Comments Period: June 30, 2016 – July 31, 2016
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a regional general permit for activities with minimal individual and cumulative impacts waterward of the ordinary high water mark (6229.1 Lake Tahoe Datum) of Lake Tahoe, to include Emerald Bay and the Tahoe Keys within the States of California and Nevada. 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.
LOCATION: Waterward of the ordinary high water mark (6229.1 feet LTD) of Lake Tahoe, to include Emerald Bay and the Tahoe Keys, within the States of California and Nevada.
DESCRIPTION: This regional general permit would authorize activities with minimal individual and cumulative impacts to waters of the United States within Lake Tahoe. Activities that may be authorized include, but are not limited to: repair, rehabilitation, replacement or removal of any previously authorized structure or fill; construction of new piers; installation of watercraft lifts; installation of floats; placement of buoys and buoy fields; placement of aids to navigation; installation of scientific measuring devices; construction or maintenance of boat ramps; construction of shoreline revetment; bank stabilization; aquatic invasive species control. This RGP would also authorize maintenance dredging activities, i.e. excavation and removal of accumulated sediment for maintenance of existing marina basins, access channels to marinas or boat slips, and boat slips to previously authorized depths or controlling depths for ingress/egress, whichever is less, provided the dredged material is deposited at an upland site and proper siltation controls are used to prevent sediment reentry into the lake.
Background. In 1994, Regional General Permit (RGP) 16 was issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District (Corps) to authorize activities with minimal impacts, individually and cumulatively, on waters of the United States in the Lake Tahoe Basin. RGP 16 was established to avoid duplication with an existing regulatory program implemented and administered by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), a bi-state regional planning agency compact created by the governors and lawmakers in Nevada and California and ratified by the US Congress to oversee development at Lake Tahoe. TRPA shorezone rules cover structures and projects located in the near shore area and below the high water line including piers, boathouses, boatlifts, revetments, protective structures, marinas and anchored buoys. Under RGP 16, a valid TRPA authorization was required before the activity could be authorized by the Corps. RGP 16 was re-issued every 5 years based on the existence of TRPA’s program.
The TRPA adopted new policies and ordinances in October 2008. These shorezone regulations set development caps on new buoys and piers and established mitigation measures, making the new rules more protective than previous ordinances. The intent was to better manage the already existing 768 piers and approximately 4,500 buoys on the lake today while capping future additional development. On September 16, 2010, a Federal Court ruling vacated TRPA’s 2008 shorezone ordinances within the Lake Tahoe Basin affecting the Corps ability to utilize the RGP 16 process. TRPA authorization was an integral component to the Corps RGP 16 authorization process. Without this approval, the Corps RGP 16 process was invalid. As such, the Sacramento District did not re-issue RGP 16 and it expired on December 31, 2010.
In the five-year period between December 31, 2010 (when RGP 16 expired) and December 31, 2015, the Corps issued 194 permits waterward of the OHWM of Lake Tahoe. The purpose of the currently proposed RGP is to implement an expedited permit application and review process for activities waterward of the ordinary high water mark of Lake Tahoe, to include Emerald Bay and the Tahoe Keys that require a Department of the Army (DA) Permit. These activities would have minimal impacts on the aquatic environment, individually and cumulatively. In addition, this RGP is being established to avoid duplication with an existing regulatory program implemented and administered by the TRPA The TRPA shorezone ordinances cover structures and projects located in the near shore area and waterward of the high water line including piers, boathouses, boatlifts, revetments, protective structures, marinas and anchored buoys.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: A programmatic water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection or the California Water Control Board (Lahontan Region), as appropriate. In addition, some activities may require authorization from the California State Lands Commission or Nevada State Lands.
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: Lake Tahoe has no area of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) as defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
The above determinations are based on information 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-1999-25096 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before July 31, 2016.
Kristine Hansen, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
Reno Regulatory Field Office
300 Booth Street, Room 3050
Reno, Nevada 89509
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 Kristine Hansen, 775-784-5304, Kristine.S.Hansen@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: Proposed RGP