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    Corps environmental assessment underway at Center Hill Dam

    Corps completes environmental assessment at Center Hill Dam

    Photo By Amy Redmond | Danny Bryan, assistant professor in biology at Cumberland University, and Chris...... read more read more



    Story by Amy Redmond 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District

    LANCASTER, Tenn. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District’s ongoing major rehabilitation project at Center Hill Dam recently passed an important milestone with the completion of an environmental assessment public and agency review period for the project’s next phase located below the saddle dam.

    In accordance to NEPA compliance, the corps is evaluating the potential biological, social and economic impacts within the project area from an alternative called a Roller Compacted Concrete Berm. RCC is a dry mix concrete that is dumped and rolled with typical road-building equipment. The construction is relatively quick compared to conventional concrete with forms, therefore less costly.

    Matthew Granstaff, biologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District explained that in order to finish the environmental assessment, Corps had to also conduct a habitat assessment of the area.

    “That involved us coming out and delineating the streams, wet weather conveyances, and wetlands of the area,” said Matthew Granstaff, biologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District. “We also looked at the area for potential Indiana Bat Habitat, which is a threatened and endangered species, Grey Bats, which is also threatened and endangered, and we also noticed several species of special concern in the area.”

    One species of special concern captured for a study during the removal of several wood piles from the area was a 51-inch timber rattlesnake. The snake was found by Danny Bryan, assistant professor in biology at Cumberland University, who is completing his dissertation on timber rattlesnakes at Center Hill Lake at Tennessee Tech. University. The snake was noticed to have a disfiguring and potentially fatal infection that comes from a fungus commonly found in the soil called Chrysosporium.

    Bryan stated that the infection acts like a chronic wasting disease in many species of snakes. By placing a tracking device within the infected timber rattlesnake, Bryan hopes the snake will lead him to other snakes possibly infected with the disease in the area, as well as, provide evidence of this species of snake being able to survive an infection.

    “This is a relatively new disease, it is an emerging disease and we don’t know a whole lot about it yet,” said Bryan. “About the only thing we do know, is it seems to be following the same line as the White Nose Syndrome in the bats. It tends to be coming from the northeast and moving south and west.”

    Unfortunately, soon after being released back at the project site, Bryan reported the snake was killed by a wild animal. Bryan plans to continue his timber rattlesnake study at Center Hill Lake to complete his dissertation in Dec. 2012.

    Through the environmental assessment process, the Corps will determine what the impacts would be from the saddle dam project and whether these impacts can be avoided, minimized or mitigated, as well as, move ahead in the project approval process. For this alternative, a Finding of No Significant Impact is anticipated.

    Linda Adcock, project manager for the Center Hill Dam Rehabilitation project, said the project’s next step will be receiving Washington level authorization for the RCC Berm alternative plan, then completing plans and specs and soliciting a contract for construction that will be awarded in 2014.

    “We hope to be working on the saddle dam fix before we complete the main dam contract,” said Adcock. “We just want people to be aware that there will be a lot of construction traffic in the area and be mindful of that and be very careful while you drive around the project. Our ultimate goal is to complete the rehabilitation efforts so we can reevaluate this project and be able to raise the lake back up to normal levels throughout the year.”

    For more news, information and updates please follow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on Facebook at http://facebook.com/nashvillecorps and Center Hill Lake at http://www.facebook.com/centerhilllake.



    Date Taken: 10.04.2012
    Date Posted: 10.11.2012 10:26
    Story ID: 95984
    Location: LANCASTER, TN, US 

    Web Views: 211
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    Corps environmental assessment underway at Center Hill Dam