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Blacksmith Fork River Floodplain Restoration (Cache County)

Emergency Watershed Protection:  Blacksmith Fork River Floodplain Restoration (Cache County)
 

Project Description

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Cache County and Logan City have analyzed alternatives to reduce flood impacts to the land and structures surrounding the Blacksmith Fork River during elevated flows in the river. Currently the Blacksmith Fork River at the project location does not have the necessary capacity to safely and efficiently convey flood flows to provide protection to the surrounding residential areas of the Country Manor Subdivision. Flood flows in the river sometimes become constricted due to excessive sediment and woody debris load in the river resulting in damage to adjacent resources. During the 2011 flood event in Cache County along the Blacksmith Fork River, sandbag walls were constructed along portions of the banks, pumping of water was implemented and some property owners were evacuated from their residences to reduce immediate flood impacts.

NEPA Analysis

This project is being partially funded by the NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program in an effort to reduce possible impacts from future flood events in the Blacksmith Fork River. The EWP Program was approved through the preparation of a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) in 2004.  This PEIS allows NRCS to aid in restoring and repairing land that was damaged from flood, fire, windstorm, or other natural occurrences.  The 2004 PEIS covers projects at a national-program-level to be used throughout the United States.  The preparation of the site specific Damage Survey Report (DSR) documents the project’s impact (or lack of) to the environment and demonstrates NEPA compliance for the project.

NRCS determined in the original DSR (June 8, 2012) that the project had not been sufficiently analyzed under the 2004 PEIS and that further NEPA documentation was required for the implementation of floodplain easements within the proposed project area. NRCS proceeded with the preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA) starting in July 2012 to complete NEPA compliance.  The public scoping period opened on September 24, 2012 and ended on October 26, 2012.  Two scoping meetings were conducted during this period to inform the public regarding the project.  After the scoping period closed, a Scoping Report was prepared and the project proceeded into the development of conceptual design alternatives and the preparation of the Draft EA.  A meeting was held on December 10, 2012 to inform impacted landowners in the Country Manor Subdivision and Riverside RV Park regarding the project area, conceptual designs, and the NRCS floodplain easement process.  As part of this meeting, the impacted landowners in the project area were informed that their property may be purchased and structures would be demolished.  A questionnaire was given to landowners within the project area to return to NRCS by January 4, 2013 regarding the landowners intent to sell their property to the project.  All landowners within the project area expressed intent to sell their home.

During coordination meetings between NRCS, Cache County, and Logan City after January 4, 2013, the project team decided to forego the floodplain easement process and utilize the purchase structure process.  This process requires NRCS Utah to request a waiver from NRCS National Office to purchase structures from willing sellers and demolish them when removal of the structure is the least costly alternative (EWP Manual, Title 390, Part 511.6 (B)) and allows the floodplain to  properly function during flood events (EWP Manual, Title 390, Part 514.40 (3)(I)). Under this new process, NRCS will not enter into a floodplain easement with the project Sponsor and the Sponsor will purchase the land themselves since NRCS is not allowed to purchase land under the EWP program.  The structure purchase must be based on current market value and the purchase can include relocating residents and demolishing structures.  Buying and demolishing structures in the Country Manor Subdivision is the least costly way to protect life and property from hazards associated with flooding over the long-term. Once NRCS purchases the structures, the land on which they lay would be restricted from any future development that could place people or property at risk from flood events by the Sponsor.

Current Status

As of March 22, 2013, the preparation of the NEPA EA was terminated and no further NEPA compliance is required for the project.  Cache County and Logan City are now leading the effort to purchase properties and restore the Blacksmith Fork River floodplain with assistance from NRCS.

Contact Information

For further project information please contact:

Andy Neff - The Langdon Group
Cache County Emergency Watershed Project
466 North 900 West
Kaysville, UT 84037
Phone: 435-770-4114
Fax: 801-547-0397
ccewp@langdongroupinc.com

Project Documents

Scoping

These documents require  Adobe Acrobat. 

Scoping Notice (PDF, 490 KB)
Scoping Project Description (PDF, 1.20 MB)
Scoping Public Meeting Presentation (PDF, 1 MB)
Scoping Report (PDF, 4 MB)

NOTE: NRCS will add other directories and documents  as we move through subsequent phases of the NEPA process.