SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District (Corps) is evaluating a proposal by M L Wetlands, Inc. (Sponsor) to establish Maria Lake Mitigation Bank (Bank). The mitigation site would result in the preservation, reestablishment and rehabilitation of riverine and depressional alkaline emergent and scrub/shrub wetlands and associated upland buffers within the Sandy Arroyo watershed, which is part of the Huerfano sub-basin (HUC 11020006). Details of the proposed bank are provided in this public notice and in the attached Prospectus. The purpose of this public notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed mitigation bank and to solicit comments.
AUTHORITY: The Maria Lake Mitigation Bank Prospectus is being evaluated under 33 CFR Part 332.8.
SPONSOR: M L Wetlands, Inc., 7343 S Alton Way, Suite 100, Centennial, CO 80112
LOCATION: The Bank property is a 47.7-acre drainage basin situated near the confluence of Sandy Arroyo and the Cucharas River on an approximately 2,179-acre ranch northeast of the city of Walsenburg, Colorado. The Bank is located in the north half of Section 16 and the south half of Section 9, Township 27 South, Range 65 West. The approximate coordinates of the Bank center are Latitude 37.701095, Longitude -104.675002 (WGS 84 datum). The lowest portion of the Bank is along Sandy Arroyo and the land gradually slopes up to the south and east. Elevation ranges from approximately 5,810 to 5,850 feet above sea level. (Prospectus Figures 1 and 2).
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The Sponsor proposes to establish the Bank in Huerfano County, Colorado with the intent of providing compensatory mitigation for permitted impacts to Waters of the United States. This will be accomplished through the preservation and restoration of wetlands and riparian habitats on the Bank property which will be implemented in phases. Wetland and riparian habitats include perennial emergent marsh, greasewood flat, and various types of seasonal alkaline wetlands. The credits generated by the preservation and restoration activities proposed at the Bank will be used by permittees as mitigation for unavoidable impacts to Waters of the United States within the Arkansas River basin. Currently, there are no other mitigation banks in the region and transportation projects and future regional growth create a need for additional compensatory mitigation options.
Environmental Setting. The Bank site is within the Southwestern Tablelands ecoregion that is characterized in part by its alkaline/salt flat wetlands that support a host of migratory waterfowl and unique plant species. The Bank property is a mix of greasewood flat, shortgrass prairie, and palustrine wetlands and contains approximately 12.2 acres of wetlands and 0.14 acres of waters. In the 2011 The State of Colorado’s Biodiversity Report produced by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, greasewood and shortgrass prairie ecological systems were both categorized as “under conserved”, which is the least protected category in their ranking system and most at risk. The presence of these two ecological systems at the Bank property makes it a valuable mitigation site.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: The Interagency Review Team (IRT) responsible for the review and approval of the proposed mitigation bank may include representatives from each of the Colorado Corps districts, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and any other federal and state agencies, as appropriate.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: The proposed activity has no potential to cause effect to eligible historic properties listed with the State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed activity will have no effect to federally-listed endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act.
EVALUATION FACTORS: 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. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and other public interest factors. Comments are used in the evaluation of the proposed mitigation bank per 33 CFR Part 332.8 and in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.
SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPA-2015-00275-SCO must be submitted to the office listed below on or before March 2, 2016.
Albuquerque District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Southern Colorado Regulatory Office
ATTN: Van A. Truan
200 South Santa Fe Avenue, Suite 301
Pueblo, Colorado 81003-4270
Phone: (719) 543-6915
Please note that all written comments are subject to release to the public through the Freedom of Information Act.