FERC Issues Final EIS for the Bucks Creek Hydropower Project

FERC Issues Final EIS for the Bucks Creek Hydropower Project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for relicensing “Pacific Gas and Electric Company and City of Santa Clara, California’s (co-applicants) existing 84.8-megawatt Bucks Creek Hydropower Project No. 619.”

The application for this project was filed in December 2016 and is ” located on Bucks, Grizzly, and Milk Ranch Creeks in Plumas County, California. The project consists of the Bucks Creek and Grizzly Developments and, as proposed, would occupy 1,316 acres of federal lands within the Plumas National Forest.”

There were a number of modifications proposed for the facilities:

“Install a Howell-Bunger valve at the end of the existing low-level outlet of Bucks Lake Dam to release the minimum instream flows into Bucks Creek.

“Cap or cover Milk Ranch Conduit Diversion No. 8 to prevent diversion of water from Bear Ravine.

“Enhance existing recreation facilities, including campgrounds, picnic areas, boat launches, day use areas, and trails at Bucks Lake, Lower Bucks Lake, and Grizzly Forebay, and construct a Bucks Lake Shoreline Trail and new facilities at the Bucks Lake Boat-In Campground.”

There were four primary issues that were associated with the project:

1.            “The protection of aquatic habitats including stream flows, water temperature, and recruitment of spawning gravel and woody material;

2.            “The protection of special-status wildlife species from human disturbance;

3.            “The need for additional recreational opportunities and facilities in the project area;

4.            “The protection of cultural resources.”

There are some “temporary minor, unavoidable, adverse effects on soil, geomorphic, water quality, aquatic, and terrestrial resources. Effects on geology and soil resources could include some temporary minor continued erosion associated with project operation, the renovation of recreation facilities, and interruption of sediment transport at project reservoirs. Most of these effects would be reduced by recommended resource enhancement measures, including implementation of the following plans and measures:

·                     “Erosion Management Plan;

·                     “Gravel Augmentation Plan;

·                     “passing large woody material at Bucks Lake, Lower Bucks Lake, and Grizzly Forebay Dams;

·                     “Hazardous Materials Management Plan.”

FERC “recommended the staff alternative” in the final EIS, “which consists of measures included in the co-applicants’ proposal, as well as most of the mandatory conditions and recommendations made by state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations, and some additional measures developed by the staff.”

There may be further changes to the mitigation measures from other agencies once they have had the opportunity to review the final EIS.