetland, 4.68 acres of seasonal wetland swales, and 11.19 acres of vernal pools on the proposed project site. The approximately 810-acre site is gently rolling to almost flat with elevations ranging between 125 and 150 feet above sea level. The proposed project site drains primarily to the southwest and west and is bordered on the east by the Folsom South Canal and Sunrise Boulevard, on the south by grasslands, on the west by grasslands and rural residences, and on the north by Kiefer Boulevard.
The north-eastern portion of the site is occupied by the animal rendering facility, and appurtenant facilities, including buildings, roads and parking areas, agricultural fields irrigated to dispose of excess water, and settling/treatment ponds. The remainder of the proposed project site is composed of primarily non-native annual grasslands that are grazed, with wetlands and an intermittent drainage scattered throughout the site.
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 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 avoid and preserve approximately 17.75 acres of waters of the U.S. on the site, which would be placed into a preserve, and includes those vernal pools designated as critical habitat for vernal pool species. In order to compensate for the loss of waters of the U.S., the applicant has prepared a draft Mitigation and Monitoring Plan, consisting of on-site re-establishment of 6.4 acres of previously existing vernal pools, and rehabilitation of 3.0 acres of existing degraded vernal pools.
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 has not indicated they have applied for certification.
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 proposed activity will affect Federally-listed endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat, including vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi), and vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi). 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 will 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, 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-2003-00669 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before April 30, 2014.
Lisa Gibson, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1325 J Street, Suite 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 Lisa Gibson, 916-557-5288, Lisa.M.Gibson2@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 5 drawings