Interested parties are hereby notified that the Walla Walla District has received an application for a Department of the Army (DA) permit for certain work in Waters of the United States, including wetlands, as described below:
APPLICANT: Mr. Gene Sluder, Glendale Construction, P.O. Box 868, Bellevue, ID 83313, Phone: (208)788-3429
AGENT: Mr. Jim Zarubica, Galena Engineering, 317 North River Street, Hailey, ID, 83333, Phone: (208)788-2694
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS PROJECT MANAGER: Mr. Shane Skaar, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Coeur d’Alene Regulatory Office, 1910 Northwest Boulevard, Suite 210, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814. Phone: (208)433-4476. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PURPOSE: Discharge of dredged material associated with the ongoing commercial excavation of gravel from the Big Wood River.
WATERWAY: Big Wood River
LOCATION: The proposed project would be located on the Big Wood River at 181 Sluder Drive, within Section(s) 23 and 24, Township 1 North, Range 18 East, near latitude 43.403812º N and longitude –114.269416º W, in Blaine County, near Bellevue, Idaho.
DRIVING DIRECTIONS: From Highway 75 turn East on Glendale Road, continue South to Sluder Drive, the project area is on the East side of the road.
AUTHORITY: This permit will be issued or denied under the authority of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344). A DA permit is required for the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands.
WORK: The proposed project involves the temporary discharge of 5,000 cubic yards (CY) per year of dredged material (cobbles, gravels, and sands) associated with stockpiles and re-grading of the gravel mining extraction sites. The project proposes to impact 15.5 acres of riverbed along approximately 4,950 linear feet of the Big Wood River.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Glendale Construction has been operating a gravel extraction business at this site since 1974. In channel work involves the mechanical excavation of cobble, gravel and sands from the bed of the Big Wood River and adjacent flood plains using front-end-loaders, bulldozers and dump trucks. The excavation occurs when water is absent from the river. On occasion, river bed material is pushed into piles by a bulldozer and then lifted by loaders into dump trucks. This activity constitutes an associated or concurrent temporary discharge of dredged or fill material below the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) of the Big Wood River and requires a Section 404 DA permit. In addition, in order to comply with county and state permit requirements the river bed is graded to ensure no depressions remain at the end of each year’s excavation, which would potentially entrap fish during river low flow periods. This activity also constitutes an associated discharge of dredged or fill material below the OHWM of the Big Wood River and requires a Section 404 DA permit.
Temporary stockpiles are proposed to be 225 CY or less, constructed using front-end loaders or bulldozer. All stockpiles are proposed to be removed for processing at an upland facility within seven days of their construction. Large equipment including bulldozers and front-end loaders will re-grade the gravel extraction areas to a 5:1 maximum slope, the corners of the excavated area will be rounded at a 200-foot radius.
Access to the riverbed is provided by the 5 gravel ramps constructed prior to Clean Water Act, each ramp involved 20 cubic yards of fill below the OHWM. No other temporary access roadways or ramps are proposed. The applicant has advised that the ramp maintenance will not require a future discharge of dredged or fill material below the OHWM of the river.
Work proposed outside of the Corps’ jurisdictional authority includes the upland discharge of fill associated with constructing or maintaining erosion control berms, material sorting and storage, and excavation activities occurring in floodplains above the river’s OHWM.
CONSTRUCTION PERIOD: The applicant has requested a permit be issued for a 10-year period. The applicant proposes to start construction each year on approximately 1 July and end construction on 31 October. Permits are normally issued for 3-year periods; however, permits can be authorized for substantially longer periods. A determination on duration of any permit issued has not been made. Any permittee may request a permit extension prior to expiration of issued permits.
PROPOSED MITIGATION: The applicant proposes the following mitigation measures to avoid, minimize, and compensate for impacts to Waters of the United States from activities involving discharges of dredged or fill material below the OHWM of the Big Wood River. The applicant proposes to perform all work in the dry when the Big Wood River is seasonally diverted (approximately July to October). This would eliminate direct impacts to aquatic organisms. Over the course of the project, ninety percent (90%) of the gravel is proposed to be extracted (45,000 cubic yards per year) without any temporary discharge of fill into Waters of the United States. No excavation activities or re-grading is proposed to occur within the upland 50-foot buffer of the OHWM to reduce impacts to the Big Wood River riparian environment. Re-grading of the gravel extraction sites is proposed to reduce the possibility of fish and aquatic organism entrapment.
The applicant is not proposing compensatory mitigation for the project as they believe the project will not have any long-term detrimental impacts on the aquatic or riparian environment. The proposed project will aid in flood control within the near vicinity of the project by increasing river capacity and flow conveyance. The applicants stated their intent to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) which are found in their construction plans. The applicant also states that the equipment will be leak free with all repairs and maintenance activities occurring a minimum of 100 feet landward of the OHWM.
OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL DOCUMENTS AND DA PERMITS ISSUED TO APPLICANT: Applicant was issued an emergency permit by Blaine County in May 2017 to place 10 rock bank barbs to prevent and control bank erosion during the Spring 2017 high water event (NWW-2017-594, pending application). Work fell under the non-reporting Nationwide Permit 13 for bank stabilization. Applicant has submitted an application to conduct minor repairs to the bank barbs and to repair four locations on their property that suffered severe bank erosion.
Applicant was issued a permit (NWW-2006-3200111) in February 15, 2007 which provided approval of discharges of rock riprap to construct bank barbs and stabilization bank along the Big Wood River during the 2006 flooding.
Applicant was issued letters (NWW-2011-00190) on April 26, 2011 and October 28, 2016 advising the applicant that no Section 404 Clean Water Act permit was required for the proposed excavation activities that they completed at that time.
WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION: This notice will also serve as a Public Notice that the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) is evaluating whether to certify that the discharge of dredge and/or fill material proposed for this project will not violate existing water quality standards. A Department of the Army permit will not be issued until water quality certification has been issued or waived by the IDEQ, as required by Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. If water quality certification is not issued, waived or denied within sixty (60) days of this public notice date, and an extension of this period is not requested by and granted to the IDEQ, certification will be considered waived. Additionally, within thirty (30) days of this Public Notice, any person may provide written comments to IDEQ, a request in writing that IDEQ, provide them notice of their preliminary 401 Certification decision. Comments concerning Water Quality Certification for this project should be mailed to: Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Twin Falls Regional Office, 650 Addison Avenue West, Suite 110, Twin Falls, Idaho 83301
AQUATIC RESOURCE DESCRIPTION: The Big Wood River is approximately 137 miles long and part of the Big Wood River Watershed (HUC 17040219). The proposed project is located in the river channel consisting of mixed alluvium with typical soil profiles consisting of stratified sands, gravels, and cobbles. Historically water runs sub-surface due to the porous alluvium found in the project area. However, surface water is present November through mid-June in an average water year. In April, surface irrigation diversions begin opening on the river and this reach is without flowing water by mid-June through October. The Cowardin River Classification is riverine, intermittent, streambed, seasonally flooded (R4SBC). The majority of the impact area has little to no vegetation due to previous mining operations which have occurred since 1974.
ANTICIPATED IMPACTS ON AQUATIC ENVIRONMENT: The proposed project would directly alter 15.5 acres of river bed. Gravel mining is proposed to extract up to 12 feet (depth) of deposited alluvium from the existing riverbed. Based on past mining operations conducted on site and in the area by others, the river bed will quickly aggrade with gravels transported to the reach by the river. The project will alter the benthic environment, floodway, hydrologic flow capacity, and sediment transportation.
OTHER AUTHORIZATIONS: Idaho Department of Lands has an active reclamation plan (IDL RP1177) for the mining operation and Idaho Department of Water Resources has issued stream channel alteration permit (S37-20405) which will expire December 31, 2021. Other authorizations requested include Water Quality Certification from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: Coordination is currently being conducted with the office of the Idaho State Historic Preservation Officer to determine if this activity will affect a site that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or a site that may be eligible for listing on the Register. We are also coordinating with the appropriate Tribal entity or the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices for the Shoshone-Bannock and the Shoshone Paiute Tribes, to determine if there are any tribal historic or cultural interests within the project area.
TRIBAL TREATY RIGHTS AND INTERESTS: Federal agencies acknowledge the federal trust responsibility arising from treaties, statues, executive orders and the historical relations between the United States and American Indian Tribes. The federal government has a unique trust relationship with federally recognized American Indian Tribes, including the Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone Paiute Tribes. The Corps has a responsibility and obligation to consider and consult on potential effects to Tribal rights, uses, and interests. The Corps further recognizes there may be a need for additional and on-going consultation.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: No listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitats are known to exist in the project area. Coordination is currently being conducted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to determine if the activity will have any effect on species designated as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, or their critical habitat, under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (87 Stat. 844; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et.seq.).
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996, requires all Federal agencies to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service on all actions or proposed actions, permitted, funded or undertaken by the agency that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). No EFH species are known to use the project area. Preliminarily, we have determined the described activity would have no effect on EFH.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT: Preliminary review indicates the proposed activities will not require preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement. Comments provided will be considered in preparation of an Environmental Assessment.
EVALUATION: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact, including cumulative impacts, of the proposed activity on the public interest. This 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 proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal 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. In addition, our evaluation will include application of the EPA Guidelines (40 CFR 230) as required by Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act.
CONSIDERATION OF PUBLIC COMMENTS: The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the general public; Federal, State and local agencies and officials, Tribal entities 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 of Engineers 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 the 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.
PUBLIC HEARING: Any person may request in writing, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a public hearing be held to consider this proposed activity. Requests for a public hearing shall state specific reasons for holding a public hearing. A request may be denied if substantive reasons for holding a hearing are not provided or if there is otherwise no valid interest to be served.
COMMENT AND REVIEW PERIOD: Interested parties are invited to provide comments on the proposed activity, which will become a part of the record and will be considered in the final decision.
Please mail all comments to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Walla Walla District
ATTN: Shane Skaar
Coeur d'Alene Regulatory Office
1910 Northwest Boulevard, Suite 210
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814-2676
Comments should be received no later than the comment due date of January 12, 2018, as indicated on this notice, to receive consideration.
Kelly J. Urbanek
Chief, Regulatory Division
Walla Walla District
If interested parties wish to view plans, drawings, and/or maps associated with the proposed project and Public Notice, please email the Project Manager with your request.