Date of this Version
In 2003, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued an Amendment to the 2000 Biological Opinion (BiOp) with recommendations for the US Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) operations on the Missouri River Mainstem System (MRMS). The BiOp Amendment was the result of continuing consultation between the Corps and the USFWS under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and supplemented the recommendations given in the previous BiOp (USFWS, 2000). The 2000 BiOp and amendments made in 2003 will be collectively referred to as “BiOp” hereafter. The document found that Corps operations on the Missouri River were not likely to jeopardize interior least tern and piping plover populations if the Reasonable and Prudent Alternative (RPA) set forth in the BiOp was implemented. Element IV.B. 3 of the RPA includes recommendations for the mechanical creation or restoration of Emergent Sandbar Habitat (ESH) as nesting habitat for these two species. ESH refers to exposed, inter-channel sandbars. In contrast to islands, ESH complexes are temporary formations and comparatively dynamic in nature. Creation or restoration of ESH should improve least tern and piping plover productivity number on the MRMS while enabling the Corps to manage the MRMS to meet congressionally authorized purposes.
This Environmental Assessment (EA) will focus on evaluating the removal of vegetation on ESH located within the Garrison reach of the Missouri River between Missouri River miles (RM) 1375.0 and RM 1300.0, along the boundaries of Burleigh/Morton, Mercer/McLean and McLean/Oliver Counties, North Dakota. More specifically, vegetation removal is proposed at the following approximate locations: RM 1374.5 (~150 acres), RM 1352.5 (~49 acres), RM 1347.5 and 1348.5 (~147 acres), RM 1343.5 (~46 acres) and RM 1304.0 (~50 acres). This EA is consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) regulations for implementing NEPA (40 CFR 1500-1508), the Corps’ regulations for implementing NEPA (33 CFR 325 and ER 200-2-2) and other appropriate
environmental laws and regulations, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The Corps must evaluate the proposed project and decide whether its approval would result in a significant impact upon the human environment, thereby prompting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), or whether a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is appropriate.