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Pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S. Code 1344)

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Pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S. Code 1344), notice is hereby given that the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, PO Box 2261, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-2261, has submitted their Wiseman Tract Mitigation Bank prospectus. The prospectus outlines the proposal for developing and operating the bank, which is known as the banking instrument. After public comments are received and any issues are resolved on the prospectus, Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department will submit a draft banking instrument to the District Engineer of the Little Rock District. The District Engineer will then distribute the draft banking instrument to the Interagency Review Team (IRT), which is made up of the Corps and the pertinent state and Federal resource agencies. The IRT will review the banking instrument and coordinate with Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department on any issues until a final banking instrument is completed. Finally, the District Engineer will review the final instrument and make a decision to approve or not approve.

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: Comments are invited on the work described below. Please see the Public Involvement section for details on submitting comments. Point of Contact. If additional information is desired, please contact the regulator, Johnny McLean, telephone number: (501) 340-1382, mailing address: Little Rock District Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Division, PO Box 867, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-0867, email address: Johnny.L.McLean@usace.army.mil. An electronic copy of the Wiseman Tract Mitigation Bank prospectus can be viewed on the Little Rock District, Regulatory Division webpage at http://www.swl.usace. army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx or a hard copy can be obtained from the Corps of Engineers through the contact information listed above. Project Information. Pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S. Code 1344), notice is hereby given that Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department PO Box 2261 Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-2261

has submitted their Wiseman Tract Mitigation Bank prospectus. The prospectus outlines the proposal for developing and operating the bank, which is known as the banking instrument. After public comments are received and any issues are resolved on the prospectus, Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department will submit a draft banking instrument to the District Engineer of the Little Rock District. The District Engineer will then distribute the draft banking instrument to the Interagency Review Team (IRT), which is made up of the Corps and the pertinent state and Federal resource agencies. The IRT will review the banking instrument and coordinate with Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department on any issues until a final banking instrument is completed. Finally, the District Engineer will review the final instrument and make a decision to approve or not approve. The primary purpose of this bank is to mitigate for unavoidable impacts to streams and wetlands from highway construction and maintenance activities authorized under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The project goal is to develop a mitigation bank which will generate stream and wetland credits through restoration, enhancement and preservation of streams, wetlands, glades and the associated uplands. The project site consists of approximately 160.1 acres located west of the City of Horseshoe Bend in section 23, Township 18 North, Range 8 West, Izard County, Arkansas. Historical imagery shows that the majority of the property was likely cleared for cattle production in the early 1970’s. The site was primarily used for pastureland until the AHTD purchased it in 2015. The pastureland is dominated by fescue (Festuca rubra) and broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus). Some areas on the site have been left unmanaged and have begun to naturally reestablish an oak-hickory forest. The glade areas on the site have revegetated with scrub-shrub species, primarily eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana). These glades are areas where dolomite bedrock occurs near the surface and very few plant species are able to survive. The property includes four intermittent streams and six ephemeral streams. The largest intermittent stream confluences with the Strawberry River approximately one mile east of the bank site. The Strawberry River is designated by the state as an Extraordinary Resource Water, Ecologically Sensitive Waterway and Natural and Scenic Waterway. Several state and Federally protected species are found in the Strawberry River drainage and include the Strawberry River darter (Etheostoma fragi), pink mucket mussel (Lampsilis abrupta), snuffbox mussel (Epioblasma triquetra), Curtis’s pearly mussel (Epioblasma florentina), slippershell mussel (Alasmodonta viridis), scaleshell mussel (Leptodea leptodon) and rabbitsfoot mussel (Quadrula cylindrical). Strawberry River darters have been observed in the streams on the property in relatively high abundance likely making it an important fish spawning site. Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission tracked plants on the site include celestial lily (Nemastylis geminiflora), showy beardtongue (Penstemon cobaea), Bush’s skullcap (Scutellaria bushii) and large Indian-breadroot (Pediomelum exculentum). Approximately 9,950 linear feet of streams have been identified on the property. Approximately 7,358 linear feet of streams are intermittent and approximately 2,592 linear feet are ephemeral. Preliminary surveys by the AHTD estimated that approximately 4,592 linear feet of streams have been substantially degraded and can be restored and approximately 5,358 linear feet of streams are in good to excellent condition and are suitable for preservation. Restoration would include levee removal for floodplain connection, channel creation to restore hydrology, and habitat enhancement using rock and wood in-stream structures and natural channel design with sinuosity and grade control. There are several springs located throughout the property creating a mosaic of small pocketed wetlands. Historic activities on the site have modified and degraded these wet areas. The AHTD proposes to take measures to restore these areas to their original state and maximize functionality. This would include removing any modifications and reestablishing native vegetation. The total wetland acreage enhanced or restored would be approximately two acres. A landscape approach would be utilized to create a diverse patchwork of hardwood forest, open savannah prairie and glade habitat within riparian zones of streams most suitable for this ecoregion. Restoration would include planting bare root seedlings and promoting native forbs and grasses in the savannah and glade habitats. A total of approximately thirty-seven acres of riparian zone would be restored with 100-foot-wide buffers. Approximately fifteen acres would be non-forested glades and approximately twenty-two acres would be forested. The restoration of glades and enhancement of upland habitat would also include prescribed burns and cedar removal to help promote native plant communities. Approximately one hundred and twenty-three acres of upland areas outside the 100-foot-wide riparian buffers would provide additional protection to the mitigation site. This additional acreage would not be included in riparian buffer credit calculations. Stream credits and riparian buffer credits will be calculated using the 2011 Little Rock District Stream Method. Wetland credits will be calculated using the 2002 Charleston Method. The AHTD proposes for the bank to utilize all or parts of five hydrologic unit codes (HUC’s) for the service area. The primary service area would consist of the entire Strawberry River (11010102) HUC and a portion of the Spring River (11010010) HUC, and the secondary service area would consist of the entire Middle Fork of the White River (11010004) HUC and portions of the North Fork White River (11010006) HUC and Eleven Point River (11010011) HUC. The AHTD owns the property and would manage the bank for its operational life. A warranty deed restriction would be placed on the property. When all of the credits have been utilized and the site is self-sustaining, the AHTD would have the option of deeding the property to an appropriate state or Federal agency or non-profit organization, or entering into a management agreement with one of these entities. The location, general plan for the site and photographs of the site are shown on the enclosed sheets 1 through 8. Cultural Resources. The AHTD staff archeologists will review topographic maps, the National Register of Historic Places and other data on reported sites in the area, and coordinate with the State Historic Preservation Officer. The Federal Highway Administration will be responsible for any coordination with the Native American Nations. The District Engineer invites responses to this public notice from Native American Nations or tribal governments; Federal, State, and local agencies; historical and archeological societies; and other parties likely to have knowledge of or concerns with historic properties in the area. Endangered Species. Our preliminary determination is that the proposed activity will not affect listed Endangered Species or their critical habitat. A copy of this notice is being furnished to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and appropriate state agencies and constitutes a request to those agencies for information on whether any listed or proposed‑to‑be‑listed endangered or threatened species may be present in the area which would be affected by the proposed activity. Floodplain. We are providing copies of this notice to appropriate floodplain officials in accordance with 44 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 60 (Floodplain Management Regulations Criteria for Land Management and Use) and Executive Order 11988 on Floodplain Management. Regulatory Authority. Implementation of the proposed mitigation bank would require Department of the Army Authorization under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Based on preliminary evaluation by the USACE, it appears the proposed bank may be authorized by Nationwide Permit 27 for Aquatic Habitat Restoration, Establishment, and Enhancement Activities. Public Involvement. Any interested party is invited to submit to the above-listed POC written comments or objections relative to the proposed work on or before May 15, 2017. Substantive comments, both favorable and unfavorable, will be accepted and made a part of the record and will receive full consideration in determining whether this work would be in the public interest. The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity. Any person may request in writing within the comment period specified in this notice that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests for public hearings shall state, with particularity, the reasons for holding a public hearing. The District Engineer will determine if the issues raised are substantial and whether a hearing is needed for making a decision. NOTE: The mailing list for this Public Notice is arranged by state and county(s) where the project is located, and includes any addressees who have asked to receive copies of all public notices. Please discard notices that are not of interest to you. If you have no need for any of these notices, please advise us so that your name can be removed from the mailing list. Enclosures Approximate Coordinates of Project Center Latitude: 36.19985 Longitude: -91.81855 UTM Zone: 15N North: 4006761 East: 606214

PUBLIC NOTICE US Army Corps of Engineers® Little Rock District

CORPS OF ENGINEERS Application Number: SWL 2017-00048 Date: April 14, 2017 Comments Due: May 15, 2017

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: Comments are invited on the work described below. Please see the Public Involvement section for details on submitting comments. Point of Contact. If additional information is desired, please contact the regulator, Johnny McLean, telephone number: (501) 340-1382, mailing address: Little Rock District Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Division, PO Box 867, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-0867, email address: Johnny.L.McLean@usace.army.mil. An electronic copy of the Wiseman Tract Mitigation Bank prospectus can be viewed on the Little Rock District, Regulatory Division webpage at http://www.swl.usace. army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx or a hard copy can be obtained from the Corps of Engineers through the contact information listed above. Project Information. Pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S. Code 1344), notice is hereby given that Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department PO Box 2261 Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-2261 has submitted their Wiseman Tract Mitigation Bank prospectus. The prospectus outlines the proposal for developing and operating the bank, which is known as the banking instrument. After public comments are received and any issues are resolved on the prospectus, Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department will submit a draft banking instrument to the District Engineer of the Little Rock District. The District Engineer will then distribute the draft banking instrument to the Interagency Review Team (IRT), which is made up of the Corps and the pertinent state and Federal resource agencies. The IRT will review the banking instrument and coordinate with Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department on any issues until a final banking instrument is completed. Finally, the District Engineer will review the final instrument and make a decision to approve or not approve. The primary purpose of this bank is to mitigate for unavoidable impacts to streams and wetlands from highway construction and maintenance activities authorized under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The project goal is to develop a mitigation bank which will generate stream and wetland credits through restoration, enhancement and preservation of streams, wetlands, glades and the associated uplands. The project site consists of approximately 160.1 acres located west of the City of Horseshoe Bend in section 23, Township 18 North, Range 8 West, Izard County, Arkansas. Historical imagery shows that the majority of the property was likely cleared for cattle production in the early 1970's. The site was primarily used for pastureland until the AHTD purchased it in 2015. The pastureland is dominated by fescue (Festuca rubra) and broomsedge (Andropogon -1-

virginicus). Some areas on the site have been left unmanaged and have begun to naturally reestablish an oak-hickory forest. The glade areas on the site have revegetated with scrub-shrub species, primarily eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana). These glades are areas where dolomite bedrock occurs near the surface and very few plant species are able to survive. The property includes four intermittent streams and six ephemeral streams. The largest intermittent stream confluences with the Strawberry River approximately one mile east of the bank site. The Strawberry River is designated by the state as an Extraordinary Resource Water, Ecologically Sensitive Waterway and Natural and Scenic Waterway. Several state and Federally protected species are found in the Strawberry River drainage and include the Strawberry River darter (Etheostoma fragi), pink mucket mussel (Lampsilis abrupta), snuffbox mussel (Epioblasma triquetra), Curtis's pearly mussel (Epioblasma florentina), slippershell mussel (Alasmodonta viridis), scaleshell mussel (Leptodea leptodon) and rabbitsfoot mussel (Quadrula cylindrical). Strawberry River darters have been observed in the streams on the property in relatively high abundance likely making it an important fish spawning site. Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission tracked plants on the site include celestial lily (Nemastylis geminiflora), showy beardtongue (Penstemon cobaea), Bush's skullcap (Scutellaria bushii) and large Indianbreadroot (Pediomelum exculentum). Approximately 9,950 linear feet of streams have been identified on the property. Approximately 7,358 linear feet of streams are intermittent and approximately 2,592 linear feet are ephemeral. Preliminary surveys by the AHTD estimated that approximately 4,592 linear feet of streams have been substantially degraded and can be restored and approximately 5,358 linear feet of streams are in good to excellent condition and are suitable for preservation. Restoration would include levee removal for floodplain connection, channel creation to restore hydrology, and habitat enhancement using rock and wood in-stream structures and natural channel design with sinuosity and grade control. There are several springs located throughout the property creating a mosaic of small pocketed wetlands. Historic activities on the site have modified and degraded these wet areas. The AHTD proposes to take measures to restore these areas to their original state and maximize functionality. This would include removing any modifications and reestablishing native vegetation. The total wetland acreage enhanced or restored would be approximately two acres. A landscape approach would be utilized to create a diverse patchwork of hardwood forest, open savannah prairie and glade habitat within riparian zones of streams most suitable for this ecoregion. Restoration would include planting bare root seedlings and promoting native forbs and grasses in the savannah and glade habitats. A total of approximately thirty-seven acres of riparian zone would be restored with 100-foot-wide buffers. Approximately fifteen acres would be non-forested glades and approximately twenty-two acres would be forested. The restoration of glades and enhancement of upland habitat would also include prescribed burns and cedar removal to help promote native plant communities. Approximately one hundred and twenty-three acres of upland areas outside the 100-foot-wide riparian buffers would provide additional protection to the mitigation site. This additional acreage would not be included in riparian buffer credit calculations. Stream credits and riparian buffer credits will be calculated

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using the 2011 Little Rock District Stream Method. Wetland credits will be calculated using the 2002 Charleston Method. The AHTD proposes for the bank to utilize all or parts of five hydrologic unit codes (HUC's) for the service area. The primary service area would consist of the entire Strawberry River (11010102) HUC and a portion of the Spring River (11010010) HUC, and the secondary service area would consist of the entire Middle Fork of the White River (11010004) HUC and portions of the North Fork White River (11010006) HUC and Eleven Point River (11010011) HUC. The AHTD owns the property and would manage the bank for its operational life. A warranty deed restriction would be placed on the property. When all of the credits have been utilized and the site is self-sustaining, the AHTD would have the option of deeding the property to an appropriate state or Federal agency or non-profit organization, or entering into a management agreement with one of these entities. The location, general plan for the site and photographs of the site are shown on the enclosed sheets 1 through 8. Cultural Resources. The AHTD staff archeologists will review topographic maps, the National Register of Historic Places and other data on reported sites in the area, and coordinate with the State Historic Preservation Officer. The Federal Highway Administration will be responsible for any coordination with the Native American Nations. The District Engineer invites responses to this public notice from Native American Nations or tribal governments; Federal, State, and local agencies; historical and archeological societies; and other parties likely to have knowledge of or concerns with historic properties in the area. Endangered Species. Our preliminary determination is that the proposed activity will not affect listed Endangered Species or their critical habitat. A copy of this notice is being furnished to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and appropriate state agencies and constitutes a request to those agencies for information on whether any listed or proposed-to-be-listed endangered or threatened species may be present in the area which would be affected by the proposed activity. Floodplain. We are providing copies of this notice to appropriate floodplain officials in accordance with 44 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 60 (Floodplain Management Regulations Criteria for Land Management and Use) and Executive Order 11988 on Floodplain Management. Regulatory Authority. Implementation of the proposed mitigation bank would require Department of the Army Authorization under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Based on preliminary evaluation by the USACE, it appears the proposed bank may be authorized by Nationwide Permit 27 for Aquatic Habitat Restoration, Establishment, and Enhancement Activities. Public Involvement. Any interested party is invited to submit to the above-listed POC written comments or objections relative to the proposed work on or before May 15, 2017. Substantive comments, both favorable and unfavorable, will be accepted and made a part of the record and will receive full consideration in determining whether this work would be in the public interest. The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact

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including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity. Any person may request in writing within the comment period specified in this notice that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests for public hearings shall state, with particularity, the reasons for holding a public hearing. The District Engineer will determine if the issues raised are substantial and whether a hearing is needed for making a decision. NOTE: The mailing list for this Public Notice is arranged by state and county(s) where the project is located, and includes any addressees who have asked to receive copies of all public notices. Please discard notices that are not of interest to you. If you have no need for any of these notices, please advise us so that your name can be removed from the mailing list. Enclosures

Approximate Coordinates of Project Center Latitude: 36.19985 UTM Zone: 15N

Longitude: -91.81855 North: 4006761

East: 606214

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ACTION NO. SWL 2017-00048 AHTD Wiseman Mitigation Bank Sec. 23,289T. 18 N., R. 8 W. April 2017 Sheet 1 of 8 Fulton County Izard County

354

Horseshoe Bend 289

Oxford

L kle uc ys ne Ho

St ra wberry Ri ve r

Johnson View Rd

n

ch an Br

n Tow

56

Franklin

56

Project Location

³

0

0.5

1

Mile AHTD - Environmental GIS - Reed March 16, 2016

Figure 1 Proposed Wiseman Property Mitigation Bank

Mitigation Bank

Sheet 2 of 8

18N 8W 18N 8W L kle uc ys ne Ho

Johnson View Rd

n

18N 8W 18N 8W

³

0

500

1,000

Feet AHTD - Environmental GIS - Reed March 16, 2016

Figure 2 Topographic Map

Property Boundary

Franklin 1984 USGS Topographic Map

Sheet 3 of 8

1st C

Seepage Wetland

re ek

E1

Seepage Wetland

E5

E4

M

ai

n

B

ra

nc

h

E2

E3

E6

2nd Cree k

3rd Creek 4th Cr ee k Johnson View Rd

Culvert Road Access

³

Intermittent (Preservation) 0

250

500

Feet AHTD - Environmental GIS - Reed May 25, 2016

Figure 3 Restoration Plan Streams and Wetlands

Intermittent (Restoration) Ephemeral (Preservation) Property Boundary Photography: NAIP Summer 2015

Johnson View Rd

Sheet 4 of 8

³

Stream Glades 0

250

500

Feet AHTD - Environmental GIS - Reed May 25, 2016

Figure 4 Restoration Plan Buffers and Glades

Riparian Establishment Riparian Preservation Property Boundary Photography: NAIP Summer 2015

Sheet 5 of 8

North Fork White (11010006)

Spring (11010010)

Middle White (11010004)

³

0

10

AHTD - Environmental GIS - Reed March 16, 2016

Strawberry (11010012)

Proposed Mitigation Bank

20

Miles

Eleven Point (11010011)

Figure 5 Proposed Service Area Watersheds

Primary Service Area Secondary Service Area

Sheet 6 of 8

³

0

250

500

Feet AHTD - Environmental GIS - Reed March 16, 2016

Figure 6 Historic Imagery

Property Boundary

Photography Date: November 20, 1974

Sheet 7 of 8

Figure 10 Degraded intermittent streams lacking riparian vegetation (March 2016)

Figure 11 Aggraded intermittent stream flowing through a pasture (March 2016)

16

Sheet 8 of 8

Figure 16 Cedar encroached glades (March 2016)

Figure 17 Strawberry River Darters (March 2016)

19

Prospectus Wiseman Mitigation Bank

Izard County Arkansas December 2016

Prepared By: Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department P.O. Box 2261 Little Rock, AR 72203

Table of Contents I. Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 2 II. Management Goals and Objectives ..................................................................................... 2 Objective 1. Stream Restoration and Preservation .................................................................... 2 Objective 2. Wetland Enhancement........................................................................................... 2 Objective 3. Riparian zone Preservation and Restoration ......................................................... 2 Objective 4. Restoration of glades and enhancement of upland habitat .................................... 3 III. Establishment and Operation ........................................................................................... 3 IV. Proposed Service Area ..................................................................................................... 8 V. General Need and Feasibility ........................................................................................... 8 VI. Ownership ........................................................................................................................ 8 VII. Long-term management ................................................................................................... 9 VIII. Qualifications of the sponsor.......................................................................................... 11 IX. Ecological Suitability ..................................................................................................... 11

Table of Tables and Figures Table 1. USGS Hydrologic Unit Codes for Sub-Basins in the Geographic Service Area...............7 Figure 1. Proposed Wiseman Property Mitigation Bank .................................................................4 Figure 2. Topographic Map .............................................................................................................5 Figure 3. Restoration Plan Streams and Wetlands ..........................................................................6 Figure 4. Restoration Plan Buffers and Glades ...............................................................................7 Figure 5. Proposed Service Area Watersheds ...............................................................................10 Figure 6. Historic Imagery .............................................................................................................13 Figure 7. Soils.......................................................................................... .......14 Figure 8. Active cattle grazing on property (September 2015) .....................................................15 Figure 9. Seepage wetland (March 2016) ...................................................................................... 15 Figure 10. Degraded intermittent stream lacking riparian vegetation (March 2016) ....................16 Figure 11. Aggraded intermittent stream flowing through a pasture (March 2016) ......................16 Figure 12. Recently cleared riparian with debris piles in channel (March 2016) .........................17 Figure 13. Impoundment of seepage or spring (October 2015) .....................................................17 Figure 14. Incised stream with no riparian vegetation (March 2016)............................................18 Figure 15. Typical ephemeral preservation stream (March 2016) ................................................18 Figure 16. Typical view of cedar encroached glade (March 2016) ...............................................19 Figure 17. Strawberry River Darters (March 2016).........................................................................19

I.

Introduction The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) proposes the establishment of a stream and wetland mitigation bank in Izard County, Arkansas. The proposed bank is located along Johnson View Road between Arkansas Highway 354 and Arkansas Highway 56 approximately 2.5 miles south of Wiseman, AR (Figure 1). AHTD purchased the property to be used for compensatory mitigation for unavoidable impacts resulting from AHTD highway construction and maintenance activities authorized under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

The property occupies the north one-half of the southwest quarter of section 23; and part of south one-half of the southwest quarter of Section 23, Township 18 North, Range 8 West in Izard County, Arkansas. The survey boundary begins at the southwest corner between Section 22 and Section 23 of said Township 18 North, Range 8 West; thence south 85°46'23" east along the south line of said Section 23 469.92 feet; thence north 0°22'36" east 392.97 feet; thence north 81°26'53" east 832.01 feet to the east line of the southwest quarter of said southwest quarter; thence continue north 81°26'53" east 1325.01 feet to the east line of said southwest quarter; thence along the east line north 1°14'02" west along the east line of the southeast quarter southwest quarter of Section 23 1020.305 feet to northeast corner of said southeast quarter southwest quarter; thence west along the north line 1323.92 feet to the northwest corner of said southeast quarter southwest quarter; thence west along the north line 1323.92 feet to the northwest corner of the southwest quarter southwest quarter; thence south along the west line 1292.76 feet to the point of beginning and, all that part of the east one-half of the southeast quarter of section 22 lying east of the county road; all of the above said lands being located in Township 18 North, Range 8 west in Izard County containing 160.11 acres more or less (Figure 2).

II.

Management Goals and Objectives The main goal of this proposed mitigation bank is to provide compensation for unavoidable impacts to Waters of the United States associated with highway projects permitted under section 404 of Clean Water Act. This will be accomplished through the objectives of restoration, enhancement, and preservation of streams, wetlands, glades, and associated uplands. Cattle and the related agricultural practices were ceased upon purchase of the property by AHTD in late 2015 (Figure 8). Objective 1. Stream Restoration and Preservation Approximately 9,950 linear feet of spring and seepage influenced streams have been identified on the property (Figure 3). Of these 7,358 ft. were intermittent and 2,592 ft. were 2

ephemeral streams. Preliminary surveys identified 4,592 linear feet of intermittent streams with substantial degradation in need of restoration. The remaining 5,358 ft. of stream are in good to excellent condition suitable for preservation. Methods for stream restoration will be dependent on further morphological surveys. Potential methods will include but are not limited to: levee removal for floodplain connection, channel creation to restore hydrology, habitat enhancement using rock and log in stream features, and natural channel designs with sinuosity and grade control. Representative photographs of streams can be found in figures 10-15. Objective 2. Wetland Enhancement Numerous springs and seepages are located throughout the property creating a mosaic of small pocketed wetlands (Figure 9). Historic anthropogenic activities degraded the landscape including ponding, installation of spring boxes, and pasture (Figure 13). Appropriate measures will be taken to restore these unique features and maximize functionality. Mitigation will include the removal of impoundments to improve hydrology and exotic species will be controlled to promote native vegetation growth. Objective 3. Riparian zone Preservation and Restoration A landscape approach will be utilized to create a diverse patchwork of hardwood forest, open savannah prairie, and glade habitat within riparian zones of the streams most suitable for this ecoregion. Restoration activities will include planting of bare root seedlings and promoting native forbs and grasses in the savannah and glade habitats. Additionally, selective removal of eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) will be conducted in order to restore glade plant communities under the advisement of state natural resource agencies including the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). Eastern red cedars are a native species that can become invasive on glades outcompeting sensitive plant communities. Hardwood tree survivorship is traditionally used as a metric for determining riparian buffer success and stream mitigation credit generation. However, due to local site conditions characterized by naturally shallow soils and bedrock protrusion, AHTD proposes that riparian success not be based exclusively on tree survivorship, but on the establishment of habitat appropriate buffers. The prevalent bedrock protrusions and shallow soils throughout the property are typical of glade habitats and are not conducive to tree growth; therefore efforts to convert to hardwood forest would likely be unsuccessful. To restore regionally appropriate riparian zones, AHTD proposes that both forested and non-forested riparian restoration be accepted for credit generation. Forested riparian zones will be planted with barefoot seeding by tradition means. Non-forested glade restoration will include the selective removal of red cedars to encourage natural recruitment of glade appropriate species. 2

A total of 37 acres of riparian zone will be restored with 100 ft. riparian buffers surrounding streams. Fifteen acres will be non-forested glades and 22 acres will be forested (Figure 4). Final determination of acres to be planted, cedars to be removed, and areas to be preserved will be determined in the banking instrument and by advisement of the natural resource agencies. Objective 4. Restoration of glades and enhancement of upland habitat Fire suppression and planting of non-native grasses for agriculture have altered the native plant community of traditionally open glade habitats. Restoration efforts will primarily include fire and cedar removal to help promote native communities. Partnerships with state and non-governmental agencies will ensure the best possible outcome. An additional 123 acres of upland area remain outside of the 100 ft. riparian buffer and will provide additional protection to the mitigation area (Figure 4). III.

Establishment and Operation An Interagency Review Team (IRT) would facilitate the establishment of the mitigation bank. The IRT would review plans and seek consensus from Federal, State, and public entities on the Mitigation Banking Insturment (MBI). The US Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District (SWL) would serve as Chair of the IRT and will make final decisions regarding the terms and conditions of the MBI. Agencies invited to participate on the IRT include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region VI (EPA); the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region IV (USFWS); the Federal Highway Administration, Arkansas Division (FHWA); the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ); the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC); the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC); Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC); and the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC). AHTD will operate the bank as a single client compensatory mitigation bank. Ownership of the property and sponsorship will be retained by AHTD. Design, construction, and monitoring associated with the mitigation bank will be conducted by AHTD. AHTD will maintain a credit ledger within RIBITS to track credits debited.

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289

Fulton County Izard County

354

Horseshoe Bend 289

Oxford

L kle uc ys ne Ho

St ra wberry Ri ve r

Johnson View Rd

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n Tow

56

Franklin

56

Project Location

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0

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Mile AHTD - Environmental GIS - Reed March 16, 2016

Figure 1 Proposed Wiseman Property Mitigation Bank

Mitigation Bank

18N 8W 18N 8W L kle uc ys ne Ho

Johnson View Rd

n

18N 8W 18N 8W

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0

500

1,000

Feet AHTD - Environmental GIS - Reed March 16, 2016

Figure 2 Topographic Map

Property Boundary Franklin 1984 USGS Topographic Map

1st C

Seepage Wetland

re ek

Seepage Wetland

E1 E5

E4

M

ai

n

B

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nc

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2nd Cree k

3rd Creek 4th Cr ee k Johnson View Rd

Culvert Road Access

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250

500

Feet AHTD - Environmental GIS - Reed May 25, 2016

Figure 3 Restoration Plan Streams and Wetlands

Intermittent (Restoration)

Ephemeral (Preservation) Property Boundary

Photography: NAIP Summer 2015

Johnson View Rd

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Stream

0

250

500

Feet AHTD - Environmental GIS - Reed May 25, 2016

Figure 4 Restoration Plan Buffers and Glades

Glades

Riparian Establishment Riparian Preservation Property Boundary

Photography: NAIP Summer 2015

IV.

Proposed Service Area The geographic service area (Figure 4) would include all or parts of five sub-basins (8 digit HUCs). This includes two primary service areas of the Strawberry and Spring, and secondary service areas of the North Fork White, Middle White, and Eleven Point. These sub-basins all are encompassed by the Upper White sub-region. The corresponding United States Geologic Service (USGS) cataloging codes are listed below in Table 1.

Sub-basin Name

HUC

Service Area

Strawberry

11010012

Primary

Spring

11010010

Primary

Middle White

11010004

Secondary

North Fork White

11010006

Secondary

Eleven Point

11010011

Secondary

Table 1 USGS Hydrologic Unit Codes for Sub-Basins in the Geographic Service Area

V.

General Need and Feasibility AHTD is required to compensate for unavoidable losses to streams and wetlands due to highway construction and maintenance projects. Currently there are no established mitigation banks in the majority of the proposed service area.

VI.

Ownership AHTD is the owner of the property and has recorded a legally protected warranty deed restriction on the property. The restriction requires that any activity on the property comply with the terms of a mitigation plan or banking instrument. AHTD will manage the property for the operational life of the bank. The operational life of the bank terminates when compensatory mitigation credits have been exhausted and the bank site is self-sustaining. Subsequently, AHTD may deed the property to or enter into a management agreement with an appropriate state or Federal agency provided the agency manages the property in accordance with the provisions of the MBI.

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VII.

Long-term management AHTD is responsible for securing adequate funding to monitor and maintain the mitigation bank throughout its operational life. A cooperative long term management agreement between AHTD and other natural resource agencies are being explored as an option to allow for stewardship beyond the operational life of the bank. Ownership and deed would be retained by the AHTD with a memorandum of agreement of any partnerships. AHTD would be responsible for securing sufficient funds to cover contingency actions in the event of default or failure. Additionally, AHTD would be responsible for providing alternative compensatory mitigation if it is determined necessary by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

9

North Fork White (11010006)

Spring (11010010)

Middle White (11010004)

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AHTD - Environmental GIS - Reed March 16, 2016

Strawberry (11010012)

Proposed Mitigation Bank

20

Miles

Eleven Point (11010011)

Figure 5 Proposed Service Area Watersheds

Primary Service Area Secondary Service Area

VIII.

Qualifications of the sponsor AHTD is presently the owner and sponsor of eight mitigation banks and 19 mitigation sites, totaling 3,893 acres of wetland mitigation property managed according to approved banking instruments.

IX.

Ecological Suitability The primary considerations for site selection were watershed needs, baseline conditions, and restoration potential. The property includes four intermittent tributaries and six ephemeral tributaries to a larger unnamed tributary of the Strawberry River approximately one mile west of the confluence. The Strawberry River is designated by the state as an Extraordinary Resource Waters, Ecologically Sensitive Waterway, and Natural and Scenic Waterway. It is also listed on the National River Inventory by the National Park Service for outstanding remarkable values of scenery, recreation, geology, and fish. Numerous state and federally protected species are found in the Strawberry River drainage and include the Strawberry River darter (Etheostoma fragi), the pink mucket (Lampsilis abrupta), snuffbox (Epioblasma triquetra), Curtis's pearly mussel (Epioblasma florentina), slippershell (Alasmodonta viridis), Scaleshell (Leptodea leptodon), and rabbitsfoot (Quadrula cylindrica). It is one of the most aquatically biodiverse rivers in the state with over 100 fish species on record. Strawberry River darters have been observed in the streams on the property in relatively high abundance likely making it an important fish spawning sites (Figure 17). Maintained pasture in the upland areas show promise for open savannah restoration through vegetation management and prescribed fire regimes. Dolomite glades, heavily encroached by cedars, also show good potential for restoration. Vegetation surveys resulted in the finding of ANHC tracked plants including celestial-lily (Nemastylis geminiflora), showy beardtongue (Penstemon cobaea), Bush's skullcap (Scutellaria bushii), and large Indian-breadroot (Pediomelum esculentum). A 1975 areal image indicates that the majority of the property was cleared and likely utilized for cattle grazing (Figure 5). Some areas have been left unmanaged and have begun to naturally reestablish an oak-hickory forest, while other have been maintained in pasture dominated by exotic fescue (Festuca) and native broomsedge (Andropogon). Partially burned debris piles indicate recent tree clearing activities and were deposited in many of the stream channels and riparian zones. Riparian vegetation consists of a mixture of oak species (Quercus spp.), elm (Ulmus spp.), sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), willows (Salix spp.), and honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos). Six species of milkweed (Asclepias spp.) were also observed, making the upland areas promising for Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) habitat.

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Quail, turkey, and deer, as well as, a variety of migratory song birds, diverse herpetofuana, and numerous fish species have been observed on the property, though comprehensive biological surveys have not yet been completed. The combination of aquatic and terrestrial resources on the property provides potential for a landscape level mitigation approach that will not only benefit stream and wetland resources but supporting uplands as well. Collaborative efforts will not only improve the aquatic resource, but will protect upland habitat as well. Soils on the site are mapped into three soil units by the USDA (Soil Survey of Izard County, Arkansas 1979) (Figure 6). Two Agnos very cherty silt loam soils are described as deep, well drained, very slowly permeable soils with 3 to 8 percent slopes gently sloping and 8 to 20 percent slopes moderately sloping. Estate-Portia-Moko association are, 8 to 20 percent slopes, stony deep to shallow, permeable soils, with moderately slopes.

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Figure 6 Historic Imagery

Property Boundary

Photography Date: November 20, 1974

Gassville-Doniphan

Arkana-Moko

Agnos

Estate-Portia-Moko

Agnos

Sturkie

Agnos

Agnos Agnos

Agnos

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Figure 7 Soils

Property Boundary Not Hydric Photography: NAIP Summer 2013

Figure 8 Active cattle grazing on property (September 2015)

Figure 9 Seepage wetland (March 2016)

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Figure 10 Degraded intermittent streams lacking riparian vegetation (March 2016)

Figure 11 Aggraded intermittent stream flowing through a pasture (March 2016)

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Figure 12 Recently cleared riparian with debris piles in channel (March 2016)

Figure 13 Impoundment of seepage or spring (October 2015)

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Figure 14 Incised stream with no riparian vegetation (March 2016)

Figure 15 Typical ephemeral preservation stream (March 2016)

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Figure 16 Cedar encroached glades (March 2016)

Figure 17 Strawberry River Darters (March 2016)

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Rough impact

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Permit Manager

Dates

Identity numbers

Permits, certifications, and locations related to this particular notice

History of edits

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