|The Teichert Shifler project has been modified to be consistent with Alternative 4 (Moore Canal Avoidance Alternative) of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). As recommended, the project would subject to staff recommended limitations on annual and total tonnage, include the identified conditions of approval and all applicable mitigation measures, meet the policies in the Cache Creek Area Plan, achieve the performance standards set forth in the County Mining and Reclamation Ordinances, and satisfy the requirements of the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA).
The subject project would allow for continued mining in an aggregate rich area, enable the existing Woodland plant to continue operation using newer and more efficient technology, reduce the overall number of plant operations within the CCAP by one, ensuring appropriate considerations for neighboring land uses.
The final reclamation and "net gains" package negotiated between the applicant and the County will result in significant benefits to the County and is consistent with the criteria set forth in the OCMP. For these and other reasons identified herein, staff supports approval of the modified project.
PROJECT HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
Cache Creek Area Plan
The proposed project is located within the boundaries of the Cache Creek Area Plan (CCAP) adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 1996, and subsequently amended in 2002 and 2019. The CCAP incorporates the Yolo County Off-Channel Mining Plan (OCMP) and Cache Creek Resource Management Plan (CCRMP) (including the Cache Creek Improvement Program, CCIP). The CCAP is implemented by the Yolo County Off-Channel Surface Mining Ordinance (Mining Ordinance), the Yolo County Surface Mining Reclamation Ordinance (Reclamation Ordinance), the In-Channel Maintenance Mining Ordinance (In-Channel Ordinance), and the Gravel Mining Fee Ordinance (Fee Ordinance). The requirements contained in these ordinances include mitigation measures developed as part of the EIRs for the OCMP and CCRMP, including the CCAP Update in 2019. The project is required to comply with the requirements contained in these adopted plans and ordinances.
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. Yolo County’s 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 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 approved operation under the program.
The Teichert Esparto operation was approved in December 1996 for a total of 25.88 million tons mined (22.0 million tons sold) over a maximum 30-year period at an annual rate not to exceed 1,176,471 tons mined (1.0 million tons sold) per year (Zone File #95-094). The applicant is requesting that it be allowed to transfer its annual production allotment from the Teichert Esparto operation to the Shifler operation once mining at the Teichert Esparto site has been completed or the Teichert Esparto mining permit expires (January 1, 2028), whichever occurs first. The Teichert Esparto site, including the Esparto plant site, will be reclaimed consistent with its approved reclamation plan to open space and habitat uses, including open water and riparian wetland uses.
The Teichert Woodland plant facility has been in use since the 1950s. Between 1998 and 2017, the Woodland plant processed materials from the Teichert Woodland operation consisting of the Muller, Coors, and Storz properties, totaling 252 acres. Mining at the Teichert Woodland operation was approved in December 1996 for a total of 17.88 million tons mined (15.2 million tons sold) over a maximum 30-year period at an annual rate not to exceed 1,176,471 tons mined (1.0 million tons sold) per year (Zone File #95-095). Mining on all three sites has been completed and reclamation is underway. The Muller property has been reclaimed to agriculture and habitat uses, consisting of a seasonal pond and riparian habitat. The Coors property is in the process of being reclaimed to agriculture. The Storz property is in the process of being reclaimed to habitat uses, including open water and riparian wetland.
In November 2012, the County approved the Teichert Schwarzgruber operation with mining to commence following the completion of mining at the Teichert Woodland sites. Approval of the Teichert Schwarzgruber project resulted in elimination of an older plant operation and returned unallocated tonnage to the mining program. Mining at the 41-acre Schwarzgruber site was approved for a total of 4.65 million tons mined (4.0 million tons sold) over a maximum 30-year period at an annual rate not to exceed 1,176,471 tons mined (1.0 million tons sold) per year (Zone File #2011-0035). Mining on the Schwarzgruber site commenced in 2017 and is nearly complete. Aggregate extracted from the Schwarzgruber site is being processed at the Teichert Woodland plant. The Schwarzgruber site will be reclaimed to habitat uses, consisting of seasonal pond, grassland, riparian, and riparian wetland habitat. Teichert is requesting to transfer the annual production allotment from the Schwarzgruber operation to the Shifler site.
Teichert, Inc. has requested to conduct mining and reclamation activities on 264.1 acres of a 319.3-acre site, with other project-related uses occurring on the remaining 55.2 acres. The applicant is proposing to transfer tonnage allocations from its Teichert Esparto operation and Teichert Schwarzgruber operations, to the proposed Shifler operation. The applicant has requested approval to mine 35.4 million tons (30.0 million tons sold) of aggregate resources (sand and gravel) over a requested 30-year period at an annual rate not to exceed a maximum of 2.6 million tons mined per year (2.2 million 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.
The project site contains all, or portions of, the following Assessor’s Parcel Numbers (APNs): 025-120-032 (portion), 025-120-033, 025-430-001 (portion), 025-430-002, 025-120-010, 025-120-011, and 025-430-009. The location of the existing Teichert Esparto facilities is 27944 County Road 19A, Esparto, CA 95627 (APNs 048-210-006, 048-210-010, 048-210-011). The location of the existing Teichert Schwarzgruber facilities is 16550 County Road 96, Woodland, CA 95695 (APN 025-350-038). The location of the Woodland plant site, where material processing would occur, is 35030 County Road 20, Woodland, CA 95695 (APNs 025-350-037, 025-350-017, 025-120-039, and 025-120-041).
The applicant is proposing to mine 35.4 million tons (30.0 million tons sold) of aggregate resources (sand and gravel) over a requested 30-year period at an annual rate not to exceed a maximum of 2.6 million tons mined per year (2.2 million tons sold) including the requested “20 percent exceedance,” which would allow mining to increase by up to 20 percent in a given year, provided the 10-year average does not exceed the maximum permitted tonnage for that period. Mining is proposed in two phases moving from north to south, commencing with Phase A on the north. Reclamation is proposed in three phases, resulting ultimately in approximately 319.3 acres of reclaimed land 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, 13.9 acres in canal and related uses, 7.1 acres in access roads and buffers, 1.6 acres in oak woodland. The aggregate excavated from the subject site would be processed at the adjoining Teichert Woodland plant.
The key proposed elements of this project are:
- Transfer of tonnage from the existing approved Teichert Esparto and Teichert Schwarzgruber operations to the Teichert Shifler operation.
- Continued operation of the Teichert Woodland plant facilities (including new equipment and increased processing capacity).
- Excavation at the Shifler site.
- Reclamation at the Shifler site.
- Delayed reclamation at the Woodland plant site.
- Dedication of various properties to the County.
- Completion of an in-channel gravel bar removal project.
Currently, the central and southern portions of the project site consist primarily of actively managed agricultural land. The project site has historically been commercially farmed in rotating row crops. The northern portion of the project site consists of 52 scattered oak trees and ruderal grassland vegetation, as well as, an electric conveyor and associated gravel roads formerly used to transport mined aggregate from Teichert’s Storz mining site to the Woodland plant located north of the project site. The Moore Canal, an approximately 15-foot wide concrete-lined water conveyance structure owned and operated by the Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District (YCFCWCD), occupies approximately 10.5 acres and bisects the central portion of the site from west to east. A gate structure exists near the northeastern portion of the project site, which allows water from the Moore Canal to be diverted into the Magnolia Canal. Within the project site, the Magnolia Canal is an approximately seven-foot-wide earthen-lined canal that starts at the gate structure and flows in a northeasterly direction.
Land uses surrounding the site include: Teichert’s Woodland plant site to the northeast; Teichert’s Storz mining site and the Cache Creek Nature Preserve to the northwest; agricultural land and farm dwellings (APNs 025-430-006 and 025-430-007) to the west; the Yolo Fliers Club golf course, the Watts-Woodland Airport, and Wild Wings residential subdivision to the southwest; the privately owned and operated Monument Hill Memorial Park cemetery, a state highway (State Route 16) and Rural Residential parcels to the south; and agricultural lands to the east. The agricultural land to the east of the site includes one farm dwelling located near the eastern project site boundary.
Early GPA Process
Prior to submitting the application for this project, the applicant was required to secure approval from the Yolo County Board of Supervisors to apply for an amendment to the Countywide General Plan. Section 8-2.233(d) of the County Code requires that any General Plan Amendment (GPA) proposed by an applicant first be authorized for processing by the Board of Supervisors. On December 16, 2014, the Board voted 3-2-0 to allow the GPA application to be submitted for processing as a part of the Teichert Shifler application request (Minute Order No. 14-173).
Project Application Review
The application (Zone File #2018-0078; GPA File #2021-03) was accepted for filing September 26, 2018, and determined by the County to be substantially complete on May 21, 2019. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Notice of Preparation (NOP) and Initial Study for the project were released on August 16, 2019, beginning the 30-day public comment period, which ended September 16, 2019. A scoping meeting was held September 12, 2019, before the Yolo County Planning Commission to obtain public and agency comments on the Initial Study and the scope of the EIR (a summary of this meeting is included in Letter 31 of the NOP comments, which are included in Appendix B of Volume II of the Draft EIR). A community meeting was held by the applicant October 23, 2019 (see Attachment I, Comment Summary from Monument Hills Community Meeting).
The Draft EIR (SCH #2019089053) was circulated on December 18, 2020, for a 46-day period of review and comment by the public and other interested parties, agencies, and organizations. A public meeting was held by the Planning Commission on January 21, 2021, to discuss the project and receive oral comments on the Draft EIR. All comments received on the Draft EIR, including a summary of the comments provided at the Planning Commission meeting, are included in the Final EIR that was released October 15, 2021. The Final EIR provides copies of comment letters, responses to the comments, revisions to the Draft EIR, and a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program for the project as originally proposed and for the Moore Canal Avoidance Alternative.
Moore Avoidance Alternative
The project, as initially proposed, included the relocation of a segment of YCFCWCD’s Moore Canal to the northerly portion of the site. On April 15, 2021, the YCFCWCD notified the County and the applicant of the April 6, 2021, action of the YCFCWCD Board of Directors to retain the Moore Canal in its existing alignment. This action would preclude the project as originally proposed and described in Chapter 3 (Project Description) of the Draft EIR and CEQA Alternative 5 (Moore Canal Southern Alignment Alternative). As a result, Teichert informed the County on April 27, 2021, of its intent to request approval of the Moore Canal Avoidance Alternative (Alternative 4) rather than the originally proposed project. The applicant submitted supplemental information to clarify and provide technical details regarding the Moore Canal Avoidance Alternative, which is included in Appendix C of the Final EIR.
The Moore Canal Avoidance Alternative is analyzed in Chapter 6 (Alternatives Analysis) of the Draft EIR, on pages 6-20 through 6-26. Appendix N of the Draft EIR included mining and reclamation plans for this alternative. Appendix O of the Draft EIR included a Geotechnical Addendum and Groundwater Memorandum. Appendix C of the Final EIR includes revised and more detailed mining and reclamation plans for Alternative 4, which are included as Attachment E to this staff report.
The table below provides a summary of the differences between the project as originally proposed and as currently proposed by the applicant. This staff report assumes the Moore Canal Avoidance Alternative as the “proposed project” for purposes of discussion.
Project as Originally Proposed1 Compared to Project as Currently Proposed2
||Original Project Description
||Current Project Description
|Mining and Reclamation Area
|Total Proposed Tonnage
||41.6 mil tons mined
35.25 mil tons sold
|35.4 mil tons mined
30.0 mil tons sold
|-6.2 mil tons mined
-5.25 mil tons sold
|Proposed Maximum Annual Tonnage
||2,588,237 tons mined
2,000,000 tons sold
|2,588,237 tons mined
2,000,000 tons sold
|Buffer from Cache Creek
|Modification to Moore and Magnolia Canals?
||Yes. Relocation of Moore Canal to north and modification of Magnolia Canal to align with relocated Moore Canal
||No. No proposed changes to Moore or Magnolia Canals
||Canals will not be modified
|Phase A Mining
|Phase B Mining
|Phase A Reclamation
|Phase B Reclamation
|Phase C Reclamation
|Grassland Slopes Reclamation
|Riparian Woodland/Wetland Reclamation
|Access Road Reclamation
1/ As described in Chapter 3 (Project Description) of the Draft EIR
2/ Moore Canal Avoidance Alternative (Alternative 4)
The Shifler family owns four contiguous parcels (APNs 025-120-032, 025-120-033, 025-430-001, and 025-430-002) totaling 442.4 acres. (Note: The portions of the Moore Canal and Magnolia Canal that traverse the project site have been assigned APNs 025-120-010, 025-120-011, 025-430-009 by the County Assessor. These APNs are easements held by the YCFCWCD. They are not separate legal parcels nor does the District have fee title to the land underlying the canals on the project site.) The portions of the Shifler property within the Cache Creek channel and on Monument Hill were not included as part of the project because no new activity or disturbance is proposed on those portions of the property. The 319.3-acre project site is defined as the proposed 264.1-acre mining area and surrounding 55.2 acres that would be used for setbacks, visual screening, noise and safety berms, aggregate conveyors, access roads, and other project-related uses.
Policy and Plan Consistency
The proposed project has been reviewed for consistency with the Countywide General Plan, the CCAP, and other relevant County plans, policies, and regulations. As described below, a General Plan map amendment, and rezoning to add the sand and gravel overlay zone, would be required to ensure plan consistency. As analyzed in the EIR, the project is consistent with all other applicable requirements. The project proposes mining within the boundaries of the CCAP at a site known to contain high quality aggregate resources.
GPA and Rezoning
The 319.3-acre project site is designated Agriculture (AG) in the General Plan, and the northern approximately 107 acres of the project site is also designated Mineral Resource Overlay (MRO) designation. The proposed project requires a General Plan Amendment (GPA) to extend the MRO designation over an additional approximately 212 acres to cover the remainder of the 319.3-acre project site (see Attachment C).
The County applies the MRO to State-designated Mineral Resource Zone-2 (MRZ-2) areas, which reflect the existence of known significant mineral deposits or a high likelihood for the presence of mineral deposits. At the time the application was submitted, approximately 107 acres of the site was designated by the California State Mining and Geology Board as MRZ-2. Until recently, the southerly approximately 212 acres of the project site was designated MRZ-3, indicating an area of known reserves of unknown significance. In May 2021, the California Department of Conservation (DOC) accepted the Mineral Land Classification Report recognizing the presence of Portland Cement Concrete (PCC) grade construction aggregate at mineable depths throughout the project area and re-designated the remainder of the mining area from MRZ-3 to MRZ-2. (See California Geological Survey Special Report 255, “Mineral Land Classification of the Teichert Shifler Property, Yolo County, California for Portland Cement Concrete Aggregate,” May 2021. This report is included as Appendix K of the Final EIR).
The project site is currently zoned Agricultural-Intensive (A-N). The proposed project requires rezoning to add the Sand and Gravel Overlay (SG-O) to the 319.3-acre project site. Aggregate mining and ancillary uses are conditionally allowed use in the A-N/SG-O zone, subject to the approval of a Mining Permit.
The proposed project would require approval of a Mining Permit as described in Chapter 4 of Title 10 of the County Code entitled Off-Channel Surface Mining Ordinance (Mining Ordinance). A mining permit is a type of conditional use permit.
Depth of proposed mining will vary from 40 feet below the existing ground surface in the southeastern portion of the mining area to 110 feet below near the northeastern corner of the mining area (see Attachment E), with depths will be approximately 65 feet below in the northwestern corner of the mining area, and approximately 70 feet below in the southwestern corner of the mining area.
The applicant is requesting to mine 35.4 million tons (30.0 million tons sold) of aggregate resources (sand and gravel) over a requested 30-year period at a base rate not to exceed 2,352,942 tons mined (2,000,000 tons sold) and a maximum rate (including the 20 percent exceedance ) in any single year of 2,588,237 tons mined (2,200,000 tons sold).
Staff generally supported the project, but expressed concern to the applicant regarding the requested tonnage increase. Staff identified the following factors to Teichert (in no order, numbered for convenience):
1. Length of permit vs. requested tonnage – Assuming annual mining at the requested annual base rate, the maximum total tonnage would be mined out in 15 to 16 years. Conversely, assuming annual mining at a rate that would mine out the total tonnage over the full 30-year requested term, excavation would occur at a consistent rate of 1,206,667 tons mined annually. Considering this, staff believes either the permit term should be shorter or the annual tonnage should be lower.
2. Market flexibility – The market for aggregate varies considerably over time based on the regional economy and infrastructure funding at the federal, state, and local level. Staff recognizes the importance of allowing applicants the flexibility to make business decisions, and this is consistent with the approach reflected in the CCAP and taken on prior mining approvals.
3. Avoidance of Moore Canal – The inability to mine reserves under the canal and the increased required setback from the creek (250 feet instead of 200 feet), result in a decrease of anticipated total tonnage of 6,200,000 tons mined (5,250,000 tons sold).
4. Concerns from Neighbors Along the Designated Haul Route – County staff and commissions received comments from adjacent neighbors expressing concerns with the increased volume of truck traffic under the proposed tonnage maximum and impacts to their quality of life.
5. Wild Wings Subdivision – The Wild Wings subdivision is a relatively recent land use (final approval was granted in 2003 with construction in approximately 2004-2006). It is located in an area in which aggregate mining has occurred for decades and is planned for future mining through 2068, and possibly beyond. 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. Residential parcels in the subdivision were required to be setback 800 feet from adjoining mining to avoid incompatibilities and protect the viability of the mining from encroachment of residential uses. Each owner receives disclosure of the pre-existing mining activity when they purchase a home. The closest point of the proposed mining footprint would be 1,180 feet from the boundary of the closest residential parcel in Wild Wings (Attachment J), which is almost 50 percent further away than the 800-foot setback originally required of the residential uses. Nevertheless, the proximity of the Wild Wings subdivision is a consideration.
Staff discussed these factors with Teichert. After consideration of these factors and others, Teichert proposed reducing the requested maximum sellable tonnage to 1,800,000 tons annually. Staff recommends approval of the proposed lower maximum annual base allocation, specifically 2,117,648 tons mined (1,800,000 tons sold). This represents a 20 percent reduction, as compared to the annual rate requested by the applicant, acknowledging that the applicant has already experienced reductions in anticipated mining related to inability to mine the unrealized tonnage beneath the Moore Canal and the increased creek setback required by the Cache Creek Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and reflected in the EIR. Nevertheless, this would allow an 80 percent increase over existing approvals at the plant currently. Assuming annual mining at the base rate recommended by staff (which staff acknowledges would be unlikely to occur), the maximum available tonnage would be mined out in 17 to 18 years.
Additional benefits of the project are as follows:
- Elimination of the Teichert Esparto plant – Allowing for some consolidation of allocated tonnage between the two operations results in benefits to the region, including elimination of one processing plant and improved operations at the Woodland plant through replacement of older equipment.
- Local source of aggregate – Continued operation of the Woodland plant is consistent with the CCAP and ensures a local source of aggregate on the east end of the Lower Cache Creek aggregate deposit, which is closer to other portions of the State-defined production-consumption (PC) region, major populations, freeway access, customers of the applicant, and where many of the applicant’s employees reside.
- Location – The Shifler site is an appropriate location for future mining, consistent with the CCAP, and is sensible from a resource perspective. The site has a confirmed, minable high-grade aggregate deposit. It is consistent with the policies of the CCAP, which support full extraction of feasibly minable reserves within compact surface footprints, wherever possible, to maximize removal of the resource once approved while minimizing effects on farmland.
Pursuant to Section 10-4.405 of the Mining Ordinance, surface mines must operate within the limits of the annual production level established in the applicable mining permit. Annual aggregate production may not exceed the established annual level, except to meet temporary market demand. Where specific approval has been granted pursuant to Section 10-5.405 (Annual Production Limits), individual producers may exceed their maximum annual allocation by up to 20 percent in any one calendar year, so long as their running 10-year average does not exceed the maximum level. Aggregate sold in excess of the established annual level is subject to a $0.20/ton mining fee surcharge. The Teichert Schwarzgruber operation has approval under this section of the code (referred to as the “20 Percent Exceedance”), and the Teichert Esparto operation does not. The project includes a request to apply this section of the code to the tonnage allocation transferred from the Schwarzgruber operation to the proposed Shifler operation, which would equate to additional annual tonnage of 235,295 tons mined (200,000 tons sold) in any given year. For the reasons summarized earlier, staff does not support approval of the 20 percent exceedance as a part of this proposed project.
The aggregate removed from the subject site would be processed at the adjoining Teichert Woodland plant, which has been operating at that location since the 1950s. The applicant has indicated that the plant serves the surrounding region, including Yolo, Solano, and Sacramento counties. Processing facilities include a rock plant, a recycle plant, and an asphalt plant. The Woodland plant does not include concrete batch facilities. The plant, including associated processing facilities, is considered part of the proposed project; however, no new areas of disturbance at the Woodland plant site are proposed. Approval of the Teichert Shifler proposal would extend the life of the Woodland plant for the 30-year term of the permit. If approved, the Teichert Shifler project and the Woodland plant would be authorized to operate for 30-years (through approximately 2051) or until the approved mining is completed, whichever occurs first. Proposed conditions of approval for this project would extend to the plant and its operations.
The applicant is requesting to transfer the annual permitted tonnage allocation associated with the Teichert Schwarzgruber operation, and the Teichert Esparto operation upon completion of mining or permit expiration at either site. Together, the proposed transfers would allow the Teichert Shifler operation to mine a maximum of 2,588,237 tons (2,200,000 million tons sold) in any given year, provided that production over a consecutive 10-year period does not exceed 23,529,430 tons mined (20,000,000 million tons sold). As described above, in response to identified concerns and restraints, Teichert has offered to reduce its proposed maximum tonnage to 2,117,648 tons mined and 1,800,000 million tons sold.
For the reasons discussed above, staff supports the revised maximum annual base allocation of 2,117,648 tons mined (1,800,000 tons sold) comprised of the base allocation of 1,176,471 tons mined (1,000,000 tons sold) annually from the Teichert Schwarzgruber operation at completion, and a portion of the base allocation of 941,177 tons mined (800,000 tons sold) annually from the Teichert Esparto operation at completion. The remainder of the Teichert Esparto allocation would be returned to the CCAP program and remain unallocated.
The Teichert Esparto plant is comprised of newer and more modern equipment than the Teichert Woodland plant. Upon completion of mining at the Esparto site, the Esparto plant equipment is proposed to be dismantled and moved to the Teichert Woodland plant site where the Esparto equipment will replace most of the Woodland equipment. The existing Woodland asphalt plant would remain in operation. One additional crusher and two additional screens are proposed at the Woodland plant to facilitate processing of the requested total annual production.
Term of the Permit
As mentioned previously, the applicant is requesting approval of a Mining Permit with a duration of 30 years from the date of approval. Thus, if approval is granted in 2021, the permit will expire in 2051. Reclamation activities could continue for an additional two years after the expiration of the requested Mining Permit through 2053.
The proposed project includes a request to extend the permitted life of the Woodland plant from the current expiration date of January 1, 2028 (under the Schwarzgruber approval) to 30 years beyond the approval date for the proposed new Shifler operation, consistent with the requested Shifler Mining Permit. Increased processing capacity, new equipment, and continued operation of the Woodland plant are being requested as part of the subject application.
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 (see Attachment M). 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.
Commenters on the Draft EIR recommended modifications to the approved haul route, for example to direct some or all of the truck trips to utilize County Road 94B instead of County Road 96. County staff analyzed this alternative and concluded that it would result in greater overall impacts than the current route, which has been in place for 25 years. Considerations include:
Hours of Operation
- Expanding the route to include truck traffic on County Road 94B would expose more residences and businesses to new impacts, (e.g., noise) as compared to continued use of the existing approved haul route along County Road 96 and County Road 20.
- Teichert was required to rebuild County Road 20 and County Road 96, which comprise their approved haul route. These roads have structural integrity to support the approved mining. County Road 94B would require reconstruction and does not presently have the structural integrity required for a haul route.
- The non-standard intersection of County Road 94B and County Road 22 is a concern as trucks would be required to stop in front of the Yolo Fliers Club driveway, where stacking would be a safety issue.
- The intersection of County Road 94B and State Route 16 is a concern as the skewed intersection approach would affect line of sight, visibility, and safe ingress and egress onto the highway due to the limited acceleration speed of the trucks.
- Truck movements at the two intersections noted above would create safety issues for calls for service from Willow Oak Fire Department Station 7, which is located on County Road 94B south of County Road 22.
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 Shifler site as they have conducted for their other mining sites in the area. Staff supports this request, subject to continued compliance with the noise restrictions in the Mining Ordinance, based on the following considerations:
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.
- All operators must be in compliance with the noise regulations in the CCAP.
- Mining will be located further from existing residences than in the past and will be moving away from most residences as mining occurs.
- Noise is reduced as the depth of mining increases, particularly once the pit walls block the line of sight of mining from adjoining residences.
- The ability to do 24-hour processing and load out is a market necessity for road and infrastructure projects in California. Most significant public infrastructure projects require nighttime operations in order to reduce effects on circulation. Significantly more restrictive limitations on the current hours of operation would affect the applicant’s ability to bid on and compete for public infrastructure work.
- Absent a compelling reason, additional restrictions on hours of operation would also create potential inequity with other CCAP mine operators.
Typically, night-time operations, when needed, would only occur for processing and load out at the Woodland plant, not at the mining site. Since night-time mining would be a rare occurrence, stationary lighting would not be provided on the mining site. However, should night-time mining be required, the mining equipment used on-site would include lighting that would be directed downwards toward the active work area. Some safety lighting may be used for the conveyor, which would primarily be located at transfer points and as the conveyor approaches the 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:
Mining and Reclamation Phasing Example
- 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.
|1 to 10
||Mining in Phase A
||Begin reclamation in Phase A
||Farming in Phase B until disturbance and in Phase C
|11 to 20
||Mining in Phase B
||Continue reclamation in Phase A; start reclamation in Phase B
||Continue farming in Phase B until disturbance
|21 to 30
||Mining in Phase B
||Complete reclamation in Phase A; continue reclamation in Phase B; begin reclamation in Phase C
||Begin farming in reclaimed Phase A
|2 years Post-Mining
||Complete reclamation in Phase B and Phase C
||Continue farming in reclaimed Phase A and B; begin farming in reclaimed Phase C
Streamway Influence Zone
The proposed project is requesting approval to excavate within 700 feet of, but no closer than 250 feet (originally requested to within 200 feet) to, the Cache Creek channel bank. The area within 700 feet of the channel bank is called the “streamway influence boundary.” In support of this request, a Streambank Stabilization Plan (SSP), in compliance with Section 10-4.429(d) of the Mining Ordinance, is required to ensure implementation of Shifler EIR Mitigation Measure 4.8-4(a) that requires reinforcement improvements along the south bank of Cache Creek adjacent to the northern margin of the proposed mining area.
The technical analysis of conditions at this location demonstrates that this area has low potential for lateral stream migration or bank retreat; additional bank stabilization measures are not currently necessary; and the channel bank alignment is substantially consistent with the Channel Form Template (CFT) along the property creek frontage. Pursuant to Mitigation Measure 4.8-4(a), the purpose of the required SSP is to identify preventive measures (e.g., bank reinforcement and habitat enhancement), operation and maintenance requirements, and any additional requirements for preemptive stream stabilization mechanisms that the County determines to be necessary to support activity within the streamway influence boundary at this location.
The applicant will be required to secure a Flood Hazard Development Permit (FHDP) in conjunction with approval of an SSP, pursuant to Section 8-4.404 of the County Code, to address required improvements within a special flood hazard area. The FHDP will be examined at the time of submittal will be subject to review at that time to ensure compliance with the CCRMP/CCIP and appropriate CEQA coverage in the CCAP Update FEIR.
The project proposes reclamation of the 264.1-acre mining area to 113.2 acres of agriculture, 90.9 acres of lake, 32.8 acres of grasslands, 24.7 acres of riparian habitat, and 2.5 acres of access road. Reclamation would be undertaken over time as mining occurs, and would be completed within approximately two years of completion of the final phase of mining.
Staff supports this request subject to expansion of the Reclamation Plan to cover the entire 319.3-acre project site and other modifications identified in the conditions of approval (see Condition 16 in Attachment G). Modification to cover the entire project site would result in the following approximate reclamation acreage:
Overburden and processing fines generated from the Woodland plant would be used to establish the reclaimed agricultural fields and slopes, and create any remaining slopes and benches within the mining area. The agricultural fields would have a minimum four feet of reclamation soils placed. Reclamation to habitat uses (e.g., lake, riparian wetland, riparian oak woodland, and grassland/slopes) would include a minimum of one foot of soil (i.e., topsoil/overburden/silt) to be placed on all surfaces.
- 119.9 acres of agriculture
- 90.9 acres of open water lake
- 61.2 acres of grassland slopes
- 24.7 acres of riparian woodland
- 7.1 access roads and canal
- 1.6 acres in oak woodland
The CCAP directs the following priority for reclamation after mining is concluded (OCMP Action 5.4-7):
1. Agricultural uses
3. Recreation and Open Space
4. Other Uses
This project would generally satisfy this policy guidance. Excluding the Moore Canal acreage so as not to skew the comparison, the majority of the mining area (118.7 acres of 308.8 acres, or 38.4 percent) would be reclaimed to agriculture, with 31.3 percent in habitat (grassland slopes and riparian edge habitat), and 29.4 percent in open water/lake. Additionally, the lake will provide both habitat values, as well as recreational and open space values.
The Reclamation Plan for the Woodland plant site was approved in 2013. The property will be reclaimed as grassland, mixed riparian forest, and willow/cottonwood forest. Pursuant to Teichert’s lease with the County, reclamation on APN 025-120-041 (the 6.65-acre County Borrow Site), which is owned by the County, would consist of removal of stockpiles and returning the parcel to the condition it was found at the commencement of Teichert’s lease in 2002. However, as a part of the applicant’s net gains proposal, it has proposed enhanced reclamation of the County Borrow Site property 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 living museum on site. The complete net gains package is described below. Reclamation of the County Borrow Site would occur in conjunction with reclamation of the Woodland plant site. All reclamation on the Woodland plant site is anticipated to be completed within two years following the completion of processing operations.
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 (see Recital IX in Attachment H).
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 pursuant to the CCRMP – The applicant is proposing to design and complete a gravel bar removal project to help prevent further channel bank erosion and provide for addition capacity in the Cache Creek channel. The proposed in-channel bar skimming would take place over a five-year period in 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 CCRMP/CCIP’s 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 in any one year.
This work is anticipated and encouraged in the CCRMP/CCIP and associated impacts are addressed in the CCAP Update EIR certified December 2019.The work would require issuance of a separate subsequent 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, Attachment G). All removal would be subject to review and oversight by the Cache Creek Technical Advisory Committee.
As described above, the project proposes a substantial package of net gains. As a result of the project, return of use of the County Borrow site and Muller Bridge dedication would be delayed 30 years, and possibly longer, due to applicant concerns about public access proximate to the Teichert Woodland plant. These concerns are reasonable and legitimate. The delay in the return of the County Borrow Site is workable and will come with improved reclamation as described above. The delay in dedication of the Muller Bridge is more problematic. Without the bridge, the functionality of the east end of the Cache Creek Parkway is affected. A north-south connection and circulation is not possible without access over Cache Creek and the Rodgers, Correll, and Schwarzgruber properties will remain isolated from the other properties. This will affect the planned activation of the east end of the Cache Creek Parkway system, including grant proposals underway, as well as assumptions made in the Parkway financing plan. Activation of the east end of the Cache Creek Parkway system will be broken into nodes that will not be connected for 30 years, or possibly longer, depending on Teichert’s long-term plans and the structural soundness of the bridge when it does become available. The County and applicant continue to discuss alternatives that would provide a north/south creek crossing in the immediate future.
- Land Dedication – The applicant is proposing to dedicate three properties to the County for inclusion in the Cache Creek Parkway system. Future uses would include public recreation, open space, and habitat pursuant to the proposed/approved reclamation plan for each property and consistent with the Cache Creek Parkway Plan.
- 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. (Note: the Shifler Lake dedication was described in the Draft EIR (page 3-28) as approximately 142 acres; however, the size and the configuration of the lake was reduced under the Moore Canal Avoidance Alternative.) 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. (Note: this property was identified in the Draft EIR in error as approximately 123 acres. Staff subsequently determined the setback area was double counted.) 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.
- 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 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 trail easement connection from the south landing eastward to the Schwarzgruber property. Dedication of the trail easement connection would occur following reclamation of the Woodland plant, which is estimated to be completed in 2053, at the same time as the bridge dedication.
- Modification to previously negotiated terms of 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.
EARLY OUTREACH AND COORDINATION
As is standard procedure, the County distributed an early “Request For Comments” to a variety of local, regional, and Tribal entities on November 14, 2018. Comments were received from four parties listed below:
The CVRWQCB, County Building Division, and County Environmental Health Division each proposed conditions of approval to ensure compliance with existing regulatory requirements. These recommendations have been integrated into the draft conditions of approval (Attachment G). The Farm Bureau letter requested several items, which are summarized and discussed below:
- Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (CVRWQCB) (November 28, 2018)
- County Building Division (December 10, 2018)
- County Environmental Health Division (December 18, 2018 – amended June 18, 2020)
- Yolo County Farm Bureau (February 4, 2019 and July 24, 2019)
- Fees should be assessed on a per-ton basis to repair and maintain county roads impacts by gravel mining.
Discussion – The CCAP requires full mitigation for impacts to roads including maintenance of and necessary improvements to haul routes. Since the program is self-mitigating in this respect, the per-ton fees are directed to other component of the program and public benefits.
- The County should get sales tax from all gravel sold as a part of this project and all gravel sold under the program.
Discussion – With one exception, all gravel sales under the CCAP program do result in sales tax revenue to the County. CEMEX is the only operator with a designated sales tax place of sale that is outside of the County. The Teichert Woodland and Teichert Esparto plants have always designated Yolo County as the place of sale. As summarized earlier, the proposed Development Agreement (Attachment H) identifies this as a net gain item.
- The County should require an action plan to maintain or improve the existing canal infrastructure.
Discussion – For reasons described earlier in this staff report, relocation of and improvements to the Moore Canal are no longer a component of the project. The Moore and Magnolia Canals are separately held assets of the YCFCWCD, which has sole authority for improvements and maintenance of these facilities. With the removal of the proposed canal modifications as part of the project there is no nexus to require this of the applicant.
This project was required to notice all properties and residents within a 5,000 foot radius of the project site. This exceeds the state standard, which is 300 feet, and the standard practice of the Planning Division for large projects, which is 1,000 feet.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ANALYSIS
The Draft EIR was released December 18, 2020, and the Final EIR was released October 15, 2021. For the Moore Canal Avoidance Alternative, the Draft EIR identified the 12 impacts as significant:
4.2-1 - Loss of Farmland
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 from Hazardous Materials
4.8-4 - Potential Impacts from Alternations of a Water Course
4.10-1 - Noise Impacts
4.12-2 - Increased Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)
5-2 - Cumulative Loss of Farmland
5-14 - Cumulative Increase in VMT
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 (Impact 4.2-1) and at the cumulative level (Impact 5-2), and increases in vehicle miles traveled at the project (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.
Draft EIR Comments and Responses
The County received 38 letters commenting on the Draft EIR, the large majority of those (32 of 38) were from residents of the Wild Wings Subdivision, and from other residents in the surrounding area. The comments raised a variety of issues, and the County has provided a specific response to every comment in the Final EIR. Many of the comment letters, especially from the nearby residents, raised similar concerns. As a result, the Final EIR contained more detailed master responses for those common issues:
Master Response 1 – Comments Regarding the Merits of the Project
Many commenters provided their opinions and beliefs regarding the merits of the applicant’s proposal. EIRs are not required to address comments such as these but they are an important part of the process and are considered as part of the record. This master response was included to help commenters understand the process and assure them that the letters documenting their position on the project are part of the record and will be considered.
Master Response 2 – Property Value Considerations
State law is clear that economic, financial, and social issues are not required to be addressed in an EIR. That doesn’t mean property values aren’t important. This master response does three things:
1. It explains the process and acknowledges the concerns.
2. This master response also provides relevant background information related to the Wild Wings Subdivision. This subdivision received various approvals in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Development occurred in the mid-2000’s. Since mining in the area had been on-going for many decades and the County has adopted plans and policies supported continued mining for many decades into the future, the subdivision was approved with various notices, disclosures, easements, and conditions to protect the adjoining mining from encroachment by the subdivision.
3. It summarizes the results of a study prepared by BAE Urban Economics in June of this year that examines the contributions of mining to the local economy (Aggregate Mining Economic Analysis, BAE Urban Economics, June 30, 2021). Based on their expertise, the consultant was also asked to analyze the concerns expressed regarding property values in the area. With regard to effects on adjoining properties, the study concluded:
Master Response 3 – Transportation and Circulation Concerns
- The proximity of aggregate mining operations to residentially-designated property in Yolo County has not negatively impacted home values, primarily because the aggregate mining was in place for decades prior to the development and sale of these units, and therefore was already internalized in the property values.
- The proximity of aggregate mining operations to agriculturally-designated property, including those with farm homes, has similarly not negatively impacted property values, perhaps because mining is a conditionally allowed use in the agricultural zone.
- Agricultural parcels zoned with the SGR Overlay (which indicates the potential for future mining), experience higher assessed values per acre than sites outside of the Overlay zone, likely a reflection of the additional value associated with the potential extraction of gravel resources from these sites.
This master response covers a wide range of related issues:
1. Regarding added truck trips on County roads – The applicant is already required to mitigate on an annual and biennial basis for roadway maintenance impacts and necessary improvements on their approved haul route. This obligation will continue if the project is approved. In addition, the applicant will be required to widen the shoulders along County Road 96, from County Road 20 to State Route 16.
2. Regarding enforcement of speed limits and haul routes – The haul route for each operator is identified as a condition of their permit approval. Each operator is responsible for ensuring compliance with their haulers, which is typically accomplished through signage, informational handouts, notifications through the scale house, communications with trucking companies, and contract terms. Aggregate trucks going to and from the mining sites are required to adhere to the approved haul route, except for customer deliveries. Trucks may lawfully haul on non-designated routes to transport to local construction sites and/or other customers. Non-compliance is enforceable by the County through mining permits and as a matter of roadway regulatory enforcement.
The response also notes that in the summer of 2020, the County, Sheriff, California Highway Patrol, and operators engaged in a significant campaign to address bad behavior by some of the haulers, which seems to have had a positive effect. These efforts appear to have reduce the problem and the County continues to monitor the situation and work with neighbors and operators. The County encourages concerned members of the public to contact operators and the County regarding potential violations at any of the approved mining operations. The County is dedicated to ensuring that truck drivers abide by the approved haul routes and has posted signs to aid in compliance.
3. Regarding operations at the entrance to Wild Wings at State Route 16 – The County’s research confirms that a signal might be warranted at this location and that the approvals for the Wild Wings Subdivision recommended installation of a signal with funding to be provided by subdivision property owners. If approved, the County will impose a condition requiring Teichert to pay a fair share of the costs for a signal or other relevant improvement at that location.
Master Response 4 – Hydrology and Water Quality
Regarding concerns about hydrology and water quality, the EIR included six separate reports from Luhdorff and Scalmanini on issues related to this topic, and there is a comprehensive history of groundwater quantity and quality due to the requirements of the program:
Feb 2016 - Groundwater Conditions Report (Appendix L to Final EIR)
Dec 2019 - Supplemental Analysis to Groundwater Conditions Report (Appendix K1 to Draft EIR)
Feb 2020 - Effects on Wild Wings wells from proposed operations at Shifler (water levels, water quality, arsenic). (Appendix K1 to Draft EIR)
Feb 2020 - Alternative Mining Pit Configuration (Moore Canal Retention Alternative) (Appendix O2 to the Draft EIR
Oct 2020 - Alternative Routing of Canal South of Pit (Moore Canal Southern Alternative ) (Appendix Q2 to the Draft EIR
Apr 2021 - Technical Memo (Appendix E to Final EIR) – More information and background on arsenic
Teichert has been required to monitor in this area since 1986. They have 26 monitoring wells and 13 water supply wells included in the monitoring program, plus access to other monitoring being conducted in the area by the YCFCWCD. The data and research supports the conclusion that mining operations have not caused, and are not expected to cause, changes in groundwater levels, quality, or recharge. Similar results have been documented for the other mining sites in the program. It is worth noting that depending on the issue, the operators are required to conduct testing and monitoring two to four times per year throughout the duration of their permits, and beyond for specified items.
Concerns were expressed specifically by Wild Wings residents regarding effects on their wells which have experienced declines in both quantity and quality. The data and analysis document no adverse effects to Wild Wings well water levels or quality from the existing or proposed Teichert operations.
Master Response 5 – Agricultural Concerns
Several commenters expressed concerns about the appropriateness and effectiveness of reclamation to agriculture. This issue was deliberated extensively when the CCAP was adopted and the established County policy is that reclamation to agriculture is the highest priority reclaimed end use, in keeping with the County’s long-time focus on agricultural preservation and promotion.
The CCAP covers only four percent of the County’s land mass (28,000 acres of 654,000 acres). Currently, mining is approved on 2,464 acres, and the County uses the Sand and Gravel (SG) overlay zone to show these acres. Potential future planned mining is identified on another 1,789 acres, and the County uses the Sand and Gravel Reserve (SGR) overlay zone to show these acres. This master response acknowledges that mining will result in net loss of farmland in most cases. This is unavoidable given that high quality farmland soils often overlay high quality aggregate resources; both of which result from creek sediment deposits over millions of years.
As part of the adaptive focus of the gravel program, the County commissioned and recently released a study of the effectiveness of agricultural reclamation locally (Assessment of Reclamation of Mined Lands to Agriculture Under the Yolo County CCAP, House Agricultural Consultants, October 1, 2021). While the amount of previously-mined land reclaimed to agriculture remains low at this stage in the program, the report concluded that reclaimed agricultural fields can successfully meet state standards for success, and even though the productivity may be lower compared to native agricultural soils, it is nevertheless an appropriate and desirable end use. The report identified a number of independent recommendations for agricultural reclamation which the County is evaluating and will be the subject of follow-up discussion.
Offsets and Mitigation for Loss of Farmland
Of the 1,789 acres currently identified by the County for potential future mining, about 75 percent are “Prime Farmland.” In other words, over the next 50 years about 1,340 acres of prime agricultural land is identified for possible future mining. This was analyzed as part of the CCAP Update Final EIR. This compares to over 250,000 acres of “Prime Farmland” in the entire unincorporated County. While conversion of the Shifler acreage was anticipated in the CCAP Update Final EIR, it was not zoned as SGR overlay in anticipation of separate consideration of the Shifler application, which was underway at the time the CCAP Update was approved.
Despite the fact that loss of agricultural land is anticipated as an outcome of implementation of the CCAP, the County considers all loss of farmland to be a significant impact. The County Reclamation Ordinance (Section 10-5.525) allows for offsets for:
a) reclaimed agriculture;
b) conservation easements on other farmland of equal or better quality/capability;
c) dedication of additional net gains lands beyond what would otherwise be dedicated under the CCAP; and
d) dedication of other items consistent with the Cache Creek Parkway.
Approval of the 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 classified as “unique farmland” and 0.5 acres classified as “farmland of statewide importance”). Based on the requirements in County Code, the applicant’s approximate mitigation obligations for loss of farmland as specified in the Final EIR and draft conditions of approval 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.
- 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.
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.
Of the net gains package proposed by the applicant and summarized earlier, the following items would be considered part of the “primary” net gains for the project:
- In-channel bar skimming to remove 3,000,000 tons of material from 3.3 river miles of the creek (River Mile 24.3 at County Road 87 to River Mile 21.0 at Interstate 505) consistent with the CCRMP/CCIP
- Dedication of the Shifler lake and habitat (121 acres)
- Various cash and in-kind donations
- Sales tax place of sale
- Earlier dedication of the Teichert Haller/Muller In-Channel property (Note: this dedication was a commitment from earlier agreements, but the date of dedication would have otherwise been pushed out 30-years as a result of the Shifler proposal)
- Enhanced reclamation of the County Borrow Site (6.65 acres).
- Commitment to a trail easement from the south landing of the Muller Bridge to the Schwarzgruber property following reclamation of the Woodland plant site.
- Unlimited public access for the Teichert Muller Trail easement (Note: this trail was a commitment from an earlier agreement, but the public access was restricted to limited uses)
The following items are proposed to be considered as accepted as satisfying the agricultural mitigation required for the project:
- Permanent agricultural conservation easement on a minimum of 136.3 acres of prime farmland and a minimum of 8.75 acres of non-prime farmland at a location acceptable to the County demonstrated to be equivalent or better than the soils on the project site in terms of quality and capability. These acreages may be higher depending on where the easement property is located, but they would not be lower.
- Acceptance of 212 acres of additional Parkway net gains properties (Shifler In-Channel property totaling 80 acres and Schwarzgruber property totaling 132 acres) as satisfying a portion of the higher ratios of farmland totaling an additional 281.4 acres that would have otherwise been required to be placed into permanent easement. The applicant could propose dedication of additional qualifying net gains to ensure full satisfaction for the remaining agricultural mitigation obligation, provided the minimum acreage of agricultural conservation easement described above is satisfied.
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 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.
- 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 Shifler EIR examined the project as originally proposed and five alternatives:
Subsequent action by the YCFCWCD to retain the current alignment of the Moore Canal rendered the originally Proposed Project and Alternative 5 (Moore Canal Southern Alignment Alternative) infeasible. The applicant subsequently amended the project application consistent with Alternative 4. As documented in the CEQA Findings of Fact, Alternatives 1, 2, 3, and 6 were also shown to be infeasible. On page 6-31 of the Draft EIR, Alternative 5 is identified as the environmentally superior alternative. Based on the analysis on page 6-31 of the Draft EIR volume, Alternative 4 (the currently proposed project) would be the next environmentally superior alternative.
- Originally Proposed Project (which included relocation of the Moore Canal)
- Alternative 1 (No Project Alternative)
- Alternative 2 (Off-site Alternative)
- Alternative 3 (Reduced Tonnage Alternative)
- Alternative 4 (Moore Canal Avoidance Alternative)
- Alternative 5 (Moore Canal Southern Alignment Alternative)
- Alternative 6 (Mining Setback 700-Feet from Creek Alternative)
SUMMARY OF MONUMENT HILLS COMMUNITY MEETING
This project does not fall within the boundaries of a County citizens advisory committee (CAC). Therefore, to ensure community outreach, two community meetings have been 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. A summary of the discussion at each meeting is included in Attachments I and N, respectively. At both meetings attendees expressed opposition to the project.
ESPARTO CITIZEN ADVISORY COMMITTEE (CAC) RECOMMENDATION
Although the proposed project does not fall within the boundary of a County CAC, the Teichert Esparto operation falls within the boundary of the Esparto CAC. The Teichert Esparto operation is a component of the proposal as a result of the proposed in-channel bar skimming net gain item, and the proposed transfer of tonnage allocation from the Teichert Esparto 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 unanimously recommended approval of the project, as it related to specific components and impacts relevant to the Esparto area (Attachment K).
CCRMP/CCIP TECHNICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE (TAC) REVIEW
The CCRMP TAC does not have authority over mining applications. However, the fluvial geomorphologist and hydrologist are routinely asked to provide technical review of proposed mining within the Streamway Influence Zone, and the riparian biologist is routinely asked to provide technical review of the proposed reclamation plan plantings. The TAC members individually have reviewed these components of the subject project and their recommendations have been integrated into the draft conditions of approval (Attachment G).
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION (DOC) DIVISION OF MINE RECLAMATION (DMR) REVIEW
The State Division of Mine Reclamation (DMR) conducted their mandatory review of the project as originally proposed and as revised. DMR informed the County on April 14, 2021, and September 2, 2021, respectively, the Division had no comments (Attachment L). Upon receipt of final Reclamation Plan from the applicant, and acceptance of the plans by staff as satisfying required Reclamation Plan modifications, the County will resubmit the final Mining and Reclamation Plans to DMR, as required under SMARA.
TRIBAL COORDINATION AND CONSULTATION
The County also undertook required Tribal outreach pursuant to standard County practice, CEQA, AB 52, and SB 18. A summary of the consultation process is included on page 4-10 through 4-12 of Chapter 3 of the Final EIR volume.
GENERAL PUBLIC NOTICE AND COMMENTS
- CEQA coordination was completed with release of the Final EIR
- AB 52 consultation was completed August 4, 2021
- SB 18 consultation concluded October 24, 201
Notification of the scheduled hearings for the project were sent to the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and other interested Tribal governments and parties as part of the CEQA Notice of Availability for the Final EIR which was disseminated on October 15, 2021. Notice of the Planning Commission agenda was sent to the interested parties email list. Notice of the Planning Commission meeting appeared in the October 31, 2021, edition of the Davis Enterprise.
Comments received since the release of the Final EIR are provided in Attachment O.
ANNUAL AND INTERIM REVIEWS
Under the CCAP, each operator is subject to annual inspections and must annually demonstrate compliance with their development agreement, CEQA mitigation monitoring and reporting program, conditions of approval, and SMARA.
The CCAP also requires mandatory “interim” review of all aspects of the gravel program every ten years including the plans, regulations, and mining approvals. The interim review concept has been integral to the CCAP since its inception. It integrates the “adaptive management” of the program and ensures that the approved mining and reclamation permits have regular reviews to apply subsequent environmental regulations and statutory provisions.
These requirements will apply as well to the Shifler approval and are included in the draft conditions of approval.