[Federal Register Volume 66, Number 84 (Tuesday, May 1, 2001)]
[Notices]
[Pages 21733-21735]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 01-10813]



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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Natural Resources Conservation Service


Iowa Watershed Rehabilitation Pilot Project Plan, Monona and 
Mills Counties, IA

AGENCY: Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of finding of no significant impact.

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SUMMARY: Pursuant to Section 102(2)(c) of the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969; the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations 
(40 CFR part 1500); and the Natural Resources Conservation Service 
Regulations (7 CFR part 650); the Natural Resources Conservation 
Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, gives notice that an 
environmental impact statement is not being prepared for the Iowa 
Watershed Rehabilitation Pilot Project Plan, Monona and Mills Counties, 
Iowa.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Leroy Brown, State Conservationist, 
Natural Resources Conservation Service, 210 Walnut Street, 693 Federal 
Building, Des Moines, IA 50309-2180.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The environmental assessment of this 
federally assisted action indicates that the project will not cause 
significant impacts on the environment. As a result of these findings, 
Leroy Brown, State Conservationist, has determined that the preparation 
and review of an environmental impact statement are not needed for this 
project.
    The project purpose is to develop procedures and demonstrate 
actions that may be used to implement a statewide watershed 
rehabilitation program in Iowa. To accomplish this, two aging watershed 
structures will be rehabilitated as a pilot project to demonstrate 
methods and develop public support for the rehabilitation program. 
These actions will restore these two structures so they will continue 
to function for 50 years.
    The project actions include the reshaping of the road ditch in a 
road right-of-way, modifying the auxiliary spillway to lower its 
elevation by three feet and replacement of a principal spillway outlet 
on a structure in Mills County that threatens motorist safety on U.S. 
Highway 34 in case of a dam breach. The project actions in Monona 
County include renovation of structure fill and spillway, a 
conservation easement to convert existing 49 acres of cropland to 
native grass and forbs, approximately eight sediment and water control 
basins, 6.8 acres of waterway, pasture renovation plantings on 60 
acres, and one livestock watering system.
    The Plan and Environmental Assessment has been forwarded to the 
Environmental Protection Agency and to various Federal, State, and 
local agencies and to interested parties. A limited number of copies of 
the plan and environmental assessment are available to fill single copy 
requests at the above address. Basic data developed during the 
environmental assessment are on file and may be viewed by contacting 
Leroy Brown.
    No administrative action will be taken until 30 days after the date 
of this publication in the Federal Register.

Finding of No Significant Impact for the Iowa Watershed 
Rehabilitation Pilot Project, Lawson Creek and Pony Creek 
Watersheds, Monona and Mills Counties, Iowa

Introduction

    The proposed plan is for an Iowa Watershed Rehabilitation Pilot 
Project to address aging and impaired watershed structures in the State 
of Iowa. Two watersheds were selected for the pilot project. One 
structure in each watershed was chosen for use in the pilot project.
    Lawson site 1-1 is an earthfill structure that was installed in 
1970 to control severe gully erosion and reduce flooding. The structure 
receives runoff from 258 acres of agricultural land and originally had 
a permanent pool of 1.3 acres. The structure prematurely filled with 
sediment due to extreme actions of a previous private landowner. The 
structure is in danger of failing and a major gully problem will 
reform.
    Pony Creek site 31 was installed in 1963 to control severe gully 
erosion and reduce flooding. The earthfill structure receives drainage 
from 270 acres of agricultural land and has a permanent pool of 14 
acres. U.S. Highway 34 was relocated below the structure in 1974. This 
places about 8000 motor vehicles daily within the potential dam breach 
area. Hydraulic routings indicate that the breach of the structure 
would put water about two feet deep across the highway.
    These two structures were chosen because they are representative of 
the types of problems that will be encountered in other watersheds when 
a state wide Watershed Rehabilitation Program is implemented.
    Lawson Creek Watershed was a federally assisted action authorized 
and installed under Public Law 78-534, The Flood Control Act as part of 
the Little Sioux River Flood Prevention Project. Pony Creek watershed 
was a federally assisted action authorized and installed under Public 
law 83-566, The Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act. The 
proposed rehabilitation actions to remedy problems with the existing 
structural components at Site 1-1 in Lawson Creek Watershed and Site 31 
in Pony Creek Watershed are authorized in accordance with the original 
federal authorities as amended by the Small Watershed Rehabilitation 
Amendments of 2000, and the Soil and Water Conservation, Soil 
Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1936, as amended, Public Law 
74-46, 16 U.S.C. 590 a-f (CFDA No. 10.902). An environmental assessment 
was undertaken by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in 
conjunction with the development of this rehabilitation plan. This 
assessment was undertaken in consultation with local, state and federal 
agencies as well as interested organizations and individuals. Data 
developed during assessment and copies of the rehabilitation plan are 
available for public review at the following location: Natural 
Resources Conservation Service, 210 Walnut Street, 693 Federal 
Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50309-2180.
    An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was prepared for the Little 
Sioux Watershed Flood Prevention Project in 1976. The EIS discusses the 
effects of installing flood prevention and grade stabilization dams and 
land treatment practices.

Recommended Action

    Proposed actions for Site 1-1 in Lawson Creek Watershed are:

1. Raising the existing structure height by about 15 feet.
2. Installing a new principal spillway couduit.
3. Securing a conversation easement on 49 acres above the existing pool 
area in perpetuity.
4. Converting the land use from cropland to native grass and forbs 
within the conservation easement area.
5. Installing about eight water and sediment control basins to prevent 
gully erosion and trap sediment.
6. Establishing 6.8 acres of grassed waterway to control erosion in 
drainage ways.
7. Planting improved grass mixture on 60 acres of existing pastureland 
to improve soil cover.
8. Installing one livestock watering system.
    Proposed actions for Site 31 in Pony Creek Watershed are:

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1. Modifying a constructed earth block in the highway road ditch below 
the structure in the right-of-way of U.S. Highway 34. The man made 
block would be lowered about two feet for a distance of about 50 feet.
2. Replacing the existing corrugated metal pipe principal spillway.
3. The auxiliary spillway will be modified to lower its' elevation by 
about three feet.

Effects of the Recommended Actions

Lawson Creek Watershed

    The actions in the proposed plan for Lawson Creek Watershed will 
control gully erosion for 50 years at Site 1-1, reduce sheet, rill and 
ephemeral cropland gully erosion in the watershed above the site, 
reduce delivery of sediment both to the structure site and the Maple 
River, provide a source of water for minnow species in the structure 
pool, and reduce downstream peak flows.
    There are three cultural resource sites recorded in the area. None 
are in the area of potential effect. Following its procedures, NRCS 
surveyed the area of potential effect and no sites were identified. 
Construction discoveries will be handled in accordance with NRCS 
General Manual, Section 420, Part 401.
    The Loess Hills are a nationally significant natural area. The 
installation of the project measures will prevent gully damages to this 
portion of the Loess Hills. The planting of native vegetation as per 
Iowa NRCS specifications for restoration of rare and declining habitats 
on the 49 acre easement area will help restore native prairie 
vegetation to this portion of the Loess Hills.
    The project will convert 49 acres of cropland to a diverse mixture 
of native grasses and forbs. This will add diversity and improve 
wildlife habitat on these 49 acres and within the watershed. Any 
incidental or unavoidable impacts to woody vegetation or other 
significant wildlife habitat types will be quantified prior to 
construction and any losses will be replaced through mitigation.
    No threatened or endangered species are recorded in the area. No 
critical habitat for any species is present in the proposed project 
area.
    There are no wetlands, prime farmland or other unique or protected 
land resources that will be negatively impacted to the proposed 
actions.
    No other significant adverse environmental impacts will occur from 
installation of project features.
    There is no existing or anticipated public controversy associated 
with this proposed action.
    The effects of the recommended actions in Lawson Watershed are 
consistent with the Environmental Impact Statement prepared for the 
Little Sioux River Watershed Flood Prevention Project.

Pony Creek Watershed

    The actions in the proposed plan for Pony Creek Watershed Site 31 
will allow the structure to continue to control gully erosion, prevent 
any downstream sedimentation, and prevent a flood hazard to motorists 
on U.S. Highway 34 from a dam breach failure.
    There are no significant cultural resources identified within the 
work area for the replacement of the existing principal spillway 
outlet. No new earthfill will be required.
    The deepening of the block in the road ditch will affect previously 
disturbed soil material except for the south slope where a small area 
of undisturbed hillside will be disturbed. This small undisturbed area 
has been archaeologically surveyed and contains no cultural resources. 
The modification of the auxiliary spillway is in an area previously 
disturbed and will not affect deposits that could contain cultural 
resources.
    If a construction discovery is made, the NRCS will take action as 
prescribed in the NRCS General Manual, Section 420, Part 401.
    There will be no impacts to any threatened or endangered species.
    No wildlife or fisheries habitats will be adversely impacted.
    There will be no impacts to the Loess Hills, a nationally 
significant natural area.
    There are no wetlands, prime farmland, agricultural land, or other 
natural or unique land resources that will be impacted by the actions 
in the proposed plan.
    There will be a minor, short term adverse impact to recreational 
use of the Mills County Conservation Board park in which the structure 
is located while the new outlet pipe is being installed. The pool will 
be drawn down by about six feet while the new pipe is installed. This 
will expose some unsightly shoreline conditions and may have a minor 
impact on use of the pool by shoreline anglers. The project will be 
done quickly and all efforts will be made to limit the duration and 
severity of such disruptions in recreational use. No new earthfill will 
be required.
    No other significant adverse environmental impacts will occur from 
installation of project features.
    There is no existing or anticipated public controversy associated 
with this proposed action.

Alternative Actions

    Other alternative actions were considered in the planning process 
but were rejected. The recommended alternatives for both watersheds 
that are included in the proposed plan, are both the most practical and 
lowest cost means of accomplishing the rehabilitation of the structures 
so that they continue to provide the original benefits for which they 
were constructed. These actions meet the sponsors objectives and goals, 
provide environmental benefits, cause no significant adverse 
environmental impacts, and cause no public controversy.

Consultation and Public Participation

Lawson Creek Watershed

    The Monona County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has 
discussed the plan for Lawson Creek Watershed Site 1-1 at their regular 
public meetings.
    The one landowner involved with Site 1-1 rehabilitation plan, 
conservation easement and land treatment measures has been involved 
with the development of this plan.
    Twenty Indian tribes and three local historical societies were 
notified of this intended action and consulted about their knowledge of 
historical properties in the project area.
    Only one response was received from one of the Indian tribes 
stating they were unaware of any cultural resources associated with the 
project area.
    Inter-agency consultation and public participation to date have 
shown no unresolved conflicts with implementing this selected plan 
action in the Lawson Creek Watershed.

Pony Creek Watershed

    The Mills County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has 
reviewed the plan for Pony Creek Watershed Site 31 at a public meeting.
    The Mills County Conservation Board and the Iowa Department of 
Transportation have been involved with the development of this plan.
    Twenty Indian tribes and three local historical societies were 
notified of this intended action and consulted about their knowledge of 
historical properties in the project area. Only one response was 
received from one of the Indian tribes stating they were unaware of any 
cultural resources associated with the project area. A cultural 
resource field investigation did not indicate the presence of cultural 
resources.
    Inter-agency consultation and public participation to date have 
shown no unresolved conflicts with implementing

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this selected plan action in the Pony Creek Watershed.

Conclusion

    The Environmental Assessment summarized above indicates that this 
Federal action will not cause significant impacts on the environment. 
Therefore, based on the above findings, I have determined that an 
environmental impact statement for the Iowa Watershed Rehabilitation 
Pilot Project is not required.

    Dated: April 2, 2001.
Leroy Brown,
State Conservationist.
[FR Doc. 01-10813 Filed 4-30-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-16-M