ENVIRONMENTAL INSPECTION REPORT
FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISION
Chicago Regional Office
|Date of Inspection:||June 14-16, 2005|
|Date of Previous Inspection:||June 20-22, 2000|
|Project No.||1417 (01) Johnson No.2
1417 (02) East Phillips
1417 (03) Phillips
1417 (04) West Phillips
1417 (05) Johnson No.1
1417 (06) Big Plum Creek
1417 (07) Gallagher
1417 (08) Dead End
1417 (09) Schmeeckle
1417 (10) Walker
1417 (11) Central Midway
1417 (12) Henderson
1417 (13) West Midway Canyon
1417 (14) Brown
1417 (15) Jensen
1417 (16) Hiles Canyon
1417 (17) Jeffrey Plant
1417 (18) West Conroy Dam
1417 (19) Snell Canyon
1417 (20) Middle Snell
1417 (21) West Snell
1417 (22) Little West Snell
1417 (23) Target Canyon
1417 (24) East Cottonwood Canyon
1417 (25) Cottonwood Canyon
1417 (26) Boxelder Canyon
1417 (27) Moran
1417 (28) Diversion Dam
1417 (29) Kingsley
|Licensee:||Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District (CNPPID)|
|License Issued:||July 29, 1998 (Effective July 1, 1998)Concurrently, the Commission issued an Order Approving Offer of Settlement and Issuance of New Licenses (Master Order), which discusses issues common to Project No. 1417 and Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) Project No. 1835. That order is incorporated by reference. This license pertains to the Kingsley Project No. 1417.|
|License Expires:||June 30, 2038|
|Location:||Platte River and Tributaries, in Gosper, Keith, Lincoln, and Dawson Counties, Nebraska|
|Inspector:||Patricia A. Grant|
|Licensee Representatives:||Michael Drain, Natural Resources Supervisor; Frank Vetter, Real Estate Administrator; Kent Aden, Assistant Real Estate Administrator; Mark Peyton, Senior District Biologist; Gabe Wilson, least tem and piping plover monitoring staff; and Chad Peterson, Jeffrey Island livestock manager.|
|Resource Agency Representatives:||Sharon Whitmore, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Grand Island (USF&WS), who manages the Lake McConaughy Environmental Account; Steve Lydick, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service- Grand Island (USF&WS); and Darrol Eichner, Fisheries Division Biologist, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGP).|
Summary of Findings
The recreation resources, cultural resources, land resources, fish and wildlife resources, and public safety measures were inspected. Based on file reviews, discussion, and observations made during the inspection, there were no items of noncompliance found, and no allegations of noncompliance were filed by any resource agency.
A correction to the 2000 environmental inspection report, page 39, is hereby noted as follows: At the Merriwether Cabins, the residents own the cabins, and they own the land on which the cabins are located. However, they do not own the land in front of the cabins; they do not own the land all the way down to the water. The licensee owns that land, and leases it back to the Merriwether subdivision.
There are 38 articles related to recreation, fish and wildlife, cultural resources, land use, and public safety in this license.
The license focuses on:
(1) Provision of adequate irrigation water to sustain current agricultural production levels;
(2) Protection and enhancement of significant wildlife and plant species and the aquatic and riparian habitats that support them;
(3) Utilization of the project’s electrical generation potential; and
(4) Maintenance of reservoir-based recreational opportunities and shoreline management.
The four main issues at this project are:
1. Drought impacts and river flows
2. Land rights issues and development
3. Interpretation of scientific data related to the Platte River system
4. Jeffrey Island conservation
The flow at Overton Gage No. 0676800 on June 15 was 1,959 cfs, and the elevation of Lake McConaughy was 3,218 feet, with storage of 650,000 acre feet. For the past 5 years, Lake McConaughy has reflected the on-going drought in the Great Plains. Lake McConaughy started the irrigation season at about 38 percent of capacity and ended this summer season at about 25 percent of capacity. This spring and summer steps were taken to minimize withdrawals from Lake McConaughy.
The inspector has the following observations:
1. Jeffrey Island vegetation management has made excellent progress and is much improved since the previous inspection. The inspector concurs with the use of cattle and goats, as administered by the current livestock manager, as a viable management tool to attempt to simulate the historic, natural bison and antelope use of the island. The overriding benefit of control of pervasive musk thistle overrides the impact of the cattle and goats.
2. The licensee should continue to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as required by the license or settlement agreements. Ensure that language is acceptable to all parties prior to submission of the Joint Wildlife Monitoring Report.
3. Unauthorized encroachments are being discovered during the Licensee’s Project Boundary Survey component of the Land and Shoreline Management Plan (December, 2002). Any unauthorized encroachments onto project lands or other land-related issues are being addressed using the guidelines and procedures of the Implementation Strategies component of the Land and Shoreline Management Plan. Use of the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District (CNPPID) website for public education and explanation of company policies may be used as a helpful tool in accomplishing this.
4. Johnson Lake is a high-density development, and the permission of lot consolidation, from two smaller lots into one larger lot, for example, may be desirable. There is a need for additional public access, and if necessary, lots providing public access may need to be acquired to continue to provide public access to the reservoir. All open space areas around the reservoir should be kept clear of unauthorized boat, trailer, or shore station storage and other encroachments and uses.
5. An amendment to the Shoreline Management Plan, showing the U.S. Forest Service categories, discussed during the inspection, may be useful for land use guidance as residential real estate development continues. Significant real estate development was observed since the previous inspection.
6. The licensee should encourage a movement to group docks at the project residential developments through shoreline management and permitting policies.
7. The drought continues to affect the ability of the licensee to pass flows for environmental purposes downstream. The licensee consults regularly with the resource agencies and other involved parties in this regional matter.
8. The drought continues to affect recreation at the project, particularly the commercial vendors and public boat ramp access areas on Lake McConaughy. The licensee is to be commended for the proactive relocation of the Martin Bay boat ramp to a lower elevation.
9. The least tern and piping plover protection and monitoring program continue to be thorough and well done.
10. Keeping the CNPPID office at the Kingsley Dam overlook area will likely prove to be important in years to come, because it provides an unobstructed panoramic overview of the reservoir, dam, roadway, Howell-Bunger valve, Lake Ogallala, and for miles in the distance. In the case of a natural disaster or security threat, or for general observation of this key point at this large project, this vantage point is unequalled.
Submitted: September 9, 2005
Signed: Patricia A. Grant
Environmental Protection Specialist
The articles of the license can be categorized as:
Water Related Articles:
Articles 400 through 403 address contributing to and storing water in the Environmental Account at Lake McConaughy.
Article 404 addresses management of the Environmental Account. Sharon Whitmore of the USF & WS is the Account Manager.
Articles 405 through 408 address operating rules of the project Article 409 details water rights.
Articles 410 and 411 detail pulse flow enhancements.
Articles 412 and 413 address flow attenuation.
Articles 414 through 416 address water conservation and use.
Land Related Articles:
Article 417 addresses the provision of wildlife habitat between Johnson Hydro No.2 Return and Chapman, Nebraska.
Article 418 addresses the provision of wildlife habitat between North Platte, Nebraska, and Johnson Hydro No.2 Return.
Article 419 addresses the provision of wildlife habitat between Keystone and North Platte, Nebraska.
Article 420 details interior least tern and piping plover habitat areas.
Article 421 details the requirements for the Land and Shoreline Management Plan, which-is composed of 2 Volumes of sub-plans, and any amendments. Volume 1 is comprised of 8 Sections: Section 1 Introduction; Section 2 Planning and Consultation Process; Section 3 Shoreline Management Responsibilities and Activities; Section 4 Land and Shoreline Use; Section 5 Implementation Strategies; Section 6 Recreation Plan; Section 7 Plan Amendments and Updates; and Section 8 Public Comments and Agency Consultation. Volume 2 is comprised of 3 Appendices: Appendix I Supplemental Information; Appendix II Consultation Record; and Appendix III Management Plan for Least Tern and Piping Plover Nesting on the Shore of Lake McConaughy. The Plan for Reviewing the FERC Boundary is located in Appendix I. The Licensee provides the Commission with annual status reports on the progress under this multi-year Plan.
Article 422 is the land use article which gives the licensee the authority to grant permission for certain types of use and occupancy of project land and waters and to convey certain interests in project lands and waters for certain types of use and occupancy without prior Commission approval.
Article 423 details the requirements for habitat and species monitoring.
Public Education Article:
Article 424 details public education programs requirements.
Cultural Resources Protection Article:
Article 425 details the cultural resources requirements and plan.
Commission Administration and Protocol Articles:
Article 426 provides that the Commission reserves the right to amend this license. Article 427 addresses the report on the cooperative agreement or program. Article 428 details the protocol required for future filings related to Articles 400 through 408, 410 through 412, 415 through 416, and 423, and Exhibit X.
PHOTOGRAPHS — 45 photos show the nature and condition of the project at the time of the inspection. All photos were taken at the time of the inspection, June 14-16, 2005. Note that dates on all photos are incorrect due to digital camera malfunction.