Comments Period: April 22, 2016 – May 23, 2016
: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a proposal to modify the Animas River Wetlands, LLC Mitigation Bank, which would result in the preservation of approximately 25 acres, and enhancement and restoration of 13.76 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands adjacent to Falls Creek and the Animas River, within the Animas (HUC 14080104) watershed. A copy of the modification proposal and mitigation bank instrument can be found at the Regulatory In-lieu Fee and Bank Information Tracking System (RIBITS) at https://ribits.usace.army.mil/ribits_apex/f?p=107:3:8443897964385::NO:25:P3_BANK_ID:1126 l
. A copy of the modification proposal can also be made available upon request.
AUTHORITY: This mitigation bank instrument modification request is being evaluated under 33 CFR Part 332.8.
SPONSOR: Animas River Wetlands, LLC., Attn: Mr. Edwin Zink and Mrs. Patti Zink, 4166 County Road 203. Durango, CO 81301
LOCATION: The project site is located on Falls Creek and the Animas River approximately 5 miles north of the City of Durango, within the Animas River Valley, Section 27, Township 36 North, Range 9 West, La Plata County, Colorado, and can be seen on the Durango East USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The sponsor proposes to expand upon their existing mitigation bank. The bank instrument dated June 25, 2010 identifies 11 phases. Animas River Wetlands, LLC is proposing to establish an approximately 25 acre 12th phase. Phase 12 consists primarily of proposed willow dominated wetland areas that were formerly upland pasture. Approximately 0.09 acre of pre-existing palustrine emergent wetland would be enhanced through the planting of additional willows. Phase 12 also includes approximately 0.58 acre of existing mature cottonwoods. The cottonwood area will be enhanced by the removal of dead/dying trees and/or branches and the planting of additional cottonwoods. The proposed Phase 12 will include a one acre grassland buffer. Excluded from credit generation within Phase 12 is the Animas River and five areas that received funds from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for bank stabilization. Phase 12 will comply with all aspects of the existing mitigation bank instrument, approved in 2010, and its associated exhibits. A copy of the modification proposal can also be made available upon request.
Environmental Setting. The mitigation bank site is located along the Animas River and Falls Creek. The site was historically used for agricultural purposes and is currently an existing mitigation bank. Historically, the native vegetative communities had been altered by the historic land use and management practices of past decades. These previous disturbances removed vegetation, altered natural topography, and affected drainage patterns. Prior to being a mitigation bank, the site was largely disturbed but maintained some of the cottonwood floodplain community that likely dominated this site prior to agricultural development. Three types of water sources support the restoration of wetlands at this site. These sources include: groundwater discharge associated with the seasonal fluctuation of perennial flows within Falls Creek and the Animas River, lateral surface flow, and precipitation.
Currently, the sponsor has completed construction on all phases of the bank, except for Phases 5 and 7. The bank contains two credit types; stream and wetland. Phase 12 will include only wetland credits. Although the total size of the proposed Phase 12 is approximately 25 acres, the total credits proposed is 14.76, bringing the total wetland credits proposed for the Bank to 65.96. The sponsor is requesting an additional 12.75 available wetland credits associated with the development and performance of Phase 12.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: The Interagency Review Team responsible for the review and approval of the proposed mitigation bank include representatives from the Corps, US Environmental Protection Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and La Plata County. The modification will not require a Section 404 of the Clean Water Act permit.
The State of Colorado requires that the property owner have a water right associated with any water use, including depletions, within the Animas Watershed. The property contains vested water rights resulting in 28 “A Shares” (1.75 cfs) and 14 “B Shares” (0.875 cfs) of the Animas Consolidated Ditch; and 2 cfs of Falls Creek. One water control structure was constructed within the mitigation site. This structure allows the managers to accurately regulate the lateral flow of water across the site to maintain the targeted aquatic habitats when seasonal groundwater discharge is low.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information, cultural resources are not within the Corps’ permit area/area of potential effect. In a letter dated July 22, 2008, the State Historic Preservation Officer agreed with the Corps’ finding of “no historic properties affect” by the project. The proposed modification would not result in any effects to historic properties.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed enhancement activities associated with proposed Phase 12 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 modification 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 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 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 mitigation bank modification 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-2007-00367-DC must be submitted to the office listed below on or before May 23, 2016.
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.
Kara Hellige, Senior Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1970 E. 3rd Ave, #109
Durango, Colorado 81301
If you have questions or need additional information please contact the Sponsor or the Corps' project manager listed above.
Attachments: 2 drawings