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Finding of No Significant Impact

River Heritage Hotel
Permanent easement and change in land allocation for 12 acres of Wilson Dam reservation lands in Lauderdale County, Alabama

Background
Alternatives and Impact Assessment
Conclusion and Findings
Link to EA

Background
TVA proposes to grant a permanent easement to the Public Park Authority of the Shoals (PPA) over approximately 12 acres of TVA Wilson Dam Reservation lands. If the easement were granted, PPA intends to construct a hotel and related facilities. The hotel was first proposed to TVA in December 2001 as part of a larger community project to develop TVA Wilson Dam and Muscle Shoals Reservation lands as a unit on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, a project of the Retirement Systems of Alabama.

TVA informed the public and agencies of the hotel project through a notice in the Federal Register on January 25, 2002, through public meetings in the Shoals area on February 11 and 12, 2002, and by direct notification of environmental agencies. Few comments were received expressing concerns about the proposed hotel. However, during the course of the review, site-specific environmental concerns were identified with the land requested for the golf course, and the Shoals area withdrew its request.

On April 26, 2002, PPA resubmitted a request for just the hotel portion of the development. Having already conducted a large portion of the environmental impact assessment work in evaluating the previous proposal that covered both the golf course and the hotel, and having provided extensive opportunities for public and agency comments on that larger project, TVA finalized the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the newly proposed hotel project on May 6, 2002.

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Alternatives and Impact Assessment
The EA evaluates the potential environmental impacts of two alternatives. Under No Action, the easement would not be granted and the 12 acres under consideration for the hotel would remain in their current allocations, as designated by the Muscle Shoals/Wilson Land Use Plan of 1996. The current allocations are Development Opportunities, Visual Protection, and Public Recreation and Open Space. TVA would continue to manage the land for public recreation and open space uses. No additional impacts to environmental resources would be expected under No Action.

Under the Proposed Action, TVA would grant a permanent easement to the PPA. In addition, the Development Opportunities allocation in the Muscle Shoals/Wilson Dam Reservations Land Use Plan of 1996 would be expanded to include all of the lands requested for the hotel. If the easement were granted, it is expected that PPA, in conjunction with RSA, would construct a 125 to 200-room hotel adjacent to the Renaissance Tower and Florence Conference Center, which are on non-federal lands adjacent to the Wilson Dam Reservation. Impacts of the hotel on recreation would be beneficial, and the project would economically benefit the region. With the implementation of mitigation measures (measures 6 through 8) identified in the EA (see Note), potential impacts on water quality, navigation, transportation, and community noise were judged to be insignificant. No archaeological resources eligible for the National Register of Historic Places were found on the easement area.

The proposed hotel would be on the high point of a knoll overlooking Wilson Dam National Historic Landmark (NHL). Upon evaluation of the visual impacts of the hotel project on the NHL, TVA concludes that there would be no adverse effect on Wilson Dam NHL provided that the applicant implements Measures 1 through 5 in the applicant mitigation measures list and TVA implements Measures 1 and 2 of the TVA mitigation measures list in the EA. By letter of May 3, 2002, the Alabama State Historic Preservation Officer concurred with this finding.

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Conclusion and Findings
Based on the EA, we conclude that approval of a permanent easement over 12 acres of the Wilson Dam Reservation would not be a major federal action significantly affecting the environment. Accordingly, an environmental impact statement is not required. This FONSI is contingent upon adherence to the 10 mitigation measures listed in the EA.

Original signed by:
Jon M. Loney, Manager
NEPA Administration
Environmental Policy and Planning
Tennessee Valley Authority

Date: May 7, 2002

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Note: Link to the final Environmental Assessment (PDF file, 1.36 mb, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Link to the Reevaluation of Finding of No Significant Impact (PDF file, 640 kb).

To request a printed copy of the final EA, contact:

Harold M. Draper, NEPA Specialist
Environmental Policy and Planning
Tennessee Valley Authority
400 West Summit Hill Dr., WT 8C
Knoxville, TN 37902-1499
865-632-6889
E-mail: hmdraper@tva.gov

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