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Mitigation & Monitoring

The extraction, processing, reclamation, mitigation, and other aspects of aggregate mining operations will be monitored on an on-going basis by the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department (PRMD) and qualified personnel under their direction and supervision. The monitoring activities undertaken shall include but not be limited to the following:

  1. Field inspections, interviews, photographs, mapping, surveys, and measurements.
  2. Written reports by operators or their representatives.
  3. Collection and analysis of data from operators and other agencies.
  4. Investigation and documentation of complaints.
  5. Abatement and punishment of violations.
  6. Calculation and collection of fees and payments.
  7. Reports to the Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors, and other agencies.
  8. Review and revision of the ARM Plan and related regulations.
  9. Development and implementation of mitigation procedures and guidelines.
  10. Supervision, administration, and clerical support related to above activities.

Compliance with permit conditions, operation standards, and reclamation plans will be monitored during periodic site inspections of each mining operation by PRMD staff. Each active quarry operation will be inspected at least once every 90 days during the mining season. Each active instream and terrace operation will be inspected at least once every 60 days during the mining season.

Each operator shall submit annual reports to the County on the extraction, importation, recycling, production, and distribution of aggregate materials for each operation or site. The report will be made on a form supplied by the County. These reports are in addition to and separate from any reports required by CDMG or any other agency. Reports and data on individual operations will be considered proprietary and confidential unless such confidentiality is waived by the operator.

Procedures to secure compliance with permit requirements, mining standards, and reclamation standards are stated in Chapters 26 and 26A of the County Code. Chapter 26 contains procedures for revocation or modification of use permits and abatement of nuisances, and provides the authority for stop-work orders, citations, and penalties for violations. The permittees, owners, and operators of aggregate mining operations and the responsible parties stated in approved reclamation plans shall be responsible for observation and compliance with the requirements of the ARM Plan and the County Code. Whenever PRMD staff becomes aware that responsible parties are not complying with these requirements or conditions of approval, staff shall notify the responsible parties. Where compliance has not been secured within 30 days, staff shall issue citations and/or arrange for correction of deficiencies by a third party and to charge the total costs of such correction to the responsible parties and/or their financial assurances. Upon making a finding of public danger or emergency or serious threat to life and property, PRMD staff shall require the operator to stop work until such conditions no longer exist. The amounts of citations and fines imposed for non-compliance should reflect the amounts of aggregate and profit gained from the violation and/or the significance of the related environmental impacts.

By July 1 of each year, the PRMD will provide an Annual Report to the entire Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors on problems and successes in implementing the ARM Plan, production and exporting for the previous year, possible future changes in demand and production, the results of the previous year's monitoring program, status of the mitigation funds and any proposed fee changes and fund expenditures, status of efforts to develop additional quarry sites and aggregate sources outside Sonoma County, status of terrace reclamation plans, and significant enforcement problems and needs. By May 1, 1998 and every two years thereafter, the PRMD, with the assistance of the Sonoma County Water Agency, will prepare a report on the estimated sediment replenishment for the Russian River incorporating the results of the on-going monitoring program. Monitoring of instream and terrace operations will also include aerial photographs, biological monitoring, and groundwater monitoring as described as operating standards in sections 7.4.2, 7.5.2, and 7.6.2 above.

The costs of the monitoring activities shall be funded by aggregate operations through a system of annual fees charged for each fiscal year. The total annual costs billed to all operations for the monitoring activities described above shall not exceed actual costs for any fiscal year. The aggregate monitoring program shall include an administrative system which, to the maximum extent possible, records all monitoring activities related to each mining and reclamation site and charges fees to operators to completely reimburse those costs. All monitoring costs which are not directly attributable to specific sites, such as the annual report, revisions to the ARM Plan and related regulations, and general administration of the monitoring program, shall be allocated and billed to operators in proportion to the site-specific costs incurred and billed.

Litigation Programs and Fees: In addition to and separate from the monitoring activities and fees presented above, aggregate operations are subject to two types of fees for mitigation of environmental impacts, including the cumulative impact of past, present, and future mining. The general Countywide mitigation fund and fee system established by the 1980 ARM Plan is discontinued and replaced by the more specific mitigation measure fees described herein.

First, a Russian River Gravel Mitigation Fund is to be established with mitigation measure fees imposed on instream and terrace gravel mining operations along the Russian River. This fund will be used for the following mitigation programs and activities which are required in the environmental impact analysis in Chapter 8.

Agricultural Support Program:

  1. Develop agricultural irrigation systems in the Middle Reach area.
  2. Acquire open space easements on agricultural lands surrounding the designated terrace mining area.
Recreation Enhancement Program:
  1. Provide access and facilities for boating and fishing along the Russian River.
  2. Develop and implement plans for a County park in the terrace area east of the river.
Flood Protection Program:
  1. Provide ongoing monitoring and repair services for levees adjacent to terrace pits.
Stream Restoration Program:
  1. Protect and restore eroded streambanks.
  2. Plant vegetation along channel, on eroded banks and on disturbed sites.
  3. Remove obstructions to fish passage and spawning.

The amounts of the mitigation measure fees to be charged to a particular mining operation are based on determinations and formulas which consider the approximate costs of adequate mitigation and the nature and extent of the project's impacts in the above-mentioned areas. Mitigation measure fees are calculated on a basis to satisfy the following legal requirements:

  1. Requirement under CEQA that the amount charged be sufficient to fully fund the programs identified in the EIR as necessary to mitigate the impacts.
  2. Requirement that the exaction be "roughly proportional" to the impact of the project. 

Fees are charged to gravel mining operators for mining and/or reclamation activities allowed by County approval of mining permits and reclamation plans. Mitigation measure fees will be calculated and charged initially on terrace mining operations at the time of approval of a mining permit and/or reclamation plan and must be paid to PRMD before any approved mining or reclamation commences. Mitigation measure fees will be calculated and charged each spring on instream mining operations on the basis of the mining operations and site characteristics during the previous calendar year and must be paid within 60 days of billing. Fee determination formulas may be varied at time of project approval only where the applicant adequately demonstrates either cost data or other reasoning to support a change and/or if the applicant will be otherwise funding or conducting the program activity.

The cost determinations, exaction formulas, and fee amounts to be charged will be incorporated in a resolution to be adopted by the Board of Supervisors. Within six months of the adoption of the resolution, PRMD shall present a report to the Board which reviews the status of the mitigation activities and possible changes, evaluates the cost determinations, exaction formulas and fee amounts, and recommends adjustments in programs and fees to assure their adequacy. In preparing the report, PRMD shall consult with the gravel mining operators, responsible public agencies, and other parties involved or interested in the mitigation measure programs and shall notify them of a public hearing to be held when the Board considers the report. Adjustments in the mitigation measure programs and fees may be approved by the Board by adoption of a resolution.

In 1996 an annual review process will be initiated to maintain the adequacy of the mitigation measure programs and fees. The PRMD will prepare a report to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors by July 1 of each year on how the mitigation fund has been used and what disbursements are recommended for the coming year. The report shall be distributed to all interested parties, considered by the Planning Commission at a public hearing, and transmitted to the Board of Supervisors along with the public testimony at the hearing and recommendations from the Planning Commission and staff. Proposals from public agencies and private parties for use of the mitigation funds will be considered in the report if received by the PRMD by April 1. Adjustments in the mitigation measure programs and fees may be approved by the Board by adoption of a resolution. 

Second, all mining operations shall be subject to an annual road mitigation fee proportional to the annual truck traffic road impacts generated by the operation. The Aggregate Road Mitigation Fund will be used for improvements and maintenance on aggregate haul routes and related planning and administration by the Department of Transportation and Public Works. In addition, new mining operations may be assessed initial or annual charges for reimbursement of the costs of specific off-site improvements to public roads used as access or haul routes by the operation if such improvements are a condition of approval and mitigation measure for the project. The levels and uses of these fees will be recommended to the Board of Supervisors in the annual report to be prepared by the PRMD in consultation with the Department of Transportation and Public Works.

Implementation

Several actions will be required by the County after adoption of this Plan in addition to the review of individual permits and reclamation plans and the mitigation and monitoring efforts previously described. They include the following one-time actions to be initiated soon after Plan adoption:

  1. Initiation of changes in the surface mining ordinance, Chapter 26A of the County Code:
    1. Reflect adopted standards for mining and reclamation.
    2. Update provisions on financial assurances, reclamation, inspections, and reports to conform to changes in SMARA.
    3. Expand provisions on enforcement to include stop work orders and fines based amount of aggregate removed and/or impacts.
    4. Modify procedures for review of master reclamation plans for terrace sites.
  2. Initiation of changes in the zoning ordinances, Chapters 26 and 26C of the County Code:
    1. Allow short-term gravel bar skimming with a use permit in RRD, LIA, DA and LEA zones.
    2. Allow small isolated quarries with a use permit in RRD, LEA and DA.
  3. Request to the SMGB to consider the ARM Plan in future classification and designation of regionally significant aggregate resources.
  4. Report to the Board of Supervisors analyzing the benefits, costs, and feasibility of possible actions which could reduce the need for sand and gravel from instream and terrace sources and reduce the overall demand for aggregate. The report shall include recommended actions. In preparing the report, the PARM shall consult with an Aggregate Task Force composed of representatives of the County Public Works and Public Health Departments; Sonoma County Water Agency; aggregate mining operators; the construction industry; Caltrans; incorporated cities; adjacent counties; and other interested parties. Possible actions or changes to be analyzed in the report shall include but not be limited to the following:
    1. Reducing differences in specifications between agencies within Sonoma County.
    2. Reducing required sand equivalent levels.
    3. Increasing the required percentage of crushed rock in road base.
    4. Revising purchasing practices to support the increased use of quarry materials.
    5. Revising standards for recycled materials.
    6. Changes in development standards which reduce aggregate needs.
    7. (To be coordinated with implementation of Housing Element policies and programs to reduce housing development costs.)
  5. Report to the Board of Supervisors within 180 days of Plan adoption re- evaluating the adequacy and functioning of the Aggregate Road Mitigation Fund, Russian River Gravel Mitigation Fund, and the associated mitigation measure fees and activities.

Contact Information

Contact Planning by Phone
Monday – Friday
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Address
2550 Ventura Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.465074, -122.723705