The reasons for the staff recommendation are reiterated here. The state geologist has verified that the site has documented high quality sand and gravel reserves.
Yolo County has created a stringent program for gravel extraction and this project is consistent with each requirement of that program. The Yolo County Cache Creek Area Plan (CCAP) is highly regarded and has been actively and successfully implemented for 25 years with no unanticipated outcomes and many benefits. The CCAP was substantively updated in 2019 and unanimously supported by both the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.
Compared to the project as originally proposed -- the recommended approval would result in:
The project would move mining farther away from the Wild Wings subdivision than under existing conditions. It would also consolidate plant sites and result in upgrades to the Woodland Plant. Additionally, the project includes important net gains and open space benefits, and countywide economic and fiscal benefits. Finally, the recommended action is guided by and fully consistent with the adopted policy of the County and is based on substantial evidence in the record.
- a smaller mining area
- a larger reclamation area
- lower total and annual tonnage
- no 20% market exceedance
- a larger creek buffer
- preservation of the canal in its existing configuration
- increased public benefits ("net gains")
This is an application to establish a new mining operation, referred to as the Teichert Shifler operation, to extract sand and gravel reserves along Lower Cache Creek on 264.1 acres of a 319.3-acre site, with other project-related uses occurring on the remaining 55.2 acres. This project is governed by the County’s CCAP, which was adopted in 1996 and updated in 2019.
The CCAP establishes a detailed regulatory program that includes built-in safeguards for slope stability, air quality, county road improvement and maintenance, drainage and erosion, flood protection, groundwater quality and monitoring, noise control, setbacks from the creek, setbacks from adjoining towns, setbacks from roads and residences, topsoil protection, site aesthetics and maintenance, and habitat, among other items. The Yolo County mining and reclamation program reflects “best practices” in the industry and is generally considered one of the top aggregate regulatory programs in the state.
Since the inception of the program, mining permits have been granted for only seven off-channel mining operations at various locations along lower Cache Creek. These operations are: CEMEX, Granite Capay, Granite Esparto, Syar, Teichert Esparto, Teichert Schwarzgruber, and Teichert Woodland. If approved, the subject project would constitute the eighth operation under the program. A summary of approved operations is provided below:
SUMMARY OF CCAP MINING OPERATIONS
* current operations are listed in order of location (west to east)
||Lake / Habitat / Agriculture
||Lake / Habitat / Agriculture
||Lake / Habitat
||Lake / Habitat / Agriculture
||Lakes / Habitat / Agriculture
||Lake / Habitat / Agriculture
||Lake / Habitat
|Teichert Shifler (proposed)
||Lake / Habitat / Agriculture
The applicant is proposing to transfer tonnage allocations from its Teichert Esparto operation and Teichert Schwarzgruber operations to the proposed Teichert Shifler operation. As recommended for approval, the project would result in the mining of a maximum of 35,400,000 tons (30,000,000 tons sold) of aggregate resources (sand and gravel) over a 30-year period at an annual rate not to exceed a maximum of 2,117,648 tons mined per year (1,800,000 tons sold). Reclamation of the disturbed areas of the site is proposed to agricultural, habitat, and open space uses. The aggregate excavated from the subject site would be processed at the adjoining Teichert Woodland plant.
Mining is proposed in two phases moving from north to south, commencing with Phase A (61.8 acres) on the north (above the Moore Canal), and Phase B (202.3 acres) on the south (below the Moore Canal).
Reclamation is proposed in three phases:
In total, the site would be reclaimed to approximately 119.9 acres of agriculture, 90.9 acres of open water lake, 61.2 acres of grassland and slopes, 24.7 acres of riparian habitat primarily along the lake frontage, 7.1 acres of access roads and the existing canal, and 1.6 acres in oak woodland.
- Phase A -- 47.5 acres of agricultural land on the north, above the Moore Canal.
- Phase B -- 34.6 acres of agricultural land on the west, south of the canal, and the western half of the lake.
- Phase C -- 31.1 acres of agricultural land on the east, south of the canal; the eastern half of the lake; remaining 55.2 acres of related activity on the project site.
HOURS OF OPERATIONS
Hours of operation for mining operations are generally not restricted, provided operations demonstrate compliance with the noise regulations in Section 10-4.421 of the Mining Ordinance. Teichert has proposed the same hours of operation for the Teichert Shifler site as they have conducted for their other mining sites in the area.
Normal operating hours for the mining site would be 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Normal operating hours for the Woodland plant are generally 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. For the months of August, September, and October, hours for mining and/or processing may be extended to 10:00 p.m. (Monday through Friday) and 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday and/or Sunday, subject to compliance with Section 10-4.421 which allows occasional 24-hour processing and load-out operations to fulfill contract requirements.
TRUCK HAUL ROUTE
Aggregate trucks going to and from the Woodland plant currently access the plant from its entrance on County Road 20. Trucks are required to use designated haul routes of County Road 20 and County Road 96 to and from State Route 16, Interstate 5 and Interstate 505. Local deliveries are allowed to use roads other than County Road 20 or County Road 96. The applicant proposes no changes to the designated haul routes.
"NET GAINS" COMMUNITY BENEFITS
The proposed project includes the execution of a new development agreement between the applicant, the property owner, and the County. The development agreement vests certain aspects of the requested approvals, commits the applicant to participation in the CCAP, including payment of per-ton mining fees and the provision of other specified public benefits known also as “net gains,” and ties the Woodland plant to specific mining approvals. “Net gains” are special community benefits voluntarily agreed to by mining operators that go beyond what the County could otherwise require through conditions of approval and CEQA mitigation measures. “Net gains” may include the provision of property dedications and easement for/on reclaimed mining sites, restored habitat, trail connections, and related community enhancements. The County-owned Cache Creek Nature Preserve is one example of a net gain. The Cache Creek Parkway documents identify existing, planned, and desired net gains over time, and provide a plan and strategy for how to link these contributions together to build an exciting publicly accessible open space corridor.
The following net gains are under consideration as a part of the Teichert Shifler development agreement and are analyzed in this EIR as a part of the proposed project:
In-Channel Bar Skimming -- As a community benefit, the applicant is proposing to design and complete a gravel bar removal project to help prevent further channel bank erosion and provide for additional capacity in the Cache Creek channel. The proposed in-channel bar skimming would take place over a five-year period in a segment of the creek between the County Road 87 bridge to the west and the Interstate 505 bridge to the east.
The proposed project would remove approximately 3,000,000 tons of excess sand and gravel material from the Cache Creek channel during this period of time, realign the low-flow channel of Cache Creek away from the banks and toward the center of the creek channel, and remove invasive species from the project area. While undertaking this work, the applicant would also complete bank repairs adjacent to the Teichert Esparto plant, consistent with the Cache Creek Resources Management Plan (CCRMP)/Cache Creek Improvement Program (CCIP) Channel Form Template, as required pursuant to the conditions of approval for Teichert Esparto. The amount of material removed in any one year would be governed by Section 10.3-409 of the In-Channel Maintenance Mining Ordinance and would generally not exceed 690,800 tons annually.
This work is anticipated and encouraged in the CCRMP/CCIP, and associated impacts are addressed in the CCAP Update EIR (SCH #2017052069) certified December 2019. The work would require issuance of a separate Flood Hazard Development Permit (FHDP) by the County and would require subsequent hydraulic analysis to confirm public benefit through reduction of flood risk (see Condition 22 in Attachment G). The FHDP would be subject to review and oversight by the Cache Creek Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).
Land Dedications – The applicant is proposing to dedicate three properties to the County for inclusion in the Cache Creek Parkway system.
- Shifler Lake – The Shifler reclaimed lake and surrounding habitat totaling approximately 121 acres (90.9 acres of open water, 11.4 acres of lower riparian woodland/wetland, 13.3 acres of upper riparian woodland, and 5.5 acres of grassland slopes and roads) would be dedicated to the County for inclusion in the Cache Creek Parkway system following reclamation, which is estimated to be completed in 2053. This dedication would include trails, the existing conveyor tunnel under County Road 94B, and a gravel parking area to be constructed by the applicant.
- Shifler In-Channel Property – The northerly area of the Shifler property, totaling approximately 80 acres, lies primarily in-channel between the Haller-Muller In-Channel property, which is already identified for dedication to the County, and the Woodland plant. Dedication would occur following reclamation of the project site, which is estimated to be completed in 2053, if this project is approved. This dedication would also serve to partially offset the requirements of Mitigation Measure 4.2-1 related to agricultural mitigation equivalency allowed under Section 10-5.525 of the Reclamation Ordinance.
- Schwarzgruber Property – The Schwarzgruber reclaimed lake and surrounding habitat, totaling approximately 132 acres, would be dedicated to the County for inclusion in the Cache Creek Parkway system following reclamation, which is estimated to occur in 2028. This dedication would also serve to partially offset the requirements of Mitigation Measure 4.2-1 related to agricultural mitigation equivalency allowed under Section 10-5.525 of the County Reclamation Ordinance.
Other Items – The applicant is proposing the following additional net gains items:
- Dedication of a 50-foot trail easement connecting the Shifler In-Channel property with the Shifler Lake.
- Cash donation of $15,000 to Cache Creek Nature Preserve within one year of approval of the Shifler project.
- Cash donation of $5,000 to the County for update of the Cache Creek Parkway Plan documents within one year of approval of the Shifler project.
- Cash or in-kind donation equivalent to $20,000 for safe pedestrian crossing of County Road 94B for purposes of trail connection within one year of approval of the Shifler project.
- Continued designation of the Woodland plant site as sales tax place of sale.
- Dedication of Teichert Haller/Muller In-Channel property (124 acres) within one year of approval of the Shifler project. Dedication of this property was a commitment of two previous agreements; however, the dedication date was tethered to the date of reclamation of the Woodland plant site. This commitment provides a date certain.
- Enhanced reclamation of the County Borrow Site property (6.65 acres) to include improvements consistent with the Cache Creek Parkway Plan, including trail connections, grading for mountain bike pump track use, and installation of antique mining equipment as part of a living museum on site. Reclamation would occur in conjunction with reclamation of the Woodland plant site, which is estimated to be completed in 2053.
- Clarification of previously negotiated terms of the Teichert Muller Bridge dedication to include dedication of a 30-foot trail easement connection from the south landing eastward to the Schwarzgruber property along an existing levee road. Dedication of the “levee access” trail easement connection would occur following reclamation of the Woodland plant, which is estimated to be completed in 2053. In addition, dedication of a 20-foot trail from the south bridge landing to the creek channel (“in-channel access”) will occur concurrent with dedication of the Muller Bridge to allow immediate access from the bridge to the Schwarzgruber property access.
- Modification to previously negotiated terms of the 20-foot Teichert Muller Trail Easement (also identified as “Access B”) to allow unlimited public access upon dedication of the easement, and into perpetuity. The change would be effective within one year of approval of the Shifler project. This replaces a prior agreement that restricted this same access to “limited” public use.
- Dedication of Muller Bridge within five years of approval of the Shifler project, provided the parties identify mutually acceptable means to prevent public trespass onto, and preclude interference with operations at, the Teichert Woodland Plant through the following: a) Teichert will not be liable for claims related to public use of the bridge; and b) Teichert will install a berm and fencing or other mutually acceptable barrier to shield the Woodland Plant from public view.
Dedication of this property was a commitment of a previous agreements; however, the dedication date was tethered to the date of reclamation of the Woodland plant site, and approval of the Shifler project would push that out another 30 years, or possibly longer, depending on Teichert’s long-term plans and the structural soundness of the bridge when it does become available. This recent offer by Teichert provides a date certain and addresses a significant concern of staff regarding the functionality of the east end of the Cache Creek Parkway without this north-south connection that ensures that the Rodgers, Correll, and Schwarzgruber properties are not isolated.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ANALYSIS
The Draft EIR (SCH #2019089053) was released on December 18, 2020, and the Final EIR was released on October 15, 2021. All volumes of the EIR can be accessed in Attachment A. The EIR analyzes 12 required topics in comprehensive detail. For the Moore Canal Avoidance Alternative, the Draft EIR identified 12 impacts as significant:
- 4.3-7 - Generation of GHG Emissions
- 4.3-8 - Cumulative Generation of GHG Emissions
- 4.4-1 - Impacts to Biological Resources
- 4.5-3 - Impacts to Unknown Cultural and Tribal Cultural Resources
- 4.5-4 - Impacts to Unknown Historical Resources
- 4.7-2 - Potential Impacts to Hazardous Materials
- 4.8-4 - Potential Impacts from Alterations of a Water Course
- 4.12-2 - Increased Vehicles Miles Traveled (VMT)
- 5-2 - Cumulative Loss of Farmland
With four exceptions, all the areas of impact would be mitigated to less-than-significant levels as a result of various measures identified in the EIR which have all been included as conditions of the project, if approved. Loss of farmland at the project level (Impact 4.2-1) and at the cumulative level (Impact 5-2), and increases in vehicle miles traveled at the project level (Impact 4.12-2) and at the regional level (Impact 5-14), were identified as remaining significant and unavoidable because there would still be an impact even with implementation of available mitigation.
- 5-14 - Cumulative Increase in VTM
The EIR analyzes the project as originally proposed and five alternatives. It also contains individual responses to all comments and five master responses to issues raised by multiple commenters:
- Master Response 1 - Comments Regarding the Merits of the Project
- Master Response 2 - Property Value Considerations
- Master Response 3 - Transportation and Circulation Concerns
- Master Response 4 - Hydrology and Water Quality
MONUMENT HILLS COMMUNITY MEETINGS
- Master Response 5 - Agricultural Concerns
This project does not fall within the boundaries of a County citizens advisory committee (CAC). Therefore, to ensure community outreach, two community meetings were held in the Monument Hills area. The first was conducted by the applicant on October 23, 2019. The second was conducted by the County on October 25, 2021.
ESPARTO CITIZENS ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The Teichert Esparto operation falls within the boundary of the Esparto CAC. The Teichert Esparto operation is a component of the proposal because of the proposed in-channel bar skimming net gain item, and the proposed transfer of the tonnage allocation from the Teichert Esparto operation to the Teichert Woodland operation. For this reason, the project was presented to the Esparto CAC on October 19, 2021, for recommendation to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. The Esparto CAC voted unanimously to recommend approval of the project as it related to specific components and impacts relevant to the Esparto community.
Special Hearing on November 10, 2021 -- The Planning Commission held a public hearing on the Teichert Shifler Mining and Reclamation Project on November 10, 2021. A presentation was provided by County staff, followed by a presentation from the applicant. Ten individuals provided oral comments at the public hearing. The public hearing was closed, and the Planning Commission commenced, but did not conclude, their deliberations. By unanimous vote, the Planning Commission continued the item to its next regularly scheduled meeting of December 9, 2021, at 8:30 a.m.
Continuance to December 9, 2021 -- At this meeting, a presentation was provided by County staff, followed by a presentation from the applicant, 20 individuals provided additional oral comment, and the Planning Commission voted 4 in favor (Bird, Gibbs, Muller, Reynolds), 2 opposed (Campbell, Dubin), and 1 absent (Dudley) to approve the project as recommended by staff, with the following modifications (note: staff has provided additional information regarding each item below each action):
1. Adjust native herbaceous vegetation percentage to 10% in grasslands and adjust the woody species cover in the lower riparian to 25%.
Staff supports this recommendation, and the applicant has indicated their agreement. To incorporate this recommendation into the staff recommendation, Condition 16(I) should be added that reads as follows: Modify the Reclamation Narrative (Attachment F), Section 9.2, Table 8, page 30: a) under Grassland Slopes, to add: Total absolute cover of herbaceous species shall be 10%; and b) under Riparian Woodland, to increase total absolute cover of native woody species from at least 10% to at least 25%.
2. Include test plots for reclamation.
Staff supports this recommendation, and the applicant has indicated their agreement. To incorporate this recommendation into the staff recommendation, Condition 16(J) should be added that reads as follows: Modify the Reclamation Narrative (Attachment F), Section 8.3, page 22, to add a requirement for revegetation test plots at the site.
3. Adjust COAs 4-6 to limit maximum extraction rates to the Woodland plant.
Please note, the Planning Commission referred to "COAs" (conditions of approval) 4 through 6; however, staff has clarified the Commission was referring to "recommended actions" 4 through 6.
The Planning Commission recommendation was to cap the annual mining to the amount currently approved at the Schwarzgruber property, which is 1,176,471 tons mined (1,000,000 tons sold). This differs frm the staff recommendation of 2,117,648 tons mined (1,800,000 tons sold) annually, which already incorporated decreases in the mining area, total tonnage, and annual tonnage as compared to what was originally requested by the applicant. In a letter submitted December 15, 2021, the applicant indicated this change to the project would render it financially infeasible (see Attachment I). In light of the information submitted by the applicant regarding feasibility, the staff position recommending 2,117,648 tons mined (1,800,000 tons sold) annually has not changed.
4. Requiring conservation easement on 212 net gain acres.
To satisfy the CCAP requirements to provide offsets for the permanent loss of 145 acres of agricultural land that could not be reclaimed, staff proposed that the applicant be allowed to acquire off-site agricultural conservation easements at a 1:1 ratio if it dedicated to the County two additional net gain properties (Shifler In-Channel property totaling 80 acres and Schwarzgruber property totaling 132 acres). This type of flexible approach is specifically authorized by the CCAP to reduce the offset ratios from 3:1 for prime farmland and 2:1 for non-prime farmland in exchange for increasing net gains dedications, so long as the 1:1 minimum offset ratio is achieved.
The Planning Commission recommendation would require the applicant to acquire an additional 212 acres of easements (in addition to the 145 acres and the two net gains dedications) to mitigate for farmland losses. In total, under the Planning Commission’s recommendation the applicant would be required to satisfy its obligation for off-site agricultural mitigation through the permanent protection of 357 agricultural acres offsite (145 acres at the 1:1 minimum ratio plus an additional 212 acres) and dedication of 212 acres of additional net gains land in addition to the base net gains benefits and dedications already proposed.
The applicant has confirmed their reasons for proposing 212 acres of additional net gains dedications was for the sole purpose of receiving credit, as allowed under the CCAP, against the potentially applicable higher offset ratios for agricultural mitigation. Without the potential to receive this credit, Teichert has confirmed they would no longer offer to dedicate the Shifler In-Channel and Schwarzgruber properties. The staff remains in support of authorizing acceptance of these equivalent net gains as satisfying the requirement for agricultural mitigation in excess of the base ratio of 1:1.
5. Limit mining to area north of the Moore Canal.
This would restrict mining to the 61.8-acre Phase A mining area north of the Moore Canal, a notable decrease from the modified mining proposal of 264 acres supported by staff. In Appendix F to the Final EIR is correspondence from the applicant responding to this proposal when it was first suggested in March 2021 during the Draft EIR comment meeting conducted by the Planning Commission. The applicant has indicated there is approximately 7.0 million tons of aggregate in the Phase A area (this amount would be less with the Moore Canal retained in place), which would be exhausted in approximately six years assuming the maximum rate of extraction recommended by the Planning Commission. The applicant has indicated this change to the project would render it financially infeasible. Staff does not recommend this acreage limitation due to concerns that it is not in alignment with requirements of the program to maximize resource extraction and minimize impacts at allowed mining sites. This would result in less tonnage being extracted with impacts similar to a larger project, and would also likely result in the need to consider additional new mining in the area within ten (or potentially fewer) years, which would be unnecessary if the site is more efficiently mined.
6. That the project be powered by Valley Clean Energy (VCE) UltraGreen (not delay until 2030).
This recommendation would result in the project using 100 percent renewable/carbon-free electricity from Valley Clean Energy at the project outset, rather than waiting until 2030 based on the County Climate Action Plan. Staff supports the intent of this recommendation which is to achieve a higher level of green energy sooner than the 2030 date proposed by the applicant. The applicant has since expressed significant concerns regarding the cost of this measure in advance of the generation of revenue from the project. On December 16, 2021 the applicant submitted a proposal to accelerate the achievement of this goal to 2026 which would allow them time to commence operations at the project and create a revenue stream (see Attachment J).
To incorporate this recommendation into the staff recommendation, Condition 37.2 should be added that reads as follows: The Teichert Woodland plant and offices shall be powered by VCE UltraGreen energy or equivalent 100 percent renewable/100 percent carbon-free electricity by December 31, 2025.
Throughout the processing of this applicant, staff has received the following written comments:
- 4 "Early Request for Comments" letters
- 60 "Notice of Preparation" comment letters
- 38 "Draft EIR" comment letters
In reviewing the comments, staff has confirmed that all issues raised have been previously considered and/or analyzed and resolved. Staff also confirmed that no new environmental issues outside the scope of the CEQA analysis have been raised.
- 99 letters between release of the Final EIR and the Planning Commission action
Staff notes that many commenters are unfamiliar with the County's mining program as conducted pursuant to the Cache Creek Area Plan (CCAP) since 1996. For background information on the program, interested individuals are encouraged to view the CCAP Workshop presented to the Planning Commission on October 14, 2021, and available for viewing at: https://bit.ly/CCAPWorkshopVideo.
The Wild Wings subdivision was constructed in 2004-2006. It is located in an area in which aggregate mining has occurred for decades and is planned to continue into the future. The subdivision also adjoins an active private airport and state highway among other uses. The Teichert Woodland plant has been at its present location since the 1950s. The Wild Wings subdivision was approved subject to explicit acknowledgement that it was in proximity of ongoing mining.
Wild Wings homes were required by the Wild Wings approval to be constructed a minimum of 800 feet away from the existing mining. The closest point between Wild Wings homes and existing mining in the area (the Teichert Storz property) in 1,165 feet. The closest point between Wild Wings homes and proposed mining at the Teichert Shifler site is 1,180 feet. As mining occurs on the Shifler site, it would move farther away and be recessed below ground level over time.
In June 2021, the County commissioned an Aggregate Mining Economic Analysis prepared by BAE Urban Economics, which also examined effects on property values. With respect specifically to the Wild Wings subdivision, the study concludes that mining has not negatively affected Wild Wings home values primarily because the aggregate mining preceded the development and is therefore already internalized in the property values of those homes.
There have been seven adopted community planning documents, three conditions of approval on the Wild Wings subdivision, notes on the subdivision map, two sections in the Wild Wings recorded CC&Rs, and an easement agreement between Wild Wings and Teichert that all provide various forms of disclosure as part of all home sales in the subdivision.
Impacts to Farmland
This project is consistent with County policy regarding agricultural resources. Yolo County is an agricultural county -- of the 654,000 total acres in the County, 545,000 acres (83%) are in agriculture. There are many uses that the County has seen fit to allow over the years as a part of balancing important land uses and community needs overall. The cities of Davis, West Sacramento, Winters, and Woodland together occupy about 32,325 acres of agricultural land. Wild Wings was developed on 240 acres of agricultural land. The gravel program allows or plans for mining on a total of 4,600 acres, much of which is also agricultural land. Every acre of agriculture matters in Yolo County, but through the General Plan, the County has directed where other land uses are allowed to occur. The subject property falls within the very limited area of the County identified, and recently reauthorized, as being appropriate for mining, and that has guided the staff recommendation of approval.
Approval of the Teichert Shifler project would impact 258.3 acres of farmland, comprised of 249.5 acres of prime farmland and 8.75 acres of non-prime farmland (8.25 acres are classified as “unique farmland” and 0.5 acres are classified as “farmland of statewide importance”). Based on the requirements in County Code, the applicant’s approximate mitigation obligations for loss of farmland are as follows (this calculation will ultimately be based on the final Reclamation Plan):
- Reclamation of 113.2 acres to agriculture. Under the program, the applicant is allowed to receive “credit” against their mitigation obligation for land that will be reclaimed to agriculture. This incentivizes reclamation to agriculture which is a priority end use of the program. Other permanent conversion of protected farmland is subject to the mitigation requirements identified in County Code Sections 8-2.404 and 10-5.525, as described below.
- Permanent agricultural conservation easement on 136.3 acres (minimum 1:1 ratio) up to 408.9 acres (maximum 3:1 ratio) of prime farmland.
Section 10-5.525 allows the County to accept additional net gains as an alternative to agricultural mitigation ratios in excess of 1:1, subject to a finding of “equivalency” between the two. County Code indicates that the mitigation requirement may be satisfied using a variety of flexible options, so long as the total acreage of benefit is found to be equivalent to the applicable ratio and acreage required under Section 8-2.404 of the County Code by type and amount of farmland being impacted, and so long as a minimum ratio of 1:1 of permanently protected agriculture land of equivalent or better quality/capability is achieved.
- Permanent agricultural conservation easement on 8.75 acres (minimum 1:1 ratio) up to 17.5 acres (maximum 2:1 ratio) of unique farmland and farmland of statewide importance.
The applicant proposes, and the staff supports, acceptance of two additional net gains properties (the Shifler In-Channel property totaling 80 acres and the Schwarzgruber property totaling 132 acres) totaling 212 acres as satisfying up to 212 acres of the higher ratios of farmland (totaling up to 281.4 additional acres) that may otherwise be required to be placed into permanent easement. The applicant may propose dedication of additional qualifying net gains (totaling up to 69.3 acres) to ensure full satisfaction for the remaining agricultural mitigation obligation if needed, provided the minimum acreage of agricultural conservation easement described above is satisfied.
The applicant has committed to the dedication of these additional net gains properties even if they ultimately mitigate in a location within the County that fully satisfies the mitigation requirements at a 1:1 offset ratio (for example, within a Priority Conservation Area as defined in Section 8-2.404 of the County Code).
Staff supports a finding of equivalency for the Shifler In-Channel and Schwarzgruber properties based on the location and value of these key properties to the future Parkway for the following reasons:
- The Shifler In-Channel property provides a key in-channel link between the Cache Creek Nature Preserve, the Teichert Storz Lake property, the Teichert Haller/Muller In-Channel property, the County Borrow Site, and the Shifler Lake and Habitat property. It allows for connectivity to the Shifler Lake and Habitat property, which would otherwise be isolated from the other Cache Creek Parkway properties.
- The Schwarzgruber property resolves a significant gap in the Cache Creek Parkway that exists between the Granite Woodland Reiff property and the Rodgers property.
- The Shifler In-Channel and Schwarzgruber properties will provide important habitat values and potentially fit into the habitat reserve system for the Yolo HCP/NCCP.
Climate Change and GHG Reduction
- The strategic and habitat value of these properties to the Cache Creek Parkway exceeds the public benefits associated with the additional agricultural easements that would otherwise be achieved.
The project is consistent with the Countywide General Plan which has a focus on sustainability and includes GHG reduction considerations in every element. The project is consistent with the County’s adopted and in-force Climate Action Plan (CAP). The CAP was specifically adopted pursuant to Section 15183.5(b) of CEQA Guidelines which allows consistent projects to tier from and rely on compliance with the CAP as mitigation for climate change impacts. Cumulative climate change and GHG emissions were addressed in the 2009 certified General Plan EIR and the 2019 certified CCAP Update EIR.
The CCAP is an adopted component of the Countywide General Plan, is consistent with and considered within the CAP, and is sustainable by design. It focuses on ensuring a local source of aggregate that precludes the emissions and trips associated with hauling from longer distances. The program incentivizes recycling through policies and regulations that have been a component of the program since its inception in 1996. These policies and regulations encourage recycling of aggregate materials and create a financial incentive to recycle by exempting recycled tonnage from annual production limits and per-ton fees.
On September 29, 2020, the Board of Supervisors adopted Resolution 20-114 related to climate change. This resolution describes the creation of a working advisory group to revise the County’s existing (2011) CAP. It describes the makeup of the advisory group and sets a goal of March 2022 for development of a draft revised CAP for public review and consideration by the Board of Supervisors. The resolution describes that the revised CAP will “achieve a negative carbon footprint by 2030.” The resolution also describes that the County will consider adding “sustainability, greenhouse gas (GHG) and co-pollutant carbon-footprint and ecological impact statements” for relevant commission and Board of Supervisor agenda action items.
Resolution 20-114 did not modify the County’s land development application process. Amendment of the existing County CAP to change current adopted GHG reduction goals has not occurred. Also, County protocols for staff reports have not been changed to require additional information related to carbon footprint statements for agenda items. For the subject project, the Draft EIR appropriately assesses consistency with current General Plan policies and requirements of the adopted CAP related to climate change and GHG reduction.
Teichert specifically operates a recycling program for concrete and asphalt at their Woodland plant. They propose further upgrades to the Woodland plant to improve its efficiency. The Woodland plant is also close to the market Teichert serves. Teichert’s Woodland rock plant and conveyors to the Woodland sites are 100 percent electric. The asphalt plant has also been upgraded to reduce energy demand. State law requires companies to convert their vehicle fleets to comply with emission and performance standards. This applies to both Teichert and the independent haulers they serve at the Woodland plant. Teichert has indicated that conversion of the vehicles they control is currently 20 percent ahead of the Tier 4 engine requirements.
Teichert eliminated the Schwarzgruber plant with approval of that project in 2012. The subject project would ultimately result in the elimination of the Esparto plant when that operation is completed.
Finally, Mitigation Measure M 4.3-7 requires a project-level GHG reduction plan that will reduce GHG emissions from the operation by at least 1,887.84 MTCO2e/yr. to ensure no net increase in emissions, and Mitigation Measure 4.3-8 requires an electric vehicle charging plan.
Mercury is a legacy contaminant in the Cache Creek watershed, along lower Cache Creek, and the Cache Creek Settling Basin in particular. It results from historic mercury mining in the upper watershed in and around the junction of Lake, Colusa, and Yolo Counties, as well as from subsequent natural flood deposition downstream. This condition is well established, and the State and County have been closely monitoring this issue for decades. It reflects an existing condition of the soils in the area before aggregate mining occured, and was known, studied, and addressed in the development of this program in 1996, and again in the 2019 CCAP Update. From its inception in 1996, the CCAP has incorporated a rigorous mercury monitoring and reporting program, which was developed based on science, expert inputs, and with the oversight of all appropriate agencies. This program was significantly expanded in detail in the 2019 CCAP Update.
There is no direct substantive human or wildlife health risk related to mercury in the air, water, or agricultural soil. On mined sites, the topsoils are required to be stockpiled and are used during reclamation to recreate various end uses. Future potential conversion to agricultural presents no significant mercury hazard at the concentrations present nor is there a concern related to swimming in or drinking water from Cache Creek or in the reclaimed lakes.
The issue is indirect, related to methylmercury production in the bottom layers of the reclaimed lakes and the concentration of that methylmercury in resident fish. The program requires ongoing determination of background fish mercury levels in the creek for comparison to monitored levels in wet pits and reclaimed lakes. The fish in these environments are monitored annually for methylated mercury levels pursuant to the requirements of the program. If levels of concern are identified in fish from the lakes, remedial actions are required through a lake management plan.
In addition to the monitoring and reporting requirements of the program, a portion of the per-ton mining fees is set aside in a Maintenance and Remediation Fund for use in long-term management of mercury issues on public lands should the need ever arise. There is approximately $2.74 million in that fund currently. The fees are required to be reviewed regularly as part of the adaptive component of the CCAP and are currently set through 2026. The CCAP, including the Cache Creek Parkway, is fully self-funded. The Gravel Mining Fee Ordinance establishes funds for habitat restoration, creek stabilization, lake management contingencies, and administration.
Water Quality and Quantity
Each mining operator, including Teichert, is required to measure and report on groundwater levels in a minimum of three wells four times per year during mining. In addition, each mining operator is required to conduct groundwater quality testing for specified constituents, including one well measurement up- and down-gradient of mining, on an annual basis, and water surface measurements in all wet pits two times per year during mining. If results exceed allowable ranges, specified actions are required (Section 10-4.417 of the Mining Ordinance).
For this reason, the program has a comprehensive history of groundwater data (both quality and quantity) associated with previous and ongoing activities at the Teichert Coors and Storz properties to the west of the Shifler site, and the Teichert Haller, Muller, and Schwarzgruber properties to the north and northeast of the Shifler site. The reports demonstrate that the cumulative data record shows no evidence or indication that mining operations have caused changes in groundwater levels or quality, including effects on Wild Wings wells.
Tribal and Cultural Resources
The County undertook required Tribal outreach, coordination, and consultation pursuant to standard County practice, CEQA, AB 52, and SB 18. A summary of the consultation process is described in the EIR.
Chapter 4 of the Final EIR contains proposed revisions to clarify Mitigation Measure 4.5-3 to reflect the outcomes from consultation and collaboration with the Tribe. The clarifications require a formal monitoring plan and provide greater specificity regarding the timing, content, protocols, and participating parties in executing the plan. These revisions provide greater detail and clarity to the original measure to ensure successful and effective mitigation in a manner acceptable to the Tribe. The revised measure also addresses procedures for addressing unanticipated discoveries, an appropriate number of tribal monitors, and operator awareness training.
While the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation expressed concerns about the project early in the process and as part of the initial public release of the Draft EIR, the County subsequently engaged in significant and meaningful consultation efforts that are detailed in the Final EIR. This led to the parties -- including the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation -- coming to agreement about the impacts and the measures needed to address those impacts. Part of these measures included the development of a long-term partnership between the Tribe, County, and Teichert throughout the implementation of the Tribal Monitoring Agreement. Teichert took the lead on collaborating a detailed Tribal Monitoring Agreement with the Tribe. As such, the County is confident that the impacts to tribal cultural resources have been avoided, minimized, and mitigated to a greater extent than first described in the Draft EIR.
Liability and Accountability
The applicant is accountable for compliance with the requirements of the approval, and is required under the CCAP to submit an annual report on compliance that is independently reviewed by staff and must be accepted by the Planning Commission. As with any land use approval, liability for the Shifler operation remains with the applicant until the conclusion of reclamation. This period may be longer for specified issues (e.g., mercury monitoring), depending on specific findings at the site over time. Pursuant to tort and state and federal environmental law, liability of each operator could conceivably continue for some time should there ever be environmental contamination, negligence, or illegal behavior.
The draft Development Agreement (Section 6.5), which follows the County’s general template for mining operations, includes indemnification of the County for a host of identified circumstances. All land dedications and transfers also include a minimum 45-day period during which the County conducts various site assessments to verify site suitability. During this period the County requires a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) of the property as a standard procedure prior to acceptance of any property for public use.
Completion of reclamation to the specifications of the reclamation plans and the conditions of approval would be a requirement of the use permit. The applicant is also required to post financial guarantees that are updated annually, upon which the County may rely, if necessary, to complete reclamation if an applicant fails to do so.