SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94102-3298

July 31, 1998

Dean Shauers, Project Manager
Pacific Pipeline System, Inc.
12201 E. Arapahoe Road, C10
Englewood, CO 80112

RE: Variance Request #89 - Relocation of the project pipeline from station numbers 767+60 to 777+54 through Tejon Ranch and CalTrans property in Kern County (a distance of 994 feet), Segment 1.

Dear Mr. Shauers:

We have reviewed the above-referenced variance request and approve your request, based on the following factor:

Biological Resources. The proposed realignment was examined by a PPSI biologist (L. Hunt) on June 17 and 18; both day and nighttime surveys were conducted on June 17 and a nighttime survey was conducted on June 18. An area measuring 100 feet on either side of the staked centerline of the proposed realignment was examined.

The grassland area is flat and featureless, except for a 75-foot wide pile of granitic boulders placed along the western edge of the survey area by previous construction activities. Vegetation along the proposed realignment is dominated by dense grasses including red brome, wild oats, and ripgut brome. These grasses provide 75 percent of the cover. The other 25 percent of the realignment right-of-way is vegetated with native and non-native forbs dominated by sunflower, locoweed, tarweed, sky lupine, yellow star-thistle, and mustard. Milkweed plants are also scattered throughout the area.

Wildlife observed directly or indirectly within or adjacent to the survey area included side blotched lizard, western fence lizard, western rattlesnake, house finch, cliff swallow, Brewer’s blackbird, Botta’s pocket gopher (burrows), California ground squirrel (burrows), pocket mouse (burrows), and San Joaquin kit fox (burrows). The kit fox burrows were concentrated as a burrow system consisting of four open burrows with diameters ranging from 6 to 11 inches, and several older collapsed burrows. The burrow system covers an area measuring about 75 feet in diameter. The area is located about 20 feet east of the proposed right-of-way edge. It is our understanding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Heather Bell, was notified of the proposed route change and the results of the June 17 and 18 surveys. We contacted Mr. Peter Cross of USFWS (who is now taking over the responsibility for Pacific Pipeline Project). He confirmed that they have received weekly report from PPSI on the location of the pipeline activities. However, he stated that they have not officially consulted regarding changes to the approved pacific Pipeline construction project. Thus, we have added a condition that USFWS approval shall be submitted to our monitors before the construction can start. Based on the request of CPUC, on July 11, 1998, the kit fox burrow system was fiber-optic scoped by PPSI biologist (Thomas E. Olson) to determine if the burrows were currently being used by kit fox. The results of the fiber-optic scoping concluded that none of the four burrows were currently active and none appeared to have been used by kit fox in the recent past. All four burrows were large enough to accommodate kit fox, at least temporarily (for example, as escape cover). However, the lack of recent digging, tracks, animal pathways, and scat, and the presence of dense vegetation which partly or wholly occluded each burrow indicated that these burrows have not been used recently by kit fox, even as escape cover.

Cultural Resources. The proposed realignment was examined by PPSI archaeologists (K. Lord and A. Knight) on June 17, 1998. An area measuring 100 feet on either side of the staked centerline of the proposed realignment was examined. No evidence of prehistoric or historic resources were identified. A literature review of the proposed realignment provided no information on any known sites. Native Americans were contacted regarding the survey, but due to the nature of the past disturbances and lack of any knowledge of materials in the area, no concerns were noted. As proposed, a Native American monitor will be present throughout the excavation phases of the proposed realignment.

Geotechnical. Neither the original right-of-way or the proposed realignment are located on active faults or areas subject to lateral spreading.

Hydrology. Neither the original right-of-way or the proposed realignment would traverse any hydrologic features.

Traffic. Traffic impacts would be reduced since the original right-of-way would have required construction within the roadway shoulder of Grapevine West and through the Grapevine West/Grapevine Road intersection.

Visual Resources. Construction within either the original right-of-way or the proposed realignment would be visible by passing motorists on portions of Grapevine West, Grapevine Road, and I-5. Once completed, the proposed cross country right-of-way would be more noticeable than the original alignment within the roadway shoulder. However, in general, the project right-of-way through the Grapevine area will be intermittently visible to motorists. The addition of 600 feet of cross country right-of-way would add only a minor increase to the right-of-way that would be visible. No significant increase in visual impacts is anticipated.

Air Quality. As proposed, the requested realignment would include a bore of southbound I-5. Boring activities would generate additional emissions to that generated from trenching given the excavation required for bore pits. However, since the bore operation would be completed within a several week period, no long-term significant air quality impact would result.

Other Issue Areas. Since the original and proposed route are essentially the same length, traversing the same immediate region, no increased impacts would result from the proposed realignment for the following issue areas: environmental contamination, socioeconomics, public utilities, system safety, or minority-low income.

- All applicable mitigation measures for the project shall be implemented at the subject location.

- Prior to the commencement of construction, approval of the realignment from Tejon Ranch and CalTrans shall be submitted to the Lead Environmental Monitor upon receipt.

- All vehicle and construction equipment, including excavated soils, shall be restricted to the established right-of-way and temporary work areas.

- Prior to any construction activity in the kit fox burrow area, orange construction conclusion fencing shall be placed around the burrow system.

- Proof of consultation with and approval by the USFWS shall be submitted to CPUC/ANF Environmental Monitors before the construction. The USFWS standard recommendations for the protection of the San Joaquin kit fox during ground disturbance activities (memorandum dated April 1, 1997) shall be implemented, including the following:

d) "...all excavated, steep-wall holes or trenches more than 2 feet deep should be covered at the close of each working day with plywood or similar material, or provided with one or more escape ramps constructed of earth fill or wooden planks."

e) "All construction pipes, culverts, or similar structures with a diameter of 4 inches or greater that are stored at a construction site for one or more overnight periods should be thoroughly inspected for kit fox before the pipe is subsequently buried, capped, or otherwise used or moved in any way."

f) A 15 mph speed limit should be strictly enforced on all right-of-way areas.

- Prior to initial brush clearing and grading, a qualified biologist shall walk the area to be cleared to verify that there are no active bird nests. If an active bird nest is found, PPSI shall consult with the CPUC for further instructions.

- Prior to initial brush clearing and grading, a qualified wildlife biologist shall walk in front of or alongside equipment to salvage and relocate any species encountered.

- Topsoil from the areas to be cleared and graded shall be salvaged and stockpiled for the duration of site-specific activity. The salvaged soil shall be covered with grubbed vegetation to reduce loss from aeolian transport.

- Upon completion of construction, the subject area shall be appropriately revegetated or relandscaped in accordance with the Erosion Control, Revegetation, and Landscaping Plan or Tejon Ranch requirements, respectively.

- As proposed, a qualified archaeologist and Native American monitor shall be present during construction. If any signs of cultural resources are identified, work shall cease immediately, and the site shall be evaluated using the procedures in the Cultural Resources Management Plan.

- The bore of southbound I-5 shall be completed within 15 working days.

- The location shall not be used for fuel or hazardous material storage.

- All drips, leaks, and/or spills from vehicles and/or equipment shall be excavated immediately and disposed of in appropriate, labeled containers.

- Adjacent streets shall be swept manually or with water sweepers at the end of each day if visible soil material is carried onto paved public roadways (as required by Mitigation Measure A-8).

- No parking or storage of vehicles (including personnel vehicles), equipment, pipe, or any other project-related items shall be allowed on adjacent streets.

- Implementation of this variance in accordance with the provisions noted above shall be verified on a random basis by a CPUC/ANF Environmental Monitor.


Andrew Barnsdale
Project Manager
cc: R. Borden, ANF
H. Rastegar, Aspen

Back to Variances Pages

Back to MMCRP Home Page