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Old 12-02-2005, 03:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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CEQA Compliance For Explosive Work

Those in the know,

Can you tell me if EDC did any sort of CEQA document for the Gatekeeper "project"? I ask because I deal with CEQA everyday in my job, though for larger statewide type projects. I'm wondering if they claimed a statutory exemption for a transportation project (listed below) or if they did a Negative Declaration? Perhaps they can claim the action under a programatic CEQA document for all road maintenance activities in the county? Does anyone know? A quick check of the State Clearinghouse shows no evidence of CEQA compliance for this specific project. THere is also the possibility that they claimed a categorical exemption under the terms listed below.

Statutory Exemptions for transportation projects:
15275. Specified Mass Transit Projects

CEQA does not apply to the following mass transit projects:

(a) The institution or increase of passenger or commuter service on rail lines or high-occupancy vehicle lanes already in use, including the modernization of existing stations and parking facilities;

(b) Facility extensions not to exceed four miles in length which are required for transfer of passengers from or to exclusive public mass transit guideway or busway public transit services.

Note: Authority cited: Sections 21083 and 21087, Public Resources Code; Reference: Section 21080(b)(11), (12), and (13), Public Resources Code.

Discussion: This section combined several exemptions that apply to mass transit projects. The revised description of these projects clarifies the nature of the exemption and the activities to which the exemption applies.



15276. Transportation Improvement and Congestion Management Programs

(a) CEQA does not apply to the development or adoption of a regional transportation improvement program or the state transportation improvement program. Individual projects developed pursuant to these programs shall remain subject to CEQA.

(b) CEQA does not apply to preparation and adoption of a congestion management program by a county congestion management agency pursuant to Government Code Section 65089, et seq.

Note: Authority cited: Sections 21083 and 21087, Public Resources Code; Reference: Section 21080(b)(13), Public Resources Code.

Discussion: This section identifies and interprets the exemptions that apply to the development or adoption of state and regional transportation improvement programs, as well as congestion management plans. The section clarifies that the exemption for transportation improvement programs does not apply to individual projects undertaken pursuant to such programs.


Categorical Exemptions:

15301. Existing Facilities

Class 1 consists of the operation, repair, maintenance, permitting, leasing, licensing, or minor alteration of existing public or private structures, facilities, mechanical equipment, or topographical features, involving negligible or no expansion of use beyond that existing at the time of the lead agency's determination. The types of "existing facilities" itemized below are not intended to be all-inclusive of the types of projects which might fall within Class 1. The key consideration is whether the project involves negligible or no expansion of an existing use.

Examples include but are not limited to:

(a) Interior or exterior alterations involving such things as interior partitions, plumbing, and electrical conveyances;

(b) Existing facilities of both investor and publicly-owned utilities used to provide electric power, natural gas, sewerage, or other public utility services;

(c) Existing highways and streets, sidewalks, gutters, bicycle and pedestrian trails, and similar facilities (this includes road grading for the purpose of public safety).

(d) Restoration or rehabilitation of deteriorated or damaged structures, facilities, or mechanical equipment to meet current standards of public health and safety, unless it is determined that the damage was substantial and resulted from an environmental hazard such as earthquake, landslide, or flood;

(e) Additions to existing structures provided that the addition will not result in an increase of more than:

(1) 50 percent of the floor area of the structures before the addition, or 2,500 square feet, whichever is less; or

(2) 10,000 square feet if:

(A) The project is in an area where all public services and facilities are available to allow for maximum development permissible in the General Plan and

(B) The area in which the project is located is not environmentally sensitive.

(f) Addition of safety or health protection devices for use during construction of or in conjunction with existing structures, facilities, or mechanical equipment, or topographical features including navigational devices;

(g) New copy on existing on and off-premise signs;

(h) Maintenance of existing landscaping, native growth, and water supply reservoirs (excluding the use of pesticides , as defined in Section 12753, Division 7, Chapter 2, Food and Agricultural Code);

(i) Maintenance of fish screens, fish ladders, wildlife habitat areas, artificial wildlife waterway devices, streamflows, springs and waterholes, and stream channels (clearing of debris) to protect fish and wildlife resources;

(j) Fish stocking by the California Department of Fish and Game;

(k) Division of existing multiple family or single-family residences into common-interest ownership and subdivision of existing commercial or industrial buildings, where no physical changes occur which are not otherwise exempt;

(l) Demolition and removal of individual small structures listed in this subsection;

(1) One single-family residence. In urbanized areas, up to three single-family residences may be demolished under this exemption.

(2) A duplex or similar multifamily residential structure. In urbanized areas, this exemption applies to duplexes and similar structures where not more than six dwelling units will be demolished.

(3) A store, motel, office, restaurant, or similar small commercial structure if designed for an occupant load of 30 persons or less. In urbanized areas, the exemption also applies to the demolition of up to three such commercial buildings on sites zoned for such use.

(4) Accessory (appurtenant) structures including garages, carports, patios, swimming pools, and fences.

(m) Minor repairs and alterations to existing dams and appurtenant structures under the supervision of the Department of Water Resources.

(n) Conversion of a single family residence to office use.

(o) Installation, in an existing facility occupied by a medical waste generator, of a steam sterilization unit for the treatment of medical waste generated by that facility provided that the unit is installed and operated in accordance with the Medical Waste Management Act (Section 117600, et seq., of the Health and Safety Code) and accepts no offsite waste.

(p) Use of a single-family residence as a small family day care home, as defined in Section 1596.78 of the Health and Safety Code.

Note: Authority cited: Sections 21083 and 21087, Public Resources Code; References: Sections 21084 and 21084.2, Public Resources Code; Bloom v. McGurk (1994) 26 Cal.App.4th 1307.



Discussion: This section describes the class of projects wherein the proposed activity will involve negligible or no expansion of the use existing at the time the exemption is granted. Application of this exemption, as all categorical exemptions, is limited by the factors described in section 15300.2. Accordingly, a project with significant cumulative impacts or which otherwise has a reasonable possibility of resulting in a significant effect does not quality for a Class 1 exemption.



15302. Replacement or Reconstruction

Class 2 consists of replacement or reconstruction of existing structures and facilities where the new structure will be located on the same site as the structure replaced and will have substantially the same purpose and capacity as the structure replaced, including but not limited to:

(a) Replacement or reconstruction of existing schools and hospitals to provide earthquake resistant structures which do not increase capacity more than 50 percent.

(b) Replacement of a commercial structure with a new structure of substantially the same size, purpose, and capacity.

(c) Replacement or reconstruction of existing utility systems and/or facilities involving negligible or no expansion of capacity.

(d) Conversion of overhead electric utility distribution system facilities to underground including connection to existing overhead electric utility distribution lines where the surface is restored to the condition existing prior to the undergrounding.

Note: Authority cited: Sections 21083 and 21087, Public Resources Code; Reference: Section 21084, Public Resources Code.


15303. New Construction or Conversion of Small Structures

Class 3 consists of construction and location of limited numbers of new, small facilities or structures; installation of small new equipment and facilities in small structures; and the conversion of existing small structures from one use to another where only minor modifications are made in the exterior of the structure. The numbers of structures described in this section are the maximum allowable on any legal parcel. Examples of this exemption include, but are not limited to:

(a) One single-family residence, or a second dwelling unit in a residential zone. In urbanized areas, up to three single-family residences may be constructed or converted under this exemption.

(b) A duplex or similar multi-family residential structure, totaling no more than four dwelling units. In urbanized areas, this exemption applies to apartments, duplexes and similar structures designed for not more than six dwelling units.

(c) A store, motel, office, restaurant or similar structure not involving the use of significant amounts of hazardous substances, and not exceeding 2500 square feet in floor area. In urbanized areas, the exemption also applies to up to four such commercial buildings not exceeding 10,000 square feet in floor area on sites zoned for such use if not involving the use of significant amounts of hazardous substances where all necessary public services and facilities are available and the surrounding area is not environmentally sensitive.

(d) Water main, sewage, electrical, gas, and other utility extensions, including street improvements, of reasonable length to serve such construction.

(e) Accessory (appurtenant) structures including garages, carports, patios, swimming pools, and fences.

(f) An accessory steam sterilization unit for the treatment of medical waste at a facility occupied by a medical waste generator, provided that the unit is installed and operated in accordance with the Medical Waste Management Act (Section 117600, et seq., of the Health and Safety Code) and accepts no offsite waste.

Note: Authority cited: Sections 21083 and 21087, Public Resources Code; Reference: Sections 21084 and 21084.2, Public Resources Code.

Discussion: This section describes the class of small projects involving new construction or conversion of existing small structures. The 1998 revisions to the section clarify the types of projects to which it applies. In order to simplify and standardize application of this section to commercial structures, the reference to žoccupant load of 30 persons or lessÓ contained in the prior guideline was replaced by a limit on square footage. Subsection (c) further limits the use of this exemption to those commercial projects which have available all necessary public services and facilities, and which are not located in an environmentally sensitive area.



15304. Minor Alterations to Land

Class 4 consists of minor public or private alterations in the condition of land, water, and/or vegetation which do not involve removal of healthy, mature, scenic trees except for forestry or agricultural purposes. Examples include, but are not limited to:

(a) Grading on land with a slope of less than 10 percent, except that grading shall not be exempt in a waterway, in any wetland, in an officially designated (by federal, state, or local government action) scenic area, or in officially mapped areas of severe geologic hazard such as an Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zone or within an official Seismic Hazard Zone, as delineated by the State Geologist.

(b) New gardening or landscaping, including the replacement of existing conventional landscaping with water efficient or fire resistant landscaping.

(c) Filling of earth into previously excavated land with material compatible with the natural features of the site;

(d) Minor alterations in land, water, and vegetation on existing officially designated wildlife management areas or fish production facilities which result in improvement of habitat for fish and wildlife resources or greater fish production;

(e) Minor temporary use of land having negligible or no permanent effects on the environment, including carnivals, sales of Christmas trees, etc;

(f) Minor trenching and backfilling where the surface is restored;

(g) Maintenance dredging where the spoil is deposited in a spoil area authorized by all applicable state and federal regulatory agencies;

(h) The creation of bicycle lanes on existing rights-of-way.

(i) Fuel management activities within 30 feet of structures to reduce the volume of flammable vegetation, provided that the activities will not result in the taking of endangered, rare, or threatened plant or animal species or significant erosion and sedimentation of surface waters. This exemption shall apply to fuel management activities within 100 feet of a structure if the public agency having fire protection responsibility for the area has determined that 100 feet of fuel clearance is required due to extra hazardous fire conditions.



Note: Authority cited: Sections 21083 and 21087, Public Resources Code; Reference: Section 21084, Public Resources Code.

Discussion: This section describes the class of projects involving minor alterations to the land. The 1998 revision to the section specified that this exemption applies to fuel management activities which will not impact threatened or endangered species or result in significant erosion or sedimentation.
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Old 12-02-2005, 05:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I was wondering this too i can not figure out if my question is the same as the one above (uses too many big words for me ). With all the damage to the trees and bushes; someone had to think rock+explosion = shrapnel and damage to surrounding areas....

so who was in charge of making sure impact was at a minimum...

Right now I picture some bored county/federal workers jumping around with excitment as they get to blow stuff up.

After the explosion they see torn up trees and bushes and think to themselves opps....
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Old 12-02-2005, 07:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Good question -- I'll ask at the ROC.

With the hurry-up to get this done, corners may have been cut.

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Old 12-03-2005, 09:46 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by green73brc
I was wondering this too i can not figure out if my question is the same as the one above (uses too many big words for me ). With all the damage to the trees and bushes; someone had to think rock+explosion = shrapnel and damage to surrounding areas....

so who was in charge of making sure impact was at a minimum...

Right now I picture some bored county/federal workers jumping around with excitment as they get to blow stuff up.

After the explosion they see torn up trees and bushes and think to themselves opps....
The bushes in close proximity did lose foliage, that's obvious. Show me damage to trees that wasn't done by other means and wasn't present prior to the blasting, aside from a possible lost dead branch. I am not saying I agree (or disagree) with the blasting, just looking for factual data.
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Old 12-03-2005, 10:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Good question -- I'll ask at the ROC.

With the hurry-up to get this done, corners may have been cut.

Randii
The enviro-nuts FAVORITE method for stopping projects in California is the CEQA lawsuit.

Randomly blowing up shit, with no scientific analysis (the CEQA doc), to MAYBE fix a problem would be like a gift from the gods for a competent CEQA attorney..............

Andy
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Old 12-03-2005, 11:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aggro
The bushes in close proximity did lose foliage, that's obvious. Show me damage to trees that wasn't done by other means and wasn't present prior to the blasting, aside from a possible lost dead branch. I am not saying I agree (or disagree) with the blasting, just looking for factual data.
Aggro...several of the tree lost signficant bark...enough to be concerned in my view...Especially with the tree at sluice.

See pics here: /forum/rubicon-trail/417603-my-gatekeeper-pics-lots-pics.html
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Old 12-03-2005, 12:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Aggro...several of the tree lost signficant bark...enough to be concerned in my view...Especially with the tree at sluice.

See pics here: http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/showthread.php?t=417603

Hey Marlon, I saw Bears' pics, and while impressive looking most if not all the trees shown had the injuries previous to the blasting. I am not looking to discredit his pics. If you look at the trees in question, in person, you can clearly tell the injuries are for the most part...old.
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Old 12-03-2005, 01:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I didn't look at them in person going in on T-day weekend. I thought the pics showed new damage...not old. They appear too white/clean and in places where a vehcile could not hit them. My accessment is from the pics so if you saw something different in person I'd go with your assessment.
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Old 12-03-2005, 01:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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This blurry pics is the one that seemed new and caused by explosives...not people/vehicles...

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Old 12-05-2005, 02:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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So I just assumed that a majority of the damage that was there was new. Epecialy as show on the pic above. Has anyone been able to confirm or disprove that it is new or old damage?

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Old 12-05-2005, 04:02 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by afecko
The enviro-nuts FAVORITE method for stopping projects in California is the CEQA lawsuit.

Randomly blowing up shit, with no scientific analysis (the CEQA doc), to MAYBE fix a problem would be like a gift from the gods for a competent CEQA attorney..............

Andy
great point Andy, i know here at Caltrans we can get around the red tape when it's an emergency, like a boulder rolls onto the freeway, i doubt gatekeeper could be called an emergency..
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Old 12-05-2005, 04:20 PM   #12 (permalink)
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that pic is pretty crazy, video would be interesting..
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Old 12-05-2005, 07:52 PM   #13 (permalink)
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the trees in those pictures are not a significant species nor a historic landmark as well the bushes too. therefore it can be considered minor thining and it is over 100' from a charted watershed. in home building we can pull blast permits to crack boulders and remove stumps of insignificant species (ie non old growth pine, fir ect, then foriegn species like Eucalyptis ect are totally exempt.)all that is required is an arborists report on the area and then a negative declaration vote by the county commisioners or in some cases if it not a full reconstruction only a demolition permit needs to be drawn. There are also other broad exemptions that logging operations are granted without review or public comment.
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Old 12-06-2005, 08:47 AM   #14 (permalink)
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the trees in those pictures are not a significant species nor a historic landmark as well the bushes too. therefore it can be considered minor thining and it is over 100' from a charted watershed. in home building we can pull blast permits to crack boulders and remove stumps of insignificant species (ie non old growth pine, fir ect, then foriegn species like Eucalyptis ect are totally exempt.)all that is required is an arborists report on the area and then a negative declaration vote by the county commisioners or in some cases if it not a full reconstruction only a demolition permit needs to be drawn. There are also other broad exemptions that logging operations are granted without review or public comment.

To me, the trees are a minor issue.

The point of doing a CEQA analysis is to explore options other than the proposed action, an do a thorough analyisis of ALL options.

Has a licensed geologist or a hydrologist been consulted on this project? Do we even know that the action will actually IMPROVE the alleged erosion problem? Was a impact analysis done to see what the impacts are of increasing traffic on the trail (the other alleged reason for GK destruction?)

Gawd damn, if we just go blowing shit up every time we try to FIX a problem, the enviros are going to use our IMPROVEMENT actions to shut the trail down! The questions above are a mere sampling of what you'd get from a competent CEQA attorney.

Then again, having dealt with El Dorado county on numerous water and power projects, the lack of understanding of environmental law does not surprise me in the least. They've been fined, reprimanded and criticized by so many public and private agencies that it would be hard to get a list to fit on one page. I know we have to rely on them for much of the enviro compliance work for the RTMP (they are the lead agency), but be aware, regulators in Sacramento view the county as scoff-laws and reprobates when it comes to compliance with NEPA and CEQA.

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Old 12-06-2005, 06:07 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I mostly agree, Andy -- better analysis might have brought a different outcome for Gatekeeper.

One nit to pick, though....
Quote:
Originally Posted by afecko
Was a impact analysis done to see what the impacts are of increasing traffic on the trail (the other alleged reason for GK destruction?)
There's a key difference between intent and result -- few would argue that traffic used to stack up at Gatekeeper. Yet I believe that smoothing out the flow of traffic IMHO has little to do with changing the AMOUNT of traffic. Yes, better flow could help more traffic move through, but I doubt that this will have a significant effect in actual traffic, and I also doubt that it was the intent in the first place. IMHO, few were turned back by gatekeeper -- most got strapped through or railed on their equipment until they bounced through. A small handful broke and/or were rejected... those would be the only change in traffic.

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Old 12-08-2005, 12:09 PM   #16 (permalink)
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the trees in those pictures are not a significant species nor a historic landmark as well the bushes too. therefore it can be considered minor thining and it is over 100' from a charted watershed. in home building we can pull blast permits to crack boulders and remove stumps of insignificant species (ie non old growth pine, fir ect, then foriegn species like Eucalyptis ect are totally exempt.)all that is required is an arborists report on the area and then a negative declaration vote by the county commisioners or in some cases if it not a full reconstruction only a demolition permit needs to be drawn. There are also other broad exemptions that logging operations are granted without review or public comment.


Thanks that is what I nedded to know....
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Old 12-08-2005, 01:33 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I walked gatekeeper shortly after it was blown up and there was no real damage to the surrounding area....some bushes got their leaves blown off and that's about it....there is a dead snag right close to one of the blown up rocks and it shows no signs of damage.....the stuff they use these days does not blow chunks all over the place as in the dynamite days.....any damage would most likely be from the concussion, not flying rock...heck, they drop hotels in downtown Las Vegas for cripe sakes.......take a drive up to GK and look for yourself...other than the missing boulders, the damage is pretty much nil. The stuff they used is designed for use by the forest service to do a specific job without destroying the surrounding area. The days of drilling and plugging dynamite and the subsequent rock showers are a thing of the past. Before folks start screaming about all the damage to the surrounding area they should either go and see for themselves or get educated....there is alot of vehicle damage to the trees in that area, any commnets on that?
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Old 12-08-2005, 02:03 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterman
....there is alot of vehicle damage to the trees in that area, any commnets on that?
Yes, if your rig is too wide to fit down the trail without hitting trees, please don't drive down that trail.

If people want to tell guys with 32's to stay of "their hard core trail", then I'm going start getting pissy from the other side. Sorry, I'm just getting tire of this, "if it is too hard, then stay out" attitude lately. Heaven forbid we should keep the trail from continually getting tougher each year.
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Old 12-08-2005, 06:57 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I walked gatekeeper shortly after it was blown up and there was no real damage to the surrounding area....some bushes got their leaves blown off and that's about it....there is a dead snag right close to one of the blown up rocks and it shows no signs of damage.....the stuff they use these days does not blow chunks all over the place as in the dynamite days.....any damage would most likely be from the concussion, not flying rock...heck, they drop hotels in downtown Las Vegas for cripe sakes.......take a drive up to GK and look for yourself...other than the missing boulders, the damage is pretty much nil. The stuff they used is designed for use by the forest service to do a specific job without destroying the surrounding area. The days of drilling and plugging dynamite and the subsequent rock showers are a thing of the past. Before folks start screaming about all the damage to the surrounding area they should either go and see for themselves or get educated....there is alot of vehicle damage to the trees in that area, any commnets on that?
It is not if the damage was light or heavy it is the fact that damage was done.... If it was a Jeep that ripped leaves off for going off the trail everyone on the board would be reacting a whole lot different. But if the govt damages something it is okay... double standards are something that irritate me a lot...
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Old 12-08-2005, 10:05 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by green73brc
It is not if the damage was light or heavy it is the fact that damage was done.... If it was a Jeep that ripped leaves off for going off the trail everyone on the board would be reacting a whole lot different. But if the govt damages something it is okay... double standards are something that irritate me a lot...
The correct reaction would be for the guy going off trail. If leaves got ripped off, come awn. Lets get real here. There are trees out there that have been hammered on (by vehicles) for years and their still alive. It is soil compaction that kills most of them near the trail.

There was a blast and when there is a blast, you're gonna see blast damage. Now can we stop whining about this?
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Old 12-09-2005, 11:30 AM   #21 (permalink)
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The correct reaction would be for the guy going off trail. If leaves got ripped off, come awn. Lets get real here. There are trees out there that have been hammered on (by vehicles) for years and their still alive. It is soil compaction that kills most of them near the trail.

There was a blast and when there is a blast, you're gonna see blast damage. Now can we stop whining about this?

No problem Ill let it go....
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Old 12-09-2005, 06:23 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I walked gatekeeper shortly after it was blown up and there was no real damage to the surrounding area....some bushes got their leaves blown off and that's about it....
Thansk for taking the time to do this. I did, as well, and was pleasantly surprised as to how little collateral damage there was. In the space of a year, a few scuffed trees will be all that remains of the flyrock, and they will blend well with the other scuffed trees along the trail.

Andy did ask a valid question, though... did they follow full protocol with blasting? We'll probably never know, and I dunno how much value there is in looking over our shoulder instead of trying to engage in the county's management efforts, going forward.

Randii
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Old 12-12-2005, 09:16 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Thansk for taking the time to do this. I did, as well, and was pleasantly surprised as to how little collateral damage there was. In the space of a year, a few scuffed trees will be all that remains of the flyrock, and they will blend well with the other scuffed trees along the trail.

Andy did ask a valid question, though... did they follow full protocol with blasting? We'll probably never know, and I dunno how much value there is in looking over our shoulder instead of trying to engage in the county's management efforts, going forward.

Randii
The point of my question was to review past protocol in going forward.

CEQA is critical from an environmental review standpoint, but one of it's other critical components is public involvement. With CEQA compliance comes the ability to comment on a project such as the GK.

Hopefully, LS work will comply with CEQA.
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Old 12-12-2005, 10:56 AM   #24 (permalink)
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All the discussion about CEQA may be moot. The land that Gatekeeper traverses is owned by the Forest Service, The county has an easement for the road to cross. It is my understanding that the FS contracted with the company to do the blasting. Is Federal Land excempt from CEQA???
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:10 PM   #25 (permalink)
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All the discussion about CEQA may be moot. The land that Gatekeeper traverses is owned by the Forest Service, The county has an easement for the road to cross. It is my understanding that the FS contracted with the company to do the blasting. Is Federal Land excempt from CEQA???

If the county had ANY decision-making role in the matter, CEQA is triggered.

I don't think the USFS could blast a public road without at least ASKING the county......

For instance, Interstate 80 traverses a lot federal land (on easements) as it goes through the Sierra. Could the feds start blasting I-80 without asking CalTrans?
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