SWF-2012-00220 - Hart Creek Mitigation Bank

Published March 11, 2013
Expiration date: 4/8/2013



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SUBJECT: This public notice is being issued to provide interested parties an opportunity to comment on a proposal to create the Hart Creek Mitigation Bank (HCMB), located south of the city of Mount Pleasant, Texas adjacent to Hart Creek.

APPLICANT: Picket Spring Recreational Properties, LLC
121 N. MacArthur Blvd.
Irving, Texas 75061-7413

P.O. Box 225
Waskom, Texas 75692


DATE ISSUED: March 7, 2013

LOCATION: The proposed 337.4-acre HCMB is part of a larger tract of land (approximately 1,640 acres) located approximately 2.8 miles southeast of Mount Pleasant, Texas (see Figure 1 - Location Map). The approximate North American Datum 1983 (NAD83) coordinates for the proposed project are Latitude 33° 6' 9.63" N and Longitude 94° 56' 9.35"W on the Harvard 7.5 minute U.S. Geological Survey quadrangle maps. The proposed bank is located near the border of the East Central Texas Plains and the South Central Plains Level III Ecoregion (Omernik 2004) and the 11140305, Lake O’ the Pines watershed (11140305) of the Big Cypress-Sulphur basin (HUC 111403).

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Picket Spring Recreational Properties, LLC (the Sponsor) is proposing the restoration and enhancement of approximately 22,984 linear feet of intermittent, ephemeral, and perennial streams and approximately 209-acres acres of bottomland hardwood forest. Restoration and enhancement activities would involve cattle exclusion, the removal of three dams, channel reconstruction, and the planting and revegetation of riparian areas and bottomland hardwood forest. Credits produced at the proposed bank would be used to offset permitted impacts to ephemeral, intermittent, and perennial channels within the proposed service area.

The Sponsor is proposing primary, and secondary service areas for the proposed bank (see Figure 4 – Service Area Map). The proposed primary service consists of the 8-digit Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC; 11140305), which includes parts of Camp, Cass, Franklin, Harrison, Hopkins, Marion, Titus, Upshur and Wood Counties. The proposed secondary service area consists of the Level III Ecoregion, East Central Texas Plains and the South Central Plains Level III Ecoregion, contained within the adjoining HUCs (11140306 and 11140307). All of the proposed service areas are contained within the Big Cypress-Sulphur basin (6-digit HUC 111403).

The site is currently utilized for intensive livestock grazing with direct, unlimited access to the channels and streams on the site. The project’s stream channels are degraded, incised, ditched, and dammed. Large portions of the bottomland hardwood forest which buffers Hart Creek was removed for grazing purposes. The site is therefore considered to be significantly disturbed and degraded. Further, the entire ranch site has been cleared and used for ranching and agricultural production for many decades (see Figure 2 –Aerial Map).

The Sponsor has identified approximately 209-acres +/- of low and moderate quality wetland habitats which could potentially be enhanced, restored, and preserved. The Sponsor has identified approximately 27,100 linear feet of moderate to heavily impacted streams, approximately 2,500 linear feet of ditches, 2,700 linear feet of restorable stream segments and 2,700 linear feet of inundated streams under reservoirs.

Restoration activities would include exclusion of livestock, floodplain restoration, enhancement and preservation, stream bank protection, wildlife habitat enhancement and planting and revegetating the wetland pastures and monotypic wetland hardwood forests to naturalized bottomland hardwood forests. Dam and ditch removal in addition to regrading would serve to rehydrate disconnected wetland and stream systems, and would reconnect disconnected stream reaches. Culvert removal within streams and adding or replacing culverts in existing roadways will allow free hydrological passage of streams and facilitate the natural sheet flow. These activities would increase the functional capacity of onsite and downstream habitat.

The proposed restoration and mitigation activities would achieve an ecological functional lift by increasing floodwater storage and detention times, thereby promoting nutrient and sediment removal, provide shading, and improve downstream water quality. The Bank would restore and enhance wetland habitat and streams by eliminating impoundments and restoring hydrology. The combination of these activities would likely provide a net increase to dissolved oxygen to downstream aquatic habitats. The Bank would provide increased nesting, spawning, foraging, and migration habitat allowing fish and wildlife to utilize re-established corridors to upstream and downstream habitats. The Bank would also protect habitat for various federal and state listed wetland dependent species including but not limited to the state listed threatened paddlefish (Polyodon spathula).

A mitigation banking instrument (MBI) would be developed in accordance with the Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources (CMLR), (Federal Register, Thursday, April 10, 2008, Vol. 73, No. 70, pp. 19594-19705). The MBI would detail the legal and physical characteristics of the bank and how the bank would be established and operated. Subjects addressed in detail in the MBI would include development of the site, service area, credit determination, short and long-term financial assurances, scope of agreement, purpose and goals of the bank, baseline conditions, performance standards for enhancement activities, accounting procedures, monitoring and reporting, long-term maintenance and protection, and transfer of bank ownership or sponsorship. The USACE, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Railroad Commission of Texas, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department comprise the Interagency Review Team (IRT), and would be involved in developing the MBI and may be signatories to the final document.

Implementation of the proposed mitigation bank would require Department of the Army Authorization under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Based on preliminary evaluation by the USACE, it appears that the proposed bank may be authorized by nationwide permit 27 for Aquatic Habitat Restoration, Establishment, and Enhancement Activities.

ENDANGERED AND THREATENED SPECIES: The USACE has reviewed the USFWS’s latest published version of endangered and threatened species to determine if any may occur in the project area. The Interior Least Tern (Sterna antillarum athalassos), Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus), Black bear (Ursus americanus), Red Wolf (Canis rufus) are listed as threatened or endangered in Titus Counties. The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is also known to occur in these areas. Although the bald eagle has been delisted; its status remains in a period of monitoring until five years after delisting. Our initial review indicates that the proposed work would have no adverse effects on any federally-listed endangered or threatened species.

NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES: The area of the proposed mitigation bank has never been formally surveyed for the presence of prehistoric or historic sites. The proposed mitigation bank has not had any formal determination of eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and remain potentially eligible for inclusion in the NRHP if discovered. No known prehistoric or historic sites have been identified as occurring on the proposed mitigation bank.

FLOODPLAIN MANAGEMENT: The USACE is sending a copy of this public notice to the local floodplain administrator. In accordance with 44 CFR part 60 (Flood Plain Management Regulations Criteria for Land Management and Use), the floodplain administrators of participating communities are required to review all proposed development to determine if a floodplain development permit is required and maintain records of such review.

SOLICITATION OF COMMENTS: The public notice is being distributed to all known interested persons in order to allow the public an opportunity to comment on this bank proposal and to assist the USACE and other members of the IRT in developing the final MBI. For accuracy and completeness of the record, all data in support of or in opposition to the proposed work should be submitted in writing setting forth sufficient detail to furnish a clear understanding of the reasons for support or opposition.

PUBLIC HEARING: Prior to the close of the comment period any person may make a written request for a public hearing setting forth the particular reasons for the request. The District Engineer will determine whether the issues raised are substantial and should be considered in his permit decision. If a public hearing is warranted, all known interested persons will be notified of the time, date, and location.

CLOSE OF COMMENT PERIOD: All comments pertaining to this Public Notice must reach this office on or before April 8, 2013, which is the close of the comment period. Extensions of the comment period may be granted for valid reasons provided a written request is received by the limiting date. If no comments are received by that date, it will be considered that there are no objections. Comments and requests for additional information should be submitted to Mr. Eric Dephouse; Regulatory Branch, CESWF-PER-R; U. S. Army Corps of Engineers; Post Office Box 17300; Fort Worth, Texas 76102-0300. You may visit the Regulatory Branch in Room 3A37 of the Federal Building at 819 Taylor Street in Fort Worth between 8:00 A.M. and 3:30 P.M., Monday through Friday. Telephone inquiries should be directed to (817) 886-1733. Please note that names and addresses of those who submit comments in response to this public notice may be made publicly available.