U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
In Reply to Application Number
CENAB-OP-RPA-2013-00689-P02 (Upper Susquehanna River Mitigation Bank Phase 2)
PN-13-50 Comment Period: August 7, 2013 to September 8, 2013
THE PURPOSE OF THIS PUBLIC NOTICE IS TO SOLICIT COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC REGARDING THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROPOSED UPPER SUSQUEHANNA RIVER MITIGATION BANK PHASE 2 AND THE POTENTIAL OF THE PROPOSED MITIGATION BANK TO PROVIDE APPROPRIATE COMPENSATORY MITIGATION FOR ACTIVITIES AUTHORIZED BY DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY PERMITS. THE PROPOSED WORK IS DESCRIBED BELOW. NO DECISION HAS BEEN MADE AT THIS TIME AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THE PROPOSED MITIGATION BANK WILL BE APPROVED.
The Upper Susquehanna River Mitigation Bank Phase 2 is proposed as a modification to the Pennsylvania Statewide Umbrella Mitigation Banking Instrument approved by the Corps through the Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia Districts on July 2, 2013. We are requesting comments to determine if approval should be granted for this location as a commercial mitigation bank site for the purpose of providing compensatory mitigation for unavoidable aquatic resource impacts, including wetlands and streams, authorized by Department of the Army (DA) permits.
A copy of the proposed Upper Susquehanna River Mitigation Bank Phase 2 Mitigation Site Plan is attached to this public notice. The Mitigation Site Plan provides a summary of the information regarding the proposed mitigation bank 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 230).
Oversight of this Mitigation Bank will be undertaken by the Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection serves as co-chair the IRT.
In addition to the submitted Mitigation Site Plan, this District has also received and approved an application for a Department of the Army permit pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33. U.S.C. 1344) for construction of the stream and wetland restoration, rehabilitation and re-establishment work. The proposed work is described below:
MITIGATION BANK SPONSOR:
First Pennsylvania Resource, LLC
Attn: Mr. Will Donaldson
380 Southpointe Blvd.
Canonsburg, Pennsylvania 15317
WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK:
The proposed mitigation bank is located in an unnamed tributary to the Cowanesque River and adjacent wetlands, in Brookfield Township, Tioga County, Pennsylvania (41° 56’ 02.72” N, -77° 36’ 21.27” W). The physical address for the Upper Susquehanna River Mitigation Bank Phase 2 is 300 Dibble Hollow Road, Westfield, Pennsylvania, 16950. The sponsor proposes to utilize approximately 129.3 acres for establishment of the mitigation bank.
The proposed Upper Susquehanna River Mitigation Bank Phase 2 would provide compensatory mitigation for unavoidable wetland and stream channel impacts for projects authorized by the Corps. The proposed mitigation bank will involve the rehabilitation of 5.65 acres of currently degraded existing wetlands (5.51 acres of palustrine emergent wetlands, and 0.14 acre of palustrine scrub-shrub wetlands) which will be planted with native wetland tree species to obtain a palustrine forested wetland system; the conservation (preservation) of 0.25 acres of existing forested wetlands; the restoration of 2,804 linear feet of currently degraded stream channel (including 368 linear feet of stream channel re-establishment through removal of an on-line existing agricultural pond) with vegetated riparian zone restoration; 556 linear feet of stream channel conservation (preservation) with vegetated riparian zone restoration; 4,146 linear feet of stream channel conservation (preservation) with vegetated riparian zone conservation (preservation); and supporting upland buffer zone restoration of 62 acres and conservation (preservation) of 61.3 acres. The entire 129.3 acre USRMB2 site will receive long-term protection through recordation of a Declaration of Restrictive Covenants for Conservation. The proposed geographic service area for the USRMB2 is the Upper Susquehanna River Subbasin, corresponding to the Pennsylvania State Water Plan, Watershed Subbasin 4, and USGS Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 02050106, including portions of HUC’s 02050101, 02050103, 02050104, and 02050105 located within Pennsylvania.
WORK REQUIRING DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY AUTHORIZATION: A Preliminary Jurisdictional Determination for the USRMB2 site was performed by the Corps on May 2, 2013. On May 29, 2013, the Baltimore District authorized construction of the stream and wetland restoration work under Nationwide Permit (NWP) #27 for Aquatic Habitat Restoration, Establishment, and Enhancement Activities. The Corps authorization for construction of the stream and wetland restoration activities was undertaken as a stand-alone aquatic resource restoration project with the understanding that the permit decision would in no way prejudice the decision whether to use the site as a compensatory mitigation bank. The work authorized under the NWP #27 included the discharge of dredged and/or fill material into wetlands and/or waters for the construction of a stream and wetland restoration site using a natural channel design to restore and preserve self-sustaining functional stream, wetland, and riparian corridors. The work consists of realignment of the stream at specified locations, installation of in-stream structures, grading of the streambanks, removal of an on-line agricultural pond, and planting of live stakes and wetland plant species, resulting in permanent impacts to approximately 4,366 linear feet (1.01 acres) of streams and 69,585 square feet (1.60 acres) of wetlands. The project is located in an unnamed tributary to the Cowanesque River and adjacent wetlands, off of Dibble Hollow Road in Westfield, Brookfield Township, Tioga County, Pennsylvania.
The purpose of this proposed mitigation bank is to provide compensatory mitigation for future unavoidable impacts to aquatic resources that result from activities permitted by the Corps under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and/or Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. The mitigation bank would be used to comply with special conditions for compensatory mitigation requirements of permitted projects by providing in-kind compensation for authorized aquatic resource impacts. The mitigation bank may only be used for future projects after all appropriate and practicable steps to avoid and minimize adverse impacts to aquatic resources, including wetlands and streams, have been demonstrated. Remaining unavoidable aquatic resource impacts must be compensated to the extent appropriate and practicable. The utilization of approved and established mitigation banks with available credits is given preference to other forms of compensatory mitigation in the hierarchy of potential mitigation options as contained in the Final Rule on Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources.
The final mitigation banking instrument does not provide ultimate Department of the Army authorization for specific future projects impacting waters of the United States; exclude such future projects from any applicable statutory or regulatory requirements; or 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 may be available within the defined service area.
The decision whether to approve this compensatory mitigation bank will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit, which reasonable 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, economic, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, and consideration of property ownership and in general, the needs and welfare of the people.
The Corps of Engineers 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 of Engineers to determine whether to approve or disapprove the use of the site as a mitigation bank 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 provided will become part of the public record for this action. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity. Written comments concerning the work described above related to the factors listed above or other pertinent factors must be received by the District Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, Attn: Mike Danko, Carlisle Regulatory Field Office, 401 East Louther Street, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 17013, within the comment period specified above.
The applicant must obtain any State or local government permits which may be required.
A preliminary review of this application indicates that the proposed work will not affect Federal listed threatened or endangered species or their critical habitat, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as amended. As the evaluation of this application 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 request permit.
Any person who has an interest which may be adversely affected by the issuance of this permit may request a public hearing. The request, which must be in writing, must be received by the District Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, Attn: Mike Danko, Carlisle Regulatory Field Office, 401 East Louther Street, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 17013, within the comment period as specified above to receive consideration. Also it must clearly set forth the interest which may be adversely affected by this activity and the manner in which the interest may be adversely affected.
It is requested that you communicate this information concerning the proposed work to any persons know by you to be interested and not being known to this office, who did not receive a copy of this notice.
FOR THE DISTRICT ENGINEER:
Wade B. Chandler
Chief, Pennsylvania Section