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5. ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES
This chapter describes the probable impacts of each alternative. This section is divided by type of resource that would be affected, such as soils, noise, water resources, plants, rare or endangered species, cultural resources etc. In some cases, such as air quality, social and economic, energy, traffic, land use, and viewshed, impacts to the resource are examined in general terms rather than by specific alternative. Where impacts vary by alternative, the impacts for each alternative are evaluated. Where there are not regulatory requirements or projected impacts to the environment, Best Management Practices (BMPs) are recommended.
SOILS
The following considerations are related to soil/geological conditions:

  • Exposure of people or structures to potential substantial adverse effects, including the risk of loss, injury, or death involving: rupture of an earthquake fault; strong seismic ground shaking; seismic-related ground failure, including liquefaction; landslides.

  • Substantial soil erosion or the loss of topsoil, with impacts on nearby waterways.

  • Location of a project on a soil that is unstable, resulting in on- or off-site landslide, lateral spreading, subsidence, liquefaction or collapse.

  • Location of a project on expansive soil creating substantial risks to life or property.

The Sherwood Valley Rancheria - Willits is not located within an Alquist-Priolo Fault Zone; however, it is located within a seismically active area. The Rancheria is located approximately 30 miles east from where the San Andreas fault runs beneath the ocean just north of Point Arena, and 4,000 feet west from the Mayacama Fault. The Mayacama Fault runs roughly along Hwy 101 through the middle of Willits. Among the basic evaluation methods of damage from seismic activity is the largest earthquake magnitude that could occur along a recognized fault or within a particular seismotectonic province. The maximum credible earthquake along the Mayacama Fault near the project area is estimated to be 7.25 (Richter Scale) resulting in a maximum credible acceleration of 0.7 g. While neither ground rupture nor fault creep are likely on the hillside Franciscan soils, the area would be prone to landsliding from large seismic events. There is a high probability that a maximum credible earthquake of 7.25 magnitude along the Mayacama Fault Zone could generate local landslides throughout the area, which could result in some segments of area roads to become impassable for some length of time (Caltrans, 2006). This would affect parking areas and access roads to the existing and proposed casinos.


Regulatory Considerations:

Although there is not direct Federal regulation of projects for earthquake safety, there are standards for assessing and enhancing the seismic safety of existing buildings constructed for or leased by the Federal Government (i.e. HUD). This includes provisions to defer to local building codes that meet the minimum requirements of the seismic safety standards. In addition, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) seeks to mitigate earthquake losses in the U.S. through both basic and directed research and implementation activities in the fields of earthquake science, engineering and construction standards. Non-Federally funded projects are not subject to these requirements, however any environmental review of a facility to which the public is invited would be remiss to not address construction practices that provide for public safety.


On land subject to State of California regulation, the Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act applies to minimize risk from seismic activity. This requires applications for development permits within a delineated earthquake fault zone to be accompanied by a geologic report prepared by a geologist registered in the State of California, which is directed to the problem of potential surface fault displacement through the project site, unless such report is waived pursuant to Section 2623 of the Act. The required report shall be based on a geologic investigation designed to identify the location, geological age, and nature of faulting that may have affected the project site in the past and may affect the project site in the future (Hart & Bryant, 1997).
Impact Analysis of Alternatives:

Existing Casino site, continuation or expansion: The existing Black Bart Casino is on Pinole gravelly loam soil, considered by USDA (1991) suited to development. The limitations of slope and the hazard of erosion were addressed during the design and construction of the existing casino, and there is little evidence of erosion, subsidence, liquefaction or collapse from the moderate shrink-swell potential of the soil. New construction could change the potential for erosion or landsliding unless mitigation and best management practices are followed. In the event of an earthquake and closure of access roads, the public and Tribal community would have difficulty leaving the site under the present conditions.


Proposed Relocation/Expansion: The proposed area is in the Casabonne-Wohly loam soils, with slopes ranging from nearly flat to 30 to 50 percent. The potential for runoff is rapid, and the hazard of water erosion is high. There is a high potential for landsliding, either from seismic activity, erosion, or slumping. In the case of an earthquake, access roads could be cut off, however with improved access there would be the likelihood of alternate routes and shorter response time. The geotechnical report contains specifications for the required pad and slope stabilization for the proposed building, access, and parking lot areas.
Mitigation Measures

The following mitigation measures will reduce impacts related to soil/geological conditions:



  • Building design to withstand the maximum credible ground acceleration without collapse.

  • Incorporate design considerations into the project, such as specialized foundation treatments, specialized cut slope and fill slope design, mechanically reinforced embankments, reinforcing geotextile fabrics, stabilization trenches, catchment areas, and specialized subsurface drainage techniques.

  • Project design to include specific slope ratios, special foundation treatments, and other engineering solutions to prevent landsliding

  • Revegetation of cut and fill and cleared areas with native plants and/or erosion-resistant vegetation.

WATER RESOURCES and HYDROLOGY


Projects can affect water resources through direct use of water or impacts on nearby streams or bodies of water. Considerations include the source and water supply, wastewater management, and impacts on nearby water resources. Any expansion of the existing casino would require an additional water supply and management of wastewater in the capacity of about 4-6 times that of the present facility. An expansion project would have an impact on water quality if it resulted in an impairment of a designated beneficial use. Existing and potential beneficial uses for the surface waters in the vicinity of the project include:

Municipal, Industrial or Agricultural Supplies

Water Recreation

Spawning, Reproduction, Early Development (fish)

Freshwater Habitat

Rare, Threatened, or Endangered Species Habitat

Groundwater Recharge

When a project can affect resources off-site and off Tribal lands, it needs to address more than Tribal resources. The project would also have a significant impact if it violated any water quality standards or waste discharge requirements under State or Federal laws, regulations, or permits.


Regulatory Considerations – Water Resources

Clean Water Act: The federal Clean Water Act (CWA) addresses issues regarding water pollution control. The objective of the CWA is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), together with the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, is responsible for administering the CWA.


Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA): Under the ESA, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is responsible for protection of non-marine plant and animal species that are listed as threatened or endangered and for identifying candidate species for such listing. This will be discussed in the Endangered Species section, following.
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES): The NPDES program was established by US EPA to regulate storm water runoff and is implemented by the states. NPDES permits can be issued for municipal or industrial wastewater discharges, or for storm water discharges. There are three categories of storm water permits: construction (over one acre of disturbance), municipal, and industrial. As part of this permit, a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan will be prepared. The Plan requires that pollution sources be identified and storm water pollution prevention measures implemented to reduce pollutants in storm water discharges from construction sites both during and after construction (See Appendix, CWA - Construction in Indian Country).
Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act: California’s Porter-Cologne Act, enacted in 1969, established a comprehensive statewide system for water pollution control. This system operates at three jurisdictional levels: the State Water Resources Control Board, 9 Regional Water Quality Control Boards, and local governments. The North Coast Regional Water Control Board (NCRWB) is responsible for establishing the water quality standards required by the CWA, and regulating discharges to ensure that the standards are met.
Regulatory Considerations – Water Supply and Storage

On reservaton land there are few regulations on drilling of wells, water storage, and construction of reservoirs. With Federal funding, environmental review under NEPA would be performed by the lead agency providing the funding. The Tribe is the lead and funding entity, and their Environmental Protection Ordinance #11-14-00-02, requires that they assess the environmental impacts of any significant excavation, construction or development associated with the Black Bart Casino or any new gaming facility. In addition, the development of a Tribal drinking water supply would require compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Through the Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) program, the US EPA implements and enforces drinking water standards to protect public health. The existing or expanded casino would be considered a Non-Transient Non-Community Water System (NTNCWS). This is a Public Water System that regularly supplies water to at least 25 of the same people at least six months per year, but not to their residences. Examples include schools and factories that have their own water supplies. Whether the source is a well or a reservoir, the Tribe would need to develop a water treatment system with a certified operator.


Regulatory Considerations – Wastewater Management

As authorized by the Clean Water Act, the NPDES permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. All industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters. In most cases, the NPDES permit program is administered by authorized states. The North Coast Regional Water Control Board is responsible for establishing the water quality standards required by the CWA, and regulating discharges to ensure that the standards are met.


Properly managed municipal facilities, such as publicly owned treatment works (POTWs), and wastewater systems, such as separate and combined storm sewer systems, play an important role in protecting community health and local water quality. The City of Willits owns and operates the local POTW (NPDES Permit # CA0023060), located northeast of Willits adjacent to Broaddus and Baechtel Creeks, tributaries to Outlet Creek and the Eel River.
Impact Analysis of Alternatives, Water Resources: (See Water Calculations, Appendix)

Existing Casino site, continuation or expansion: The existing casino and parking area is about 65,500 sq. ft, which would deliver about 1,631,500 gallons (5.0 acre feet) runoff. Expanding the casino at this site would increase the runoff from buildings and parking 4-6 times. Runoff from this site leaves the SVR land about 600 feet away, flowing northeast about 3,000 feet to Baechtel Creek. Originally some of this water would infiltrate on site; with development all water would run off site. Pollutants from under trash dumpsters and oil spilled on parking lots would enter the drainages and receive some biological treatment and dilution before reaching Baechtel Creek. Expansion would increase potential pollutants 4-6 times as much.


Proposed Relocation/Expansion: The proposed casino and parking area would be about 315,000 sq. ft, which would deliver about 7,846,146 gallons (24.1 ac ft) runoff. Runoff from this site would leave the SVR land, flowing north to northeast, meandering through the industrial area, and reaching Broaddaus Creek, about 2,500 feet away. With the proposed development all water would run off site. Pollutants from under trash dumpsters and oil spilled on parking lots would enter the drainages and receive some biological treatment and dilution (and pick up other materials) before reaching Broaddaus Creek. A significant amount of water (more than required for operation of the facility), much of which formerly infiltrated, would run off site with low but possibly significant levels of pollution.
Mitigation Measures, Water Resources:

  • Ensure downstream channel stability during the design phase of the project, to ensure that all finished slopes achieve stabilization, even under severe conditions.

  • Design should incorporate catchment basins and vegetation filters into drainage and stormwater routing to capture water for reuse or treatment through natural biological processes before flowing off site.

  • The contractor shall prepare and implement a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), and other project specific provisions that reduce pollutants in storm water discharges from construction sites both during and after construction (See Appendix, CWA - Construction in Indian Country).

  • Contractor shall use a combination of Best Management Practices (BMPs) during construction, to stabilize the disturbed soil, minimize erosion, and capture and remove sediment suspended in runoff before it leaves the site.

  • Construction contracts shall prohibit the contractor from discharging oils, greases, chemicals, or spillage of concrete and grout into receiving waters.

  • Where vegetation is removed or severely trimmed back, plant replacement vegetation

  • Following the construction process, stabilize disturbed areas through permanent re-vegetation or other means.

  • Install silt capture ponds and vegetation strips to reduce silt delivery and pollutants from parking lot to the downstream waterways.


Impact Analysis of Alternatives, Water Supply and Storage:

Existing Casino site, continuation or expansion: The water use of the existing casino averages 41,215 gallons/month. Expanding on the present site would require about 6-7 times the water use with the present plumbing and facilities. If water sense technology (WaterSense, 2007) were used/retrofitted; this could be reduced to about 3.6 times more water (150,000 gallons/month). Development of wells or water sources would be required to supply this quantity. A 7 ac-ft reservoir would be required to meet the minimum water demand, including a reserve for fire protection.


Proposed Relocation/Expansion: Expanding on the present site would require about 6-7 times the water use with the present plumbing and facilities. If water sense technology were used/retrofitted; this could be reduced to about 3.6 times more water (150,000 gallons/month). Development of wells or water sources would be required to supply this quantity. A 7 ac-ft reservoir would be required to meet the minimum water demand, including a reserve for fire protection.
Mitigation Measures, Water Supply and Storage:

  • Perform a hydrologic study to assess potential water supplies and incorporate the best alternative into final project planning

  • For wells, obtain water capacity and quality tests and an engineered public water system and infrastructure according to the US EPA Safe Drinking Water Act.

  • For water storage facilities, obtain any required permits and authorizations, depending whether upon Tribal, State, County, or city jurisdiction.


Impact Analysis of Alternatives, Wastewater Management:

Existing Casino site, continuation or expansion: The wastewater delivery of the existing casino averages about 30,000 gallons/month. Expanding on the present site would require about 6-7 times the water use with the present plumbing and facilities. If Water Sense technology were used and retrofitted; this could be reduced to about 3.6 times more water (108,000 gallons/month) delivered to the wastewater system. The City of Willits, the present provider, has indicated that with some modifications to the present infrastructure the municipal system could accommodate expansion.


Proposed Relocation/Expansion: Expanding on the proposed site would require about 6-7 times the water use with the present plumbing and facilities. If Water Sense technology were used and retrofitted; this could be reduced to about 108,000 gallons/month delivered to the wastewater system. The City of Willits, the present provider, has indicated that with some modifications to the present infrastructure the municipal system could accommodate expansion.
Mitigation Measures, Wastewater Management:

  • Obtain an agreement for wastewater services from the City of Willits

  • Engineer infrastructure to fit the needs of the proposed project and municipal system

  • Utilize Water Sense technologies to minimize water use and delivery to the system

  • Initiate an ongoing educational outreach program for restaurant and casino personnel and employees in use of biodegradable and least-toxic cleaning and maintenance products

PLANT COMMUNITIES


The plant communities of the SVR - Willits represent vegetation types characteristic of the North Coast Range. There are three main plant communities on the project site: oak woodland, Douglas fir forest, and riparian. Expansion of the existing casino at either site would involve land clearing and grubbing, removal of trees and other vegetation, and replacement for landscaping and protection of water resources. Three invasive exotic plants, the French broom (Genista monspessulana), Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius, and yellow star-thistle (Centaurea solstitialis) are found throughout the Rancheria, and are considered noxious weeds by the US Department of Food and Agriculture (USDA). Limiting spread of these species would help with impacts to the plant and animal communities, fire safety practices and fuels management.
Regulatory Considerations:

Executive Order 13112 Control of Invasive Species (1999) requires any Federal agency action to combat the introduction or spread of invasive species in the United States. The program is managed by thirteen Federal departments and agencies. The USDA classifies undesirable plants and compiles State and Federal lists. While this project is funded by the SVR Tribe, adoption of BMPs that prevent the spread of invasive plants could improve the aesthetics of the landscape plan, effects on the viewshed, and fire/fuels management.


Senate Concurrent Resolution 17 – Oak Tree Protection: The California Senate passed a resolution effective September 1, 1990 protecting heritage oak stands. The Resolution states that state agencies shall “assess and determine the effects of their land use decisions or actions within any oak woodland. Oak woodland is defined as “a five-acre circular area containing five or more trees per acre of blue, Englemann, valley or coast live oak” and state agencies should “preserve and protect native oak woodlands to the maximum extent feasible…or provide for replacement plantings.”
Recommended Best Management Practices:

Revegetation measures for all disturbed soils should include the use of native species, soil amendments, and “weed free” mulch, to reduce the risk of introducing noxious weeds. The contract specifications for permanent erosion control should include the use of California native forb and grass species, from the same elevation and geographic area as the project site. Soils should be amended with compost containing long-term soil nutrients and slow-release organic fertilizers to provide nutrients over the first year. Mulches used on the project should be from source materials that will not introduce exotic species. No wheat or barley straw should be used on the project because of the potential to introduce weeds. Rice straw may be used in non wetland areas. When possible, design parking lots and landscapes around existing trees, keeping paving and construction outside of tree canopy drip lines. Make maximum use of existing trees for shading, landscaping, and habitat when feasible. Conserve older trees and incorporate into landscape installation and maintenance plans when feasible. (See Appendix, Map 4 for location of older growth trees).


To insure conservation of large trees not directly within the construction area, they should be clearly marked on plot maps and plans. Land disturbance and storage of equipment should not take place within the dripline of trees. Fencing around the dripline of trees to be conserved is recommended, with signs: TREE PROTECTION ZONE - This Fence Shall Not be Removed. (For more guidelines, see LA Tree Protection Manual, Appendix (CoLA, 2004). Parking lots and roads can be designed around larger trees to provide shade and incorporate them into landscape plans.
RARE OR ENDANGERED SPECIES
Animals

The project site has habitat that could support two endangered species: the Northern spotted owl and the American peregrine falcon. The existing site is in the oak woodland; the proposed relocation site is on the eastern edge of the Douglas fir forest where it transitions to oak woodland.


Fish

The proposed project could impact off-site critical habitat of the N. California coho salmon, Central California Coast steelhead, N. California steelhead, and California coastal Chinook salmon. These special-status fish use streams in the area for migration, spawning, and rearing. The Chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead trout are Federally listed as threatened species; the coho is listed as endangered in California. The fish enter the area via the Eel River and Outlet Creek and spawn in creeks that have bottoms consisting of clean loose gravel. They remain in streams for up to a year before migrating to the ocean. Spawning generally occurs from December through March. Streams used by steelhead and salmon for spawning include the upper reaches of Broaddus and Baechtel Creeks, between 2000 and 4000 feet from the existing and proposed casino sites and parking areas. Water only flows off site in the unnamed creeks during the rainy season. Potential impacts to fish include: increase in sediments entering streams during storm events from soil disturbance (during construction and from subsequent landscape practices), spillage of pollutants during construction or from normal casino operations, and washing of oils and pollutants from parking areas.

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