Comments Period: September 5, 2014–October 6, 2014
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to enhance whitewater recreation on a 1,350-foot segment of the Yampa River, which would result in permanent impacts to approximately 3,503 square feet (0.08 acre) of the Yampa River. The nature and extent of impacts are more specifically described below. The City of Steamboat Springs applied for a permit within this same reach in 2012, and a Public Notice was issued on December 10, 2012, under the same permit number. However, the application was withdrawn due to lack of project details and a permit was not issued for the proposed work. Project plans have been modified and 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: City of Steamboat Springs, Attn: Craig Robertson, Open Space/Howelsen Hill Facilities Supervisor, Post Office Box 775088, Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80477, Phone: (970) 879-4300 (ext. 334), Email: email@example.com
AGENT: Gary Lacy, Recreation Engineering and Planning, Incorporated, 485 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, Colorado 80302, Phone: (303) 545-5883, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
LOCATION: The project area is located within approximately 1,350 feet of the Yampa River, between 9th and 12th Streets, in the City of Steamboat Springs, within Sections 8 and 17, Township 6 North, Range 84 West, Sixth Principal Meridian, Latitude 40.4872°, -106.8391°, Routt County, Colorado. It can be seen on the Project Location Map and Project Plan View (see Sheets 1 and 2).
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to improve the recreational experience on the Yampa River within the City of Steamboat Springs. The project need is to repair and modify deteriorating whitewater structures, improve spectator viewing, and enhance in-stream habitat.
The applicant is proposing to modify 2 existing whitewater drop structures and to construct 2 pools, 2 vanes, 2 terraces, and 30 scattered boulders, impacting approximately 0.08 acre of perennial stream channel, within 1,350 linear feet of the Yampa River. The total volume of fill material to be placed below the ordinary high water mark of the Yampa River is approximately 586 cubic yards (CY) of boulders ranging from 3-6 feet in diameter. Of the 586 CY of boulders, approximately 459 CY of boulders would be imported to complete the project. The remaining 127 CY of boulders, located onsite, would be rearranged to construct part of the drop structures and downstream vanes. The two existing whitewater drop structure features are identified by the applicant and known locally as A-HOLE and TOOTS-HOLE (formerly known as the O-HOLE) and are described with the new proposed work in further detail below.
A-HOLE (9th Street): Approximately 267 CY of boulders (3-6 feet in diameter), would be placed below the ordinary high water mark of the Yampa River to complete all the proposed features at the A-HOLE, including the modification of the existing drop structure and construction of a deep plunge pool, 2 vanes, and a new boulder-bank terrace. Fill material for the drop structure would consist of approximately 98 CY of boulders (4-6 feet in diameter). The drop structure would incorporate a plunge pool, approximately 3-4 feet deep. Of the 98 CY of boulders, 49 CY would be removed from the pool area and reused for reconstruction of the drop structure. The pool armoring for the deep plunge pool would consist of 132 CY of boulders, 3 feet in diameter. Only the northern half of the river channel will be affected by drop structure and deep plunge pool to help facilitate fish passage. One double low-flow rock vane would be constructed and be anchored into the northern river bank; and immediately downstream, one double low-flow rock vane would be installed in the southern portion of the channel. Fill material for the double low-flow rock vanes would be acquired onsite within the upstream and downstream reach of the “riffle roughness boulders” and would consist of approximately 29 CY of boulders (3 feet in diameter). The distance between the downstream end of the deep plunge pool and the upstream end of the southern double low-flow rock vane is approximately 28 feet, allowing for fish passage. A new boulder-bank access and terrace would be constructed along 12 feet of the northern river bank and would consist of 8 CY of imported boulders. (see Sheets 3, 3A, 5, 6, and 9)
TOOTS-HOLE (12th Street): Approximately 248 CY boulders (3-6 feet in diameter) would be placed below the ordinary high water mark of the Yampa River to complete all the proposed features at the TOOTS-HOLE including modification of the existing drop structure and construction of deep plunge pool and a new boulder-bank terrace. Fill material for the drop structure would consist of approximately 98 CY of boulders (4-6 feet in diameter). The drop structure would incorporate a plunge pool, approximately 3-4 feet deep. Of the 98 CY of boulders, 49 CY would be removed from the pool area and reused for reconstruction of the drop structure. The pool armoring for the deep plunge pool would consist of 137 CY of boulders (3 feet in diameter). The new boulder-bank access and terrace would be constructed along 20 feet of the northern river bank and would consist of 13 CY of boulders (3 feet in diameter). This work would only affect the northern half of the river, leaving the southern half unobstructed to allow a channel for fish passage. (see Sheets 4, 7, 8, and 10)
OTHER INFORMATION: The project also includes 30 boulders (approximately 4-6 feet in diameter) totaling 71 CY to be imported and placed at various locations upstream and downstream of each of the two whitewater features. These boulders are to enhance in-stream habitat and are referred as “riffle roughness boulders” on the drawings. (see Sheets 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 10)
The applicant is proposing to construct 2 temporary alluvial cofferdams for dewatering at the A-HOLE and TOOTS-HOLE structures. Only the northern half of the Yampa River channel would be dewatered during construction activities, allowing flows to continue through the southern half of the channel. The cofferdam at the A-HOLE would consist of approximately 105 CY of instream alluvial material and the cofferdam at the TOOTS-HOLE would consist of approximately 95 CY of instream alluvial material. Temporary impacts to the Yampa River due to dewatering would not exceed 0.13 acre. The applicant has indicated the timeframe to complete the work would take 5-7 days per whitewater drop structure feature. The applicant is not proposing a cofferdam for the double low-flow rock vanes (see Sheets 12A, 12B, 12C, and 12D).
Wetlands exist within the project boundaries on the southern bank, but would not be filled or otherwise impacted by the project. Some riparian areas will be impacted by construction of the boulder-bank terrace. Grout, “fill-flow”, concrete, or similar materials would not be utilized in this project. Construction of the project is proposed to begin in the fall of 2014.
Environmental Setting. Steamboat Springs is located west of the Continental Divide and is surrounded by National Forest and Wilderness Areas. The Yampa River, which begins in the Flat Tops Wildness Area, flows through downtown Steamboat Springs to the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument. The site is located between 9th and 12th streets in the City of Steamboat Springs. At this location, the Yampa River is at an elevation of 6,695’ and drains 567 square miles. Yampa River flows generally peak in June, on average at 1,770 CFS.
According to the 2010 Census, the population of Steamboat Springs is 16,818. The City of Steamboat Springs offers year round outdoor activities with the presence of ski areas, Colorado State Parks, hot springs, and trail systems to accommodate the public. Surrounding land use is highly developed and visitor friendly. Commercial businesses along the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs include rafting/tubing companies and angling shops. The Yampa River in the proposed project area, runs through downtown Steamboat Springs. This section of river is more entrenched and less sinuous than other sections of the Yampa River. The riparian buffer in this portion is narrow or non-existent due to development on its northern bank and the location of the railroad on its southern bank. This reach of the Yampa River has a high occurrence of public and recreational use, such as fishing and watercraft use. The proposed modifications were conceptually identified in the City of Steamboat Springs Yampa River Structural Master Plan (November 2008).
Alternatives. The applicant had proposed an alternative design when they applied for a permit within this same reach in 2012. The applicant proposed to modify 3 existing whitewater drop structure features at the A-HOLE, Z-HOLE, and TOOTS-HOLE; maintain a 4-foot deep pool below each drop structure; construct 3 double low flow vanes; stabilize portions of the northern river bank; and install 30 (4-6 feet in diameter) riffle roughness boulders. The total volume of fill material proposed to be placed below the ordinary high water mark of the Yampa River was approximately 360 CY of boulders ranging from 3-5 feet in diameter and 26 CY of subsurface grout. The use of subsurface grout was a concern for Federal and State government agencies. That application was withdrawn due to lack of project details and a permit was not issued for the proposed work. The current proposed project has removed the use of grout and minimized the number of structures. 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 states that no wetland impacts will occur as a result of this project. Riparian vegetation would be impacted as a result of this project and the Corps may require compensatory mitigation for those impacts.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, is required for this project. The applicant has not yet applied for certification. The applicant has indicated they will also apply for a Routt County Floodplain Development Permit after the Public Notice period has ended.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information, no cultural resources were identified within the project's area of potential effect.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: No known federally-listed threatened or endangered species or critical habitat is known to be or expected to be in the project area. The project will not result in increased evaporation, diversion or other loss of water from the Yampa River system. Accordingly, the Corps has determined that the project will have No Effect to threatened or endangered species.
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-2012-01287 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before October 6, 2014.
Carrie Sheata, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
Colorado West Regulatory Branch
400 Rood Avenue, Room 224
Grand Junction, Colorado 81501
(970) 243-1199, extension 14
FAX (970) 241-2358
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 Carrie Sheata, (970) 243-1199, extension14, Carrie.A.Sheata@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 17 Drawings (Sheets 1-12)