Finding of No Significant Impact
Wildlife Management Areas, Consolidated Term Easement for State of Alabama
TVA proposes to grant a 30-year term easement over existing wildlife management areas (WMA) totaling 24,534 acres and license approximately 19,038 acres of lands. The action would consolidate four similar and existing grants of easement that are currently held by Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) in North Alabama and authorize via license agreement the continued use of adjoining/associated properties.
The existing areas are designated as:
ADCNR would continue with its current operation and use of these areas consistent with existing management area plans. TVA reviewed the environmental consequences of this proposal and determined that impacts would primarily be from ongoing wildlife management activities and would be insignificant. Activities envisioned in the existing WMA Management Plans (attached to the EA) are expected to continue. During the term of the easement, ADCNR and TVA would jointly conduct periodic evaluations and updates of the management plan, and take public comments on continuing management activities.
TVA coordinated the proposed easement action with state and federal agencies and the public in May 2001. Letters of support were received from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alabama Waterfowl Association, Tennessee Valley Resource Conservation and Development Council, Claude Herbert Smith, and Eric Easterly. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also requested that one or two acres be considered for transfer as part of Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge. This land would be deleted from the WMA proposal and a transfer decision is pending in the Pickwick Land Management Plan. Claude Herbert Smith requested that additional lands be added as wildlife refuges on Guntersville. Similar comments were previously considered and rejected as part of the review for the Guntersville Reservoir Land Management Plan. Bridrijo Howell requested that no additional lands be added to the existing WMA, and Bill and Marie Osmer raised issues about aquatic plants.
As conditions of the transfer, additional activities and facilities added by ADCNR would be required to be approved by TVA. Land altering activities would require archaeological resources compliance. Other conditions of transfer would relate to flood damage prevention, agricultural and recreational usage, and hazardous substances. If additional management activities were proposed, additional environmental review would occur. As long as these commitments were implemented, TVA concludes that the impacts of continued operation of these lands by ADCNR would be insignificant.
After considering the nature of the proposal and the sizable area of land proposed for transfer, TVA decided to prepare an EA. NEPA Administration has reviewed the attached EA (link below) and determined that the potential environmental consequences of TVAs action have been addressed.
The lands on Guntersville Reservoir include parcels allocated to Zone 4, Natural Resources Conservation. Use of these areas as a wildlife management area is compatible with this land allocation. Because the EA includes lands that are currently the subject of an EIS process for the Pickwick Land Management Plan, TVA will not take action on the Pickwick portion of the lands until after approval of the Pickwick Land Management Plan. In order to be considered for the easement, the Pickwick land allocations would need to be either Zone 3 or 4. As long as ADCNR and TVA comply with commitments 1 through 11 in the attached EA (link below), we conclude that the proposed action will not have a significant impact on the quality of the environment. Accordingly, an environmental impact statement is not required. The Office of General Counsel concurs in this determination.
Original signed by:
Date: June 19, 2002
To request a printed copy of the final EA, including all attachments, please contact:
Harold M. Draper,
NEPA Team Leader