EARLY PUBLIC NOTICE OF A PROPOSED ACTIVITY WITH IMPACTS TO WETLANDS
JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, FORT EUSTIS, VIRGINIA
The United States Air Force (Air Force) is preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate impacts associated with proposed construction improvements to the Third Port facility at Joint Base Langley-Eustis – Fort Eustis (JBLE-Eustis) located in Skiffes Creek. The purpose of the proposed project is to prepare JBLE-Eustis for up to 10 new vessels that will be assigned to the Third Port in the near future. Additionally, other improvements are proposed to increase the usable waterway for the existing fleet and new vessels and to aid in training for cargo logistics and vessel operations. The need for the proposed project is to meet JBLE-Eustis mission requirements and support a new class of vessel which will be assigned to the Third Port at JBLE-Eustis in 2022. Up to 10 Maneuver Support Vessels (Light), or MSV(L)s, will be fielded at the Third Port. The new vessels will be 117 feet in length with a beam width of 28 feet 3 inches and a draft of 4 feet 5 inches and will berth along the finger piers. The new vessels will replace older vessels in the fleet resulting in no net increase in the number of vessels in the fleet. These new vessels are longer than the vessels of the existing fleet that berth in the finger pier area, and thus require improvements to be made to berthing areas and turning basins to accommodate them. Additionally, other improvements are proposed that would increase the usable waterway for the vessel fleet, including the new vessels, and aid in training for cargo logistics and vessel operations. Sediment accretion in mooring and berthing areas has restricted their use by the existing fleet, therefore requiring improvements to facilitate operations.
Construction of portions of the Proposed Action may indirectly impact adjacent wetlands and is therefore subject to the requirements and objectives of Executive Order (EO) 11990, “Protection of Wetlands.” Efforts are being made during the design phase to avoid and minimize wetland impacts. This notice is to comply with Section 2(b) of EO 11990, which requires early notice for actions that could potentially affect wetlands. The Air Force has also been in contact with state and federal regulatory agencies with special expertise regarding the Proposed Action, including the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), United States Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Two Action Alternatives are being considered. Alternative 1 includes replacing the finger piers, constructing a wave screen, constructing a stern ramp, and deepening the berthing area. The mooring field would be realigned, the mooring piles would be replaced, a riprap sill would be constructed to reduced shoreline accretion in the mooring area, and the mooring field access area would be deepened. Gangways and fendering would be added to the Landship to improve access and training operations. A bulkhead sill would be constructed at the general’s ramp to reduce shoreline accretion and slope slip failure in the maintained turning basin. Alternative 2 includes the same improvements as described in Alternative 1, except that a bulkhead sill would be constructed at the mooring field instead of a riprap sill. This alternative would reduce the amount of new work dredging required to complete the project and the area of permanently hardened subaqueous bottom. The Preferred Alternative, to be determined, would avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands to the maximum extent practicable.
On behalf of the Air Force, the USACE, Norfolk District is preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to analyze the potential environmental impacts of the Proposed Action. The public will have the opportunity to comment on the draft EA when it is released during the fall of 2021.
Please submit requests for information by email at Megan.A.Wood@usace.army.mil or by mail at Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers, Operations Branch, 803 Front St, Norfolk, VA 23510 within 30 days of this notice.