SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application from Teichert Aggregates to construct the Aspen VIII & IX project, which would result in impacts to approximately 4.954 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands, in or adjacent to Elder Creek and Morrison Creek, for aggregate mining. 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: Teichert Aggregates, Aggregate Resource Development, Attn: Mr. John Lane, 3500 American River Drive, Sacramento, California 95864-5805
LOCATION: The approximately 682-acre site is located north and south of Elder Creek Road, east of Bradshaw Road, and west of Excelsior Road, in Sections 27, 28, 33, and 34, Township 8 North, Range 6 East, Latitude 38.50989°, Longitude 121.31694° West, in Sacramento County, California.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to discharge dredged and/or fill material into approximately 4.954 acres of waters of the U.S., including 0.587 acre of vernal pools, 1.480 acres of seasonal wetlands, 0.316 acre of seasonal wetland swales, 0.472 acre of marsh, and 1.998 acres of ditches and ponds for aggregate mining on 363 acres of the Aspen VIII and IX sites. In addition, the proposed project would result in the avoidance of approximately 22.793 acres of waters of the U.S. on the project site, consisting of 6.664 acres of vernal pools, 4.222 acres of seasonal wetlands, 0.941 acre of seasonal wetland swales, 4.279 acres of marsh, 0.006 acre of ephemeral drainage, 5.415 acres of perennial stream (Elder Creek), 0.735 acre of pond, and 0.531 acre of ditches.
The proposed mining operations would commence on the Aspen VIII site, which is located north of Elder Creek Road, and move southward to the Aspen IX site, which is located south of Elder Creek Road. Mining would begin with the removal of the clay/silt overburden that overlies the sand and gravel comprising the aggregate deposit. Following the removal of the overburden, extraction of aggregate resources would occur. The aggregate deposit is expected to vary in depth from 20 to 35 feet and would be mined with a variety of heavy equipment and transported to the applicant’s Perkins processing plant via a conveyor belt.
Following mining of each phase, the applicant would reclaim mined-out areas in compliance with the State Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA). Most of the mined areas would be reclaimed for agricultural uses, which would be achieved by placing and grading the overburden in specified areas to provide a suitable growing medium for the establishment of vegetative cover and viable agricultural crops.
Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to provide aggregate material to meet the future needs of Sacramento County. The applicant believes there is a need to conduct aggregate resource extraction to meet the regional demands for aggregate-based construction materials. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Background. In 2007, the applicant submitted an application for aggregate mining on the Aspen VIII and IX sites. The 2007 proposal included mining of approximately 5995 acres of the Aspen VIII and IX sites, and the realignment of Elder Creek. Due to economic conditions, the 2007 application was withdrawn in 2011.
Environmental Setting. The approximately 682-acre project site and surrounding area is characterized by moderate rolling hills and extensive flatlands. The site is currently utilized for agriculture, and portions of the site are regularly irrigated. The slopes are dominantly convex and incised by shallow drainages and depressions. The elevation of the site ranges from 60 to 85 feet above mean see level (MSL). Hydrology on the site is primarily from seasonal precipitation and stormwater runoff during the rainy season.
The proposed project site contains approximately 27.706 acres of waters of the U.S., consisting of: 7.231 acres of vernal pools, 5.680 acres of seasonal wetlands, 1.258 acres of seasonal wetland swales, 4.752 acres of marshes, 0.006 acre of ephemeral drainage, 5.415 acres of perennial stream (Elder Creek), 0.920 acre of pond, and 2.444 acres of ditches. Elder Creek flows from the south-eastern portion of the Aspen VIII site, to the west and south under Elder Creek Road, and then south west across the Aspen IX site.
The site is dominated by annual grasslands within the uplands, consisting of ripgut brome (Bromus diandrus), soft chess (Bromus hordeaceus), brome fescue (Festuca bromioides), foxtail barley (Hordeum murinum), Mediterranean barley (Hordeum marinum ssp. gussoneanum), winter vetch (Vicia villosa var. varia), perennial mustard (Hirschfeldia incana), yellow star-thistle (Centaurea solstitialis), bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis), longbeak filaree (Erodium botrys), and common fiddleneck (Amsinckia intermedia). Scattered trees are located throughout the annual grassland, including eucalyptus (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), and California black walnut (Juglans hindsii).
The man-made irrigation ditches and stock pond are dominated by black willow (Salix gooddingii), dallis grass (Papalum dilatatum), Johnson grass (Sorghum halapense), nutsedge (Cyperus eragrostis), rush (Juncus spp.), Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus), cattails (Typha sp.), perennial ryegrass, Mediterranean barley, and Mediterranean beard grass.
The freshwater marshes on the site are located near the irrigation ditches and Elder Creek. The freshwater marsh communities are dominated by tule (Scirpus acutus var. occidentalis), cattail, nutsedge, tapered rush (Juncus acuminatus), creeping spikerush (Eleocharis macrostachya), willowherb (Epilobium ciliatum), yellow waterweed (Ludwigia peploides), and mannagrass. Scattered dense patches of Himalayan blackberry, cottonwood, and willow trees are located adjacent to the freshwater marsh in the north-western portion of the site.
The seasonal wetlands, swales, streams, and ephemeral drainages are located within the western and south-eastern portion of the Aspen VIII section of the site and the southern and eastern portion of the Aspen IX section of the site. Some of seasonal wetlands occur in the grasslands and are associated with shallow drainages and swales or depressions. Plant species that occur in these waters consist of ryegrass, Mediterranean barley, brome fescue, toad rush, and common hawkbit (Leontodon saxatilis subsp. longirostris). The other seasonal wetlands on the site are associated with irrigated pastures. These wetlands are dominated by nutsedge, creeping spikerush, spatulaleaf loosestrife (Lythrum portula), yellow waterweed, smartweed (Polygonum sp.), and mannagrass.
Alternatives. The applicant has not 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 modified the proposed project from the 2007 application, to reduce the proposed mining area from 595 acres to 363 acres. In addition, the applicant has eliminated the realignment of Elder Creek proposed in the 2007 application, and is now proposing to limit mining activities on the Aspen VIII and IX sites to north of Elder Creek. The proposed project would result in the avoidance of approximately 22.793 acres of waters of the U.S. on the Aspen VIII and IX sites. In addition, in order to minimize impacts, the applicant has proposed to: (1) install best management practices (BMPs) during construction; (2) prepare and implement a Storm Water Pollution prevention Plan (SWPP); (3) hydroseed the perimeter berm and disturbed areas; (4) install sediment and erosion controls; (5) deposit, sell, or store excavated materials such that they cannot be washed into any water body; (6) locate staging areas so that spills of oil, grease, or other petroleum byproducts will not be discharge into any waterbody or sensitive habitat; (7) install temporary fencing or other appropriate marking around avoided waters and wetlands; (8) and install BMPs during mining activities.
In addition, the applicant has proposed to compensate for impacts to 4.954 acres of waters of the U.S. through the creation of waters of the U.S. at a 1:1 ratio and has proposed to offset impacts to vernal pool crustacean habitat at a 2:1 ratio. The proposed compensatory mitigation would be satisfied through one of the following: (1) purchase of credits at a Corps and/or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-approved mitigation bank, (2) creation and/or preservation at another agency-approved location, or (3) a combination of these two options.
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 not required for this project. The applicant has/has not indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information (including the applicant’s cultural resources report), 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 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, 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-2008-00909 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before June 16, 2014.
Lisa Gibson, Senior 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 Ms. Lisa Gibson, 916-557-5288, Lisa.M.Gibson2@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 3 drawings