Asheville Ecological Services Field Office
Conserving the Nature of America





Tips for assessing and documenting project impacts

The assessment should include a full range of alternatives.  Alternatives are often only compared based on economics and without regard for environmental concerns. The environmental impacts of each alternative need to be included in the assessment.

When assessing the potential project impacts to federally threatened or endangered species, secondary and cumulative impacts must be included. This means the impacts of any activity that depends on the proposed action for its justification or that has no independent utility apart from the proposed action must be included in the assessment.

Any assessment of waste water treatment plant impacts should include the effects of any chemicals discharged at the facility (ammonia, chlorine, etc.) and any other changes expected (biochemical oxygen demand, flow, etc.) at and downstream of the discharge point. Mussels and other aquatic animals are known to be sensitive to numerous pollutants, including, but not limited to, a wide variety of heavy metals and high concentrations of nutrients, ammonia, and chlorine—pollutants commonly found in many domestic and industrial effluents.

When comparing alternatives for sewer system development, it’s critical that the net impacts to area water quality be considered. In our experience, the combination of the increase in development or density of development that accompany expanded sewer service result in poorer area water quality after project completion unless proper stream protection measures are in place before the project is implemented.  The assessment should clearly show how the proposed expansion (and accompanying development) would result in improved area water quality over existing conditions.



Note: Fish & Wildlife Service project planning and review is coordinated by the Asheville Field Office in the western half of North Carolina and by the Raleigh Field Office in the eastern half.

Map: Asheville and Raleigh Field Offices work areas. Credit: USFWS Link to Raleigh Field Office web site


The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has developed a A Guidance Memorandum to Address and Mitigate Secondary and Cumulative Impacts to Aquatic and Terrestrial Wildlife Resources and Water Quality. The memorandum provides numerous recommendations to address the environmental impacts that may result from a project. We support this document and encourage you to use it.

Photo montage of biologists shocking for fish, a biologists studying a plant, and biologists recording mussel data. Photo credits: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service



Project planning and review contacts:

Address for all:
160 Zillicoa St.
Asheville, NC 28801

Allen Ratzlaff
office - 828/258-3939, ext 229
fax - 828/258-5330
Projects involving the USDA (Forest Service, Rural Utilities Services, Farm Services, and Rural Development) National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Authority, Federal Transportation Administration or Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as mines and industrial parks

Marella Buncick
office - 828/258-3939, ext. 237
cell - 828/215-1743
fax - 828/258-5330
Projects involving the North Carolina Department of Transportation or Federal Highway Administration

Mark Cantrell
office - 828/258-3939, ext. 227
cell - 828/215-1739
fax - 828/258-5330
Projects involving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Tennessee Valley Authority, or Natural Resources Conservation Service

Bryan Tompkins
office - 828/258-3939, ext. 240
fax - 828/258-5330
Projects involving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Jay Mays
office - 828/258-3939, ext. 226
cell - 828/216-4969
fax - 828/258-5330
Projects involving the North Carolina Department of Transportation or Federal Highway Administration


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Last Updated: May 15, 2008