Environmental Processes and Compliance
- What is optimization and when does optimization occur in the feasibility study process?
- Can optimization begin before the Agency Decision Milestone?
- When is optimization of a plan finished?
- The goal is to complete feasibility studies in less than 3-years. There are statutory timeframes for completing certain consultations,
such as the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and ultimately this may drive the study schedule. How can schedule impacts be avoided?
- If a biological assessment indicates that an alternative plan(s) may affect a listed endangered or threatened species or critical habitat,
and formal consultation with USFWS/NMFS is required, where in the SMART Planning process will this formal process take place?
- Full consideration of effects an alternative plan has on fish and wildlife resources is part of the plan formulation process. This evaluation
is done by USFWS in a Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (FWCA) Report. Ideally the FWCA Report is used to assist in the development
of the environmental analysis in the Civil Works Planning Study Feasibility Report. How will the FWCA coordination process integrate in
the SMART Planning process during development of the Feasibility Report?
The early scoping phase of a Corps feasibility study triggers statutory requirements under the FWCA. During the scoping phase, a
FWCA scope of work should be developed between the agencies to determine the support to be provided, including what type of report
(FWCA Report, Planning Aid Letter, Planning Aid Report) and to also establish a timeline for receiving reports or letters. The purpose of
a report or letter is to identify problems and opportunities related to the conservation and enhancement of all potentially impacted fish
and wildlife resources. The information gathered through the FWCA process should give the Corps an overall assessment of the fish
and wildlife issues that will need to be addressed through project planning and design. How the FWCA coordination process integrates
into the SMART Planning process is discussed thoroughly in the Guide to
Coordination and Engagement with the Services. In summary, a draft FWCA Report should be provided to the Corps early enough
so that views of the Services can be considered in development of the draft integrated feasibility/NEPA report, and made available to the
public during the public review period.
- How is it determined if USFWS and NMFS are invited to a planning charette?