Habitat Resource Inventory and Habitat Suitability Modeling Report Task 6: Environment and Energy -Habitat Resource Inventory and Habitat Suitability Modeling Report

Under this task, OU compiled a fully georeferenced database from DOE, state, and public sources; completed a data gap analysis of the georeferenced data; and created a detailed land cover map of the PORTS site, including a 1-mile buffer around the site. OU found that access to the site GIS was provided. Upon completion of database development and analysis, OU used this information as inputs into a habitat suitability model to demonstrate the utility of the data.

The data and results of the suitability model were provided to DOE for their use in site remediation and planning activities. Deliverables included: 1) A fully georeferenced database compatible with the current PORTS’ Data Warehouse/Graphical Information System; 2) A report summarizing data gaps in the georeferenced data; 3) a land-cover map compatible with the current PORTS’ Data Warehouse/Graphical Information System; and 4) draft and final report containing the Site-Wide Wildlife Habitat Resource Inventory and Results of Habitat Suitability modeling 5) a summary of public involvement on the Task. The georeferenced database and land-cover map was provided electronically to DOE for incorporation into the PORTS’ Data Warehouse/Graphical Information System.

The data gap report was provided electronically to DOE for use by the PORTS’ Data Warehouse/Graphical Information System Project Team. Additionally, OU  participated in meetings of the Project Team to discuss the report findings. The final Habitat Resource Inventory and Habitat Suitability Modeling document was available on the project’s website, The draft report was provided to DOE for a factual accuracy review prior to public release.

Principal Investigators

Dr. Natalie Kruse, Jennifer Bowman, and David Simon


Habitat Resource Inventory and Habitat Suitability Modeling Report Follow-On Task Wetland and Primary Headwater Streams Mitigation Conceptual Design Plan

The completed task in this scope of work (SOW) resulted in the preparation of a mitigation plan, including a wetland mitigation bank proposal, that was used by PORTS to compensate for potential unavoidable losses to waters of the United States (Clean Water Act Section 404 jurisdictional wetlands and headwater streams as regulated by Ohio EPA). This SOW applied to only the approximately 3000 acres of federally-owned lands outside of the central high security zone and to such other proximate lands that were be identified as potential locations for headwater stream mitigation. Wetland mitigation analysis and planning was limited to federal lands outside the central high security area.
This scope assumed that:

  • All existing data collected and reports prepared by a third party consultant will be provided to OU;
  • Details of the proposed activities/modifications to the impact sites will be made available;
  • The quality and type of the data (detailed below) and reports provided by the third party consultant meets technical and regulatory standards and the needs for Ohio University’s (OU) team to formulate mitigation plans and develop a mitigation bank;
  • The field data (sample sites, delineation boundaries, GPS and GIS data) and reports provided by a third party withstand validation by the OU task team. This will identify data gaps and possible further data collection needs.
  • Third party consultant will be responsible for the short-term regulatory issues and provide additional site-wide delineation work, while OU will be responsible for the longer term mitigation planning. FBP, OU, DOE, OEPA, and third party consultant will collaborate throughout the mitigation planning.

Part A: Develop a Wetlands Mitigation Conceptual Design for PORTS area outside the perimeter road

Principal Investigators

Rob Wiley, Gary Conley, Natalie Kruse, Jen Bowman

Task Understanding

Normal conduct of the DOE mission at the PORTS facilities may result in the unavoidable destruction of Waters of the United States including wetlands and streams.  These technically definable landscape features, their loss and requirements for mitigation are regulated under the Clean Water Act Section 404 (33 CFR 328.3 and 40 CFR 230.3).  Wetlands within PORTS are also be regulated by Ohio Environmental Protection Agency under its 401 Water Quality Certification authority and by the authority provided by the Ohio Isolated Wetlands Law.

This proposed task will utilize the results of the Habitat and Site Characterization Task from FY11/12, a wetland delineation to be prepared by a third party consultant and an assessment prepared by a third party technical consultant of the functions and values of delineated PORTS wetlands to prepare a wetland mitigation plan.  Benefits of such characterization and for DOE include:

The validation to a high degree of certainty, the location and functional value of site wetlands,

  • The ability to rank wetlands by low to high quality and use this ranking as part of an impacts and cost assessment when wetlands impacts from proposed D&D activities cannot be avoided,
  • The ability to predict the monetary costs and the land resource utilizations that might be required to mitigate lost wetlands functions and values if wetlands are impacted during a future D&D process,
  • The establishment of a high degree of surety that locations for future mitigation are available when new site development needs arise, and
  • The provision of a basis for compliance with pre-impact planning discussions encouraged by state and federal water regulatory agencies.

Delineated wetlands data provided by the third party are assumed to include

  • Wetland delineation field forms,
  • GPS files of sample sites and wetland boundary locations
  • GIS data including sample points and delineated wetland polygons
  • Completed ORAM wetland characterization forms (Ver. 5.0),
  • Completed Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) classification summary reports,
  • The summary wetlands report (which may include all of the above) and
  • The credentials of principal individuals that will have collected the field data and prepared the summary report.

Field data collection and delineation methods used by the third party consultant should satisfy the requirements as defined by Environmental Laboratory (1987) “Corps of Engineers Wetlands Delineation Manual” (ERDC/EL TR Y-87-1) and the Regional Supplement to the Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual: Eastern Mountains and Piedmont Region (ERDC/EL TR-12-9 2012). It is also assumed that wetland/upland boundary lines will have been flagged in the field and surveyed using sub-meter accuracy global positioning technology (GPS).  GPS located wetland perimeters, sample points, and wetland sample forms data would preferably have been translated into ArcGIS and stored in prepared geodatabase format. This information will be evaluated for the purposes of validating the quality of the data provided to develop any mitigation plans, to identify gaps in the data that might limit its utility, and to determine the need and magnitude of any remedial efforts.

The activities proposed under this task will result in the identification of portions of lands within the PORTS lands that through the application of planned physical alterations of hydrologic, edaphic and floristic conditions will assume the self-sustainable characteristics, values and functions of the wetlands destroyed by DOE mission-related activities.  Areas most easily converted to self-sustaining wetlands may include:

  • Former wetlands for which the wetland hydrology has been lost,
  • Areas adjacent to existing wetlands for which wetland hydrology could be established through grading, inlet and outlet manipulation,
  • Depressional areas for which wetland hydrology might be established by inlet control and capture of sufficiently-sized surface basins,
  • The capture and outlet control of natural seeps and springs,
  • Infiltration reduction using soil amendments in areas with otherwise suitable surface geometry, and
  • Well-drained valley bottoms within which low dikes could be used to create surface water detention features.

OU will complete topographic analysis, field evaluations of potential sites, the evaluation of soils and discussions with site managers to identify those lands least likely to be needed for any reasonably foreseeable new development, as needed.  The target areas will be selected in collaboration with DOE, FBP and OEPA through a field visit at the start of the project.  The field visit and later analysis will lead to ranked mitigation options.  If mitigation banking is feasible, the resulting identified lands will be reserved as a designated wetland mitigation bank under formal agreement with the US Army Corps of Engineers and Ohio EPA.  The technical information analyzed and the plans developed will be presented in a technical report that will be the basis for such a wetland mitigation banking agreement.

The results of this task will be presented in two forms, an early outcome to inform FBP decision making in late spring/early summer 2013 and a final technical report in fall 2013.  The early outcome will include options for avoidance of wetland impacts, a recommended approach to wetland mitigation, alternatives for wetland mitigation and preliminary locations for wetland mitigation; this will facilitate a discussion with DOE, FBP and OEPA for a path forward to developing a wetland mitigation plan.
The final report will include the following:

  • Descriptions of existing wetlands (primarily based on third party documentation),
  • A plan for avoidance of wetlands impacts,
  • Maps and plans showing the locations of lands suitable for wetlands mitigation (in GIS format),
  • Planting plans (including species mixes for various hydrologic regimes),
  • A summary of the methods, data and results of analyses conducted to demonstrate the establishment of wetland functions and values at each location,
  • Discussions of means and methods of construction and maintenance, and
  • Monitoring plans.

Part B: Develop a Primary Headwater Streams Mitigation Conceptual Design Plan for PORTS

Principal Investigators

Kelly Johnson, Natalie Kruse, Jen Bowman, Gary Conley

An assessment of aquatic fauna and surface hydrology are proposed to assist with the decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) efforts at the PORTS site.  The proposed study will provide a thorough characterization of the biological and habitat quality of the primary headwater stream that may be impacted by on-site disposal cell (OSDC) construction, and preliminary characterization of six to eight potential locations for mitigating impacts to primary headwaters streams.

The construction of the OSDC is planned alongside a potentially high quality primary headwater stream (as assessed by OEPA Spring 2012).  Primary headwaters serve as a key source of both water and nutrients to a stream system; disruption of primary headwater habitat can have significant impacts on the stream system as a whole.  Determination of the existing biological and habitat quality of the impacted streams is key to evaluating different alternatives for meeting anticipated mitigation requirements for Ohio EPA 401/404 certification. The potentially impacted primary headwater stream will be assessed twice for both biological and habitat quality over the biological sampling index period between June and September.  Given the potentially high quality (Class III) of the stream, a high mitigation ratio (3:1 or 4:1) may be required to meet mitigation requirements.   A second objective of this project will be to identify and evaluate six to eight streams with similar drainage areas and land use characteristics as potential mitigation sites.

The OU team will lead preliminary discussion of alternative mitigation solutions with stakeholders (DOE, Fluor, EPA, landowners, SSAB, etc…) to develop several alternative conceptual designs for mitigation of the primary headwater stream impacts.  Mitigation designs will vary based on the existing quality of the stream requiring mitigation, the length of impact (linear feet), and the type of mitigation options that are feasible (i.e. preservation vs. restoration).  Mitigation plans will be evaluated following a best-case scenario in terms of both costs and ecological benefits.  Preservation of a comparable or higher quality stream (i.e. environmental covenant or conservation easement) is generally the most effective option followed by stream restoration (i.e. riparian corridor enhancement or stream bank stabilization).  Locations for mitigation will first be identified on-site within the DOE reservation.  If additional mitigation sites are needed, then off-site locations will be explored within a one-mile radius of the impact site followed by a search for locations within the Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 8 Scioto River Basin.

The OU team will initiate contact with landowners and explain the opportunity for further negotiations with DOE to potentially enter into an environmental covenant or conservation easement. A right of entry will be obtained from landowners prior to conducting field work.

Existing aquatic resources (aquatic vegetation, macroinvertebrates, salamanders and bivalves) will be assessed at the six to eight ‘primary headwaters’ streams selected as potential sites for mitigation, as described above, in addition to the impacted stream.  The potentially impacted stream will be assessed twice (spring and fall) and each potential mitigation site will be assessed once.  Biological and physical habitat assessments will follow OEPA protocols for Primary headwaters assessments (HHEI and HMFEI). Salamanders will be identified to genus/species and voucher specimens collected.  Aquatic macroinvertebrates will be identified and enumerated to family level.  Cold-water taxa will be identified at species level.   A list of species ranging from tolerant to sensitive will be identified for the sites.   In addition to the species list, from the biological assessment conducted, a multi-metric score will be generated, indicating overall health of the streams.  The presence of aquatic invasive or sensitive species at the impact and proposed mitigation sites will be evaluated. The OU group will also prepare longitudinal profiles and preliminary descriptions of the hydrology (water budget) of the impact site and potential mitigation sites.  Road, USGS, WWI, NRCS county soil maps showing the location of the proposed mitigation sites relative to the impact site will be assembled. Pertinent boundaries, buffers and property easements will be identified. Photographs of all the sites (impacted and proposed mitigation sites) will be provided.

The results of this task will be presented in two forms: an early outcome in late spring/early summer 2013 and a final report in fall 2013.  The early outcome will present preliminary mitigation alternatives for headwaters streams, including potential mitigation methods, ratios and sites, and will facilitate further discussion on headwater stream mitigation planning with DOE, FBP and OEPA.  The final report will include a thorough description of the aquatic resources and classification of the impacted stream, which will establish its mitigation category (1-4), and a summary of the performance criteria for the mitigation plan.  Performance criteria will be based on hydrological function and the determination of whether the mitigation sites currently or potentially have the ability to support the desired aquatic biota (e.g. Class I, II, modified II or Class III PHWH). At least 3 best alternative mitigation plans (conceptual design and preliminary data) will be evaluated of the 6-8 possible sites for feasibility of meeting required performance criteria. The extent to which each proposed mitigated site(s) compares to the impacted area in terms of function lost and/or gained will be compared.  Final recommendations will include discussion of the overall objectives of each mitigation option, as they pertain to meeting Ohio laws, rules and best management plans.

Deliverables Parts A and B

his document will identify and characterize the means, methods and findings from Tasks 1 and 2. Both tasks will coalesce into a mitigation document with the primary objective of both minimizing wetlands and headwater streams impacts and providing a greater degree of certainty for future site uses.
The OU team will gather data needed to support and design conceptual mitigation plan options for DOE.  The OU team will not be writing or submitting regulatory documents to Ohio EPA for the 401/404 permits on behalf of DOE.  DOE can use the mitigation concepts to further inform the D&D process in accordance with EPA 401/404 regulations.

– Draft Wetlands and Headwater Streams Mitigation Conceptual Plan
– Final Wetlands and Headwater Streams Mitigation Conceptual Plan