September 22, 2011
Contact: Nick Utrup, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (920) 866-1736, Nick_Utrup@fws.gov
Public Comment Period Open: Environmental Assessment for Menominee Dam Fish Passage Project
Menominee, MI — For nearly a century the sturgeon of Lake Michigan have not been able to return to their Menominee River spawning areas. But that will soon change. A consortium of private, federal, state and nonprofit organizations are working together to create a means for the sturgeon to swim around the dams, owned by project partner North East Wisconsin Hydro.
As plans move forward to develop fish passage to help Lake Michigan sturgeon return to their natural spawning areas in the Menominee River, the Menominee River Fish Passage Partnership has prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment. The Preferred Alternative would consist of a fish elevator system designed to attract, lift, and move lake sturgeon upstream of the hydroelectric dams and a surface bypass facility designed to provide protection and safe bypass for all fish moving downstream through the hydroelectric dams. The facilities would be constructed adjacent to two active hydroelectric dams that are currently licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The Proposed Action is expected to have a positive impact on lake sturgeon populations within the Menominee River as well as Lake Michigan by providing more spawning and rearing habitat and improving population recruitment.
Based on the findings of the Draft Environmental Assessment, the Preferred Alternative is not expected to negatively impact the environment. To come to this conclusion, the Draft Environmental Assessment analyzed potential impacts from construction and operation of the proposed fishway relative to habitat, biota, invasive species, environmental contaminants, fish disease, endangered species, cultural resources, and social interests. Because the Preferred Alternative would be constructed and operated in a way that would limit any potential impacts, such as sorting out invasive species and maintaining a barrier to fish disease, the project is not expected negatively impact the environment.
An Environmental Assessment is required for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Draft Environmental Assessment for the Menominee River fish passage project is now available for public comments for 30 days until October 22, 2011. The content of the report was largely influenced by public input derived from prior public scoping meetings and dam tours. This draft report addresses all the questions and concerns about this fish passage project expressed during the public meeting on February 22, 2011.
The public now has another opportunity to review the project and provide comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment. Members of the public that wish to review the Draft Environmental Assessment may access the report at the following locations:
Spies Public Library: 940 First Street, Menominee, MI 49858
Stephenson Public Library: 1700 Hall Avenue, Marinette, WI 54143
Comments may be submitted by one of the following methods:
- Mail or hand-delivery: Mr. Nick Utrup, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2661 Scott Tower Drive, New Franken, WI 54229;
- E-mail: Nick_Utrup@fws.gov; or
- Fax: (920) 866-1710 (Attention: Nick Utrup).
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