U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
In Reply Refer to NAB-2006-65477-M21 (St. Charles Mitigation Bank, LLC/St. Charles Mitigation Bank)
COMMENT PERIOD: June 25, 2013 to July 25, 2013
The Baltimore District Corps of Engineers (Corps) and Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) are 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 proposed St. Charles Mitigation Bank, LLC/St. Charles Mitigation Bank and the potential of the proposed mitigation bank to provide appropriate compensatory mitigation for activities authorized by Department of the Army and/or State of Maryland Nontidal Wetlands Act permits.
At this time, no decision has been made as to whether or not a permit will be issued, or whether the proposed “St. Charles Mitigation Bank” will be approved. We are requesting your comments to determine if approval should be granted for the proposed compensatory wetland mitigation bank to be known as the St. Charles Mitigation Bank. The purpose of the proposed mitigation bank is to provide compensatory mitigation for projects that result in unavoidable wetland impacts authorized by the Department of the Army and State of Maryland Nontidal Wetlands Act permits and for future development projects in the Lower Potomac River drainage basin (USGS hydrologic unit code 02070011), which would include portions of Charles County, Prince George’s County and St. Mary’s County, Maryland.
A preliminary review indicates that the proposed work may qualify for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) authorization under Nationwide Permit (NWP) #27, Aquatic Habitat Restoration, Establishment, and Enhancement Activities. At this time, in accordance with NWP #27 general condition 31, the prospectus constitutes the pre-construction notification (PCN) that is required for Nationwide Permit #27 for work in waters of the United States to construct the proposed St. Charles Mitigation Bank. A field review of the proposal indicates that there are waters of the United States, including wetlands within the project area. These areas are regulated pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and the work described below will require Department of the Army authorization. The Nationwide Permit #27 has undergone a full public interest review as required by Corps regulations (33 CFR 320.4(a)), and NEPA documentation has been prepared that addresses environmental considerations. The MDE is reviewing the application for work in Waters of the State and will issue a Letter of Authorization (LOA) for temporary, permanent and buffer impacts.
The Corps and MDE have received a Wetland Mitigation Bank prospectus to establish a compensatory Mitigation Bank. This attached prospectus provides a summary of the information regarding the proposed Mitigation Bank and is in accordance with the Department of Defense/Environmental Protection Agency Final Rule on Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources (33 CFR Parts 325 and 332 and 40 CFR Part 320) and MDE’s Mitigation Banking regulations.
Oversight of this Mitigation Bank will be undertaken by the Maryland Interagency Review Team (IRT), which is comprised of Federal and State regulatory and resource agencies. The Baltimore District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers serves as chair of the IRT and the Maryland Department of the Environment serves as co-chair of the IRT.
The purpose of this proposed Bank is to provide compensatory mitigation for future unavoidable impacts to aquatic resources, including nontidal wetlands that result from activities authorized under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and the Maryland Nontidal Wetlands Protection Act, provided such use has met all applicable requirements and is authorized by the appropriate authority(s). The Mitigation Bank would be used to comply with the special condition mitigation requirements of permitted projects by providing in-kind compensation for authorized wetlands losses. The Mitigation Bank may only be used for future projects after all appropriate and practical steps to avoid and minimize adverse impacts to aquatic resources, including nontidal wetlands and streams have been taken. All remaining unavoidable impacts must be compensated to the extent appropriate and practicable.
The final mitigation instrument does not provide ultimate DA and/or State authorization for specific future projects impacting Waters of the United States, exclude such future projects from any applicable statutory or regulatory requirements, or as preauthorize the use of credits from the Bank for any particular project. The Corps provides no guarantee that any particular individual or general permit will be granted authorization to use this Mitigation Bank to compensate for unavoidable aquatic resource impacts associated with a proposed permit, even though compensatory mitigation credits may be available within the proposed defined service area.
APPLICANT/BANK SPONSOR: St. Charles Mitigation Bank, LLC
Mr. Mark MacFarland
10400 O’Donnell Place, Suite 200
St. Charles, Maryland 20603
PROJECT LOCATION: The 13-acre Bank is located in the headwaters of Zekiah Swamp, on the west side of Piney Church Road, at 5305 Piney Church Road, Charles County, Maryland, presently owned by St. Charles Community, LLC. The Latitude of the proposed bank is 38.564°N and the Longitude is -76.909°W
BANK DESCRIPTION: The Sponsor proposes, in accordance with the attached plans, to establish, design, construct, and operate the approximate 13-acre compensatory St. Charles Mitigation Bank. The parcel was a former sand and gravel mining site consisting of 13.015 acres. The site presently consists of typical erosion control grasses and a settlement pond. The Mitigation Bank will be subject to a Mitigation Banking instrument that institutes guidelines and responsibilities for the establishment, use, operation and maintenance of the proposed Bank.
The sponsor has proposed, for purposes of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the primary geographic service area (GSA) of the Mitigation Bank site would be the Lower Potomac River Basin, USGS Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 02070011 further defined as portions of land in Charles County, Prince George’s County and St. Mary’s County. (See Appendix B of the Prospectus)
The design objectives of the proposed mitigation bank consist of:
- The creation of approximately 1.91 acres of nontidal palustrine forested wetlands (PFO). Upland areas would be graded to an elevation suitable for forested wetlands and planted/seeded with wetlands species.
- The creation of approximately 1.90 acres of nontidal palustrine emergent wetlands (PEM). Upland areas would be graded to an elevation suitable for emergent wetlands then seeded with appropriate wetland species.
- The creation of a vernal pool would be part of the PEM creation. The vernal pool would be a seasonally ponded, depressional wetland to provide amphibian habitat. The vernal pool would be seeded and planted with herbaceous species tolerant of a wide range of water depths and draw down. Large woody debris would be placed around the pool for amphibian cover.
- The enhancement of approximately 0.6 acres of open water that is 2.5 to 3.5 feet deep would be planted with spatterdock and other native floating leaf species, which are prime food sources for many species, including wintering ducks.
- The maintenance of an approximate 1.84 acre densely vegetated upland buffer area that would extend around the perimeter of the wetlands to filter sediments and nutrients from any sheet flow that might enter the site.
- The enhancement of approximately 1.64 acres of PEM wetlands. A portion of existing PEM wetlands would be planted with woody species to generate a mosaic of PEM/PFO habitat.
- The creation of wood duck nesting habitat. Thickets of alder and buttonbush around shallow open water would be planted to provide secluded areas. Nest boxes and suitable nesting trees will also be installed.
The overall proposed goal of the Mitigation Bank is to provide 13.0 acres of wetland mitigation (5.75 wetland compensation credits) through the creation of 4.02 acres of new wetlands, through the enhancement of 2.87 acres of existing degraded nontidal wetlands and enhancement of 0.6 acres of existing open water and through the preservation of 1,84 acres of upland buffer. Although the proposed bank is outside of the Zekiah Watershed Rural Legacy Area (ZSWRA), it would contribute to the protection of water quality and continuity of habitat of outlying tributaries. Zekiah Swamp watershed is considered a high priority for conservation and an “Area of Critical State Concern”.
WORK REQUIRING CORPS AND MDE AUTHORIZATION:
The approximate total impacts for the enhancement of 2.87 acres of PEM include 3,581 square feet of permanent grading impacts to nontidal wetlands to construct a berm; 405 square feet of permanent impacts to open water, 812 square feet of permanent impacts to the stream and 162 square feet of permanent impacts to nontidal wetlands to construct a permanent dam; and 213 square feet of permanent impacts to nontidal wetlands for an access road. Permanent rip rap would be placed within the man-made channel downstream of the permanent dam to provide scour protection and prevent erosion, which would permanently impact 90 linear feet.
Temporary impacts would include 2,804 square feet of temporary impacts to open water and 421 square feet of temporary impacts to nontidal wetlands for a temporary rip rap dam; 10,639 square feet of temporary impacts to open water and 313 square feet of temporary impacts to nontidal wetlands to construct a permanent dam; and 23 square feet of temporary impacts to nontidal wetlands for an access road.
All of the above mitigation impacts are shown in Appendix C, Advanced Mitigation Site Proposed Bank Design / the plans.
A preliminary review of this application indicates that the proposed work will not affect listed species or their critical habitat pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act as amended. As the evaluation of this proposal continues, additional information may become available which could modify this preliminary determination.
Review of the latest published version of the National Register of Historic Places indicates that no registered properties listed as eligible for inclusion therein are located at the site of the proposed work. Currently unknown archeological, scientific, prehistoric, or historical data may be lost or destroyed by the work to be accomplished under the requested permit for the mitigation bank construction. As the evaluation of this proposal continues, additional information may become available which could modify this preliminary determination.
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-267), 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). The proposed project is not located in Essential Fish Habitat and is not likely to affect EFH.
The decision whether to adopt this Mitigation Bank instrument and issue a permit would be based upon an evaluation of the probable impacts including cumulative impacts to the proposed Bank on the public interest. That decision would 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, cultural values, 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, and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.
All work is to be completed in accordance with the approved plan (s) and exhibits, which are available for review at the Baltimore Corps District Office, and the Maryland Department of the Environment, both in Baltimore, Maryland. If you have any questions concerning this matter or wish to review the appendices, please contact Ms. Kelly Neff, MDE, at (410) 537-4018 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mr. Eugene Morgenthaler, Corps, at (410) 820-8629 (email@example.com).
The applicant must obtain any State or local government permits which may be required.
It is requested that you communicate the foregoing information concerning the proposed work to any persons known by you to be interested and being known to this office, who did not receive a copy of this notice.
Written comments concerning the activity described above must be submitted directly to the District Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, Attn: CENAB-OP-RMS, P.O. Box 1715, Baltimore, Maryland, 21203-1715 and/or the Water Management Administration, Maryland Department of the Environment, 1800 Washington Boulevard, Suite 430, Baltimore, Maryland 21230-1708, within the comment period as specified above to receive consideration.
The MDE tracking number for this project is (St. Charles Mitigation Bank, LLC/St. Charles Mitigation Bank) 2006-65477
FOR THE DISTRICT ENGINEER:
Kathy B. Anderson
Chief, Maryland Section Southern
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Wetland Mitigation & Technical Assistance Section
Maryland Department of the Environment[e1]
[e1]I cannot answer this until I hear from Kelly Neff. Kathy do you know?