Asheville Ecological Services Field Office
Conserving the Nature of America





Recommendations for road design, construction, or improvement

These recommendations are meant to serve as a guide. Additional or alternative steps may be necessary depending on the situation, including species or habitat type present. Following these guidelines, though likely to expedite project review, is not a substitute for review of the project by a Service biologist.

Preventing direct water contamination – Water contamination can be one of the most damaging and difficult to control environmental impacts that can result from a project. In order to avoid these impacts, we recommend:

  • * Refueling construction equipment outside the 100 year floodplain or at least 200 feet from all water bodies (whichever distance is greater) and protecting the refueling area with secondary containment
  • * Storing hazardous materials, fuel, lubricating oils, or other chemicals outside the 100‑year floodplain or at least 200 feet from all water bodies (whichever distance is greater), at an upland site
  • * Inspecting and maintaining equipment daily to prevent the contamination of surface waters from leaking fuels, lubricants, hydraulic fluids, or other toxic materials
  • * Keeping equipment out of streams by operating from the banks in a fashion that minimizes disturbance to woody vegetation
  • Cleaning and checking equipment for leaks of hydraulic fluids, cooling system liquids, and fuel before fording any stream
  • * Wet concrete not contacting water entering or flowing in the river
  • * Not using fertilizers and pesticides near streams or wetlands

Protecting the floodplain and streamside forest - Streamside forests provide travel corridors and habitat for wildlife and protect water quality by stabilizing stream banks and filtering storm‑water runoff.  Development in the floodplain increases the potential for flooding adjacent and downstream properties and interferes with natural hydrological processes.  Floodplain fill alters the volume of water the floodplain will hold, thus altering the extent of the floodplain.  This will:  (1) lead to a floodplain that contains property and facilities previously not in the floodplain, (2) cause flooding in new areas, and (3) have negative impacts on fish and wildlife resources. In order to protect these important and sensitive stream-side areas, we recommend:

  • * Limiting activities in the floodplain to those absolutely necessary for construction Areas used for borrow or construction by‑products should not be located in waters or wetlands
  • * Maintaining riparian vegetation to the maximum extent possible, especially large trees
  • * If riparian areas are disturbed, revegetating them with native species as soon as possible
  • * Locating areas used for borrow or construction by‑products away from wetlands and out of the 100-year flood plain
  • * Maintaining forested wetland/stream buffers (a minimum of 100 feet wide on perennial streams and 50 feet wide on intermittent streams; 200 and 100 feet, respectively, in watersheds that are home to federally threatened or endangered aquatic species) throughout the project area
  • * Implementing 100‑foot‑wide buffers along perennial streams and 50‑foot‑wide buffers along intermittent streams for new and existing residential and commercial developments that will use the proposed road

Preventing or minimizing erosion – While soil forms the foundation of life on land, in water it becomes a pollutant, smothering aquatic insects, mussels, and other life; rendering fish spawning areas useless; and damaging sensitive tissues, like fish gills. It also increases drinking water treatment costs for downstream users. In order to minimize the amount of soil that enters a stream during the construction of a project, we recommend:

  • * Installing all erosion‑control measures prior to starting ground‑disturbing activities
  • * Frequently maintaining erosion-control measures
  • * Returning existing approaches to preconstruction contours upon completion of the project, and planting the area with native grasses and tree species.
  • * Planting temporary (e.g., rye, grain, wheat, millet) or permanent herbaceous material to help control erosion immediately following any ground‑disturbing activity (native annual small grains and herbs appropriate for the season is recommended.  Invasive, exotic species (including fescue) should be avoided)
  • * Clearing should be minimized, and if grubbing is necessary, it should be conducted only immediately before grading operations

Stormwater management – Any development associated with new or improved roads will create more impervious surfaces (such as roofs, roads, and parking lots), which collect pathogens, metals, sediment, and chemical pollutants and without proper planning, quickly transmit them to streams, lakes and wetlands. In order to address these secondary impacts of the project, we recommend:

  • * Minimizing the amount of impervious surface area that will result from developments associated with this project
  • * Developing an adequate plan for the control and treatment of storm water for each development that occurs as a result of the new water system
  • * Implementing sufficient stormwater retention in each associated development to allow for the slow discharge of stormwater, attenuating the potential adverse effects of storm‑water surges: thermal spikes; and sediment, nutrient, and chemical discharges.
  • * The use of low‑impact‑development (LID) techniques to treat storm‑water runoff in the new service area. LID is a method of storm‑water management that allows for storm‑water and environmental controls to be incorporated into the landscape and infrastructure (i.e., green roofs, rain gardens, and grassed swales)


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