Comments Period: June 27, 2016 – July 27, 2016
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Vernal Public Fish Pond project, which would result in impacts to approximately 3.87 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands, in or adjacent to Ashley Creek in Uintah County. 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: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Ms. Natalie Boren, 318 North Vernal Avenue, Vernal, Utah 84078
LOCATION: The approximately 30.41-acre project site is located at 2202 West 3250 North, Latitude 40.4898°, Longitude -109.5884°, Vernal, Uintah County, Utah, and can be seen on the UT-VERNAL NE USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to construct three interconnected community fishing ponds with associated parking lot, access road, restroom facility, trail system and landscaping, resulting in permanent impacts to 3.87 acres of wet meadow wetlands. Two of the ponds would have a maximum depth of 15 feet and the third would have a maximum depth of 25 feet. The ponds would have a 3:1 slope and would be lined with permeable geotextile fabric (16,500 square yards) and rip rap armoring for stabilization purposes. Up to 15,100 cubic yards of gravel (trail system) and riprap (pond stabilization) would be placed within jurisdictional wetlands. Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to construct a community fishing area. The applicant believes there is a need to create a recreational fishing area to serve the Ashley Valley community. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. The site is situated near the mouth of a canyon and adjacent to the Ashley Creek floodplain, with an elevation of approximately 5,620 feet. There is an approximate 30-foot drop from the west boundary to the east boundary of the parcel. The site appears to be relatively undisturbed, though evidence of some minor ditching and drainage activities is present. The majority of the site, approximately 24.72 acres, consists of wet meadow wetlands. Hydrology is supplied primarily by groundwater and surface water runoff from adjacent agricultural fields to the west. The wetland areas on site are vegetated mainly with Baltic rush (Juncus balticus), quackgrass (Agropyron repens), Muhley grass (Muhlenbergia asperifolia), saltgrass (Distichlis spicata), Russian olive (Eleagnus angustifolia), orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata) and common Spikerush (Eleocharis palustris). Soils throughout the site range from coarse-loamy well drained alluvium to somewhat poorly drained sandy-loam. The site is surrounded by agricultural fields and sparse development typical of a rural setting.
Alternatives. The applicant has provided information concerning project alternatives. 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 to create and enhance wetlands on site to compensate for anticipated impacts to aquatic resources resulting from the project.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Utah Division of Water Quality is required for this project. The applicant has not indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Potentially eligible cultural resources may be affected by the proposed project. 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 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 project would 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 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-2016-00047 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before July 27, 2016.
Michael Pectol, Regulatory Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
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 Michael Pectol, 801-295-8380 x15, Michael.A.Pectol@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 2 drawings