United states department of interior bureau of ocean energy management

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4.5Proposed Conservation Measures

4.5.1Red Knot and Piping Plover Monitoring

A pre-construction survey of the Project area will be conducted following methods using the Louisiana Piping Plover and Red Knot Non-Breeding Season Survey Guidelines with observations recorded on provided field census forms. A team of qualified observers will pass through all suitable open habitats (beach, algal flat, wrack line, and other intertidal and subtidal flats) surveying for piping plover and red knot. Plover and red knot surveys will cover the Project footprint, as well as, buffer areas outside of the Project footprint. Piping plover and red knot observations will be accomplished using a spotting scope, with activity and habitat recorded. Banded plovers and red knots, if any, will be read and recorded. Flock sizes, surveying times, habitats used, and geo-referenced photo id will be recorded. A report will be submitted to USFWS within one (1) week of each survey.

Surveys will be conducted twice per month beginning in the winter/migration season prior to the start of construction (depending upon the construction start date). In the months of April and July, one (1) survey per month would be adequate to cover lingering winter birds in April and early arriving birds in July. No surveys would be required in the months of May and June when the birds are on their northern breeding grounds. Surveys will follow the pre-construction survey areas, methodology, and reporting.

Due to unforeseen circumstances the Project may not be able to work continuously for the full twelve (12)-month construction period. Therefore, for extended times (two (2) months or more) when there is no active work within the Project area, scheduled plover surveys may be temporarily suspended until work activities resume. Written justification will be provided immediately to the USFWS and also documented in data report(s) should any work be suspended for an extended period of time. As soon as work activities resume, piping plover and red knot surveys will also resume following the initial survey schedule as closely as possible.

4.5.2Nesting Shorebird Abatement for Species Protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Bird abatement procedures will be implemented in the nesting season (May – September) to prevent nesting in construction areas. Passive techniques such as reflective flagging, colorful fencing, reflective windsocks, predator decoys (owl, hawk, coyote, etc.), and other visual disturbances will be employed. Physical disturbance using continual human presence or trained canines, and noisemaking devices will be employed as needed in the Project area to keep the construction area free from nesting birds. If nest colonies are discovered at a later date, permit-required buffer zones and consultation with LDWF and USFWS will be immediately implemented and handled on a case by case basis.

Proactive measures will be taken to prevent colonial nesting waterbirds from nesting within the Project area prior to and during construction. These measures may include deterrents such as propane cannons, predator decoys, reflective flagging, reflective windsocks, visual disturbances, or other approved bird repellant devices. These repellent devices will be placed in designated areas within the Project area prior to the nesting periods. Nesting periods are April 1 through September 15 for gulls terns, and/or black skimmers; February 16 through August 31 for nesting wading birds (i.e., herons, egrets, night- herons, ibis, and roseate spoonbills), anhingas, and/or cormorants; and November 1 through July 31 for brown pelicans. The contractor will coordinate closely with the LDWF, USFWS, and NMFS on the timing and placement of the deterrent devices. The Project team understands the importance of preventing nesting activities within the Project area that is under constructions as there is no provision for “incidental take” in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Prior to any work, qualified personnel will conduct surveys in all potential nesting bird habitats within the Project boundaries that may be impacted by construction or preconstruction activities. These surveys will be conducted and will include species not considered in this BA, such as brown pelicans and colonial nesting waterbirds. Data collection protocols will be established through close coordination with the LDWF and the USFWS.

If nesting occurs during construction within the Project area, the contractor shall establish a buffer zone around colonies containing nesting gulls, terns, and/or black skimmers; around colonies of nesting wading birds (i.e., herons, egrets, night-herons, ibis, and roseate spoonbills), anhingas, and/or cormorants; and around nesting colonies of brown pelicans.

4.5.3Sea Turtle Conservation Measures

If a hopper dredge is used to mine sand from the Ship Shoal or South Pelto Borrow Areas, the following reasonable and prudent measures which are consistent with the existing Biological Opinion (BO) for Dredging on Ship Shoal will be required to minimize the impact on sea turtles (NMFS 2005 and Hendren 2014).

Hopper Dredge Inspection

A hopper dredge inspection will be performed using the COE Sea Turtle Inspection Checklist for Hopper Dredges for COE Projects or COE/Army Permitted Projects. A qualified inspector will be responsible for ensuring that the hopper dredge inspection has been performed and that all recommendations have been implemented or addressed prior to giving the project approval to proceed.

Sea Turtle Observers

A NMFS-approved protects species observe will visually monitor the dredge area repeatedly prior to the commencement of dredging and during the dredging for the presence of sea turtles and other protected species. Observers will monitor the hopper spoil, overflow, screening, and draghead for sea turtles and other protected species and their remains.

Dredge Quality Management (DQM) A dredge quality management device would be activated and operational in accordance with CECW CO Memorandum, 17 April 2006, subject: Implementation of Automated Dredging Quality Assurance Monitoring.

Flood Lights

Flood lights would be installed to allow observers to safely observe and monitor the baskets or screens.

Artificial Lighting

When night work is performed, all on beach lighting associated with the Project will be limited to the immediate area of active construction. Such lighting must consist of shielded, low pressure, sodium vapor lights to minimize illumination of the nesting beach and near shore waters. Lighting on offshore equipment will be similarly minimized through reduction, shielding, lowering, and appropriate placement of lights to avoid excessive illumination of the water, while meeting all U.S. Coast Guard and OSHA requirements. Shielded, low pressure, sodium vapor lights are highly recommended for lights on offshore equipment that cannot be eliminated.

Relocation Trawling

The CPRA will be conducting assessment/relocation trawling as a method to further reduce the potential for incidental takes of sea turtles during the use of hopper dredging. Trawling would be conducted consistent with the ongoing Biological Opinion for Ship Shoal (NMFS 2005 and Hendren 2014).

Turtle Deflector Device

Should a hopper dredge be used, the dredge will be equipped with a rigid sea turtle deflector attached to the draghead. The dredge will be operating in such a manner in which to reduce interactions with sea turtles (e.g., reduce RPM’s when the draghead is not on the surface of the sediment). Inflow screening baskets (4-inch mesh) will be installed to monitor the intake and overflow of the dredge for sea turtle remains. The inflow would be screened 100 percent during all dredging operations. If conditions prevent 100 percent inflow screening, inflow screening may be reduced gradually, but 100 percent overflow screening is then required. Variations from these provisions may be granted, but any approved variation must be justified from a technical perspective. All corrective actions proposed during the hopper dredge inspection will be made prior to initiation of dredging.

Turtle Reports

A final report summarizing the results of the dredging and any incidental takes of listed species would be submitted to NMFS within 30 working days of the completion of the project. A final report, on any nest monitoring activities would be submitted to the USFWS, following nesting.

Intervals Between Dredging

Sufficient time must be allotted between each dredging cycle for approved observers to inspect and thoroughly clean the baskets and screens for sea turtle and/or turtle parts and document findings. Between each dredging cycle, the approved observer should also examine and clean the dragheads and document findings.

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