May 21, 2013
Refuge seeks public comment on CHEC
proposal to move transmission lines
By IRENE NOLAN
draft compatibility determination for the Cape Hatteras Electric
Cooperative’s request to relocate transmission lines at two sites in
the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge has been made available for
public review and comment.
Refuge manager Mike Bryant found that
the CHEC request to amend its right-of-way for the relocation was
compatible with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission and goals at
the refuge – with some stipulations.
The public comment period is open until Monday, June 3.
to the draft compatibility determination, CHEC’s right-of-way permit
has been amended on five occasions since it was issued in 1966.
non-profit utility provides electric service to Hatteras Island,
including facilities owned and operated by Pea Island National Wildlife
Refuge. The request involves the relocation of utility poles in
two locations within the refuge because of storm-induced accelerated
On August 27, 2011, Hurricane Irene caused
significant damage to NC Highway 12, creating a new inlet and
destroying parts of NC-12 and CHEC’s 115 kV electric transmission
system. Permission to proceed with the emergency measures to
repair and replace the line was obtained with the understanding that
the easement modification would be applied for at a later time.
response to damage to Highway 12, the North Carolina Department of
Transportation spanned the inlet with temporary bridging and began to
formulate plans for a replacement bridge. CHEC has worked closely
with NCDOT in the planning of the new bridge and this easement
modification request is intended to provide NCDOT adequate clearance
In late 2012, Hurricane Sandy and subsequent
northeasters severely eroded the beach, dunes, and Highway 12 just
north of Mirlo Beach in an area known as the S-curves. The eroded
and damaged features protected CHEC’s 115 kV transmission line that
provides electric service to Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.
Emergency measures were taken immediately following the storms to
protect several structures vulnerable to ocean tides and
overwash. To ensure reliability for island residents, an easement
modification is necessary to relocate the transmission line further
CHEC is preparing an environmental report, as required by
the Rural Utilities Service. This report has been commissioned
and will be completed prior to construction.
compatibility determination includes several stipulations to ensure
that the refuge purpose and mission can be achieved with the proposed
utility ROW modifications. Those stipulations include:
utility easement areas shall be restored to a condition as good as or
better than before the relocation and CHEC shall relinquish all claims
to the abandoned easement areas.
shall ensure full compliance with all terms and conditions within or
attached to Right-of-Way Permit ES-0852 and all modifications or
and control of exotic and invasive species is required. The use
of herbicides and pesticides is prohibited without prior approval by
the regional director. Notice shall be provided to the Refuge so
as to allow sufficient time for coordination and necessary approvals
before applying any herbicide, pesticide, or any other chemical control
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for the conservation and
protection of migratory birds from harm or harassment within the Refuge
and the Presidential Proclamation Boundary. This Proclamation
established certain lands and waters within and adjacent to, and in the
vicinity of the refuge as a closed area. In the event that
construction is initiated during the wildlife nesting season, surveys
will be done to assess nesting activity. If nests are found, they
will be clearly marked and construction/maintenance activities shall be
modified as directed by the refuge manager or designee to protect
wildlife nesting activities.
terms and conditions are specified in 50 CFR 29.21-4. By
reference, these terms and conditions are hereby considered to be a
part of this compatibility determination and will be included (or minor
variations thereof) in the right-of-way permit.
- Prior to beginning construction, CHEC shall provide proof that all other required Federal and State permits were acquired.
proposed changes in utility ROW and relocation of utility lines will
result in minimal and mostly short-term impacts on refuge biological
resources,” the draft compatibility determination states. “Similarly,
the change in ROW will neither materially interfere with nor detract
from the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System or the purpose
for which the Refuge was established.”
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
“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. 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
Draft Compatibility Determination, copies are available at the National
Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center at 100 Conservation Way in Manteo and
at the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, and at Dare
County public libraries.
Written comments may be sent to: Refuge
Manager, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 1969,
Manteo, NC 27954 or e-mailed to [email protected].
You can also click here to read the compatibility determination.
All comments must be submitted no later than close of business at 4 p.m. on Monday, June 3.
If you need additional information, please contact Refuge Biologist Dennis Stewart at 252-473-1131, ext. 231.