Comments Period: February 27, 2015 – March 27, 2015
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Garden City Beach Improvement project, which would result in temporary impacts to approximately 374 acres of lake bed and the permanent impacts to 0.06-acre of palustrine emergent wetland. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments.
AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 for structures or work in or affecting navigable waters of the United States and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.
APPLICANT: Town of Garden City, P.O. Box 207, Garden City, Utah 84028
LOCATION: The 515-acre site is located along the western side of Bear Lake , Sections 21 and 28, Township 14 North, Range 5 East, Salt Lake Meridian, Latitude 41.94641°, Longitude -111.38570°, Garden City, Rich County, Utah, and can be seen on the UT-Garden City USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to temporarily impact approximately 374 acres of lake bed to provide better beaches for visitors and residents of Garden City. Lower lake levels have allowed vegetation to encroach closer to current water levels which is a loss of recreational beaches for Garden City. Also, the beach areas with vegetation have had an increase deer fly population. Rich County attempts to control deer fly populations through chemical spraying which has resulted in only temporarily reducing populations. Between the encroaching vegetation, biting deer fly populations, and compacted sand, users tend to head north to the sandier beaches along the north shore in Idaho. According to the applicant, this is a considerable economic loss to Garden City because most of these visitors stay the night in Garden City but recreate in Idaho. The proposed work would take place between the historical high water mark and the historic low water mark. Work would be a combination of annual disking, plowing, and raking to control the migration of vegetation to the waterline. Included in the application is the construction of a ditch that would be 2 feet wide and 1 foot 6 inches deep. The proposed ditch would permanently impact 0.06 acres of palustrine emergent wetland. This ditch would connect to upland ditches to convey wetland flows and any additional flows from upstream to the lake. The purpose of the ditch is to help prevent any further wetland creation in the immediate area surrounding the ditch. Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to improve recreational beaches along the western end of Bear Lake. The applicant believes there is a need for better recreational beaches along the west side of Bear Lake. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. The site is located along the western end of Bear Lake, east of Garden City, and below the ordinary high water mark. This area has a 1% to 2% grade, sloping generally to the east. The western side of the project area is a dense community of cabins located along the lakeshore which includes a few public beach access points and boat launches. Multiple ditches run west to east to discharge excess irrigation flows from nearby fields, dewater groundwater discharge areas and control adjacent wetland growth.
There are approximately 374 acres of lake bed, 24 acres emergent marsh, 78.7 acres wet meadow, 1.8 acres Scrub-shrub and 35.1 acres of phragmites wetlands within the project area. Dominant plant species throughout the wetland areas are Calamagrastis canadensis, Eleocharis palustris, Hordeum jubatum, Juncus alpinus, Juncus articus, Juncus effuses, Panicum capillare, Phalaris arundinacea, Phragmites, australis, Schoenoplectus americanus, and Typha latifolia.
Soils within the project area are classified as Saleratus Variant-Canburn Variant Complex Series, Cloud Rim-Dry McCarey loams, Hawkins silty loam and Wader Variant gravelly loam. The majority of the proposed project impacts would lie within the Saleratus Variant-Canburn Variant Complex Series. This Saleratus Variant soil, typically has a surface layer of brown loamy fine sand approximately 3 inches thick with a subsurface of 60 inches or more of brown fine sand to gravelly coarse sand. The Canburn Variant soil, typically has a very dark brown loamy sand layer of 18 inches with the underlying material of 7 inches of gray loamy sand, and approximately 60 inches of brown loamy fine sand.
Alternatives. In addition to the proposed action (Option 1) the applicant has provided two options.
Option #2- This alternative would utilize as much lakebed as possible for beach maintenance while removing Phargmites dominated areas. This alternative would temporarily impact 374.47 acres of lake bed and permanently impact 27.53 acres of Phragmites wetland. The work would include the manipulation of vegetation in the following ways: tilling, disking, plowing, and raking. This alternative would help in the control of Phragmites and the migration of vegetation towards the waterline.
Option #3- This alternative would also utilize as much as the existing lakebed as possible for beach maintenance while removing Phragmites. This option would include removal of vegetation in non-Phragmites dominated areas focusing around majority of Garden City businesses. This project would temporarily impact 374.47 acres of lakebed and permanently 17.74 acres of wetland. The work would also include the manipulation of vegetation in the following ways: tilling, disking, plowing, and raking. This work would help in the control of Phragmites, the migration of vegetation towards the waterline and provide better beaches.
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 not to mitigate since the impacts are temporary and mainly to lake bed.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Utah Department of Water Quality is required for this project. The applicant has not indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information (including applicant's report titled A Cultural Resource Assessment for the Proposed Beach Improvements, Garden City), 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 project would not affect any Federally-listed threatened or endangered species or their critical habitat that are protected by the Endangered Species Act. 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 would not adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) as defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The Corps will initiate consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service, pursuant to Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as appropriate.
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-2015-00049-UO must be submitted to the office listed below on or before March 27, 2015.
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, extension 18, Hollis.G.Jencks@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 8 drawings