Utah Admin. Code R645-301-300 - Biology

Current through Bulletin No. 2021-18, September 15, 2021

310. Introduction. Each permit application will include descriptions of the:
311. Vegetative, fish, and wildlife resources of the permit area and adjacent areas as described under R645-301-320;
312. Potential impacts to vegetative, fish and wildlife resources and methods proposed to minimize these impacts during coal mining and reclamation operations as described under R645-301-330 and R645-301-340; and
313. Proposed reclamation designed to restore or enhance vegetative, fish, and wildlife resources to a condition suitable for the designated postmining land use as described under R645-301-340.
320. Environmental Description.
321. Vegetation Information. The permit application will contain descriptions as follows:
321.100. If required by the Division, plant communities within the proposed permit area and any reference area for SURFACE COAL MINING AND RECLAMATION ACTIVITIES and areas affected by surface operations incident to an underground mine for UNDERGROUND COAL MINING AND RECLAMATION ACTIVITIES. This description will include information adequate to predict the potential for reestablishing vegetation; and
321.200. The productivity of the land before mining within the proposed permit area for SURFACE COAL MINING AND RECLAMATION ACTIVITIES and areas affected by surface operations incident to an underground mine for UNDERGROUND COAL MINING AND RECLAMATION ACTIVITIES, expressed as average yield of food, fiber, forage, or wood products from such lands obtained under high levels of management. The productivity will be determined by yield data or estimates for similar sites based on current data from the U. S. Department of Agriculture, state agricultural universities, or appropriate state natural resource or agricultural agencies.
322. Fish and Wildlife Information. Each application will include fish and wildlife resource information for the permit area and adjacent areas.
322.100. The scope and level of detail for such information will be determined by the Division in consultation with state and federal agencies with responsibilities for fish and wildlife and will be sufficient to design the protection and enhancement plan required under R645-301-333.
322.200. Site-specific resource information necessary to address the respective species or habitats will be required when the permit area or adjacent area is likely to include:
322.210. Listed or proposed endangered or threatened species of plants or animals or their critical habitats listed by the Secretary under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended ( 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), or those species or habitats protected by similar state statutes;
322.220. Habitats of unusually high value for fish and wildlife such as important streams, wetlands, riparian areas, cliffs supporting raptors, areas offering special shelter or protection, migration routes, or reproduction and wintering areas; or
322.230. Other species or habitats identified through agency consultation as requiring special protection under state or federal law.
322.300. Fish and Wildlife Service review. Upon request, the Division will provide the resource information required under R645-301-322 and the protection and enhancement plan required under R645-301-333 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional or Field Office for their review. This information will be provided within 10 days of receipt of the request from the Service.
323. Maps and Aerial Photographs. Maps or aerial photographs of the permit area and adjacent areas will be provided which delineate:
323.100. The location and boundary of any proposed reference area for determining the success of revegetation;
323.200. Elevations and locations of monitoring stations used to gather data for fish and wildlife, and any special habitat features;
323.300. Each facility to be used to protect and enhance fish and wildlife and related environmental values; and
323.400. If required, each vegetative type and plant community, including sample locations. Sufficient adjacent areas will be included to allow evaluation of vegetation as important habitat for fish and wildlife for those species identified under R645-301-322.
330. Operation Plan. Each application will contain a plan for protection of vegetation, fish, and wildlife resources throughout the life of the mine. The plan will provide:
331. A description of the measures taken to disturb the smallest practicable area at any one time and through prompt establishment and maintenance of vegetation for interim stabilization of disturbed areas to minimize surface erosion. This may include part or all of the plan for final revegetation as described in R645-301-341.100 and R645-301-341.200;
332. For the purposes of UNDERGROUND COAL MINING AND RECLAMATION ACTIVITIES a description of the anticipated impacts of subsidence on renewable resource lands identified in R645-301-320, and how such impact will be mitigated;
333. A description of how, to the extent possible, using the best technology currently available, the operator will minimize disturbances and adverse impacts to fish and wildlife and related environmental values during coal mining and reclamation operations, including compliance with the Endangered Species Act of 1973 during coal mining and reclamation operations, including the location and operation of haul and access roads and support facilities so as to avoid or minimize impacts on important fish and wildlife species or other species protected by state or federal law; and how enhancement of these resources will be achieved, where practicable. This Description will:
333.100. Be consistent with the requirements of R645-301-358;
333.200. Apply, at a minimum, to species and habitats identified under R645-301-322; and
333.300. Include protective measures that will be used during the active mining phase of operation. Such measures may include the establishment of buffer zones, the selective location and special design of haul roads and powerlines, and the monitoring of surface water quality and quantity.
340. Reclamation Plan.
341. Revegetation. Each application will contain a reclamation plan for final revegetation of all lands disturbed by coal mining and reclamation operations, except water areas and the surface of roads approved as part of the postmining land use, as required in R645-301-353 through R645-301-357, showing how the applicant will comply with the biological protection performance standards of the State Program. The plan will include, at a minimum:
341.100. A detailed schedule and timetable for the completion of each major step in the revegetation plan;
341.200. Descriptions of the following:
341.210. Species and amounts per acre of seeds and/or seedlings to be used. If fish and wildlife habitat will be a postmining land use, the criteria of R645-301-342.300 apply.
341.220. Methods to be used in planting and seeding;
341.230. Mulching techniques, including type of mulch and rate of application;
341.240. Irrigation, if appropriate, and pest and disease control measures, if any; and
341.250. Measures proposed to be used to determine the success of revegetation as required in R645-301-356.
341.300. The Division may require greenhouse studies, field trials, or equivalent methods of testing proposed or potential revegetation materials and methods to demonstrate that revegetation is feasible pursuant to R645-300-133.710.
342. Fish and Wildlife. Each application will contain a fish and wildlife plan for the reclamation and postmining phase of operation consistent with R645-301-330, the performance standards of R645-301-358 and include the following:
342.100. Enhancement measures that will be used during the reclamation and postmining phase of operation to develop aquatic and terrestrial habitat. Such measures may include restoration of streams and other wetlands, retention of ponds and impoundments, establishment of vegetation for wildlife food and cover, and the replacement of perches and nest boxes. Where the plan does not include enhancement measures, a statement will be given explaining why enhancement is not practicable.
342.200. Where fish and wildlife habitat is to be a postmining land use, the plant species to be used on reclaimed areas will be selected on the basis of the following criteria:
342.210. Their proven nutritional value for fish or wildlife;
342.220. Their use as cover for fish or wildlife; and
342.230. Their ability to support and enhance fish or wildlife habitat after the release of performance bonds. The selected plants will be grouped and distributed in a manner which optimizes edge effect, cover, and other benefits to fish and wildlife.
342.300. Where cropland is to be the postmining land use, and where appropriate for wildlife- and crop-management practices, the operator will intersperse the fields with trees, hedges, or fence rows throughout the harvested area to break up large blocks of monoculture and to diversify habitat types for birds and other animals.
342.400. Where residential, public service, or industrial uses are to be the postmining land use, and where consistent with the approved postmining land use, the operator will intersperse reclaimed lands with greenbelts utilizing species of grass, shrubs, and trees useful as food and cover for wildlife.
350. Performance Standards.
351. General Requirements. All coal mining and reclamation operations will be carried out according to plans provided under R645-301-330 through R645-301-340.
352. Contemporaneous Reclamation. Revegetation on all land that is disturbed by coal mining and reclamation operations, will occur as contemporaneously as practicable with mining operations, except when such mining operations are conducted in accordance with a variance for combined SURFACE and UNDERGROUND COAL MINING AND RECLAMATION ACTIVITIES issued under R645-302-280. The Division may establish schedules that define contemporaneous reclamation.
353. Revegetation: General Requirements. The permittee will establish on regraded areas and on all other disturbed areas, except water areas and surface areas of roads that are approved as part of the postmining land use, a vegetative cover that is in accordance with the approved permit and reclamation plan.
353.100. The vegetative cover will be:
353.110. Diverse, effective, and permanent;
353.120. Comprised of species native to the area, or of introduced species where desirable and necessary to achieve the approved postmining land use and approved by the Division;
353.130. At least equal in extent of cover to the natural vegetation of the area; and
353.140. Capable of stabilizing the soil surface from erosion.
353.200. The reestablished plant species will:
353.210. Be compatible with the approved postmining land use;
353.220. Have the same seasonal characteristics of growth as the original vegetation;
353.230. Be capable of self-regeneration and plant succession;
353.240. Be compatible with the plant and animal species of the area; and
353.250. Meet the requirements of applicable Utah and federal seed, poisonous and noxious plant; and introduced species laws or regulations.
353.300. The Division may grant exception to the requirements of R645-301-353.220 and R645-301-353.230 when the species are necessary to achieve a quick-growing, temporary, stabilizing cover, and measures to establish permanent vegetation are included in the approved permit and reclamation plan.
353.400. When the approved postmining land use is cropland, the Division may grant exceptions to the requirements of R645-301-353.110, R645-301-353.130, R645-301-353.220 and R645-301-353.230. The requirements of R645-302-317 apply to areas identified as prime farmland.
354. Revegetation: Timing. Disturbed areas will be planted during the first normal period for favorable planting conditions after replacement of the plant-growth medium. The normal period for favorable planting is that planting time generally accepted locally for the type of plant materials selected.
355. Revegetation: Mulching and Other Soil Stabilizing Practices. Suitable mulch and other soil stabilizing practices will be used on all areas that have been regraded and covered by topsoil or topsoil substitutes. The Division may waive this requirement if seasonal, soil, or slope factors result in a condition where mulch and other soil stabilizing practices are not necessary to control erosion and to promptly establish an effective vegetative cover.
356. Revegetation: Standards for Success.
356.100. Success of revegetation will be judged on the effectiveness of the vegetation for the approved postmining land use, the extent of cover compared to the extent of cover of the reference area or other approved success standard, and the general requirements of R645-301-353.
356.110. Standards for success, statistically valid sampling techniques for measuring success, and approved methods are identified in the Division's "Vegetation Information Guidelines, Appendix A."
356.120. Standards for success will include criteria representative of unmined lands in the area being reclaimed to evaluate the appropriate vegetation parameters of ground cover, production, or stocking. Ground cover, production, or stocking will be considered equal to the approved success standard when they are not less than 90 percent of the success standard. The sampling techniques for measuring success will use a 90-percent statistical confidence interval (i.e., one-sided test with a 0.10 alpha error).
356.200. Standards for success will be applied in accordance with the approved postmining land use and, at a minimum, the following conditions:
356.210. For areas developed for use as grazing land or pasture land, the ground cover and production of living plants on the revegetated area will be at least equal to that of a reference area or such other success standards approved by the Division.
356.220. For areas developed for use as cropland, crop production on the revegetated area will be at least equal to that of a reference area or such other success standards approved by the Division. The requirements of R645-302-310 through R645-302-317 apply to areas identified as prime farmland.
356.230. For areas to be developed for fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, shelter belts, or forest products, success of vegetation will be determined on the basis of tree and shrub stocking and vegetative ground cover. Such parameters are described as follows:
356.231. Minimum stocking and planting arrangements will be specified by the Division on the basis of local and regional conditions and after consultation with and approval by Utah agencies responsible for the administration of forestry and wildlife programs. Consultation and approval will be on a permit specific basis and will be performed in accordance with the "Vegetation Information Guidelines" of the division.
356.232. Trees and shrubs that will be used in determining the success of stocking and the adequacy of plant arrangement will have utility for the approved postmining land use. At the time of bond release, such trees and shrubs will be healthy, and at least 80 percent will have been in place for at least 60 percent of the applicable minimum period of responsibility. No trees and shrubs in place for less than two growing seasons will be counted in determining stocking adequacy.
356.233. Vegetative ground cover will not be less than that required to achieve the approved postmining land use.
356.240. For areas to be developed for industrial, commercial, or residential use less than two years after regrading is completed, the vegetative ground cover will not be less than that required to control erosion.
356.250. For areas previously disturbed by mining that were not reclaimed to the requirements of R645-200 through R645-203 and R645-301 through R645-302 and that are remined or otherwise redisturbed by coal mining and reclamation operations, at a minimum, the vegetative ground cover will be not less than the ground cover existing before redisturbance and will be adequate to control erosion.
356.300. Siltation structures will be maintained until removal is authorized by the Division and the disturbed area has been stabilized and revegetated. In no case will the structure be removed sooner than two years after the last augmented seeding.
356.400. When a siltation structure is removed, the land on which the siltation structure was located will be revegetated in accordance with the reclamation plan and R645-301-353 through R645-301-357.
357. Revegetation: Extended Responsibility Period.
357.100. The period of extended responsibility for successful vegetation will begin after the last year of augmented seeding, fertilization, irrigation, or other work, excluding husbandry practices that are approved by the Division in accordance with paragraph R645-301-357.300.
357.200. Vegetation parameters identified in R645-301-356.200 will equal or exceed the approved success standard during the growing seasons for the last two years of the responsibility period. The period of extended responsibility will continue for five or ten years based on precipitation data reported pursuant to R645-301-724.411, as follows:
357.210. In areas of more than 26.0 inches average annual precipitation, the period of responsibility will continue for a period of not less than five full years.
357.220. In areas of 26.0 inches or less average annual precipitation, the period of responsibility will continue for a period of not less than ten full years.
357.300. Husbandry Practices - General Information
357.301. The Division may approve certain selective husbandry practices without lengthening the extended responsibility period. Practices that may be approved are identified in R645-301-357.310 through R645-301-357.365. The operator may propose to use additional practices, but they would need to be approved as part of the Utah Program in accordance with 30 CFR 732.17. Any practices used will first be incorporated into the mining and reclamation plan and approved in writing by the Division. Approved practices are normal conservation practices for unmined lands within the region which have land uses similar to the approved postmining land use of the disturbed area. Approved practices may continue as part of the postmining land use, but discontinuance of the practices after the end of the bond liability period will not jeopardize permanent revegetation success. Augmented seeding, fertilization, or irrigation will not be approved without extending the period of responsibility for revegetation success and bond liability for the areas affected by said activities and in accordance with R645-301-820.330.
357.302. The Permittee will demonstrate that husbandry practices proposed for a reclaimed area are not necessitated by inadequate grading practices, adverse soil conditions, or poor reclamation procedures.
357.303. The Division will consider the entire area that is bonded within the same increment, as defined in R645-301-820.110, when calculating the extent of area that may be treated by husbandry practices.
357.304. If it is necessary to seed or plant in excess of the limits set forth under R645-301-357.300, the Division may allow a separate extended responsibility period for these reseeded or replanted areas in accordance with R645-301-820.330.
357.310. Reestablishing trees and shrubs
357.311. Trees or shrubs may be replanted or reseeded at a rate of up to a cumulative total of 20% of the required stocking rate through 40% of the extended responsibility period.
357.312. If shrubs are to be established by seed in areas of established vegetation, small areas will be scalped. The number of shrubs to be counted toward the tree and shrub density standard for success from each scalped area is limited to one.
357.320. Weed Control and Associated Revegetation. Weed control through chemical, mechanical, and biological means discussed in R645-301-357.321 through R645-301-357.323 is allowed through the entire extended responsibility period for noxious weeds and through the first 20% of the responsibility period for other weeds. Any revegetation necessitated by the following weed control methods will be performed according to the seeding and transplanting parameters set forth in R645-301-357.324.
357.321. Chemical Weed Control. Weed control through chemical means, following the current Weed Control Handbook (published annually or biannually by the Utah State University Cooperative Extension Service) and herbicide labels, is allowed.
357.322. Mechanical Weed Control. Mechanical practices that may be approved include hand roguing, grubbing and mowing.
357.323. Biological Weed Control. Selective grazing by domestic livestock is allowed. Biological control of weeds through disease, insects, or other biological weed control agents is allowed but will be approved on a case-by-case basis by the Division, and other appropriate agency or agencies which have the authority to regulate the introduction and/or use of biological control agents.
357.324. Where weed control practices damage desirable vegetation, areas treated to control weeds may be reseeded or replanted according to the following limitations. Up to a cumulative total of 15% of a reclaimed area may be reseeded or replanted during the first 20% of the extended responsibility period without restarting the responsibility period. After the first 20% of the responsibility period, no more than 3% of the reclaimed area may be reseeded in any single year without restarting the responsibility period, and no continuous reseeded area may be larger than one acre. Furthermore, no seeding is allowed after the first 60% of the responsibility period or Phase II bond release, whichever comes first. Any seeding outside these parameters is considered to be "augmentative seeding," and will restart the extended responsibility period.
357.330. Control of Other Pests.
357.331. Control of big game (deer, elk, moose, antelope) may be used only during the first 60% of the extended responsibility period or until Phase II bond release, whichever comes first. Any methods used will first be approved by the Division and, as appropriate, the land management agency and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Methods that may be used include fencing and other barriers, repellents, scaring, shooting, and trapping and relocation. Trapping and special hunts or shooting will be approved by the Division of Wildlife Resources. Other control techniques may be allowed but will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Division and by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Appendix C of the Division's "Vegetation Information Guidelines" includes a non-exhaustive list of publications containing big game control methods.
357.332. Control of small mammals and insects will be approved on a case-by-case basis by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and/or the Utah Department of Agriculture. The recommendations of these agencies will also be approved by the appropriate land management agency or agencies. Small mammal control will be allowed only during the first 60% of the extended responsibility period or until Phase II bond release, whichever comes first. Insect control will be allowed through the entire extended responsibility period if it is determined, through consultation with the Utah Department of Agriculture or Cooperative Extension Service, that a specific practice is being performed on adjacent unmined lands.
357.340. Natural Disasters and Illegal Activities Occurring After Phase II Bond Release. Where necessitated by a natural disaster, excluding climatic variation, or illegal activities, such as vandalism, not caused by any lack of planning, design, or implementation of the mining and reclamation plan on the part of the Permittee, the seeding and planting of the entire area which is significantly affected by the disaster or illegal activities will be allowed as an accepted husbandry practice and thus will not restart the extended responsibility period. Appendix C of the Division's "Vegetation Information Guidelines" references publications that show methods used to revegetate damaged land. Examples of natural disasters that may necessitate reseeding which will not restart the extended responsibility period include wildfires, earthquakes, and mass movements originating outside the disturbed area.
357.341. The extent of the area where seeding and planting will be allowed will be determined by the Division in cooperation with the Permittee.
357.342. All applicable revegetation success standards will be achieved on areas reseeded following a disaster, including R645-301-356.232 for areas with a designated postmining land use of forestry or wildlife.
357.343. Seeding and planting after natural disasters or illegal activities will only be allowed in areas where Phase II bond release has been granted.
357.350. Irrigation. The irrigation of transplanted trees and shrubs, but not of general areas, is allowed through the first 20% of the extended responsibility period. Irrigation may be by such methods as, but not limited to, drip irrigation, hand watering, or sprinkling.
357.360. Highly Erodible Area and Rill and Gully Repair. The repair of highly erodible areas and rills and gullies will not be considered an augmentative practice, and will thus not restart the extended responsibility period, if the affected area as defined in R645-301-357.363 comprises no more than 15% of the disturbed area for the first 20% of the extended responsibility period and if no continuous area to be repaired is larger than one acre.
357.361. After the first 20% of the extended responsibility period but prior to the end of the first 60% of the responsibility period or until Phase II bond release, whichever comes first, highly erodible area and rill and gully repair will be considered augmentative, and will thus restart the responsibility period, if the area to be repaired is greater than 3% of the total disturbed area or if a continuous area is larger than one acre.
357.362. The extent of the affected area will be determined by the Division in cooperation with the Permittee.
357.363. The area affected by the repair of highly erodible areas and rills and gullies is defined as any area that is reseeded as a result of the repair. Also included in the affected areas are interspacial areas of thirty feet or less between repaired rills and gullies. Highly erodible areas are those areas which cannot usually be stabilized by ordinary conservation treatments and if left untreated can cause severe erosion or sediment damage.
357.364. The repair and/or treatment of rills and gullies which result from a deficient surface water control or grading plan, as defined by the recurrence of rills and gullies, will be considered an augmentative practice and will thus restart the extended responsibility period.
357.365. The Permittee shall demonstrate by specific plans and designs the methods to be used for the treatment of highly erodible areas and rills and gullies. These will be based on a combination of treatments recommended in the Soil Conservation Service Critical Area Planting recommendations, literature recommendations including those found in Appendix C of the Division's "Vegetation Information Guidelines", and other successful practices used at other reclamation sites in the State of Utah. Any treatment practices used will be approved by the Division.
358. Protection of Fish, Wildlife, and Related Environmental Values. The operator will, to the extent possible using the best technology currently available, minimize disturbances and adverse impacts on fish, wildlife, and related environmental values and will achieve enhancement of such resources where practicable.
358.100. No coal mining and reclamation operation will be conducted which is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of endangered or threatened species listed by the Secretary or which is likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitats of such species in violation of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The operator will promptly report to the Division any state- or federally-listed endangered or threatened species within the permit area of which the operator becomes aware. Upon notification, the Division will consult with appropriate state and federal fish and wildlife agencies and, after consultation, will identify whether, and under what conditions, the operator may proceed.
358.200. No coal mining and reclamation operations will be conducted in a manner which would result in the unlawful taking of a bald or golden eagle, its nest, or any of its eggs. The operator will promptly report to the Division any golden or bald eagle nest within the permit area of which the operator becomes aware. Upon notification, the Division will consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and, after consultation, will identify whether, and under what conditions, the operator may proceed.
358.300. Nothing in the R645 Rules will authorize the taking of an endangered or threatened species or a bald or golden eagle, its nest, or any of its eggs in violation of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 or the Bald Eagle Protection Act, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 668 et seq.
358.400. The operator conducting coal mining and reclamation operations will avoid disturbances to, enhance where practicable, restore, or replace, wetlands and riparian vegetation along rivers and streams and bordering ponds and lakes. Coal mining and reclamation operations will avoid disturbances to, enhance where practicable, or restore, habitats of unusually high value for fish and wildlife.
358.500. Each operator will, to the extent possible using the best technology currently available:
358.510. Ensure that electric powerlines and other transmission facilities used for, or incidental to, coal mining and reclamation operations on the permit area are designed and constructed to minimize electrocution hazards to raptors, except where the Division determines that such requirements are unnecessary;
358.520. Design fences, overland conveyers, and other potential barriers to permit passage for large mammals, except where the Division determines that such requirements are unnecessary; and
358.530. Fence, cover, or use other appropriate methods to exclude wildlife from ponds which contain hazardous concentrations of toxic-forming materials.

Notes

Utah Admin. Code R645-301-300

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