The city organized a series of community workshops in late 2011 to develop the Waterford River Parkways Trail Design Plan and subsequently submitted and was awarded a $1,500,000 grant from the State’s Natural Resources Agency to implement the Plan. Waterford’s Tuolumne River Parkway Design Plan provides a visual and written record of the City of Waterford’s community vision for recreation, open space, education, and habitat conservation along approximately two miles of the Tuolumne River corridor, upon which the grant was based.
The overall plan, as proposed will create/expand natural trails for walking with natural materials, and non-motorized river access for a fishing/small boat (canoes, kayaks); provide amenities along the way like picnic tables and shade ramadas; remove non-native trees/plants along the stream corridor, and plant appropriate native trees/plants; provide interpretive signage, informational displays/kiosks; and create access down a steep bluff to the river with a paved parking lot and light poles at the trail head.
The project involves technical studies with biologists, arborists, and engineering for work related to creating bluff access, ADA accessible ramps, fishing docks, etc., in addition to various federal and state permits required by these actions. The plan details significant improvements to the parkway. An environmental assessment has been studied and was approved on October 2013. Based on the work, federal and state permits for construction have been sought since January 2014, and with nearly all of them, construction will begin in spring 2015 and continue through early 2016 till complete.
PURPOSE OF INITIAL STUDY
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that public agencies document and consider the potential environmental effects of any agency actions that meet CEQA’s definition of a “project;” briefly summarized, a “project” is an action that has the potential to result in direct or indirect physical changes in the environment. A project includes the agency’s direct activities as well as activities that involve public agency approvals or funding.
Provided that a project is not found to be exempt from CEQA, the first step in the agency’s evaluation of the potential environmental effects of the project is the preparation of an Initial Study. The purpose of an Initial Study is to determine whether the project would involve “significant” environmental effects as defined by CEQA and to describe feasible mitigation measures that would be necessary avoid the significant effects or reduce them to a less than significant level.
The City of Waterford has determined that the project involves the potential for significant environmental effects. The purpose of this Initial Study is to describe the proposed project, briefly describe the environmental setting of the project, discuss the potential environmental effects of the project, identifying any potentially significant environmental effects, and identify mitigation measures needed to reduce the potentially significant environmental effects of the project to a less than significant level.