In 2013, Gallaway Enterprises prepared a grant on behalf of Butte County for the Environmental Enhancement Mitigation Program (EEMP) to restore and enhance bat roosting habitat on the Ord Ferry Bridge. The grant was applied for after a large multi-species bat maternity roost was displaced for two (2) years due to construction on the Ord Ferry Bridge. One of the bat species that uses Ord Ferry Bridge as a maternity roost is the pallid bat, which is a species of special concern in the State of California. The EEMP grant was awarded to Butte County for the Bat Colony Restoration Project at Ord Ferry Bridge in 2014. In Late July of 2014, Gallaway Enterprises installed 19 concrete bat boxes on the sides of Ord Ferry Bridge.
In January 2016, Gallaway Enterprises went back out to the bridge to see if there were any signs of the bats using the new roosting habitat. High fives were exchanged after urine stains were observed under every bat box that was installed on the bridge! Bats urine is highly acidic and leaves noticeable white stains on bridge structures in the areas that they roost. Piles of bat guano (i.e. bat poop) were also observed under accessible bat boxes and bats could be heard conducting social chirps within the bat boxes. The detection of the bats roosting in the bat boxes in January was also a surprising discovery! It was well known by Gallaway Enterprises that Ord Ferry Bridge served as a maternity roost where local bats produced and raised young, now with the new bat boxes, the bridge also serves as a winter roost for bats! Bats in the area typically leave their maternity roost after the breeding season and migrate locally to winter roosting areas. Thanks to the new bat habitat installed on the Ord Ferry Bridge, local bat populations and sensitive bat species can find suitable roosting habitat year around.
In a 2-1 decision the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a nationwide stay against enforcement of the Waters of the U.S. rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE).
The court concluded that the rule has already been stayed in 13 states and that a nationwide stay would help maintain nationwide uniformity while the rule is litigated in court. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee called the Sixth Circuits order to suspend “a victory for all states, local governments, farmers, ranchers, and landowners. The EPA and Army Corps admitted in February before Congress that the proposed rule was flawed and ambiguous, yet the agencies continued forward and finalized the rule in May. Instead of fixing the overreach, EPA made it broader.” Inhofe went on to say that the litigation over the WOTUS rule will likely take several years to conclude.
The WOTUS rule would have significantly impacted agriculture in Sacramento County, with 100% of lands being considered jurisdictional, farmers and ranchers would have been in violation for simple routine farming practices like weed spraying.
While this not over, the stay provides opportunity for the court system to get answers about over reaching authority of EPA and Army Corp of Engineers.
If you have been following the proposed “New Rules” from the Environmental Protection Agency regarding the Clean Water Act you may have seen the release of the “Litigation Sensitive” memos. These memos detail how the proposed “New Rules” ignore sound science, lack legal authority, and are not supported by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Read Corps gives plaintiffs a hand on WOTUS from Capital Press:
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) released documents outlining how EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule will give the agency sweeping powers to regulate land use despite a body of law clearly prohibiting such overreach. “Our analysis shows yet again how unwise, extreme and unlawful this rule is,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “Our public affairs specialists and legal team have assembled the best analysis available, and their conclusions are sobering: Despite months of comments and innumerable complaints, the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) proposal is even worse than before.”
The WOTUS rule, first released in draft form in April, 2014, has garnered fierce opposition from farmers, ranchers, and land owners of all kinds. Dozens of states and countless municipalities oppose the measure.
One of the most concerning aspects of the new rule is the ability of CWA regulators to ignore scientific indicators of jurisdictional waters and instead rely purely on aerial photos, opinions and past conditions.
The redefinition of “waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act will severely impact farming activities making it more difficult farm by creating a broader regulatory scheme, no certainty to farmers and few exemptions.
Washington, DC – Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) voted for a measure last evening that rolls back the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial “Waters of the United States” regulatory proposal. HR 1732, which passed by a vote of 261-155, prevents the EPA from implementing the rule and directs it to work with stakeholders on a new rule. The EPA has refused to make any significant changes to its proposal, despite receiving approximately a million comments from across the country identifying the negative impacts the rule would have on farms, small businesses, and local governments.
“The EPA and other federal bureaucracies already ignore clear exemptions in order to attack farmers and ranchers, and they now want even more authority? The Waters of the US regulation would expand the federal government’s jurisdiction over vast swathes of Northern California, including gullies which contain water only during rainstorms and wet depressions in fields,” said LaMalfa. “Congress has made it clear that it never intended to provide these powers to the EPA, has demonstrated bipartisan opposition to the proposal, and has acted to defund it. It’s time that the EPA remembers that Congress writes our nation’s laws, not federal bureaucrats.”
LaMalfa referred to the EPA’s existing interpretation of the Clean Water Act, in which it ignores clear, explicit exemptions of agricultural activities in order to penalize farmers for changing crops or replanting fallowed fields. LaMalfa has successfully passed several measures to limit and defund this interpretation, most recently in the Energy & Water Appropriations bill the House passed earlier this month.
Tricolored Blackbirds Receive Emergency Protection Under the California Endangered Species Act
The emergency protections prevent the killing, harassing, or harming of tricolored blackbirds for the next 180 days, while the California Fish and Game Commission considers a petition to formally list the birds under the state’s Endangered Species Act. Tricolored blackbird populations have declined throughout the State with only 145,000 birds counted in 2014-the lowest ever recorded. Formal listing of this bird will primarily affect agricultural operations as tricolored blackbirds nest in large colonies located within irrigated pasture, silage fields, and other agricultural crops. “It’s critical that harvesting and plowing activities on private lands used for tricolor breeding are prohibited or delayed during the upcoming 2015 nesting season”, Jeff Miller from the Center for Biological Diversity.
Project Spotlight: Gallaway Enterprises Completes Environmental Review and Permitting for the Spring Valley Road Bridge Replacement Project
Gallaway Enterprises recently completed a wide range of environmental compliance services for the Yuba County Public Works Department on the Spring Valley Road Bridge over Browns Valley Ditch. The purpose of the project was to replace a functionally obsolete bridge structure with a new bridge. Tasks included:
Natural Environment Study
Management of sub consultants for ISA Soil Testing and Cultural Resource Assessments
Application and negotiation of §1600, §401, and §404 permits from the CDFW, RWQCB and USACE respectively.
Caltrans State Route 24 Storm Damage Repair-Project Spotlight
Gallaway Enterprises recently finished biological monitoring on the on Caltrans State Route 24 Storm Damage Repair Project in Contra Costa County, just west of the City of Orinda. The purpose of the project was to repair storm water damage at two locations along the highway. The project involved the repair of a sinkhole around a riser and drainage inlet and storm damage repair of 0.53 acre saturated portion of the hillside to prevent it from slipping into the highway. Gallaway Enterprises provided onsite daily monitoring for 52 days to fulfill all the terms and conditions of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Opinion, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Incidental Take Permit, and Caltrans Specifications. Target species for the project included California red-legged frogs, Alameda whipsnakes, and nesting migratory birds.