Regulatory Public Notices

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Under the Corps' Regulatory Program, a public notice is the primary method for advising all interested parties of a proposed activity for which a permit is sought. Public notices are also published to inform the public about new or proposed regulations, policies, guidance or permit procedures.

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SPN-2013-00093 United States Coast Guard Humboldt Bay Maintenance Dredging

Published Feb. 14, 2023
Expiration date: 3/31/2023

PROJECT: United States Coast Guard Humboldt Bay Maintenance Dredging


PUBLIC NOTICE DATE: February 14, 2023

COMMENTS DUE DATE: March 31, 2023

PERMIT MANAGER: Melissa France     |      TELEPHONE: 415-503-6768     |      EMAIL:

INTRODUCTION: The United States Coast Guard (USCG) Station Humboldt Bay, through its agent, WSP Environment & Infrastructure (Contact: Kimbrie Gobbi) has applied for a ten-year Department of the Army permit to conduct maintenance dredging within the vessel mooring basin at USCG Station Humboldt Bay (Station) located within Humboldt Bay in the City of Samoa, Humboldt County, California. The purpose of the proposed dredging is to return the Station to the original design depths in order to facilitate safe navigation for USCG vessels. This Department of the Army Permit application is being processed pursuant to the provisions of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act of 1972, as amended (33 U.S.C. § 1344 et seq.) and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, as amended (33 U.S.C. § 403 et seq.).


Project Site Location: The Station is on the inland side of the north spit of Humboldt Bay, in Samoa, Humboldt County, California.

Project Site Description: The site encompasses approximately 0.77 acre and is located within Humboldt Bay, as depicted in Figures 1-6.

Project Description:  As shown in the attached drawings, the applicant plans to remove approximately 3,000 cubic yards (cys) of sediment from the 0.77 acrev(approximately) dredge site in an initial episode and approximately 10,000 cys of material over the life of the permit. The design depth is -8 feet mean lower low water, plus an overdepth allowance of 2 feet in the Station. The material would be removed using a shallow draft barge-mounted clamshell, hydraulic, suction, backhoe, or hopper dredge, and transported by barge to the Humboldt Open Ocean Disposal Site (HOODS). Prior to each dredging episode, the Corps and the EPA will evaluate the sediments to be dredged for disposal or reuse suitability. The Corps and EPA is tasked with approving sampling and analysis plans in conformity with testing manuals, reviewing the test results and reaching consensus regarding a suitable disposition for the material.

Basic Project Purpose: The basic project purpose comprises the fundamental, essential, or irreducible purpose of the project, and is used by the Corps to determine whether the project is water dependent. Although the purpose of the project, as stated above, is for safe navigational depths, for consideration in Section 404(b)(1) (Clean Water Act), the basic purpose of the project is navigation.

Overall Project Purpose: The overall project purpose serves as the basis for the Section 404(b)(1) alternatives analysis and is determined by further defining the basic project purpose in a manner that more specifically describes the applicant's goals for the project, while allowing a reasonable range of alternatives to be analyzed. The overall project purpose is to carry out maintenance dredging within the Station in order to restore navigable project design depths to allow Coast Guard vessels to safely navigate in and out of the bay and to properly dispose of the dredged material.

Project Impacts: The detrimental effects on erosion/sedimentation rates, substrate, water quality, fish habitat, air quality, and noise are all expected to be minor and short term. No permanent negative effects such as undesired substrate alteration, decreased water quality, loss of fish habitat, decrease air quality, and noise pollution are anticipated. The beneficial effects on economics, employment, safety and navigation, and of the removal of contaminants, are major and long term.

Proposed Mitigation: The proposed dredging would not result in a permanent loss of waters of the United States. Temporary impacts to aquatic resources would be mitigated by proposed minimization and avoidance measures, including conducting work only within the permitted environmental work windows. Therefore, no compensatory mitigation is proposed.


Water Quality Certification: State water quality certification or a waiver is a prerequisite for the issuance of a Department of the Army Permit to conduct any activity which may result in a fill or pollutant discharge into waters of the United States, pursuant to Section 401 of the Clean Water Act of 1972, as amended (33 U.S.C. § 1341 et seq.). The applicant has recently submitted an application to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) to obtain water quality certification for the project. No Department of the Army Permit will be issued until the applicant obtains the required certification or a waiver of certification. A waiver can be explicit, or it may be presumed if the RWQCB fails or refuses to act on a complete application for water quality certification within 60 days of receipt, unless the District Engineer determines a shorter or longer period is a reasonable time for the RWQCB to act. Water quality issues should be directed to the Executive Officer, California Regional Water Quality Control Board, North Coast Region, 5550 Skylane Boulevard, Suite A, Santa Rosa, California 95403, by the close of the comment period.

Coastal Zone Management: Section 307(c) of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. § 1456(c) et seq.), requires an applicant seeking a federal license or permit to conduct any activity occurring in or affecting the coastal zone to obtain a Consistency Certification that indicates the activity conforms with the state’s coastal zone management program. Generally, no federal license or permit will be granted until the appropriate state agency has issued a Consistency Certification or has waived its right to do so. Coastal zone management issues should be directed to the District Manager, California Coastal Commission, North Coast District Office, 710 E Street, Suite 200, Eureka, California 95501, by the close of the comment period.


National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Upon review of the Department of the Army Permit application and other supporting documentation, the Corps has made a preliminary determination that the project neither qualifies for a Categorical Exclusion nor requires the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for the purposes of NEPA. At the conclusion of the public comment period, the Corps will assess the environmental impacts of the project in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. §§ 4321-4347), the Council on Environmental Quality's Regulations at 40 C.F.R. Parts 1500-1508, and the Corps Regulations at 33 C.F.R. Part 325. The final NEPA analysis will normally address the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts that result from regulated activities within the jurisdiction of the Corps and other non-regulated activities the Corps determines to be within its purview of federal control and responsibility to justify an expanded scope of analysis for NEPA purposes. The final NEPA analysis will be incorporated in the decision documentation that provides the rationale for issuing or denying a Department of the Army Permit for the project. The final NEPA analysis and supporting documentation will be on file with the San Francisco District, Regulatory Division.

Endangered Species Act (ESA): Section 7(a)(2) of the ESA of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq.), requires federal agencies to consult with either the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) or the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to ensure actions authorized, funded, or undertaken by the agency are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any federally-listed species or result in the adverse modification of designated critical habitat. The U.S. Coast Guard, as the lead federal agency for the project, has prepared a Biological Assessment and initiated Section 7 consultation pursuant to the ESA with the NMFS for potential adverse effects to federal listed threatened and endangered species. The following federally listed fish species are known to occur in Humboldt Bay. The North American green sturgeon southern (Acipenser medirostris) distinct population segment (DPS) was listed as a federally threatened species in April 2006. A DPS is treated as a unique species under the ESA. This DPS includes all populations that spawn south of, but not including, the Eel River. Currently, the only known spawning location of southern DPS green sturgeon is the Sacramento River system. This species is known to occur in Humboldt Bay, which is designated critical habitat for green sturgeon. The Southern Oregon/Northern California evolutionarily significant unit (ESU) of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) was listed as threatened on May 6, 1997; this status was reaffirmed on June 28, 2005. Coho salmon are known to migrate through Humboldt Bay. Adult coho salmon typically begin the freshwater migration from the ocean to their natal streams after heavy late-fall or winter rains breach the sand bars at the mouths of coastal streams. Migration continues until March, generally peaking in December and January, with spawning occurring shortly after returning to the spawning ground. Humboldt Bay is designated critical habitat for the coho salmon. The Northern California DPS of steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) was listed as a threatened species in June 2000, and its threatened status was reaffirmed in January 2006. This DPS includes all naturally spawned steelhead populations below natural and manmade impassable barriers in California coastal river basins, from Redwood Creek southward to—but not including—the Russian River. Critical habitat for this species was designated in September 2005, and includes selected creeks and rivers where the species spawns, as well as estuarine areas, including Humboldt Bay. The California Coastal Chinook ESU (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) was listed as threatened in September 1999, and its status was reaffirmed in June 2005. The ESU includes all naturally spawned populations of Chinook salmon from rivers and streams south of the Klamath River to the Russian River, California. This ESU consists of fall-run Chinook, which typically begin upstream migration shortly after the first major storm of the season, and spawn from December through March. Critical habitat for this species was designated in September 2005, and includes selected creeks and rivers where the species spawns, as well as estuarine areas, including Humboldt Bay. Any terms and conditions resulting from the Section 7 consultation with NMFS pursuant to the ESA would be incorporated into the Corps permit.

Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA): Section 305(b)(2) of the MSFCMA of 1966, as amended (16 U.S.C. § 1801 et seq.), requires federal agencies to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on all proposed actions authorized, funded, or undertaken by the agency that may adversely affect essential fish habitat (EFH). EFH is defined as those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity. EFH is designated only for those species managed under a Federal Fisheries Management Plan (FMP), such as the Pacific Groundfish FMP, the Coastal Pelagics FMP, and the Pacific Coast Salmon FMP. As the federal lead agency for this project, the Corps has conducted a review of digital maps prepared by NMFS depicting EFH to determine the presence or absence of EFH in the project area. Based on this review, the Corps has made a preliminary determination that EFH is present at the project location or in its vicinity, and that the critical elements of EFH may be adversely affected by project implementation. The proposed project is located within an area managed under the Pacific Groundfish, the Coastal Pelagic and/or the Pacific Coast Salmon FMPs. The USCG has initiated consultation with NMFS on EFH pursuant to the MSFCMA for this proposed project. Any EFH conservation recommendations resulting from the EFH consultation will be considered for possible incorporation into the Corps’ permit. Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is present in the project area; however, no eelgrass beds would be permanently removed or directly impacted by the proposed dredging. Patches of eelgrass are present to the north and south of the Station boat basin, but are protected by the Station breakwaters and would not be directly impacted by the dredging. The two small patches of eelgrass and one eelgrass turion (i.e. shoot) that exist within the boat basin would be protected during dredging activity by the use of silt curtains.

National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA): Section 106 of the NHPA of 1966, as amended (16 U.S.C. § 470 et seq.), requires federal agencies to consult with the appropriate State Historic Preservation Officer to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Section 106 of the NHPA further requires federal agencies to consult with the appropriate Tribal Historic Preservation Officer or any Indian tribe to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties, including traditional cultural properties, trust resources, and sacred sites, to which Indian tribes attach historic, religious, and cultural significance. Because the Station has been previously dredged, historic or archeological resources are not expected to occur in the project vicinity. If unrecorded archaeological resources are discovered during project
implementation, those operations affecting such resources will be temporarily suspended until the Corps concludes Section 106 consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer or the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer.

COMPLIANCE WITH THE SECTION 404(b)(1) GUIDELINES: Projects resulting in discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States must comply with the Guidelines promulgated by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. § 1344(b)). An evaluation pursuant to the Guidelines indicates the disposal of dredged material is not dependent on location in or proximity to waters of the United States to achieve the basic project purpose. This conclusion raises the (rebuttable) presumption of the availability of a less environmentally damaging practicable alternative to the project that does not require the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S.

PUBLIC INTEREST EVALUTION: The decision on whether to issue a Department of the Army Permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts, of the project and its intended use on the public interest. Evaluation of the probable impacts requires a careful weighing of the public interest factors relevant in each particular case. The benefits that may accrue from the project must be balanced against any reasonably foreseeable detriments of project implementation. Public interest factors which may be relevant to the decision process include conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shore erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership, and the needs and welfare of the people.

CONSIDERATION OF COMMENTS: The Corps is soliciting comments from the public; federal, state and local agencies and officials; Native American Nations or other tribal governments; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of the project. All comments received by the Corps will be considered in the decision on whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a Department of the Army Permit for the project. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, and other environmental or public interest factors addressed in a final environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the project.

SUBMITTING COMMENTS: During the specified comment period, interested parties may submit written comments to Melissa France, San Francisco District, Operations and Readiness Division, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, 4th Floor, Room 1111, San Francisco, California 94102-3404; comment letters should cite the project name, applicant name, and public notice number to facilitate review by the Permit Manager. Comments may include a request for a public hearing on the project prior to a determination on the Department of the Army permit application; such requests shall state, with particularity, the reasons for holding a public hearing. All substantive comments will be forwarded to the applicant for resolution or rebuttal. Additional project information or details on any subsequent project modifications of a minor nature may be obtained from the applicant and/or agent, or by contacting the Permit Manager by telephone or e-mail cited in the public notice letterhead. An electronic version of this public notice may be viewed under the Current Public Notices tab on the US Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco District website:

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Contact Information

Department of the Army
San Francisco District, Corps of Engineers
Regulatory Division
450 Golden Gate Ave., 4th Floor
San Francisco, California 94102-3404

Phone Number: (415) 503-6795
Fax Number: (415) 503-6693