Since the new rule was proposed, our office has been receiving 3-4 calls a week from farmers and those considering acquisition of lands for farming. The EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers have proposed rule changes to the Clean Water Act that provide “clarifications to the scope of the CWA”. Those opposed to the new rule assert that the rule expands the jurisdiction of the agencies via the Clean Water Act and provides a broad expansion of the types of waters and lands that would be subject to a federal permit. In our humble experience, the new rule formalizes what the San Francisco and Sacramento office of the US Army Corps of Engineers have been taking jurisdiction of gradually over the last 6 years.
For those who conduct wetland delineations, you may have noticed that the Wetland Determination Data Form “Arid West 2.0” doesn’t include the automated features of the previous “Arid West 1.6”. While the 2.0 version was produced in 2008, we haven’t been able to find an automated version, so we took it upon ourselves to utilize the old version and update it to reflect the content changes in the newer 2.0 version.
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Butte County suffered devastating damage in the summer of 2008 from wildfires that ripped through several communities. After the wildfires the County applied for, and was awarded, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery Initiative (DRI) funds to assist with rehabilitation from the wildfires. The County was awarded over $7.3 million to address the recovery efforts, part of which were allocated to the rehabilitation of Concow Road and associated drainage infrastructure.
Gallaway continues to lead through innovation and science. The Butte County Department of Public Works recently engaged Gallaway Enterprises to assist them with a “bat problem”. The Honey Run Covered Bridge is a historical bridge located on Honey Run Road over Butte Creek. The site is used for educational events, weddings, photo shoots, fundraisers and other public events. Over the years a large populations of bats have been using this historical structure as a maternity roost and the population of bats has grown. The concentration of bats creates a regular maintenance problem for the County.
Do you know what a wetland looks like or the limits of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife jurisdiction? Do you know how the US Army Corps of Engineers classifies “normal and on-going” farming practices? Many landowners from across the North State have received Clean Water Act or California Fish and Game Code violation notices from federal and/or state agencies, after farming or developing lands where 1) the presence of wetlands had not been properly assessed by qualified biologists and were thought to contain no environmental constraints, 2) farmers had planted wheat or rice in previous years and converted the land to orchards, or 3) previous environmental permit requirements were not addressed. Due to the large number of Clean Water Act violations, the US Army Corps of Engineers have created a new enforcement division to specifically work on processing violations.
While working on the Shasta Constructors team, Gallaway Enterprises recently completed a sophisticated fish passage project on State Route 1 at Dunn Creek in Mendocino County. Dunn Creek crossed State Route 1 through a nine-foot diameter structural steel plate pipe culvert. There was a six-foot vertical drop downstream of the culvert, creating a barrier to fish passage, including the Federal and State listed Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and the Federal listed Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).
On Wednesday, February 5, 2014 the US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) posted a Public Notice on conducting wetland delineations during drought conditions to their website. Due to the drought conditions that have developed over the past few years in California, the COE is recommending, when applicable, that delineators use the difficult Wetland Situations protocol. In the guidance posted, the COE identify two documents which describe approaches that may be useful in completing wetland delineations during periods of below-normal rainfall, drought conditions and unusually low winter snowpack. The documents identified include two Regional Supplements to the Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual, one for the Arid West Region and one for the Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast Region.