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Federal Highway Administration Illinois Division

Illinois Categorical Exclusion

Wetland Finding

Introduction

This wetland finding is made on a program-wide basis and has been prepared for transportation improvement projects, which are classified as a categorical exclusion (CE). It satisfies the requirements of Executive Order 11990 (EO) titled “Protection of Wetlands” and U.S. Department of Transportation Order 5660.1A (DOT Order) titled “Preservation of the Nation’s Wetlands.” No individual wetland finding needs to be prepared for such projects. An individual wetland finding shall be made for each Environment Assessment (EA) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Background

EO 11990, issued on May 24, 1977, requires each agency to develop procedures for Federal actions whose impact is not significant enough to require the preparation of an EIS under Section 102 (2)(c) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as amended. The EO states that each Federal agency “shall avoid undertaking or providing assistance for new construction located in wetlands unless the head of the agency finds (1) that there is no practicable alternative to such construction, and (2) that the proposed action includes all practicable measures to minimize harm to wetlands which may result for such use.”

The EO defines “new construction” to include “draining, dredging, channelizing, filling, diking, impounding, and related activities.” This EO essentially requires a wetland finding for all Federal undertakings, which have virtually any impact to a wetland. DOT Order 5660.1A, issued on August 24, 1978 clarified “new construction” by excluding only “routine repairs and maintenance of existing facilities.”

The U.S. DOT Orders states, “In carrying out any activities (including small scale projects which do not require documentation) with a potential effect on wetlands, operating agencies should consider the following factors…” This requires U.S. DOT agencies to consider the effects on wetlands for all projects (including CE). Effects on wetlands are considered through coordination and consultation with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and with the US Fish and Wildfire Service (USWS), US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), as appropriate. The Illinois Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) evaluate wetland resources and consider practicable avoidance alternatives or options. If avoidance alternatives are not practicable, then practicable measures to minimize harm are considered and included in the project. Unavoidable impacts are mitigated.

Federal-aid applicants consider these effects through the NEPA evaluation process and further consider these effects through the wetland permitting process and any associated meetings with resource agencies (USACE, USEPA, USFWS, and IEPA). The IDOT and FHWA evaluate practicable avoidance alternatives or options. If avoidance alternatives are not practicable, then practicable measures to minimize harm are considered and included in the project.

The U.S. DOT Order requires U.S. DOT agencies to make a formal wetland finding for all EAs and EISs. This formal wetland finding will be made in the EA/Finding of No Significant Impact or Final EIS/Record of Decision.

Finding:

In accordance with Executive Order 11990, and based on the above procedures, the FHWA Illinois Division finds for all Federal-aid projects classified as a categorical exclusion with an approved USACE permit that:

  1. there will be no practicable alternative to the proposed construction in wetlands, and
  2. the proposed project will include all practicable measures to minimize harm to the involved wetlands which may result from such use.

Any Federal-aid transportation project requiring an EA or EIS shall require and individual wetland finding.

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