Record of Decision on the Little Otter Creek Watershed Plan, Caldwell County, Missouri, 7719-7721 [2020-02602]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 28 / Tuesday, February 11, 2020 / Notices written statements with the committee staff before or after the meeting. Written comments and requests for time for oral comments must be sent to Jeanne Dawson, RAC Coordinator, 420 Barrett Street, Dillon, MT 59725; by email to jeanne.dawson@usda.gov, or via facsimile to 406–683–3855. Meeting Accommodations: If you are a person requiring reasonable accommodation, please make requests in advance for sign language interpreting, assistive listening devices, or other reasonable accommodation. For access to the facility or proceedings, please contact the person listed in the section titled FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. All reasonable accommodation requests are managed on a case by case basis. Dated: February 5, 2020. Cikena Reid, USDA Committee Management Officer. [FR Doc. 2020–02611 Filed 2–10–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411–15–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Natural Resources Conservation Service [Docket ID NRCS–2020–0003] Record of Decision on the Little Otter Creek Watershed Plan, Caldwell County, Missouri Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). ACTION: Record of decision. AGENCY: This notice of availability presents the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) for the Little Otter Creek Watershed Plan (LOCWP) in Caldwell County, Missouri. This task has been to help plan and implement watershed projects. This notice announces the plan to proceed with the installation of the preferred alternative identified in the FSEIS. The preferred alternative, which includes the construction of a 344-acre multiple purpose reservoir, will avoid environmental impacts to the extent possible while minimizing and mitigating for impacts that are unavoidable. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Chris Hamilton, Assistant State Conservationist for Water Resources and Easements, at chris.hamilton@usda.gov or (573) 876–0912. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication should VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:19 Feb 10, 2020 Jkt 250001 contact the USDA Target Center at (202) 720–2600 (voice). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Decision NRCS has decided to implement the LOCWP preferred alternative, which includes construction of a 344-acre multiple purpose reservoir while avoiding impacts to the extent possible and minimizing and mitigating for impacts that are unavoidable. Background The proposed Federal action includes providing technical assistance and financial assistance related to construction costs for one approximately 344-acre multiple purpose reservoir on Little Otter Creek, a water intake structure, a raw water line, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement, and recreational facilities. The purpose of the proposed Federal action is to: • Provide approximately 1.24 million gallons per day (mgd) of locallycontrolled raw water supply to meet the projected 50-year usage demand for Caldwell County; • Provide approximately 60,000 annual recreational user-days; and • Provide an approximately 96 percent reduction in annual flood damages in the 3.8 miles of Little Otter Creek between the reservoir and the confluence with Otter Creek. The 6,323-acre Little Otter Creek Watershed is located two miles east of Hamilton in Caldwell County in northwest Missouri. It is a tributary to Otter Creek that drains to Shoal Creek; the Grand River, and the Missouri River. Engineering reports dating back nearly 50 years document water supply problems in Caldwell County. Underlying geologic formations severely limit groundwater quality and availability. The Missouri Drought Plan places Caldwell County in a region classified as having ‘‘severe surface and groundwater supply drought vulnerability.’’ Digital models estimate that existing water sources could supply only 37 percent of the county’s demand during the drought of record. In addition, the LOCWP documented annual flood damages to crop and pasture land, fences, roads and bridges. LOCWP also identified the need for additional recreational opportunities in the surrounding area. At the request of the Caldwell County Commission and the Caldwell County Soil and Water Conservation District, NRCS began watershed planning activities in July 2000 under the authority of the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1954 (Pub. PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 7719 L. 83–566, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 1001– 1008). NRCS issued a notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as published in the Federal Register on July 22, 2002 (67 FR 47766). On August 6, 2002, the voters of Caldwell County approved a one-half percent sales tax to assist in funding the local match for project installation. NRCS completed the LOCWP and EIS in March 2003 and announced a ROD to proceed with installation as published in the Federal Register on May 5, 2003 (68 FR 23692–23693). The project has not been installed because sufficient funding was not available. Installation of the proposed action will result in temporary and permanent impacts to jurisdictional waters of the United States requiring a Clean Water Act (CWA) section 404 permit. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has not issued a section 404 permit for this project. Comments received during the EIS process suggested that a larger number of reasonable and practicable alternatives be considered. Potential impacts of all reasonable and practicable alternatives have been updated and analyzed in the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) in compliance with section 404(b)(1) of the CWA. The USACE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed an Approved Jurisdictional Determination in March 2010. Alternatives LOCWP established three project purposes: water supply, flood damage reduction, and recreation. The SEIS included a range of alternatives to address the three plan purposes. Reasonable alternatives were evaluated independently for each project purpose. Alternatives that met a project purpose were evaluated to estimate their environmental impacts. Alternatives that met one or two but not all three purposes were combined with other alternatives to develop multipurpose alternatives that met all three project purposes. Water Supply The planned water supply purpose is to provide a dependable long-term water supply to meet a projected 50-year demand of 1.24 mgd for Caldwell County residents. Nineteen water supply alternatives plus the No Action alternative were considered. The alternatives included various combinations of groundwater sources, streams and rivers, connecting to existing systems, existing lakes and five potential new reservoir locations. E:\FR\FM\11FEN1.SGM 11FEN1 7720 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 28 / Tuesday, February 11, 2020 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Each alternative was screened for its ability to meet the water supply purpose and need by four selected criteria (below). Alternatives that met these criteria either alone or in combination with other alternatives were then evaluated to estimate the environmental impacts of each. The results of these evaluations were used to carry alternatives forward for further analysis. • Alternatives must reliably provide 1.24 mgd of water during a drought equivalent to the drought of record in the 1950s to a centrally located site in Caldwell County near Hamilton, Missouri. • Alternatives must comply with existing state and federal codes and regulations issued by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, USEPA, and other agencies that may have jurisdiction over all or portions of the water supply infrastructure. • Alternatives must provide raw or finished water of a quality that can be brought to current and future drinking water standards using treatment methods that are reasonable and typical for the region. • Alternatives must provide a water supply through willing participation of potential suppliers. Five alternatives met the water supply purpose and need criteria and were carried forward to be considered in the multipurpose analysis. Flood Damage Reduction A planned goal of 60 percent reduction in annual flood damages was selected. This value was high enough to provide significant benefits but low enough to allow analysis of a reasonable range of alternatives. Twelve flood damage reduction alternatives plus the No Action alternative were considered. The alternatives included various combinations of zoning, floodplain acquisition, conservation measures, wetlands storage, conveyance, constructing levees and raising bridges, valley encroachment berms, and dry and wet detention structures. Each alternative was screened for its ability to meet the flood damage reduction purpose and need by three selected criteria (below). Alternatives that met these criteria either alone or in combination with other alternatives were then evaluated to estimate the environmental impacts of each. The results of these evaluations were used to carry alternatives forward for further analysis. • Sixty percent or greater annual flood damage reduction. • Compliance with existing codes and regulations. • No increase in peak flow. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:19 Feb 10, 2020 Jkt 250001 Three alternatives met the flood damage reduction purpose and need criteria independently and were carried forward to be considered in the multipurpose analysis. Two additional alternatives, when combined, met the flood damage reduction purpose and need criteria and were carried forward as a combination to be considered in the multipurpose analysis. Recreation The planned recreation purpose is to provide water-based recreation to help meet the unmet demand for Caldwell County and the 25-mile radius Recreation Market Area. Nine recreation alternatives plus the No Action alternative were considered. These alternatives considered combinations of creating recreational stream access, expanding existing private lake access, developing ponds, and several alternative reservoir locations. Each alternative was screened for its ability to meet the recreation purpose and need by three selected criteria (below). Alternatives that met these criteria either alone or in combination with other alternatives were then evaluated to estimate the environmental impacts of each. The results of these evaluations were used to carry alternatives forward for further analysis. • Alternatives must meet or exceed 45 percent of the unmet demand for water-based recreation user-days. • Alternatives must comply with existing codes and regulations. • Alternatives must be available for public use and have public access. Three alternatives met the recreation purpose and need criteria independently and were carried forward to be considered in the multipurpose analysis. Two additional alternatives, when combined, met the recreation purpose and need criteria and were carried forward as a combination to be considered in the multipurpose analysis. Multipurpose Analysis The multipurpose analysis considered the alternatives carried forward that alone or in combination with other alternatives would meet planned purposes and needs. These alternatives were evaluated for their relative impacts to the environment including aquatic resources and threatened and endangered species. Relative impacts of alternatives were quantified according to their estimated impacts to streams, wetlands, and forests. Alternatives were also evaluated for their ‘‘practicability.’’ An alternative is practicable if it is ‘‘available and capable of being done after taking into consideration cost, PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 existing technology, and logistics in light of overall project purposes.’’ The multipurpose analysis found the LOCWP preferred alternative, which includes construction of a 344-acre multiple purpose reservoir, had the lowest permanent impact on both aquatic resources and potential threatened and endangered species habitat among all practicable alternatives and is the Proposed Action. This alternative will promote the national environmental policy as expressed in NEPA section 101. Intentional discharge from the reservoir at water surface elevations below the principal spillway crest is planned to minimize the impacts of the reservoir on downstream aquatic resources. Compensatory Mitigation Following all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm from the preferred alternative, compensatory mitigation will be applied to the remaining unavoidable impacts. The LOCWP preferred alternative will result in approximately 36,243 linear feet of stream lost due to inundation and fill. This total includes 20,220 linear feet of perennial; 14,569 linear feet of intermittent, and 1,454 linear feet of ephemeral stream channel. The Missouri Stream Mitigation Method (MSMM) is a debit-credit system that guides stream mitigation activities in Missouri. Unavoidable impacts resulting from the dam and permanent pool total 183,376 debits under the MSMM. To compensate for these impacts, an equal or greater number of stream mitigation credits must be provided. In addition, approximately 4.1 acres of jurisdictional wetlands will be impacted by preferred alternative. All required wetlands credits plus 51,000 stream credits will be purchased from Swallow Tail LLC’s North Grand River Wetland and Stream Mitigation Bank. Permittee responsible mitigation projects are planned to generate the following estimated instream mitigation credits: (1) Four aquatic organism passage (AOP) barrier removal projects in Caldwell and Daviess counties (94,749 credits). (2) Riparian plantings on property owned by the Caldwell County Commission (54,779 credits). The final compensatory mitigation plan fully compensates for jurisdictional wetlands impacts and offers 200,528 stream mitigation credits, exceeding the preferred alternative credit requirements (183,376) by 17,152 credits. E:\FR\FM\11FEN1.SGM 11FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 28 / Tuesday, February 11, 2020 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Factors Considered in Making the Decision The following conclusions were reached after carefully reviewing the proposed Little Otter Creek Watershed project in light of all national goals and policies, particularly those expressed in NEPA, and after evaluating the overall merit of possible alternatives to the project: a. The LOCWP preferred alternative will employ reasonable and practical means that are consistent with NEPA while permitting the application of other national policies and interests. These means include a project planned and designed to minimize adverse effects on the natural environment while accomplishing authorized project purposes. Project features designed to preserve existing environmental values for future generations include: (1) Provisions to recover significant archaeological and historic resources discovered during project construction; (2) Establishing vegetation on construction areas with plant species beneficial to wildlife; (3) Compensatory mitigation for impacts to stream and wetlands habitat; (4) Supplemental flows to minimize impacts to downstream aquatic resources; (5) Reduction in total watershed erosion and the amount of sediment delivered to downstream areas. b. The Little Otter Creek Watershed project was planned using a systematic interdisciplinary approach involving integrated uses of the natural and social sciences and environmental design arts. All conclusions concerning the environmental impact of the project and overall merit of existing plans were based on a review of data and information that would be reasonably expected to reveal significant environmental consequences of the proposed project. These data included studies prepared specifically for the project and comments and views of all interested Federal, State, and local agencies and individuals. The results of this review constitute the basis for the conclusions and recommendations. The project will not affect any cultural resources eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Nor will the project affect any species of fish, wildlife, or plant or their habitats that have been designated as endangered or threatened. c. In studying and evaluating the environmental impact of the Little Otter Creek Watershed project, every effort was made to express all significant environmental values quantitatively and to identify and give appropriate weight VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:19 Feb 10, 2020 Jkt 250001 and consideration of nonquantifiable environmental values. d. Every possible effort has been made to identify those adverse environmental effects that cannot be avoided if the project is constructed. e. The long and short-term resource uses, long-term productivity, and the irreversible and irretrievable commitment of resources are described in the FEIS and FSEIS. f. All reasonable and viable alternatives to project features and to the project itself were studied and analyzed with reference to national policies and goals, especially those expressed in NEPA and the Federal water resource development legislation under which the project was planned. Each possible course of action was evaluated as to its possible economic, technical, social, and overall environmental consequences to determine the tradeoffs necessary to accommodate all national policies and interests. No alternative or combination of alternatives will afford greater protection of the environmental values while accomplishing the other project goals and objectives. g. The proposed project will be the most effective means of meeting national goals and is consistent in serving the public interest by including provisions to protect and enhance the environment. The recommended plan is the environmentally preferable plan. Public Comment One comment was submitted during the FSEIS public comment period specifying a preference for the No Action alternative, but the commenter provided no rationale, additional alternatives, or other impacts to consider. As such, no further action is being taken to address the comment. Conclusion The LOCWP uses all practical means, consistent with considerations of national policy, to meet the goals established in NEPA. The project will serve the overall public interest and meet the needs of the project sponsors. The EIS and FSEIS have been prepared, reviewed, and accepted in accordance with the provisions of NEPA as implemented by Departmental regulations for the preparation of EIS. After considering a broad range of alternatives, the EIS and FSEIS have found the LOCWP preferred alternative to be the environmentally preferable plan to serve the Sponsor’s purpose and need. NRCS has decided to implement the LOCWP preferred alternative, which includes construction of a 344-acre PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 7721 multiple purpose reservoir while avoiding impacts to the extent possible and minimizing and mitigating for impacts that are unavoidable. Kevin Norton, Associate Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service. [FR Doc. 2020–02602 Filed 2–10–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–16–P COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee Commission on Civil Rights. Announcement of meeting. AGENCY: ACTION: Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission), and the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) that a meeting of the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee to the Commission will convene by conference call at 11:30 a.m. (EST) on Tuesday, February 18, 2020. The purpose of the project planning meeting is to discuss the draft Committee report titled, School Discipline and the Schoolto-Prison Pipeline in PA. Public Call-In Information: Conference call-in number: 800–353– 6461 and conference call ID number: 6813288. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ivy Davis at ero@usccr.gov or by phone at 202–376–7533. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Interested members of the public may listen to the discussion by calling the following tollfree conference call-in number: 800– 353–6461 and conference call ID number: 6813288. Please be advised that before placing them into the conference call, the conference call operator will ask callers to provide their names, their organizational affiliations (if any), and email addresses (so that callers may be notified of future meetings). Callers can expect to incur charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, and the Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over landline connections to the toll-free conference call-in number. Persons with hearing impairments may also follow the discussion by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1–800–877–8339 and providing the operator with the toll-free conference call-in number: 800–353–6461 and conference call ID number: 6813288. Members of the public are invited to make brief statements during the Public SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\11FEN1.SGM 11FEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 28 (Tuesday, February 11, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 7719-7721]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-02602]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Natural Resources Conservation Service

[Docket ID NRCS-2020-0003]


Record of Decision on the Little Otter Creek Watershed Plan, 
Caldwell County, Missouri

AGENCY: Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Department 
of Agriculture (USDA).

ACTION: Record of decision.

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

SUMMARY: This notice of availability presents the Record of Decision 
(ROD) for the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) 
for the Little Otter Creek Watershed Plan (LOCWP) in Caldwell County, 
Missouri. This task has been to help plan and implement watershed 
projects. This notice announces the plan to proceed with the 
installation of the preferred alternative identified in the FSEIS. The 
preferred alternative, which includes the construction of a 344-acre 
multiple purpose reservoir, will avoid environmental impacts to the 
extent possible while minimizing and mitigating for impacts that are 
unavoidable.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Chris Hamilton, Assistant State 
Conservationist for Water Resources and Easements, at 
[email protected] or (573) 876-0912. Persons with disabilities 
who require alternative means for communication should contact the USDA 
Target Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Decision

    NRCS has decided to implement the LOCWP preferred alternative, 
which includes construction of a 344-acre multiple purpose reservoir 
while avoiding impacts to the extent possible and minimizing and 
mitigating for impacts that are unavoidable.

Background

    The proposed Federal action includes providing technical assistance 
and financial assistance related to construction costs for one 
approximately 344-acre multiple purpose reservoir on Little Otter 
Creek, a water intake structure, a raw water line, fish and wildlife 
habitat enhancement, and recreational facilities. The purpose of the 
proposed Federal action is to:
     Provide approximately 1.24 million gallons per day (mgd) 
of locally-controlled raw water supply to meet the projected 50-year 
usage demand for Caldwell County;
     Provide approximately 60,000 annual recreational user-
days; and
     Provide an approximately 96 percent reduction in annual 
flood damages in the 3.8 miles of Little Otter Creek between the 
reservoir and the confluence with Otter Creek.
    The 6,323-acre Little Otter Creek Watershed is located two miles 
east of Hamilton in Caldwell County in northwest Missouri. It is a 
tributary to Otter Creek that drains to Shoal Creek; the Grand River, 
and the Missouri River.
    Engineering reports dating back nearly 50 years document water 
supply problems in Caldwell County. Underlying geologic formations 
severely limit groundwater quality and availability. The Missouri 
Drought Plan places Caldwell County in a region classified as having 
``severe surface and groundwater supply drought vulnerability.'' 
Digital models estimate that existing water sources could supply only 
37 percent of the county's demand during the drought of record. In 
addition, the LOCWP documented annual flood damages to crop and pasture 
land, fences, roads and bridges. LOCWP also identified the need for 
additional recreational opportunities in the surrounding area.
    At the request of the Caldwell County Commission and the Caldwell 
County Soil and Water Conservation District, NRCS began watershed 
planning activities in July 2000 under the authority of the Watershed 
Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1954 (Pub. L. 83-566, as 
amended, 16 U.S.C. 1001-1008). NRCS issued a notice of intent to 
prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as published in the 
Federal Register on July 22, 2002 (67 FR 47766). On August 6, 2002, the 
voters of Caldwell County approved a one-half percent sales tax to 
assist in funding the local match for project installation. NRCS 
completed the LOCWP and EIS in March 2003 and announced a ROD to 
proceed with installation as published in the Federal Register on May 
5, 2003 (68 FR 23692-23693). The project has not been installed because 
sufficient funding was not available. Installation of the proposed 
action will result in temporary and permanent impacts to jurisdictional 
waters of the United States requiring a Clean Water Act (CWA) section 
404 permit. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has not issued a 
section 404 permit for this project. Comments received during the EIS 
process suggested that a larger number of reasonable and practicable 
alternatives be considered. Potential impacts of all reasonable and 
practicable alternatives have been updated and analyzed in the 
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) in compliance with 
section 404(b)(1) of the CWA. The USACE and the U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) completed an Approved Jurisdictional 
Determination in March 2010.

Alternatives

    LOCWP established three project purposes: water supply, flood 
damage reduction, and recreation. The SEIS included a range of 
alternatives to address the three plan purposes. Reasonable 
alternatives were evaluated independently for each project purpose. 
Alternatives that met a project purpose were evaluated to estimate 
their environmental impacts. Alternatives that met one or two but not 
all three purposes were combined with other alternatives to develop 
multipurpose alternatives that met all three project purposes.

Water Supply

    The planned water supply purpose is to provide a dependable long-
term water supply to meet a projected 50-year demand of 1.24 mgd for 
Caldwell County residents. Nineteen water supply alternatives plus the 
No Action alternative were considered. The alternatives included 
various combinations of groundwater sources, streams and rivers, 
connecting to existing systems, existing lakes and five potential new 
reservoir locations.

[[Page 7720]]

    Each alternative was screened for its ability to meet the water 
supply purpose and need by four selected criteria (below). Alternatives 
that met these criteria either alone or in combination with other 
alternatives were then evaluated to estimate the environmental impacts 
of each. The results of these evaluations were used to carry 
alternatives forward for further analysis.
     Alternatives must reliably provide 1.24 mgd of water 
during a drought equivalent to the drought of record in the 1950s to a 
centrally located site in Caldwell County near Hamilton, Missouri.
     Alternatives must comply with existing state and federal 
codes and regulations issued by the Missouri Department of Natural 
Resources, USEPA, and other agencies that may have jurisdiction over 
all or portions of the water supply infrastructure.
     Alternatives must provide raw or finished water of a 
quality that can be brought to current and future drinking water 
standards using treatment methods that are reasonable and typical for 
the region.
     Alternatives must provide a water supply through willing 
participation of potential suppliers.
    Five alternatives met the water supply purpose and need criteria 
and were carried forward to be considered in the multipurpose analysis.

Flood Damage Reduction

    A planned goal of 60 percent reduction in annual flood damages was 
selected. This value was high enough to provide significant benefits 
but low enough to allow analysis of a reasonable range of alternatives. 
Twelve flood damage reduction alternatives plus the No Action 
alternative were considered. The alternatives included various 
combinations of zoning, floodplain acquisition, conservation measures, 
wetlands storage, conveyance, constructing levees and raising bridges, 
valley encroachment berms, and dry and wet detention structures.
    Each alternative was screened for its ability to meet the flood 
damage reduction purpose and need by three selected criteria (below). 
Alternatives that met these criteria either alone or in combination 
with other alternatives were then evaluated to estimate the 
environmental impacts of each. The results of these evaluations were 
used to carry alternatives forward for further analysis.
     Sixty percent or greater annual flood damage reduction.
     Compliance with existing codes and regulations.
     No increase in peak flow.
    Three alternatives met the flood damage reduction purpose and need 
criteria independently and were carried forward to be considered in the 
multipurpose analysis. Two additional alternatives, when combined, met 
the flood damage reduction purpose and need criteria and were carried 
forward as a combination to be considered in the multipurpose analysis.

Recreation

    The planned recreation purpose is to provide water-based recreation 
to help meet the unmet demand for Caldwell County and the 25-mile 
radius Recreation Market Area. Nine recreation alternatives plus the No 
Action alternative were considered. These alternatives considered 
combinations of creating recreational stream access, expanding existing 
private lake access, developing ponds, and several alternative 
reservoir locations.
    Each alternative was screened for its ability to meet the 
recreation purpose and need by three selected criteria (below). 
Alternatives that met these criteria either alone or in combination 
with other alternatives were then evaluated to estimate the 
environmental impacts of each. The results of these evaluations were 
used to carry alternatives forward for further analysis.
     Alternatives must meet or exceed 45 percent of the unmet 
demand for water-based recreation user-days.
     Alternatives must comply with existing codes and 
regulations.
     Alternatives must be available for public use and have 
public access.
    Three alternatives met the recreation purpose and need criteria 
independently and were carried forward to be considered in the 
multipurpose analysis. Two additional alternatives, when combined, met 
the recreation purpose and need criteria and were carried forward as a 
combination to be considered in the multipurpose analysis.

Multipurpose Analysis

    The multipurpose analysis considered the alternatives carried 
forward that alone or in combination with other alternatives would meet 
planned purposes and needs. These alternatives were evaluated for their 
relative impacts to the environment including aquatic resources and 
threatened and endangered species. Relative impacts of alternatives 
were quantified according to their estimated impacts to streams, 
wetlands, and forests. Alternatives were also evaluated for their 
``practicability.'' An alternative is practicable if it is ``available 
and capable of being done after taking into consideration cost, 
existing technology, and logistics in light of overall project 
purposes.''
    The multipurpose analysis found the LOCWP preferred alternative, 
which includes construction of a 344-acre multiple purpose reservoir, 
had the lowest permanent impact on both aquatic resources and potential 
threatened and endangered species habitat among all practicable 
alternatives and is the Proposed Action. This alternative will promote 
the national environmental policy as expressed in NEPA section 101. 
Intentional discharge from the reservoir at water surface elevations 
below the principal spillway crest is planned to minimize the impacts 
of the reservoir on downstream aquatic resources.

Compensatory Mitigation

    Following all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental 
harm from the preferred alternative, compensatory mitigation will be 
applied to the remaining unavoidable impacts. The LOCWP preferred 
alternative will result in approximately 36,243 linear feet of stream 
lost due to inundation and fill. This total includes 20,220 linear feet 
of perennial; 14,569 linear feet of intermittent, and 1,454 linear feet 
of ephemeral stream channel. The Missouri Stream Mitigation Method 
(MSMM) is a debit-credit system that guides stream mitigation 
activities in Missouri. Unavoidable impacts resulting from the dam and 
permanent pool total 183,376 debits under the MSMM. To compensate for 
these impacts, an equal or greater number of stream mitigation credits 
must be provided. In addition, approximately 4.1 acres of 
jurisdictional wetlands will be impacted by preferred alternative. All 
required wetlands credits plus 51,000 stream credits will be purchased 
from Swallow Tail LLC's North Grand River Wetland and Stream Mitigation 
Bank. Permittee responsible mitigation projects are planned to generate 
the following estimated in-stream mitigation credits:
    (1) Four aquatic organism passage (AOP) barrier removal projects in 
Caldwell and Daviess counties (94,749 credits).
    (2) Riparian plantings on property owned by the Caldwell County 
Commission (54,779 credits).
    The final compensatory mitigation plan fully compensates for 
jurisdictional wetlands impacts and offers 200,528 stream mitigation 
credits, exceeding the preferred alternative credit requirements 
(183,376) by 17,152 credits.

[[Page 7721]]

Factors Considered in Making the Decision

    The following conclusions were reached after carefully reviewing 
the proposed Little Otter Creek Watershed project in light of all 
national goals and policies, particularly those expressed in NEPA, and 
after evaluating the overall merit of possible alternatives to the 
project:
    a. The LOCWP preferred alternative will employ reasonable and 
practical means that are consistent with NEPA while permitting the 
application of other national policies and interests. These means 
include a project planned and designed to minimize adverse effects on 
the natural environment while accomplishing authorized project 
purposes. Project features designed to preserve existing environmental 
values for future generations include:
    (1) Provisions to recover significant archaeological and historic 
resources discovered during project construction;
    (2) Establishing vegetation on construction areas with plant 
species beneficial to wildlife;
    (3) Compensatory mitigation for impacts to stream and wetlands 
habitat;
    (4) Supplemental flows to minimize impacts to downstream aquatic 
resources;
    (5) Reduction in total watershed erosion and the amount of sediment 
delivered to downstream areas.
    b. The Little Otter Creek Watershed project was planned using a 
systematic interdisciplinary approach involving integrated uses of the 
natural and social sciences and environmental design arts. All 
conclusions concerning the environmental impact of the project and 
overall merit of existing plans were based on a review of data and 
information that would be reasonably expected to reveal significant 
environmental consequences of the proposed project. These data included 
studies prepared specifically for the project and comments and views of 
all interested Federal, State, and local agencies and individuals. The 
results of this review constitute the basis for the conclusions and 
recommendations. The project will not affect any cultural resources 
eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Nor 
will the project affect any species of fish, wildlife, or plant or 
their habitats that have been designated as endangered or threatened.
    c. In studying and evaluating the environmental impact of the 
Little Otter Creek Watershed project, every effort was made to express 
all significant environmental values quantitatively and to identify and 
give appropriate weight and consideration of nonquantifiable 
environmental values.
    d. Every possible effort has been made to identify those adverse 
environmental effects that cannot be avoided if the project is 
constructed.
    e. The long and short-term resource uses, long-term productivity, 
and the irreversible and irretrievable commitment of resources are 
described in the FEIS and FSEIS.
    f. All reasonable and viable alternatives to project features and 
to the project itself were studied and analyzed with reference to 
national policies and goals, especially those expressed in NEPA and the 
Federal water resource development legislation under which the project 
was planned. Each possible course of action was evaluated as to its 
possible economic, technical, social, and overall environmental 
consequences to determine the tradeoffs necessary to accommodate all 
national policies and interests. No alternative or combination of 
alternatives will afford greater protection of the environmental values 
while accomplishing the other project goals and objectives.
    g. The proposed project will be the most effective means of meeting 
national goals and is consistent in serving the public interest by 
including provisions to protect and enhance the environment. The 
recommended plan is the environmentally preferable plan.

Public Comment

    One comment was submitted during the FSEIS public comment period 
specifying a preference for the No Action alternative, but the 
commenter provided no rationale, additional alternatives, or other 
impacts to consider. As such, no further action is being taken to 
address the comment.

Conclusion

    The LOCWP uses all practical means, consistent with considerations 
of national policy, to meet the goals established in NEPA. The project 
will serve the overall public interest and meet the needs of the 
project sponsors. The EIS and FSEIS have been prepared, reviewed, and 
accepted in accordance with the provisions of NEPA as implemented by 
Departmental regulations for the preparation of EIS. After considering 
a broad range of alternatives, the EIS and FSEIS have found the LOCWP 
preferred alternative to be the environmentally preferable plan to 
serve the Sponsor's purpose and need.
    NRCS has decided to implement the LOCWP preferred alternative, 
which includes construction of a 344-acre multiple purpose reservoir 
while avoiding impacts to the extent possible and minimizing and 
mitigating for impacts that are unavoidable.

Kevin Norton,
Associate Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-02602 Filed 2-10-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-16-P