Twin Pines Minerals, LLC applies for heavy mining outside ONWR photo

• This is a notice issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Herald will have more information in next week’s edition.

The Savannah District has received an application for a Department of the Army permit, pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C § 1344), as follows:

Application Number: SAS-2018-00554 Applicant: Steven R. Ingle, Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, 2100 Southbridge Parkway, Birmingham, Alabama 35209

Agents: TTL, Incorporated, 2743-B Gunter Park Drive West, Montgomery, Alabama 36109

Location of Proposed Work: The 2,414 acre site is located North of Georgia Highway 94, West of Georgia Highway 23, and East of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Saint George, Charlton County, Georgia (Latitude 30.5214, Longitude -82.1144). 

Description of Work Subject to the Jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: The applicant is proposing to operate a heavy mineral sand mining facility on approximately 12,000 acres comprised of six (6) different tracts of land. The first mining phase is the currently proposed project area of 2,414 acres which includes portions of the Keystone, Adirondack, and TIAA tracts. The area will be mined in phases. Each phase will be mined at approximately 25-40 acres per month and backfilled and graded within approximately 30 days following excavation. Planting will occur during the appropriate planting season. The depth of mining across the property will vary based on the resource but will average 50 feet below land surface, with the exception of the TIAA property, where it will be mined 25 feet below land surface. Impacts to aquatic resources for Phase I of the project as stated by the applicant are: Temporary impacts to 522-acres of wetlands and 2,454 linear feet of tributaries, and permanent impacts to 65 acres of wetlands and 4,658 linear feet of tributaries. Permanent impacts will result from construction of infrastructure for the mining operation as shown on the enclosed figure entitled “Figure 5: Proposed Site Layout Map”. Temporary impacts are proposed for the mined area and include excavation of the draglines and backfill of the processed material.

BACKGROUND

This project was presented at the Savannah District Interagency Review Team (IRT) meeting on August 7, 2018 as a pre-application consultation. Written comments were received by this office from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in response to the pre-application meeting and documents provided by the applicant to these agencies.

This office issued an Aquatic Resource Delineation Concurrence letter on December 18, 2018 for the Loncala and Keystone tracts. The Loncala tract is 1,012-acres and contains 405.11 acres of wetland and 3,020 linear feet of tributary. The Keystone tract is 1,034-acres and contains 544 acres of wetland and 297 linear feet of tributary.

This Joint Public Notice announces a request for authorizations from both the Corps and the State of Georgia. The applicant’s proposed work may also require local governmental approval.

STATE OF GEORGIA

Water Quality Certification: The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, intends to certify this project at the end of 30 days in accordance with the provisions of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which is required for a Federal Permit to conduct activity in, on, or adjacent to the waters of the State of Georgia. 

Copies of the application and supporting documents relative to a specific application will be available for review and copying at the office of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, Water Protection Branch, Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30334, during regular office hours. A copier machine is available for public use at a charge of 25 cents per page.

Any person who desires to comment, object, or request a public hearing relative to State Water Quality Certification must do so within 30 days of the State’s receipt of application in writing and state the reasons or basis of objections or request for a hearing. The application can be reviewed in the Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Branch, Albany Field Office, 1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia 31707.

State-owned Property and Resources: The applicant may also require assent from the State of Georgia, which may be in the form of a license, easement, lease, permit or other appropriate instrument.

U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS

The Savannah District must consider the purpose and the impacts of the applicant’s proposed work, prior to a decision on issuance of a Department of the Army permit. Cultural Resources Assessment: In compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and amendments thereto, an analysis for archaeological and historic resources was conducted. Terra Xplorations conducted a Phase I cultural resources survey for the Keystone, Adirondack, and TIAA tracts and summarized findings in three separate reports. These reports will be coordinated with the State Historic Preservation Office.

The Corps has NOT made a determination of no effect , no adverse effect, or adverse effect to archaeological or historical resources listed or eligible for listing in the NRHP. Endangered Species: Threatened and Endangered species surveys were conducted for the project area, and consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife service will be required. The application states that the gopher tortoise and gopher frog will be impacted by the project due to construction of facilities and mining activities.

Pursuant to Section 7(c) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq.), we request information from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service; or, any other interested party, on whether any species listed or proposed for listing may be present in the area and the potential effects this project may have on those species.

Public Interest Review: 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, flood plain 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.

Consideration of Public Comments: The Corps is soliciting comments from the public; federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Native American 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 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.

Application of Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines: The proposed activity involves the discharge of dredged or fill material into the waters of the United States. The Savannah District’s evaluation of the impact of the activity on the public interest will include application of the guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, under the authority of Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act.

Public Hearing: Any person may request, in writing, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a public hearing be held to consider this application for a Department of the Army permit. Requests for public hearings shall state, with particularity, the reasons for requesting a public hearing. The decision whether to hold a public hearing is at the discretion of the District Engineer, or his designated appointee, based on the need for additional substantial  information necessary in evaluating the proposed project.

Comment Period: Anyone wishing to comment on this application for a Department of the Army permit should submit comments in writing to the Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, Attention: Ms. Holly Ross, 1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia, 31707, or by email to holly.a.ross@usace.army.mil, no later than 30 days from the date of this notice. Please refer to the applicant’s name and the application number in your comments.

If you have any further questions concerning this matter, please contact Ms. Holly Ross, Project Manager, Albany Field Office at 648-422-2727 or via email at holly.a.ross@usace.army.mil.