Record of Decision for the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Susquehanna to Roseland 500-Kilovolt Transmission Line, Appalachian National Scenic Trail; Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River, 63856-63871 [2012-25457]

Download as PDF 63856 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The OMB Control Number is 1076–0141 and expires December 31, 2012. National Environmental Policy Act The Department has determined that these rate adjustments do not constitute a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment and that no detailed statement is required under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321–4370(d)). Information Quality Act In developing this notice, we did not conduct or use a study, experiment, or survey requiring peer review under the Information Quality Act (Pub. L. 106– 554). Dated: October 11, 2012. Michael R. Smith, Acting Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs. [FR Doc. 2012–25477 Filed 10–16–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–W7–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [LLES956000–L19100000–BK0000– LRCMM0E04162] Eastern States: Filing of Plats of Survey AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior. Notice of Filing of Plat of Survey; Alabama, Louisiana. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 The plat of survey represents the remonumentation of the corner of Sections 22, 23, 26, and 27, of the Huntsville Meridian, in the State of Alabama, and was accepted July 29, 2012. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This survey was requested by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Midwest Region. Louisiana Meridian, Louisiana T 5 N., R 1 W. The plat of survey represents the survey of a parcel of land held in trust for the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians within Lot 6, Pine Heights Subdivision in Section 9, of the Louisiana Meridian, in the State of Louisiana, and was accepted September 17, 2012. We will place copies of the plats we described in the open files. They will be available to the public as a matter of information. If BLM receives a protest against these surveys, as shown on the plats, prior to the date of the official filing, we will stay the filing pending our consideration of the protest. We will not officially file the plats until the day after we have accepted or dismissed all protests and they have become final, including decisions on appeals. Dated: October 5, 2012. Dominica Van Koten, Chief Cadastral Surveyor. BILLING CODE 4310–GJ–P The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will file the plats of survey of the lands described below in the BLM-Eastern States office in Springfield, Virginia, 30 calendar days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bureau of Land Management-Eastern States, 7450 Boston Boulevard, Springfield, Virginia 22153. Attn: Cadastral Survey. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1–800–877–8339 to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This survey was requested by the Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, Branch of Cadastral Survey. VerDate Mar<15>2010 Huntsville Meridian, Alabama T. 18 S., R 7 E. [FR Doc. 2012–25573 Filed 10–16–12; 8:45 am] ACTION: SUMMARY: The lands surveyed are: and right-of-way permits to PPL Electric Utilities Corporation and the Public Service Electric and Gas Company (applicant) for the Susquehanna to Roseland 500-kilovolt (kV) transmission line to pass through the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River. The ROD is based on the Susquehanna to Roseland 500-kV Transmission Line Right-of-Way and Special Use Permit Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) which was released for a 30-day no action period beginning on September 1, 2012 and ending September 30, 2012. The ROD describes the selected alternative; other alternatives considered; the basis for the decision to grant the permit requested by the applicant; and mitigation measures. The ROD is not the final agency action for those elements of the decision that require the issuance of a permit or additional ROW. Final agency action to implement the decision will occur when a permit and ROWs incorporating these terms are completed and issued to the applicant. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The ROD is provided below. United States Department of the Interior National Park Service Record of Decision Susquehanna to Roseland 500-kV Transmission Line Right-of-Way and Special Use Permit Environmental Impact Statement National Park Service Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River, Pennsylvania and New Jersey [NPS–NER–HPPC–11442; 4320–pplb–318] Introduction DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Record of Decision for the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Susquehanna to Roseland 500Kilovolt Transmission Line, Appalachian National Scenic Trail; Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River National Park Service, Interior. Notice of Availability. AGENCY: ACTION: Pursuant to Section 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended, and its implementing regulations (40 CFR parts 1500–1508), the Northeast Regional Director, National Park Service (NPS), signed a Record of Decision (ROD) on October 1, 2012, granting construction SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00071 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The Department of the Interior, National Park Service (NPS), has prepared this Record of Decision (ROD) for the Susquehanna to Roseland 500kV Transmission Line Right-of-Way and Special Use Permit Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Appalachian National Scenic Trail (APPA), Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DEWA), and Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River (MDSR) in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This ROD states what the decision is, identifies the other alternatives considered, identifies the environmentally preferable alternative, discusses the basis for the decision, lists measures to minimize and/or mitigate environmental harm, and briefly describes public and agency E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES involvement in the decision-making process. The Non-Impairment Determination and final Statement of Findings (SOF) for wetlands and floodplains for the selected action are attached to this ROD. The ROD also concludes the NPS’s responsibilities under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, and its implementing regulations at 36 CFR 800.8, by committing to the mitigation of adverse effects to historic properties. Project Background In 2007, the regional transmission operator, PJM Interconnection (PJM), identified a 500-kV transmission line between the Susquehanna Substation in Pennsylvania and the Roseland Substation in New Jersey as the preferred and most effective solution for reliability violations forecasted as part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission-approved Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP) process. Responding to this assessment, the applicant proposed to construct a 500-kV transmission to connect the two substations on a route that included crossings of DEWA, APPA, and MDSR. PPL Electric Utilities Corporation (PPL) and Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G), jointly known as the applicant, applied for a permit to allow the construction, maintenance, and operation of the Susquehanna to Roseland line (S–R Line) across three units of the national park system, the expansion of the existing right-of-way (ROW), and the replacement of an existing 230-kV transmission line it owns. The existing 230-kV transmission line runs from the Bushkill substation to the Kittatinny substation (B–K Line), crossing DEWA, APPA, and MDSR. It also crosses a small panhandle of DEWA en route to and northwest of the Bushkill Station. The B–K Line towers are approximately 80 feet in height and the deeded ROW varies from 100 to 380 feet in width through the parks. The applicant proposes to replace the B–K Line towers with new towers up to 195 feet tall, install an additional circuit (the S–R Line), and widen the ROW to accommodate these new facilities. The new replacement B–K Line will be capable of carrying 500-kV, though it would be initially energized at only 230kV. The applicant’s proposal includes both the construction of the S–R Line and the replacement of the B–K Line as part of the project. References in this document to ‘‘the line’’ refer to both lines and the single set of towers they share. The applicant’s purpose for the proposed S–R Line is to strengthen the reliability of the grid at the direction of VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 the regional transmission operator, PJM. PJM oversees the overall movement of wholesale electricity between many electric utilities in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia. The PJM 2007 load forecast model identified 23 projected grid reliability criteria violations starting in 2012. PJM advised that an upgrade to this line would aid in resolving several violations and issues related to reliability and congestion. The need for the proposed S–R Line has been expressed several times by PJM in planning documents. PJM’s Regional Transmission Expansion Plans from 2007 to 2010 have identified the proposed S–R Line as an important project on what was termed by PJM as a ‘‘backbone’’ line. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) also identified the proposed S–R Line as a ‘‘backbone,’’ while the applicant has repeatedly noted the need for and importance of increased electrical transmission capacity between Berwick, Pennsylvania and Roseland, New Jersey. If constructed, the new S–R Line would make the current transmission line corridor an even more important link in the regional grid than it is now. The two new lines proposed would require a much higher level of access roads and activity to monitor and maintain. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PAPUC) and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) have approved the S–R Line, although the approval included conditions and the NJBPU decision is being challenged in court. Whether there is a need for the proposed S–R Line project is not for the NPS to decide, nor is it a factor in the preparation of the EIS; that question is within the purview of the PAPUC and NJBPU. The NPS prepared an EIS to determine whether to grant or deny the applicant’s request for a construction and ROW permit within NPS lands. Decision (Selected Action) The National Park Service will implement alternative 2, which was identified as the agency’s preferred alternative in the Susquehanna to Roseland 500-kV Transmission Line Right-of-Way and Special Use Permit Final EIS, with mitigation as described herein. The complete description of the selected alternative can be found in Chapter 2 of the final EIS in the following sections: Description of the Alternatives, Elements Common to All Action Alternatives, and Alternative 2: Applicant’s Proposed Route. A summary of the key points of the selected alternative is provided below. Under the selected alternative, the NPS will take final agency action when PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 63857 it issues a permit to grant a ROW and construction permit to PSEG and PPL for the expansion of the B–K Line to a new double-circuit line through NPS lands in accordance with this decision. The selected alternative will include the installation of a double-circuit 500-kV transmission line (consisting of new towers and conductors) and associated telecommunications infrastructure. Two static lightning and communications fiber lines will be installed on top of the structures; these lines, respectively, will protect the transmission lines from electrical interruptions and will serve as a communication link between existing substations. This telecommunications infrastructure will not be highly visible, and will not include cell towers. Telecommunications infrastructure will only be used for electrical transmission purposes and will not be sold to a third party. Existing structures in the B–K Line ROW between the Bushkill Substation and the eastern boundary of DEWA will be removed. Removal of the existing B–K line will require the removal of vegetation to permit the construction of spur roads to allow equipment access. Spur roads will be 20 feet wide and will be surfaced with compacted dirt or gravel. Grading will occur to backfill over the existing tower foundations, counterpoises, and ground wires, to create a natural cover. Crane pads, approximately 200 feet by 200 feet will be constructed to provide a safe, level pad for large cranes to mobilize, set outriggers, and aid in the removal of transmission line towers. Wire pulling locations, approximately 200 feet by 200 feet, will be used for coiling conductors after they have been cut. Lattice towers will be disassembled at each tower location and placed on a tractor-trailer or hoisted by an air crane and shipped to a staging area for eventual recycling. The route for the selected alternative follows the corridor of the B–K Line, which traverses approximately 4.3 miles of DEWA. Within DEWA boundaries, the route crosses MDSR and APPA approximately perpendicularly. Within the study area, the alternative 2 alignment is approximately 5.6 miles long. The alignment will enter DEWA from the west in Pennsylvania approximately 0.25 mile east of Big Bushkill Creek. The alignment will cross approximately 0.6 mile of DEWA land and then exit the park. In the next approximately 0.68-mile section of the study area, the alignment will travel to the Bushkill Substation, cross a small (0.06-mile) portion of DEWA, cross the Fernwood Golf Course, and then reenter DEWA south of the South Zone Ranger Station and north of DEWA E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 63858 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices Headquarters. The alignment will travel southeast within DEWA for approximately 0.85 mile, then cross 0.10 mile of MDSR just north of Depew Island. The route will continue southeast approximately 2.4 miles past the Watergate Recreation Site and cross APPA. The route will then traverse another 0.25 mile from APPA to the eastern DEWA boundary. Beyond the boundary, the alignment will travel southeast approximately 0.7 mile to a Visual Split Location (VSL) which was used in the EIS to identify the geographical point outside the parks at which it becomes physically possible for the applicant to route the line as it sees fit. The width of the existing B–K Line ROW ranges from 100 to 380 feet in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; however, the ROW is only cleared to a width between approximately 80 and 150 feet. In the FEIS, this alternative was analyzed assuming it would require clearing of vegetation for an additional 50 to 200 feet of ROW. To avoid and reduce impacts caused by clearing and construction activities, the applicant has agreed to limit clearing of the ROW and construction activities to no more than 200 feet, with clearing limited to 150 feet in some areas. The area to be cleared is specified in the Statement of Findings, Attachment B of this ROD. Low impact tree clearing will be used to remove vegetation from the proposed ROW. Trees will be cut close to the ground, and stumps and root systems will be left in place to provide additional soil stability. A 50-foot buffer will be used near intermittent streams and wetlands and a 100-foot buffer near perennial streams. Alternative 2 will require new access roads, because old trails and roadbeds on which the access roads are based are overgrown and will not allow access by large vehicles. Generally, access roads will fall within the transmission line ROW, but in some instances, it will be necessary for access roads to extend outside the ROW. Alternative 2 will require a total of 5.3 miles of access roads, 1.9 miles of which will be outside the ROW (1.5 miles in Pennsylvania and 0.4 mile in New Jersey). Access roads will initially be 20 feet wide to accommodate large construction vehicles. Following construction, access roads will be narrowed to 15 feet wide and will continue to be used for maintenance and vegetation management for the line. Access roads will be composed of gravel or compacted dirt. Crane pads will be used for assembly and erection at each new tower location. Crane pad sites will be graded or cleared VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 to provide a reasonably level pad free of any vegetation that could hinder tower construction. Some tower sites will require grading either to widen the pads from the existing structures or to create new pads, while other sites will be on relatively level areas that will only require some vegetation removal. At locations with steep topography, extensive excavation may be required to create a level pad. New towers will be constructed on a concrete foundation. Foundation dimensions will depend on topography, tower height, span length, and soil properties; however, tower foundations will generally extend below grade for 15 to 30 feet or more, with a diameter of 6 to 9 feet. On average, a typical concrete foundation will extend approximately 3 feet above ground level. If monopoles are feasible, they will be used. If monopoles are not feasible for these structures, it may be necessary to use lattice towers. Wire installation includes all activities associated with the installation of conductor wire onto the new towers, such as the installation of primary conductor and ground wire, vibration dampeners, weights, spacers, and suspension and dead-end hardware assemblies. For stringing equipment that cannot be positioned at either side of a dead-end transmission tower, anchoring and dead-end hardware will be temporarily installed to sag conductor wire to the correct tension. Wirestringing activities would be conducted as described in Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standard 524–1992, Guide to the Installation of Overhead Transmission Line Conductors. Construction of transmission facilities will also consist of the establishment of staging yards for construction materials and equipment, completion of any roadwork, and removal of the B–K Line that currently crosses the parks. Staging yards for materials and equipment will be approximately 3 to 4 acres each. Efforts will be made to locate staging areas on previously disturbed property, abandoned excavations, or abandoned parking areas. Construction activities will last for approximately 8 months. Maintenance of the S–R Line will be performed on an as-needed basis, but is expected to occur at least once annually, and will include maintenance of access roads and erosion/drainage control structures. Maintenance of vegetation will be performed by the applicant. NPS will require an NPS-specific, NPSapproved vegetation management plan. Mitigation Measures/Monitoring Mitigation measures will be implemented to minimize the impacts PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 on resources from construction, operation, and maintenance activities. The NPS will also establish mechanisms to ensure that all mitigation obligations are met, mitigation measures are monitored for effectiveness, and unsuccessful mitigation is quickly remedied. In instances where impacts cannot be avoided and other mitigation is not feasible, compensation for resources lost or degraded through project construction, operation, and maintenance will be required. Examples of items that cannot be directly remedied through other mitigation include impacts that degrade the scenic and other intrinsic values of the parks or impacts that result in the loss of recreational use and visitor enjoyment. Compensation will be used to mitigate these items by improving the stewardship of other natural, cultural, scenic, and recreational resources similar to those impacted. The NPS will require the applicant to follow certain Best Management Practices (BMPs)/mitigation measures for the selected alternative. Mitigation measures and BMPs specific to the impact topics, where applicable, are presented below. Mitigation measures are identified as BMPs NPS will require during construction and measures NPS will require over the life of the project. Compensatory mitigation measures are required for certain resources and are identified as applicable. Geology BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during Construction: • Submit a detailed drilling plan for NPS review and approval for all drilling activities prior to drilling and construction activities. • Complete geotechnical boring before construction to determine the appropriate depth needed to remove soils and weathered bedrock before reaching sound material where substantial excavation will occur. This will reduce the impacts of drilling in unstable material. • Haul all tailings from geotechnical borings and drillings offsite, unless the NPS determines that there is a park need for the tailings. • Use excavated rock as substrate for the access roads. • Complete a preconstruction surface assessment prior to disturbance. Work will be completed by a qualified geologist. If any paleontological resources are found, they will be avoided. If the resources are unavoidable, they will be collected and properly cared for before the start of construction. Any paleontological resources collected will be properly E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES documented and turned over to the park. • Monitor areas with potential paleontological resources during construction activities. • NPS will analyze or approve any water sources for drilling operations. Measure the NPS will require that will Avoid and Minimize Impacts over the Life of the Project: • Develop a buffer zone around areas of sensitive geologic resources. No activities will occur within the buffer zone. This buffer zone will protect these areas from drilling and excavation activities, limiting impacts. Water and Soil Resources BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during Construction: • Prepare a spill prevention and response plan (SPRP) to reduce impacts on surface water, ground water, and aquatic species if equipment leaks or hazardous spills occur. The goal of the plan is to minimize the potential for a spill, contain any spillage to the smallest area possible, and to protect environmentally sensitive areas, including streams, rivers, and wetlands. The SPRP will include the following: b Procedures for fuel storage location, fueling activities, and construction equipment maintenance. b Lines of communication to facilitate the prevention, response, containment, and cleanup of spills during construction activities. • Construct spur roads using geotextile fabric and stone, which will be removed at the conclusion of construction and will be revegetated using park approved species or seed mixes. • Inspect potential erosion areas weekly. Additionally inspect potential erosion areas immediately after storm events. The applicant will smooth out ruts and spread gravel to stabilize the roadway and prevent erosion. • Implement erosion control methods, such as silt fences during and after construction to reduce impacts of increased soil runoff on water resources. By retaining soil on-site, sediment and attached nutrients are prevented from leaving disturbed areas and polluting streams. The use of BMPs is estimated to reduce total suspended solids (TSS) by 40 percent, total nitrogen by 25 percent, and total phosphorus by 40 percent (Baldwin n.d., 1). • Drill during winter months (when not in areas with known snake dens) to reduce impacts of drilling on aquatic communities. Winter is when the least number of aquatic species and individuals are present in nearby water bodies. Measures the NPS will require VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 that will Avoid and Minimize Impacts over the Life of the Project: • Construct access roads with a gravel surface that is semipermeable to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff. A reduction in sheet flow will decrease the amount of sedimentation, total suspended soils, contaminants, nutrients, and turbidity in surface waters and impacts on aquatic species. • Construct road grades and alignments to follow the contour of the land with smooth, gradual curves; this will reduce the runoff potential of soils along the access roads outside the ROW. • Develop and implement soil and erosion control plans as mandated in state permits for Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). • Use only those herbicides approved by the NPS for aquatic environments for removal of vegetation. • Establish a 150-foot buffer near intermittent or perennial streams and wetlands. No activities will occur within the buffer. The buffer will reduce impacts on water quality and aquatic species. Floodplains Required mitigation measures are described in detail in the SOF, Attachment B of this ROD. All mitigation measures identified in the SOF are hereby incorporated by reference as mitigation measures required by this ROD. Wetlands Required mitigation measures are described in detail in the SOF, Attachment B of this ROD. All mitigation measures identified in the SOF are hereby incorporated by reference as mitigation measures required by this ROD. Vegetation BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during Construction: • Promptly seed areas disturbed during construction of the transmission line with a conservation mix approved by NPS, and monitor these areas for the spread of invasive plant species. • All areas where vegetation is to be removed will be clearly delineated and NPS approval of the limits of vegetation clearing will be obtained prior to any action taking place. • Minimize disturbance to native plant species during construction to prevent the spread of non-native species. • Clean equipment after leaving areas where invasive species are known to occur and before entering sensitive areas. PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 63859 • Use construction materials (e.g., gravel) from sources that have been inspected and found to be free of invasive species and approved by NPS. • Use timber mats during construction in areas outside the access roads to minimize soil compaction. Measures the NPS will require that will Avoid and Minimize Impacts over the Life of the Project: • Develop and implement an NPSapproved, long-term, park-specific vegetation management plan for the operation and maintenance of the line. Separate vegetation management plans are needed from PSE&G and PPL. These plans will focus on retaining habitat within the constraints of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) guidelines, and the control of invasive species. These plans will address invasive species management, including early detection, monitoring, and treatment for target invasive species using an integrated pest management approach. Additionally, an invasive species management plan will address the possible spread of invasive species via wooden spools used to supply wire. Other topics in the vegetation management plan will include vegetation restoration (native seeding and plantings, with annual monitoring and re-treatment as needed to achieve minimum acceptable outcomes, including an increase in biodiversity); management of sensitive species and sensitive habitats during routine maintenance; management of the ROW vegetation that will increase habitat for scrub shrub species; the use of best management practices to include restrictions on use of machinery and equipment time-of-year restrictions on vegetation in sensitive areas; preapproval by NPS on pesticide and herbicide use; and off-site compensation. The vegetation management plan will also include an equipment cleaning plan that will address techniques for removal of any invasive seed sources prior to entering the parks. • Use existing roads with minimal development of new access roads. • Require that maintenance crews enter the ROW on foot and use handheld equipment for vegetation maintenance in sensitive areas. • Clean equipment after leaving areas where invasive species are known to occur and before entering sensitive areas. • All woody vegetation (including chips) will be removed from the parks unless instructed otherwise by NPS staff. E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 63860 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES • Complete measures for the annual suppression of invasive plants within the ROW for the life of the project. Landscape Connectivity, Wildlife Habitat, and Wildlife BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during Construction: • Consult with NPS on deposition of brush piles. Where approved by NPS, leave brush piles alongside the ROW to provide habitat for wildlife species following the clearing of vegetation. • Remove spur roads following construction and maintain the ROW to provide bird habitat. • Vegetation clearing will occur outside the breeding season of migratory birds to reduce the likelihood of disturbing nesting birds. • The applicant will avoid take and minimize disturbance to eagles during construction and operation of the line. • Construction within 660 feet of any important eagle use area (breeding, foraging or roosting) will be completed outside the season of use. • Loud and disruptive impacts such as pile driving or blasting will not occur within one-half mile of an important eagle use area during the season of use. Measures the NPS will require that will Avoid and Minimize Impacts over the Life of the Project: • Impose a seasonal restriction on maintenance activities from March 15 through July 31 to prevent unauthorized take of nests and unfledged chicks protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). An avian protection plan (APP) will be developed and will be a condition of the applicant’s permit. • Impose a seasonal restriction on maintenance activities in March and April in areas of known amphibian migration to prevent direct mortality of spring peepers, wood frogs, spotted salamanders, red spotted newts, and Jefferson salamanders. • Consult with NPS on deposition of brush piles. Where approved by NPS, leave brush piles alongside the ROW to provide habitat for a variety of wildlife species following the clearing of vegetation. • The applicant will submit an application to FWS for a permit to cover the applicant’s liability under the BGEPA. • Diverters will be placed on the shield or static wire from the bank of the Delaware River on the New Jersey side of the line, to the top of the Hogback Ridge in Pennsylvania. Diverters suggested for use by the USFWS are yellow, coiled-PVC avian flight diverters or flapper diverters placed at roughly 50-foot intervals on the shield wire with communications wire to increase the VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 visibility of the line within the Kittatinny Ridge Migratory Corridor. • Tower lighting will only be permitted on the four towers where recommended by FAA, and only via AVWS system, such that lighting is only triggered by the approach of aircraft, minimizing the amount of time towers will be lit. Special-Status Species BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during Construction: • Obtain a qualified biologist to conduct preconstruction surveys before any ground-disturbing or vegetation clearing activities. Surveys will be to determine the presence of special-status species, habitat, nests, dens, and new hibernacula, and to determine if relocation will be an appropriate mitigation measure for any species found. Some species such as reptiles, amphibians, and mussels could be collected and relocated prior to or during construction activities, if this is found to be beneficial or appropriate to the species found at the site. If relocation is undertaken, a plan for the relocation of special-status species will be designed in consultation with the appropriate federal and state agencies and a qualified and permitted biologist will collect and relocate individuals to nearby suitable habitat. Preconstruction surveys are particularly important because construction may not occur for some time following the completion of the NEPA process and special-status species could begin using habitat between site surveys and construction activity. If special-status species, nests, dens, or habitats are found, then consultation measures will be developed and implemented in consultation with state and federal regulatory agencies. • Develop and implement (by recognized and qualified zoologists including individuals certified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or state conservation agencies and approved by NPS) species-specific conservation and mitigation plans if special-status wildlife species or occupied habitat cannot be avoided. These individuals will complete on-site monitoring. The plans will include: b Conservation measures, such as time-of-year restrictions. b Pre-construction surveys. b Construction monitoring. b Habitat preservation and habitat restoration components. b Post-construction monitoring as needed. • Ensure that park staff, their representatives, or representatives from appropriate state or federal agencies PO 00000 Frm 00075 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 who are experienced in managing or monitoring special-status species are on site to monitor for special-status species during the construction activities to verify that special-status species are not in the active construction area. • Implement road closures and/or patrols prior to and during construction activities at locations where it was deemed effective. • Install barrier fencing along streams to keep wood turtles from entering construction sites. • Implement seasonal restrictions to reduce impacts on special-status species. Seasonal restrictions will be site-specific, based on species present and their use of the site and include the following: b Seasonal restrictions on vegetation clearing from March 15 through July 31 will prevent the unauthorized take of nests and unfledged chicks of birds protected by the MBTA (USFWS 2010). This seasonal restriction will protect the majority of the special-status bird fledglings that may occur in the study areas for each alternative. Therefore, the permanent and seasonal resident nesting special-status bird species will not be forced to abandon nests or young, because vegetation clearing will not occur during the nesting season; no direct mortality of eggs, young, or adults will occur as a result. b Seasonal restrictions for disturbance of bald eagles will include a restriction within 1,000 feet of bald eagle nests between December 15 and August 31, the bald eagle nesting period. This restriction is recommended in the Bald Eagle Guidelines (USFWS 2007). b Seasonal restrictions for tree clearing and construction will be implemented from December 15 to March 31 in the vicinity of bald eagle roosts. b To prevent cutting of potential roost trees for the Indiana bat, a season restriction from April 1 through September 30, which includes the restriction of cutting trees with a diameter at breast height (DBH) greater than 8.7 inches will be implemented. b A seasonal restriction from April 1 through October 31 preventing the cutting of all trees or snags with a DBH greater than 5 inches will be implemented to avoid potential impacts on northern myotis and other treeroosting bats. b Seasonal restrictions on project activities will be implemented in venomous snake basking, birthing, and foraging habitat during the active season. Safe dates for project activities span from November 1 through March 31. Further timing restrictions for E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices drilling and excavation activities will be required in the vicinity of overwintering dens. b Seasonal restrictions for neotropical birds and bats will also benefit nesting and birthing reptile species in the spring and summer. b Seasonal restrictions will be implemented on project activities in wood turtle foraging habitat during the active season. Safe dates for project activities are November 15 through March 31. b Seasonal restrictions on project activities in bog turtle wetlands and 300-foot buffer during active season will be implemented. Safe dates for project activities are November 1 through March 31. Measures the NPS will require that will Avoid and Minimize Impacts over the Life of the Project: • Develop and implement NPSapproved, long-term, park-specific vegetation management plans for the operation and maintenance of the line. Separate vegetation management plans are needed for both from PSE&G and PPL. These plans will help reduce impacts to special-status species and the habitats they utilize. • Provide construction plans (as described in the general Construction and Restoration Plan) for each set of construction activities in order to facilitate modification of construction activities that may adversely impact areas that support special-status species. • The applicant will submit an application to FWS for a permit to cover the applicant’s liability under the BGEPA. • The applicant will either conduct monitoring or will provide NPS the funding to conduct monitoring in the vicinity of the line during construction and operation of the line in order to determine the level of hazard to eagles. If the likelihood of take is determined to be low, the standard permit will not require renewal, and the operation of the line will be consistent with BGEPA. If the monitoring suggests that take is likely to occur, the applicant will initiate the development of a programmatic permit to cover their liability during the operational life of the line. • Consult with appropriate federal and state agencies if special-status plant populations cannot be avoided, depending on the listing status of the species present. These consultations will determine appropriate mitigation measures for any populations affected by the proposed project. Appropriate measures could include the creation of offsite populations through seed collection or transplanting, VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 preservation, and enhancement of existing populations, or restoration or creation of suitable habitat in sufficient quantities to compensate for the impact. b Translocation includes digging up plants and moving them to appropriate portions of the corridor that will not be affected by the proposed construction activities. b Seeds can also be collected from plants that will be removed and either planted directly or germinated in a nursery and then planted in appropriate locations. • Develop and implement (by recognized and qualified zoologists including individuals certified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or state conservation agencies) species-specific conservation and mitigation plans if special-status wildlife species or occupied habitat cannot be avoided. These individuals will complete on-site monitoring. The plans will include: b Conservation measures, such as time-of-year restrictions. b Pre-construction surveys. b Construction monitoring. b Habitat preservation and habitat restoration components. b Post-construction monitoring as needed. • Complete an APP in accordance with the Bald Eagle Guidelines (USFWS 2007) and APLIC standards. b The APP will include elements that provide for training for all utility and contractor personnel on compliance with applicable regulations, procedures to be implemented for avoidance and minimization of disturbance, reporting bird mortality, required permits, accepted construction standards for reducing bird impacts, methodology for evaluation of risks to migratory birds, opportunities for enhancement of bird populations or habitat, public awareness and education, and identification of key resources. b The standards described in APLIC (1994) will be followed and will also comply with the APLIC Suggested Practices for Avian Protection on Power Lines: The State of the Art in 2006 (APLIC 2006). b Proposed construction and maintenance activities will follow and adhere to the Bald Eagle Guidelines (USFWS 2007), which will minimize the potential for ‘‘take’’ on the bald eagle. b To reduce impacts on birds from collisions with the transmission line, the APP (PSE&G 2010) will be written in compliance with APLIC standards and will use the current best available technologies. • Continue to identify and control invasive plant species through the PO 00000 Frm 00076 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 63861 applicant’s invasive plant management plans. In addition, an aggressive invasive plant management plan developed and implemented by the applicant will include ongoing monitoring and treatment. • Close access roads to the public to reduce the impacts of illegal collection. It has been demonstrated by Garber and Burger (1995, at 1152 and 1158) that when formerly intact, undisturbed, forested areas are opened to human recreation, the extinction of specialstatus species can occur in that particular area. Rare species, especially plants and small reptiles and amphibians, are vulnerable to illegal collecting, and even small numbers collected annually for a number of years could jeopardize the local population. • NPS law enforcement will monitor visitor activities in these areas, including the use of remote surveillance to assess the need for and effectiveness of area closures. There will be an increase in patrols along the access roads and any new ROW. Existing and proposed new access roads, especially access roads, could act as an attractive nuisance and/or recreation opportunity, by inviting visitors to areas inhabited by rare species and increasing visitor encounters with these species. • NPS law enforcement and resource staff will monitor closed areas for invasive species, vegetation, wildlife, and erosion, and the presence of park staff may dissuade visitors from entering these illegal areas. • Implement seasonal restrictions to reduce impacts on special-status species. Seasonal restrictions will be site-specific, based on species present and their use of the site and include the following: b Seasonal restrictions on vegetation clearing from March 15 through July 31 will prevent the unauthorized take of nests and unfledged chicks of birds protected by the MBTA (USFWS 2010). This seasonal restriction will protect the majority of the special-status bird fledglings that may occur in the study areas for each alternative. Therefore, the permanent and seasonal resident nesting special-status bird species will not be forced to abandon nests or young, because vegetation clearing will not occur during the nesting season; no direct mortality of eggs, young, or adults will occur as a result. b Seasonal restrictions for disturbance of bald eagles will include a restriction within 1,000 feet of bald eagle nests between December 15 and August 31, the bald eagle nesting period. This restriction is recommended in the Bald Eagle Guidelines (USFWS 2007). E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 63862 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices b Seasonal restrictions for tree clearing and construction will be implemented from December 15 to March 31 in the vicinity of bald eagle roosts. b To prevent cutting of potential roost trees for the Indiana bat, a season restriction from April 1 through September 30, which includes the restriction of cutting trees with a diameter at breast height (DBH) greater than 8.7 inches, will be implemented. b A seasonal restriction from April 1 through October 31 preventing the cutting of all trees or snags with a DBH greater than 5 inches will be implemented to avoid potential impacts on northern myotis and other treeroosting bats. b Seasonal restrictions on project activities will be implemented in venomous snake basking, birthing, and foraging habitat during the active season. Safe dates for project activities span from November 1 through March 31. Further timing restrictions for drilling and excavation activities will be required in the vicinity of overwintering dens. b Seasonal restrictions for Neotropical birds and bats will also benefit nesting and birthing reptile species in the spring and summer. b Seasonal restrictions will be implemented on project activities in wood turtle foraging habitat during the active season. Safe dates for project activities are November 15 through March 31. b Seasonal restrictions on project activities in bog turtle wetlands and 300-foot buffer during active season will be implemented. Safe dates for project activities are November 1 through March 31. Measures to specifically protect bog turtles will be undertaken in accordance with the Bog Turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii) Northern Population Recovery Plan (USFWS 2001), and the bog turtle conservation zones presented in the ‘‘Special-status Species’’ section of chapter 3 of the final EIS. These actions will be undertaken where appropriate as mitigation measures. Future coordination with appropriate federal and state agencies will clarify the extent to which adverse effects to the bog turtle will be likely to occur and will determine whether a biological assessment (BA) will be required. Other conservation and/or mitigation measures to protect the bog turtle suggested by the Recovery Plan include the restoration of disrupted wetland hydrology, the control of invasive species, reconnection of fragmented habitat, population monitoring, and VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 protection of nests from collection and predation (USFWS 2001). Cultural Resources Mitigation measures for cultural resources are described in the Section 106 discussion, below, and are incorporated by reference. Infrastructure, Access and Circulation BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during Construction: Prior to construction activities, the applicant will complete the following: • Develop a construction staging plan with NPS. • Develop a traffic control plan in conjunction with NPS. • Work with NPS to develop a plan for the control of unauthorized public access and use on NPS lands that could result from the proposed project. The agreement will address various provisions related to unauthorized access, such as the following: b Additional measures to be taken to discourage unauthorized use of the project corridor and associated access roads. b Periodic inspection for unauthorized access and any resulting damage. b Repair of any damage from unauthorized access. • Develop a media strategy/ notification plan as a means to notify local residents, businesses, and officials of closures and changes in traffic patterns. • Develop an off-highway vehicle/allterrain vehicle (OHV/ATV) deterrent plan prior to construction activities. During construction activities: • Design and construct new access roads to minimize runoff and soil erosion. • Install gates at the entrances to access roads to reduce unauthorized use; coordinate gate locks with NPS. • Restore public roadways to their pre-construction conditions or better upon completion of project construction activities. • Reclaim any road-related disturbance areas after construction is completed. • Permanently close and revegetate spur roads to discourage OHV/ATV use. For roads still in use, restrict access by unauthorized users as identified in the OHV/ATV deterrent plan. Visual Resources BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during Construction: During construction activities: • Restrict construction vehicle movement outside the ROW to NPSapproved routes. Should additional road PO 00000 Frm 00077 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 access be required, permission be sought from the NPS prior to disturbance, and appropriate remuneration fees will be assessed. • Keep areas around the towers clean and free of debris. • Maintain a clean construction site and remove all related equipment, materials, and litter following construction. • Revegetate disturbed areas with approved species. • Provide regular maintenance of access roads and fences within and leading to the corridor. • Cut stumps close to ground. • Implement ‘‘low-impact tree clearing’’ which involves directional tree-felling, both mechanically and by hand. • Rehabilitate or restore disturbed areas, as applicable. Measures the NPS will require that will Avoid and Minimize Impacts over the Life of the Project: During Project Design several mitigation measures will be undertaken. It should be noted that, in some cases, visual resource mitigation measures may directly contradict mitigation measures under APLIC that make the lines more visible to birds in order to decrease bird collisions and electrocutions; in these cases, the APLIC guidelines will prevail: • Locate new access roads within previously disturbed areas. • Route the alignment of new access roads to follow landform contours where practicable, providing that such alignment does not impact additional resource values, to minimize ground disturbance and/or reduce scarring (visual contrast) of the landscape. • Place structures in designated areas so as to avoid sensitive features such as, but not limited to, riparian areas, water courses, and cultural sites, and/or to allow conductors to clearly span the features, within limits of standard tower design. If the sensitive features cannot be completely avoided, towers will be placed so as to minimize the disturbance. • Place tower structures at the maximum feasible distance from roadway and trail crossings, and where preservation of existing vista(s) is particularly important. Distances will be within the limits of standard tower structure design. • Use non-reflective neutral colored paints and coatings approved by the NPS to reduce reflection, glare, and/or contrast on structures. • Use non-reflective insulators (i.e., non-ceramic or porcelain). • Use non-specular conductors to reduce reflectivity. E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices • Locate construction staging areas away from visually sensitive locations. • Conceptual landscaping in the form of vegetation planted outside but along the utility ROW. • Tower lighting will only be permitted on the four towers where recommended by FAA, and only via AVWS system, such that lighting is only triggered by the approach of aircraft, minimizing the amount of time towers will be lit. During maintenance activities: • Restrict construction vehicle movement outside the ROW to NPSapproved routes. Should additional road access be required, permission must be sought from the NPS prior to disturbance, and appropriate remuneration fees will be assessed. • Keep areas around the towers clean and free of debris. • Maintain a clean construction site and remove all related equipment, materials, and litter following construction. • Revegetate disturbed areas with approved species. • Provide regular maintenance of access roads and fences. • Cut stumps close to ground. • Implement ‘‘low-impact tree clearing’’ which involves directional tree-felling, both mechanically and by hand, and add buck trees to promote decomposition. • Rehabilitate and/or restore disturbed areas. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Soundscapes BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during Construction: • Comply with county and city noise ordinances. • Install sound-control devices on all construction equipment. • Install muffled exhaust on all construction equipment and vehicles except helicopters, if used. Visitor Use and Experience BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during Construction: • Coordinate construction schedules with NPS to avoid peak visitor use periods and notify visitors of construction. • The applicant must develop a plan to avoid or minimize impacts to park visitors, including visitors using roads, trails, the river and other areas affected by construction. The applicant must assure visitor safety while keeping recreation areas open to the greatest extent possible. NPS must approve the timing and duration of all closures. • Prior to construction develop a media strategy/notification plan as a means to notify local residents and visitors of closures. VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 Health and Safety BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during Construction: • Develop safety and emergency plans for the project prior to construction activities. • Fully train operators of the construction equipment and vehicles to reduce the chance of accidents. • Inspect construction equipment for malfunctions or faulty parts to reduce the risk of leaking fluids that could harm the environment or humans from contact. • Put in place safety devices such as traveling grounds, guard structures, and radio-equipped public safety roving vehicles and lineman prior to the initiation of wire stringing activities. • Install guard poles or guard structures at all transportation, flood control, and utility crossings. Guard poles are temporary facilities designed to stop the travel of the conductor should it momentarily drop below a conventional stringing height. • Restrict use of the immediate area in which construction will occur for safety reasons (PPL and PSE&G 2008, A10–6) to minimize impacts on park visitors during construction of the line within the parks. • Fence off construction areas in areas outside of the park, but inside the study area, where the public could access the construction site. • Station a safety representative at APPA crossings during any and all construction to maintain public safety. • Station a safety watchman on the river during stringing operations to stop any boat traffic if an incident does occur or if conditions otherwise warrant (PPL and PSE&G 2008, 6). • Implement road closures and traffic control to minimize the risk of accidents from occurring during the construction period. • Regularly maintain and inspect helicopters and employ operators certified/licensed in helicopter aviation. • Operators conducting aerial work in support of the utility may encounter hazards from the various types of flight profiles, terrain, infrastructure, weather, and operation at low levels and speeds. b To reduce the potential risk of a collision, the crew will identify potential collision hazards and make corrective actions prior to taking flight. b While in flight, the crew will exercise concentration, maintain situational awareness, be knowledgeable of their area of operations, maintain effective communications, and establish clear roles and responsibilities. PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 63863 Compensatory Mitigation The applicants have offered, and NPS will require as a permit condition, that they deposit at least fifty-six million dollars ($56,000,000) into a Middle Delaware Compensation Fund, as will be described in a memorandum of agreement to be entered with and managed by The Conservation Fund, to: • Acquire lands from willing sellers that can be included in the boundaries of APPA and DEWA as compensatory mitigation for lands over which ROW rights are granted. • Carry out wetlands restoration projects elsewhere within APPA and DEWA as compensatory mitigation for wetlands impacted by ROW clearing and maintenance. • Carry out historic preservation projects elsewhere within APPA and DEWA as compensatory mitigation for historic properties impacted by line construction. Other Alternatives Considered Alternative 1—No Action Under the no-action alternative, the NPS would deny the applications for ROWs and construction permits to expand the B–K Line to a new doublecircuit line through NPS lands. The existing B–K Line traverses approximately 4.3 miles of DEWA. The line initiates at the Susquehanna Substation and enters DEWA in Pennsylvania approximately 0.25 mile east of Big Bushkill Creek. The line then exits the park, connects to the Bushkill Substation, travels through developed areas, including Fernwood Golf Course, and reenters DEWA south of the South Zone Ranger Station and north of DEWA Headquarters, crossing MDSR just north of Depew Island. The line continues southeast past the Watergate Recreation Site and across APPA to the eastern DEWA boundary. There are 22 existing transmission towers located within DEWA boundaries for the existing B–K Line, and there are no existing access roads to the ROW. This alternative assumes that the existing line within the parks would remain in place without expansion or replacement. In essence, it assumes that current conditions on the ground will continue indefinitely into the future. However, the applicant could seek to expand or replace the existing utility lines within the existing easements through the parks. There are no proposals to do so at this time. Alternative 2b—Applicant’s Alternate Proposal The alignment for the applicant’s alternate proposal would follow the same route as described for alternative E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 63864 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 2 (the selected alternative). The difference between alternative 2 and alternative 2b is that the former would require widening the existing ROW, while the latter would be constructed within the existing ROW. The towers for alternative 2b would be the same height as those described for alternative 2, but alternative 2b would require two additional towers within NPS lands compared to alternative 2. These towers would be constructed within the 100foot-wide portion of the alignment. Because the ROW under alternative 2b is narrow, the applicant’s plans require these additional towers to protect against fire hazards presented by the risk of conductor blowout. The minimum horizontal clearance to the edge of the ROW under high wind conditions to prevent conductor blowout was determined to be greater than 100 feet, and the NPS has expressed concern about the safety of constructing within the existing ROW. The applicant’s proposal is based upon the controversial assumption that they have a right to clear danger trees on NPS property outside any deeded ROW (PPL 2010b). It is assumed that larger individual trees outside the ROW would be removed periodically. Access roads for alternative 2b are similar as those described for alternative 2, with a slight difference in Pennsylvania between the Bushkill Substation and the Delaware River. Alternative 2b would require a total of 5.3 miles of access roads, of which 2.4 miles would occur outside the ROW. Alternative 3 The alternative 3 alignment would pass through DEWA along the ROW of existing transmission and distribution lines. The existing transmission and distribution lines would be removed prior to construction of the S–R Line. The existing transmission line ROW is cleared to 100 feet wide, and this alternative would require clearing of vegetation for an additional 50 to 200 feet of ROW. The structures of the transmission and distribution lines would be constructed so that these lines and the S–R Line would run parallel to one another within the expanded ROW. That is, two separate sets of structures would be constructed, one set for the proposed S–R Line and one set for the existing transmission and distribution lines along the alternative 3 alignment. Alternative 3 would cross a total of 5.4 miles within the DEWA boundary. The route would cross about 1.3 miles of DEWA within the study area and about 1.7 miles of the northern end of Worthington State Forest, which is located within DEWA’s exterior VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 boundaries. The alignment for this alternative also crosses MDSR within DEWA, and APPA within Worthington State Forest. The alternative 3 alignment is approximately 6.9 miles long within the study area. The alternative 3 alignment would follow the alignment of the B–K Line for 0.6 mile from the western boundary of DEWA to the Bushkill Substation. The alignment would leave the study area and travel southwest to reenter the study area via the VSL point located in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, outside DEWA. From the western VSL, the alignment would cross River Road and the McDade Trail about 1.0 mile southwest of the Smithfield Beach Picnic Area and 0.75 mile northeast of the Hialeah Picnic Area. The alignment would continue southeast within DEWA approximately 0.8 mile to MDSR. On the east side of MDSR, the route would travel northeast approximately 0.49 mile to the boundary of Worthington State Forest; the remainder of the alignment within DEWA boundaries would also be encompassed by Worthington State Forest’s boundaries. The alignment would travel southeast approximately 1.69 miles to the eastern edge of DEWA, perpendicularly crossing APPA. The alignment would travel another 0.24 mile beyond the DEWA boundary to the VSL. The alternative 3 alignment would reenter DEWA beyond the eastern VSL as well. In the path to join the alignment of the B–K Line in New Jersey, alternative 3 could travel along the border of DEWA for 1.8 miles, paralleling APPA for this entire distance. Alternative 3 would require approximately 3.5 miles of access roads, of which 0.9 mile would occur outside the ROW. Alternative 4 Alternative 4 would pass through three portions of DEWA; the section of the park from the western boundary along the B–K Line to the Bushkill substation; through the southwestern boundary of the park, where the alignment leaves the boundary of the park for 0.51 mile, then re-enters the park. On the southernmost portion of DEWA, alternative 4 runs along the path of an existing distribution line ROW, and would also pass through a section of the park along the alignment of the B–K Line. The existing ROW is cleared from 100 to 200 feet wide, and this alternative would require permanent clearing of vegetation for an additional 100 to 200 feet of ROW. This line along alternative 4 would be removed prior to construction of the S–R Line. The structures of the existing distribution PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 line would be replaced so that this line and the double-circuited S–R Line would run parallel to one another within the expanded ROW. The route would cross about 1.5 mile of NPS lands, including DEWA and APPA. This alternative would also cross the Lower Delaware River; however, the crossing of the Delaware River would occur outside DEWA and MDSR boundaries and outside the study area. Alternative 4 would have a north– south orientation and would be approximately 2.3 miles long within the study area. As with alternative 3, the alternative 4 alignment follows the alignment of the B–K Line for 0.6 mile from the western boundary of DEWA to the Bushkill Substation. The alignment would leave the study area and travel southwest to reenter the study area via the VSL point at the edge of DEWA, near the southwestern boundary of the park. Upon entering DEWA from the north, the alternative 4 alignment would cross about 0.42 mile of DEWA land, roughly following the DEWA boundary, and would cross Mountain and Totts Gap roads. The alignment would then leave the boundary of DEWA for approximately 0.51 mile, before reentering the park. Upon reentering DEWA, the alignment would immediately cross APPA, then extend approximately 0.50 mile south to the southern boundary of DEWA. South of DEWA, the alternative 4 alignment would extend another 0.24 mile before the southern VSL. The designated boundary of Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge borders the existing ROW of the alternative 4 alignment north of APPA for approximately 0.73 mile. Alternative 4 would require a total of approximately 2.5 miles of access roads, with approximately 1.6 miles within NPS boundaries. Alternative 4 would use 0.9 mile of existing roads as access roads and would require construction of 1.6 miles of new access roads, of which 0.5 mile would occur outside the ROW. Alternative 5 Alternative 5 would run along the path of an existing distribution line ROW in the southernmost portion of DEWA. The existing ROW is cleared to 100 feet wide, and this alternative would require permanent clearing of vegetation for an additional 200 feet of ROW. This line along alternative 5 would be removed prior to construction of the S–R Line. The structures of the existing distribution line would be replaced so that this line and the double-circuited S–R Line would run parallel to one another within the expanded ROW. The route would cross E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES about 1.5 mile of NPS lands, including DEWA and APPA. This alternative would also cross the Lower Delaware River; however, the crossing of the Delaware River would occur outside DEWA and MDSR boundaries and outside the study area. Alternative 5 would have a north– south orientation and would be approximately 1.7 miles long within the study area. Alternative 5 would enter the study area via the VSL point at the edge of DEWA, near the southwestern boundary of the park. Upon entering DEWA from the north, the alternative 5 alignment would cross about 0.42 mile of DEWA land, roughly following the DEWA boundary, and would cross Mountain and Totts Gap roads. The alignment would then leave the boundary of DEWA for approximately 0.51 mile, before re-entering the park. Upon reentering DEWA, the alignment would immediately cross APPA, then extend approximately 0.50 mile south to the southern boundary of DEWA. South of DEWA, the alternative 5 alignment would extend another 0.24 mile before the southern VSL. The designated boundary of Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge borders the existing ROW of the alternative 5 alignment north of APPA for approximately 0.73 mile. Alternative 5 would require a total of approximately 1.7 miles of access roads; however, 0.9 mile of existing road would be used. Alternative 5 would require construction of approximately 0.9 mile of new access roads, of which 0.16 mile would occur outside the ROW. Basis for Decision The purpose and need of the NPS action analyzed in the EIS is to grant or deny the applicant’s proposal considering the purposes and resources of the affected units of the national park system, as expressed in statutes, regulations, policy, and the NPS objectives in taking action. In making the decision to select alternative 2, the NPS considered the applicant’s existing property rights, the alternatives evaluated in the EIS and the impacts on park resources and values of each alternative, and the comments received from other agencies and the public during the EIS process. Following is an evaluation of the other alternatives examined in the EIS with regard to how each factored into the decision-making process. No-action Alternative: There is a great deal of public support for selecting the no action alternative, which means that the NPS would deny the permit application and the existing powerline would remain essentially unchanged. VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 The impact analysis in the EIS showed that the no action alternative would have the least adverse impacts on park resources and values, and it was identified in the EIS as the environmentally preferable alternative. The NPS agrees that the no action alternative would be the best choice if the only consideration were protection of park resources and values. However, the NPS cannot ignore the fact that the applicant owns a property interest in the existing powerline corridor. The applicant asserts that these existing rights are sufficient to allow it to build an alternative design to the line (Alternative 2b) without the grant of additional rights. The NPS may not prevent the applicant from exercising these rights without effectuating a taking. Accordingly, there are two possible results of the selection of the no-action alternative. First, the line may not be built, and the environmental status quo may continue if the applicants decide to abandon the project, as analyzed in the EIS. This is viewed as unlikely by the NPS. Second, the applicant may decide to pursue alternative 2b, as analyzed, asserting its present property rights, and if it were prevented from constructing within its present rights, it might assert a ‘‘takings’’ claim against the United States. The latter is a particularly undesirable option for the NPS as, in its view, as discussed below, alternative 2b is less preferable than the selected alternative. Condemnation of the present right of way to prevent construction of alternative 2b has been rejected as impractical. Consequently, selection of the no-action alternative would present the NPS with significant uncertainty, and a strong probability that the eventual outcome would be worse for park resources than the selected alternative. Under these circumstances, NPS has rejected the noaction alternative in favor of the selected alternative, which, while causing more impact than failure to construct would, causes less impact than Alternative 2b. Alternative 2b: At first glance, alternative 2b might appear to have fewer impacts to some park resources because the applicant would be restricted to building entirely within the existing ROW width. However, the additional width required by the selected alternative is only 50 feet, or 25 feet on either side of centerline, over a small portion of the line within APPA and DEWA. The difference in width between alternative 2b and the selected alternative comes with some significant costs, as the existing width in some PO 00000 Frm 00080 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 63865 sections is insufficient to meet current safety standards. Although the applicant asserts that alternative 2b could be built safely, independent transmission line engineers engaged by NPS disagree, and NPS views this alternative as creating serious safety concerns due to insufficient clearance between the lines and vegetation. Alternative 2b would also require two additional towers within park boundaries, with attendant increases in tower visibility and construction impact. Finally, the present ROW deeds are the basis of ongoing disagreement between the NPS and the applicants over the extent to which applicants may clear vegetation outside the area of cleared right of way. Alternative 2b (like the no-action alternative) would leave this disagreement unresolved, while the selected alternative would resolve it. Alternatives 3, 4 and 5: Alternatives 3, 4, and 5 were developed to examine whether or not the proposed powerline could be constructed across the parks in a less sensitive area, and with less impacts to park resources and values. Alternative 3 was discovered to have more impacts on some resources and was not considered a desirable choice once the analysis was completed. Alternatives 4 and 5 both have far less impacts on park resources and values than the other action alternatives and from the NPS perspective, would meet the test of protecting park resources and values to the greatest extent possible without unduly interfering in the property rights of the applicant. However, alternatives 3, 4, and 5 were all based on a presumption that the applicant would voluntarily give up their existing property rights along the current easement and in return, the NPS would grant a new ROW in the selected location. The applicants have indicated that they are unwilling to give up their existing easement in exchange for another in a new location. As noted in the EIS, the NPS has considered but rejected the option of requiring the construction of the line in a new location while permitting the present line to remain. Thus, the NPS has selected alternative 2, the applicant’s proposal, with the mitigation measures described in this ROD. As discussed above, the selection factor with the greatest weight was the legal constraint presented by the applicant’s existing property rights. However, in making the selection, the NPS also considered the adverse impacts on park resources and values that would likely result from construction of the new powerline, as well as the NPS’ authority to reasonably regulate these activities within park E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 63866 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES boundaries. Therefore, the selected alternative incorporates mitigation that will be required conditions of the NPS permit. The NPS believes the required mitigation will avoid and minimize adverse impacts to the greatest degree possible, recognizing that some significant adverse impacts may still occur. The applicant has offered compensatory mitigation for unavoidable adverse impacts, as detailed above under Mitigation Measures. This is important and welcome, and a necessary offset to the impacts imposed on park resources; however, compensatory mitigation was not a deciding factor in the selection of the alternative, which was driven primarily by legal considerations and the relative impacts of the alternatives. As discussed above, mitigation will be implemented to avoid and minimize adverse impacts to the greatest degree possible, but unavoidable adverse impacts will still occur. Environmentally Preferable Alternative The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations require federal agencies to identify the environmentally preferable alternative in a Record of Decision (40 CFR 1505.2). The environmentally preferable alternative is the alternative that causes the least damage to biological and physical environment and best protects, preserves, and enhances historical, cultural, and natural resources. The environmentally preferable alternative is identified upon consideration and weighing by the Responsible Official of long-term environmental impacts against short-term impacts in evaluating what is the best protection of these resources. In some situations, such as when different alternatives impact different resources to different degrees, there may be more than one environmentally preferable alternative (43 CFR 46.30). The NPS has determined that alternative 1 (no action) is the environmentally preferable alternative. The NPS made this determination based on the analysis of the scientific data about the proposal and included mitigation provided by the applicant and collected by NPS contractors. Alternative 1 would result in the least amount of damage to the biological and physical environment. As the data show, all the alternatives will have some degree of direct and indirect adverse impact on the resources identified within the study area. None of the action alternatives would produce a net benefit or even keep conditions completely neutral; they would all be negative from an environmental point of VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 view. Alternative 1 would leave the existing B–K Line ROW in place, essentially maintaining conditions at status quo, with the exception of increased vegetation management, which would be likely to occur along the corridor of all the alternatives due to implementation of the newest NERC safety standards. Nonetheless, the relatively minor impacts of additional cutting and clearing in the existing ROW would be outweighed by the more significant environmental damage that would certainly occur with the construction and operation of a larger transmission line within the parks under any of the other proposed alternatives, including the two proposed by the applicant. Alternative 1 would thus result in the least damage among the alternatives. Alternative 1 would best protect and preserve the scenic, historic, cultural, recreational and natural resources of the parks involved and will therefore best promote the national environmental policy of NEPA. Public and Agency Involvement The planning process for the EIS was conducted with extensive public and agency involvement that included multiple newsletters, workshops, meetings, briefings, and a formal public comment process. These activities are briefly summarized below and a detailed discussion is presented in ‘‘The Public Scoping Process’’ section in Chapter 5 of the final EIS and appendix I. Scoping The internal scoping process began with scoping meetings conducted on September 15, 16, and 17, 2009, with staff members from the parks, the NPS Environmental Quality Division, the NPS Northeast Region, and contractor personnel in attendance. The internal scoping meeting began with a presentation on the process and background of NEPA, followed by a presentation by the applicant. During the remaining days, NPS identified the purpose of and need for action, management objectives, issues, and impact topics. Park resources, possible alternative elements, and the project schedule were also discussed. A preliminary alternatives meeting was held on December 16 and 17, 2009, with staff members from the parks, representatives from PPL and PSE&G, and contractor personnel in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the route alternatives for the S– R Line developed by the applicant, develop the criteria to evaluate the different transmission line route alternatives, and work cooperatively to PO 00000 Frm 00081 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 develop additional transmission line route alternatives in addition to the ones provided by the applicant. Public scoping began with the January 21, 2010, Federal Register publication of the notice of intent to prepare an EIS (75 FR 3486–3487). The notice of intent summarized the proposed action and explained how to comment on the action. NPS released a public scoping newsletter to the public for review and comment on January 21, 2010. The newsletter included a description of the proposed S–R Line, the purpose and need, background information, project objectives, and a list of issues and impact topics. The newsletter also provided information on upcoming public scoping meetings. The newsletter was sent to individuals, businesses, agencies, and organizations on the parks’ email distribution list. The parks also issued a news release inviting the public to comment at the scoping meetings. On February 16, 17, and 18, 2010, public scoping meetings were held in Bushkill, Pennsylvania, Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, and Parsippany, New Jersey, respectively. Each meeting began with an open house, followed by a short presentation by NPS explaining the project, as well as the project planning process. A formal public comment session with a court reporter was held after the NPS presentation. A total of 311 participants attended the public scoping meetings and 102 spoke formally during the comment sessions. A 30-day public scoping comment period, with a two-week extension, was provided from January 21 until March 12, during which members of the public were able to submit their comments on the proposed S–R Line. During the entire public scoping period, over 6,500 pieces of correspondence were received. A second preliminary alternatives workshop was held May 4, 5, 6, and 7, 2010. Attendees included staff members from the parks, NPS Environmental Quality Division Northeast Region, and contractor personnel. The meeting included a discussion of the project schedule, identification of additional data needed for the analysis of alternatives, a discussion of the proposed alternative, a discussion of which alternatives should be dismissed, and logistics for the public meetings. Following this workshop, NPS held another set of public meetings regarding alternatives on August 17, 18, and 19, 2010, in Bushkill, Pennsylvania; Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania; and Lafayette, New Jersey, respectively. The public was invited to submit comments on alternatives from July 9, 2010, to September 14, 2010. During the public E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES comment period, 1,700 separate pieces of correspondence were received. Public Comment on Draft EIS On November 21, 2011, the NPS released the draft EIS for the S–R Line for public review and comment. The draft EIS included a description of the proposed project and alternatives proposed, a description of the resources found within the study area, and an analysis of the impacts of the proposed project on these resources. The draft EIS was available for public review until January 31, 2012. During the comment period, three public meetings were held in Pennsylvania and New Jersey from January 24 through 26, 2012. Meetings were held in Bushkill, Pennsylvania; Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania; and Lafayette, New Jersey. Each public meeting had an open house from 2:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. and a public hearing from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. A total of 368 individuals attended the public comment meetings in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and a total of 102 participants spoke during the formal public comment sessions. Nearly 27,000 pieces of correspondence were received during the public comment period. Approximately 26,000 pieces of correspondence were form letters submitted by the National Parks Conservation Association and the Sierra Club. All of the public comments received on the draft EIS were read and analyzed by the NPS team. The analysis of the public comments received and NPS responses are provided in appendix L of the final EIS. Among the comments received, a majority were expressions of support for the no action alternative, general opposition to the project, and opposition to the proposed mitigation. Commenters cited concerns over impacts to natural and cultural resources, as well as the visitor experience as reasons they did not support the proposed project. Based on comments received from the applicant, an access road that was proposed through Arnott Fen was moved to reduce project impacts. In addition, blasting for tower installation was also removed and replaced with drilling to reduce impacts to geologic and natural resources. Other changes to the draft EIS as a result of public comments included warranted corrections and clarifications to the document. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act Consistent with guidance in National Park Service Management Policies and Directors Orders, NPS managers elected to comply with Section 106 of the VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 National Historic Preservation Act for the issuance of the construction and ROW permit through the use of 36 CFR 800.8(c), which allows federal agencies to use the NEPA process to meet Section 106 compliance responsibilities, according to standards in that subpart of the regulations. Integration of the requirements of Section 106 of the NHPA into the NEPA process and documentation are accomplished by meeting the criteria set forth in 36 CFR 800.8(c)(1)–(4). Early in the scoping process for the EIS, NPS staff began consulting with the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Historic Preservation Offices and numerous federally-recognized Tribes. Additionally, the scoping process included sets of news releases, public scoping meetings that included newsletters and information on historic resources, and general public notification of the decision-making process and alternatives being considered. NPS staff members shared extensive research, hosted consultation calls, and conducted on-site consultation meetings, finalizing the list of Section 106 consulting parties in spring 2012, when the NPS identified a preferred alternative. The list of Section 106 consulting parties includes the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma; Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; Appalachian Trail Conservancy; Delaware Nation, Oklahoma; Delaware Tribe of Indians, Oklahoma; Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma; New Jersey Historic Preservation Office; New York-New Jersey Trail Conference; Oneida Nation of New York; Onondaga Nation of New York; Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office; Preservation New Jersey; Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, New York (formerly the St. Regis Band of Mohawk Indians of New York); Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma; Seneca Nation of New York; Shawnee Tribe, Oklahoma; StockbridgeMunsee Community, Wisconsin; and Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians of New York. Other local organizations and municipalities have participated in discussions about this project. In addition to information that was made available to the public in the draft EIS on the undertaking and its effects on historic properties, the NPS and the applicant have completed numerous cultural resource studies and investigations. The results of these efforts were shared with the Section 106 consulting parties. National Park Service cultural resource studies and findings supported the development of the draft EIS. The applicants’ final PO 00000 Frm 00082 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 63867 reports, completed in spring 2012, contributed to development of the final EIS. Details on the consultation process can be found in Appendix M of the final EIS, and the PEPC site for the Susquehanna-Roseland Transmission Line, (http://parkplanning.nps.gov/ document.cfm?parkID=220&projectID= 25147&documentID=49560). The EIS and associated consultation determined the Area of Potential Effect (APE) (as described in the draft EIS and final EIS) and identified historic properties contained within it. The NPS worked with the consulting parties and the applicant to avoid and minimize effects to historic properties where possible and mitigate adverse effects where necessary. It was determined that there would be adverse effects to at least one archeological site, seventeen historic structures, and fourteen cultural landscapes (as specified in the final EIS). Through this ROD, the NPS commits to the following measures and processes to further avoid or minimize effects, and to mitigate adverse effects to historic properties from the issuance of the ROW and construction permit to the applicant. As discussion between the NPS, consulting parties and the applicant continue, and the applicant finalizes the design of the transmission line, the NPS will refine the minimization and mitigation measures and formalize the commitments itemized below as conditions of the permit granted to the applicant. Mitigation Measures While there are some physical effects, adverse effects from the issuance of this permit are primarily visual; due to the scale of the proposed towers, minimization efforts through vegetative screening are unlikely to be successful. Accordingly, through consultation with the Section 106 consulting parties, the NPS has developed mitigation measures that address the overall adverse effect to the parks from issuing the permit rather than focusing on effects to individual properties. The mitigation measures for specific properties and broad-based management plans and interpretive materials will be stipulated in the applicant’s permit. The applicant will fund the identified mitigation measures, as well as any future avoidance, minimization, or mitigation measures resulting from the issuance of the NPS permit, with oversight by the NPS. All of the activities below will be completed according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (36 CFR 68), and by, or under the supervision of, personnel who meet the Secretary of the Interior’s E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 63868 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES professional qualification standards (48 FR 44716, 1983), as appropriate. Appalachian National Scenic Trail • The applicant will allocate $500,000 from the Middle Delaware Compensation Fund to rehabilitate, improve, and protect elements and features of the Appalachian Trail that contribute to its National Register eligibility. The two specific activities below (viewshed analysis and National Register nominations) will be paid for from this allocation. These efforts may be associated with points along the Trail that are directly affected by the Susquehanna-Roseland Line or may be associated with mitigating existing adverse effects at other points along the Trail within the established Area of Potential Effect. Projects will be completed by the National Park Service, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, or other not-for-profit organizations associated with the Appalachian Trail (e.g., New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, the Appalachian Mountain Club). Rehabilitation, screening, or clearing will be decided upon and conducted at the direction of the National Park Service after discussion with the appropriate Section 106 consulting parties after construction. • The NPS will oversee the preparation of a viewshed analysis for the portion of the Appalachian Trail within the APE that will identify critical, character-defining views to inform the development of the National Register nominations discussed below. • The NPS will oversee the preparation of National Register nominations for the entire portion of the Appalachian Trail within the State of New Jersey and a reasonable segment of the Trail in Pennsylvania, as determined in discussion with the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office. These nominations will follow the standards of the multiple property documentation form the NPS is currently developing for the full length of the Appalachian Trail. The nominations must meet the standards of the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Officer, Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Officer, and National Register of Historic Places, and will be considered complete when accepted and approved by the Keeper of the National Register. • In addition to these measures, there are efforts related to this decision underway outside of the Section 106 process, such as land protection measures (including land acquisition), that will augment the current Section 106 mitigation plan Within the Appalachian Trail, activities will occur within the existing ROW, which will VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 not be widened. The above mitigation measures satisfy the requirements under Section 106 of the NHPA for effects to the Appalachian Trail. The NPS received two letters from non-profit organizations seeking to comment about or object to the NPS’s compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (Email to NPS from Preservation New Jersey dated Sept. 28, 2012; and Letter from the New YorkNew Jersey Trail Conference dated Sept. 25, 2012). The comments in the letters were previously raised by these organizations or other organizations or individuals, and the NPS already addressed these comments through Section 106 meetings and added analyses in the FEIS. Moreover, the NPS, in consultation with the consulting parties, developed binding measures that seek to avoid, minimize, or mitigate potential adverse effects associated with the proposal to address the comments raised by the letters. These measures were discussed in the FEIS, which cross-referenced the draft mitigation plan that was made publicly available on the NPS’s Web site prior to publication of the FEIS, and are contained in the ROD. Additionally, the NPS did not provide for a public comment period for the FEIS. See 40 CFR § 1503.1(b). Nevertheless, we note that the dispute resolution provisions contained in this ROD and the Section 106 Mitigation Plan will apply to the future actions covered by or implemented in accordance with this plan. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area NPS tasks identified under this heading will be completed using an allocation from the Middle Delaware Compensation Fund, as detailed below. The applicant will pay for all other tasks. • The NPS will require the applicant to make all efforts to avoid any ground disturbing activity that will impact archeological resources. The NPS will also require the applicant to fully excavate affected portions of any archeological site that will be impacted by unavoidable ground disturbance. Any excavation must be done under an Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) permit. • With the input of Tribes and State Historic Preservation Officers, the NPS will develop an archeological monitoring plan that will identify appropriate locations for archeological and/or tribal monitoring during construction-related ground-disturbing activities. The plan will meet or exceed New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and NPS PO 00000 Frm 00083 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 standards. The NPS will complete the plan prior to the initiation of construction. The applicant will pay for monitoring costs not to exceed $170,000. • The NPS will prepare a historic properties management plan for DEWA. This plan will identify and analyze historic structures and districts within the park, including historic significance, interpretation value, and potential for future reuse. The NPS will develop this plan in consultation with the interested Section 106 consulting parties, with substantial input from the surrounding communities and the public. The NPS will encourage additional agencies and other organizations who were not consulting parties during the development of the EIS to participate in the development of the historic properties management plan. The park will specifically encourage the involvement of their partner organizations in measures that affect the properties of interest to them. • The applicant will allocate $12,500,000 from the Middle Delaware Compensation Fund for physical preservation, rehabilitation, and/or restoration of historic structures and landscapes at DEWA. The expenditure of funds will be guided by the results of the historic properties management plan and input from the Section 106 consulting parties. Funds will be focused on the Old Mine Road Historic District and other appropriate locations within the park in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. • The NPS will consult with the federally-recognized Tribes affiliated with the park to develop a tribal cultural program. This program may include a tribal cultural center in the park, to be established at the Westbrook-Bell House or other appropriate facility identified in the historic properties management plan. • The applicant will complete vegetative screening or other treatments of cultural landscapes. Specific locations of screening, clearing, or other landscape treatments will be selected by the NPS, in cooperation with the Section 106 consulting parties after the transmission line has been built, when visual effects to historic landscapes are more fully defined. This effort will not exceed a cost of $500,000. • The NPS will oversee the completion of three National Register nominations or updates to existing nominations, such as updates to the Old Mine Road Historic District and Millbrook Village nominations and/or the completion of a River Road (PA) nomination. The nominations must meet the Pennsylvania or New Jersey E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices Historic Preservation Office, and National Register of Historic Places standards, and will be considered complete once accepted and approved by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places. • The NPS will oversee the completion of five research studies, such as Historic Structure Reports, Cultural Landscape Reports, historic contexts, or research syntheses. The NPS will solicit input from the Section 106 consulting parties for this project to determine the subjects of the studies. • The NPS will oversee the completion of four interpretive products, such as tour podcasts, sitespecific interpretive signs, scenic byway signs, or popular publications. The NPS will solicit input from the Section 106 consulting parties for this project to determine appropriate products under this stipulation. • The applicant will provide Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area $350 per box of artifacts and $500 per linear foot of archeological records created by the surveys, evaluations, and any possible excavations resulting from design and construction under this permit to cover the costs of curation of those artifacts/ records. The artifacts and records will be prepared and stored according to the standards in 36 CFR 79. Any human remains or objects subject to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) discovered as a result of this construction permit will be handled according to the regulations at 43 CFR 10. • The above mitigation measures satisfy the requirements under Section 106 of the NHPA for effects to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. However, this plan recognizes that there are additional efforts related to this permit underway outside of the Section 106 process, such as land protection measures (including land acquisition), that may also be put in place and will augment the current Section 106 mitigation plan. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Schedule for Completion of Mitigation Measures Within three years of issuance of the permit, these measures will be complete: • Historic Properties Management Plan • National Register nominations for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail • Identification of locations for vegetative screening/cultural landscape treatments Within five years of issuance of the permit, these measures will be complete: VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 • National Register nominations for Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area • Interpretive products Within ten years of issuance of the permit, these measures will be complete: • Research studies • Vegetative screening/cultural landscape treatments • Preservation, rehabilitation, and/or restoration projects of historic structures and cultural landscapes for which funding is provided under this plan. Project-Wide Stipulations Applicable to Both Parks: Consulting Party Involvement • Unless otherwise specified, the NPS will provide the Section 106 consulting parties with 30 days to review and provide comments or input on the implementation of measures identified in this plan. Consulting parties will have the opportunity to review and comment on interim and final drafts, as appropriate, and the identification of properties proposed for rehabilitation. If the NPS is unable to fulfill the commitments outlined in this mitigation plan, it will notify all consulting parties that it will follow the procedures in 36 CFR 800.3 through 800.6 as necessary to address any changes in the mitigation plan. The following conditions will be included as stipulations in the permit, and will apply to all activities covered by the permit. Any activities that occur outside of the actions allowed under the permit will undergo separate Section 106 compliance. Unanticipated Effects The permit will include the following stipulations to apply if any new adverse effects are identified as a result of changes in design or from unanticipated archeological discoveries during construction: 1. The NPS and Applicant will determine if avoidance/minimization measures are possible. These include but are not limited to: • Visual effects from towers/widened ROW • Physical effects from construction 2. Applicant will present feasibility/ infeasibility of avoidance/minimization to NPS; NPS will submit to Section 106 consulting parties for review and comment. 3. If the NPS and applicant determine that avoidance is not technically or environmentally feasible, the applicant will propose minimization efforts for NPS approval. This may include but is not limited to planting vegetative PO 00000 Frm 00084 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 63869 screening at sites identified for which it would be appropriate, or restricting damage to minimal area and/or less significant resources. Data recovery would still be required for any affected portion of archeological sites. The NPS and Section 106 consulting parties will review and discuss any proposed minimization efforts before NPS approval. 4. If the NPS determines minimization efforts are not adequate, the applicant will be responsible for additional mitigation and/or compensation. The NPS will consult with the Section 106 consulting parties to identify appropriate mitigation. Mitigation measures for archeological sites may include, but are not limited to, data recovery, curation costs, and/or production of interpretive materials. Mitigation measures for historic structures and cultural landscapes may include, but are not limited to, physical rehabilitation, development of interpretive materials, planning documents, HABS/HAER/HALS documentation, and National Register nominations. This stipulation only applies if new adverse effects are identified based on unanticipated discoveries during construction, or significant changes in design proposed by the applicant. If the new adverse effects are due to unanticipated grounddisturbing activities, no ground disturbance can occur until the appropriate avoidance or mitigation efforts are determined. The NPS will determine the appropriate mitigation measures, in consultation with the appropriate Section 106 consulting parties, within 5 business days of determining the adverse effect is unavoidable. Design and Pre-Construction Activities As the applicant finalizes the placement of transmission towers, crane pads, pull sites, access roads, and other associated features and activities, the applicant will submit the designs and locations to the NPS. Reviews will be limited to the precise, final location of towers, crane pads, and access roads established through discussions with the NPS. Adjustments from existing plans will be made, where possible given engineering and operational constraints, to avoid and minimize potential adverse impacts. Archeology • All archeological activities necessary for planning and/or construction will be controlled by a valid Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) permit. E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 63870 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices • All areas of possible ground disturbance determined sensitive for archeological resources must have undergone archeological survey (Phase I) and evaluation of identified archeological sites (Phase II) where deemed necessary through review and consultation prior to ground-disturbing activities in that particular location. Survey and evaluation results must have been reviewed by the appropriate Section 106 consulting parties and comments considered by the NPS prior to proceeding. • The applicant shall protect sites through fencing, matting, or other NPSapproved methods, where appropriate. If archeological sites cannot be protected and will be damaged by ground disturbance, the NPS will oversee their excavation according to a data recovery plan that meets NPS, state, and park-specific standards and is concurred upon by the NPS and the appropriate SHPO and Tribes prior to ground-disturbing activities. DEWA has a standard of archeologically excavating 100% of the affected portion of any archeological site impacted by development within the park. • An archeological and/or tribal monitor must be present for grounddisturbing activities identified according to the archeological monitoring plan (as identified above) within the boundaries of the park to ensure no previously undiscovered sites are affected; the monitors may decide their presence is not required for individual actions. Applicant must coordinate the schedule of all ground disturbance with the monitors to ensure coverage, where appropriate. The cost for monitoring is included in the NTE estimate identified in the park-specific measures listed above. • If construction crews make unanticipated discoveries of archeological materials, work will immediately stop in the discovery location. Monitors will make an on-site determination of the likelihood of human remains; if none is expected, monitors will notify the respective park superintendent and cultural resource manager, who will coordinate with the respective SHPO and Tribes for an eligibility determination and treatment method, as needed, within 15 days. • If construction-related activities uncover human remains, the applicant or its contractors will stop work at the location immediately, and notify park law enforcement, monitors, and the park cultural resources manager. Park law enforcement will determine if the remains are the result of a crime, and, if so, will contact the local coroner to determine whether the remains are of VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 American Indian origin. If the coroner determines that the remains are American Indian, NPS managers will comply with NAGPRA requirements as described in 43 CFR 10 or a parkspecific NAGPRA Plan of Action. If the coroner determines that the remains are not American Indian and not the result of a crime, the park superintendent and cultural resource manager will coordinate with the appropriate SHPO to determine disposition of the remains. • The NPS will require the relocation of ground disturbing activities to avoid human remains, unless technically infeasible. If not technically feasible, the applicant will consult with park and Tribes on the reasons, and discuss alternate strategies, such as reinterment. Applicant is responsible for all costs associated with the delineation of the boundaries of the burial site, if required; relocation of ground disturbance; and costs of re-interment or alternate treatment methods. • Applicant is responsible for all costs associated with survey/evaluation/ mitigation of effects to archeological sites, as well as any costs for construction delays associated with such activities. • The applicant must prepare an archeological survey plan for review and approval by the DEWA and APPA cultural resources manager for any postconstruction ground-disturbing activities related to maintenance and/or improvement of the line within the boundaries of DEWA, APPA, or MDSR for which the NPS will issue permit(s). Historic Structures/Cultural Landscapes Physical rehabilitation or restoration efforts on historic structures and cultural landscapes resulting from this project, and conducted by entities other than the National Park Service, will be supervised and inspected by the NPS to ensure they meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. If the efforts do not meet the Standards, the performing entity will make all necessary adjustments, at its own expense, until rehabilitation or restoration meet the Standards. Dispute Resolution 1. Should any consulting party object in writing to the NPS regarding any action carried out or proposed with respect to any undertakings covered by this plan or to implementation of this plan, the NPS will notify all consulting parties and consult with the objecting party to resolve the objection. 2. Within thirty (30) days after initiating such consultation, if the NPS determines that the objection cannot be PO 00000 Frm 00085 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 resolved through consultation, the NPS will forward all documentation relevant to the objection to the ACHP, including the proposed response to the objection. 3. Within thirty (30) days after receipt of all pertinent documentation, the ACHP will exercise one of the following options: a. Advise the NPS that the ACHP concurs with the NPS proposed response to the objection, whereupon the NPS will respond to the objection accordingly; or b. Provide the NPS with recommendations, which the NPS will take into account in reaching a final decision regarding its response to the objection. 4. Should the ACHP not exercise one of the above options within thirty (30) days after receipt of all pertinent documentation, the NPS may assume the AHCP’s concurrence in its proposed response to the objection. 5. The NPS will take into account any ACHP recommendation or comment provided in accordance with this stipulation with reference only to the subject of the objection; the NPS’s responsibility to carry out all the actions under this plan that are not the subjects of the objection will remain unchanged. Section 7 Consultation Consultation with USFWS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries has been completed as required by the Endangered Species Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. NPS has engaged with NOAA Fisheries with a formal consultation letter; on May 13, 2010, NPS received a response from NOAA Fisheries regarding the project. The letter stated that there are American shad between the Delaware Water Gap and the New York border; additionally, there may be also be shad in the Philadelphia reach of the river. Depending on further information regarding the transmission line crossing of the river, NOAA Fisheries may need to be consulted again. In addition, seasonal work restrictions should be incorporated into the project schedule for any work in the Delaware River. NPS received a response to the preliminary alternatives newsletter from NOAA Fisheries on July 22, 2010. The letter noted that while a population of an endangered species could be found in the Delaware River, the population was downstream of the study area. NOAA Fisheries stated that as no listed species were found in the study area, further section 7 consultation will not be required. On January 31, 2012, the NPS received a E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 201 / Wednesday, October 17, 2012 / Notices letter from NOAA Fisheries indicating that NOAA had reviewed the draft EIS. The letter contained specific comments regarding the presence of the federally endangered shortnose sturgeon, federal candidate species Atlantic sturgeon, and the American shad within the study area during some periods of the year. However, NOAA Fisheries concluded that the detailed discussion of impacts to the river were discussed adequately in the draft EIS, and that no consultation will be required as part of the federal permit process. The letter recommended the use of BMPs to minimize turbidity and other water quality impacts. These letters can be found in appendix I of the final EIS. After initial engagement of USFWS with a consultation letter, USFWS sent an initial response letter on June 11, 2010, regarding the project. The letter noted that the federally listed Indiana bat and bog turtle could be affected by the permit if specific permit conditions were not met. Migratory birds were also addressed, and USFWS provided recommendations on the draft Avian Protection Plan provided by PSE&G. Recommendations for all species included seasonal restrictions, mitigation measures, and additional surveys. NPS received a response to the preliminary alternatives newsletter from USFWS on September 3, 2010, and an additional response on October 21, 2010, with potential impacts of each alternative on federally listed species and suggested recommendations regarding listed species. In a letter dated January 10, 2011, NPS requested more information from USFWS on any federally listed species within the vicinity of the proposed alternatives within the park. The NPS sent a letter to the USFWS on November 16, 2011, requesting comments on the draft Biological Assessment and draft EIS for informal consultation. The USFWS replied to the letter, indicating that the USFWS could not provide advice on the need for formal consultation and noting that the USFWS could not commit to completing consultation by May 2, 2012, as requested. The letter from the USFWS provided some comments on impacts and options on concluding consultation. Another letter received from the USFWS on January 31, 2012, included comments on the draft EIS and on impacts to the bog turtle, Indiana bat, bald eagle, and other migratory birds. The draft Biological Assessment was sent to USFWS on May 21, 2012. Comments were received and the final Biological Assessment was sent to USFWS on June 29, 2012. In a letter dated July 6, 2012, USFWS concurred VerDate Mar<15>2010 18:49 Oct 16, 2012 Jkt 229001 with the finding by NPS that the preferred alternative was not likely to adversely affect endangered species on NPS lands. These letters and the Final Biological Assessment can be found in appendix I of the final EIS. In a letter dated February 7, 2011, NPS invited USFWS to become a cooperating agency for this EIS. On March 14, 2011, USFWS responded and agreed to become a cooperating agency, pending a formal Interagency Agreement, and on April 1, 2011, NPS sent a request to USFWS to formalize the Interagency Agreement. The agreement was signed on December 5, 2011. Conclusion The above factors and considerations warrant implementing alternative 2 as described and analyzed in the final EIS for Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River and this Record of Decision. All practical means to avoid and minimize environmental harm from implementation of the selected alternative have been incorporated, as described in the final EIS and this Record of Decision. The alternative selected for implementation will not impair park resources or values and will allow the NPS to preserve park resources and provide for their enjoyment by future generations. This Record of Decision is not the final agency action for those elements of the decision that require the issuance of a permit or additional ROW. Final agency action to implement this decision will occur when a permit and ROWs incorporating these terms are completed and issued to the applicants. Record of Decision Attachments The Record of Decision contains two attachments: A Non-Impairment Determination and the Final Statement of Findings. These attachments are available on the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment System (PEPC). The links to these attachments are provided below. Attachment A: Non-Impairment Determination http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document. cfm?parkID=220&projectID=25147& documentID=49997 Attachment B: Final Wetland and Floodplain Statement of Findings http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document. cfm?parkID=220&projectID=25147& documentID=49997 PO 00000 Frm 00086 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 63871 Dated: October 2, 2012. Dennis R. Reidenbach, Regional Director, Northeast Region, National Park Service. [FR Doc. 2012–25457 Filed 10–16–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4312–JG–P DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Notice of Lodging of Proposed Supplemental Consent Decree Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act On October 10, 2012, the Department of Justice lodged a proposed Supplemental Consent Decree with the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts in the lawsuit entitled, United States and Massachusetts v. AVX Corporation, Civil Action No. 83–3882–Y. In 1983, the United States and Massachusetts commenced suit against AVX Corporation (‘‘AVX’’) alleging that AVX was liable to the governments for natural resource damages and later amended the suit to seek response costs under the Superfund statute and other legal authorities. That litigation against AVX was concluded when the governments entered into a Consent Decree with AVX in 1992, resolving AVX’s liability subject to the governments’ rights to further pursue the claims under a reservation of rights under CERCLA that authorizes the governments to seek additional relief based on unknown conditions or new information and another reservation of rights that allows the governments to seek additional relief from AVX should certain response costs exceed $130.5 million (‘‘reopeners’’). This Supplemental Consent Decree resolves AVX’s liability for response costs and injunctive relief under both the unknown conditions/new information and cost-related reopeners under the 1992 Consent Decree. Upon entry of the Supplemental Consent Decree, the Unilateral Administrative Order (‘‘UAO’’) issued, pursuant to Section 106 of CERCLA, by EPA Region 1 on April 18, 2012 (whose ‘‘effective date’’ has currently been delayed until November 1, 2012) will be withdrawn. Mediated negotiations between the governments and AVX that were conducted following EPA’s issuance of the UAO resulted in the Supplemental Consent Decree. Under the terms of the Supplemental Consent Decree, AVX Corporation will pay an additional $366.25 million with interest (in addition to the $59 million, plus interest, that AVX paid for E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 201 (Wednesday, October 17, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 63856-63871]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-25457]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Park Service

[NPS-NER-HPPC-11442; 4320-pplb-318]


Record of Decision for the Final Environmental Impact Statement 
for the Susquehanna to Roseland 500-Kilovolt Transmission Line, 
Appalachian National Scenic Trail; Delaware Water Gap National 
Recreation Area and Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational 
River

AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Availability.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Pursuant to Section 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, as amended, and its implementing regulations (40 
CFR parts 1500-1508), the Northeast Regional Director, National Park 
Service (NPS), signed a Record of Decision (ROD) on October 1, 2012, 
granting construction and right-of-way permits to PPL Electric 
Utilities Corporation and the Public Service Electric and Gas Company 
(applicant) for the Susquehanna to Roseland 500-kilovolt (kV) 
transmission line to pass through the Appalachian National Scenic 
Trail, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and Middle Delaware 
National Scenic and Recreational River. The ROD is based on the 
Susquehanna to Roseland 500-kV Transmission Line Right-of-Way and 
Special Use Permit Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) 
which was released for a 30-day no action period beginning on September 
1, 2012 and ending September 30, 2012. The ROD describes the selected 
alternative; other alternatives considered; the basis for the decision 
to grant the permit requested by the applicant; and mitigation 
measures. The ROD is not the final agency action for those elements of 
the decision that require the issuance of a permit or additional ROW. 
Final agency action to implement the decision will occur when a permit 
and ROWs incorporating these terms are completed and issued to the 
applicant.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The ROD is provided below.

United States Department of the Interior

National Park Service

Record of Decision

Susquehanna to Roseland 500-kV Transmission Line Right-of-Way and 
Special Use Permit Environmental Impact Statement

Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Delaware Water Gap National 
Recreation Area, Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational 
River, Pennsylvania and New Jersey

Introduction

    The Department of the Interior, National Park Service (NPS), has 
prepared this Record of Decision (ROD) for the Susquehanna to Roseland 
500-kV Transmission Line Right-of-Way and Special Use Permit 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Appalachian National Scenic 
Trail (APPA), Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DEWA), and 
Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River (MDSR) in 
Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This ROD states what the decision is, 
identifies the other alternatives considered, identifies the 
environmentally preferable alternative, discusses the basis for the 
decision, lists measures to minimize and/or mitigate environmental 
harm, and briefly describes public and agency

[[Page 63857]]

involvement in the decision-making process. The Non-Impairment 
Determination and final Statement of Findings (SOF) for wetlands and 
floodplains for the selected action are attached to this ROD. The ROD 
also concludes the NPS's responsibilities under Section 106 of the 
National Historic Preservation Act, and its implementing regulations at 
36 CFR 800.8, by committing to the mitigation of adverse effects to 
historic properties.

Project Background

    In 2007, the regional transmission operator, PJM Interconnection 
(PJM), identified a 500-kV transmission line between the Susquehanna 
Substation in Pennsylvania and the Roseland Substation in New Jersey as 
the preferred and most effective solution for reliability violations 
forecasted as part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission-approved 
Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP) process. Responding to this 
assessment, the applicant proposed to construct a 500-kV transmission 
to connect the two substations on a route that included crossings of 
DEWA, APPA, and MDSR.
    PPL Electric Utilities Corporation (PPL) and Public Service 
Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G), jointly known as the applicant, 
applied for a permit to allow the construction, maintenance, and 
operation of the Susquehanna to Roseland line (S-R Line) across three 
units of the national park system, the expansion of the existing right-
of-way (ROW), and the replacement of an existing 230-kV transmission 
line it owns. The existing 230-kV transmission line runs from the 
Bushkill substation to the Kittatinny substation (B-K Line), crossing 
DEWA, APPA, and MDSR. It also crosses a small panhandle of DEWA en 
route to and northwest of the Bushkill Station. The B-K Line towers are 
approximately 80 feet in height and the deeded ROW varies from 100 to 
380 feet in width through the parks. The applicant proposes to replace 
the B-K Line towers with new towers up to 195 feet tall, install an 
additional circuit (the S-R Line), and widen the ROW to accommodate 
these new facilities. The new replacement B-K Line will be capable of 
carrying 500-kV, though it would be initially energized at only 230-kV. 
The applicant's proposal includes both the construction of the S-R Line 
and the replacement of the B-K Line as part of the project. References 
in this document to ``the line'' refer to both lines and the single set 
of towers they share.
    The applicant's purpose for the proposed S-R Line is to strengthen 
the reliability of the grid at the direction of the regional 
transmission operator, PJM. PJM oversees the overall movement of 
wholesale electricity between many electric utilities in all or parts 
of 13 states and the District of Columbia. The PJM 2007 load forecast 
model identified 23 projected grid reliability criteria violations 
starting in 2012. PJM advised that an upgrade to this line would aid in 
resolving several violations and issues related to reliability and 
congestion. The need for the proposed S-R Line has been expressed 
several times by PJM in planning documents. PJM's Regional Transmission 
Expansion Plans from 2007 to 2010 have identified the proposed S-R Line 
as an important project on what was termed by PJM as a ``backbone'' 
line. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) also 
identified the proposed S-R Line as a ``backbone,'' while the applicant 
has repeatedly noted the need for and importance of increased 
electrical transmission capacity between Berwick, Pennsylvania and 
Roseland, New Jersey. If constructed, the new S-R Line would make the 
current transmission line corridor an even more important link in the 
regional grid than it is now. The two new lines proposed would require 
a much higher level of access roads and activity to monitor and 
maintain.
    The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PAPUC) and the New 
Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) have approved the S-R Line, 
although the approval included conditions and the NJBPU decision is 
being challenged in court.
    Whether there is a need for the proposed S-R Line project is not 
for the NPS to decide, nor is it a factor in the preparation of the 
EIS; that question is within the purview of the PAPUC and NJBPU. The 
NPS prepared an EIS to determine whether to grant or deny the 
applicant's request for a construction and ROW permit within NPS lands.

Decision (Selected Action)

    The National Park Service will implement alternative 2, which was 
identified as the agency's preferred alternative in the Susquehanna to 
Roseland 500-kV Transmission Line Right-of-Way and Special Use Permit 
Final EIS, with mitigation as described herein. The complete 
description of the selected alternative can be found in Chapter 2 of 
the final EIS in the following sections: Description of the 
Alternatives, Elements Common to All Action Alternatives, and 
Alternative 2: Applicant's Proposed Route. A summary of the key points 
of the selected alternative is provided below.
    Under the selected alternative, the NPS will take final agency 
action when it issues a permit to grant a ROW and construction permit 
to PSEG and PPL for the expansion of the B-K Line to a new double-
circuit line through NPS lands in accordance with this decision. The 
selected alternative will include the installation of a double-circuit 
500-kV transmission line (consisting of new towers and conductors) and 
associated telecommunications infrastructure. Two static lightning and 
communications fiber lines will be installed on top of the structures; 
these lines, respectively, will protect the transmission lines from 
electrical interruptions and will serve as a communication link between 
existing substations. This telecommunications infrastructure will not 
be highly visible, and will not include cell towers. Telecommunications 
infrastructure will only be used for electrical transmission purposes 
and will not be sold to a third party. Existing structures in the B-K 
Line ROW between the Bushkill Substation and the eastern boundary of 
DEWA will be removed. Removal of the existing B-K line will require the 
removal of vegetation to permit the construction of spur roads to allow 
equipment access.
    Spur roads will be 20 feet wide and will be surfaced with compacted 
dirt or gravel. Grading will occur to backfill over the existing tower 
foundations, counterpoises, and ground wires, to create a natural 
cover. Crane pads, approximately 200 feet by 200 feet will be 
constructed to provide a safe, level pad for large cranes to mobilize, 
set outriggers, and aid in the removal of transmission line towers. 
Wire pulling locations, approximately 200 feet by 200 feet, will be 
used for coiling conductors after they have been cut. Lattice towers 
will be disassembled at each tower location and placed on a tractor-
trailer or hoisted by an air crane and shipped to a staging area for 
eventual recycling.
    The route for the selected alternative follows the corridor of the 
B-K Line, which traverses approximately 4.3 miles of DEWA. Within DEWA 
boundaries, the route crosses MDSR and APPA approximately 
perpendicularly. Within the study area, the alternative 2 alignment is 
approximately 5.6 miles long. The alignment will enter DEWA from the 
west in Pennsylvania approximately 0.25 mile east of Big Bushkill 
Creek. The alignment will cross approximately 0.6 mile of DEWA land and 
then exit the park. In the next approximately 0.68-mile section of the 
study area, the alignment will travel to the Bushkill Substation, cross 
a small (0.06-mile) portion of DEWA, cross the Fernwood Golf Course, 
and then reenter DEWA south of the South Zone Ranger Station and north 
of DEWA

[[Page 63858]]

Headquarters. The alignment will travel southeast within DEWA for 
approximately 0.85 mile, then cross 0.10 mile of MDSR just north of 
Depew Island. The route will continue southeast approximately 2.4 miles 
past the Watergate Recreation Site and cross APPA. The route will then 
traverse another 0.25 mile from APPA to the eastern DEWA boundary. 
Beyond the boundary, the alignment will travel southeast approximately 
0.7 mile to a Visual Split Location (VSL) which was used in the EIS to 
identify the geographical point outside the parks at which it becomes 
physically possible for the applicant to route the line as it sees fit.
    The width of the existing B-K Line ROW ranges from 100 to 380 feet 
in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; however, the ROW is only cleared to a 
width between approximately 80 and 150 feet. In the FEIS, this 
alternative was analyzed assuming it would require clearing of 
vegetation for an additional 50 to 200 feet of ROW. To avoid and reduce 
impacts caused by clearing and construction activities, the applicant 
has agreed to limit clearing of the ROW and construction activities to 
no more than 200 feet, with clearing limited to 150 feet in some areas. 
The area to be cleared is specified in the Statement of Findings, 
Attachment B of this ROD.
    Low impact tree clearing will be used to remove vegetation from the 
proposed ROW. Trees will be cut close to the ground, and stumps and 
root systems will be left in place to provide additional soil 
stability. A 50-foot buffer will be used near intermittent streams and 
wetlands and a 100-foot buffer near perennial streams.
    Alternative 2 will require new access roads, because old trails and 
roadbeds on which the access roads are based are overgrown and will not 
allow access by large vehicles. Generally, access roads will fall 
within the transmission line ROW, but in some instances, it will be 
necessary for access roads to extend outside the ROW. Alternative 2 
will require a total of 5.3 miles of access roads, 1.9 miles of which 
will be outside the ROW (1.5 miles in Pennsylvania and 0.4 mile in New 
Jersey). Access roads will initially be 20 feet wide to accommodate 
large construction vehicles. Following construction, access roads will 
be narrowed to 15 feet wide and will continue to be used for 
maintenance and vegetation management for the line. Access roads will 
be composed of gravel or compacted dirt.
    Crane pads will be used for assembly and erection at each new tower 
location. Crane pad sites will be graded or cleared to provide a 
reasonably level pad free of any vegetation that could hinder tower 
construction. Some tower sites will require grading either to widen the 
pads from the existing structures or to create new pads, while other 
sites will be on relatively level areas that will only require some 
vegetation removal. At locations with steep topography, extensive 
excavation may be required to create a level pad. New towers will be 
constructed on a concrete foundation. Foundation dimensions will depend 
on topography, tower height, span length, and soil properties; however, 
tower foundations will generally extend below grade for 15 to 30 feet 
or more, with a diameter of 6 to 9 feet. On average, a typical concrete 
foundation will extend approximately 3 feet above ground level. If 
monopoles are feasible, they will be used. If monopoles are not 
feasible for these structures, it may be necessary to use lattice 
towers.
    Wire installation includes all activities associated with the 
installation of conductor wire onto the new towers, such as the 
installation of primary conductor and ground wire, vibration dampeners, 
weights, spacers, and suspension and dead-end hardware assemblies. For 
stringing equipment that cannot be positioned at either side of a dead-
end transmission tower, anchoring and dead-end hardware will be 
temporarily installed to sag conductor wire to the correct tension. 
Wire-stringing activities would be conducted as described in Institute 
of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standard 524-1992, Guide to the 
Installation of Overhead Transmission Line Conductors.
    Construction of transmission facilities will also consist of the 
establishment of staging yards for construction materials and 
equipment, completion of any roadwork, and removal of the B-K Line that 
currently crosses the parks. Staging yards for materials and equipment 
will be approximately 3 to 4 acres each. Efforts will be made to locate 
staging areas on previously disturbed property, abandoned excavations, 
or abandoned parking areas. Construction activities will last for 
approximately 8 months.
    Maintenance of the S-R Line will be performed on an as-needed 
basis, but is expected to occur at least once annually, and will 
include maintenance of access roads and erosion/drainage control 
structures. Maintenance of vegetation will be performed by the 
applicant. NPS will require an NPS-specific, NPS-approved vegetation 
management plan.

Mitigation Measures/Monitoring

    Mitigation measures will be implemented to minimize the impacts on 
resources from construction, operation, and maintenance activities. The 
NPS will also establish mechanisms to ensure that all mitigation 
obligations are met, mitigation measures are monitored for 
effectiveness, and unsuccessful mitigation is quickly remedied. In 
instances where impacts cannot be avoided and other mitigation is not 
feasible, compensation for resources lost or degraded through project 
construction, operation, and maintenance will be required. Examples of 
items that cannot be directly remedied through other mitigation include 
impacts that degrade the scenic and other intrinsic values of the parks 
or impacts that result in the loss of recreational use and visitor 
enjoyment. Compensation will be used to mitigate these items by 
improving the stewardship of other natural, cultural, scenic, and 
recreational resources similar to those impacted.
    The NPS will require the applicant to follow certain Best 
Management Practices (BMPs)/mitigation measures for the selected 
alternative. Mitigation measures and BMPs specific to the impact 
topics, where applicable, are presented below. Mitigation measures are 
identified as BMPs NPS will require during construction and measures 
NPS will require over the life of the project. Compensatory mitigation 
measures are required for certain resources and are identified as 
applicable.

Geology

    BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during 
Construction:
     Submit a detailed drilling plan for NPS review and 
approval for all drilling activities prior to drilling and construction 
activities.
     Complete geotechnical boring before construction to 
determine the appropriate depth needed to remove soils and weathered 
bedrock before reaching sound material where substantial excavation 
will occur. This will reduce the impacts of drilling in unstable 
material.
     Haul all tailings from geotechnical borings and drillings 
offsite, unless the NPS determines that there is a park need for the 
tailings.
     Use excavated rock as substrate for the access roads.
     Complete a preconstruction surface assessment prior to 
disturbance. Work will be completed by a qualified geologist. If any 
paleontological resources are found, they will be avoided. If the 
resources are unavoidable, they will be collected and properly cared 
for before the start of construction. Any paleontological resources 
collected will be properly

[[Page 63859]]

documented and turned over to the park.
     Monitor areas with potential paleontological resources 
during construction activities.
     NPS will analyze or approve any water sources for drilling 
operations. Measure the NPS will require that will Avoid and Minimize 
Impacts over the Life of the Project:
     Develop a buffer zone around areas of sensitive geologic 
resources. No activities will occur within the buffer zone. This buffer 
zone will protect these areas from drilling and excavation activities, 
limiting impacts.

Water and Soil Resources

    BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during 
Construction:
     Prepare a spill prevention and response plan (SPRP) to 
reduce impacts on surface water, ground water, and aquatic species if 
equipment leaks or hazardous spills occur. The goal of the plan is to 
minimize the potential for a spill, contain any spillage to the 
smallest area possible, and to protect environmentally sensitive areas, 
including streams, rivers, and wetlands. The SPRP will include the 
following:
    [squ] Procedures for fuel storage location, fueling activities, and 
construction equipment maintenance.
    [squ] Lines of communication to facilitate the prevention, 
response, containment, and cleanup of spills during construction 
activities.
     Construct spur roads using geotextile fabric and stone, 
which will be removed at the conclusion of construction and will be 
revegetated using park approved species or seed mixes.
     Inspect potential erosion areas weekly. Additionally 
inspect potential erosion areas immediately after storm events. The 
applicant will smooth out ruts and spread gravel to stabilize the 
roadway and prevent erosion.
     Implement erosion control methods, such as silt fences 
during and after construction to reduce impacts of increased soil 
runoff on water resources. By retaining soil on-site, sediment and 
attached nutrients are prevented from leaving disturbed areas and 
polluting streams. The use of BMPs is estimated to reduce total 
suspended solids (TSS) by 40 percent, total nitrogen by 25 percent, and 
total phosphorus by 40 percent (Baldwin n.d., 1).
     Drill during winter months (when not in areas with known 
snake dens) to reduce impacts of drilling on aquatic communities. 
Winter is when the least number of aquatic species and individuals are 
present in nearby water bodies. Measures the NPS will require that will 
Avoid and Minimize Impacts over the Life of the Project:
     Construct access roads with a gravel surface that is 
semipermeable to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff. A reduction in 
sheet flow will decrease the amount of sedimentation, total suspended 
soils, contaminants, nutrients, and turbidity in surface waters and 
impacts on aquatic species.
     Construct road grades and alignments to follow the contour 
of the land with smooth, gradual curves; this will reduce the runoff 
potential of soils along the access roads outside the ROW.
     Develop and implement soil and erosion control plans as 
mandated in state permits for Pennsylvania Department of Environmental 
Protection (PADEP) and New Jersey Department of Environmental 
Protection (NJDEP).
     Use only those herbicides approved by the NPS for aquatic 
environments for removal of vegetation.
     Establish a 150-foot buffer near intermittent or perennial 
streams and wetlands. No activities will occur within the buffer. The 
buffer will reduce impacts on water quality and aquatic species.

Floodplains

    Required mitigation measures are described in detail in the SOF, 
Attachment B of this ROD. All mitigation measures identified in the SOF 
are hereby incorporated by reference as mitigation measures required by 
this ROD.

Wetlands

    Required mitigation measures are described in detail in the SOF, 
Attachment B of this ROD. All mitigation measures identified in the SOF 
are hereby incorporated by reference as mitigation measures required by 
this ROD.

Vegetation

    BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during 
Construction:
     Promptly seed areas disturbed during construction of the 
transmission line with a conservation mix approved by NPS, and monitor 
these areas for the spread of invasive plant species.
     All areas where vegetation is to be removed will be 
clearly delineated and NPS approval of the limits of vegetation 
clearing will be obtained prior to any action taking place.
     Minimize disturbance to native plant species during 
construction to prevent the spread of non-native species.
     Clean equipment after leaving areas where invasive species 
are known to occur and before entering sensitive areas.
     Use construction materials (e.g., gravel) from sources 
that have been inspected and found to be free of invasive species and 
approved by NPS.
     Use timber mats during construction in areas outside the 
access roads to minimize soil compaction.
    Measures the NPS will require that will Avoid and Minimize Impacts 
over the Life of the Project:
     Develop and implement an NPS-approved, long-term, park-
specific vegetation management plan for the operation and maintenance 
of the line. Separate vegetation management plans are needed from PSE&G 
and PPL. These plans will focus on retaining habitat within the 
constraints of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation 
(NERC) guidelines, and the control of invasive species. These plans 
will address invasive species management, including early detection, 
monitoring, and treatment for target invasive species using an 
integrated pest management approach. Additionally, an invasive species 
management plan will address the possible spread of invasive species 
via wooden spools used to supply wire. Other topics in the vegetation 
management plan will include vegetation restoration (native seeding and 
plantings, with annual monitoring and re-treatment as needed to achieve 
minimum acceptable outcomes, including an increase in biodiversity); 
management of sensitive species and sensitive habitats during routine 
maintenance; management of the ROW vegetation that will increase 
habitat for scrub shrub species; the use of best management practices 
to include restrictions on use of machinery and equipment time-of-year 
restrictions on vegetation in sensitive areas; pre-approval by NPS on 
pesticide and herbicide use; and off-site compensation. The vegetation 
management plan will also include an equipment cleaning plan that will 
address techniques for removal of any invasive seed sources prior to 
entering the parks.
     Use existing roads with minimal development of new access 
roads.
     Require that maintenance crews enter the ROW on foot and 
use handheld equipment for vegetation maintenance in sensitive areas.
     Clean equipment after leaving areas where invasive species 
are known to occur and before entering sensitive areas.
     All woody vegetation (including chips) will be removed 
from the parks unless instructed otherwise by NPS staff.

[[Page 63860]]

     Complete measures for the annual suppression of invasive 
plants within the ROW for the life of the project.

Landscape Connectivity, Wildlife Habitat, and Wildlife

    BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during 
Construction:
     Consult with NPS on deposition of brush piles. Where 
approved by NPS, leave brush piles alongside the ROW to provide habitat 
for wildlife species following the clearing of vegetation.
     Remove spur roads following construction and maintain the 
ROW to provide bird habitat.
     Vegetation clearing will occur outside the breeding season 
of migratory birds to reduce the likelihood of disturbing nesting 
birds.
     The applicant will avoid take and minimize disturbance to 
eagles during construction and operation of the line.
     Construction within 660 feet of any important eagle use 
area (breeding, foraging or roosting) will be completed outside the 
season of use.
     Loud and disruptive impacts such as pile driving or 
blasting will not occur within one-half mile of an important eagle use 
area during the season of use.
    Measures the NPS will require that will Avoid and Minimize Impacts 
over the Life of the Project:
     Impose a seasonal restriction on maintenance activities 
from March 15 through July 31 to prevent unauthorized take of nests and 
unfledged chicks protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). 
An avian protection plan (APP) will be developed and will be a 
condition of the applicant's permit.
     Impose a seasonal restriction on maintenance activities in 
March and April in areas of known amphibian migration to prevent direct 
mortality of spring peepers, wood frogs, spotted salamanders, red 
spotted newts, and Jefferson salamanders.
     Consult with NPS on deposition of brush piles. Where 
approved by NPS, leave brush piles alongside the ROW to provide habitat 
for a variety of wildlife species following the clearing of vegetation.
     The applicant will submit an application to FWS for a 
permit to cover the applicant's liability under the BGEPA.
     Diverters will be placed on the shield or static wire from 
the bank of the Delaware River on the New Jersey side of the line, to 
the top of the Hogback Ridge in Pennsylvania. Diverters suggested for 
use by the USFWS are yellow, coiled-PVC avian flight diverters or 
flapper diverters placed at roughly 50-foot intervals on the shield 
wire with communications wire to increase the visibility of the line 
within the Kittatinny Ridge Migratory Corridor.
     Tower lighting will only be permitted on the four towers 
where recommended by FAA, and only via AVWS system, such that lighting 
is only triggered by the approach of aircraft, minimizing the amount of 
time towers will be lit.

Special-Status Species

    BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during 
Construction:
     Obtain a qualified biologist to conduct preconstruction 
surveys before any ground-disturbing or vegetation clearing activities. 
Surveys will be to determine the presence of special-status species, 
habitat, nests, dens, and new hibernacula, and to determine if 
relocation will be an appropriate mitigation measure for any species 
found. Some species such as reptiles, amphibians, and mussels could be 
collected and relocated prior to or during construction activities, if 
this is found to be beneficial or appropriate to the species found at 
the site. If relocation is undertaken, a plan for the relocation of 
special-status species will be designed in consultation with the 
appropriate federal and state agencies and a qualified and permitted 
biologist will collect and relocate individuals to nearby suitable 
habitat. Preconstruction surveys are particularly important because 
construction may not occur for some time following the completion of 
the NEPA process and special-status species could begin using habitat 
between site surveys and construction activity. If special-status 
species, nests, dens, or habitats are found, then consultation measures 
will be developed and implemented in consultation with state and 
federal regulatory agencies.
     Develop and implement (by recognized and qualified 
zoologists including individuals certified by the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service or state conservation agencies and approved by NPS) 
species-specific conservation and mitigation plans if special-status 
wildlife species or occupied habitat cannot be avoided. These 
individuals will complete on-site monitoring. The plans will include:
    [ballot] Conservation measures, such as time-of-year restrictions.
    [ballot] Pre-construction surveys.
    [ballot] Construction monitoring.
    [ballot] Habitat preservation and habitat restoration components.
    [ballot] Post-construction monitoring as needed.
     Ensure that park staff, their representatives, or 
representatives from appropriate state or federal agencies who are 
experienced in managing or monitoring special-status species are on 
site to monitor for special-status species during the construction 
activities to verify that special-status species are not in the active 
construction area.
     Implement road closures and/or patrols prior to and during 
construction activities at locations where it was deemed effective.
     Install barrier fencing along streams to keep wood turtles 
from entering construction sites.
     Implement seasonal restrictions to reduce impacts on 
special-status species. Seasonal restrictions will be site-specific, 
based on species present and their use of the site and include the 
following:
    [ballot] Seasonal restrictions on vegetation clearing from March 15 
through July 31 will prevent the unauthorized take of nests and 
unfledged chicks of birds protected by the MBTA (USFWS 2010). This 
seasonal restriction will protect the majority of the special-status 
bird fledglings that may occur in the study areas for each alternative. 
Therefore, the permanent and seasonal resident nesting special-status 
bird species will not be forced to abandon nests or young, because 
vegetation clearing will not occur during the nesting season; no direct 
mortality of eggs, young, or adults will occur as a result.
    [ballot] Seasonal restrictions for disturbance of bald eagles will 
include a restriction within 1,000 feet of bald eagle nests between 
December 15 and August 31, the bald eagle nesting period. This 
restriction is recommended in the Bald Eagle Guidelines (USFWS 2007).
    [ballot] Seasonal restrictions for tree clearing and construction 
will be implemented from December 15 to March 31 in the vicinity of 
bald eagle roosts.
    [ballot] To prevent cutting of potential roost trees for the 
Indiana bat, a season restriction from April 1 through September 30, 
which includes the restriction of cutting trees with a diameter at 
breast height (DBH) greater than 8.7 inches will be implemented.
    [ballot] A seasonal restriction from April 1 through October 31 
preventing the cutting of all trees or snags with a DBH greater than 5 
inches will be implemented to avoid potential impacts on northern 
myotis and other tree-roosting bats.
    [ballot] Seasonal restrictions on project activities will be 
implemented in venomous snake basking, birthing, and foraging habitat 
during the active season. Safe dates for project activities span from 
November 1 through March 31. Further timing restrictions for

[[Page 63861]]

drilling and excavation activities will be required in the vicinity of 
overwintering dens.
    [ballot] Seasonal restrictions for neotropical birds and bats will 
also benefit nesting and birthing reptile species in the spring and 
summer.
    [ballot] Seasonal restrictions will be implemented on project 
activities in wood turtle foraging habitat during the active season. 
Safe dates for project activities are November 15 through March 31.
    [ballot] Seasonal restrictions on project activities in bog turtle 
wetlands and 300-foot buffer during active season will be implemented. 
Safe dates for project activities are November 1 through March 31.
    Measures the NPS will require that will Avoid and Minimize Impacts 
over the Life of the Project:
     Develop and implement NPS-approved, long-term, park-
specific vegetation management plans for the operation and maintenance 
of the line. Separate vegetation management plans are needed for both 
from PSE&G and PPL. These plans will help reduce impacts to special-
status species and the habitats they utilize.
     Provide construction plans (as described in the general 
Construction and Restoration Plan) for each set of construction 
activities in order to facilitate modification of construction 
activities that may adversely impact areas that support special-status 
species.
     The applicant will submit an application to FWS for a 
permit to cover the applicant's liability under the BGEPA.
     The applicant will either conduct monitoring or will 
provide NPS the funding to conduct monitoring in the vicinity of the 
line during construction and operation of the line in order to 
determine the level of hazard to eagles. If the likelihood of take is 
determined to be low, the standard permit will not require renewal, and 
the operation of the line will be consistent with BGEPA. If the 
monitoring suggests that take is likely to occur, the applicant will 
initiate the development of a programmatic permit to cover their 
liability during the operational life of the line.
     Consult with appropriate federal and state agencies if 
special-status plant populations cannot be avoided, depending on the 
listing status of the species present. These consultations will 
determine appropriate mitigation measures for any populations affected 
by the proposed project. Appropriate measures could include the 
creation of offsite populations through seed collection or 
transplanting, preservation, and enhancement of existing populations, 
or restoration or creation of suitable habitat in sufficient quantities 
to compensate for the impact.
    [ballot] Translocation includes digging up plants and moving them 
to appropriate portions of the corridor that will not be affected by 
the proposed construction activities.
    [ballot] Seeds can also be collected from plants that will be 
removed and either planted directly or germinated in a nursery and then 
planted in appropriate locations.
     Develop and implement (by recognized and qualified 
zoologists including individuals certified by the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service or state conservation agencies) species-specific 
conservation and mitigation plans if special-status wildlife species or 
occupied habitat cannot be avoided. These individuals will complete on-
site monitoring. The plans will include:
    [ballot] Conservation measures, such as time-of-year restrictions.
    [ballot] Pre-construction surveys.
    [ballot] Construction monitoring.
    [ballot] Habitat preservation and habitat restoration components.
    [ballot] Post-construction monitoring as needed.
     Complete an APP in accordance with the Bald Eagle 
Guidelines (USFWS 2007) and APLIC standards.
    [ballot] The APP will include elements that provide for training 
for all utility and contractor personnel on compliance with applicable 
regulations, procedures to be implemented for avoidance and 
minimization of disturbance, reporting bird mortality, required 
permits, accepted construction standards for reducing bird impacts, 
methodology for evaluation of risks to migratory birds, opportunities 
for enhancement of bird populations or habitat, public awareness and 
education, and identification of key resources.
    [ballot] The standards described in APLIC (1994) will be followed 
and will also comply with the APLIC Suggested Practices for Avian 
Protection on Power Lines: The State of the Art in 2006 (APLIC 2006).
    [ballot] Proposed construction and maintenance activities will 
follow and adhere to the Bald Eagle Guidelines (USFWS 2007), which will 
minimize the potential for ``take'' on the bald eagle.
    [ballot] To reduce impacts on birds from collisions with the 
transmission line, the APP (PSE&G 2010) will be written in compliance 
with APLIC standards and will use the current best available 
technologies.
     Continue to identify and control invasive plant species 
through the applicant's invasive plant management plans. In addition, 
an aggressive invasive plant management plan developed and implemented 
by the applicant will include ongoing monitoring and treatment.
     Close access roads to the public to reduce the impacts of 
illegal collection. It has been demonstrated by Garber and Burger 
(1995, at 1152 and 1158) that when formerly intact, undisturbed, 
forested areas are opened to human recreation, the extinction of 
special-status species can occur in that particular area. Rare species, 
especially plants and small reptiles and amphibians, are vulnerable to 
illegal collecting, and even small numbers collected annually for a 
number of years could jeopardize the local population.
     NPS law enforcement will monitor visitor activities in 
these areas, including the use of remote surveillance to assess the 
need for and effectiveness of area closures. There will be an increase 
in patrols along the access roads and any new ROW. Existing and 
proposed new access roads, especially access roads, could act as an 
attractive nuisance and/or recreation opportunity, by inviting visitors 
to areas inhabited by rare species and increasing visitor encounters 
with these species.
     NPS law enforcement and resource staff will monitor closed 
areas for invasive species, vegetation, wildlife, and erosion, and the 
presence of park staff may dissuade visitors from entering these 
illegal areas.
     Implement seasonal restrictions to reduce impacts on 
special-status species. Seasonal restrictions will be site-specific, 
based on species present and their use of the site and include the 
following:
    [ballot] Seasonal restrictions on vegetation clearing from March 15 
through July 31 will prevent the unauthorized take of nests and 
unfledged chicks of birds protected by the MBTA (USFWS 2010). This 
seasonal restriction will protect the majority of the special-status 
bird fledglings that may occur in the study areas for each alternative. 
Therefore, the permanent and seasonal resident nesting special-status 
bird species will not be forced to abandon nests or young, because 
vegetation clearing will not occur during the nesting season; no direct 
mortality of eggs, young, or adults will occur as a result.
    [ballot] Seasonal restrictions for disturbance of bald eagles will 
include a restriction within 1,000 feet of bald eagle nests between 
December 15 and August 31, the bald eagle nesting period. This 
restriction is recommended in the Bald Eagle Guidelines (USFWS 2007).

[[Page 63862]]

    [ballot] Seasonal restrictions for tree clearing and construction 
will be implemented from December 15 to March 31 in the vicinity of 
bald eagle roosts.
    [ballot] To prevent cutting of potential roost trees for the 
Indiana bat, a season restriction from April 1 through September 30, 
which includes the restriction of cutting trees with a diameter at 
breast height (DBH) greater than 8.7 inches, will be implemented.
    [ballot] A seasonal restriction from April 1 through October 31 
preventing the cutting of all trees or snags with a DBH greater than 5 
inches will be implemented to avoid potential impacts on northern 
myotis and other tree-roosting bats.
    [ballot] Seasonal restrictions on project activities will be 
implemented in venomous snake basking, birthing, and foraging habitat 
during the active season. Safe dates for project activities span from 
November 1 through March 31. Further timing restrictions for drilling 
and excavation activities will be required in the vicinity of 
overwintering dens.
    [ballot] Seasonal restrictions for Neotropical birds and bats will 
also benefit nesting and birthing reptile species in the spring and 
summer.
    [ballot] Seasonal restrictions will be implemented on project 
activities in wood turtle foraging habitat during the active season. 
Safe dates for project activities are November 15 through March 31.
    [ballot] Seasonal restrictions on project activities in bog turtle 
wetlands and 300-foot buffer during active season will be implemented. 
Safe dates for project activities are November 1 through March 31.
    Measures to specifically protect bog turtles will be undertaken in 
accordance with the Bog Turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii) Northern 
Population Recovery Plan (USFWS 2001), and the bog turtle conservation 
zones presented in the ``Special-status Species'' section of chapter 3 
of the final EIS. These actions will be undertaken where appropriate as 
mitigation measures. Future coordination with appropriate federal and 
state agencies will clarify the extent to which adverse effects to the 
bog turtle will be likely to occur and will determine whether a 
biological assessment (BA) will be required. Other conservation and/or 
mitigation measures to protect the bog turtle suggested by the Recovery 
Plan include the restoration of disrupted wetland hydrology, the 
control of invasive species, reconnection of fragmented habitat, 
population monitoring, and protection of nests from collection and 
predation (USFWS 2001).

Cultural Resources

    Mitigation measures for cultural resources are described in the 
Section 106 discussion, below, and are incorporated by reference.

Infrastructure, Access and Circulation

    BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during 
Construction:
    Prior to construction activities, the applicant will complete the 
following:
     Develop a construction staging plan with NPS.
     Develop a traffic control plan in conjunction with NPS.
     Work with NPS to develop a plan for the control of 
unauthorized public access and use on NPS lands that could result from 
the proposed project. The agreement will address various provisions 
related to unauthorized access, such as the following:
    [ballot] Additional measures to be taken to discourage unauthorized 
use of the project corridor and associated access roads.
    [ballot] Periodic inspection for unauthorized access and any 
resulting damage.
    [ballot] Repair of any damage from unauthorized access.
     Develop a media strategy/notification plan as a means to 
notify local residents, businesses, and officials of closures and 
changes in traffic patterns.
     Develop an off-highway vehicle/all-terrain vehicle (OHV/
ATV) deterrent plan prior to construction activities.
    During construction activities:
     Design and construct new access roads to minimize runoff 
and soil erosion.
     Install gates at the entrances to access roads to reduce 
unauthorized use; coordinate gate locks with NPS.
     Restore public roadways to their pre-construction 
conditions or better upon completion of project construction 
activities.
     Reclaim any road-related disturbance areas after 
construction is completed.
     Permanently close and revegetate spur roads to discourage 
OHV/ATV use. For roads still in use, restrict access by unauthorized 
users as identified in the OHV/ATV deterrent plan.

Visual Resources

    BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during 
Construction:
    During construction activities:
     Restrict construction vehicle movement outside the ROW to 
NPS-approved routes. Should additional road access be required, 
permission be sought from the NPS prior to disturbance, and appropriate 
remuneration fees will be assessed.
     Keep areas around the towers clean and free of debris.
     Maintain a clean construction site and remove all related 
equipment, materials, and litter following construction.
     Revegetate disturbed areas with approved species.
     Provide regular maintenance of access roads and fences 
within and leading to the corridor.
     Cut stumps close to ground.
     Implement ``low-impact tree clearing'' which involves 
directional tree-felling, both mechanically and by hand.
     Rehabilitate or restore disturbed areas, as applicable.
    Measures the NPS will require that will Avoid and Minimize Impacts 
over the Life of the Project:
    During Project Design several mitigation measures will be 
undertaken. It should be noted that, in some cases, visual resource 
mitigation measures may directly contradict mitigation measures under 
APLIC that make the lines more visible to birds in order to decrease 
bird collisions and electrocutions; in these cases, the APLIC 
guidelines will prevail:
     Locate new access roads within previously disturbed areas.
     Route the alignment of new access roads to follow landform 
contours where practicable, providing that such alignment does not 
impact additional resource values, to minimize ground disturbance and/
or reduce scarring (visual contrast) of the landscape.
     Place structures in designated areas so as to avoid 
sensitive features such as, but not limited to, riparian areas, water 
courses, and cultural sites, and/or to allow conductors to clearly span 
the features, within limits of standard tower design. If the sensitive 
features cannot be completely avoided, towers will be placed so as to 
minimize the disturbance.
     Place tower structures at the maximum feasible distance 
from roadway and trail crossings, and where preservation of existing 
vista(s) is particularly important. Distances will be within the limits 
of standard tower structure design.
     Use non-reflective neutral colored paints and coatings 
approved by the NPS to reduce reflection, glare, and/or contrast on 
structures.
     Use non-reflective insulators (i.e., non-ceramic or 
porcelain).
     Use non-specular conductors to reduce reflectivity.

[[Page 63863]]

     Locate construction staging areas away from visually 
sensitive locations.
     Conceptual landscaping in the form of vegetation planted 
outside but along the utility ROW.
     Tower lighting will only be permitted on the four towers 
where recommended by FAA, and only via AVWS system, such that lighting 
is only triggered by the approach of aircraft, minimizing the amount of 
time towers will be lit.
    During maintenance activities:
     Restrict construction vehicle movement outside the ROW to 
NPS-approved routes. Should additional road access be required, 
permission must be sought from the NPS prior to disturbance, and 
appropriate remuneration fees will be assessed.
     Keep areas around the towers clean and free of debris.
     Maintain a clean construction site and remove all related 
equipment, materials, and litter following construction.
     Revegetate disturbed areas with approved species.
     Provide regular maintenance of access roads and fences.
     Cut stumps close to ground.
     Implement ``low-impact tree clearing'' which involves 
directional tree-felling, both mechanically and by hand, and add buck 
trees to promote decomposition.
     Rehabilitate and/or restore disturbed areas.

Soundscapes

    BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during 
Construction:
     Comply with county and city noise ordinances.
     Install sound-control devices on all construction 
equipment.
     Install muffled exhaust on all construction equipment and 
vehicles except helicopters, if used.

Visitor Use and Experience

    BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during 
Construction:
     Coordinate construction schedules with NPS to avoid peak 
visitor use periods and notify visitors of construction.
     The applicant must develop a plan to avoid or minimize 
impacts to park visitors, including visitors using roads, trails, the 
river and other areas affected by construction. The applicant must 
assure visitor safety while keeping recreation areas open to the 
greatest extent possible. NPS must approve the timing and duration of 
all closures.
     Prior to construction develop a media strategy/
notification plan as a means to notify local residents and visitors of 
closures.

Health and Safety

    BMPs NPS will require to Avoid and Minimize Impacts during 
Construction:
     Develop safety and emergency plans for the project prior 
to construction activities.
     Fully train operators of the construction equipment and 
vehicles to reduce the chance of accidents.
     Inspect construction equipment for malfunctions or faulty 
parts to reduce the risk of leaking fluids that could harm the 
environment or humans from contact.
     Put in place safety devices such as traveling grounds, 
guard structures, and radio-equipped public safety roving vehicles and 
lineman prior to the initiation of wire stringing activities.
     Install guard poles or guard structures at all 
transportation, flood control, and utility crossings. Guard poles are 
temporary facilities designed to stop the travel of the conductor 
should it momentarily drop below a conventional stringing height.
     Restrict use of the immediate area in which construction 
will occur for safety reasons (PPL and PSE&G 2008, A10-6) to minimize 
impacts on park visitors during construction of the line within the 
parks.
     Fence off construction areas in areas outside of the park, 
but inside the study area, where the public could access the 
construction site.
     Station a safety representative at APPA crossings during 
any and all construction to maintain public safety.
     Station a safety watchman on the river during stringing 
operations to stop any boat traffic if an incident does occur or if 
conditions otherwise warrant (PPL and PSE&G 2008, 6).
     Implement road closures and traffic control to minimize 
the risk of accidents from occurring during the construction period.
     Regularly maintain and inspect helicopters and employ 
operators certified/licensed in helicopter aviation.
     Operators conducting aerial work in support of the utility 
may encounter hazards from the various types of flight profiles, 
terrain, infrastructure, weather, and operation at low levels and 
speeds.
    [ballot] To reduce the potential risk of a collision, the crew will 
identify potential collision hazards and make corrective actions prior 
to taking flight.
    [ballot] While in flight, the crew will exercise concentration, 
maintain situational awareness, be knowledgeable of their area of 
operations, maintain effective communications, and establish clear 
roles and responsibilities.

Compensatory Mitigation

    The applicants have offered, and NPS will require as a permit 
condition, that they deposit at least fifty-six million dollars 
($56,000,000) into a Middle Delaware Compensation Fund, as will be 
described in a memorandum of agreement to be entered with and managed 
by The Conservation Fund, to:
     Acquire lands from willing sellers that can be included in 
the boundaries of APPA and DEWA as compensatory mitigation for lands 
over which ROW rights are granted.
     Carry out wetlands restoration projects elsewhere within 
APPA and DEWA as compensatory mitigation for wetlands impacted by ROW 
clearing and maintenance.
     Carry out historic preservation projects elsewhere within 
APPA and DEWA as compensatory mitigation for historic properties 
impacted by line construction.

Other Alternatives Considered

Alternative 1--No Action

    Under the no-action alternative, the NPS would deny the 
applications for ROWs and construction permits to expand the B-K Line 
to a new double-circuit line through NPS lands. The existing B-K Line 
traverses approximately 4.3 miles of DEWA. The line initiates at the 
Susquehanna Substation and enters DEWA in Pennsylvania approximately 
0.25 mile east of Big Bushkill Creek. The line then exits the park, 
connects to the Bushkill Substation, travels through developed areas, 
including Fernwood Golf Course, and reenters DEWA south of the South 
Zone Ranger Station and north of DEWA Headquarters, crossing MDSR just 
north of Depew Island. The line continues southeast past the Watergate 
Recreation Site and across APPA to the eastern DEWA boundary. There are 
22 existing transmission towers located within DEWA boundaries for the 
existing B-K Line, and there are no existing access roads to the ROW. 
This alternative assumes that the existing line within the parks would 
remain in place without expansion or replacement. In essence, it 
assumes that current conditions on the ground will continue 
indefinitely into the future. However, the applicant could seek to 
expand or replace the existing utility lines within the existing 
easements through the parks. There are no proposals to do so at this 
time.

Alternative 2b--Applicant's Alternate Proposal

    The alignment for the applicant's alternate proposal would follow 
the same route as described for alternative

[[Page 63864]]

2 (the selected alternative). The difference between alternative 2 and 
alternative 2b is that the former would require widening the existing 
ROW, while the latter would be constructed within the existing ROW. The 
towers for alternative 2b would be the same height as those described 
for alternative 2, but alternative 2b would require two additional 
towers within NPS lands compared to alternative 2. These towers would 
be constructed within the 100-foot-wide portion of the alignment. 
Because the ROW under alternative 2b is narrow, the applicant's plans 
require these additional towers to protect against fire hazards 
presented by the risk of conductor blowout. The minimum horizontal 
clearance to the edge of the ROW under high wind conditions to prevent 
conductor blowout was determined to be greater than 100 feet, and the 
NPS has expressed concern about the safety of constructing within the 
existing ROW. The applicant's proposal is based upon the controversial 
assumption that they have a right to clear danger trees on NPS property 
outside any deeded ROW (PPL 2010b). It is assumed that larger 
individual trees outside the ROW would be removed periodically.
    Access roads for alternative 2b are similar as those described for 
alternative 2, with a slight difference in Pennsylvania between the 
Bushkill Substation and the Delaware River. Alternative 2b would 
require a total of 5.3 miles of access roads, of which 2.4 miles would 
occur outside the ROW.

Alternative 3

    The alternative 3 alignment would pass through DEWA along the ROW 
of existing transmission and distribution lines. The existing 
transmission and distribution lines would be removed prior to 
construction of the S-R Line. The existing transmission line ROW is 
cleared to 100 feet wide, and this alternative would require clearing 
of vegetation for an additional 50 to 200 feet of ROW. The structures 
of the transmission and distribution lines would be constructed so that 
these lines and the S-R Line would run parallel to one another within 
the expanded ROW. That is, two separate sets of structures would be 
constructed, one set for the proposed S-R Line and one set for the 
existing transmission and distribution lines along the alternative 3 
alignment. Alternative 3 would cross a total of 5.4 miles within the 
DEWA boundary. The route would cross about 1.3 miles of DEWA within the 
study area and about 1.7 miles of the northern end of Worthington State 
Forest, which is located within DEWA's exterior boundaries. The 
alignment for this alternative also crosses MDSR within DEWA, and APPA 
within Worthington State Forest.
    The alternative 3 alignment is approximately 6.9 miles long within 
the study area. The alternative 3 alignment would follow the alignment 
of the B-K Line for 0.6 mile from the western boundary of DEWA to the 
Bushkill Substation. The alignment would leave the study area and 
travel southwest to reenter the study area via the VSL point located in 
Monroe County, Pennsylvania, outside DEWA. From the western VSL, the 
alignment would cross River Road and the McDade Trail about 1.0 mile 
southwest of the Smithfield Beach Picnic Area and 0.75 mile northeast 
of the Hialeah Picnic Area. The alignment would continue southeast 
within DEWA approximately 0.8 mile to MDSR. On the east side of MDSR, 
the route would travel northeast approximately 0.49 mile to the 
boundary of Worthington State Forest; the remainder of the alignment 
within DEWA boundaries would also be encompassed by Worthington State 
Forest's boundaries. The alignment would travel southeast approximately 
1.69 miles to the eastern edge of DEWA, perpendicularly crossing APPA. 
The alignment would travel another 0.24 mile beyond the DEWA boundary 
to the VSL. The alternative 3 alignment would reenter DEWA beyond the 
eastern VSL as well. In the path to join the alignment of the B-K Line 
in New Jersey, alternative 3 could travel along the border of DEWA for 
1.8 miles, paralleling APPA for this entire distance. Alternative 3 
would require approximately 3.5 miles of access roads, of which 0.9 
mile would occur outside the ROW.

Alternative 4

    Alternative 4 would pass through three portions of DEWA; the 
section of the park from the western boundary along the B-K Line to the 
Bushkill substation; through the southwestern boundary of the park, 
where the alignment leaves the boundary of the park for 0.51 mile, then 
re-enters the park. On the southernmost portion of DEWA, alternative 4 
runs along the path of an existing distribution line ROW, and would 
also pass through a section of the park along the alignment of the B-K 
Line. The existing ROW is cleared from 100 to 200 feet wide, and this 
alternative would require permanent clearing of vegetation for an 
additional 100 to 200 feet of ROW. This line along alternative 4 would 
be removed prior to construction of the S-R Line. The structures of the 
existing distribution line would be replaced so that this line and the 
double-circuited S-R Line would run parallel to one another within the 
expanded ROW. The route would cross about 1.5 mile of NPS lands, 
including DEWA and APPA. This alternative would also cross the Lower 
Delaware River; however, the crossing of the Delaware River would occur 
outside DEWA and MDSR boundaries and outside the study area.
    Alternative 4 would have a north-south orientation and would be 
approximately 2.3 miles long within the study area. As with alternative 
3, the alternative 4 alignment follows the alignment of the B-K Line 
for 0.6 mile from the western boundary of DEWA to the Bushkill 
Substation. The alignment would leave the study area and travel 
southwest to reenter the study area via the VSL point at the edge of 
DEWA, near the southwestern boundary of the park. Upon entering DEWA 
from the north, the alternative 4 alignment would cross about 0.42 mile 
of DEWA land, roughly following the DEWA boundary, and would cross 
Mountain and Totts Gap roads. The alignment would then leave the 
boundary of DEWA for approximately 0.51 mile, before re-entering the 
park. Upon reentering DEWA, the alignment would immediately cross APPA, 
then extend approximately 0.50 mile south to the southern boundary of 
DEWA. South of DEWA, the alternative 4 alignment would extend another 
0.24 mile before the southern VSL. The designated boundary of Cherry 
Valley National Wildlife Refuge borders the existing ROW of the 
alternative 4 alignment north of APPA for approximately 0.73 mile. 
Alternative 4 would require a total of approximately 2.5 miles of 
access roads, with approximately 1.6 miles within NPS boundaries. 
Alternative 4 would use 0.9 mile of existing roads as access roads and 
would require construction of 1.6 miles of new access roads, of which 
0.5 mile would occur outside the ROW.

Alternative 5

    Alternative 5 would run along the path of an existing distribution 
line ROW in the southernmost portion of DEWA. The existing ROW is 
cleared to 100 feet wide, and this alternative would require permanent 
clearing of vegetation for an additional 200 feet of ROW. This line 
along alternative 5 would be removed prior to construction of the S-R 
Line. The structures of the existing distribution line would be 
replaced so that this line and the double-circuited S-R Line would run 
parallel to one another within the expanded ROW. The route would cross

[[Page 63865]]

about 1.5 mile of NPS lands, including DEWA and APPA. This alternative 
would also cross the Lower Delaware River; however, the crossing of the 
Delaware River would occur outside DEWA and MDSR boundaries and outside 
the study area.
    Alternative 5 would have a north-south orientation and would be 
approximately 1.7 miles long within the study area. Alternative 5 would 
enter the study area via the VSL point at the edge of DEWA, near the 
southwestern boundary of the park. Upon entering DEWA from the north, 
the alternative 5 alignment would cross about 0.42 mile of DEWA land, 
roughly following the DEWA boundary, and would cross Mountain and Totts 
Gap roads. The alignment would then leave the boundary of DEWA for 
approximately 0.51 mile, before re-entering the park. Upon reentering 
DEWA, the alignment would immediately cross APPA, then extend 
approximately 0.50 mile south to the southern boundary of DEWA. South 
of DEWA, the alternative 5 alignment would extend another 0.24 mile 
before the southern VSL. The designated boundary of Cherry Valley 
National Wildlife Refuge borders the existing ROW of the alternative 5 
alignment north of APPA for approximately 0.73 mile. Alternative 5 
would require a total of approximately 1.7 miles of access roads; 
however, 0.9 mile of existing road would be used. Alternative 5 would 
require construction of approximately 0.9 mile of new access roads, of 
which 0.16 mile would occur outside the ROW.

Basis for Decision

    The purpose and need of the NPS action analyzed in the EIS is to 
grant or deny the applicant's proposal considering the purposes and 
resources of the affected units of the national park system, as 
expressed in statutes, regulations, policy, and the NPS objectives in 
taking action. In making the decision to select alternative 2, the NPS 
considered the applicant's existing property rights, the alternatives 
evaluated in the EIS and the impacts on park resources and values of 
each alternative, and the comments received from other agencies and the 
public during the EIS process. Following is an evaluation of the other 
alternatives examined in the EIS with regard to how each factored into 
the decision-making process.
    No-action Alternative: There is a great deal of public support for 
selecting the no action alternative, which means that the NPS would 
deny the permit application and the existing powerline would remain 
essentially unchanged. The impact analysis in the EIS showed that the 
no action alternative would have the least adverse impacts on park 
resources and values, and it was identified in the EIS as the 
environmentally preferable alternative. The NPS agrees that the no 
action alternative would be the best choice if the only consideration 
were protection of park resources and values. However, the NPS cannot 
ignore the fact that the applicant owns a property interest in the 
existing powerline corridor. The applicant asserts that these existing 
rights are sufficient to allow it to build an alternative design to the 
line (Alternative 2b) without the grant of additional rights. The NPS 
may not prevent the applicant from exercising these rights without 
effectuating a taking. Accordingly, there are two possible results of 
the selection of the no-action alternative. First, the line may not be 
built, and the environmental status quo may continue if the applicants 
decide to abandon the project, as analyzed in the EIS. This is viewed 
as unlikely by the NPS. Second, the applicant may decide to pursue 
alternative 2b, as analyzed, asserting its present property rights, and 
if it were prevented from constructing within its present rights, it 
might assert a ``takings'' claim against the United States. The latter 
is a particularly undesirable option for the NPS as, in its view, as 
discussed below, alternative 2b is less preferable than the selected 
alternative. Condemnation of the present right of way to prevent 
construction of alternative 2b has been rejected as impractical. 
Consequently, selection of the no-action alternative would present the 
NPS with significant uncertainty, and a strong probability that the 
eventual outcome would be worse for park resources than the selected 
alternative. Under these circumstances, NPS has rejected the no-action 
alternative in favor of the selected alternative, which, while causing 
more impact than failure to construct would, causes less impact than 
Alternative 2b.
    Alternative 2b: At first glance, alternative 2b might appear to 
have fewer impacts to some park resources because the applicant would 
be restricted to building entirely within the existing ROW width. 
However, the additional width required by the selected alternative is 
only 50 feet, or 25 feet on either side of centerline, over a small 
portion of the line within APPA and DEWA. The difference in width 
between alternative 2b and the selected alternative comes with some 
significant costs, as the existing width in some sections is 
insufficient to meet current safety standards. Although the applicant 
asserts that alternative 2b could be built safely, independent 
transmission line engineers engaged by NPS disagree, and NPS views this 
alternative as creating serious safety concerns due to insufficient 
clearance between the lines and vegetation. Alternative 2b would also 
require two additional towers within park boundaries, with attendant 
increases in tower visibility and construction impact. Finally, the 
present ROW deeds are the basis of ongoing disagreement between the NPS 
and the applicants over the extent to which applicants may clear 
vegetation outside the area of cleared right of way. Alternative 2b 
(like the no-action alternative) would leave this disagreement 
unresolved, while the selected alternative would resolve it.
    Alternatives 3, 4 and 5: Alternatives 3, 4, and 5 were developed to 
examine whether or not the proposed powerline could be constructed 
across the parks in a less sensitive area, and with less impacts to 
park resources and values. Alternative 3 was discovered to have more 
impacts on some resources and was not considered a desirable choice 
once the analysis was completed. Alternatives 4 and 5 both have far 
less impacts on park resources and values than the other action 
alternatives and from the NPS perspective, would meet the test of 
protecting park resources and values to the greatest extent possible 
without unduly interfering in the property rights of the applicant. 
However, alternatives 3, 4, and 5 were all based on a presumption that 
the applicant would voluntarily give up their existing property rights 
along the current easement and in return, the NPS would grant a new ROW 
in the selected location. The applicants have indicated that they are 
unwilling to give up their existing easement in exchange for another in 
a new location. As noted in the EIS, the NPS has considered but 
rejected the option of requiring the construction of the line in a new 
location while permitting the present line to remain. Thus, the NPS has 
selected alternative 2, the applicant's proposal, with the mitigation 
measures described in this ROD. As discussed above, the selection 
factor with the greatest weight was the legal constraint presented by 
the applicant's existing property rights. However, in making the 
selection, the NPS also considered the adverse impacts on park 
resources and values that would likely result from construction of the 
new powerline, as well as the NPS' authority to reasonably regulate 
these activities within park

[[Page 63866]]

boundaries. Therefore, the selected alternative incorporates mitigation 
that will be required conditions of the NPS permit. The NPS believes 
the required mitigation will avoid and minimize adverse impacts to the 
greatest degree possible, recognizing that some significant adverse 
impacts may still occur. The applicant has offered compensatory 
mitigation for unavoidable adverse impacts, as detailed above under 
Mitigation Measures. This is important and welcome, and a necessary 
offset to the impacts imposed on park resources; however, compensatory 
mitigation was not a deciding factor in the selection of the 
alternative, which was driven primarily by legal considerations and the 
relative impacts of the alternatives. As discussed above, mitigation 
will be implemented to avoid and minimize adverse impacts to the 
greatest degree possible, but unavoidable adverse impacts will still 
occur.

Environmentally Preferable Alternative

    The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations require 
federal agencies to identify the environmentally preferable alternative 
in a Record of Decision (40 CFR 1505.2). The environmentally preferable 
alternative is the alternative that causes the least damage to 
biological and physical environment and best protects, preserves, and 
enhances historical, cultural, and natural resources. The 
environmentally preferable alternative is identified upon consideration 
and weighing by the Responsible Official of long-term environmental 
impacts against short-term impacts in evaluating what is the best 
protection of these resources. In some situations, such as when 
different alternatives impact different resources to different degrees, 
there may be more than one environmentally preferable alternative (43 
CFR 46.30).
    The NPS has determined that alternative 1 (no action) is the 
environmentally preferable alternative. The NPS made this determination 
based on the analysis of the scientific data about the proposal and 
included mitigation provided by the applicant and collected by NPS 
contractors. Alternative 1 would result in the least amount of damage 
to the biological and physical environment. As the data show, all the 
alternatives will have some degree of direct and indirect adverse 
impact on the resources identified within the study area. None of the 
action alternatives would produce a net benefit or even keep conditions 
completely neutral; they would all be negative from an environmental 
point of view. Alternative 1 would leave the existing B-K Line ROW in 
place, essentially maintaining conditions at status quo, with the 
exception of increased vegetation management, which would be likely to 
occur along the corridor of all the alternatives due to implementation 
of the newest NERC safety standards. Nonetheless, the relatively minor 
impacts of additional cutting and clearing in the existing ROW would be 
outweighed by the more significant environmental damage that would 
certainly occur with the construction and operation of a larger 
transmission line within the parks under any of the other proposed 
alternatives, including the two proposed by the applicant. Alternative 
1 would thus result in the least damage among the alternatives. 
Alternative 1 would best protect and preserve the scenic, historic, 
cultural, recreational and natural resources of the parks involved and 
will therefore best promote the national environmental policy of NEPA.

Public and Agency Involvement

    The planning process for the EIS was conducted with extensive 
public and agency involvement that included multiple newsletters, 
workshops, meetings, briefings, and a formal public comment process. 
These activities are briefly summarized below and a detailed discussion 
is presented in ``The Public Scoping Process'' section in Chapter 5 of 
the final EIS and appendix I.

Scoping

    The internal scoping process began with scoping meetings conducted 
on September 15, 16, and 17, 2009, with staff members from the parks, 
the NPS Environmental Quality Division, the NPS Northeast Region, and 
contractor personnel in attendance. The internal scoping meeting began 
with a presentation on the process and background of NEPA, followed by 
a presentation by the applicant. During the remaining days, NPS 
identified the purpose of and need for action, management objectives, 
issues, and impact topics. Park resources, possible alternative 
elements, and the project schedule were also discussed. A preliminary 
alternatives meeting was held on December 16 and 17, 2009, with staff 
members from the parks, representatives from PPL and PSE&G, and 
contractor personnel in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was to 
discuss the route alternatives for the S-R Line developed by the 
applicant, develop the criteria to evaluate the different transmission 
line route alternatives, and work cooperatively to develop additional 
transmission line route alternatives in addition to the ones provided 
by the applicant. Public scoping began with the January 21, 2010, 
Federal Register publication of the notice of intent to prepare an EIS 
(75 FR 3486-3487). The notice of intent summarized the proposed action 
and explained how to comment on the action. NPS released a public 
scoping newsletter to the public for review and comment on January 21, 
2010. The newsletter included a description of the proposed S-R Line, 
the purpose and need, background information, project objectives, and a 
list of issues and impact topics. The newsletter also provided 
information on upcoming public scoping meetings. The newsletter was 
sent to individuals, businesses, agencies, and organizations on the 
parks' email distribution list. The parks also issued a news release 
inviting the public to comment at the scoping meetings. On February 16, 
17, and 18, 2010, public scoping meetings were held in Bushkill, 
Pennsylvania, Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, and Parsippany, New Jersey, 
respectively. Each meeting began with an open house, followed by a 
short presentation by NPS explaining the project, as well as the 
project planning process. A formal public comment session with a court 
reporter was held after the NPS presentation. A total of 311 
participants attended the public scoping meetings and 102 spoke 
formally during the comment sessions. A 30-day public scoping comment 
period, with a two-week extension, was provided from January 21 until 
March 12, during which members of the public were able to submit their 
comments on the proposed S-R Line. During the entire public scoping 
period, over 6,500 pieces of correspondence were received.
    A second preliminary alternatives workshop was held May 4, 5, 6, 
and 7, 2010. Attendees included staff members from the parks, NPS 
Environmental Quality Division Northeast Region, and contractor 
personnel. The meeting included a discussion of the project schedule, 
identification of additional data needed for the analysis of 
alternatives, a discussion of the proposed alternative, a discussion of 
which alternatives should be dismissed, and logistics for the public 
meetings. Following this workshop, NPS held another set of public 
meetings regarding alternatives on August 17, 18, and 19, 2010, in 
Bushkill, Pennsylvania; Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania; and Lafayette, New 
Jersey, respectively. The public was invited to submit comments on 
alternatives from July 9, 2010, to September 14, 2010. During the 
public

[[Page 63867]]

comment period, 1,700 separate pieces of correspondence were received.

Public Comment on Draft EIS

    On November 21, 2011, the NPS released the draft EIS for the S-R 
Line for public review and comment. The draft EIS included a 
description of the proposed project and alternatives proposed, a 
description of the resources found within the study area, and an 
analysis of the impacts of the proposed project on these resources. The 
draft EIS was available for public review until January 31, 2012. 
During the comment period, three public meetings were held in 
Pennsylvania and New Jersey from January 24 through 26, 2012. Meetings 
were held in Bushkill, Pennsylvania; Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania; and 
Lafayette, New Jersey. Each public meeting had an open house from 2:30 
p.m. until 4:30 p.m. and a public hearing from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 
p.m. A total of 368 individuals attended the public comment meetings in 
Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and a total of 102 participants spoke 
during the formal public comment sessions. Nearly 27,000 pieces of 
correspondence were received during the public comment period. 
Approximately 26,000 pieces of correspondence were form letters 
submitted by the National Parks Conservation Association and the Sierra 
Club. All of the public comments received on the draft EIS were read 
and analyzed by the NPS team. The analysis of the public comments 
received and NPS responses are provided in appendix L of the final EIS. 
Among the comments received, a majority were expressions of support for 
the no action alternative, general opposition to the project, and 
opposition to the proposed mitigation. Commenters cited concerns over 
impacts to natural and cultural resources, as well as the visitor 
experience as reasons they did not support the proposed project.
    Based on comments received from the applicant, an access road that 
was proposed through Arnott Fen was moved to reduce project impacts. In 
addition, blasting for tower installation was also removed and replaced 
with drilling to reduce impacts to geologic and natural resources. 
Other changes to the draft EIS as a result of public comments included 
warranted corrections and clarifications to the document.

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act

    Consistent with guidance in National Park Service Management 
Policies and Directors Orders, NPS managers elected to comply with 
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act for the issuance 
of the construction and ROW permit through the use of 36 CFR 800.8(c), 
which allows federal agencies to use the NEPA process to meet Section 
106 compliance responsibilities, according to standards in that subpart 
of the regulations. Integration of the requirements of Section 106 of 
the NHPA into the NEPA process and documentation are accomplished by 
meeting the criteria set forth in 36 CFR 800.8(c)(1)-(4).
    Early in the scoping process for the EIS, NPS staff began 
consulting with the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Historic Preservation 
Offices and numerous federally-recognized Tribes. Additionally, the 
scoping process included sets of news releases, public scoping meetings 
that included newsletters and information on historic resources, and 
general public notification of the decision-making process and 
alternatives being considered. NPS staff members shared extensive 
research, hosted consultation calls, and conducted on-site consultation 
meetings, finalizing the list of Section 106 consulting parties in 
spring 2012, when the NPS identified a preferred alternative.
    The list of Section 106 consulting parties includes the Absentee 
Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma; Advisory Council on Historic 
Preservation; Appalachian Trail Conservancy; Delaware Nation, Oklahoma; 
Delaware Tribe of Indians, Oklahoma; Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma; 
New Jersey Historic Preservation Office; New York-New Jersey Trail 
Conference; Oneida Nation of New York; Onondaga Nation of New York; 
Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office; Preservation New 
Jersey; Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, New York (formerly the St. Regis Band 
of Mohawk Indians of New York); Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma; Seneca 
Nation of New York; Shawnee Tribe, Oklahoma; Stockbridge-Munsee 
Community, Wisconsin; and Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians of New York.
    Other local organizations and municipalities have participated in 
discussions about this project.
    In addition to information that was made available to the public in 
the draft EIS on the undertaking and its effects on historic 
properties, the NPS and the applicant have completed numerous cultural 
resource studies and investigations. The results of these efforts were 
shared with the Section 106 consulting parties. National Park Service 
cultural resource studies and findings supported the development of the 
draft EIS. The applicants' final reports, completed in spring 2012, 
contributed to development of the final EIS. Details on the 
consultation process can be found in Appendix M of the final EIS, and 
the PEPC site for the Susquehanna-Roseland Transmission Line, (http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=220&projectID=25147&documentID=49560).
    The EIS and associated consultation determined the Area of 
Potential Effect (APE) (as described in the draft EIS and final EIS) 
and identified historic properties contained within it. The NPS worked 
with the consulting parties and the applicant to avoid and minimize 
effects to historic properties where possible and mitigate adverse 
effects where necessary. It was determined that there would be adverse 
effects to at least one archeological site, seventeen historic 
structures, and fourteen cultural landscapes (as specified in the final 
EIS). Through this ROD, the NPS commits to the following measures and 
processes to further avoid or minimize effects, and to mitigate adverse 
effects to historic properties from the issuance of the ROW and 
construction permit to the applicant. As discussion between the NPS, 
consulting parties and the applicant continue, and the applicant 
finalizes the design of the transmission line, the NPS will refine the 
minimization and mitigation measures and formalize the commitments 
itemized below as conditions of the permit granted to the applicant.

Mitigation Measures

    While there are some physical effects, adverse effects from the 
issuance of this permit are primarily visual; due to the scale of the 
proposed towers, minimization efforts through vegetative screening are 
unlikely to be successful. Accordingly, through consultation with the 
Section 106 consulting parties, the NPS has developed mitigation 
measures that address the overall adverse effect to the parks from 
issuing the permit rather than focusing on effects to individual 
properties. The mitigation measures for specific properties and broad-
based management plans and interpretive materials will be stipulated in 
the applicant's permit. The applicant will fund the identified 
mitigation measures, as well as any future avoidance, minimization, or 
mitigation measures resulting from the issuance of the NPS permit, with 
oversight by the NPS. All of the activities below will be completed 
according to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the 
Treatment of Historic Properties (36 CFR 68), and by, or under the 
supervision of, personnel who meet the Secretary of the Interior's

[[Page 63868]]

professional qualification standards (48 FR 44716, 1983), as 
appropriate.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

     The applicant will allocate $500,000 from the Middle 
Delaware Compensation Fund to rehabilitate, improve, and protect 
elements and features of the Appalachian Trail that contribute to its 
National Register eligibility. The two specific activities below 
(viewshed analysis and National Register nominations) will be paid for 
from this allocation. These efforts may be associated with points along 
the Trail that are directly affected by the Susquehanna-Roseland Line 
or may be associated with mitigating existing adverse effects at other 
points along the Trail within the established Area of Potential Effect. 
Projects will be completed by the National Park Service, the 
Appalachian Trail Conservancy, or other not-for-profit organizations 
associated with the Appalachian Trail (e.g., New York-New Jersey Trail 
Conference, the Appalachian Mountain Club). Rehabilitation, screening, 
or clearing will be decided upon and conducted at the direction of the 
National Park Service after discussion with the appropriate Section 106 
consulting parties after construction.
     The NPS will oversee the preparation of a viewshed 
analysis for the portion of the Appalachian Trail within the APE that 
will identify critical, character-defining views to inform the 
development of the National Register nominations discussed below.
     The NPS will oversee the preparation of National Register 
nominations for the entire portion of the Appalachian Trail within the 
State of New Jersey and a reasonable segment of the Trail in 
Pennsylvania, as determined in discussion with the Pennsylvania State 
Historic Preservation Office. These nominations will follow the 
standards of the multiple property documentation form the NPS is 
currently developing for the full length of the Appalachian Trail. The 
nominations must meet the standards of the New Jersey State Historic 
Preservation Officer, Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Officer, 
and National Register of Historic Places, and will be considered 
complete when accepted and approved by the Keeper of the National 
Register.
     In addition to these measures, there are efforts related 
to this decision underway outside of the Section 106 process, such as 
land protection measures (including land acquisition), that will 
augment the current Section 106 mitigation plan Within the Appalachian 
Trail, activities will occur within the existing ROW, which will not be 
widened. The above mitigation measures satisfy the requirements under 
Section 106 of the NHPA for effects to the Appalachian Trail. The NPS 
received two letters from non-profit organizations seeking to comment 
about or object to the NPS's compliance with Section 106 of the 
National Historic Preservation Act (Email to NPS from Preservation New 
Jersey dated Sept. 28, 2012; and Letter from the New York-New Jersey 
Trail Conference dated Sept. 25, 2012). The comments in the letters 
were previously raised by these organizations or other organizations or 
individuals, and the NPS already addressed these comments through 
Section 106 meetings and added analyses in the FEIS. Moreover, the NPS, 
in consultation with the consulting parties, developed binding measures 
that seek to avoid, minimize, or mitigate potential adverse effects 
associated with the proposal to address the comments raised by the 
letters. These measures were discussed in the FEIS, which cross-
referenced the draft mitigation plan that was made publicly available 
on the NPS's Web site prior to publication of the FEIS, and are 
contained in the ROD. Additionally, the NPS did not provide for a 
public comment period for the FEIS. See 40 CFR Sec.  1503.1(b). 
Nevertheless, we note that the dispute resolution provisions contained 
in this ROD and the Section 106 Mitigation Plan will apply to the 
future actions covered by or implemented in accordance with this plan.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

    NPS tasks identified under this heading will be completed using an 
allocation from the Middle Delaware Compensation Fund, as detailed 
below. The applicant will pay for all other tasks.
     The NPS will require the applicant to make all efforts to 
avoid any ground disturbing activity that will impact archeological 
resources. The NPS will also require the applicant to fully excavate 
affected portions of any archeological site that will be impacted by 
unavoidable ground disturbance. Any excavation must be done under an 
Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) permit.
     With the input of Tribes and State Historic Preservation 
Officers, the NPS will develop an archeological monitoring plan that 
will identify appropriate locations for archeological and/or tribal 
monitoring during construction-related ground-disturbing activities. 
The plan will meet or exceed New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and NPS 
standards. The NPS will complete the plan prior to the initiation of 
construction. The applicant will pay for monitoring costs not to exceed 
$170,000.
     The NPS will prepare a historic properties management plan 
for DEWA. This plan will identify and analyze historic structures and 
districts within the park, including historic significance, 
interpretation value, and potential for future reuse. The NPS will 
develop this plan in consultation with the interested Section 106 
consulting parties, with substantial input from the surrounding 
communities and the public. The NPS will encourage additional agencies 
and other organizations who were not consulting parties during the 
development of the EIS to participate in the development of the 
historic properties management plan. The park will specifically 
encourage the involvement of their partner organizations in measures 
that affect the properties of interest to them.
     The applicant will allocate $12,500,000 from the Middle 
Delaware Compensation Fund for physical preservation, rehabilitation, 
and/or restoration of historic structures and landscapes at DEWA. The 
expenditure of funds will be guided by the results of the historic 
properties management plan and input from the Section 106 consulting 
parties. Funds will be focused on the Old Mine Road Historic District 
and other appropriate locations within the park in Pennsylvania and New 
Jersey.
     The NPS will consult with the federally-recognized Tribes 
affiliated with the park to develop a tribal cultural program. This 
program may include a tribal cultural center in the park, to be 
established at the Westbrook-Bell House or other appropriate facility 
identified in the historic properties management plan.
     The applicant will complete vegetative screening or other 
treatments of cultural landscapes. Specific locations of screening, 
clearing, or other landscape treatments will be selected by the NPS, in 
cooperation with the Section 106 consulting parties after the 
transmission line has been built, when visual effects to historic 
landscapes are more fully defined. This effort will not exceed a cost 
of $500,000.
     The NPS will oversee the completion of three National 
Register nominations or updates to existing nominations, such as 
updates to the Old Mine Road Historic District and Millbrook Village 
nominations and/or the completion of a River Road (PA) nomination. The 
nominations must meet the Pennsylvania or New Jersey

[[Page 63869]]

Historic Preservation Office, and National Register of Historic Places 
standards, and will be considered complete once accepted and approved 
by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places.
     The NPS will oversee the completion of five research 
studies, such as Historic Structure Reports, Cultural Landscape 
Reports, historic contexts, or research syntheses. The NPS will solicit 
input from the Section 106 consulting parties for this project to 
determine the subjects of the studies.
     The NPS will oversee the completion of four interpretive 
products, such as tour podcasts, site-specific interpretive signs, 
scenic byway signs, or popular publications. The NPS will solicit input 
from the Section 106 consulting parties for this project to determine 
appropriate products under this stipulation.
     The applicant will provide Delaware Water Gap National 
Recreation Area $350 per box of artifacts and $500 per linear foot of 
archeological records created by the surveys, evaluations, and any 
possible excavations resulting from design and construction under this 
permit to cover the costs of curation of those artifacts/records. The 
artifacts and records will be prepared and stored according to the 
standards in 36 CFR 79. Any human remains or objects subject to the 
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) 
discovered as a result of this construction permit will be handled 
according to the regulations at 43 CFR 10.
     The above mitigation measures satisfy the requirements 
under Section 106 of the NHPA for effects to the Delaware Water Gap 
National Recreation Area. However, this plan recognizes that there are 
additional efforts related to this permit underway outside of the 
Section 106 process, such as land protection measures (including land 
acquisition), that may also be put in place and will augment the 
current Section 106 mitigation plan.

Schedule for Completion of Mitigation Measures

    Within three years of issuance of the permit, these measures will 
be complete:

 Historic Properties Management Plan
 National Register nominations for the Appalachian National 
Scenic Trail
 Identification of locations for vegetative screening/cultural 
landscape treatments

    Within five years of issuance of the permit, these measures will be 
complete:

 National Register nominations for Delaware Water Gap National 
Recreation Area
 Interpretive products

    Within ten years of issuance of the permit, these measures will be 
complete:

 Research studies
 Vegetative screening/cultural landscape treatments
 Preservation, rehabilitation, and/or restoration projects of 
historic structures and cultural landscapes for which funding is 
provided under this plan.

    Project-Wide Stipulations Applicable to Both Parks:

Consulting Party Involvement

     Unless otherwise specified, the NPS will provide the 
Section 106 consulting parties with 30 days to review and provide 
comments or input on the implementation of measures identified in this 
plan. Consulting parties will have the opportunity to review and 
comment on interim and final drafts, as appropriate, and the 
identification of properties proposed for rehabilitation. If the NPS is 
unable to fulfill the commitments outlined in this mitigation plan, it 
will notify all consulting parties that it will follow the procedures 
in 36 CFR 800.3 through 800.6 as necessary to address any changes in 
the mitigation plan. The following conditions will be included as 
stipulations in the permit, and will apply to all activities covered by 
the permit. Any activities that occur outside of the actions allowed 
under the permit will undergo separate Section 106 compliance.

Unanticipated Effects

    The permit will include the following stipulations to apply if any 
new adverse effects are identified as a result of changes in design or 
from unanticipated archeological discoveries during construction:
    1. The NPS and Applicant will determine if avoidance/minimization 
measures are possible. These include but are not limited to:

 Visual effects from towers/widened ROW
 Physical effects from construction

    2. Applicant will present feasibility/infeasibility of avoidance/
minimization to NPS; NPS will submit to Section 106 consulting parties 
for review and comment.
    3. If the NPS and applicant determine that avoidance is not 
technically or environmentally feasible, the applicant will propose 
minimization efforts for NPS approval. This may include but is not 
limited to planting vegetative screening at sites identified for which 
it would be appropriate, or restricting damage to minimal area and/or 
less significant resources. Data recovery would still be required for 
any affected portion of archeological sites. The NPS and Section 106 
consulting parties will review and discuss any proposed minimization 
efforts before NPS approval.
    4. If the NPS determines minimization efforts are not adequate, the 
applicant will be responsible for additional mitigation and/or 
compensation. The NPS will consult with the Section 106 consulting 
parties to identify appropriate mitigation. Mitigation measures for 
archeological sites may include, but are not limited to, data recovery, 
curation costs, and/or production of interpretive materials. Mitigation 
measures for historic structures and cultural landscapes may include, 
but are not limited to, physical rehabilitation, development of 
interpretive materials, planning documents, HABS/HAER/HALS 
documentation, and National Register nominations. This stipulation only 
applies if new adverse effects are identified based on unanticipated 
discoveries during construction, or significant changes in design 
proposed by the applicant. If the new adverse effects are due to 
unanticipated ground-disturbing activities, no ground disturbance can 
occur until the appropriate avoidance or mitigation efforts are 
determined. The NPS will determine the appropriate mitigation measures, 
in consultation with the appropriate Section 106 consulting parties, 
within 5 business days of determining the adverse effect is 
unavoidable.

Design and Pre-Construction Activities

    As the applicant finalizes the placement of transmission towers, 
crane pads, pull sites, access roads, and other associated features and 
activities, the applicant will submit the designs and locations to the 
NPS. Reviews will be limited to the precise, final location of towers, 
crane pads, and access roads established through discussions with the 
NPS. Adjustments from existing plans will be made, where possible given 
engineering and operational constraints, to avoid and minimize 
potential adverse impacts.

Archeology

     All archeological activities necessary for planning and/or 
construction will be controlled by a valid Archeological Resources 
Protection Act (ARPA) permit.

[[Page 63870]]

     All areas of possible ground disturbance determined 
sensitive for archeological resources must have undergone archeological 
survey (Phase I) and evaluation of identified archeological sites 
(Phase II) where deemed necessary through review and consultation prior 
to ground-disturbing activities in that particular location. Survey and 
evaluation results must have been reviewed by the appropriate Section 
106 consulting parties and comments considered by the NPS prior to 
proceeding.
     The applicant shall protect sites through fencing, 
matting, or other NPS-approved methods, where appropriate. If 
archeological sites cannot be protected and will be damaged by ground 
disturbance, the NPS will oversee their excavation according to a data 
recovery plan that meets NPS, state, and park-specific standards and is 
concurred upon by the NPS and the appropriate SHPO and Tribes prior to 
ground-disturbing activities. DEWA has a standard of archeologically 
excavating 100% of the affected portion of any archeological site 
impacted by development within the park.
     An archeological and/or tribal monitor must be present for 
ground-disturbing activities identified according to the archeological 
monitoring plan (as identified above) within the boundaries of the park 
to ensure no previously undiscovered sites are affected; the monitors 
may decide their presence is not required for individual actions. 
Applicant must coordinate the schedule of all ground disturbance with 
the monitors to ensure coverage, where appropriate. The cost for 
monitoring is included in the NTE estimate identified in the park-
specific measures listed above.
     If construction crews make unanticipated discoveries of 
archeological materials, work will immediately stop in the discovery 
location. Monitors will make an on-site determination of the likelihood 
of human remains; if none is expected, monitors will notify the 
respective park superintendent and cultural resource manager, who will 
coordinate with the respective SHPO and Tribes for an eligibility 
determination and treatment method, as needed, within 15 days.
     If construction-related activities uncover human remains, 
the applicant or its contractors will stop work at the location 
immediately, and notify park law enforcement, monitors, and the park 
cultural resources manager. Park law enforcement will determine if the 
remains are the result of a crime, and, if so, will contact the local 
coroner to determine whether the remains are of American Indian origin. 
If the coroner determines that the remains are American Indian, NPS 
managers will comply with NAGPRA requirements as described in 43 CFR 10 
or a park-specific NAGPRA Plan of Action. If the coroner determines 
that the remains are not American Indian and not the result of a crime, 
the park superintendent and cultural resource manager will coordinate 
with the appropriate SHPO to determine disposition of the remains.
     The NPS will require the relocation of ground disturbing 
activities to avoid human remains, unless technically infeasible. If 
not technically feasible, the applicant will consult with park and 
Tribes on the reasons, and discuss alternate strategies, such as re-
interment. Applicant is responsible for all costs associated with the 
delineation of the boundaries of the burial site, if required; 
relocation of ground disturbance; and costs of re-interment or 
alternate treatment methods.
     Applicant is responsible for all costs associated with 
survey/evaluation/mitigation of effects to archeological sites, as well 
as any costs for construction delays associated with such activities.
     The applicant must prepare an archeological survey plan 
for review and approval by the DEWA and APPA cultural resources manager 
for any post-construction ground-disturbing activities related to 
maintenance and/or improvement of the line within the boundaries of 
DEWA, APPA, or MDSR for which the NPS will issue permit(s).

Historic Structures/Cultural Landscapes

    Physical rehabilitation or restoration efforts on historic 
structures and cultural landscapes resulting from this project, and 
conducted by entities other than the National Park Service, will be 
supervised and inspected by the NPS to ensure they meet the Secretary 
of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. 
If the efforts do not meet the Standards, the performing entity will 
make all necessary adjustments, at its own expense, until 
rehabilitation or restoration meet the Standards.

Dispute Resolution

    1. Should any consulting party object in writing to the NPS 
regarding any action carried out or proposed with respect to any 
undertakings covered by this plan or to implementation of this plan, 
the NPS will notify all consulting parties and consult with the 
objecting party to resolve the objection.
    2. Within thirty (30) days after initiating such consultation, if 
the NPS determines that the objection cannot be resolved through 
consultation, the NPS will forward all documentation relevant to the 
objection to the ACHP, including the proposed response to the 
objection.
    3. Within thirty (30) days after receipt of all pertinent 
documentation, the ACHP will exercise one of the following options:
    a. Advise the NPS that the ACHP concurs with the NPS proposed 
response to the objection, whereupon the NPS will respond to the 
objection accordingly; or
    b. Provide the NPS with recommendations, which the NPS will take 
into account in reaching a final decision regarding its response to the 
objection.
    4. Should the ACHP not exercise one of the above options within 
thirty (30) days after receipt of all pertinent documentation, the NPS 
may assume the AHCP's concurrence in its proposed response to the 
objection.
    5. The NPS will take into account any ACHP recommendation or 
comment provided in accordance with this stipulation with reference 
only to the subject of the objection; the NPS's responsibility to carry 
out all the actions under this plan that are not the subjects of the 
objection will remain unchanged.

Section 7 Consultation

    Consultation with USFWS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (NOAA) Fisheries has been completed as required by the 
Endangered Species Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act.
    NPS has engaged with NOAA Fisheries with a formal consultation 
letter; on May 13, 2010, NPS received a response from NOAA Fisheries 
regarding the project. The letter stated that there are American shad 
between the Delaware Water Gap and the New York border; additionally, 
there may be also be shad in the Philadelphia reach of the river. 
Depending on further information regarding the transmission line 
crossing of the river, NOAA Fisheries may need to be consulted again. 
In addition, seasonal work restrictions should be incorporated into the 
project schedule for any work in the Delaware River. NPS received a 
response to the preliminary alternatives newsletter from NOAA Fisheries 
on July 22, 2010. The letter noted that while a population of an 
endangered species could be found in the Delaware River, the population 
was downstream of the study area. NOAA Fisheries stated that as no 
listed species were found in the study area, further section 7 
consultation will not be required. On January 31, 2012, the NPS 
received a

[[Page 63871]]

letter from NOAA Fisheries indicating that NOAA had reviewed the draft 
EIS. The letter contained specific comments regarding the presence of 
the federally endangered shortnose sturgeon, federal candidate species 
Atlantic sturgeon, and the American shad within the study area during 
some periods of the year. However, NOAA Fisheries concluded that the 
detailed discussion of impacts to the river were discussed adequately 
in the draft EIS, and that no consultation will be required as part of 
the federal permit process. The letter recommended the use of BMPs to 
minimize turbidity and other water quality impacts. These letters can 
be found in appendix I of the final EIS. After initial engagement of 
USFWS with a consultation letter, USFWS sent an initial response letter 
on June 11, 2010, regarding the project. The letter noted that the 
federally listed Indiana bat and bog turtle could be affected by the 
permit if specific permit conditions were not met. Migratory birds were 
also addressed, and USFWS provided recommendations on the draft Avian 
Protection Plan provided by PSE&G. Recommendations for all species 
included seasonal restrictions, mitigation measures, and additional 
surveys. NPS received a response to the preliminary alternatives 
newsletter from USFWS on September 3, 2010, and an additional response 
on October 21, 2010, with potential impacts of each alternative on 
federally listed species and suggested recommendations regarding listed 
species. In a letter dated January 10, 2011, NPS requested more 
information from USFWS on any federally listed species within the 
vicinity of the proposed alternatives within the park. The NPS sent a 
letter to the USFWS on November 16, 2011, requesting comments on the 
draft Biological Assessment and draft EIS for informal consultation. 
The USFWS replied to the letter, indicating that the USFWS could not 
provide advice on the need for formal consultation and noting that the 
USFWS could not commit to completing consultation by May 2, 2012, as 
requested. The letter from the USFWS provided some comments on impacts 
and options on concluding consultation. Another letter received from 
the USFWS on January 31, 2012, included comments on the draft EIS and 
on impacts to the bog turtle, Indiana bat, bald eagle, and other 
migratory birds. The draft Biological Assessment was sent to USFWS on 
May 21, 2012. Comments were received and the final Biological 
Assessment was sent to USFWS on June 29, 2012. In a letter dated July 
6, 2012, USFWS concurred with the finding by NPS that the preferred 
alternative was not likely to adversely affect endangered species on 
NPS lands. These letters and the Final Biological Assessment can be 
found in appendix I of the final EIS.
    In a letter dated February 7, 2011, NPS invited USFWS to become a 
cooperating agency for this EIS. On March 14, 2011, USFWS responded and 
agreed to become a cooperating agency, pending a formal Interagency 
Agreement, and on April 1, 2011, NPS sent a request to USFWS to 
formalize the Interagency Agreement. The agreement was signed on 
December 5, 2011.

Conclusion

    The above factors and considerations warrant implementing 
alternative 2 as described and analyzed in the final EIS for 
Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Delaware Water Gap National 
Recreation Area, and Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational 
River and this Record of Decision. All practical means to avoid and 
minimize environmental harm from implementation of the selected 
alternative have been incorporated, as described in the final EIS and 
this Record of Decision. The alternative selected for implementation 
will not impair park resources or values and will allow the NPS to 
preserve park resources and provide for their enjoyment by future 
generations. This Record of Decision is not the final agency action for 
those elements of the decision that require the issuance of a permit or 
additional ROW. Final agency action to implement this decision will 
occur when a permit and ROWs incorporating these terms are completed 
and issued to the applicants.

Record of Decision Attachments

    The Record of Decision contains two attachments: A Non-Impairment 
Determination and the Final Statement of Findings. These attachments 
are available on the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment 
System (PEPC). The links to these attachments are provided below.
Attachment A: Non-Impairment Determination
http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=220&projectID=25147&documentID=49997
Attachment B: Final Wetland and Floodplain Statement of Findings
http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=220&projectID=25147&documentID=49997

    Dated: October 2, 2012.
Dennis R. Reidenbach,
Regional Director, Northeast Region, National Park Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-25457 Filed 10-16-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4312-JG-P