«DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT FOR THE COLUMBIA STOCK RANCH SECTION 536 ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION PROJECT The environmental ...»
5.2. Present Actions Present actions are those that are currently occurring and also result in impacts to the same resources as would be affected by the Proposed Action. Present actions generally include ongoing use activities and recently completed development or construction. In the CSR project site, present actions include maintenance and operation of the Columbia River Levee and associated water control structures (tide gates, culverts, pump stations, etc.), the on-going operation and maintenance of the FCRPS dams and reservoirs, regulation of the Columbia River, maintenance dredging of the Columbia River Federal Navigation Channel and the upland placement of dredged materials on adjacent sites, and land use practices associated with agriculture and cattle grazing in and adjacent to the project area.
5.3. Reasonably Foreseeable Future Actions Reasonably foreseeable future actions are those actions that are likely to occur and affect the same resources as the Proposed Action. For a future action to be considered “reasonably foreseeable” there must be a level of certainty that it would occur. This level of certainty is considered met with the submission of a formal project proposal or application to the appropriate jurisdiction, approval of such a proposal or application, inclusion of the future action in a formal planning document, or other similar evidence. For future actions in the proposal stage, the action also must be sufficiently defined in terms of location, size, design, and other relevant features to allow for meaningful consideration in the cumulative analysis.
Present and reasonably foreseeable future actions include many of the same operational and maintenance activities described in the above list. To determine whether there are other present and future actions reasonably certain to occur in the project area, Corps studies of the area were reviewed, outstanding Corps regulatory permits were reviewed for proposed largescale actions, and county planning offices queried.
The following actions were identified as being reasonably certain to occur over the next ten
Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge, Ecosystem Restoration Streaked horned lark habitat restoration at Sandy Island Development and growth at Port of Kalama, including the Kalama Manufacturing & Marine Export Facility
5.4. Cumulative Effects Summary The following section analyzes the potential cumulative impacts for each of the environmental resource categories in which the implementation the Proposed Action might contribute to April 22, 2016 Page 52 cumulative impacts when considered with other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable actions. Resources determined not to have the potential to result in cumulative effects were not addressed in this analysis, including geology, air quality, and noise. Since the environmental analyses for the above-listed activities are not complete or do not include quantitative data, cumulative impacts are addressed qualitatively. The No Action Alternative serves as the reference point against which cumulative effects are measured and the analysis uses the same thresholds to measure the effects of the No Action Alternative and the Proposed Action in association with past, present and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Table 6 provides a summary of cumulative effects by resource category.
Table 6: Cumulative effects summary for the No Action Alternative and the Proposed Action
Determination of Cumulative Impacts The Columbia River has been substantially altered from the 1800s by early settlement, timber harvest and fishing, agriculture, population growth, and the commercial/industrial and residential developments and the resulting introduction of non-native species. Addditionally, rivers and streams have been physically altered and fish and wildlife resources have been impacted by habitat alteration and loss. Changes in public expectations concerning how resources are managed began in the 1970s, and today, the protection of unique ecosystems, such as coastal estuaries, has increased with stricter environmental laws and regulations.
This cumulative effects analysis considered the effects of implementing the Proposed Action Alternative against the No Action Alternative in association with past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions by the Corps and other parties in and adjacent to the project area. It is unlikely that cumulative adverse impacts would result for the resources identified above because adverse impacts would be minimized through the Corps proposed conservation measures described in Section 3.5. Additionally, all projects would be required to avoid, minimize, and mitigate any measurable impacts through the current environmental review and regulatory process (i.e. monitoring and mitigation are required for new development projects that impact environmental resources), leading to the conclusion that there would likely be no resulting cumulative adverse impacts resulting from the implementation of this project. The required regulatory review also results in coordination between many of the resource agencies and between those agencies proposing action(s).
Provided the analysis of cumulative effects described aboe, the Proposed Action in associated with past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions is expected to result in long-term beneficial cumulative impacts to water quality, vegetation, wetlands and aquatic habitats, all of which support fish and wildlife populations in the CSR project area and throughout the lower Columbia River and estuary.
6.1. National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 Under NEPA (42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq.), federal agencies are required to identify significant environmental resources likely to be affected by proposed activities as well as make an assessment of the impacts to those resources and consider a full range of alternative actions.
Environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the decision-making process. The analysis of impacts to the environmental baseline in response to the proposed alternatives, and in consideration of the laws and Executive Orders described herein, this EA furthers the requirements of the NEPA, as amended, as discussed within this document.
After the public comment period for this EA, the Action Agencies will consider the project’s anticipated impacts and their level of significance. Assuming the consideration of effects results in no extraordinary or extenuating conditions warranting additional analysis, the Action Agencies would issue a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), with the recommendation that an environmental impact statement is not required.
6.2. Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 This Act (16 U.S.C. § 668 et seq.) provides for the protection of bald and golden eagles by prohibiting the taking, possession and commerce of such birds, except under certain specified conditions. Projects involving forestry practices, use of aircraft (or other motorized equipment), blasting and other work may result in loud or intermittent noises if they occur within 1000 feet of an active or alternate nest time during the breeding season (January 1 through August 15) and could disrupt breeding activity.
The USFWS, National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines (May 2007), and the Corps eGIS Information Portal were aids in evaluating project impacts to bald eagles and known nest locations. Although bald eagles are generally known to occur in the CSR project area, no bald or golden eagles are likely to be impacted during project construction. No active nests are known to be present in the CSR project area. Therefore, no adverse effects to eagles are anticipated and the management guidelines would be followed if any eagle nests are identified during the design or construction phases.
Generally, the proposed restoration activities can be classified as Category A activities.
Category A activities include: building construction, 1 or 2 stories; construction of roads, trails, canals, power lines, or other linear utilities; agriculture or aquaculture; alteration of shorelines and wetlands; installation of docks or moorings; and water impoundment projects. If nests are constructed or identified, buffers of 660 feet should be maintained around nests if the construction work is visible from the nest; buffers of 330 feet should be maintained around nests if the construction work is not visible from the nest. Following discovery of an eagle nest in or near the CSR project site, the Corps would coordinate with USFWS personnel to ensure compliance with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
April 22, 2016 Page 58
6.3. Clean Air Act of 1970 The Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. § 7401 et seq.) established a comprehensive program to preserve, protect and enhance air quality throughout the United States based on permitting of stationary sources of air pollution emissions, restricting the emission of toxic substances from stationary and mobile sources, establishing NAAQS and noise pollution standards. All federal actions resulting in the emission of air pollutants must comply with all federal, state, interstate, and local requirements for control and abatement of air pollution in the same manner and extent as any non-governmental entity, unless the activity is explicitly exempted by the EPA.
The Proposed Action does not involve the release of regulated substances, nor does it involve the use of an incinerator, open burning, or the release of hazardous substances or chemicals. All motorized equipment used for construction activities would not result in excess levels of noise pollution, emissions, or greenhouse gas emissions. Equipment would be required to meet State air quality standards, and any low‐level noise pollution emitted during the proposed activities would be temporary, localized, and of short‐term duration.
For these reasons, the Proposed Action is in compliance with this Act.
6.4. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (42 U.S.C. § 9601 et seq.) was designed to clean up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites, as well as accidents, spills, and other emergency releases of pollutants and contaminants into the environment. CERLCA also established a method to assign liability to parties responsible for the release of hazardous wastes and polluted sites. This Act also established a trust fund to pay for their cleanup to reduce associated dangers to public health and the environment.
The proposed restoration project does not occur within the boundaries of a designated Superfund site as identified by the EPA, or the State of Washington for a response action under CERCLA. Furthermore, the CSR project site is not included on the National Priorities List. Several sediment samples were obtained, and the samples were within background levels for the area. There was no evidence of contamination found at the site. For these reasons, the Proposed Action is in compliance with this Act.
6.5. Clean Water Act of 1972 The CWA (33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq.) established the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters. The basis of the CWA was enacted in 1948 and was called the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, but the Act was significantly reorganized and expanded in 1972. "Clean Water Act" became the Act's common name with amendments in 1977. The CWA makes it unlawful to discharge any pollutant into navigable waters, unless a permit is obtained.
Section 401(a)(2)– Requires certification from the state that a discharge to waters of the U.S.
will not violate the states’ water quality standards. The EPA retains jurisdiction in limited cases. The Corps seeks a state Water Quality Certification per 33 C.F.R. § 336.1 (a)(1) when its activities result in a discharge.
Section 402(a)(1) – Authorizes the EPA, or states to which the EPA has delegated authority, to permit the discharge of pollutants under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program for all land disturbances over an acre in size.
April 22, 2016 Page 59 Section 404 – Authorizes the Secretary of the Army to permit the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States at specified disposal sites based on section 404(b)(1) guidelines. The Corps does not permit itself but complies with all applicable substantive legal requirements including the section 404(b)(1) guidelines.
Construction of the Proposed Action would result in discharges to waters of the U.S., requiring a certificate from Oregon DEQ for compliance with the state’s water quality standards. The Corps intends to use Nationwide Permit 27 for compliance with Sections 401 and 404 of the CWA.10 Furthermore, per the wetland delineation that was performed for the CSR project site, the field investigation identified approximately 132 acres of wetlands and approximately 26 acres of open waters within the boundaries of the CSR site.
All of the wetlands and waters indentified onsite are considered jurisdictional (i.e., triggering review) under Section 404 of the CWA due to their direct hydrological connection to the Columbia River or adjacency to the Columbia River, Tide Creek, or Deer Slough. The Corps is currently seeking a removal/fill permit from the Oregon DSL for the discharge of materials into waters of the state.11 Section 402 of the Act requires a NPDES permit for construction disturbance over one acre from large and small construction activities (USACE 2013). The Corps would use General NPDES Permit 1200-CA for compliance with Section 402 of the Act.
6.6. Endangered Species Act of 1973 The ESA (16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq.), as amended, was enacted to protect and conserve endangered and threatened species (sub-species and DPS, included) and critical habitat.
Requirements of the Act ensure activities authorized, funded, and carried out by federal agencies are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or result in adverse impacts to designated critical habitat of a listed species. The USFWS and NOAA Fisheries share responsibility for the administration of ESA listed species.