April 25, 2013
USFWS seeks comment on compatibility for Pea Island Inlet Bridge
By IRENE NOLAN
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Draft Compatibility Determination on
the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s request for a
temporary easement permit for construction of a new, permanent bridge
at Pea Island Inlet is open for public comment and review until May 3.
are being sought on the benefits of and impacts from issuing a permit
granting temporary construction easements in the Pea Island National
NCDOT plans to replace the temporary bridge
over Pea Island Inlet, which was cut by Hurricane Irene in 2011, with a
permanent bridge as part of the replacement of the Bonner Bridge
Project. The replacement of the temporary bridge is Phase IIa of
building a new bridge and a phased approach to hotspots on Highway 12
on Hatteras Island.
As currently planned, the new bridge would
be approximately 2.1 miles long and would affect approximately 3.84
acres of refuge land outside of the existing right-of-way, requiring
temporary construction easements.
Upon completion of
construction, the areas covered by temporary easements would be fully
restored by NCDOT. Once the bridge is completed, two parking lots
currently on the refuge would be removed.
The first one on the
east side of the existing highway would be removed and the area
restored to upland grasslands. The second parking lot -- New Inlet
parking area --provides primitive access for small boats, canoes, and
kayaks. As currently planned, this parking and access would also be
eliminated due to the elevated bridge structure through the area. NCDOT is
exploring other possibilities to provide public access in the vicinity.
wildlife refuges are required by law to determine the compatibility of
any proposed non-wildlife dependent use with the mission of the
national wildlife refuge system and the purpose for which a particular
refuge was established.
Mike Bryant, Pea Island refuge
manager, said that after reviewing the information, he found the bridge
replacement right-of-way modification is compatible with “the standards
for a minor modification and can be found to be compatible with the
mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System and the purpose for
establishing Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.”
determination is conditional upon full compliance with several
stipulations necessary to ensure compatibility and the terms and
conditions in a new right-of-way permit.
include returning the temporary easement areas to a condition as good
or better than before construction, monitoring and modeling in the
refuge under the NCDOT Transportation Management Plan, and
implementation by DOT of a refuge habitat and Highway 12 vulnerability
forecasting study in consultation with USFWS.
“The mission of
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is to protect migratory birds and
other native wildlife and their breeding grounds and habitat for the
benefit of the American people,” stated Bryant in a press
release. He added, “We want the community to be informed about
the work being proposed and to have an opportunity to weigh in on the
pros and cons of that work.”
If you wish to review the short,
seven page Draft Compatibility Determination, copies are available at
the refuge administrative office at 100 Conservation Way, Manteo, N.C.,
on the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge web site at http://www.fws.gov/peaisland, and at the Dare County public libraries.
comments may be sent to: Refuge Manager, Alligator River National
Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 1969, Manteo, N.C. 27954 or emailed to [email protected].
comments must be submitted no later than close of business at 4 p.m. on
Friday, May 3. If you need additional information, please contact
refuge biologist Dennis Stewart at 252- 473-1131, ext. 231.