Comments Period: March 13, 2015 – April 13, 2015. This comment period has been extended to April 27, 2015.
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Rio D’ Oro Development project. This project would result in impacts to approximately 5.9-acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands, and an additional 2.4-acre of waters of the U.S., previously filled without authorization on the proposed site, located near the Feather River. 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: JKB Homes, Attn: Mr. Scott Belyea (Representative), Post Office Box 2998, Turlock, California 95381
LOCATION: The 689-acre site is located near the Feather River, Section 35, Township 19 North, Range 3 East, Mount Diablo Meridian, Latitude 39.4494525976045°, Longitude -121.596921411112°, Butte County, California, and can be seen on the CA-PALERMO USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to construct a residential, commercial and public facility development that will include parks, open space, and environmental conservation uses. Based on the available information, the applicant believes the overall project purpose is to construct a multi-phase community development that will support residential, public and commercial facilities near the City of Oroville. According to the applicant’s reports, the Rio D’ Oro Specific Plan area is defined as “Specific Plan to be Developed” in the Butte County 2030 General Plan, and designated as the “Rio D’ Oro Specific Plan Area Overlay” in the Oroville 2030 General Plan. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Violation and After-The-Fact Permit. The applicant has submitted a separate application for an “after-the-fact” permit, for authorization on previously un-authorized fill of Waters of the U.S., that took place on the proposed project site, in October 2012 and January 2013.
The Corps determined that 2.4-acres of Waters of the U.S. had been permanently impacted by the unauthorized fill. The applicant has signed a tolling agreement with the Corps and agreed to mitigate for the direct impacts to “waters” by purchasing 2.4-acres of vernal pool credits at a Corps approved mitigation bank.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 53.26-acres of seasonal swales, seasonal wetlands, vernal pools and vernal pool swales, and other water features within the project area. The site is characterized by rolling grasslands, with elevations of 120-200 feet above mean sea level. The surrounding area is a mixture of rural residential, commercial development and undeveloped grazing and orchard lands. Livestock grazing has been the primary use; however, early 20th century gold mining occurred on-site. Remnant tailing piles are located along parts of a branched and unnamed arroyo that bisects the western portion of the site and drains to the Feather River. The vegetation on the site primarily consists of annual grasslands, oak woodlands, orchards, and remnant riparian habitats.
Alternatives. The applicant has provided information concerning project alternatives. 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 mitigate on-site through avoidance, minimization, and the dedication of 274-acres of land that includes approximately 26-acres of vernal habitat, which akso includes known populations of vernal pool fairy shrimp, vernal pool tadpole shrimp, and slender orcutt grass. The on-site preserve, as proposed, will be placed in a permanent conservation easement.
Off-site mitigation will include the purchase of mitigation bank credits at a Corps approved bank within the service area. The applicant proposes to purchase a total of 5.9-acres to off-set the impacts associated with the proposed project.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the applicant is required for this project. The applicant has indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information (including applicant's report titled Archaeological Inventory Survey – Rio D’ Oro Off-site Inventory Project, c. 13.5-mile Linear Corridor, Butte County, California), 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 and 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 would not 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-2007-01905 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before April 13, 2015.
Chandra Jenkins, 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 Chandra Jenkins, 916-557-6652, Chandra.L.Jenkins@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: Four (4) drawings