TU Asks Forest Service to Step Up Requirements for Pipeline Surveys in National Forests

As the U.S. Forest Service considers requests for special-use authorization permits to conduct surveys in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) projects, Trout Unlimited and its Virginia Council have requested that the Forest Service require a comprehensive evaluation of water resources and alternate routes that will avoid or minimize impacts to natural resources, including rivers and streams that provide some of the region’s most pristine trout habitat.

usfs-logoIn letters to Forest Supervisor H. Thomas Speaks, Jr., TU’s Eastern Water Project Director Katy Dunlap and Council President Graham Simmerman wrote, “Approximately 60% of Virginia’s native brook trout streams are located in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, making the forests a place of significant interest for TU.” Together, the two pipeline projects are projected to cross more than a dozen native trout streams. TU’s primary concerns with the proposed pipelines involve the impacts to aquatic life, construction methods for stream crossings, and potential erosion and sedimentation impacts in trout streams.

TU pointed out several shortcomings in the current proposals.

The ACP project has failed to fully evaluate alternatives that would allow the pipeline to minimize impacts to the GWJ forests or avoid them altogether. Most of its analysis of alternatives is based on desktop analysis and minimal survey work. TU is asking the Forest Service to insist on detailed on-the-ground analysis of all water resources so that alternatives can be adequately assessed.

The MVP project has said it will delineate wetlands and waterbodies during surveys, but provides little detail about what types of information will be collected. As with the ACP project, TU believes it is essential to captured highly detailed data about the water resources in order to both establish a baseline for protection and accurate data for assessing alternative routes.

To address these shortcomings, TU has laid out recommendations for what should be documented in the affected watersheds. To read the recommendations in details, download copies of the letters below.

TU/VCTU Atlantic Coast Pipeline survey comments (304.8 KiB)

TU/VCTU Mountain Valley Pipeline survey comments (303.0 KiB)

The Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited is made up of representatives of the state’s 16 TU chapters.