The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Detroit District, has completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) – Dredged Material Placement in High Risk Erosion Areas Lake Huron, St. Clair County, Michigan – addressing proposed dredged material placement in high risk erosion areas (HREAs) from planned maintenance dredging of a federally authorized navigation channel on the St. Clair River, St. Clair County, Michigan. The EA with the Section 404(b)(1) evaluation may be reviewed online at http://www.lre.usace.army.mil/Home.aspx (lower left of page under “Other Public Notices”) or a paper copy may be reviewed during normal business hours at the St. Clair County Library in Port Huron, located at 210 McMorran Boulevard, Port Huron, MI 48060.
This Public Notice and EA are being issued pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the purpose of providing information to various government agencies and the general public and to solicit their comments and views relative to the proposed activity. The EA, which contains more detailed information about the proposed action and its potential impacts, is incorporated by reference into this Public Notice.
Alternatives considered for the dredged material placement include: 1) Placement of dredged material in the HREAs for shoreline nourishment, 2) Open water placement, 3) Placement of dredged material in the Dickinson Island confined disposal facility, and 4) No action. Alternative 2 is ineffective as it would not provide benefits to the HREAs. Alternative 3 is ineffective for the same reason as Alternative 2 and is inefficient because material would have to be transported 39 miles downstream of the dredging location. The proposed action is Alternative 1. Alternative 1 would place approximately 50,000 cubic yards of shoal material generated during the next planned dredging cycle in as many as four (4) state-designated High Risk Erosion Areas (HREAs) located in Lake Huron to the west of the entrance to the St. Clair River. The dredged material consists of clean material (93% sand) and is suitable for unconfined placement within the HREAs, between the six and half (6.5) and twelve (12) foot underwater depth contour. Placement within the HREAs would be expected to occur again during future dredging events.
Dredging and placement in open water or at the Dickinson Island facility have been addressed in earlier NEPA documents. This EA includes a Section 404(b)(1) Evaluation, pursuant to the Clean Water Act, for placement of the dredged material into the waters of the United States at the HREAs. Any person who has an interest that may be affected by the proposed in-water dredged material placement may request a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing within the comment period of this notice (as described below) and must clearly set forth the interest that may be affected and the manner in which the interest may be affected by this activity.
This EA includes the USACE Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act effect determination. Any person who has an historical or cultural interest that may be affected by the proposed action may submit comments. The comments must be submitted in writing within the comment period of this notice (as described below) and must clearly state what historical or cultural interest may be affected by this activity.
Environmental review of the proposed action indicates that no significant cumulative or long-term adverse environmental impacts would be expected as a result of project implementation. Adverse impacts would be minor and temporary, consisting primarily of noise and air emissions from construction equipment, increased turbidity, and the disturbance of the benthos and fish habitat. The proposed project is expected to have minimal effect on the coastal zone of Michigan and would be consistent to the maximum extent practicable with Michigan’s Coastal Zone Program. Water quality certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act has been requested from the State of Michigan. State certification or a waiver thereof would be obtained prior to project implementation.
Copies of this Public Notice and EA are being sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the State of Michigan, other Federal, state, and local agencies, tribes and tribal interests, and other interested groups and individuals. Any comments you may have concerning the proposed project should be made within thirty (30) days from the date of this notice. If no comments are received by the end of the thirty (30) day review period, it will be assumed that you have no comment. Please direct your comments to: U.S. Army Engineer District, Detroit, ATTN: CELRE-PL-E (Charles A. Uhlarik), 477 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, Michigan, 48226-2550.
Following the comment period and a review of the comments received, the USACE Detroit District Engineer will make a final decision regarding the necessity of preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed work. If any received comments identify significant impacts to the quality of the human environment, the project may be modified to reduce the level of impact, the work cancelled or a notice of intent to prepare an EIS could be published. Based on the conclusions of the EA, it appears preparation of an EIS will not be required; therefore, a preliminary Statement of Findings/ Finding of No Significant Impact (SOF/FONSI) has been included in the EA. The preliminary SOF/FONSI concludes that implementing the proposed action does not constitute a major Federal action that significantly affects the quality of the human environment.