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Under the Corps' Regulatory Program, a public notice is the primary method for advising all interested parties of a proposed activity for which a permit is sought. Soliciting comments and information necessary to evaluate the probable impacts on the public interest. Public notices are also published to inform the public about new or proposed regulations, policies, guidance or permit procedures.

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SPK-2016-00112, create an In-Lieu Fee (ILF) Program for the Virgin River Watershed

Published March 2, 2016
Expiration date: 4/4/2016

Comments Period: March 2, 2016 – April 4, 2016 

SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to create an In-Lieu Fee (ILF) Program for the Virgin River Watershed, an area of approximately 8,391,680 acres (13,112 square miles) in Nevada, Arizona and Utah. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments. 

A copy of the Applicant’s Virgin River ILF Prospectus is also available online at:,P165_PROGRAM_ID:8589,2827.

AUTHORITY: This prospectus is being evaluated under 33 CFR Part 332.8.

Sponsor: Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Southern Nevada District, Attn: Mr. Boris Poff, Ph.D., Las Vegas Field Office, 4701 North Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada 89130

LOCATION: The proposed ILF Program would include 10 project sites located on public lands administered by the BLM Southern Nevada District Office within Clark County, Nevada, totaling approximately 1,418 acres. Eight of the 10 proposed compensatory mitigation sites are located on the Virgin River (approximately 934 acres), one on the Muddy River (approximately 204 acres) and one on the Meadow Valley Wash (approximately 280 acres). The Proposal includes portions of the following six 8-digit Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs): Upper Virgin (UT) 15010008, Fort Pierce Wash (AZ, UT) 15010009, Lower Virgin (AZ, NV, UT) 15010010, White (NV) 15010011, Muddy (NV) 15010012, Meadow Valley Wash (NV, UT) 15010013 and for the 6-digit HUC for the Lower Colorado River-Lake Mead watershed (AZ, NV). The project locations can be seen on the map entitled “Proposed Project Locations - Overview” and found on page 59 of the attached Prospectus. The rivers included under this proposal are the Virgin River, Muddy River and Meadow Valley Wash.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The Sponsor (BLM, Southern Nevada District) proposes to develop an ILF Program within the Virgin River Watershed to provide compensatory mitigation on BLM-managed lands or lands to be acquired using Program funds. The ILF program would provide compensatory mitigation options for public or private projects proposing impacts to waters of the United States, including wetlands, under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, within the boundaries of the service area. The applicant states that the ILF Program may also be used to offset environmental losses resulting from unavoidable impacts related to activities regulated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (e.g., threatened or endangered fish or bird species), and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (e.g., 401 permits). Mitigation for upland habitats, mesquite acacia woodlands, and alluvial communities, as well as impacts to fish and amphibians, would be included in the ILF Program. The proposed Service Area is shown on the map entitled “Overview of Proposed Service Area” and found on page 57 of the attached Prospectus.


Instructions of accessing the Prospectus On-line. The prospectus is available in its entirety in RIBITS. 

1) Go to 
2) Select “Sacramento District” in the lower left hand corner of your screen.
3) Click “ILF Programs” in the navigation bar on the left hand side of your screen.
4) Click on “Virgin River Watershed In-Lieu Fee Program.”
5) In the upper right hand corner, click on “Cyber Repository.”
6) Click on the “Prospectus” folder.

Environmental Setting. The 10 proposed ILF Program sites are located on three riverine systems in the arid Mojave Desert of Clark County, Nevada. The Mojave Desert, in this region, has elevations between 2,000-3,000 feet, and is characterized by hot summers and cool winters. The average rainfall ranges from 4 to 13 inches per year. The largest of the three riverine systems in the project area is the Virgin River, where 8 of the 10 proposed mitigation sites would be located. The Virgin River is one of the last undammed rivers in the western U.S., but the creation of Lake Mead National Recreation Area has led to the introduction of many non-native invasive fish species, which have migrated up the entire river and have negatively impacted native fish species in Nevada, Arizona and Utah. The watershed has also been negatively impacted by the proliferation of exotic plant species, primarily tamarisk and Russian olive, which have replaced the cottonwood-willow galleries, shrub communities, and sedge-grasslands that were once dominant along the river corridors. Historic as well as contemporary agricultural activities and unauthorized livestock grazing have further degraded watershed conditions resulting in salinization, erosion, water diversion and stream channelization. Many water bodies within the service area connect and wind their way through the alluvial fans and arroyos of the watersheds. This network provides lush habitat in Nevada’s, Utah’s, and Arizona’s otherwise semi-arid and arid environments, and provides opportunities for recharging groundwater basins along the way. According to the Applicant, riverine habitat functions and values would be increased or maintained through the ILF Program.

A separate Department of the Army permit may be required for any subsequent restoration activities under the proposed ILF Program.

OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: The Interagency Review Team responsible for the review and approval of the proposed ILF Program has not be set, but will likely include representatives from the Corps, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, Utah Division of Water Quality and the Nevada and Utah Divisions of Wildlife Resources.

HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Base upon available information, the approval of the proposed ILF Program would have no potential to affect historic properties. The Corps will initiate consultation with State Historic Preservation Officers under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as appropriate, as each site is assessed in detail for authorization under the ILF Program.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: Based upon available information, the approval of the proposed ILF Program would have no effect on Federally-listed endangered or threatened species of 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 as appropriate, as each site is assessed in detail for authorization under the ILF Program.

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 the proposed In-Lieu Fee Program for Watersheds of the Virgin River, Muddy River and Meadow Valley Wash. 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 evaluation of the proposed ILF Program per 33 CFR Part 332.8 and in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.

SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-2016-00112 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before April 4, 2016, to:

Craig Brown, Senior Project Manager 
US Army Corps of Engineers, St. George Office
196 East Tabernacle St., Suite 30
St. George, Utah 84770-3474

Attachment: “Prospectus for an In-Lieu Fee Program for Watersheds of the Virgin River, Muddy River and Meadow Valley Wash”, November 16, 2015.