Scoping Process for State Trail Development

Long Meadow Lake Trail

Summary of Public Comments for the Scoping Process for the State Trail Development on U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lands

On November 20, 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a public scoping meeting and public comment period on the potential benefits and adverse effects of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ request to place 7 miles of paved trail through the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge as part of the Minnesota Valley State Trail (view Scoping Document here). Comments were collected for 30 days from December 5, 2019 through January 3, 2020. Comments were accepted by email, post mail, or through attending an open house on December 5, 2019.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the land management agency of Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, is required by law to evaluate requests to use Refuge lands. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will consider the potential benefits and adverse effects of granting the trail building request. The effects on refuge operations, the natural environment, and human dimensions will be considered.

The process of formally identifying the range of issues to consider is referred to as scoping and is one of the first steps in completing an environmental assessment. Additional comment periods will be held after the draft environmental assessment is completed.

The Service received a total of 46 comment letters through the public scoping process. The comments received were compiled into 14 categories. In many cases, comments from individuals contained multiple topics. When applicable, these comments were parsed and divided to ensure that each topic was considered and noted, and in few cases, comments were placed in multiple categories. Examples of comments received for each topic appear on the next page in a bulleted list below each category header. Some comments received may be out of scope for the environmental assessment process, however, they were reviewed and will be shared with the proposer.


 

What’s next?

A draft environmental assessment for the easement will be written and will address issues identified during scoping. Upon completion, the draft environmental assessment will be distributed for public review and comment. A press release and a message on the Refuge’s website will provide notification of the availability of the draft environmental assessment. There will be a 30-day review and comment period on the draft environmental assessment.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources was required to complete an Environmental Assessment Worksheet for the same section of the Minnesota Valley State Trail before the project could proceed to permitting and approvals. A record of their decision can be found at the following web link: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/environmentalreview/mnvalley/index.html

 

Download Documents Here