«DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT FOR THE COLUMBIA STOCK RANCH SECTION 536 ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION PROJECT The environmental ...»
The Corps is in consultation with NOAA Fisheries for ESA-listed species and preliminary discussions have indicated the Proposed Action is consistent with the Corps’ Standard Local Operating Procedures for Endangered Species (SLOPES), version 5 programmatic BiOp.
Additional coordination and consultation is on-going and the Corps anticipates completion of consultation in June 2016.
Based on the information presented in Section 4.4, due to a lack of presence in the project area and timing of specific project elements during construction, the Proposed Action is highly unlikely to affect ESA-listed species under USFWS’ jurisdiction, including Columbian white-tailed deer. Waters in the Columbia River are generally too warm for bull trout, especially during the summer months when construction activities would occur.
Furthermore, construction activities impacting potentially suitable nesting habitat for migratory songbirds would be timed to occur outside of the breeding season, eliminating potential impacts to larks and cuckoos. For these reasons, the Corps has determined
Additional information about Nationwide Permits, conditions, and definitions can be found at:
Additional information about jurisdiction over waters of the state and permit requirements can be found at https://www.oregon.gov/dsl/PERMITS/Pages/index.aspx.
6.7. Farmlands Protection Policy Act of 1994 The Farmland Protection Policy Act (15 U.S.C. § 1539-1549) directs federal agencies to identify and quantify adverse impacts of federal programs on farmlands. The purpose of this act is to minimize the number of federal programs that contribute to the unnecessary and irreversible conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural uses.
As discussed in Section 4.9, the Proposed Action would result in conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural uses. This conversion, however, is neither unnecessary nor irreversible. The conversion is necessary to restore endangered fish populations in the lower Columbia River and estuary, and the land can be reversed to farmland again in the future if deemed appropriate by the Corps, BPA and the project sponsor. The Corps is coordinating with the NRCS to identify any prime or unique farmlands in the CSR project area and evaluate the land and complete a site assessment for compliance with the Act. The Corps anticipates completion coordination with the NRCS in June 2016, which will be documented in the final EA.
6.8. Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1958 The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. § 661 et seq.) directs federal agencies to prevent the loss and damage to fish and wildlife resources; specifically, wildlife resources shall be given equal consideration in light of new water-resource development programs.
Consultation with the USFWS is required when activities result in the control of, diversion or modification to any natural habitat or associated water body, altering habitat quality and/or quantity for fish and wildlife. For the Corps, all coordination under this Act is in accordance with the 2003 Agreement between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Conducting Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act Activities.
The Corps is currently coordinating with the USFWS and recommendations specific to the Proposed Action will be documented in the final EA.
6.9. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. § 1801 et seq.) (MSA) is designed to actively conserve and manage fishery resources found off the coasts of the United States to support international fishery agreements for the conservation and management of highly migratory species. The MSA established procedures designed to identify, conserve and enhance EFH for fisheries regulated under a federal fisheries management plan. Federal agencies must consult with the NOAA Fisheries on all proposed actions authorized, funded or carried out by the agency which may adversely affect EFH.
Relevant fish resources pertinent to the project area include Pacific salmonids. The Columbia River is designated as EFH for salmonids, as it provides waters and substrate necessary for spawning, breeding, feeding, and growth to maturity.
The FCRPS 2014 BiOp provided conservation recommendations to avoid and reduce adverse effects to EFH (blocking habitat, modifying flows, and degrading water quality).
The Proposed Action is consistent with methods to alleviate the lack of rearing habitat for
6.10. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) (16 U.S.C. § 703 et seq.) makes it unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture or kill; attempt to take, capture or kill; possess, offer to sell, barter, purchase, deliver or cause to be shipped, exported, imported, transported, carried or received any migratory bird, part, nest, egg or product, manufactured or not. Under the MBTA, “migratory birds” include all birds native to the United States and the Act pertains to any time of the year, not just during migration.
The sequence of construction activities would be timed to minimize adverse impacts to migratory birds. Impacts to nesting habitat, including vegetation removal, would be timed to occur before or after the breeding season, reducing adverse impacts to nesting substrate or habitats supporting nesting birds. For these reasons, the Proposed Action is in compliance with this Act.
6.11. National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 This Act (16 U.S.C. § 470 et seq.) is designed to protect and conserve cultural resources and ensure that development does not harm or degrade them. Section 106 of the NHPA requires all Federal agencies to consider the potential effects of their projects and undertakings on historic properties eligible for or currently listed on the NRHP: http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/. Historic properties are archaeological sites or historic structures or the remnants of sites or structures.
To determine the potential effect of the project on known or unknown historic properties: the nature of the proposed activity and its effect on the landscape is evaluated; the likelihood that historic properties are present within a project area is assessed; an assessment is made as to whether the ground is disturbed by previous land use activities and the extent of the disturbance; and there is a review of listings of known archeological or historic site locations, including site databases and areas previously surveyed or listings of sites on the NRHP.
In compliance with the NHPA and its implementing regulations, the Corps initiated formal consultations regarding the project with the Oregon SHPO, the Grand Ronde, Siletz and Cowlitz on July 1, 2015. The intent of the consultations was to seek comments and concurrence on the proposed undertakings and the project’s area of potential effect (APE), provide descriptions of initial findings and background research, describe actions being proposed to further identify and evaluate cultural resources located within the APE, and to seek any additional information or recommendations pertaining to the Corps' investigative methodology and the potential for locating additional cultural resources within the APE.
The Corps has since received Oregon SHPO concurrence on the APE determination and preliminary investigative methodologies, and both formal and informal consultation is ongoing with Oregon SHPO in regard to the project and implementation of systematic cultural resource assessments within the project area. Although no formal correspondence has been received from the Tribes regarding the project, informal discussions with the Grand Ronde have indicated no initial Tribal concerns with the planned work or cultural assessment strategies. Formal and informal consultations about the project are continuing with the Tribes.
The Corps anticipates completion of formal consultations with SHPO and the Tribes regarding the cultural findings, determinations of effect, and recommendations by August 5,
2016. In the event of an adverse effect determination to any eligible historic properties or April 22, 2016 Page 62 cultural resources, the Corps would conduct further consultations with SHPO and the Tribes to determine appropriate mitigation measures to identify ways to reduce, avoid or mitigate the expected adverse effects of the planned project undertakings. In the interim, the Corps is actively coordinating with Oregon SHPO and the Tribes on these undertakings, strategies and findings to ensure continued concurrence, cooperation, input and regulatory compliance on the project.
6.12. Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, 24 May 1977 This executive order requires federal agencies to evaluate the potential effects of proposed activities on floodplains and avoid possible long- and short-term adverse impacts associated with the occupancy and modification of floodplains, and to avoid direct and indirect support of floodplain development wherever there is a practicable alternative. Federal agencies are directed to develop alternatives to floodplain activities, where practicable, and identify what impacts (beneficial and adverse) are due to the action. Executive Order 11988 requires that the Corps document (1) reasons why the proposed action must be located in the floodplain; (2) facts considered in making the determination to locate the proposed action in the floodplain, including alternative sites and actions considered; (3) statement on whether the proposed action conforms to applicable State or local floodplain protection standards; (4) a statement on whether the action affects the natural and beneficial values of the floodplain; (5) steps taken to design or modify the proposed action to minimize potential harm to or within the floodplain;
and (6) a general listing of involved agencies, groups and organizations. The reasons discussed below illustrate how the Proposed Action complies with requirements 1-6 outlined in this Executive Order.
1. To meet the goal and objectives of the action, habitat restoration must occur in the Columbia River floodplain for the project to successfully restore hydrologic connectivity and support rearing habitat for juvenile salmonids. Additionally, Section 536 requirements state that restoration activities cannot adversely impact adjacent property owners, consequently fill material associated with construction of the setback levee must be placed within the FEMA 100-year floodplain to protect adjacent properties from flooding.
2. The information considered in making the determination to locate the Proposed Action in the floodplain include flood zone designations by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA designates flood zones based on the likelihood of the subject area being inundated by a 100-year flood event. FEMA designated the CSR project area as Zone AE (Special Flood Hazard Area) on Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) panel 41009C0350D, effective November 26, 2010, for Columbia County, Oregon (see Figure 10). Although the area associated with the Proposed Action has been cut off from Columbia River fluvial processes since the early 20th century, the Columbia River Levee is not an accredited structure, and therefore all land behind the levee (landward) are mapped as part of the Columbia river 100-year floodplain.
Because the CSR project site is located within the floodplain, all alternatives considered (see Section 3.3) were also located in the floodplain.
3. The Corps is actively coordinating with State and local floodplain administrators to ensure that the Proposed Action is consistent with the existing floodplain management guidelines. Since the existing levee has not been accredited, and since the area behind the Deer Island Levee is mapped as a Zone AE, detailed, 100-year floodplain, no revisions to the FEMA FIRM panel 41009C0350D are needed.
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4. As described in Section 4 and 5, the Proposed Action is expected to result in beneficial impacts to natural resources in the CSR project area, including reconnection of 342 acres of historical floodplain and 95 acres of remnant wetlands with the Columbia River, providing juvenile salmonid foraging and rearing habitat. The CSR project area would experience periodic tidal flushing during seasonally high Columbia River stages in the winter and spring, providing structural and functional linkages the floodplain and the Columbia River, benefiting fish and wildlife in the lower Columbia River and estuary.
Columbia Stock Ranch Property Boundary Figure 10: Columbia County, Oregon Flood Insurance Rate Map 41009C0350D
5. Multiple project elements were included in the Proposed Action to minimize potential adverse impacts to or within the floodplain, including the installation of tide gates for fish passage, inclusion of an overflow channel to lower water surface elevations to adjacent properties, the proposed installation of bridges under the railroad instead of culverts, and the removal of water control features across the project site.
6. Agencies and groups involved in the Proposed Action include the Corps, BPA and CLT.
Following acquisition of the CSR property in 2012 (using funding provided by BPA), CLT granted BPA a perpetual conservation easement over the land. The Corps and BPA signed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on 26 November 2012, ensuring no future development would impede the natural evolution of floodplain processes on the CSR project site following implementation of restoration actions.
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6.13. Executive Order 11990, Protection of Wetlands, 24 May 1977 The purpose of this executive order is to minimize the destruction, loss or degradation of wetlands and to preserve and enhance the natural and beneficial values of wetlands. In planning their actions, federal agencies are required to consider alternatives to wetland sites and limit potential damage if an activity affecting a wetland cannot be avoided.
The Proposed Action would restore natural wetland conditions and tidal networks within the lower Columbia River and estuary. As a result, restoration of the CSR project site would enhance natural and beneficial values of wetlands, increasing the quantity and quality of wetlands in the project area. Consequently, the Proposed Action complies with Executive Order 11990.