Robert Peccia & Associates.

Environmental assessment and nationwide section 4(f) evaluation Canyon Ferry Road : STPS 430-1(5)1; CN 4480, Lewis and Clark County, Montana (Volume 2003) online

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■ A Stonn Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SiVPPPj employing Best Management
Practices for controlling erosion and sediment transport will be implemented in
the vicinity of project area wetlands.


In accordance with Section 7(a) of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531-1543), MDT

contacted tlie USFWS for a list of endangered, tliieatened, proposed, and candidate species that
could occur m the project area. MDT's consulting biologists assessed whether or not any of the
Federally-listed threatened or endangered (T/E) wildlife species or important habitat for tlie
species occur in the project area. MDT's Biological Resources Report concluded that tliree
tlireatened, endangered, proposed, or candidate, species may occur in the vicinity of tlie
proposed Canyon Ferry Road project. These species and other pertinent information about
habitats and is presented in TABLE 6.


Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5} 1

Environmenta! Assessment

TABLE 6: Species, Habitat, and Potential Occurrence of T/E

Species in the Canyon Ferry Road Project Area

Federal Status

Important Habitat

Potential Occurrence

Bald Eagle

(Haliaeetiis lencocephalus)

Coniferous forest, cottonwood
riparian, aquatic areas

Primarily winter resident, but could
occur year-round, several active nests
within 10 kin (6.2 miles) of project

Mountain Plover

(Charadrius iiiontanus)
proposed threatened

Shortgrass prairie, flat topography

Not known to occur in tlie project
area, habitat marginal.

Black-tailed Prairie Dog

{Cynomys hidovicianus)
candidate species

Shortgrass and mixed grass prairie

Not known to occur in tlie project
area, none observed in vicinity.

* On July 6, 1999, the bald eagle was proposed for removal from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened
Wildlife. Tlie bald eagle remaius protected as atlireatened species until de-listing is fiual.

IMPACTS OF THE PREFERRED ACTION. Impacts to tliieatened and endangered species
can be categorized as direct or indirect effects and such effects may be short-term or long-term.
Direct effects are results of the proposed action. Direct effects may include loss of habitat and
mortality of individuals. Indirect effects are effects caused by the proposed action tliat are
reasonably certain to occur. Primary indirect effects include potential disturbance and
displacement of individuals, decrease in reproductive success, and habitat degradation. For
many species, the magnitude of effects would depend on the timing and duration of construction

The potential impacts associated vvdth reconstnicting Canyon Ferry Road on identified tliieatened
and endangered species are described below.

■ Bald Eagles. The "Habitat Management Guide foi Bald Eagles in Northwestern

Montana" prepared by the Montana Bald Eagle Working Group in 1 99 1 defines three
primary zones associated with bald eagle nests. The nest site area includes the area
within 400 meteis (0.25 mile) of the existing and alternate nests. Eagles aie most
sensitive to human activity vvdthin this zone, and will react to infiusion. Th.^ primary use
area includes tlie area heavily used by a nesting pan; or an 800 m (0.5 mile) ladius fiom
tlie occupied and alternate nests. The home range represents all areas used by tlie eagles
during the nesting season. In the absence of site-specific data, the area within a 4 km (2.5
mile) radius should be considered as a minimum home range.

The pioposed Canyon Feny Road reconstruction project does not fall withm the home
range of any active bald eagle nests. However, several active nests are known to occur
witiiin 10 km (about 6 miles) of the pioject. Additionally, a stietch of Hausei Lake
below Canyon Feixy Dam to the northeast of this project is a well-known concentiation
area for bald eagles that congregate to feed on spawning kokanee salmon between
October and December. As many as 300 eagles have been documented below Canyon


Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5) 1 Environmental Assessment

Ferry Dam in past years, with peak numbers typically occmiing in late November

Considering the high number of eagles within 10 km (about 6 miles) of the project, it is
probable that bald eagles periodically pass through the project area and may spend time
near the highway, especially in the Spokane Creek aiea where roost and perch trees are
available. Bald eagles may also periodically hunt for small prey or feed on caixion m the
open fields and pastures between Lake Helena Drive and Spokane Creek.

Direct impacts to bald eagles as a result of the liighway improvements are expected to be
minimal. However, due to potential year-round presence of bald eagles along tlie project
route, construction activities during all seasons could conceivably temporarily distiub or
displace eagles where the project is visible fiom nesting, roosting and foraging habitat.
However, because the areas and duiation of disturbance would be relatively confined and
occur in an aheady disturbed corridor, and undisturbed similar habitat for displaced birds
is common in tire smiounding area, these iiupacts are not considered substantial.

If traffic volmnes or speeds increase in the project area as a result of the improvements,
an indirect impact would be the potential for increased vehicle-related mortalities, since
bald eagles often feed on road-killed aniiuals. Widening the highway and improving its
alignment would also be expected to increase the ability of motorists to see eagles on or
neai' the highway and to maneuver to avoid eagles and otiier wildlife.

Another possible mduect effect is that road constiTiction at the stieam crossings has some
potential for affectir^ water quality (e.g., increased sedimentation) and the associated
aquatic community, mcluding fish availabihty, a prime food source for bald eagles.
However, such impacts are unlikely, and (if any) would be temporary. The power lines
adjacent to the highway present some potential for electiocution of bald eagles and otiier
raptors. Since some power lines adjacent to tiie liighway may be moved to accommodate
tiie widened liighway, the potential for electiocution should be considered an mduect
impact related to the projects.

■ MountaJD Plover. The MNHP has no records of mountain plovers occmiing near this
reconstinction project. Mountain plover habitat in tiie project vicinity is very limited to a
small amount of native shortgrass prairie near tiie projects eastern terminus. No prauie
dog tovms, a habitat lustorically preferred by the species, were identified adjacent to the
proposed project. Due to lack of quality breeding liabitat in tiie project area, mountain
plovers are not expected to occur in the project vicinity.

As no mountain plovers are know to use habitat in the vicinity of Canyon Ferry Road
tiuough tiie project area, no impacts are anticipated regardless of final construction limits.
The potential does exist, depending upon final constiiiction limits, to degrade a limited
amount of smtable mountain plover breeding habitat.

■ Black-tailed Prairie Dog. No praiiie dog towns were identified adjacent to the proposed
project during the field reconnaissance suiveys. Additionally, recent surveys for praine
dog tovms in the Helena Valley by the MNHP found no tovms witiun several miles of


Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5) 1 Environmental Assessment

Canyon Ferry Road. Due to the extreme distance from the nearest known colony,
dispersal by prauie dogsmto tlie area is considered improbable.

As no black-tailed praiiie dog towns exist in the vicinity of Canyon Feny Road tliiough
the project area, no impacts to black-tailed praiiie dogs are e:jq)ected as a result of the
proposed liighway improvements. The potential does exist, depending upon final
construction limits, for suitable prairie dog habitat to be impacted by tlie proposed action.

CUMULATIVE EFFECTS. Past land use activities in the Canyon Ferry Road corridor are not
known to have resulted in any harm to listed tiiieatened, endangered, proposed for listing or
candidate species. Because similar activities are likely to continue into tire foreseeable fiituie,
adverse cumulative effects to bald eagles, mountain plover, and black -tailed prairie dog would
not be expected. No notable cumulative effects to bald eagle use of tiie project corridor or
suiiounding areas are expected to result fiom implementing the proposed project, if spatial and
temporal construction restiictions are applied on fixture projects when warranted.

Cumulative/mdiiect impacts associated with the proposed action may result fiom mcreased
human development m the general project area wliich could remove or degrade habitat for
mountain plover and blacktail prairie dogs.

DETERMINATION OF EFFECTS. The Biological Assessment m MDT's Biological
Resources Report concluded that the proposed reconstruction of Canyon Feny Road would have
"no effect" on tire tiiieatened bald eagle or tire black-tailed prauie dog. It was also determined
tills proposed highway project would "not likely jeopardize the continued existence of" the

mountain plover.

IMPACTS OF THE NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE. The No Bmld Alternative would resiUt in
no new impacts to bald eagles, mountain plovers, or black-tailed prairie dogs.

Conservation Measures (Threatened or Endangered Species)

Since littie, if any, potential exists for effects to the mountain plover or tiie black-tailed prairie
dog as a result of the project, no consei"vation nieasme are recommended for tiiese species.
Given the seasonal presence of bald eagles near the project area and tiieu expanding range m
Montana, the implementation of the following conservation measures will ensiue that adverse
impacts to bald eagles are minimized or avoided:

■ The project managers for the construction of the proposed highway projects will
contact an MDT biologist to assess the overall status of bald eagles in the project
area prior to beginning work. Spatial, and/or time of work restrictions may be
necessary if bald eagle nests are established in the project area prior to

■ Overhead power lines relocated during construction will be raptor-proofed in
accordance with "Suggested Practices for Raptor Protection on Power Lines"
[Olendorffetal. 1981).


Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5) 1

Environmental Assessment

The location of construction-related activities, such as staging and borrow/gravel
source activities, will be reviewed by an MDT biologist prior to construction relative
to their possible impacts to bald eagles.

Best Management Practices (BMPs) will be followed to minimize the potential for
increasing sediment loads in any of the project area waterways.


Existing Conditions. According to MDT's Biological Resources Report, wildlife habitat
between tlie beginning of tlie project and Lake Helena Drive is limited due to tlie extensive
development has occuned in this ar'ea over time. Despite the development, seveial 1 to 4 ha (2
to 1 acre) undeveloped parcels still exist, thus providing limited habitat foi a variety of small
mammals, such as skunks, cottontails, Columbian ground squirrels, red fox, voles, and mice.
Near the beginning of the project, v^hite-tailed deer are occasionally seen utilizing habitat
associated witli Prickly Peai' Creek, and mule deer aie also occasionally seen near the begimiing
of the project, using habitat neai' the giavel pit operated by Helena Sand & Giavel. Tliis large
gravel pit, partially filled with ground water, also provides liabitat for numerous species of
waterfowl and shore birds.

The large irrigated fields immediately east of Lake Helena Drive attract pronghom antelope,
mule and white-tailed deer, fox, and feeding waterfowl in the fall. The diyland crops and
pastureland between Lake Helena Drive and tlie end of the project support small nmnbeis of
antelope, deer, and small rodents, wliich are preyed upon by red fox, coyotes, and various
raptors. The Spokane Creek drainage at the project's eastern terminus provides tlie only major
area of wetland and riparian habitat within project limits. Wildlife species associated with these
habitats include various songbirds, raptors, mule and wliite-tailed deer, small mammals, and

Ampliibians likely to occur near wetland and riverine habitats within the pioject area include the
long-toed salamander, western toad, and spotted fiog. Painted tiutles, rubber boa, racer, western
rattlesnake, gopher snake, and gaiter snakes aie reptiles likely to inhabit the project area.

Between 1991 and 1995, the Montana Bud Distribution Committee (MBDC 1996) compiled
observations of 187 bird species within tlie area encompassed by this project. Much of the
species diversity is likely due to the presence of the Missouri River and Canyon Feiiy, Hauser
and Holter Resei'vous witliin the general area. An extensive list of possible species occmiing in
the project area is not presented here. However, buds commonly seen in the project area include
waterfowl and shorebirds near tlie Helena Sand and Gravel pit; woodpeckeis, flycatchers,
warblers, raptors, finches, grouse and tluushes along Spokane Creek and western meadowlarks,
sparrows, crows, ravens, magpies, bluebirds, and blackbuds m various other habitats represented
along tlie project route.

According to the Montana River Information System (MRIS), Spokane Creek has been assigned
a final fisheries lesource value of "moderate. " Fish species present in Spokane Creek include


Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5) 1 Environmental Assessment

rainbow trout, brown trout, mountain wliitefish, and kokanee salmon. Fish species present in
Spokane Creek may also occur in limited nimibeis in No Name Spring Creek. The Helena Valley
Canal and its associated laterals are not managed as fisheries and would not be subject to
peimitting under Ihe Montana Stream Protection Act.

wildlife associated with tlie proposed Canyon Feriy Road reconstiiiction project would include :
the temporaiy loss of and avoidance of habitats adjacent to tlie construction area; duect mortahty
&om vehicles and constniction equipment; and permanent habitat degradation and/or

The minor sliifts m alignment m tlie rural section of tlie corridor, road widening, and slope
flattening associated with the pioposed highway improvements on wildlife would result in the
permanent loss of minor amounts of habitat adjacent to the roadside. Additionally, wildlife
species that rely upon these roadside areas for habitat would be temporarily displaced durir^
construction due to noise and human activities.

The anticipated loss of wildlife habitat in the project area is not considered especially deleterious
to wildlife species because most losses would likely occur immediately adjacent to the existing
road. Additionally, the types of habitat that would be lost are common in the general vicinity of
fliis project. Displacement of species in most cases would be a temporary adverse effect.

Construction activities could also result in mortalities of some less mobile wildlife species if
individuals are unable to escape construction equipment. More mobile species, such as adult
deer, coyotes, and most adult buds, would be able to avoid duect mortality by moving into
adjacent lands.

The existmg lughway, m association wifli adjacent farm and rancliing practices, recreational
activities and residential development, is a contributor to habitat flagmentation in the pioject
area. Because the new road would contmue to be a two-lane facility and be only slightly wider
than the existing lughway, impacts from increased fragmentation aie considered to be minor.

Once construction is finished, the improved road could result in fewer collisions witii wildlife
because motorists would have improved stopping sight distance and more time to react to
wildhfe movements vvdthin the highway coiiidor. However, the improved highway may result in
increased traffic and speed, and thus mcrease tiie potential for vehicle collisions witii big game,
small mammals, and buds. Some level of vehicle/vvdldlife mortality is largely unavoidable witii
road use. Such colhsions are not Hkely to affect local wildlife populations.

aquatic lesources as a result of the proposed liighway improvements are expected to be minor.
Impacts to aquatic resources m the project area would primarily result fiom direct distiirbance
associated witii culvert replacement, bridge replacements and associated detours, and highway
fill placement. Geneial cleaiir^ and grubbing would occur adjacent to portions of No Name
Spring Creek and Spokane Creek. In addition, fill placement and work within stieam chamiels
would be lequired at the highway crossir^s of No Name Sprmg Creek and Spokane Creek for
the installation of culverts and any associated channel revisions. Road reconstruction would also


Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5) 1 Environmental Assessment

encroach on a section of No Name Spring Creek tliat parallels the south (right) side of the new
hrghway. Tliis highway encroachment may cause minor and temporarily adverse effects to
aquatic resources.

Construction activities v^ould result in temporary increased erosion potential, reduced slope
stability, and could temporarily mcrease turbidity m project area streams, particularly durir^
preciprtation events. Water quality could be mdnectly affected over the short term by the influx
of fliel and otlier pollutants from unpaved surfaces during storm events, which could temporarily
affect stream productrvity in the immediate project area. Increased e:^osure of soils in tlie
project area would provrde a continuing source of sediment into the local system during
preciprtatron events until stabilized.

Increases in turbidity, suspended sediment, and other pollutants can reduce stream productivity,
reduce feeding opporhmrtres for fish, and result m fish avoidance of important habitat.
Deposited sediments reduce habitat volmne by fillii^ pools and intergravel spaces, whrch are
critical to young fish. Culvert and bridge replacement along the project could result m
temporary turbidity mcreases by distuibing stieam banks or beds and re-suspending existing
sediments in the water cohmm.

CUMULATIVE IMPACTS. No adverse cumulative effects to wildlife or fisheries are
antrcrpated as aresult of the proposed road reconstructron project and other present and future
development actrvities in tire project area. However, ongoing and fixture development in tire
project area and Helena Valley is expected to result in the minor incremental losses of habitat
witii associated minor adverse effects to wildhfe and fish species.

IMPACTS OF THE NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE. This alternative would cause no fiirther
impacts to wildlife, fisheries, or aquatic resources in the Canyon Ferry Road project area.
Highway maintenance activities could temporarily displace species near the constinction
activrtres or distiub roadside areas causing mmor losses of habitat. Under tliis alternative, MDT
may be obligated to replace tire stiuctiirally deficient bridge at No Name Spring Creek vvdth a
large diameter culvert. This action would likely result m mmor effects to aquatic resources in
tills stieam.

Mitigation Measures (Wildlife and Fisheries Impacts)

MDT will implement the following measures to ensure tiiat adverse impacts to vvdldlife and
aquatic species are minimized or avoided.

■ Best Management Practices (BMPs) will be followed to minimize the potential for
increasing sediment loads in any of the project area waterways.

■ Disturbed areas will be reseeded as quickly as possible after construction.

■ A revegetation plan will be developed for the highway project to be followed by the

■ In stream work associated with the channel change and culvert replacements at
No Name Spring Creek or and Spokane Creek will be coordinated with the


Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5) 1 Environmental Assessment

MDFWP to miriitiiize effects to fisheries resources in these surface water.

C. Impacts to the Human and Cultural


Land Ownership and Land Use. With the exception of lands associated with the Helena
Valley Canal adinuiisteredby theU.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of
Reclamation and small tracts owned by local governments, all lands witliin tlie Canyon Ferry
Road project coiiidor are privately owned.

Between the project's begummg and Lake Helena Drive, tliese lands have been developed witli
residential and commercial uses interspersed witli minor agiicultiual lands, industrial
developments, storage facilities and a variety of small commercial busmesses. The most notable
industrial uses in this portion of the project corridor are large gravel pit operations and a ready
mix. Other businesses m this area include a gas station/convenience store, a restaurant (near the
Wylie Driver intersection), an automobile repau shop, storage facilities and other miscellaneous
small businesses. East of Lake Helena Drive, lands adjacent to Canyon Feixy Road have been
developed with scattered niral residences and subdivisions and large irrigated and non-urigated
farms and ranches. One restaurant/lour^e exists neai' the eastern terminus of the project.

Applicable Land Use Plans and Controls. The Lewis and Claik County Comprehensive
Plan guides the use of lands in the general project area and tlie County Commission is
responsible for implementing the Plan.

A Plan for the Helena Valley Plamiing Area is provided m the Lewis and Clark County
Comprehensive Plan. The Plan identifies three types of development areas - urban growth areas,
transitional grovv^ areas, and rural areas. Urban Growth Areas are those areas where city
services to support residential, commercial and mdustrial development are most likely to be
extended over the next twenty to twenty-five years. Transitional Growtli Areas are tliose areas
that are suitable for urban development over a longer term but are generally not contiguous to
existing urban development. Rural Areas are areas outside Urban and Transitional Growtli
Areas, where rural levels of public infrastructure and services will sustain fixture development.

According to the Plan for the Helena Valley Planning Area, lands between the beginning of tlie
project and Lake Helena Drive lie within a designated Transitional Grovrth Area and lands east
of Lake Helena Drive are in a designated Rural Area.

Development approval should be conditioned upon the ability of the developer to provide or pay
for all necessary on-site and off-site improvements and infrastructure. Infrastructure extensrons
should be srzed to accommodate demands of anticipated growth. Low-density development
should be designed to allow ui'ban levels of development in the future .


Canyon Ferry Road; STPS 430-1(5) 1 Environmental Assessment

Lewis and Clark County has enacted subdivision regulations but has not estabhshed zoning
regulatrons for project area lands witliin desrgnated Transitional Growth or Rural Areas.

IMPACTS OF THE PREFERRED ACTION. The proposed reconstruction of Canyon Ferry
Road would affect lands adjoining tlie liighway to varying extents due to the need to acquire
additional right-of-way and expand tlie liighway corridor. Such impacts are unavoidable due to
tlie need to widen the roadway to accommodate hirnmg lanes and shoulders, adjust the ahgnment
of tlie road to eliminate substandard horizontal and vertical curves, and relocate conflicting
utilities away from the highway.

The piefeiTed reconfiguration of tlie Canyon Ferry Road/Spokane Creek Road intersection would
require the relocation of four residences and possibly one mobile home located adjacent to tlie
existing highway. Other than tlie changes of land use at tliese residential properties, the Preferred
Action would not cause notable changes to existing land uses along Canyon Ferry Road.

Impacts to agricultural land uses would include the acquisition of ciopland and pashire land for
new liighway nght-of-way and modifications to field access locations. Generally, access to farm
fields or pashires fiom the new roadway would be maintamed, although tiie location of access
points may be moved to ensure adequate sight distance is provided along the new road.

The implementation of limited access contiol witliin tiie pioject comdor could result m some

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Online LibraryRobert Peccia & AssociatesEnvironmental assessment and nationwide section 4(f) evaluation Canyon Ferry Road : STPS 430-1(5)1; CN 4480, Lewis and Clark County, Montana (Volume 2003) → online text (page 9 of 19)