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Comment sought on Powell River Watershed plan

Staff report • May 5, 2007 at 10:39 AM

JONESVILLE - The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting comments through June 18 on the draft plan for the North Fork Powell River Watershed in Lee County.

The plan describes alternatives considered to improve water quality in the watershed and will address acid mine drainage and critically eroding sites from past mining activities.

The project is sponsored by the Lee County Board of Supervisors, Daniel Boone Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

Interested individuals can view a copy of the plan at the Lee County Public Library in Pennington Gap.

The recommended plan includes the following measures:

•Installing 11 wetlands, 21 open limestone channels, six ponds, three portal closures, five successive alkaline producing systems, and seven diversions.

•Eliminating two highwalls.

•Grading and vegetating 12 sites.

•Removing waste material on two sites.

•Constructing a rock toe buttress, and grading, shaping and re-vegetating four sites.

The primary effects of the plan are improved water quality of streams, improved habitat for fish and other aquatic species, and erosion and sediment damage reduction.

Some project benefits include:

•Treating 315 gallons per minute of acid mine drainage.

•Gaining 22.95 miles of fishery.

•Reducing 252 tons per year of sediment delivered to streams.

•Improving 18.4 miles of stream water quality.

•Positive but unmeasured effects to groundwater.

•Improving habitat for 15 threatened and endangered mussel species and five fish species.

•Improving wildlife habitat on 56.25 acres.

•Creating 7.8 acres of wetlands.

The estimated cost of the project is $1.8 million. Through the Small Watersheds Program, the NRCS is authorized to pay 65 percent of the cost of the project.

Comments on the plan may be sent to the following address on or before June 18: John A. Bricker, state conservationist; USDA – NRCS; 1606 Santa Rosa Road, Suite 209; Richmond, VA 23229.

Specific inquiries about this draft watershed plan can be referred to Kalena Porter or Shawn Morris with the Daniel Boone Soil and Water Conservation District at (276)346-1658.

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