SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a proposal to establish the Grasslands Mitigation Bank, which would result in the preservation of an approximately 281-acre site and establishment of 136 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands, adjacent to the San Luis Wasteway and the Volta Wildlife area in the Grasslands Ecological Area, located in the Middle San Joaquin-Lower Chowchilla, California (HUC 18040001) watershed. A copy of the Applicant’s Grasslands Mitigation Bank prospectus is available upon request.
AUTHORITY: This prospectus is being evaluated under 33 CFR Part 332.8.
Bank Sponsor: Westervelt Ecological Services, Attn: Robert Capriola, 600 North Market Boulevard, Suite 3,
Sacramento, California 95834-1257
LOCATION: The 281-acre site is located adjacent to the San Luis Wasteway and the Volta Wildlife area in the Grasslands Ecological Area, Section 20, Township 9 South, Range 10 East, Mount Diablo Meridian, Latitude 37.13581°, Longitude -120.90191°, Merced County, California, and can be seen on the CA-VOLTA USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The bank sponsor is proposing to establish an approximately 281-acre mitigation bank consisting of two distinct sections. Approximately 90 acres of the site would be dedicated to the establishment of approximately 46 acres of depressional seasonal wetlands. These seasonal wetlands would rely solely on natural hydrology. Approximately 180 acres of the site would be dedicated to the establishment of giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas) emergent marsh and upland habitat. The bank sponsor estimates that approximately 50% (90 acres) would be aquatic habitat, consisting of open water ranging in depth to a maximum of 18 inches, and tule clumps. The hydrology of the giant garter snake aquatic habitat would be managed by the bank sponsor and relies on water deliveries from the Grassland Water District and the Central California Irrigation District. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 1.16 acres of drainage ditches which convey irrigation and natural drainage from the site. The site has been leveled and is currently in hay cultivation.
A Department of the Army permit may be required for restoration/establishment activities.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: The Inter-agency Review Team responsible for the review and approval of the proposed mitigation bank include representatives from the Corps, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: The Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as appropriate.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: Although endangered species are known to occur in the vicinity of the Grasslands Ecological Area, the site does not support habitat for Federally-listed species. The project would not affect any Federally-listed threatened or endangered species or their critical habitat that are protected by the Endangered Species Act.
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 above determinations are based on information provided by the applicant 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 activity. 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 preparation of an Environmental Assessment pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.
SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-2010-00929 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before May 23, 2014.
Zachary Simmons, Project Manager
US 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 Zachary Simmons, 916-557-6746, Zachary.M.Simmons@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 7 drawings