Forest Service Seeking Comments on ACP Route
In a press release dated February 29th, the Forest Service announced it is seeking comments on whether to allow surveys on a 14.3-mile segment of the George Washington National Forest for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Bath, Highland and Augusta counties.. Proposed environmental surveys include surveying wetlands, water, soil, and suitable habitat for sensitive species, including federally listed threatened and endangered plants and animals. Surveys will also record and document cultural resources and invasive species. The Forest Service will use public comments and an environmental review to decide whether to issue a permit for the surveys on the forest. Comments are being accepted through Monday, March 21, 2016.
Acting Forest Supervisor, Job Timm said “The information gathered from these surveys are necessary to make future decisions on whether or not to allow the construction and operation of the proposed pipeline on the George Washington National Forest. If allowed, the survey information will inform us where to avoid or reduce the impacts to sensitive resources.”
Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC is currently surveying private and public land to determine routing feasibility, and identify environmental and cultural resources along the proposed 594-mile route. If the results of the private and public land surveys determine that the proposed route is feasible, then the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will conduct an in-depth environmental analysis, with opportunities for public comments, prior to deciding on the need for the pipeline.
Supervisor Timm explained “If the FERC determines the pipeline is needed, the Forest Service will make a separate determination whether to issue a right-of-way permit to construct, operate, and maintain a natural gas pipeline on National Forest System lands. The Forest Service will use the FERC’s environmental analysis and public process to inform our decision.”
Activities associated with the proposed surveys include:
- Survey crews walking the corridor. No vehicles will be used except to access the corridor using public and existing Forest Roads.
- Using hand tools to remove minor amounts of brush to navigate the route; saplings or limbs removed will be less than two inches in diameter.
- Placing biodegradable survey ribbon, flagging, survey stakes, and plastic pin flags within the corridor and removed after all surveys are conducted.
- Removing soil with shovels to test for cultural resources. Soil will be replaced prior to leaving each sample site.
- Identification and documentation of cultural resources, sensitive species habitat, and invasive species. No flora, fauna, or cultural resources will be removed.
More information, including maps and specifics of survey activities can be found on the Forest Service website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/gwj/.
Contact information for submitting comments can be found with this story on our website, alleghenymountainradio.org.
For Allegheny Mountain Radio, this is Scott Smith.
Comments may be submitted by:
FAX: (540) 265-5145
Mail or Hand Deliver:
USDA Forest Service
Atlantic Coast Pipeline Survey Comments
5162 Valleypointe Parkway
Roanoke, VA 24019
Hand-delivered comments must be received during our normal business hours of Tuesday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.