Public Notice. Navigation Section Notice Date: May 23, 2018 PO Box 3755 Expiration Date: June 21, 2018

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1 Public Notice Navigation Section Notice Date: May 23, 2018 PO Box 3755 Expiration Date: June 21, 2018 Seattle, WA Reference: PMP ATTN: John Pell (OD-TS-NS) or Joanne Gardiner (PMP-E) US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, SEATTLE DISTRICT 2018 THROUGH 2033 MAINTENANCE DREDGING AND DISPOSAL,SWINOMISH FEDERAL NAVIGATION CHANNEL, WASHINGTON Interested parties are hereby notified that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District (USACE) plans to continue routine dredging and disposal activities associated with maintenance of the Swinomish Federal navigation channel. The maintenance program for 2018 through 2033 is described below, and the location of the proposed dredging and disposal sites are shown on the attached plans (Attachment A). The dredging would be performed within the designated period as necessitated by shoaling conditions within the navigation channel, and as permitted by the availability of Federal resources. The purpose of this Public Notice is to solicit comments from interested persons, groups and agencies on the USACE proposal for disposal of dredged material into the waters of the U.S. This Public Notice is being issued in accordance with rules and regulations published as 33 CFR 335 Operation and Maintenance of Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Projects Involving the Discharge of Dredged or Fill Material into Waters of the U.S. or Ocean Waters ; 33 CFR 336 Factors to be Considered in Evaluation of Army Corps of Engineers Dredging Projects Involving the Discharge of Dredged Material into Waters of the U.S. and Ocean Waters ; 33 CFR 337 Practice and Procedure ; and 33 CFR 338 Other Corps Activities Involving the Discharge of Dredged Material or Fill into Waters of the U.S. PURPOSE AND PROJECT OBJECTIVE The purpose of the dredging project is to navigability of the approximately 11-nautical miles long navigation channel at its authorized 100 feet wide and depth of -12 feet MLLW. The Swinomish Navigation Channel project, as authorized, provides protected (sheltered) passage for commercial and recreational vessel passage between Puget Sound ports to the south and Anacortes and other ports to the north. Three communities, La Conner, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, and the Shelter Bay community, are located adjacent to the Swinomish Navigation Channel (Error! Reference source not found.). The Swinomish Channel serves commercial and recreational interests including, but not limited to, the following, the Swinomish Tribal Industrial areas, the Swinomish Tribal fishing operations, the Shelter Bay residential community and marina, the La Conner marinas (commercial and recreational), tourist facilities, and associated boat repair operations. 1

2 AUTHORITY Swinomish Slough was a natural feature that separated Fidalgo Island from the mainland, but its shallow depth, reportedly less than 2 feet above MLLW, limited navigation. Congress initially authorized construction of a channel in Swinomish Slough to a depth of 4 ft MLLW under the Rivers and Harbors Act of July 13, 1892 (House Document 31, 52nd Congress, 1st Session). Congress revisited the authorization of this federal navigational channel in 1935 and increased the authorized maintenance depth to -12 ft at MLLW under the Rivers and Harbors Improvement Act of August 30, 1935 (74th Congress, 1st Session, Ch. 831). FEDERAL MAINTENANCE DREDGING The proposed work consists of maintenance dredging up to 400,000 cubic yards (cy) per dredge event; however, the USACE typically dredges from 80,000 to 100,000 cy of sediment from the Swinomish Navigation Channel. The proposed dredging would occur over a 15-year period of 2018 through 2033, with dredging typically occurring every 4 to 6 years, but more frequently, if necessary. Each dredging event would occur within the approved in-water construction window of July 16 through 15 February of the dredge cycle. The Swinomish Navigation Channel will be dredged using a mechanical clamshell dredge. The proposed dredged material has been tested and determined suitable for open water disposal, as found in the most recent suitability determination dated February 2018 by the regulatory agencies which have jurisdiction over dredged material disposal in open-water sites associated with Puget Sound. Dredged material from Swinomish Navigation Channel is suitable for open-water disposal at dispersive and/or non-dispersive sites. The dredged sediment will be placed within Puget Sound at either the Rosario Strait or Port Gardner open-water disposal sites. All sediment testing data are available at the USACE Dredge Material Management Office ( MAINTENANCE MATERIAL BENEFICIAL USE/DISPOSAL The dredged material would be transported to the Rosario Strait dispersive open-water disposal site located approximately 11 miles from the north end of the Swinomish Navigation Channel where it is promptly dispersed and remains within the sediment drift cell. Sediment processes of erosion, transport and deposition play an important role in nearshore ecosystem function. If weather conditions or other reasons make the Rosario Strait disposal site inaccessible or unavailable, the dredged sediment would be transported about 35 miles to the Port Gardner nondispersive open-water disposal site. Sediment sources are the nearby Skagit River, which moves sediment into the southern end of the Swinomish Channel, and Padilla Bay at the northern end of the channel. Shoaling generally takes the form of sand waves or hillocks that are pushed along the Swinomish Channel by tidal currents. Sediments consist almost entirely of clean, medium to coarse sized sand. Sediment in the channel is clean because there is little industrialization or other typical sources of contamination in the Skagit and Padilla Bay watersheds. The majority of the watersheds are forested with considerable farmland and only a small fraction is urbanized. No contamination has accumulated in the sediments that move into the channel. ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE The proposed maintenance activities will be reviewed in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C et seq.); the Endangered Species Act of

3 (16 U.S.C et seq.); Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344); Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 as amended (16 U.S.C et seq.), and the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 as amended (54 U.S.C et seq.). A Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and 404(b)(1) evaluation have been prepared for this action and are available online as Swinomish Federal Navigation Channel Maintenance Dredging and Disposal : The Draft EA s public comment period is concurrent with the comment period for this Public Notice. The Draft EA will be available at the La Conner Regional Library and the Anacortes Public Library. Once complete, the EA will be posted and available on the Seattle District web site listed above. The USACE determined that the proposed maintenance dredging may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect any ESA-listed species or designated critical habitat and prepared documentation of this determination (USACE 2016). The USFWS agreed with this determination and the USACE received a letter of concurrence May 24, NMFS agreed that the proposed action is not likely to adversely affect most ESA-listed species or designated critical habitat; however, NMFS concluded that Puget Sound (PS) Chinook salmon and their critical habitat and PS steelhead are likely to be adversely affected in the Swinomish Channel and the USACE received a biological opinion January 26, 2018 (NMFS 2018). The USACE determined the proposed dredged material placement at the multiuser open-water sites (Rosario Strait and Port Gardner) is not likely to adversely affect any ESA-listed species or designated habitat and prepared documentation of this determination (USACE 2015). The USFWS provided a letter of concurrence July 28, 2015 (USFWS 2015) and NMFS provided a biological opinion for adverse effects to rockfish in the Puget Sound/Georgia Basin December 17, 2015 (NMFS 2015). NMFS required the USACE to implement Reasonable and Prudent Measures (RPMs) in the biological opinion by following terms and conditions to minimize the level of take associated with the proposed action for these species. The USACE has incorporated the RPMs into the Conservation and Mitigation Measures section of the draft EA for maintenance dredging and disposal of dredged material. The USACE will comply with the reasonable and prudent measures of the biological opinions to avoid and minimize adverse impacts to ESA-listed species during maintenance dredging and disposal. These include to minimize incidental take from dredging and in-water sediment disposal, minimize the exposure of listed fish to contaminants and reduced Dissolved Oxygen (DO), and to implement monitoring and reporting to confirm that the take exemption for the proposed action is not exceeded. The USACE is seeking a Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certification (WQC) from the Washington Department of Ecology and the Swinomish Indian Tribe. In conducting activities involving the discharge of dredged material into waters of the United States, the USACE will abide by the applicable conditions of the existing WQCs to ensure compliance with State and Tribal water quality standards. The USACE has determined that the proposed work is consistent 3

4 to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable policies of the approved Washington Coastal Management Program. State concurrence with this determination has been requested. The USACE has coordinated its environmental review of impacts on cultural resources for NEPA with its responsibilities to take into account effects on historic properties as required by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The USACE is in the process of determining and documenting the area of potential effect (APE) for both direct and indirect effects, as required at 36 C.F.R of the regulations implementing Section 106. By maintaining historic dredging practices, it is anticipated that there will be no historic properties affected by the proposed action. PUBLIC INTEREST EVALUATION The decision to proceed with this disposal of dredged material will be preceded by a determination of whether the proposed activity would be in the public interest. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal s public interest will be considered; among those are navigation and the Federal standard for dredged material disposal; water quality; coastal zone consistency; wetlands; endangered species; historic resources; scenic and recreation values; fish and wildlife; marine sanctuaries; applicable state/regional/local land use classifications, determinations, and/or policies; conservation; economics; shoreline erosion and accretion; safety; and considerations of property ownership. As a foundation for its public interest determination the USACE will consider, on an equal basis, all alternatives that are both reasonable and practicable, i.e., available and capable of being done after taking into consideration cost, existing technology, and logistics in light of overall project purposes. The USACE will select the alternative that represents the least costly alternative, constituting the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States in the least costly manner and at the least costly and most practicable location, that is consistent with sound engineering practices, and that meets the environmental standards established by the Clean Water Act Section 404(b)(1) evaluation process. COMMENT AND REVIEW PERIOD The USACE is soliciting comments from the public; Native American Nations or tribal governments; Federal, State, and local agencies and officials; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the effects of this activity. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on ESA listed species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and other public interest factors listed above. The proposed discharge will be evaluated for compliance with guidelines promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency under authority of Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act. Conventional mail or comments on this Public Notice will be accepted and made part of the record and will be considered in determining wither it would be in the public interest to authorize this proposal. Submitted comments should include on the subject line the public notice number. The comment must include the commentator s name, address, and phone number. All comments whether conventional mail or must reach this office no later than the expiration date of this public notice to ensure consideration. The nature or scope of the proposal may be changed upon consideration of the comments received. PUBLIC HEARING 4

5 Any person may request, in writing and within the comment period specified in this Notice, that a public hearing be held to consider this proposal. Requests for public hearings must clearly set forth the following: the interest that may be affected, the manner in which the interest may be affected by this activity, and the particular reasons for holding a public hearing regarding this activity. COMMENTS TO THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS Replies to this Public Notice should be mailed to reach the District Engineer, ATTN: PMP-18-15, PO Box 3755, Seattle, Washington , not later than June 21, 2018 to assure consideration. Requests for additional information should be directed to Mr. John Pell, Project Manager, (206) or via at or Ms. Joanne Gardiner, Environmental Coordinator, (206) or via at John Pell Project Manager Navigation Section Joanne Gardiner Environmental Coordinator Planning, Environmental, and Cultural Resources Branch 5

6 Figure 1. Swinomish Federal Navigation Channel with a typical dredging section. 6

7 Figure 2. Location of the Rosario Strait PSDDA Disposal Site near Anacortes Washington. 7

8 Figure 3. Location of the Port Gardner PSDDA Site near Everett Washington. 8