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LRH-2010-1028-MUS

Published May 23, 2013
Expiration date: 6/21/2013

PUBLIC NOTICE: The purpose of this public notice is to inform you of a proposal for work in which you might be interested. It is also to solicit your comments and information to better enable us to make a reasonable decision on factors affecting the public interest. We hope you will participate in this process.

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: An application has been submitted to the Corps as a request for a permit, under the provisions of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, for the proposed discharge of fill material into waters of the U.S., as described below.

APPLICANT: Oxford Mining Company, LLC, 544 Chestnut Street, Post Office Box 427, Coshocton, Ohio 43812

 

LOCATION: The proposed project is located within unnamed tributaries and wetlands to Leatherwood Creek (HUC 05040005-030) within the Muskingum River watershed. The project is along the south side of Country Road 265 at latitude 39.9515, longitude -81.2548, Guernsey and Noble County, Ohio. Please see attached location map (Exhibit 1).

DESCRIPTION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The applicant proposes to discharge 354 cubic yards of fill material into 2,008 linear feet of intermittent and ephemeral stream.  Fill discharge would be required to accomplish coal extraction (mine through) of the No. 8 coal seam.  Each discharge location and purpose is identified in the table below.

Stream ID

Flow Regime

Stream Length on site

Stream Length proposed to be filled

Purpose of Discharge

3

I

712

399

Mine Through

3C

I

386

306

Mine Through

3D

E

155

155

Mine Through

7

I

266

241

Mine Through

10

E

139

139

Mine Through

10

I

307

210

Mine Through

10A

I

253

189

Mine Through

10B

E

236

236

Mine Through

10 C

E

382

133

Mine Through

The applicant's Section 404 permit application (including the compensatory mitigation plan) is available for public review in the Corps' Regulatory office, by appointment. A copy of the application can also be obtained by written request under the Freedom of Information Act.

ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS: The applicant's stated overall project purpose is to develop and mine coal reserves in the No. 8 coal seam within the identified project area. This project is not water dependent; therefore, the applicant is required to show that other less damaging practicable alternatives, which do not require placing fill material into waters of the U.S., are available. The applicant's alternatives analysis is currently being reviewed. No permit will be issued unless the alternatives analysis clearly demonstrates that practicable upland alternatives are not available to achieve the overall project purpose. The applicant’s preferred alternative would result in the discharge of fill material into 2,008 linear feet of jurisdictional stream channel.  The minimal alternative would result in the discharge of 1,101 linear feet of stream channel. No fill discharge in wetlands is proposed for either alternative.

MINIMIZATION OF IMPACTS TO WATERS OF THE U.S: The applicant has indicated that there is no practicable alternative for the proposed project that completely avoids the discharge of fill material into waters of the U.S. The applicant proposes to utilize the following methods to minimize the effects of suspended particles entering streams and wetlands during mining: the construction of diversions, construction of sediment ponds, installation of silt fences, removal and storage of top soil, temporary stockpiles of spoil, and contemporaneous backfilling and grading. After mining the applicant proposes to redistribute topsoil, seed, plant and mulch all disturbed areas which would aid in the prevention of sediment entering streams and wetlands. To minimize contact with acid/toxic drainage produced by land disturbance and non-coal waste impacting waters of the U.S. the applicant proposes to implement an approved materials handling plan (approved through SMCRA agency) which may include the burial of acid/toxic spoil and/or treatment of mine drainage.  To minimize the potential for acid/toxic drainage from debris during mine development and road construction impacting waters of the U.S., the applicant would insure removal and storage of topsoil and proper construction of access roads. 

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION PLAN (CMP): The applicant used the Headwater Habitat Evaluation Index (HHEI) as a method to determine an appropriate level of mitigation to compensate for stream impacts. The applicant has submitted a CMP to compensate for the proposed impacts to waters of the U.S. The CMP is available for public review at the Corps address below, by appointment.

The applicant has proposed permittee responsible on-site, in-kind mitigation for the permanent and temporary fills of jurisdictional stream channels. The applicant has proposed no mitigation for temporal loss of jurisdictional stream channels. In total, the applicant proposes to restore 2,008 linear feet of stream channel to pre-mining conditions based on a physical habitat assessment score (HHEI) equal to or greater than the pre-mining score achieved by the end of the five year monitoring period. The applicant proposes to construct a 100 foot buffer zone along streams reconstructed as intermittent (50 feet on either side of stream) and within a 50 foot buffer along streams reconstructed as ephemeral (25 feet on either side of stream).  The buffer zones would be planted with a mixture of native woody and herbaceous vegetation and monitored for a period of five years for survivability and presence of invasive species.

The applicant's proposed CMP is open to comment and is subject to change based on comments received. After review of all submitted information, the Corps will make a determination of appropriate mitigation, in the event a decision is made to issue a permit.

WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION (WQC):  An individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification is required for this project. It is the applicant's responsibility to obtain certification from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Division of Surface Water.

HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES: This public notice serves as coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) concerning any properties that may be eligible for or listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. If the SHPO has information regarding any potential effects to listed or eligible properties that would be attributable to the Corps' proposed permitting action, it is requested the SHPO provide any information they may have to the Corps by the close of the public comment period.

ENDANGERED/THREATENED SPECIES REVIEW: This public notice serves as coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) concerning threatened or endangered species, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1972 (as amended). The proposed project lies within the natural range of the endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis). The applicant conducted a mist net survey for the presence/absence of the Indiana bat survey from May 26th through May 28th, 2011. No Indiana bats were detected. Based on the information provided, the Corps has determined the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect the Indiana bat, and would have no effect on other federally listed species. If the USFWS has new information and believes any potential effects to federally listed species would be attributable to the Corps' proposed permitting action, it is requested the Service provide any additional information they may have by close of the public comment period.

PUBLIC INTEREST REVIEW AND CUMULATIVE EFFECTS: This application will be reviewed in accordance with 33 CFR 320-332, and other pertinent laws, regulations, and executive orders. Our evaluation will also follow the guidelines published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to Section 404(b)( 1) of the CWA. The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact, 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 that reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors that may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including the cumulative effects thereof; of those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, 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, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The project lies within the Muskingum River hydrologic unit watershed (Hydrologic Unit Code 05040005). The Corps is assessing the potential cumulative effects that the proposed fill discharges into jurisdictional waters of the U.S. may have on public interest factors when considered with other activities in that watershed.

SOLICITATION OF COMMENTS: The Corps 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. Interested parties are invited to state any objections they may have to the proposed work. For accuracy and completeness of the administrative 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. Any person who has an interest that may be adversely affected by the issuance of a permit may request a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer on or before the expiration date of this notice and must clearly set forth the interest which may be adversely affected and the manner in which the interest may be adversely affected by the activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. 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 are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity. Written statements on these factors received in this office on or before the expiration date of this Public Notice will become a part of the record and will be considered in the final determination. A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.

CLOSE OF COMMENT PERIOD: All comments pertaining to this Public Notice must reach this office on or before the close of the comment period listed on page one of this Public Notice. 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

U. S. Army Corps of Engineers

ATTN: CELRH-RD-E; Public Notice No. LRH-2010-1028-UT Leatherwood Creek

4969 Dillon Dam Road

Zanesville, Ohio 43701

 

Please note that names and addresses of those who submit comments in response to this public notice become part of our administrative record and, as such, are available to the public under provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. Thank you for your interest in our nation's water resources. If you have any questions concerning this public notice, please call Sheila Newman of the Energy Resource Branch, at 740-454-2225, ext. 5.

 

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