The U.S. Forest Service has raised concerns about the impacts of proposed ACP pipeline and access road construction on wild trout streams in the George Washington National Forest (GWNF). In preliminary comments submitted to FERC on September 1, 2016, the Forest Service identified several brook trout streams in the National Forest that would be crossed by the pipeline or access roads. Among these streams is Laurel Run, which drains the eastern flank of Jack Mountain in Bath County, Virginia. Dominion proposes to cross the upper reach of this small trout stream with the pipeline and to construct an access road that will closely follow nearly the full length of the stream channel, crossing it multiple times. The Forest Service submission to FERC stated that the proposed access road is inconsistent with the Forest Plan and best management practices relating to soil and water. The Forest service also raised concerns about other wild brook trout streams in the National Forest.
In addition to other requirements for protection of stream quality and aquatic habitat, the Forest Plan for the GWNF states that “in cold water stream habitats, activities that unfavorably affect trout spawning should be avoided from October 1 to April 1.”
This time–of-year restriction, which is designed to protect trout populations from siltation during the sensitive early-life-stage period, is reflected in similar restrictions imposed by Virginia and West Virginia wildlife management agencies. Dominion has indicated an intent to proceed with accelerated winter-time construction and to request waivers for time-of-year restrictions and other important environmental requirements.
The issue of access roads and time-of-year restrictions in brook trout watersheds was raised in the recent DPMC Story Map, Ground Truth about ACP Access Roads, as well as in a recent Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance weekly update.
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