Santa Ana River Trail Environmental Assessment

The Santa Ana River Trail (SART) Project proposes to construct a hiking, bicycle, and equestrian trail along the Santa Ana River in Riverside County. To date, FCS has analyzed several portions of the trail, including (I) the portion that would extend from Hidden Valley County Park (east of the I-15 river crossing) through the Prado Basin, and then to the Orange County line; and (II) the Corona-Norco-Eastvale segment that is described in more detail below. The Riverside County Parks and Open Space District (County Parks), in cooperation with the USACE, the County of Riverside, the City of Corona, the City of Norco, and the City of Eastvale, has proposed the construction of this 11-mile section of the SART system, which when completed will provide the only direct trail connection through Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.

FCS completed biological and cultural resource investigations and prepared CEQA and NEPA documentation for the Hidden Valley County Park segment of the trail. Preliminary field surveys were conducted in the summer of 2008, and more intensive surveys were conducted thereafter to determine the presence of sensitive species such as least Bell’s vireo, southwestern willow flycatcher, burrowing owl, and sensitive plants along the proposed trail routes and corridors. In 2011, FCS prepared an IS/MND pursuant to CEQA and an Environmental Assessment (EA) pursuant to NEPA for the Corona-Norco-Eastvale segment of the SART and Parkway project. A primary project objective was to route the trails through the most natural, undisturbed environment as physically and fiscally feasible; as a result, the effects of the project on biological resources was a key environmental topic discussed in the IS/MND and EA.

FCS is currently preparing a supplemental IS/MND and EA for the trail configuration at the 90 percent design phase, as well as performing the Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultation services for the portions of the project that are located on Federal land and the compliance documents for the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA). The RCA compliance documents include a Determination of Biological Equivalent or Superior Preservation (DBESP) analysis, as required under the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) for impacts to Riparian/Riverine/Vernal Pool/Fairy Shrimp Habitat. In 2016, FCS completed a Section 106 Phase I Cultural Resources Assessment and Paleontological Review, as well as a Focused Burrowing Owl Survey Report and a Riparian Bird Survey Report for Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Least Bell’s Vireo, and Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. FCS is currently working in conjunction with the project team and the CDFW, USFWS, and USACE to secure additional environmental approvals.

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