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Environmental Assessment

posted Jan 31, 2009, 12:12 PM by Auburn RRMSEA   [ updated Jan 31, 2009, 12:13 PM ]
PROJECT UPDATE: AN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT IS NOW REQUIRED FOR THE PROJECT DUE TO:
WIDESPREAD PUBLIC CONTROVERSY and the COALITION'S DOCUMENTATION OF THREATENED PLANT SPECIES.  Many letters were written to the project planners to preserve the Railroad Mills Special Environmental Area (RRMSEA).  For the sake of the protecting the environment and the exceptional user nature experience in RRMSEA, many people asked that  a narrow trail (either leaving the area "as is" or compromising to a 3' ADA-compliant width) be  developed in RRMSEA, instead of the 6' wide stonedust bike path that is being proposed.    

Your letters HAVE made a difference. We recently learned through FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) requests to the feds, state DOT, and Victor that the federal agency (FHWA) is now requiring Victor to complete an EA (Environmental Assessment) for the project to meet requirements of NEPA.   Before this recent change, the feds were allowing a "categorical exclusion", for the project, a much less rigorous process.  The feds have now determined,  because of the "widespread public controversy" on environmental grounds, as well as the threatened species we brought to their attention, that they are bumping up the requirement to an EA - this is a much more rigorous documentation process than the Town had planned on.  It is directly the result of the public input and the Coalition's actions.

This is good news as it gives us more chance to make our case in a public forum.  The timeline is pushed back.  However it does not at all guarantee the preservation of the area.  The project planners haven't changed their outlook:  they are planning to do the necessary documentation for an EA, and still continue to plow ahead undeterred,  and hope to get approval for their 6' path in RRMSEA.