Home Forest Service issues permit to survey portions of George Washington National Forest for proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Forest Service issues permit to survey portions of George Washington National Forest for proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline


newspaperThe Forest Service is issuing a temporary special use permit to survey a 12.6-mile segment of the George Washington National Forest for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Highland County and Augusta County.

Surveys for wetlands, water, soil, and suitable habitat for sensitive species, including federally listed threatened and endangered plants and animals will be conducted within the next year.  Surveys will also record cultural resources and invasive species.

“The information gathered from these surveys is needed for federal agencies to make informed decisions on whether or not to allow construction and operation of the proposed natural gas pipeline, and if allowed, to avoid, or reduce the impacts to sensitive resources,” explains Forest Supervisor Tom Speaks.

Many of the 7,400 comments we received on the survey permit related to concerns about the construction and operation of the proposed pipeline, rather than the surveys. “It is important to remember that allowing these survey activities does not mean we are allowing the construction of a pipeline,” reminds Speaks.  We have not received additional requests for surveying National Forest System lands for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), as the lead federal agency, is currently holding public meetings and soliciting comments on the construction of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  FERC will conduct an in-depth environmental analysis on private and public lands, with many opportunities for public comments.

Dominion spokesman Jim Norvelle said in a statement on the news today that surveying the George Washington National Forest is “important to finding the best route for the pipeline with the least environmental impact.”

“We look forward to working with the GWNF staff because it understands its land better than anyone else and can make us aware of areas that contain resources to consider in the NEPA review process. There is no substitute for getting surveyors on the ground so that we can find a safe, suitable route,” Norvelle said.

“Natural gas pipelines are pretty much invisible once they are buried and underground. Our task is to find a safe, suitable route through the working forest that is the GWNF. There are about 1.1 million acres in the GWNF. Recently, the national forest approved 177,000 acres of the forest for hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. Another 700,000 acres are actively managed for the production of timber and wood products. If the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is approved and placed underground along the original route through the GWNF, only 280 acres would be affected,” Norvelle said.



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