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Final Environmental Assessment

Shields Creek Crappie Impoundment

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency request for a small dam, impoundment, access road, and gravel boat ramp on Shields Creek Embayment, Cherokee Reservoir

Contents of this page:
Background of the proposal
Final environmental assessment

Background of the proposal

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) have jointly evaluated a proposal by TWRA to issue permits and approvals for construction of a small dam, impoundment, access road, and gravel boat ramp on TVA Tract XCK-337R, Shields Creek, Cherokee Reservoir, Grainger County, Tennessee. This EA was prepared to assess the impacts of the federal actions, i.e., approvals under Section 10 of the River and Harbors Act of 1899, Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, Section 26a of the TVA Act of 1933, and the proposed TVA land use license agreement.

High and relatively constant water levels during the spring spawning season typically result in good crappie reproduction in Cherokee Reservoir. During periods of drought, crappie spawning success rates drop markedly. This has resulted in low crappie populations observed in Cherokee Reservoir. The purpose of the project is to provide optimum spawning conditions in the Shields Creek embayment even when the reservoir has low water levels during the spring. This would allow TWRA to raise fingerling crappie in the nursery impoundment for release into the reservoir and improve the population of this species.

To allow time for the impoundment to fill even during dry spring weather, the gate valve in the dam would be closed on March 1 each year. This closure date may be subject to minor change, if TWRA’s monitoring suggests that weather conditions might make the impoundment difficult to fill. The gate valve is proposed to remain closed until September 15. The Shields Creek impoundment would provide a stable pool beginning about the end of March; and, unless the main reservoir overtops the dam, provide a summer-long growing season for the young crappie.

Regardless of Cherokee Reservoir’s pool elevation, when a stable pool is established in Shields Creek impoundment, brood fish would be released into it. Following the spring spawn and a summer of growth, on September 15, the gate valve would be opened and young crappie would be released into the main reservoir. During the late summer, fall, and most of the winter (September 15 through March 1), the gate valve would remain open and Shields Creek impoundment would be operated like the main reservoir. TWRA would stock the nursery impoundment, monitor the spawn and water quality, and then release the fingerlings into the main reservoir at the appropriate time. TWRA would also be responsible for long-term operation and maintenance of the dam and gravel boat ramp, including any liability associated with dam failure, vegetation control, and structural refurbishment needs. TWRA would also be responsible for dam removal and site restoration in the future in the event it was ever needed.

Under the No Action Alternative, no development would be allowed and, therefore, there would neither be benefits from the project nor the insignificant effects. Under the Proposed Impoundment Construction Alternative, the impoundment would likely result in long-term benefits to the crappie fishery and resultant recreational and socioeconomic value of Cherokee Reservoir to the area and region. No impacts on endangered species are expected. Positive effects on wetlands and the reservoir aquatic environment are expected. Provided commitments are implemented, including BMPs, insignificant impacts on aquatic ecology and water quality are also anticipated. Commitments included in this EA as well as permits and other authorizations would avoid archaeological sites known to occur on the site and minimize secondary effects such as those that could occur on recreational boating, floodplains values, and possible need to control fish-eating bird predation.

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TVA published a public notice on May 9, 2001 and a TVA /USACE Joint Public Notice No. 01-43 was published on June 6, 2001 notifying the public of TWRA’s request for the original project, i.e., a 200-foot-long and 18-foot-high dam at a slightly different location on Shields Creek. The TVA and joint public notice comment periods ended on June 30 and July 5, 2001, respectively. TVA received one written comment from Bean Station Utility District (BSUD) on the proposal and received one telephone call from a private citizen who was complimentary of the proposal. BSUD informed TVA of its waterline, which could likely be affected by the project at the originally proposed location. As a result, the applicants decided to shift the Shields Creek dam location upstream (north) to avoid the water main.

In response to the joint public notice, USACE received two letters from agencies and two e-mails from Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). Neither the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service nor Tennessee Historical Commission had objections to the issuance of the permit to conduct the work described in the subject notice. However, TVA archaeologists are aware of two sites in the embayment area upstream of the project. By letter dated December 4, 2002, TVA initiated further consultation with the TN SHPO and requested concurrence that, with commitments (see Section 3.5), no historic properties will be affected by the proposed undertaking. By letter dated December 9, 2002, THC concurred with TVA’s finding that, with commitments included in the EA, no historic properties would be affected by the project. THC further concurred that TVA should regularly monitor the construction so as to be assured that the archaeological sites do not incur any damage. By e-mails dated July 20 and August 14, 2001, TDOT asked that TWRA submit plans for the project to ensure that conflicts on future road, bridge, and right-of-way issues could be avoided. TDOT was forwarded the project plans on December 4, 2002.

Based on the public response to the original proposal and TVA, USACE, and TWRA staff review of revised detailed plans from TWRA (submitted in August 2002), the following areas for impact analysis were identified for further evaluation related to the proposed Shields Creek impoundment decision:

  • Terrestrial Environment (including wetlands)
  • Aquatic Environment
  • Water Quality
  • Floodplains
  • Cultural Resources
  • Recreation
  • Endangered Species

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Final Environmental Assessment

During the spring of 2001, the general public, state and federal officials, and various special interest groups were invited to participate in the public scoping for the original concept for this project. Several comments were received. TVA, USACE, and TWRA specialists used this public input to revise plans for the project. Upon submittal of new plan by TWRA in August 2002, resource data, and professional knowledge about the project area were used to develop a draft environmental assessment addressing specific resource issues. TVA then circulated the draft document to 17 federal and state agencies for review and comment. This final environmental assessment evaluates the potential effects of two alternatives and reflects changes made as a result of external public and agency reviews.

The entire EA, including maps, plans, and appendices, can be viewed by section, as noted below (PDF files, require Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Chapter 1: Purpose and Need for Action (30 kb)
The nature of the proposed project and the federal approvals requested. The scoping and issue identification process, alternative project locations considered, and each agency’s authority on permits and approvals.

Chapter 2: Alternatives, Including the Proposed Action (12 kb)
The no action and action alternatives, the likely implications of their selection, and potential mitigation measures that would likely be implemented to reduce effects associated with each alternative.

Chapter 3: Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences (40 kb)
The existing environmental resources and consequences of the proposed federal approvals.

Chapter 4: List of Preparers (7 kb)
Lists of TVA, USACE, and TWRA preparers of the content of the EA.

Chapter 5: Commitments (8 kb)
Commitments that would be implemented in association with the selection of the Proposed Impoundment Construction Alternative.

Chapter 6: Agencies and Persons Consulted (7 kb)
Federal, state, and local agencies consulted during the development of the EA.

Chapter 7: Literature Cited (11 kb)
Individual authoritative references cited.

Appendix A (609 kb)
Comment letters

Appendix B (712 kb)
Categorical exclusion checklist

Illustration 1: Shields Creek Nursery (312 kb)
Illustration 2: Shields Creek Nursery (163 kb)
Illustration 3: Riser (257 kb)
Illustration 4: Riser Details (302 kb)

Comments and additional information

Printed copies of the entire Shields Creek Crappie Impoundment EA can be made available upon request. To provide comments or obtain more information or a copy of the document, contact Stanford E. Davis, 400 West Summit Hill Dr. WT 8C, Knoxville, TN 37902; call 865-632-2915; or send an e-mail to tvainfo@tva.gov (Attn: Stanford E. Davis).

Read the Finding of No Significant Impact (218 kb)

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