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Ascent Environmental, Inc.
455 Capitol Mall, Suite 300
Sacramento, CA
95814
916.444.7301



Bonnie Peterson
916.842.3168

 

ascentenvironmetal.com






Summary of December
USACE Regulatory Workshop


Sacramento District Updates
Regulatory Program Information

 
The Sacramento District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Regulatory Division holds quarterly workshops to inform the public and other agencies about current USACE permit requirements, updates in program execution, and agency performance. We wanted to help the District by sharing some useful information presented at its December regulatory workshop. Bonnie Peterson, Ascent’s Regulatory Practice Manager, attended the December 5 workshop.

In 2013 the Sacramento District issued 1,329 permits and 1,064 jurisdictional determinations, with a staff of 45 in seven offices. Under federal budget sequestration, USACE has a hiring freeze in effect, as well as restrictions on travel and conferences. Recognizing the approaching January 15, 2014 expiration of the continuing resolution that funds the federal government, staffing constraints are expected to continue. 
 
In the context of USACE funding and staffing limitations, Sacramento District staff discussed constructive pointers about how applicants can help streamline the permitting process.  The workshop focused on the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7(a)(2) and National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) Section 106 consultation processes with which the USACE must comply when taking a discretionary action, such as issuing a fill permit. The USACE depends heavily on information provided by permit applicants for these federal agency consultations. 
 
To inform ESA Section 7 consultations, District staff recommended including in permit application:
  1. A description of the entire action
  2. A description of the locations and resources that may be affected by the action
  3. A description of listed species or critical habitat that may be affected by the action
  4. A description of the manner in which the action may affect listed species or critical habitat
  5. An analysis of cumulative impacts
  6. Relevant reports, including any EISs, environmental assessments, or biological assessments
  7. Any other relevant available information on the action, listed species, or critical habitat
Additional information regarding how the Sacramento District and the Sacramento Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conduct Section 7 coordination is summarized in the Field Level Agreement Between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Field Office Concerning Interagency Cooperation for Regulatory Program Activities.

District staff also discussed the NHPA Section 106 process, common pitfalls, and information the USACE requires to complete its consultation process. Key points included helping the District initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) as early as feasible and always considering effect avoidance and minimization actions during project planning.
 
Sacramento District workshop presentations describing these regulatory processes are available on the USACE website.   
 
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Bonnie Peterson, at (916) 842-3168 or bonnie.peterson@ascentenvironmental.com.
 
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Ascent Environmental, Inc. is a forward-looking environmental consultancy. We offer our extensive CEQA and NEPA, regulatory compliance, climate action planning, and natural resources experience with the goal of providing personal service and high quality results to our clients on their most important projects. We are certified as a small business and women-owned business enterprise.
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