March 27, 2014
USFWS amended compatibility determination for
emergency beach nourishment is now available
By IRENE NOLAN
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released an amendment to the
S-Curves Beach Nourishment Compatibility Determination for one-time
nourishment at the S-curves on Highway 12 in the Peal Island National
In it, refuge manager Mike Bryant has found the project
“compatible” with uses of the refuge with certain conditions, just as
he did last November with the original compatibility determination.
The document is available for public review and comment until Thursday, April 10, at the end of the workday, 4 p.m.
work proposed by the N.C. Department of Transportion will be conducted
on the refuge, and the amendment expands the beach disposal window from
the date the permit is finalized until April 15, 2015. This may
include dredging and beach disposal during summer months.
nourishment is considered by DOT to be an emergency project that will
provide interim protection – for about three years -- of Highway12
while the Phase IIb of the Bonner Bridge replacement work is planned
Federal 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.
The conditions that USFWS placed on the original permit include the suitability of the sand source.
draft compatibility statement says, “Approval of the requested use to
place 1,126,104 yards of sand on 8,685 linear feet of refuge beach can
be granted only if the borrow source material is within the range of
suitability with natural beach sand. Sand suitability for any disposal
action is determined by the refuge manager and will be based upon
standards that are known to have minimal impact on refuge resources and
with opportunity for recovery of marine invertebrates.”
amendment notes that there have been no changes in the project design
or borrow sources since the November 2013 Compatibility Determination
was prepared. However, the beach nourishment project was planned for
construction during the 2013-14 winter months and prior to migratory
bird and turtle nesting season.
The U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers prepared a contract and received a bid from one potential
contractor in January. That bid was substantially over budget and the
contractor stated that the company could not begin work until June,
The NCDOT requested the permit modification in a letter
dated Feb.11 and followed up with a second letter dated Feb. 21,
rephrasing the request and specifying acceptable conditions to protect
The November compatibility determination was
prepared with stipulations to require conditions in the project Special
Use Permit that would avoid beach nourishment activities in the
migratory bird and sea turtle nesting season. The permit was to expire
on April 1 with the possibility of extending the effective date until
May 15, 2014.
Because of the length of time it took to
identify suitable sand borrow sources, develop plans, and acquire
contractor services, the project could neither be initiated nor
completed prior to the onset of nesting activity.
contracting schedule is being dictated by weather and windows of
contractor availability. Consequently the Corps and NCDOT requested an
extension of the special use permit until April 15, 2015. This
extension provides sufficient time to implement the project at any time
within that permitted window.
Because the original
compatibility determination contained stipulations tying the
seasonality of work to the bird and turtle nesting season, USFWS had to
amend the determination.
The special use permit will be amended
to include provisions for additional beach monitoring from April 1
through Sept. 1 of this year.
If you wish to review the Draft
Compatibility Determination, copies are available at the Refuge
administrative office at 100 Conservation Way, Manteo, at the Pea
Island Visitor Center, and at http://www.fws.gov/peaisland.
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].
comments must be submitted no later than close of business at 4 p.m. on
April 10, 2014. If you need additional information, please
contact Refuge Biologist Dennis Stewart at 252-473-1132, ext. 231.