NAO-2023-01992 (Roanoke River Blueway Improvements, City of Roanoke, Virginia)

Published Oct. 31, 2023
Expiration date: 11/30/2023

October 31, 2023

The District Commander has received a joint permit application for Federal and State permits as described below: 

Ms. Katherine Slusher
City of Roanoke Parks and Recreation
215 Church Avenue SW, Room 303
Roanoke, VA 24011

1133 Winchester Avenue SW, Roanoke, Virginia 24016

PROJECT SIZE: 24 acres


LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE: 37.268422 N, -79.958982 W.

The proposed project would create a whitewater destination for outdoor enthusiasts that includes safe access points to the river, park amenities, and improved whitewater features to educate the community about the sport of kayaking and grow the sport at all skill levels.

The proposed Blueway improvements include eight new kayak launches, including a combination of upgrades to existing locations and new access points along a 4,500-foot section of the Roanoke River in the City of Roanoke, Virginia. Two American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) compliant access points are included in the proposal.

The trailheads would include four kayak storage areas and four information kiosks. Six white water features would be constructed and access to two existing small rapids improved to accommodate users at various skill levels to navigate kayaks, paddle boards, and inner tubes during various flow conditions.

The proposed project would result in permanent impacts to 0.12 acres of riverine wetlands and 897 feet of river bottom.

Temporary impacts to 0.22 acres of wetlands and 1,545 feet of the Roanoke River for erosion and sediment controls and construction access would be necessary to complete the project.             `

The proposed project design avoids impacts to 0.17 acres of wetlands and the remainder of the 3,535 feet of river in the project area.

The applicant is proposing to purchase 0.18 wetland credits and 538 stream credits from an approved mitigation bank for compensatory mitigation for permanent impacts to 0.12 acres of wetlands and 897 linear feet of the Roanoke River.

In addition, the applicant must obtain an Individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification or waiver from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated.

A copy of the joint permit application can be found on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s website:

(X)      Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403).
(X)      Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act (Public Law 95-217) and Title 62.1 of the Code of Virginia.
(X)      Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 408 (Section 408)).

The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. The decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits which reasonably may be expected from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All the proposal's relevant factors will be considered, including conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The Environmental Protection Agency's "Guidelines for Specification of Disposal Sites for Dredged or Fill Material" will also be applied (Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act).

The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public, federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Preliminary review of the application indicates that no EIS will be required.

Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity. Anyone may request a public hearing to consider this permit application by writing to the District Commander within 30 days of the date of this notice, stating specific reasons for holding the public hearing. The District Commander will then decide if a hearing should be held.

After conducting the Norfolk District Endangered Species Act (ESA) Project Review Process, the Corps has made the preliminary determination that: the proposed activity is likely to adversely affect the Roanoke logperch and is not likely to adversely affect the Northern long-eared bat, or Tricolored bat as the applicant would adhere to a time of year restriction on tree removal.
There may be an effect to listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the ESA of 1973. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Information and Planning and Consultation (IPaC) Official Species List and Species Conclusion Table are attached for review and comment by the FWS and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
Additional information might change any of these findings.

Historic Resources eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) are in or near the Corps permit area or would likely be affected by the proposal. The resources that may be affected include: DHR ID 128-5434, 128-6269, 44RN0243, 44RN0218.

Additional information may change any of these findings.

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-267), requires all Federal agencies to consult with the NMFS on all actions, or proposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency, that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH).

There is no EFH in the Corps area of responsibility.

For compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended for projects located in Virginia’s Coastal Zone, the applicant must certify that federally licensed or permitted activities affecting Virginia's coastal uses or resources will be conducted in a manner consistent with the Virginia’s Coastal Zone Management Program (Virginia CZM Program) and obtain concurrence from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Office of Environmental Impact Review (OEIR). It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit a consistency certification to the OEIR for concurrence or objection, and proof of concurrence must be submitted to the Corps prior to final permit issuance. A template federal consistency certification can be found in the Federal Consistency Manual here: consistency.

For more information or to obtain a list of the enforceable policies of the Virginia CZM Program, contact the DEQ-OEIR at (804) 659-1915 or e-mail:
No concurrence is required because the project is not located within Virginia’s Coastal Zone.

The Wilmington District Planning and Policy Branch has determined that the proposed activity may require permission to alter a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) project pursuant to Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 408 (Section 408)). Interested parties are hereby notified this request for permission to alter the Roanoke River Flood Risk Management Project has been received and will be evaluated by the Wilmington District. Written comments, including any objections to the proposed alteration, stating reasons, therefore, are being solicited from anyone having an interest in the requested alteration. The authority to grant permission for temporary or permanent use, occupation or alteration of any USACE civil works project is contained in Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. Section 408 authorizes the Secretary of the Army to grant permission for the alteration or occupation or use of a USACE project if the Secretary determines that the activity will not be injurious to the public interest and will not impair the usefulness of the project.

Comments specific to this Section 408 review should be submitted directly to and copied to the Regulatory contact noted in the Comment Period section below.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 Certification Rule (Certification Rule, 40 CFR 121), effective September 11, 2020, requires certification, or waiver, for any license or permit that authorizes an activity that may result in a discharge. The scope of a CWA Section 401 certification is limited to ensuring that a discharge from a Federally licensed or permitted activity will comply with water quality requirements. To comply with the Virginia Section 401 Water Quality Certification Program and the Certification Rule, the applicant is responsible for adhering to the procedures outlined in the Certification Rule when requesting certification from the certifying authority, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. In accordance with Certification Rule part 121.12, the Corps will notify the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator when it has received a Department of the Army (DA) permit application and the related certification. The Administrator is responsible for determining whether the discharge may affect water quality in a neighboring jurisdiction. The DA permit may not be issued pending the conclusion of the Administrator’s determination of effects on neighboring jurisdictions.

Comments on this project should be in writing and can be sent by either email to or by regular mail, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN: CENAO-WRR), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, VA 23510-1011, and should be received by the close of business on November 30, 2023.

Comments and information, including the identity of the submitter, submitted in response to this Public Notice may be disclosed, reproduced, and distributed at the discretion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Information that is submitted in connection with this Public Notice cannot be maintained as confidential by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Submissions should not include any information that the submitter seeks to preserve as confidential.

If you have any questions about this project or the permit process, contact Ms. Dana Heston, (540) 526-8712.