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Contaminated Mine Drainage Mitigation and Treatment; Programmatic and Site Specific Draft EIS

This Contaminated Mine Drainage Mitigation and Treatment Programmatic and Site Specific Daft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) describes four alternatives (including a no-action alternative) for the mitigation and treatment of contaminated mine drainage (CMD) within Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (Big South Fork NRRA, or "the park"). The park encompasses approximately 125,310 acres on the Cumberland Plateau in an area that was subject to extensive coal mining and timber harvesting from the 1800's to the late 1960's; the environmental impacts from the coal mining activities persist in the form of CMD. The purpose of this EIS is to develop a programmatic approach and guidance for the Big South Fork NRRA to improve water quality through the remediation of CMD sites in a manner that protects resources, visitor use/ experience, and the human health and safety in Big South Fork NRRA. This EIS will provide Big South Fork NRRA a broad framework to remediate CMD locations throughout the Big South Fork NRRA, along with providing a framework for treatment at specific CMD sites identified in previous investigations.

As described below, access to remediate potential CMD sites is the element that varies the most among the alternatives, and subsequently has the largest effect on the variation of impacts between the alternatives. Under Alternative 1 (no action), current conditions and management strategies for treating CMD sites would remain unchanged, and no action would be planned to remediate CMD; the National Park Service (NPS) would have to initiate remediation on a case-by-case basis. Under Alternative 2, the park would have no restrictions to the development and maintenance of access to remediate 25 potential CMD sites. Alternative 3 would limit access to existing routes identified in the current General Management Plan (GMP), with the ability to widen routes, use and improve historic access routes, and construct up to 0.1 mile of new access road to sites, except hiking and mountain biking trails, unless the trail is co-located on a historic road, though historic tramways would be excluded from use. Approximately 13 CMD sites could be accessed for remediation under Alternative 3. Alternative 4 would limit access to existing roads and larger access routes identified in the current GMP, such as horse trails and multiple use trails, and new access roads to sites that are less than 0.1 mile in length, but would not use historic access routes, such as former roads or tramways. Approximately 10 CMD sites could be accessed for remediation under Alternative 4. This EIS analyzes impacts of these alternatives in detail for topography and soils, water resources, biological resources, cultural resources, visitor use and experience, and soundscapes and the acoustic environment.

This draft EIS is available for public and agency review and comment from August 3 to September 17, 2018. The draft EIS will be available start August 3 through the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website at Limited copies may also be available upon request by contacting the park Superintendent. Public meetings will be held August 28 - 30, 2018.

August 28, 2018 - Oak Ridge, TN: Children's Museum of Oak Ridge, 4 - 6 pm Eastern
August 29, 2018 - Oneida, TN: Scott Count Visitor Center, 1 - 3 pm Eastern
August 30, 2018 - Stearns, KY: Stearns Ranger Station, 4 - 6 pm Eastern

Comment Period: Closed        08/03/2018 - 09/17/2018
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