FME005529

FME005530

FME005531

COVER SHEET PRELIMINARY DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR CONSTRUCTION, MAINTENANCE, AND OPERATION OF TACTICAL INFRASTRUCTURE RIO GRANDE VALLEY SECTOR, TEXAS Responsible Agencies: U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Border Patrol (USBP). Affected Location: U.S./Mexico international border in Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron counties, Texas. Proposed Action: The Proposed Action includes the construction, maintenance, and operation of tactical infrastructure to include a primary pedestrian fence; access roads; and patrol roads along approximately 70 miles of the U.S./Mexico international border within USBP Rio Grande Valley Sector, Texas. The Proposed Action would be implemented in 21 distinct segments. Individual segments would range from approximately 1 mile to more than 13 miles in length. Report Designation: Preliminary Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Abstract: USBP proposes to construct, maintain, and operate approximately 70 miles of tactical infrastructure, including fences, access roads, and patrol roads, along the U.S./Mexico international border in Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron counties, Texas. The Proposed Action includes the installation of tactical infrastructure in 21 segments along the international border in the vicinity of Roma, Rio Grande City, McAllen, Progreso, Mercedes, Harlingen, and Brownsville, Texas. Individual segments would range from approximately 1 mile to more than 13 miles in length. For much of its length, the proposed infrastructure would follow the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) levee; however, some portions would also encroach on parcels of privately owned land. The infrastructure would cross multiple land use types, including rural, agricultural, suburban, and urban land. It might also encroach on portions of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge and Texas state parks in the Rio Grande Valley. The EIS process will serve as a planning tool to assist agencies with decisionmaking authority associated with the Proposed Action and ensure that the required public involvement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is accomplished. When completed, the EIS will present potential environmental impacts associated with the Proposed Action and provide information to assist in the decisionmaking process about whether and how to implement the Proposed Action.

FME005532

Throughout the NEPA process, the public may obtain information concerning the status and progress of the Proposed Action and the EIS via the project web site at www.BorderFenceNEPA.com, by emailing information@BorderFenceNEPA.com, or by written request to Mr. (b) (6) Environmental Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Fort Worth District, Engineering Construction Support Office (ECSO), 814 Taylor Street, Room 3A28, Fort Worth, TX 76102; and Fax: (817) 886-6404. You may submit written comments to CBP by contacting the SBInet, Tactical Infrastructure Program Office. To avoid duplication, please use only one of the following methods: (a) Electronically through the web site at: www.BorderFenceNEPA.com; (b) By email to RGVcomments@BorderFenceNEPA.com; (c) By mail to: Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS, c/o e²M, 2751 Prosperity Avenue, Suite 200, Fairfax, Virginia 22031; or (d) By fax to: (757) 282-7697. Privacy Notice Your comments on this document are requested. Comments will normally be addressed in the EIS and made available to the public. Any personal information included in comments will therefore be publicly available.

FME005533

PRELIMINARY DRAFT

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT
FOR CONSTRUCTION, MAINTENANCE, AND OPERATION OF TACTICAL INFRASTRUCTURE

RIO GRANDE VALLEY SECTOR, TEXAS

U.S. Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection U.S. Border Patrol

OCTOBER 2007

FME005534

FME005535

Preliminary Draft EIS

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
INTRODUCTION
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Border Patrol (herein referred to as USBP) proposes to construct, maintain, and operate approximately 70 miles of tactical infrastructure, including pedestrian fence, access roads, patrol roads, temporary construction staging areas, and lights along the U.S./Mexico international border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, Texas. USBP is charged with preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States and interdicting illegal drugs, illegal aliens, and those that attempt to smuggle illegal drugs or aliens into the United States. USBP has nine administrative sectors along the U.S./Mexico international border. USBP Rio Grande Valley Sector is responsible for 17,000 square miles of southeastern Texas, including the following counties: Cameron, Willacy, Hidalgo, Starr, Brooks, Kenedy, Kleberg, Nueces, San Patricio, Jim Wells, Bee, Refugio, Calhoun, Goliad, Victoria, Dewitt, Jackson, and Lavaca (CBP 2007). This Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been prepared in cooperation with additional Federal agencies and departments to comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, and such compliance shall fulfill the NEPA responsibilities of such agencies and departments related to the construction, maintenance, and operation of tactical infrastructure in USBP Rio Grande Valley Sector.

PURPOSE AND NEED
The purpose of the Proposed Action is to construct, operate, and maintain tactical infrastructure in the form of fences, roads, and supporting technological assets to increase security capabilities at the U.S./Mexico international border. The Proposed Action would assist USBP agents and officers in gaining effective control of our nation’s borders. The Proposed Action is needed to provide USBP agents with the tools necessary to strengthen their control of the U.S. borders between ports of entry (POEs). The Proposed Action will also help to deter illegal entries through improved enforcement, prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, reduce the flow of illegal drugs, and provide a safe work environment for and enhance the response time for USBP agents. In many areas fences are a critical element of border security. To achieve effective control of our nation’s borders, USBP is developing an effective combination of personnel, technology, and infrastructure; mobilizing and rapidly deploying people and resources; and fostering partnerships with other law enforcement agencies.
Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS ES-1 October 2007

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The Rio Grande Valley Sector has identified several areas along the border that experience high levels of illegal immigration and drug trafficking. These hot spots occur in areas that are, among other factors, remote and not easily accessed by USBP agents, areas near POEs where concentrated populations might live on opposing sides of the border, areas with thick vegetation that provide concealment on opposing sides of the border, or areas with quick access to U.S. transportation routes.

PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT
USBP initiated the public scoping process for this EIS on October 14, 2007, with the publication of a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS in the Federal Register. The NOI requested public comments on the scope of the EIS and provided information on how the public could submit comments by mail, facsimile, electronic mail, or through the project-specific Web site. Public comments submitted as part of the scoping process were considered during the development of the Draft EIS. Additional opportunities for public involvement will occur throughout the EIS development process.

DESCRIPTION OF PROPOSED ACTION
USBP proposes to construct, maintain, and operate tactical infrastructure consisting of pedestrian fence, patrol roads, access roads, and lights along the U.S./Mexico international border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, Texas. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 DHS Appropriations Act (Public Law [P.L.] 109-295) provided $1.2 billion for the installation of fencing, infrastructure, and technology along the border (CRS 2006).

ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS
Alternative 1: No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, the proposed tactical infrastructure would not be built and there would be no change in fencing, access roads, or other facilities along the U.S./Mexico international border in the proposed project locations within the Rio Grande Valley Sector. The No Action Alternative would not meet USBP mission or operational needs. However, inclusion of the No Action Alternative is prescribed by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations and will be carried forward for analysis in the EIS. The No Action Alternative also serves as a baseline against which to evaluate the impacts of the Proposed Action.

Alternative 2: Proposed Action
USBP proposes to construct, maintain, and operate tactical infrastructure consisting of pedestrian fences, access roads, and patrol roads along the U.S./Mexico international border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, Texas.
Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS ES-2 October 2007

FME005537

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Congress has appropriated funds for the construction of the proposed tactical infrastructure. Construction of additional tactical infrastructure might be required in the future as mission and operational requirements are continually reassessed. The proposed tactical infrastructure would be constructed in 21 distinct segments along the international border within the Rio Grande Valley Sector in Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron counties, Texas. Individual segments might range from approximately 1 mile in length to more than 13 miles in length. Two alternatives for the alignment of the infrastructure (Route Alternatives) are being considered under Alternative 2. Route A is the route initially identified by the Rio Grande Valley Sector as best meeting its operational needs. Route B would modify some of the proposed segment alignments to avoid or minimize environmental impacts. Route B was developed during the EIS scoping process through consultation with cooperating agencies to identify a route alternative with fewer potentially adverse environmental impacts than the original proposal. Therefore, Route B represents a compromise alignment that takes into account a balance between operational effectiveness of proposed tactical infrastructure and environmental quality.

Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative
The Secure Fence Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-367) authorized USBP to construct at least two layers of reinforced fencing along the U.S./Mexico international border. Two layers of fence, known as primary and secondary fence, would be constructed approximately 130 feet apart along the same route as Alternative 2, Route B. This alternative would also include construction and maintenance of access and patrol roads. The patrol roads would be constructed between the primary and secondary fences. The design of the tactical infrastructure for this alternative would be similar to that of Alternative 2.

SUMMARY OF ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
Table ES-1 provides an overview of potential impacts anticipated under each alternative considered, broken down by resource area. Section 4 of this EIS evaluates these impacts.

MITIGATION
[[Preparer’s Note: The section will be finalized once the analysis has been completed prior to the publication of the Draft EIS and will include such items as the ESA Section 7 consultation preliminary findings or results, the NHPA Section 106 results, etc.]]

Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS ES-3

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1

Table ES-1. Summary of Anticipated Environmental Impacts by Alternative
Alternative 1: No Action Alternative Alternative 2 (Route A): Proposed Action Alternative 2 (Route B): Proposed Action Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment

Resource Area

Air Quality Noise Land Use Geology and Soils Water Resources Biological Resources Cultural Resources Aesthetics and Visual Resources Socioeconomics Resources, Environmental Justice, and Safety Utilities and Infrastructure Hazardous Materials and Waste 2 3

[[Preparer’s Note: This table will be populated once the analysis is complete and will be included prior to the publication of the Draft EIS.]]

Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS ES-4

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PRELIMINARY DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT (EIS) FOR CONSTRUCTION, MAINTENANCE, AND OPERATION OF TACTICAL INFRASTRUCTURE RIO GRANDE VALLEY SECTOR, TEXAS TABLE OF CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ........................................................................................................................... ES-1 1.  INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................................1-1  1.1  1.2  1.3  1.4  1.5  1.6  1.7  2.1  2.2  USBP BACKGROUND ............................................................................................................1-3  PURPOSE AND NEED ...........................................................................................................1-3  PROPOSED ACTION .............................................................................................................1-4  FRAMEWORK FOR ANALYSIS..............................................................................................1-4  PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT .........................................................................................................1-6  COOPERATING AGENCIES ..................................................................................................1-8  ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW AND CONSULTATION REQUIREMENTS ...............................1-9  SCREENING CRITERIA FOR ALTERNATIVES .....................................................................2-1  ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS ...................................................................................................2-2  2.2.1  Alternative 1: No Action Alternative..........................................................................2-2  2.2.2  Alternative 2: Proposed Action .................................................................................2-2  2.2.3  Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative ............................................2-8  ALTERNATIVES CONSIDERED BUT ELIMINATED FROM FURTHER DETAILED ANALYSIS ............................................................................................................................2-11  2.3.2  Technology in Lieu of Tactical Infrastructure ..........................................................2-12  2.3.3  Native Thorny Scrub Hedge in Lieu of Tactical Infrastructure .................................2-12  2.3.4  Fence Within the Rio Grande ..................................................................................2-12  2.3.5  Brownsville Weir and Reservoir Project in Lieu of Tactical Infrastructure ...............2-13  2.3.6  Raising Levees in Lieu of Tactical Infrastructure.....................................................2-13  SUMMARY ............................................................................................................................2-13  IDENTIFICATION OF THE ENVIRONMENTALLY PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE ...............2-14  INTRODUCTION .....................................................................................................................3-1  AIR QUALITY ..........................................................................................................................3-2  3.2.1  Definition of the Resource .........................................................................................3-2  3.2.2  Affected Environment ................................................................................................3-5  NOISE .....................................................................................................................................3-5  3.3.1  Definition of Resource ...............................................................................................3-5  3.3.2  Affected Environment ................................................................................................3-6  LAND USE ..............................................................................................................................3-9  3.4.1  Definition of the Resource .........................................................................................3-9  3.4.2  Affected Environment ................................................................................................3-9  GEOLOGY AND SOILS ........................................................................................................3-10  3.5.1  Definition of the Resource .......................................................................................3-10  3.5.2  Affected Environment ..............................................................................................3-11 
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PROPOSED ACTION AND ALTERNATIVES ...................................................................................2-1 

2.3 

2.4  2.5  3.1  3.2  3.3  3.4  3.5 

AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT ............................................................................................................3-1 

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WATER RESOURCES ......................................................................................................... 3-14  3.6.1  Definition of the Resource ...................................................................................... 3-14  3.6.2  Affected Environment ............................................................................................. 3-16  3.7  BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES ................................................................................................ 3-19  3.7.1  Definition of the Resource ...................................................................................... 3-19  3.7.2  Affected Environment ............................................................................................. 3-21  3.8  CULTURAL RESOURCES ................................................................................................... 3-32  3.8.1  Definition of the Resource ...................................................................................... 3-32  3.8.2  Affected Environment ............................................................................................. 3-34  3.9  AESTHETICS AND VISUAL RESOURCES ......................................................................... 3-43  3.9.1  Definition of the Resource ...................................................................................... 3-43  3.9.2  Affected Environment ............................................................................................. 3-45  3.10  SOCIOECONOMIC RESOURCES, ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, AND SAFETY ............. 3-52  3.10.1  Definition of the Resource ...................................................................................... 3-52  3.10.2  Affected Environment ............................................................................................. 3-53  3.11  UTILITIES AND INFRASTRUCTURE .................................................................................. 3-70  3.11.1  Definition of the Resource ...................................................................................... 3-70  3.11.2  Affected Environment ............................................................................................. 3-71  3.12  HAZARDOUS MATERIALS AND WASTE............................................................................ 3-74  3.12.1  Definition of the Resource ...................................................................................... 3-74  3.12.2  Affected Environment ............................................................................................. 3-75  ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES............................................................................................ 4-1  4.1  4.2  INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................... 4-1  AIR QUALITY ......................................................................................................................... 4-2  4.2.1  Alternative 1: No Action Alternative ......................................................................... 4-2  4.2.2  Alternative 2: Proposed Action ................................................................................ 4-2  4.2.3  Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative ........................................... 4-4  NOISE .................................................................................................................................... 4-7  4.3.1  Alternative 1: No Action Alternative ......................................................................... 4-7  4.3.2  Alternative 2: Proposed Action ................................................................................ 4-7  4.3.3  Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative ........................................... 4-8  LAND USE.............................................................................................................................. 4-9  4.4.1  Alternative 1: No Action Alternative ......................................................................... 4-9  4.4.2  Alternative 2: Proposed Action ................................................................................ 4-9  4.4.3  Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative ......................................... 4-10  GEOLOGY AND SOILS........................................................................................................ 4-14  4.5.1  Alternative 1: No Action Alternative ....................................................................... 4-14  4.5.2  Alternative 2: Proposed Action .............................................................................. 4-15  4.5.3  Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative ......................................... 4-16  WATER RESOURCES ......................................................................................................... 4-17  4.6.1  Alternative 1: No Action Alternative ....................................................................... 4-17  4.6.2  Alternative 2: Proposed Action .............................................................................. 4-17  4.6.3  Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative ......................................... 4-19  BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES ................................................................................................ 4-20  4.7.1  Alternative 1: No Action Alternative ....................................................................... 4-20  4.7.2  Alternative 2: Proposed Action .............................................................................. 4-20  4.7.3  Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative ......................................... 4-22  CULTURAL RESOURCES ................................................................................................... 4-27  4.8.1  Alternative 1: No Action Alternative ....................................................................... 4-27  4.8.2  Alternative 2: Proposed Action .............................................................................. 4-27 
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3.6 

4.3 

4.4 

4.5 

4.6 

4.7 

4.8 

Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS

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4.9 

4.8.3  Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative ..........................................4-29  AESTHETICS AND VISUAL RESOURCES ..........................................................................4-30  4.9.1  Alternative 1: No Action Alternative........................................................................4-31  4.9.2  Alternative 2: Proposed Action ...............................................................................4-31  4.9.3  Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative ..........................................4-39  4.10  SOCIOECONOMIC RESOURCES, ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, AND SAFETY ..............4-40  4.10.1  Alternative 1: No Action Alternative........................................................................4-40  4.10.2  Alternative 2: Proposed Action ...............................................................................4-41  4.10.3  Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative ..........................................4-44  4.11  UTILITIES AND INFRASTRUCTURE ...................................................................................4-44  4.11.1  Alternative 1: No Action Alternative........................................................................4-44  4.11.2  Alternative 2: Proposed Action ...............................................................................4-44  4.11.3  Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative ..........................................4-45  4.12  HAZARDOUS MATERIALS AND WASTE ............................................................................4-46  4.12.1  Alternative 1: No Action Alternative........................................................................4-46  4.12.2  Alternative 2: Proposed Action ...............................................................................4-46  4.12.3  Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative ..........................................4-47  AIR QUALITY ........................................................................................................................5-11  NOISE ...................................................................................................................................5-11  LAND USE ............................................................................................................................5-11  GEOLOGY AND SOILS ........................................................................................................5-11  HYDROLOGY AND GROUNDWATER .................................................................................5-11  SURFACE WATERS AND WATERS OF THE U.S. ..............................................................5-11  FLOODPLAINS .....................................................................................................................5-12  VEGETATION RESOURCES ...............................................................................................5-12  WILDLIFE AND AQUATIC RESOURCES.............................................................................5-12  THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES ...................................................................5-12  CULTURAL RESOURCES ....................................................................................................5-12  AESTHETICS AND VISUAL .................................................................................................5-13  SOCIOECONOMICS.............................................................................................................5-13  ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND PROTECTION OF CHILDREN .....................................5-13  HUMAN HEALTH AND SAFETY...........................................................................................5-13  UTILITIES AND INFRASTRUCTURE ...................................................................................5-13  HAZARDOUS MATERIALS AND WASTE ............................................................................5-14  SUSTAINABILITY AND GREENING .....................................................................................5-14 

CUMULATIVE IMPACTS ..................................................................................................................5-1  5.1  5.2  5.3  5.4  5.5  5.6  5.7  5.8  5.9  5.10  5.11  5.12  5.13  5.14  5.15  5.16  5.17  5.18 

REFERENCES ..................................................................................................................................6-1  ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS ...............................................................................................7-1  LIST OF PREPARERS ......................................................................................................................8-1 

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APPENDICES
A. B. C. D. E. F. G. H. I. J. K. L. Applicable Laws and Regulations Agency Coordination – Scoping Comments on the Draft EIS Description of Tactical Infrastructure Detailed Description of Fence Segments Detailed Proposed Segment Maps Showing Land Use and Water Detailed Proposed Segment Maps Showing Soils Detailed Summary of Soils in the Proposed Project Corridor Summary of Natural Resources and Data Collection Efforts Summary of Cultural Resources Photographs of Views Towards Construction Corridor Air Emissions Calculations

FIGURES
Figure 1.0-1. General Location of the Proposed Action – Rio Grande Valley Sector, Texas ...................... 1-2  Figure 2.2-1. Locations of the Proposed Tactical Infrastructure – Upper Rio Grande Valley ...................... 2-3  Figure 2.2-2. Locations of the Proposed Tactical Infrastructure – Middle Rio Grande Valley ..................... 2-4  Figure 2.2-3. Locations of the Proposed Tactical Infrastructure – Lower Rio Grande Valley ...................... 2-5  Figure 2.2-4. Schematic of Proposed Impact Areas – Alternative 2 ............................................................ 2-9  Figure 2.2-5. Schematic of Proposed Impact Areas – Alternative 3 .......................................................... 2-10  Figure 3.3-1. Common Noise Levels ........................................................................................................... 3-7  Figure 3.9-1. Photograph View of Arroyo within Wildlife Refuge (Segment O-1) ...................................... 3-47  Figure 3.9-2. Photograph View of Typical Rural Land Unit (Segment O-17)............................................. 3-47  Figure 3.9-3. Town of Los Ebanos Photograph, Segment O-3 ................................................................. 3-48  Figure 3.9-4. Photograph View of Rio Grande City POE, Segment O-2 ................................................... 3-48  Figure 3.10-1. Total County Employment, 1980 to 2005........................................................................... 3-57  Figure 3.10-2. Per Capita Income, 1970 to 2005 (Real $2006) ................................................................ 3-62  Figure 3.10-3. Distribution of Farm Income by Type, 2005 ....................................................................... 3-64  Figure 4.9-1. Typical Views towards Proposed Construction Corridor, Showing How the Park/Refuge Land Unit would Appear with a Fence and Patrol Road ......................................... 4-36  Figure 4.9-2. Typical Views towards Proposed Construction Corridor, Showing How the Rural Land Unit would Appear with a Fence and Patrol Road .............................................................. 4-36  Figure 4.9-3. Typical Views towards Proposed Construction Corridor, Showing How the Town/Suburban Land Unit would Appear with a Fence and Patrol Road .................................... 4-37  Figure 4.9-4. Typical Views towards Proposed Construction Corridor, Showing How the Urban/Industrial Land Unit would Appear with a Fence and Patrol Road .................................... 4-37 

TABLES
Table ES-1. Table 1.7-1. Table 2.2-1. Table 3.2-1. Table 3.3-1. Table 3.7-1. Table 3.7-2. Summary of Anticipated Environmental Impacts by Alternative ..................................................4  Major Permits, Approvals, and Consultations ......................................................................... 1-9  Proposed Fence Segments for USBP Rio Grande Valley Sector ........................................... 2-6  National Ambient Air Quality Standards .................................................................................. 3-3  Predicted Noise Levels for Construction Equipment ............................................................... 3-8  Ecological Systems Present in Each Proposed Fence Segment .......................................... 3-23  Common Wildlife Species Observed in the Rio Grande Valley Sector ................................. 3-26 
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Table 3.7-3. Federal and State Threatened and Endangered Species in Texas, by County .....................3-29  Table 3.9-1. Character of Visual Resources within Typical Rio Grande Valley Land Units (Current Conditions) ...................................................................................................................................3-50  Table 3.9-2. Quality of Visual Resources within Typical Rio Grande Valley Land Units (Current Conditions) ...................................................................................................................................3-51  Table 3.10-1. State and County Population Trends Comparison in the ROI 1980 to 2006........................3-54  Table 3.10-2: County Population Trends, 2000 to 2020 ............................................................................3-54  Table 3.10-3. Racial and Ethnic Characteristics in the ROI 2000 to 2006 .................................................3-56  Table 3.10-4. Employment by Industrial Sector in the ROI, 2005 ..............................................................3-59  Table 3.10-5. State and ROI Labor Force and Unemployment Rate Averages .........................................3-62  Table 3.10-6. Poverty Rates and Median Income......................................................................................3-63  Table 3.10-7. Characteristics of Local Agriculture, 2002 ...........................................................................3-65  Table 3.10-8. Ethnic and Racial Distribution by county and School District in the ROI..............................3-66  Table 3.10-9. Law Enforcement Agencies and Personnel in the ROI ........................................................3-67  Table 3.10-10. Racial and Ethnic Population Composition in Geographic Comparison Areas ..................3-68  Table 3.10-11. Census Tract Detail of Demographic Characteristics Relevant to Environmental Justice ..........................................................................................................................................3-70  Table 3.11-1. Water Intake and Outfall Pipes Within the Impact Corridor by Fence Segment ..................3-72  Table 3.11-2. Remaining Capacity of Municipal Landfills as of 2005.........................................................3-73  Table 3.11-3. Location of Utility Infrastructure Within the Impact Corridor by Fence Segment..................3-73  Table 4.2-1. Estimates of Total Proposed Construction Emissions from the Proposed Action ....................4-3  Table 4.2-2. Estimates of Total Proposed Construction Emissions from Alternative 3 ................................4-6  Table 4.3-1. Estimated Noise from Proposed Construction Activities ...........................................................4-8  Table 4-4.1. Land Uses that Intersect Alternative 2 Routes A and B and Alternative 3 .............................4-11  Table 4.4-2. Communities Affected by Alternative 2 and Alternative 3 ......................................................4-14  Table 4.9-1. Character of Visual Resources within Typical Rio Grande Valley Land Units (Alternative 2, Route B) ................................................................................................................4-34  Table 5.0-1. Reasonably Foreseeable Future Actions by Proposed Fence Segments for the Rio Grande Valley Sector .....................................................................................................................5-3  Table 5.0-2. Summary of Potential Cumulative Effects................................................................................5-7 

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1. INTRODUCTION
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Border Patrol (herein referred to as USBP) proposes to construct, maintain, and operate approximately 70 miles of tactical infrastructure, including hybrid (pedestrian fence with vehicle barriers) and pedestrian fences, access roads, and patrol roads along the U.S./Mexico international border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, Texas. The Proposed Action includes the installation of tactical infrastructure in 21 segments (designated O-1 through O-21) along the international border with Mexico in the vicinity of Roma, Rio Grande City, McAllen, Progreso, Mercedes, Harlingen, and Brownsville, Texas (see Figure 1.0-1). Portions of the 21 segments would be contiguous while other segments would be separate. Detailed descriptions of the segments are presented in Section 2.2.2. Individual segments would range from approximately 1 mile to more than 13 miles in length. For much of its length, the proposed tactical infrastructure would follow the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) levee. The IBWC applies the boundary and water treaties of the United States and Mexico and settles differences that arise in their application (IBWC 2007). Some portions of the tactical infrastructure would also encroach on privately owned land parcels and would cross multiple land use types, including rural, agricultural, suburban, and urban land. It might also encroach on portions of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge (LRGVNWR) and Texas state parks in the Rio Grande Valley. A detailed description of the Proposed Action and the alternatives considered is presented in Section 2. This Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is divided into seven sections plus appendices. Section 1 provides background information on USBP missions, identifies the purpose of and need for the Proposed Action, describes the area in which the Proposed Action would occur, and explains the public involvement process. Section 2 provides a detailed description of the Proposed Action, alternatives considered, and the No Action Alternative. Section 3 describes existing environmental conditions in the areas where the Proposed Action would occur. Section 4 identifies potential environmental impacts that could occur within each resource area under the alternatives evaluated in detail. Section 5 discusses potential cumulative impacts and other impacts that might result from implementation of the Proposed Action, combined with foreseeable future actions. Sections 6 and 7 provide a list of preparers and references for the EIS, respectively. Appendix A contains a listing of those laws, regulations, and executive orders potentially applicable to the Proposed Action. Appendix B presents material related to the scoping process and public involvement. Appendix C presents materials related to the draft EIS comment process and public involvement.

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2 3

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U N I T E D
Linn

S T A T E S

Gulf of Mexico

Te x as
Roma Rio Grande City
O-2

56

O-1

R i
G

o

107

e r and
O-3 O-4

83 McAllen Mission 433 Alamo Weslaco Mercedes Progreso
O-5

Harlingen

Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS
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O-6
O-7
O-8 O-10

Figure 1.0-1. General Location of the Proposed Action – Rio Grande Valley Sector, Texas
77
O-9

1-2
O-11 O-12

100 Brownsville

O-13

O-15

Texas
Corpus Christi
O-14 O-16
O-17

O-18

O-19 O-20

O-21

Gulf of Mexico

M E X I C O

Proposed Rio Grande Valley Sector Fence Segments
O-2 Fence Segment Label

MEXICO
Rio Grande Valley Sector

Miles 0 5 10 Scale 20
Projection: A bers USA Contiguous Albers Equal Area Conic North American Datum of 1983

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Appendix D provides potential fence designs and a description of the proposed tactical infrastructure. Appendix E contains a detailed description of proposed fence segments. Appendix F contains detailed parcel maps of each of the 21 proposed tactical infrastructure segment alignments. Appendix G contains detailed soil maps of each of the 21 proposed tactical infrastructure segment alignments. Appendix H contains a detailed summary of soils in the proposed project corridor. Appendix I contains results of biological surveys to support the impact analysis. Appendix J contains cultural resource surveys to support the impact analysis. Appendix K presents air emissions calculations.

1.1

USBP BACKGROUND

USBP has multiple missions, including the following: • • • Prevention of terrorists and terrorist weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, from entering the United States Interdiction of illegal drugs and those who attempt to smuggle them into the United States Interdiction of illegal aliens and those who attempt to smuggle them into the United States (CBP 2006).

USBP’s new and traditional missions, both of which are referred to above, are complementary. USBP has nine administrative sectors along the U.S./Mexico international border. The Rio Grande Valley Sector is responsible for 17,000 square miles of land in southeastern Texas, including the following counties: Cameron, Willacy, Hidalgo, Starr, Brooks, Kenedy, Kleberg, Nueces, San Patricio, Jim Wells, Bee, Refugio, Calhoun, Goliad, Victoria, Dewitt, Jackson, and Lavaca (CBP 2007). The areas affected by the Proposed Action include Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron counties, Texas, within the Rio Grande Valley Sector.

1.2

PURPOSE AND NEED

The purpose of the Proposed Action is to construct, maintain, and operate tactical infrastructure in the form of fences, roads, lights, and supporting technological assets to increase security capabilities at the U.S. /Mexico international border. The Proposed Action would assist USBP agents and officers in gaining effective control of our nation’s borders. The Proposed Action is needed to provide USBP agents with the ability to enhance security capabilities by providing the tools necessary to strengthen their control of the U.S. border. This is especially important between ports of entry (POEs). The Proposed Action will also help to deter illegal entries, prevent terrorists, and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, reduce the flow
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of illegal drugs, and provide a safer work environment for and enhance the response time of USBP agents. In many areas, fences are a critical element of border security. To achieve effective control of our nation’s borders, USBP is developing an effective combination of personnel, technology, and infrastructure; mobilizing and rapidly deploying people and resources; and fostering partnerships with other law enforcement agencies. In the Rio Grande Valley Sector, barrier fencing exists along the U.S./Mexico international border only in a few local areas near the POEs. In the Rio Grande Valley Sector, the Rio Grande forms a natural border between the United States and Mexico. Although it is a logical geographic demarcation between the two countries, the Rio Grande provides little deterrence and is easily crossed by those seeking to gain illegal entry into the United States from Mexico. USBP Rio Grande Valley Sector has identified several areas along the border that experience high levels of illegal immigration and drug trafficking. These areas are, among other factors, remote and not easily accessed by USBP agents, near the POEs where concentrated populations might live on opposite sides of the border, or have quick access to U.S. transportation routes. Based on operational challenges in these areas, USBP needs to construct, maintain, and operate the proposed tactical infrastructure to gain the required effective control of our nation’s borders.

1.3

PROPOSED ACTION

USBP proposes to construct, maintain, and operate tactical infrastructure consisting of pedestrian, aesthetic, or hybrid fence; access roads; and patrol roads along the U.S./Mexico international border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, Texas. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 DHS Appropriations Act (Public Law [P.L.] 109-295) provided $1.2 billion for the installation of fencing, infrastructure, and technology along the border (CRS 2006). Figure 1.0-1 illustrates the location of the proposed tactical infrastructure within the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Details of the Proposed Action are included in Section 2.2.2.

1.4

FRAMEWORK FOR ANALYSIS

There are both Federal and state statutes that require comprehensive evaluation of major government actions that could affect the natural and/or human environment. Both are structured to ensure that the public is afforded opportunities to participate in the evaluations so that that all points of view are considered and possible alternatives to the action proposed by the agency are identified. These Federal and state statutes are described below to establish a framework for the development of this document.

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The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a Federal statute requiring the identification and analysis of potential environmental impacts of proposed Federal actions before those actions are taken. NEPA also established the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which is charged with the development of implementing regulations and ensuring agency compliance with NEPA. CEQ regulations mandate that all Federal agencies use a systematic interdisciplinary approach to environmental planning and the evaluation of actions that might affect the environment. This process evaluates potential environmental consequences associated with a proposed action and considers alternative courses of action. The intent of NEPA is to protect, restore, or enhance the environment through well-informed Federal decisions. The process for implementing NEPA is codified in 40 CFR 1500–1508, Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, and DHS’s Management Directive (MD) 5100.1, Environmental Planning Program. The CEQ was established under NEPA to implement and oversee Federal policy in this process. An EIS is prepared when a proposed action is anticipated to have potential “significant” environmental impacts, or a proposed action is environmentally controversial. An EIS generally presents separate chapters specifically tailored to address the following: • • • • • The need for the Proposed Action Reasonable alternatives to the Proposed Action The affected environment The nature and extent of environmental impacts associated with the Proposed Action and alternatives (including the No Action Alternative) A listing of agencies and persons contacted during the EIS preparation process and public involvement efforts.

To comply with NEPA, the planning and decisionmaking process for actions proposed by Federal agencies involves a study of other relevant environmental statutes and regulations. The NEPA process, however, does not replace procedural or substantive requirements of other environmental statutes and regulations. It addresses them collectively in the form of an Environmental Assessment (EA) or EIS, which enables the decisionmaker to have a comprehensive view of major environmental issues and requirements associated with the Proposed Action. According to CEQ regulations, the requirements of NEPA must be integrated “with other planning and environmental review procedures required by law or by agency so that all such procedures run concurrently rather than consecutively.” Within the framework of environmental impact analysis under NEPA, additional authorities that can also be considered include the Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean
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Water Act (CWA) (including a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System [NPDES] storm water discharge permit), Noise Control Act, Endangered Species Act (ESA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Archaeological Resources Protection Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, and various Executive Orders (EOs). A summary of additional laws, regulations, and EOs that might be applicable to the Proposed Action are shown in Appendix A.

1.5

PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT

Agency and public involvement in the NEPA process promotes open communication between the public and the government and enhances the decisionmaking process. All persons or organizations having a potential interest in the Proposed Action are encouraged to participate in the decisionmaking process. NEPA and implementing regulations from the CEQ and DHS direct agencies to make their EISs available to the public during the decisionmaking process and prior to decisions on what actions are to be taken. The premise of NEPA is that the quality of Federal decisions will be enhanced if proponents provide information to the public and involve the public in the planning process. Public scoping activities for this EIS were initiated on September 24, 2007, when a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare this EIS was published in the Federal Register (72 FR 184, pp. 54276-77, see Appendix B). Besides providing a brief description of the Proposed Action and announcing USBP’s intent to prepare this EIS, the NOI also established a 20-day public scoping period. The purpose of the scoping process was to solicit public comment regarding the range of issues, including potential impacts and alternatives that should be addressed in the EIS. Public comments received during the public scoping period are taken into consideration as part of the preparation of the Draft EIS (see Appendix C). In addition to the NOI published in the Federal Register, newspaper notices coinciding with the NOI were published in The Monitor, The Brownsville Herald, and The Valley Morning Star on September 24 and 30, 2007. The notice was also published in Spanish in La Frontera and El Nuevo Heraldo on September 28, 2007. Copies of the newspaper notices are included in Appendix B. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) will publish a Notice of Availability (NOA) for this Draft EIS in the Federal Register. The purpose of the USEPA NOA is to announce to the public the availability of this Draft EIS, and to begin a 45-day public comment period. In addition to the USEPA NOA, USBP will simultaneously publish a separate NOA in the Federal Register announcing the dates, times, and places for public informational meetings and to request comments on the Draft EIS. All comments received will be taken into consideration in development of and included in Appendix C of the Final EIS. Upon completion, USBP will make the Final EIS available to the public for 30
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days. At the conclusion of the 30-day period, a Record of Decision (ROD) regarding the Proposed Action will be signed and published in the Federal Register. Through the public involvement process, USBP also notified relevant Federal, state, and local agencies of the Proposed Action and requested input about environmental concerns they might have regarding the Proposed Action. The public involvement process provides USBP with the opportunity to cooperate with and consider state and local views in its decision regarding implementing this Federal proposal. As part of the EIS process, USBP has coordinated with the USEPA; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS); Texas State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO); and other Federal, state, and local agencies (see Appendix B). Input from agency responses has been incorporated into the analysis of potential environmental impacts. This Draft EIS also serves as a public notice regarding floodplain involvement. EO 11988 directs Federal agencies to avoid floodplains unless the agency determines that there is no practicable alternative. Where the only practicable alternative is to site in a floodplain, a specific step-by-step process must be followed to comply with EO 11988. This “eight-step” process is detailed in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) document “Further Advice on EO 11988 Floodplain Management.” The eight steps in floodplain compliance are as follows: 1. Determine whether the action will occur in, or stimulate development in, a floodplain. 2. Receive public review/input of the Proposed Action. 3. Identify and evaluate practicable alternatives to locating in the floodplain. 4. Identify the impacts of the Proposed Action (when it occurs in a floodplain). 5. Minimize threats to life, property, and natural and beneficial floodplain values, and restore and preserve natural and beneficial floodplain values. 6. Reevaluate alternatives in light of any new information that might have become available. 7. Issue findings and a public explanation. 8. Implement the action. Steps 1, 3, and 4 have been undertaken as part of this Draft EIS and are further discussed in Section 3.6 and 4.6. Steps 2 and 6 through 8 are being conducted simultaneously with the EIS development process, including public review of the Draft EIS. Step 5 relates to mitigation and is currently undergoing development. Anyone wishing to provide written comments, suggestions, or relevant information regarding the Proposed Action may do so by submitting comments to
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USBP by contacting SBInet, Tactical Infrastructure Program Office. To avoid duplication, please use only one of the following methods: a. Electronically through the web site at www.BorderFenceNEPA.com; b. By email to RGVcomments@BorderFenceNEPA.com; c. By mail to: Rio: Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS, c/o e²M, 2751 Prosperity Avenue, Suite 200, Fairfax, Virginia 22031; or. d. By fax to 757-282-7697. Throughout the NEPA process, the public may obtain information concerning the status and progress of the EIS via the project web site at www.BorderFenceNEPA.com, by emailing information@BorderFenceNEPA.com, or by written request to Mr. Charles McGregor, Environmental Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Fort Worth District, Engineering Construction Support Office (ECSO), 814 Taylor Street, Room 3A28, Fort Worth, TX 76102; and Fax: (817) 886-6404.

1.6

COOPERATING AGENCIES

As cooperating agencies, the USACE-Galveston District, the USFWS, and the IBWC also have decisionmaking authority for components of the Proposed Action and intend for this EIS to fulfill their requirements for compliance with NEPA. The CEQ regulations implementing NEPA instruct agencies to combine environmental documents to reduce duplication and paperwork (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 1506.4). The USACE-Galveston District will act on applications for Department of the Army permits pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 United States Code [U.S.C.] 403), and Section 404 of the CWA (33 U.S.C. 1344). In a _date to be inserted here_ letter, the USACE-Galveston District identified the Proposed Action as the alternative for placement of assets with the least potential for environmental damage. Section 7 of the ESA (P.L. 93-205, December 28, 1973) states that any project authorized, funded, or conducted by any Federal agency should not “…jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of habitat of such species which is determined … to be critical.” The USFWS is a cooperating agency regarding this Proposed Action to determine whether any federally listed, proposed endangered, or proposed threatened species or their designated critical habitats would be adversely impacted by the Proposed Action. As a cooperating agency, the USFWS will assist in completing the Section 7 consultation process, identifying the nature and extent of potential effects, and developing measures that would avoid or reduce potential effects on any species of concern. The USFWS will issue the Biological Opinion (BO) of the potential for jeopardy. If the USFWS determines that the project is not likely to jeopardize
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any listed species, it can also issue an incidental take statement as an exception to the prohibitions in Section 9 of the ESA. In addition, the Proposed Action would encroach on multiple component parcels of the LRGVNWR. In order to proceed with geotechnical studies, and natural and cultural resources surveys prior to fence and road construction on LRGVNWR areas, the USFWS would need to issue special use permits for the proposed studies and surveys to commence. For much of the proposed segments, the tactical infrastructure would follow the levee rights-of-way (ROWs) administered by the IBWC. The IBWC is an international body composed of a U.S. Section and a Mexican Section, each headed by an Engineer-Commissioner appointed by their respective president. Each Section is administered independently of the other. The U.S. Section of the IBWC is a Federal government agency headquartered in El Paso, Texas, and operates under the foreign policy guidance of the Department of State (IBWC 2007). The U.S. Section of the IBWC will provide access and ROWs to construct proposed tactical infrastructure along its levee system within the Rio Grande Valley Sector. It will also ensure that design and placement of the proposed tactical infrastructure does not impact flood control and does not violate treaty obligations between the United States and Mexico. [[Preparer’s Note: Information on additional cooperating agencies (if any) will be incorporated when that information becomes available.]]

1.7

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW AND CONSULTATION REQUIREMENTS
Table 1.7-1. Major Permits, Approvals, and Consultations
Agency Permit/Approval/Consultation Section 7 (ESA) consultation Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) coordination Special Use Permits for access to National Wildlife Refuge areas CWA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit CWA Section 404 Clean Water Act Section 401State Water Quality Certification CZMA Consistency Determination Texas Endangered Species Act coordination NHPA Section 106 consultation Consultation regarding potential effects on cultural resources NHPA Section 106 consultation
October 2007 1-9

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Texas General Land Office (TxGLO) Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Texas Historical Commission Federally recognized American Indian Tribes Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

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2. PROPOSED ACTION AND ALTERNATIVES
This section provides detailed information on USBP’s proposal to construct, maintain, and operate tactical infrastructure along the U.S./Mexico international border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, Texas. The range of reasonable alternatives considered in this EIS is constrained by those that meet the purpose and need to provide USBP agents with the tools necessary to achieve effective control of the border. Such alternatives must also meet essential technical, engineering, and economic threshold requirements to ensure that each is environmentally sound, economically viable, and complies with governing standards and regulations.

2.1

SCREENING CRITERIA FOR ALTERNATIVES

The following screening criteria were used to develop the Proposed Action and evaluate potential alternatives. • USBP Operational Requirements. Pedestrian border fencing must support USBP mission needs to hinder or delay individuals crossing the border. Once individuals have entered an urban area or suburban neighborhood, it is much more difficult for USBP agents to identify and apprehend suspects engaged in unlawful border entry. In addition, around populated areas it is relatively easy for illegal border crossers to find transportation into the interior of the United States. USBP undertook a detailed screening process to develop a optimum combination of tactical infrastructure to include fence, technology, and other resources that would best meet its operational needs. Threatened or Endangered Species and Critical Habitat. The construction, maintenance, and operation of the proposed tactical infrastructure would be designed to minimize adverse impacts on threatened or endangered species and their critical habitat to the maximum extent practicable. USBP is working with the USFWS as a cooperating agency to identify potential conservation and mitigation measures. Wetlands and Floodplains. The construction, maintenance, and operation of the proposed tactical infrastructure would be designed to minimize impacts on wetlands, surface waters, and floodplain resources to the maximum extent practical. USBP is working with the USACE-Galveston District and IBWC as cooperating agencies to minimize wetland and floodplain impacts. Cultural and Historic Resources. The construction, maintenance, and operation of the proposed tactical infrastructure would be designed to minimize impacts on cultural and historic resources to the maximum

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extent practical. USBP is working with the Texas SHPO to identify potential conservation and mitigation measures. • Suitable Landscape. Some areas of the border have steep topography, highly erodible soils, unstable geology, or have other characteristics that could compromise the integrity of fence or other tactical infrastructure. For example, in areas susceptible to flash flooding, fence and other tactical infrastructure might be prone to erosion that could undermine the fence’s integrity. Areas with suitable landscape conditions would be prioritized.

Section 2.2.1 presents the No Action Alternative. Section 2.2.2 provides specific details of the Proposed Action, Section 2.2.3 discusses the Secure Fence Act Alternative, and Section 2.3 discusses alternatives considered but not analyzed in detail.

2.2
2.2.1

ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS
Alternative 1: No Action Alternative

Under the No Action Alternative, proposed tactical infrastructure would not be built and there would be no change in fencing, access roads, or other facilities along the U.S./Mexico international border in the proposed project locations within the Rio Grande Valley Sector. The No Action Alternative would not meet USBP mission needs and does not address the Congressional mandates for gaining effective control of our borders. However, inclusion of the No Action Alternative is prescribed by the CEQ regulations and will be carried forward for analysis in the EIS. The No Action Alternative also serves as a baseline against which to evaluate the impacts of the Proposed Action.

2.2.2

Alternative 2: Proposed Action

USBP proposes to construct, maintain, and operate tactical infrastructure consisting of pedestrian and hybrid fence; access roads; and patrol roads along the U.S./Mexico international border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, Texas. Congress has appropriated funds for the construction of the proposed tactical infrastructure. Construction of additional tactical infrastructure might be required in the future as mission and operational requirements are continually reassessed. The proposed tactical infrastructure would be constructed in 21 distinct segments along the border within the Rio Grande Valley Sector in Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron counties, Texas. Individual segments might range from approximately 1 mile in length to more than 13 miles in length. These 21 segments of pedestrian fence are designated as Segments O-1 through O-21 on Figures 2.2-1 through 2.2-3. Table 2.2-1 presents general information for each of the 21 proposed segments.

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024301

950101

950202 950201

Fronton North Escobares Garceno Roma
950702

Los Villareales
950102 950103

950701

TEXAS
Sta rr Co un alg ty oC ou nt y

Escobares La Rosita Los Alvarez

O-1

950600

Rio Grande City
950500 950400

Las Lomas La Puerta Santa Cruz El Refugio

MEXICO
O-2

La Victoria
83

La CasitaGarciasville

Hid

024201

Alto Bonito
024102

G ra

n

Texas

Corpus Christi

La Grulla Cuevitas

Sullivan City

024103

Route A Proposed Fence Segments Route B Proposed Fence Segments Route A/B Overlap Construction Staging Areas Census Tracts ##### Census Tract Number
O-2

Nuevo Laredo

Rio

Monterrey

de

Laredo

Los Ebanos Havana

o R i

024202

Gulf of Mexico

Gr

La Joya

ande

Penitas

AbramPerezville

O-3

MEXICO
O-4 Rio Grande Valley Sector 4

Fence Segment Label Miles

0

1

2 Scale

Map Projection: Albers USA Contiguous Albers Equal Area Conic North American Datum of 1983

Source: ESRI StreetMap 2007

Figure 2.2-1. Locations of the Proposed Tactical Infrastructure – Upper Rio Grande Valley

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West Sharyland
024104

Laguna Seca
023505

024103

Tierra Bonita
023902

La Homa

Palmhurst

Edinburg

024106

020701

023800

Nurillo

Muniz

023508 024402 024500 024600

020801 020901

Lopezville

Santa Rosa
107

020721 020202

Grand Acres

021700

021801

Mission
020724 020723

North Alamo
021000

021901 022501 022101 022201 022400

Mila Doce Indian Hills

McAllen
020401 020501 021100 020600

Pharr
021600 021802

Cameron County

Hidalgo County

Palmview South

020203 020300 020722

020802

020902

TEXAS

Olivarez

010300

Ratamosa

021201 020100 020502 020402 336

021401

021500

San Juan

Alamo 021902

Midway North

023101

023102

Heidelberg
022502

La Feria North Solis
011901

021402

022001 022002

Donna
83 022600

020503

021202

South Alamo
115

Midway South

Weslaco
022701 022300 022900

La Feria Mercedes
023000

Granjeno

021302

022102

Bixby

011902

Scissors

Villa Verde
022202

Llano Grande
022702

Arroyo Alto

021301

Hidalgo

012000 021303 022800

Progreso
011903

O-5

Relampago Santa Maria Progreso Lakes BluetownIglesia Antigua

281

O-6
ran Rio G de

Texas
Gra

Corpus Christi

O-7

O-9

O-10

Nuevo Laredo Laredo

Monterrey

Source: ESRI StreetMap 2007

Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 2-4

Rio

O-11 Route A Proposed Fence Segments Route B Proposed Fence Segments Route A/B Overlap

nd
e

O-8

Gulf of Mexico

MEXICO

Construction Staging Areas Census Tracts ##### Census Tract Number

MEXICO

Rio Grande Valley Sector 0

O-2

Fence Segment Label Miles 1 2 Scale 4

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Figure 2.2-2. Locations of the Proposed Tactical Infrastructure – Middle Rio Grande Valley

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011802 011901 011902 011700 011500 011400

011600

San Benito
012000

Green Valley Farms

012200 Laureles

012301

Bayview Laguna Vista

Rangerville
011903 012100

BluetownIglesia Antigua
012505 77 012401

Los Fresnos
012402 100

Los Indios
281

TEXAS
EncantadaRanchito El Calaboz Rancho Viejo
012506 012303 012403

O-11

O-12 O-13 O-14 O-15 O-16
R io G ra n d e
San Pedro
012507

Olmito

012604 012508

012605 012612 012609 012606 012504 012613 012610 012608 012700 012607

O-17
012900 013002 013003 013004 013600 013500 013700 014002 013801

012611 013104 013102

013203 013206 013207

012800

013106

Texas
Gr a

Corpus Christi

O-18

Brownsville
013401 013402 013901

013303 013205 013204 013304 013208

Nuevo Laredo Laredo

Source: ESRI StreetMap USA 2007

Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 2-5

R
io

Monterrey

e nd

O-19 Gulf of Mexico

014001

013802 013902

013903 013305 013306 013307 013308 013309

Route A Proposed Fence Segments Route B Proposed Fence Segments Route A/B Overlap
014100

MEXICO
O-19 O-20

South Point

Construction Staging Areas Census Tracts ##### Census Tract Number
O-2

MEXICO

Rio Grande Valley Sector

Fence Segment Label Miles 1 2 Scale 4

0 O-21

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Figure 2.2-3. Locations of the Proposed Tactical Infrastructure – Lower Rio Grande Valley

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Table 2.2-1. Proposed Fence Segments for USBP Rio Grande Valley Sector
Fence Segment Number O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6 O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10 O-11 O-12 O-13 O-14 O-15 O-16 O-17 O-18 O-19 O-20 O-21 Border Patrol Station Rio Grande City Rio Grande City McAllen McAllen McAllen McAllen Weslaco Weslaco Weslaco Weslaco Harlingen Harlingen Harlingen Harlingen Harlingen Harlingen Brownsville Brownsville Brownsville Brownsville Fort Brown General Location Near Roma Port of Entry Near RGC Port of Entry Los Ebanos Port of Entry From Penitas to Abram Future Anzalduas Port of Entry Hidalgo Port of Entry Proposed Donna Port of Entry Retamal Dam West Progreso Port of Entry East Progreso Port of Entry Joe's Bar-Nemo Road Weaver's Mountain W Los Indios Port of Entry E Los Indios Port of Entry Triangle - La Paloma Ho Chi Minh - Estero Proposed Carmen Road Freight Train Bridge Proposed Flor De Mayo POE to Garden Park B&M Port of Entry to Los Tomates Los Tomates to Veterans International Bridge Veterans International Bridge to Sea Shell Inn Total

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

If approved, the final design would be developed by a design/build contractor overseen by the USACE. However, design criteria that have been established based on USBP operational needs require that, at a minimum, any fencing must meet the following requirements: • • 15 feet high and extend below ground Capable of withstanding a crash of a 10,000-pound (gross weight) vehicle traveling at 40 miles per hour
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• • • • • •

Capable of withstanding vandalism, cutting, or various types of penetration Semi-transparent, as dictated by operational need Designed to survive extreme climate changes Designed to reduce or minimize impacts on small animal movements Not impede the natural flow of surface water Aesthetically pleasing to the extent possible.

Typical pedestrian fence designs that could be used are included in Appendix E. There are two alternatives for alignment of the infrastructure (Route Alternatives) being considered under the Proposed Action. Route A is the route initially identified by the Rio Grande Valley Sector as best meeting its operational needs. Route B would modify the alignment to avoid or minimize environmental impacts. Route B was developed during the EIS development process through consultation with cooperating agencies to identify a route alternative with fewer potentially adverse environmental impacts. Therefore, Route B represents a compromise alignment that takes into account a balance between operational effectiveness of proposed tactical infrastructure and environmental quality. Differences between Route A and B are shown in Figures 2-1, 2-2, and 2-3 and presented in detail in Appendix D. [[Preparer’s Note: More details on Route A and B alignment differences will be developed for Figures 2-1, 2-2, and 2-3 once they are available to USBP.]] Routes A and B would follow the IBWC levee system for the majority of their length. In most cases, the proposed segment alignments along the IBWC levee would be placed approximately 30 feet from the toe of the levee (i.e., lowest point of the base of the structure facing away from the Rio Grande). This configuration would allow the proposed infrastructure to be placed in an existing ROW without disturbing current IBWC operations or USBP patrol roads. However, several proposed locations along the levee ROW would require the relocation of private residences or other structures that encroach on the levee ROW. [[Preparer’s Note: Information on segments and parcels (number of parcels and acres) where the Government proposes to acquire land is requested.]] Under both Route Alternatives, the tactical infrastructure within several of the 21 segments would also encroach on multiple privately owned land parcels. Some proposed fence segments could also encroach on portions of the LRGVNWR and Texas state parks in the Rio Grande Valley. The proposed tactical infrastructure would impact an approximate 60-foot-wide corridor along each fence segment. This corridor would include fences, access roads, patrol roads, and construction staging areas. Vegetation would be cleared
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and grading would occur where needed. The area impacted after construction within the 21 segments where the construction staging areas are located (both route alternatives) would total approximately 508 acres. Wherever possible, existing roads would be used for construction access. Figure 2.2-4 shows a typical schematic of impact areas for tactical infrastructure for both route alternatives. Construction of the proposed tactical infrastructure would require minor adjustments in USBP operations in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. [[Preparer’s Note: Input on potential changes in operations due to the new tactical infrastructure, if releasable and reasonably foreseeable maintenance issues with the fence and patrol road are requested.]] USBP is working closely with local landowners and others potentially affected by the proposed infrastructure. For both Route Alternatives, gates would be constructed to allow USBP and landowners access to land, the Rio Grande, and water resources, and infrastructure. The Proposed Action would include the construction of approximately 90 secure access gates. In agricultural areas, gates would be wide enough to allow access for necessary farming equipment. In other cases, gates would be situated to provide access to existing recreational amenities; water resources, including pump houses and related infrastructure; grazing areas; existing parks; and other areas. On a case-by-case basis, the USACE might purchase the land between the fence and the Rio Grande. If approved, construction of the proposed tactical infrastructure would begin in Spring 2008 and continue through December 31, 2008. To the extent that additional actions are known, they are discussed in Section 5, Cumulative Impacts, of this EIS. Both Routes A and B under Alternative 2 are viable and will be evaluated in the EIS.

2.2.3

Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-367) authorized the construction of at least two layers of reinforced fencing along the U.S./Mexico international border. Two layers of fence, known as primary and secondary fence, would be constructed approximately 130 feet apart along the same route as Alternative 2, Route B. This alternative would also include construction and maintenance of access and patrol roads. The patrol road would be between the primary and secondary fences. Figure 2.2-5 shows a typical schematic of permanent and temporary impact areas for this alternative. The design of the tactical infrastructure for this alternative would be similar to that of Alternative 2.

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NOT TO SCALE

±

57'

PERMANENT IMPACT AREA

PATROL ROAD

PEDESTRIAN FENCE

60' ROOSEVELT RESERVATION

United States

3'
October 2007
Mexico

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Figure 2.2-4. Schematic of Proposed Impact Areas – Alternative 2
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NOT TO SCALE

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150’ PERMANENT IMPACT AREA

PATROL ROAD

PRIMARY FENCE
United States

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Figure 2.2-5. Schematic of Proposed Impact Areas – Alternative 3
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Construction of the proposed tactical infrastructure would impact an approximate 150-foot wide corridor for 70 miles along the 21 fence segments. This construction corridor would accommodate access roads and construction staging areas. Vegetation would be cleared and grading would occur where needed. Wherever possible, existing roads would be used for construction access. This is a viable alternative and will be evaluated in the EIS.

2.3

ALTERNATIVES CONSIDERED BUT ELIMINATED FROM FURTHER DETAILED ANALYSIS

USBP evaluated possible alternatives to be considered as the Proposed Action. This section addresses options that were reviewed but not carried forward for detailed analysis. 2.3.1 Additional USBP Agents in Lieu of Tactical Infrastructure USBP considered the alternative of increasing the number of agents as a means of gaining effective control of the border. Under this alternative, USBP would hire and deploy a significantly larger number of agents than are currently deployed along the U.S./Mexico international border and increase air patrols to apprehend illegal border crossers. USBP would deploy additional agents as determined by operational needs, but might include 4-wheel drive vehicle, All Terrain Vehicles, helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft. Currently, USBP maintains an aggressive hiring program and a cadre of well-trained and disciplined agents. The physical presence of an increased number of agents could provide an enhanced level of deterrence against illegal entry into the United States, but the use of additional agents alone, in lieu of the proposed tactical infrastructure, would not provide a practical solution to achieving effective control of the border in the San Diego Sector. Many illegal border crossers travel under the cover of darkness, particularly in urban or developed areas, when agents or aircraft would have difficulty spotting movement on the ground. The use of physical barriers forces illegal border crossers into areas that do not provide easily accessible urban cover or quick transportation into the interior of the United States. Forcing the illegal border crossers into remote, open areas allows for more effective use of other resources such as aircraft overflights and agent patrols. It also provides agents with longer response times to make apprehensions (USACE 2000). Tactical infrastructure, such as a pedestrian fence, is a force multiplier to allow USBP to deploy agents efficiently and effectively. As tactical infrastructure is built, some agents would be redeployed to other areas of the border within the sector. Increased patrols would aid in interdiction activities, but not to the extent anticipated by the Proposed Action. As such, this alternative is not practical in the San Diego sector and will not be carried forward for further detailed analysis.

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2.3.2

Technology in Lieu of Tactical Infrastructure

Under this alternative, USBP would use radar, cameras, lights, and other technology and combinations of technology to identify illegal border crossings. The use of technology in certain sparsely populated areas is a critical component of SBInet and an effective force multiplier that allows USBP to monitor large areas and deploy agents to where they will be most effective. However, the apprehension of illegal border crossers is still performed by USBP agents and other law enforcement agents. In the more densely populated areas within the Rio Grande Valley Sector, physical barriers represent the most effective means to control illegal entry into the United States, as noted above. The use of technology alone would not provide a practical solution to achieving effective control of the border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Therefore, this alternative would not meet the purpose and need as described in Section 1.2 and will not be carried forward for further detailed analysis.

2.3.3

Native Thorny Scrub Hedge in Lieu of Tactical Infrastructure

During the public scoping process, an alternative was proposed to maintain a 200- to 300-yard-wide mowed area outside the Rio Grande floodplain and plant a 100-yard-wide hedge of dense, short native thorny scrub brush (a hedge row) within the mowed area. This alternative would also incorporate technology such as sensors, cameras, and lights toward the Rio Grande from the cleared area. The primary benefit associated with this alternative would be its ability to provide suitable habitat for the endangered ocelot (Leopardus (=Felis) pardalis) and jaguarondi (Herpailurus (=Felis) yagouaroundi cacomitli), which would find suitable habitat along the riverbank travel corridor and within the hedge. The hedge could also serve to connect the LRGVNWR units into a larger habitat area. The primary deficiency with this alternative is that a hedge would not be as durable as a fence (pathways could be cut or burned through or under the hedge), it would be relatively slow to grow, and it might require more maintenance than a fence. USBP experience indicates that illegal border crossers are willing to traverse dangerous terrain to avoid being caught. A 100yard-wide hedge might become a haven where they could hide. If an illegal border crosser were to become injured and trapped in the hedge, USBP agents would likely have to cut through the hedge to rescue the person, damaging or destroying the hedge in the process. For these reasons, this alternative was determined not to be a viable alternative and was not carried forward for further detailed analysis.

2.3.4

Fence Within the Rio Grande

During the public scoping process, an alternative was proposed to construct a fence in the middle of the Rio Grande. This alternative would consist of installing poles in the river with cables stretched between the poles. A screen fence could
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be suspended from the cables and anchored to the river bottom. This alternative was not considered in detail due to multiple concerns, including infeasibility due to technical uncertainty, cost considerations, the likelihood of significantly altering the natural flow of the Rio Grande, and the potential to cause violations of international treaty obligations.

2.3.5

Brownsville Weir and Reservoir Project in Lieu of Tactical Infrastructure

During the public scoping process, the proposed Brownsville Weir and Reservoir Project was identified as a practical alternative in lieu of fence construction. The Public Utilities Board of Brownsville, Texas, is proposing to construct a weir and reservoir system on the lower Rio Grande as a water conservation project. Under this alternative, it was suggested that the resulting reservoir would create a body of water large enough that it would serve as an effective deterrent to illegal border crossing. USBP believes that water levels associated with this feature would fluctuate seasonally and would not deter illegal border crossings when water levels are low. This alternative might also flood sabal palm groves, flood the riparian vegetation along more than a dozen miles of the river, disturb the movements of the jaguarondi and ocelot along the river, and disturb a key estuary where the Rio Grande enters the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. section of the IBWC also informed USBP that it would not support any construction near the international boundary that increases, concentrates, or relocates overland drainage flows into Mexico or the United States. Since the reservoir might create substantial flooding in Mexico due to fewer levees there, it has also been reported that the proposal lacks the support of the Government of Mexico. In addition, a larger barrier might not deter illegal border crossers but only potentially lead to a larger number of drownings. For these reasons, this alternative was determined not to be a viable alternative and was not carried forward for further detailed analysis.

2.3.6

Raising Levees in Lieu of Tactical Infrastructure

During the public scoping process, an alternative was proposed to reconstruct river levees as 18-foot-high reinforced earthen barriers. USBP considered an alternative of constructing concrete barriers into the levees and installing an additional fence on top of those concrete barriers. There are numerous legal obstacles to this alternative, such as concerns over levee ownership and maintenance that the U.S. section of the IBWC identified during consultation. Therefore, because of legal and infrastructure uncertainties, this alternative was not carried forward for detailed analysis.

2.4

SUMMARY

[[Preparer’s Note: This section will be included in the Draft EIS.]]
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2.5

IDENTIFICATION OF THE ENVIRONMENTALLY PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE

CEQ’s implementing regulation 40 CFR 1502.14(c) instructs EIS preparers to “Identify the agency’s preferred alternative or alternatives, if one or more exists, in the draft statement and identify such alternative in the final statement unless another law prohibits the expression of such a preference.” USBP has identified its Preferred Alternative as Alternative 2, Route B (hereinafter referred to simply as “Route B.” Implementation of Route B would meet USBP’s purpose and need described in Section 1.2. The No Action Alternative would not meet USBP’s purpose and need. Route A would meet the purpose and need described in Section 1.2, but it would cause environmental impacts greater than the impacts identified for Route B. Alternative 3 would meet USBP’s purpose and need but would have greater environmental impacts compared to the Preferred Alternative without substantially increasing USBP’s ability to effectively control these areas of the U.S./Mexico international border.

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3. AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT
3.1 INTRODUCTION

All potentially relevant resource areas were initially considered in this EIS. In compliance with NEPA, the CEQ guidelines, and DHS MD 5100.1, the following evaluation of environmental impacts focuses on those resources and conditions potentially subject to impacts and on potentially significant environmental issues deserving of study, and deemphasizes insignificant issues. Some environmental resource areas and conditions that are often selected for analysis in an EIS have been omitted from detailed analysis in this EIS. Some were eliminated from detailed examination because of their inapplicability to this proposal. The following paragraphs provide the basis for such exclusions. Climate. The Proposed Action would neither affect nor be affected by the climate. However, air emissions and their impacts on air quality are discussed in Section 3.2 and Section 4.2. Sustainability and Greening. EO 13423, Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management (January 24, 2007) promotes environmental practices, including acquisition of biobased, environmentally preferable, energy-efficient, water-efficient, and recycled-content products, and maintaining cost-effective waste prevention and recycling programs in Federal facilities. The Proposed Action would use minimal amounts of resources during construction and maintenance. Therefore, the Proposed Action would have negligible impacts on sustainability and greening. Construction Safety. Construction site safety is largely a matter of adherence to regulatory requirements imposed for the benefit of employees and implementation of operational practices that reduce risks of illness, injury, death, and property damage. OSHA and the USEPA issue standards that specify the amount and type of training required for industrial workers, the use of protective equipment and clothing, engineering controls, and maximum exposure limits with respect to workplace stressors. Construction workers at any of the proposed construction sites would be exposed to greater safety risks from the inherent dangers at construction sites. Contractors would be required to establish and maintain safety. The proposed construction would not expose members of the general public to increased safety risks. Therefore, because the proposed construction would not introduce new or unusual safety risks, and assuming construction protocols are carefully followed, detailed examination of safety is not included in this EA.

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3.2
3.2.1

AIR QUALITY
Definition of the Resource

In accordance with Federal CAA requirements, the air quality in a given region or area is measured by the concentrations of various pollutants in the atmosphere. The measurements of these “criteria pollutants” in ambient air are expressed in units of parts per million (ppm), milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3), or micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). The air quality in a region is a result of not only the types and quantities of atmospheric pollutants and pollutant sources in an area, but also surface topography, the size of the topological “air basin,” and the prevailing meteorological conditions. The CAA directed USEPA to develop, implement, and enforce strong environmental regulations that would ensure clean and healthy ambient air quality. To protect public health and welfare, USEPA developed numerical concentration-based standards, or National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), for pollutants that have been determined to impact human health and the environment. USEPA established both primary and secondary NAAQS under the provisions of the CAA. NAAQS are currently established for six criteria air pollutants: ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), respirable particulate matter (including particulate matter equal to or less than 10 microns in diameter [PM10] and particulate matter equal to or less than 2.5 microns in diameter [PM2.5]), and lead (Pb). The primary NAAQS represent maximum levels of background air pollution that are considered safe, with an adequate margin of safety to protect public health. Secondary NAAQS represent the maximum pollutant concentration necessary to protect vegetation, crops, and other public resources along with maintaining visibility standards. The State of Texas has adopted the NAAQS and titled them the Texas Ambient Air Quality Standards (TAAQS). Table 3.2-1 presents the primary and secondary USEPA NAAQS that apply to the air quality in the state of Texas. The TCEQ has established air pollution control regulations. These regulations are contained in Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Title 30. The TCEQ has also promulgated rules regulating the emissions of toxic substances which are defined as those chemicals listed in TAC Title 30, Chapter 113 plus any other air pollutant that is considered a health hazard, as defined by OSHA. The Federal CAA and USEPA delegated responsibility for ensuring compliance with NAAQS to the states and local agencies. As such, each state must develop air pollutant control programs and promulgate regulations and rules that focus on meeting NAAQS and maintaining healthy ambient air quality levels. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is responsible for implementation of the CAA. The TCEQ has adopted the NAAQS by reference, thereby requiring the use of the standards within the state of Texas. These programs are detailed in State Implementation Plans (SIPs), which are required to be developed by each state or local regulatory agency and approved
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by USEPA. A SIP is a compilation of regulations, strategies, schedules, and enforcement actions designed to move the state into compliance with all NAAQS. Any changes to the compliance schedule or plan (e.g., new regulations, emissions budgets, controls) must be incorporated into the SIP and approved by USEPA. Table 3.2-1. National Ambient Air Quality Standards
Pollutant CO 8-hour Average a 1-hour Average NO2 Annual Arithmetic Mean O3 8-hour Average b 1-hour Average Pb Quarterly Average PM10 Annual Arithmetic Mean d 24-hour Average PM2.5 Annual Arithmetic Mean e 24-hour Average SO2 Annual Arithmetic Mean 24-hour Average 3-hour Average
a a f a c a

Standard Value 9 ppm 35 ppm 0.053 ppm 0.08 ppm 0.12 ppm (10 mg/m3) (40 mg/m ) (100 µg/m3) (157 µg/m3) (240 µg/m ) 1.5 µg/m3 50 µg/m3 150 µg/m
3 3 3

Standard Type Primary and Secondary Primary Primary and Secondary Primary and Secondary Primary and Secondary Primary and Secondary Primary and Secondary Primary and Secondary Primary and Secondary Primary and Secondary Primary Primary Secondary
3

15 µg/m3 35 µg/m 0.03 ppm 0.14 ppm 0.5 ppm
3

(80 µg/m3) (365 µg/m ) (1,300 µg/m )
3

Source: SM#2 Notes: Parenthetical values are approximate equivalent concentrations. a Not to be exceeded more than once per year. b To attain this standard, the 3-year average of the fourth-highest daily maximum 8-hour average ozone concentrations measured at each monitor within an area over each year must not exceed 0.08 ppm. c (a) The standard is attained when the expected number of days per calendar year with maximum hourly average concentrations above 0.12 ppm is ≤ 1. (b) As of June 15, 2005, USEPA revoked the 1-hour ozone standard in all areas except the 14 8-hour ozone nonattainment Early Action Compact Areas. d To attain this standard, the expected annual arithmetic mean PM10 concentration at each monitor within an area must not exceed 50 µg/m3. e To attain this standard, the 3-year average of the annual arithmetic mean PM2 5 concentrations from single or multiple community-oriented monitors must not exceed 15.0 µg/m3. Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 3-3 October 2007

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To attain this standard, the 3-year average of the 98th percentile of 24-hour concentrations at each population-oriented monitor within an area must not exceed 35 µg/m3.

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USEPA classifies the air quality in an air quality control region (AQCR), or in subareas of an AQCR, according to whether the concentrations of criteria pollutants in ambient air exceed the primary or secondary NAAQS. All areas within each AQCR are therefore designated as either “attainment,” “nonattainment,” “maintenance,” or “unclassified” for each of the six criteria pollutants. Attainment means that the air quality within an AQCR is better than the NAAQS, nonattainment indicates that criteria pollutant levels exceed NAAQS, maintenance indicates that an area was previously designated nonattainment but is now attainment, and unclassified means that there is not enough information to appropriately classify an AQCR, so the area is considered attainment. The General Conformity Rule requires that any Federal action meet the requirements of a SIP or Federal Implementation Plan. More specifically, CAA conformity is ensured when a Federal action does not cause a new violation of the NAAQS; contribute to an increase in the frequency or severity of violations of NAAQS; or delay the timely attainment of any NAAQS, interim progress milestones, or other milestones toward achieving compliance with the NAAQS. The General Conformity Rule applies only to actions in nonattainment or maintenance areas and considers both direct and indirect emissions. The rule applies only to Federal actions that are considered “regionally significant” or where the total emissions from the action meet or exceed the de minimis thresholds presented in 40 CFR 93.153. An action is regionally significant when the total nonattainment pollutant emissions exceed 10 percent of the AQCR’s total emissions inventory for that nonattainment pollutant. If a Federal action does not meet or exceed the de minimis thresholds and is not considered regionally significant, then a full Conformity Determination is not required. Title V of the CAA Amendments (CAAA) of 1990 requires states and local agencies to permit major stationary sources. A major stationary source is a facility (i.e., plant, base, or activity) that can emit more than 100 tons per year (tpy) of any one criteria air pollutant, 10 tpy of a hazardous air pollutant, or 25 tpy of any combination of hazardous air pollutants. However, lower pollutant-specific “major source” permitting thresholds apply in nonattainment areas. For example, the Title V permitting threshold for an “extreme” O3 nonattainment area is 10 tpy of potential volatile organic compound (VOC) or nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. The purpose of the permitting rule is to establish regulatory control over large, industrial-type activities and monitor their impact on air quality. Federal Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) regulations also define air pollutant emissions from proposed major stationary sources or modifications to be “significant” if (1) a proposed project is within 10 kilometers of any Class I area, and (2) regulated pollutant emissions would cause an increase in the 24-hour average concentration of any regulated pollutant in the Class I area of 1
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µg/m3 or more [40 CFR 52.21(b)(23)(iii)]. A Class I area includes national parks larger than 6,000 acres, national wilderness areas and national memorial parks larger than 5,000 acres, and international parks. PSD regulations also define ambient air increments, limiting the allowable increases to any area’s baseline air contaminant concentrations, based on the area’s class designation [40 CFR 52.21(c)]. [[Preparer’s Note: e²M analysis of greenhouse gas emissions is currently under development and will be included in the Draft EIS. ]]

3.2.2

Affected Environment

The Proposed Action is within Starr County, Hidalgo County, and Cameron County, Texas, within the Brownsville-Laredo Intrastate Air Quality Control Region (BLIAQCR). The BLIAQCR is composed of Cameron County, Hidalgo County, Jim Hogg County, Starr County, Webb County, Willacy County, and Zapata County, Texas. The BLIAQCR is classified as being in attainment/unclassified for all criteria pollutants.

3.3
3.3.1

NOISE
Definition of Resource

Sound is defined as a particular auditory effect produced by a given source, for example the sound of rain on a rooftop. Sound is measured with instruments that record instantaneous sound levels in decibels. A-weighted sound level measurement is used to characterize sound levels that can be sensed by the human ear. “A-weighted” denotes the adjustment of the frequency range for what the average human ear can sense when experiencing an audible event. C-weighted sound level measurement correlates well with physical vibration response of buildings and other structures to airborne sound. Impulsive noise resulting from demolition activities and the discharge of weapons are assessed in terms of C-weighted decibels (dBC). Noise and sound share the same physical aspects, but noise is considered a disturbance while sound is defined as an auditory effect. Noise is defined as any sound that is undesirable because it interferes with communication, is intense enough to damage hearing, or is otherwise annoying. Noise can be intermittent or continuous, steady or impulsive, and can involve any number of sources and frequencies. It can be readily identifiable or generally nondescript. Human response to increased sound levels varies according to the source type, characteristics of the sound source, distance between source and receptor, receptor sensitivity, and time of day. How an individual responds to the sound source will determine if the sound is viewed as music to one’s ears or as annoying noise. Affected receptors are specific (i.e., schools, churches, or hospitals) or broad (e.g., nature preserves or designated districts) areas in which occasional or persistent sensitivity to noise above ambient levels exists.
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Most people are exposed to sound levels of 50 to 55 A-weighted decibel (dBA) or higher on a daily basis. Studies specifically conducted to determine noise impacts on various human activities show that about 90 percent of the population is not significantly bothered by outdoor sound levels below 65 dBA (USEPA 1974). Studies of community annoyance in response to numerous types of environmental noise show that A-weight Day Night Average Sound Level (ADNL) correlates well with impact assessments and that there is a consistent relationship between ADNL and the level of annoyance. Ambient Sound Levels. Noise levels in residential areas vary depending on the housing density and location. As shown in Figure 3.3-1, a suburban residential area is about 55 dBA, which increases to 60 dBA for an urban residential area, and 80 dBA in the downtown section of a city. Construction Sound Levels. Building construction, modification, and demolition work can cause an increase in sound that is well above the ambient level. A variety of sounds come from graders, pavers, trucks, welders, and other work processes. Table 3.3-1 lists noise levels associated with common types of construction equipment that are likely to be used under the Proposed Action. Construction equipment usually exceeds the ambient sound levels by 20 to 25 dBA in an urban environment and up to 30 to 35 dBA in a quiet suburban area.

3.3.2

Affected Environment

The proposed border fence for the Rio Grande Valley passes through areas with different acoustical environments. The ambient acoustical environment in the Rio Grande Valley is primarily impacted by vehicular traffic, aircraft operations, agricultural equipment, and industrial noise sources. The Lower Rio Grande Valley area is composed of many different cities, towns, and communities. The city of Brownsville is in the eastern section of the Rio Grande Valley project area, and Rio Grande City is on the western edge of the project area. In between these two cities lie the municipalities of McAllen, Alamo, Weslaco, Progreso, Mercedes, Harlingen, and San Benito. Several subdivisions and smaller communities also exist along the border. Each of these cities and towns has its own ambient sound level depending on the size of the municipality and the nearby activities.

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Source: Landrum & Brown 2002

Figure 3.3-1. Common Noise Levels

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Table 3.3-1. Predicted Noise Levels for Construction Equipment
Construction Category and Equipment Clearing and Grading Bulldozer Grader Truck Roller Excavation Backhoe Jackhammer Building Construction Concrete mixer Welding generator Pile driver Crane Paver
Source: USEPA 1971

Predicted Noise Level at 50 feet (dBA) 80 80 - 93 83 - 94 73 - 75 72 - 93 81 - 98 74 - 88 71 - 82 91 - 105 75 - 87 86 - 88

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SR 83 passes in the vicinity of Rio Grande City and SR 281 is adjacent to Progreso, Texas. CR 433 traverses the towns of McAllen, Alamo, Weslaco, and Mercedes. SR 77 traverses the cities of Harlingen and Brownsville. CR 56 is also a major transportation route into the Rio Grande Valley. Traffic along each of these roads contributes to the ambient acoustical environment in the Rio Grande Valley. Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport is approximately 4 miles east of the city of Brownsville. An average of 126 aircraft operations are performed at the Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport daily. There is a railroad track on the west side of Brownsville that traverses north from the U.S./Mexico International border. The B&M Railroad, MP Railroad, and Union Pacific Railroad are stationed at this location. In addition, there are numerous industrial facilities in the city. It is estimated that proposed sites near Brownsville have ambient noise levels comparable to an urban environment (50–80 dBA). McAllen Miller International Airport is approximately 2 miles south of the city of McAllen (Segment O-6). An average of 172 aircraft operations occur at McAllen Miller International Airport (AirNav 2007b). Along the U.S./Mexico International border in areas west of Brownsville, agricultural activities are prominent. Agricultural equipment being used in these areas can produce noise levels up to 100 dBA (Ohio State University 2007). While farms are generally spread out, noise from agricultural activities is likely to
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extend past the farm boundaries. Agricultural activities contribute to the ambient acoustical environment in the Rio Grande Valley. The remaining segments in the Rio Gande Valley Sector likely have ambient noise levels that are comparable to rural or suburban areas (25–55 dBA) (see Figure 3.3-1).

3.4
3.4.1

LAND USE
Definition of the Resource

The term “land use” refers to real property classifications that indicate either natural conditions or the types of human activity occurring on a parcel. In many cases, land use descriptions are codified in local zoning laws. There is, however, no nationally recognized convention or uniform terminology for describing land use categories. As a result, the meanings of various land use descriptions, “labels,” and definitions vary among jurisdictions. Two main objectives of land use planning are to ensure orderly growth and compatible uses among adjacent property parcels or areas. Compatibility among land uses fosters the societal interest of obtaining the highest and best uses of real property. Tools supporting land use planning include written master plans/management plans and zoning regulations. In appropriate cases, the location and extent of a proposed action needs to be evaluated for its potential effects on a project site and adjacent land uses. The foremost factor affecting a proposed action in terms of land use is its compliance with any applicable land use or zoning regulations. Other relevant factors include matters such as existing land use at the project site, the types of land uses on adjacent properties and their proximity to a proposed action, the duration of a proposed activity, and its “permanence.” Recreational resources are both natural and manmade lands designated by Federal, state, and local planning entities to offer visitors and residents diverse opportunities to enjoy leisure activities. Recreational resources are those places or amenities set aside as parklands, trails (hiking, bicycling, equestrian, etc.), recreational fields, sport or recreational venues, open spaces, aesthetically pleasing landscapes, and a variety of other locales. National, state, and local jurisdictions typically have designated land areas with defined boundaries for recreation. Other less structured activities like hunting are performed in broad, less-defined locales. A recreational setting might consist of natural or manmade landscapes and can vary in size from a roadside monument to a multimillion-acre wilderness area.

3.4.2

Affected Environment

The Proposed Action is adjacent to multiple public domain lands (Federal and state), agricultural lands, municipalities, industrial, and privately owned lands.
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Land uses were identified by using aerial photograph interpretation and the GIS data showing the Proposed Action. These land uses were then divided into five categories: • • • Park/Refuge – lands owned by the Federal, state, local government, and private groups such as the LRGV NWR and other natural areas Agricultural – agricultural fields Residential/Municipalities – Residential areas consist of low-density housing (homes, ranches, trailers, apartments, townhouses, etc.), and municipalities consist of high-density housing (homes, trailers, apartments, townhouses, etc.) Undeveloped – Undeveloped lands with no houses or agricultural fields Industrial/Commercial – Warehouses, factories, businesses, etc.

• •

3.5
3.5.1

GEOLOGY AND SOILS
Definition of the Resource

Geology and soils resources include the surface and subsurface materials of the earth. Within a given physiographic province, these resources typically are described in terms of topography, soils, geology, minerals, and paleontology, where applicable. Topography is defined as the relative positions and elevations of the natural or human-made features of an area that describe the configuration of its surface. Regional topography is influenced by many factors, including human activity, seismic activity of the underlying geologic material, climatic conditions, and erosion. Information describing topography typically encompasses surface elevations, slope, and physiographic features (i.e., mountains, ravines, hills, plains, deltas, or depressions). Site-specific geological resources typically consist of surface and subsurface materials and their inherent properties. Principal factors influencing the ability of geologic resources to support structural development are seismic properties (i.e., potential for subsurface shifting, faulting, or crustal disturbance), topography, and soil stability. Soils are the unconsolidated materials overlying bedrock or other parent material. They develop from the weathering processes of mineral and organic materials and are typically described in terms of landscape position, slope, and physical and chemical characteristics. Soil types differ in structure, elasticity, strength, shrink-swell potential, drainage characteristics, and erosion potential, which can affect their ability to support certain applications or uses. In appropriate cases, soil properties must be examined for compatibility with particular construction activities or types of land use.
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Prime and unique farmland is protected under the Farmland Protection Policy Act (FPPA) of 1981. Prime farmland is defined as land that has the best combination of physical and chemical characteristics for producing food, feed, forage, fiber, and oilseed crops, and is also available for these uses. Unique farmland is defined as land other than prime farmland that is used for the production of specific high-value food and fiber crops. It has the special combination of soil quality, location, growing season, and moisture supply needed to economically produce sustained high quality and/or high yields of a specific crop when treated and managed according to acceptable farming methods. Soil qualities, growing season, and moisture supply are needed for a well-managed soil to produce a sustained high yield of crops in an economic manner. The land could be cropland, pasture, rangeland, or other land, but not urban built-up land or water. The intent of the FPPA is to minimize the extent that Federal programs contribute to the unnecessary conversion of farmland to nonagricultural uses. The act also ensures that Federal programs are administered in a manner that, to the extent practicable, will be compatible with private, state, and local government programs and policies to protect farmland. The implementing procedures of the FPPA and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) require Federal agencies to evaluate the adverse effects (direct and indirect) of their activities on prime and unique farmland, as well as farmland of statewide and local importance, and to consider alternative actions that could avoid adverse effects. Determination of whether an area is considered prime or unique farmland and potential impacts associated with a proposed action is based on preparation of the Farmland Conversion Impact Rating Form AD-1006 for areas where prime farmland soils occur and by applying criteria established at Section 658.5 of the FPPA (7 CFR 658). The NRCS is responsible for overseeing compliance with the FPPA and has developed the rules and regulations for implementation of the act (see 7 CFR Part 658, 5 July 1984).

3.5.2

Affected Environment

Physiography and Topography. The Rio Grande Valley Sector occupies Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron Counties in Texas along the U.S./Mexico International border. The Rio Grande Valley Sector occurs in a subtropical semi-arid zone located in the Gulf Coastal Plains Physiographic Province of Texas. The project site occurs on two of the three Gulf Coastal Plains subprovinces, the Coastal Prairies and Interior Coastal Plains. Fence Segments O-7 to O-21 occur in the Coastal Plains subprovince, which is characterized by young deltaic sands, silts, and clays that have eroded to nearly imperceptible slopes occupied by flat grasslands. Trees are uncommon except along streams; on coarser underlying sediments of ancient streams; within fencerows; on lands protected as refuges; and along the Rio Grande, where sugarberry, Texas ebony, honey mesquite, Mexican palm trees and citrus plantations can be found. Fence Segments O-1 to O-7 occur in the Interior Coastal Plains subprovince, which is characterized by alternating belts of resistant uncemented sands among weaker shales that erode into long, sandy ridges. In the project area, trees are few, and barretal
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shrublands dominates (CR.11). The topographic profile of the project area is a nearly level to rolling, slightly to moderately dissected plain that has formed between the Balcones Escarpment to the north, the Lower Rio Grande to the southwest, and the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast. Elevations in the Rio Grande Valley Sector range from approximately mean sea level (MSL) to 10 feet above MSL along the O-21 fence segment and grade gently higher with slightly steeper topography to the west to approximately 50 to 80 feet above MSL along the O-1 fence segment (CR.12). Geology. The Rio Grande Valley Sector occurs within the Gulf Coastal Plains geomorphic region. The surface geology of the Gulf Coastal Plains is characterized by broad sub-parallel bands of sedimentary rocks deposited in the Tertiary and Quaternary Period of the Cenozoic Era. The western end of the project area, as proposed, is located in the Breaks of the Rio Grande; a region of steep-sided, narrow, and deep valleys created as the north-south trending Rio Grande tributaries eroded the resistant Tertiary formations. The Breaks of the Rio Grande terminate near the Starr-Hidalgo County line and define the beginning of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, which consist of Quaternary alluvial sediments. From oldest to youngest (west to east), the Tertiary-deposited sediments include the Jackson Group (made up of the Whitsett, Manning, Wellborn, Caddell, Yazoo, and Moodys Branch Formations), the Catahoula and Frio formations undivided, the Goliad Formation, and Uvalde gravels. Quaternary-deposited sediments of the Lower Rio Grande Valley include fluviatile terrace deposits, the Lissie and Beaumont formations, wind-blown deposits, and the most recent alluvium deposits (DHS 2004). The Jackson Group consists of Eocene Epoch volcanic and marine deposited during the Tertiary Period. It is composed mostly of sandstone and tuffaceous clay with some crossbeds of white volcanic ash. The Jackson Group is overlain by the Catahoula and Frio formations, which are composed of mudstone; sandstone; light-brown clays; gray sandy clays; and, in the basal layer, dark greenish sandy clays. Towards the end of the Tertiary, large river systems deposited calcareous muds formed from Cretaceous marls and limestones, over broad areas of the low coastal plain. Overlaying the Catahoula and Frio formations is the Goliad formation and Uvalde gravels. The Goliad formation includes clay, sand, marble, and caliche with abundant reworked Cretaceous Period invertebrate fossils; the caliche is locally popular, used to surface roads. The Uvalde gravels are found on inter stream ridges and divides and are composed of rounded flint pebbles and cobbles weathered from Lower Cretaceous formations (DHS 2004). During the Quaternary, a series of interglacial and glacial periods produced an active environment of fluviatile deposition and subsequent erosion. Ancient river systems transported enormous quantities of suspended sand and mud and during interglacial periods deposited the sediments into accumulating deltas and fluvial plains at the gulf. During glacial periods, the drop in sea level eroded underlying fluvial deposits creating new deltas miles into the gulf. During this
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time, the ancestral Rio Grande cut through the older Tertiary formations and remnant meander scars in the floodplain were converted into 3-to-10-foot high river terraces composed of unsorted coarse sand and gravel (DHS 2004). The Lissie Formation consists of thick beds of sand interbedded with clay and silt with the clays predominating in the upper part. It contains thin lenses of rounded gravels composed of ferruginous sandstones, quartz, and other siliceous rocks. Large amounts of silicified wood are found among the gravel sheets. This formation is characterized by many undrained circular or irregular depressions and relict windblown sand and clay dunes that are stabilized in a northwesttrending direction. The sands and clays of the Lissie formation are overlain by the bluish-gray clays of the Beaumont Formation, which were deposited by ancient rivers in the form of deltas or natural levees. Broad faint ridges, containing more sand than the flats between them, are the remnants of natural levees that formed as the ancient river shifted across the coastal lowlands. The flat lowlands of the Beaumont Formation form a featureless and often marshy plain, called the Coastal Prairie, as it approaches the Gulf Coast (DHS 2004). The recent alluvial deposits of the Lower Rio Grande Valley are composed of sedimentary rocks resulting from dissection of previous sedimentation and floodplain deposition during the Modern-Holocene Period. In the Pleistocene Epoch, interglacial deltas formed by the Rio Grande were combined into a larger delta that extended farther beyond the current Gulf Coast. The modern coastal barrier island system was formed by the subsidence and compaction of this ancient delta. During the sea level rise of the Holocene, brackish water inundated the ancient valley, creating an estuarine environment that was eventually replaced by fertile floodplain deposits of the Lower Rio Grande Valley as it graded to its present level (DHS 2004). Soils. Generally the soils of the Rio Grande Valley Sector are loamy to clayey, moderately to slowly permeable, and occur on nearly level to gentle slopes. None of the soil map units occurring within the portion of the corridor in Starr County were designated as farmland of importance. In Hidalgo County, soils of the Camargo, Cameron, Laredo, Matamoros, Olmito, Reynosa, Rio Grande, and Runn series within the project corridor were classified as prime farmland soils; and soils of the Arents, McAllen, and Raymondville series within the project corridor were classified as prime farmland soils if irrigated. In Cameron County, soils of the Camargo, Cameron, Laredo, Matamoros, Olmito, and Rio Grande series within the project corridor were classified as prime farmland soils; and the Harlingen series and Laredo-Olmito complex soils within the project corridor were classified as prime farmland soils if irrigated. In Starr County, soils classified as hydric and that potentially occur within the proposed project corridor are soils of the Grulla series. In Hidalgo County, soils classified as hydric and that occur within the proposed project corridor are soils of the Grulla and McAllen series. In Cameron County, soils classified as hydric and that occur within the proposed project corridor are Ustifluvents and soils of the Benito, Chargo, Grulla, Sejita, and Tiocanosoil series (CR.3). Hydric soils are soils that are saturated, flooded,
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or have ponding sufficiently long during the growing season to develop anaerobic (oxygen-deficient) conditions in upper horizons. The presence of hydric soil is one of the three criteria (hydric soils, hydrophytic vegetation, and wetland hydrology) used to determine that an area is a wetland based on the USACE Wetlands Delineation Manual, Technical Report Y-87-1 (CR.4). See Appendix F for a Mapbook of soil units within the project area. The properties of soil map units identified in Starr Hidalgo and Cameron counties are located Appendix G.

3.6
3.6.1

WATER RESOURCES
Definition of the Resource

Hydrology and Groundwater. Evaluations of hydrology and groundwater examine the quantity and quality of the water resource and its demand for various human purposes. Hydrology consists of the redistribution of water through the processes of evapotranspiration, surface runoff, and subsurface flow. Hydrology results primarily from temperature and total precipitation which determine evapotranspiration rates, topography which determine rate and direction of surface flow, and soil properties which determine rate of subsurface flow and recharge to the groundwater reservoir. Groundwater consists of subsurface hydrologic resources. It is an essential resource that functions to recharge surface water and is used for drinking, irrigation, and industrial processes. Groundwater typically can be described in terms of depth from the surface, aquifer or well capacity, water quality, recharge rate, and surrounding geologic formations. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 2011-300) establishes a Federal program to monitor and increase the safety of all commercially and publicly supplied drinking water. Congress amended the SDWA in 1986, mandating changes in nationwide safeguards for drinking water and establishing new Federal enforcement responsibility on the part of USEPA. The 1986 amendments to the SDWA require USEPA to establish Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLGs), and Best Available Technology (BAT) treatment techniques for organic, inorganic, radioactive, and microbial contaminants; and turbidity. MCLGs are maximum concentrations below which no negative human health effects are known to exist. The 1996 amendments set current Federal MCLs, MCLGs, and BATs for organic, inorganic, microbiological, and radiological contaminants in public drinking water supplies. Surface Water and Waters of the United States. Surface water resources generally consist of lakes, rivers, and streams. Surface water is important for its contributions to the economic, ecological, recreational, and human health of a community or locale. The CWA (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) sets the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants to U.S. waters. Section 404 of the CWA (33 U.S.C.
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1344) establishes a Federal program to regulate the discharge of dredged and fill material into waters of the United States. The USACE administers the permitting program for the CWA. Section 401 of the CWA (33 U.S.C. 1341) requires that proposed dredge and fill activities permitted under Section 404 be reviewed and certified by the designated state agency that the proposed project will meet state water quality standards. The Federal permit is deemed to be invalid unless it has been certified by the state. Section 303(d) of the CWA requires states and USEPA to identify waters not meeting state water-quality standards and to develop Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and an implementation plan to reduce contributing sources of pollution. Waters of the United States are defined within the CWA of 1972, as amended, and jurisdiction is addressed by USEPA and the USACE. Both agencies assert jurisdiction over (1) traditional navigable waters, (2) wetlands adjacent to navigable waters, (3) nonnavigable tributaries of traditional navigable waters that are relatively permanent where the tributaries typically flow year-around or have continuous flow at least seasonally (e.g., typically 3 months), and (4) wetlands that directly abut such tributaries. The CWA (as amended in 1977) established the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States. The objective of the CWA is restoration and maintenance of chemical, physical, and biological integrity of U.S. waters. To achieve this objective several goals were enacted, including (1) discharge of pollutants into navigable waters be eliminated by 1985; (2) water quality which provides for the protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and provides for recreation in and on the water be achieved by 1983; (3) discharge of toxic pollutants in toxic amounts be prohibited; (4) Federal financial assistance be provided to construct publicly owned waste treatment works; (5) the national policy that areawide waste treatment management planning processes be developed and implemented to ensure adequate control of sources of pollutants in each state; (6) the national policy that a major research and demonstration effort be made to develop technology necessary to eliminate the discharge of pollutants into navigable waters, waters of the contiguous zone, and the oceans; and (7) the national policy that programs developed and implemented in an expeditious manner so as to enable the goals to be met through the control of both point and nonpoint sources of pollution. The USACE regulates the discharge of dredged and fill material (e.g., concrete, riprap, soil, cement block, gravel, sand.) into waters of the United States including adjacent wetlands under Section 404 of the CWA and work on/or structures in or affecting navigable waters of the United States under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. Wetlands are an important natural system and habitat, performing diverse biologic and hydrologic functions. These functions include water quality improvement, groundwater recharge and discharge, pollution mitigation, nutrient cycling, wildlife habitat provision, unique flora and fauna niche provision, storm water attenuation and storage, sediment detention, and erosion protection,
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among others. Wetlands are protected as a subset of the waters of the United States under Section 404 of the CWA. The term “waters of the U.S.” has a broad meaning under the CWA and incorporates deepwater aquatic habitats and special aquatic habitats (including wetlands). The USACE defines wetlands as “those areas that are inundated or saturated with ground or surface water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted to life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas” (33 CFR 328). Floodplains. Floodplains are areas of low-level ground and alluvium adjacent to rivers, stream channels, or coastal waters. Such lands might be subject to periodic or infrequent inundation due to runoff of rain or melting snow. Risk of flooding typically hinges on local topography, the frequency of precipitation events, and the size of the watershed upstream from the floodplain. Flood potential is evaluated by FEMA, which defines the 100-year floodplain. The 100year floodplain is the area that has a 1 percent chance of inundation by a flood event in a given year. Certain facilities inherently pose too great a risk to be constructed in either the 100- or 500-year floodplain, including hospitals, schools, or storage buildings for irreplaceable records. Federal, state, and local regulations often limit floodplain development to passive uses, such as recreational and preservation activities, to reduce the risks to human health and safety. EO 11988, Floodplain Management, requires Federal agencies to determine whether a proposed action would occur within a floodplain. This determination typically involves consultation of appropriate FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), which contain enough general information to determine the relationship of the project area to nearby floodplains. EO 11988 directs Federal agencies to avoid floodplains unless the agency determines that there is no practicable alternative. Where the only practicable alternative is to site in a floodplain, a specific step-by-step process must be followed to comply with EO 11988 outlined in the FEMA document Further Advice on EO 11988 Floodplain Management. As a planning tool, the NEPA process incorporates floodplain management through analysis and public coordination of the EA.

3.6.2

Affected Environment

Hydrology and Groundwater. The Proposed Action is located in the Rio Grande Drainage Basin, which comprises an area of approximately 355,500 square miles. Much of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo (on the Mexico side) drainage basins are comprised of rural, undeveloped land used primarily for farming and ranching. Water development projects in the Lower Rio Grande Valley have disrupted natural flow regimes, including structures such as Anzalduas Dam, Falcon Dam, and Amistad Dam. Substantial quantities of surface water are diverted from the Rio Grande to meet municipal, industrial, and agricultural demands in Texas and Mexico, with a significant portion used in the Lower Rio
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Grande Valley for farming and urban applications. Most of the water diverted in the Lower Rio Grande Valley is not returned to the river as irrigation tailwater or treated wastewater effluent. The used water is not returned to the Rio Grande because the land naturally slopes away from the river channel. The return flows are usually discharged into constructed drainage ditches/channels and floodways that eventually flow into the Laguna Madre estuary, and ultimately into the Gulf of Mexico (VW.022). The major aquifer within the Lower Rio Grande Valley is the Gulf Coast Aquifer. The aquifer consists of alternating beds of clay, silt, sand, and gravel that are hydrologically connected to form a large, leaky, artesian system. Challenges related to withdrawal of groundwater from the Gulf Coast Aquifer include landsurface subsidence, increased chloride content in the groundwater from the southwest portion of the aquifer, and saltwater intrusion along the coast (VW.015). In Cameron County the major source of groundwater is the Lower Rio Grande Valley Alluvium Aquifer, which consists of recent deposits of unconsolidated sand, silt, gravel, and clay. The aquifer is close to the Rio Grande in an area bounded by the river on the south and Highway 83 on the north. Water in the Lower Rio Grande Valley Alluvium Aquifer is characterized by high concentrations of chloride, dissolved solids, boron, and sodium. The water does not meet U.S. drinking water standards (VW.015). Surface Waters and Waters of the U.S. The predominant surface water feature in the Area of the Proposed Action is the Rio Grande. The combined Rio Grande/Rio Bravo (in Mexico) drainage is one of the longest rivers in North America, and an important river basin to both the U.S. and Mexico. The allocation of Rio Grande water between the two countries is governed by a treaty signed in 1944. The Rio Grande main channel lies south of the impact corridor associated with the Proposed Action (VW.022). In 1932, an agreement was reached between the U.S. and Mexico to develop a coordinated plan to protect the Lower Rio Grande Valley against flooding from the Rio Grande in both countries (VW.009). This agreement was developed by the IBWC and resulted in the Lower Rio Grande Flood Control Project (LRGFCP) (VW.009). The LRGFCP is designed for flood protection of urban, suburban, and highly developed irrigated farm lands in the Rio Grande delta in both countries. The LRGFCP flood levees are grass-covered earthen structures, with a distance between the U.S. and Mexico levees ranging from approximately 400 feet to 3 miles. The LRGFCP is jointly operated by the U.S. IBWC and Mexican IBWC to convey excess floodwaters of the Rio Grande to the Gulf of Mexico via the river channel and U.S. and Mexican interior floodways (VW.009). The LRGFCP includes approximately 180 miles of levees within the project area.

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Surface water features that could be potentially classified as waters of the U.S. in the proposed impact corridor include arroyos, resacas, lakes, ponds, irrigation canals, drainage ditches, and wetlands typically formed from irrigation wastewater flows or groundwater seepage (see Appendix F). Arroyos are deep, narrow intermittently flooded drainages that flow down bluff faces into the Rio Grande. Resacas are oxbow lakes which have formed in historic floodplain channels of the Rio Grande. Dams and levees for flood control and water storage along the Rio Grande River have severed the natural surface water connection between the river and most of the resacas, although groundwater flows are thought to be intact. Resacas are typically filled by pumping water from the Rio Grande, rainfall, or input of irrigation return flows. Segments O-1, O-2, and O-3 between Roma and Los Ebanos are characterized by rugged river banks and steep bluffs, arroyos, and rapid erosion; there are no levees constructed within these segments. Arroyos are intermittently flooded drainages that flow into the Rio Grande. Segments O-4 through O-21 are characterized by lakes, ponds, levees, public water canals, irrigation canals, and drainage ditches. Wetlands are also potentially jurisdictional waters of the U.S. and can be associated with all of the above surface water features. Wetlands have been identified along the proposed impact corridor based on vegetation and hydrology. Wetland indicator species are listed in Appendix I and include: (1) Mule’s Fat Shrubland, (2) Black Willow Woodland/Shrubland, (3) Giant Reed Herbaceous Vegetation, (4) Common Reed Herbaceous Vegetation, (5) Alkali Sacaton Herbaceous Vegetation, (6) Narrowleaf Cattail, and (7) Smartweed Herbaceous Vegetation. A few floating aquatic communities have also become established on some small ponds. A more complete description of these potential wetland communities is presented in Appendix I. Mule’s Fat Shrubland is associated with near-to-surface ground water or occasional standing water, characterized by stands in Segment O-3 and O-13. Black Willow Woodland/Shrubland is associated with Rio Grande canals, drainage ditches, and ponds, characterized by stands in Segments O-3, O-8, O-13, O-14, and O-20. Giant Reed Herbaceous Vegetation is associated with ditch and canal banks, standing water in ditches, and near to surface groundwater, characterized by stands in Segments O-2, O-9, and O-14. Common Reed Herbaceous vegetation was observed in narrow strips along canal banks and is relatively rare within the project corridor. Alkali Sacaton Herbaceous Vegetation occupies shallow depressions that likely capture runoff, and was observed only in Segment O-4. Narrowleaf Cattail Stands occur along perennial water bodies, specifically pond shorelines as characterized in Segment O-8. Smartweed Herbaceous Vegetation was observed in the bottom of one canal or large irrigation ditch in Segment O-14. The location of potential wetlands identified during the October 2007 natural resources survey are presented in Appendix F. The combined use of irrigation and application of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides results in the contamination of agricultural drainage ditches and
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resacas in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. These waters are eventually discharged into the Laguna Madre (VW.012). Because resacas are also integral parts of the urban storm water drainage system in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, they are subject to urban non-point source pollution such as pesticides (e.g. chlordane), automotive oil, grease and metals, fertilizers, sewage, and dissolved salts. Resacas can also be affected negatively if they receive contaminated river water for municipal water storage or irrigation. In addition, there are concerns about illegal dumping into resacas (VW.020). Floodplains. Segments O-1 and O-2 occur in the 100-year floodplain of the Rio Grande, as identified on the January 2, 1981, FEMA FIRM Panel No. 4805750014A for Starr County, Texas. As illustrated, Segments O-1 and O-2 are located in Zone A designation. Zone A is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the 100-year floodplain determined in the Flood Insurance Study (FIS) by approximate methods (AP.001, AP.003). Therefore, it cannot be determined if portions of Segments O-1 and O-2 occur in the 100-year floodplain, as they occupy bluffs and the valley rim. As described in Section 3.5.2 the topography of these segments is characterized by rugged river banks (at the Rio Grande), arroyos, and heavy erosion with no levees. Segment O-3 is also in the 100-year floodplain of the Rio Grande, as identified on the January 2, 1981 FEMA FIRM Panel No. 4803340375B for Hidalgo County, Texas. Segment O-3 would be located within FEMA Zone A23, which is one of the flood insurance rate zones that correspond to the 100-year floodplains that are determined in the FIS by detailed methods (AP.001, AP.003). The topography and surface waters of Segment O-3 are similar to that of Segments O-1 and O-2. Segments O-4 and O-5 do not lie within the 100-year floodplain. These proposed fence segments would follow the IBWC levee system as discussed in Section 2.3, and would be outside the current FEMA 100-year flood zone and the IBWC international drainage. Areas outside the 100-year flood zone are generally zoned B, C and X. FEMA defines Zones B, C and X as zones that correspond to areas outside the 100-year floodplains, areas of 100-year sheet flow flooding where average depths are less than 1 foot, areas of 100-year stream flooding where the contributing drainage area is less than 1 square mile, or areas protected from the 100-year flood by levees (AP.001, AP.003)

3.7
3.7.1

BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES
Definition of the Resource

Vegetation. Vegetation resources include native or naturalized plants and serves as habitat for a variety of animal species. This section describes the affected environment for native and nonnative vegetation.

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Wildlife and Aquatic Resources. Wildlife and aquatic resources include native or naturalized animals and the habitats in which they exist. Special Status Species. Three groups of special status species are addressed in this EIS: Federal threatened and endangered species, state threatened and endangered species, and migratory birds. Each group has its own definitions, and legislative and regulatory drivers for consideration during the NEPA process; these are briefly described below. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), as amended (16 U.S.C. §§ 15311544 et seq.) provides broad protection for species of fish, wildlife, and plants that are listed as threatened or endangered in the U.S. or elsewhere. Provisions are made for listing species, as well as for recovery plans and the designation of critical habitat for listed species. Section 7 of the ESA outlines procedures for Federal agencies to follow when taking actions that may jeopardize listed species, and contains exceptions and exemptions. Criminal and civil penalties are provided for violations of the ESA. Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act directs all Federal agencies to use their existing authorities to conserve threatened and endangered species and, in consultation with the USFWS, to ensure that their actions do not jeopardize listed species or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. Section 7 applies to management of Federal lands as well as other Federal actions that may affect listed species, such as approval of private activities through the issuance of Federal permits, licenses, or other actions. Under the ESA a Federal endangered species is defined as any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The ESA defines a Federal threatened species as any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. In 1973, the Texas legislature authorized the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to establish a list of endangered animals in the state. State endangered species are those species which the Executive Director of the TPWD has named as being "threatened with statewide extinction.” Threatened species are those species which the TPWD has determined are likely to become endangered in the future (MG.2). In 1988 the Texas legislature authorized TPWD to establish a list of and endangered plant species for the state. An endangered plant is "in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its threatened plant is one that is likely to become endangered foreseeable future (MG.2). threatened one that is range.” A within the

TPWD regulations prohibit the taking, possession, transportation, or sale of any of the animal species designated by state law as endangered or threatened
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without the issuance of a permit. State laws and regulations prohibit commerce in threatened and endangered plants and the collection of listed plant species from public land without a permit issued by TPWD. Listing and recovery of endangered species in Texas is coordinated by the Wildlife Division. The TPWD Wildlife Permitting Section is responsible for the issuance of permits for the handling of listed species (MG.2). The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) (16 U.S.C. 703–712) as amended, implements various treaties for the protection of migratory birds. Under the MBTA, taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds is unlawful without a valid permit. Under EO 13186, Responsibilities of Federal Agencies to Protect Migratory Birds, the USFWS has the responsibility to administer, oversee, and enforce the conservation provisions of the MBTA, which includes responsibility for population management (e.g., monitoring), habitat protection (e.g., acquisition, enhancement, and modification), international coordination, and regulations development and enforcement. The MBTA defines a migratory bird as any bird listed in 50 C.F.R. 10.13, which includes nearly every native bird in North America. The MBTA and EO 13186 require Federal agencies to minimize or avoid impacts to migratory birds listed in 50 CFR 10.13. If design and implementation of a Federal action cannot avoid measurable negative impact to migratory birds, EO 13186 requires the responsible agency to consult with the USFWS and obtain a Migratory Bird Depredation Permit.

3.7.2

Affected Environment

[[Preparer’s Note:   The following descriptions of Vegetation, Wildlife and Aquatic Resources, Special Status Species, and Potential Habitat are based on preliminary results of the Phase I Biological Resources Survey conducted in October 2007 (e2M In Prep.). The October 2007 surveys covered as much of the fence alignment known as of 2 October 2007, as well as the local CBP agents’ understanding of the fence alignment at the time of the survey. The Phase I surveys will be finalized once ROEs and NWR Special Use Permits have been obtained, and fence laydown (including access roads and staging areas) is fully identified. Once the Phase I surveys have been conducted, the Biological Resources Survey Report (e2M In Prep) will be completed and will replace the interim report presented in Appendix I. In addition, once contracted, Phase 2 Biological Resources Surveys will be conducted and will include delineation of wetlands and waters of the U.S.]] Vegetation. The following is a summary of the results of the vegetation description and classification based on the October 2007 Phase I Biological Resources survey (e2M In Prep). The native vegetation of the corridor was sampled using walking and driving survey techniques that were dependent on vegetation distribution, and land use (e2M in Prep). A more detailed description of
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vegetation and classification, including plant species recorded for the O-1 through O-21 Segments and their wetland indicator status (NRCS 2007) when appropriate, is presented in Appendix I. [[Preparer’s Note: e²M field teams are currently gathering biological information for each potential fence site. A Field Survey Report will be included as part of Appendix I when it becomes available. ]] NatureServe (NatureServe 2007) has defined ecological systems to represent recurring groups of biological communities that are found in similar physical environments and are influenced by similar dynamic ecological processes such as fire or flooding. Ecological systems represent classification units that are readily identifiable by conservation and resource managers in the field. Table 3.7-1 indicates which of the eight NatureServe ecological systems in each proposed fence segment along the survey corridor (NatureServe 2007) In general range from upland thornscrub on the western end of proposed Segment O-1, upper and mid-valley riparian forest and woodland communities throughout the proposed middle segments, and sabal palm and mid-delta thorn forests within proposed Segment O-21 (e2M In Prep). Much of the vegetation cover consists of nonnative grassland species that are themselves dominant or often support an overstory of honey mesquite, retama, or huisache shrubs or small trees. Agricultural fields occur along much of the corridor as proposed and include sugar cane, sorghum, Johnsongrass, sunflowers, cotton, row crop vegetables particularly onions, citrus trees (grapefruit and orange), and fields that were fallow at the time of site visit. Urban development and private property with single homes occur adjacent to several proposed segments. A detailed description of vegetation resources can be found in Appendix I.

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Table 3.7-1. Ecological Systems Present in Each Proposed Fence Segment
Fence Segments O-10 O-11 O-12 O-13 O-14 O-15 O-16 O-17 O-18 O-19 O-20 X O-21 X
Preliminary Draft EIS

O-1

O-2

O-3

O-4

O-5

O-6

O-7

O-8 X

Tamaulipan Calcareous Thornscrub Tamaulipan Mesquite Upland Scrub Tamaulipan Mixed Deciduous Thornscrub Tamaulipan Savanna Grassland Tamaulipan Arroyo Shrubland Tamaulipan Floodplain Tamaulipan Palm Grove Riparian Forest

X

X

X

X

X

X

O-9

Vegetation Classifications

X

X

X

3-23
October 2007

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X X

X X X X X X X X X X X X X

X

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Fence Segments O-10 O-11 O-12 O-13 O-14 O-15 O-16 O-17 O-18 O-19 O-20 X O-21 X
Preliminary Draft EIS

O-1

O-2

O-3

O-4

O-5

O-6

O-7

O-8 X

North American Arid West Emergent Marsh Non-native species X X X

X

O-9 X

Vegetation Classifications

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

3-24
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Wildlife and Aquatic Resources. The Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) is a highly distinctive subregion of the South Texas Plains. The South Texas Plains ecoregion consists mostly of level to rolling terrain characterized by dense brush. Usually defined as Cameron, Willacy, Hidalgo, and Starr counties, the LRGV contains the only subtropical area in Texas. The LRGV brushland is considered an ecological transition zone between Mexico and the United States. This key community supports many rare, threatened and endangered species and is a stop-over for migrating neotropical birds (MG.10). Most of the 70 miles of the proposed corridor has been heavily disturbed by agriculture and grazing; however, some high quality habitat was identified during the October 2007 survey (e2M In Prep). Unique habitat includes: wetlands, riparian areas, arroyos, and LRGVNWR, Texas State parks, and Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). There are presently three NWRs in LRGV including Santa Ana NWR and LRGVNWR, which form a complex rather than two separate entities, and Laguna Atascosa NWR, which is located outside the project area. Santa Ana NWR contains one of the largest remaining tracts of subtropical riparian forest and native brushland in south Texas and provides habitat for more endangered and threatened species than any other U.S. NWR (MG. 8). The LRGVNWR, established February 2, 1979, is a component of a multi-partner effort attempting to connect and protect blocks of rare and unique habitat, known locally as a Wildlife Corridor. The Wildlife Corridor partnership includes USFWS, TPWD, National Audubon Society, and private owners. Found within the lower four counties of Texas, the refuge currently contains more than 90,000 acres and is considered a top priority acquisition area by the USFWS. The refuge provides breeding and foraging habitat for numerous coastal wetland, inland wetland, and upland migratory bird species, and numerous other amphibians, reptiles, and mammal species (MG.7). USFWS-described biotic communities located along the survey corridor are described in the Vegetation Section. There are several tracts of land owned by TPWD and private conservation organizations throughout the LRGV. The TPWD administers the Las Palomas WMA in Cameron, Hidalgo, Presidio, Starr, and Willacy counties. Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park is located southwest of McAllen adjacent to the Rio Grande. The National Audubon Society’s Texas Sabal Palm Sanctuary is south of Brownsville along the Rio Grande (MG. 8). The fauna representative of the LRGV region is characterized as semi-tropical, with some tropical species at the northern limit of their ranges and, additionally, some Chihuahuan desert species. This region was once open grassland with a scattering of shrubs, low trees, and wooded flood plains along rivers. Overgrazing, the suppression of prairie fires, and other changes in land use

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patterns have transformed most of the grasslands into a thorn forest, covered with subtropical shrubs and trees (CBP 2003b). Common wildlife species observed during the October 2007 surveys are listed in Table 3.7-2. Table 3.7-2. Common Wildlife Species Observed in the Rio Grande Valley Sector
Common Name Mosquito Fish Texas Cichlid Scientific Name

FISH Gambusia affinis Herichthys cyanoguttatus AMPHIBIANS Giant (Marine) Toad Bufo marinus Gulf Coast Toad Bufo valliceps Rio Grande Chirping Frog Syrrhophus cystignathoides campi Rio Grande Leopard Frog Rana berlandieri Rio Grande River Cooter Pseudemys concinna gorzugi Texas Spiny Softshell Turtle Apalone spinifera emoryi REPTILES Blue Spiny Lizard Sceloporus serrifer cyanogenys Laredo Striped Whiptail Aspidoscelis laredoensis Prairie Racerunner Aspidoscelis sexlineatus viridis BIRDS American Avocet Recurvirostra americana American Kestrel Falco sparverius Anhinga Anhinga anhinga Barn Owl Tyto alba Barn Swallow Riparia riparia Black Vulture Coragyps atratus Black-bellied Whistling Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus Bobwhite Colinus virginianus Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus Bronzed Cowbird Molothrus aeneus Brown Jay Cyanocorax morio Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis Chihuahuan Raven Corvus cryptoleucus BIRDS (continued)
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Common Name Common Ground Dove Couch's Kingbird Crested Caracara Double-crested Cormorant Eastern Meadowlark European Starling Golden-fronted Woodpecker Great Blue Heron Great Egret Great Kiskadee Flycatcher Greater Roadrunner Greater Yellowlegs Great-tailed Grackle Green Heron Green Jay Groove-billed Ani Harris's Hawk Hooded Oriole House Finch House Sparrow Killdeer Lesser Nighthawk Lesser Yellowlegs Loggerhead Shrike Long-billed Curlew Long-billed Dowitcher Long-billed Thrasher Mourning Dove Northern Cardinal Northern Flicker Northern Harrier Northern Mockingbird Pied -billed Grebe Plain Chachalaca Purple Gallinule Red-tailed Hawk Red-winged Blackbird Rock Pigeon Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Turkey Vulture

Scientific Name Columbina passerina Tyrannus couchii Caracara plancus Phalacrocorax auritus Sturnella magna Sturnus vulgaris Melanerpes aurifrons Ardea herodias Ardea alba Pitangus sulphuratus Geococcyx californianus Tringa melanoleuca Quiscalus mexicanus Butorides virescens Cyanocorax yncas Crotophaga sulcirostris Parabuteo unicintus Icterus cucullatus Carpodacus mexicanus Passer domesticus Charadrius vociferus Chordeiles acutipennis Tringa flavipes Lanius ludovicianus Numenius americanus Limnodromus scolopaceus Toxostoma longirostre Zenaida aurtia Cardinalis cardinalis Colaptes auratus Circus cyaneus Mimus polyglottos Podilymbus podiceps Ortalis vetula Porphyrula martinica Buteo jamaicensis Agelaius phoeniceus Columba livia Tyrannus forticatus Cathartes aura

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Common Name

Scientific Name

BIRDS (continued) Vermillion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri White Ibis Eudocimus albus White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica MAMMALS Bobcat Lynx rufus Collared Peccary (Javelina) Tayassu tajacu Common Gray Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus Common Raccoon Procyon lotor Coyote Canis latrans Desert Cottontail Sylvilagus audubonii Eastern Cottontail Sylvilagus floridanus Fulvous Harvest Mouse Reithrodointomys fulvescens Gulf Coast Kangaroo Rat Dipodomys compactus Hispid Cotton Rat Sigmodon hispidus Mexican Ground Squirrel Spermophilus mexicanus Nine-banded Armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus Striped Skunk Mephitis mephitis
Source: e2M In Prep

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Past collections of fish from the Lower Rio Grande suggest two indigenous faunal assemblages, upstream and downstream. A total of 104 species of fish have been recorded from the Lower Rio Grande (Falcon Reservoir to Boca Chica). The upstream fauna is dominated by minnows and sunfishes, while the downstream fauna includes dominant estuarine and marine species of herrings, drums, and jacks (MG.9). Two fish species, Texas cichlid (Herichthys cyanoguttatus) and mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis), were observed in irrigation ditches during the October 2007 surveys (e2M In Prep). Special Status Species. [[Preparer’s Note: Full descriptions of federally listed species will be updated when the Phase I surveys are complete, and those data as well as the dataset from NatureServe have been incorporated into the analysis. Additional information will also be added through the Section 7 Consultation process with the USFWS.]] There are 52 state-listed taxa that have the potential to occur within or proximal to the proposed fence corridors in Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron Counties in the LRGV, including: 4 fish; 6 amphibians; 8 reptiles; 22 birds; 5 mammals; and 7 plants (see Table 3.7-3). Of those, 12 are also federally listed species including: 3 birds; 2 mammals; and 7 plants. No Federal threatened or endangered species
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were observed during the October 2007 surveys (e2M In Prep). State-listed species observed during the October 2007 surveys included the Mexican treefrog (Smilisca baudinii) and the Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum). Potential habitat for the white-lipped frog (Leptodactylus labialis) and Mexican burrowing toad (Rhinophrynus dorsalis) was observed in Segments O-8 and O-2, respectively. State-listed species observed and species with potential habitat in the project area are described below. Table 3.7-3. Federal and State Threatened and Endangered Species in Texas, by County
Common Name Scientific Name FISH Gobionellus atripinnis Microphis brachyurus Hybognathus amarus Awaous banana AMPHIBIANS Notophthalmus meridionalis Rhinophrynus dorsalis Smilisca baudinii Hypopachus variolosus Siren sp 1 Leptodactylus fragilis REPTILES Coniophanes imperialis Drymarchon corais Leptodeira septentrionalis septentrionalis Crotaphytus reticulatus Drymobius margaritiferus Phrynosoma cornutum Cemophora coccinea lineri Gopherus berlandieri BIRDS Falco peregrinus anatum Falco peregrinus tundrius Pelecanus occidentalis County Federal Status1 State Status T T E T T T T T T T T T T T T T T T E E T E

Blackfin goby Opossum pipefish Rio Grande silvery minnow River goby Black spotted newt Mexican burrowing toad Mexican treefrog Sheep frog South Texas siren (large form) White-lipped frog Black-striped snake Indigo snake Northern cat-eyed snake Reticulate collared lizard Speckled racer Texas horned lizard Texas scarlet snake Texas tortoise American peregrine falcon Arctic peregrine falcon Brown pelican

C C S, H, C H, C S, H, C S S, H, C S, H, C S, H, C S, H, C H, C S, H, C S, H, C S, H H, C S, H, C C S, H S, H, C S, H, C C

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Common Name

Scientific Name BIRDS (continued) Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum Buteogallus anthracinus Numenius borealis Asturina nitida Sterna antillarum Icterus cucullatus cucullatus Falco femoralis septentrionalis Camptostoma imberbe Falco peregrinus Charadrius melodus Egretta rufescens Pachyramphus aglaiae Sterna fuscata Aimophila botterii texana Parula pitiayumi Plegadis chihi Buteo albicaudatus Mycteria americana Buteo albonotatus MAMMALS Oryzomys couesi Herpailurus (=Felis) yaguarondi Leopardus (=Felis) pardalis Lasiurus ega Nasua narica PLANTS Thymophylla tephroleuca Frankenia johnstonii Ambrosia cheiranthifolia Astrophytum asterias Ayenia limitaris Manihot walkerae Lesquerella thamnophila

County

Federal Status1

State Status

Cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl Common black-hawk Eskimo curlew Gray hawk Least tern Mexican hooded oriole Northern Aplomado falcon Northern beardlesstyrannulet Peregrine falcon Piping plover Reddish egret Rose-throated becard Sooty tern Texas Botteri's sparrow Tropical parula White-faced ibis White-tailed hawk Wood stork Zone-tailed hawk Coues' rice rat Gulf Coast jaguarundi Ocelot Southern yellow bat White-nosed coati
Ashy dogweed Johnston's frankenia South Texas ambrosia Star cactus Texas ayenia Walker's manioc Zapata bladderpod
Sources: (MG.1) (CAS.1) Notes: S: Starr County, Texas H: Hidalgo County, Texas C: Cameron County, Texas 1 E = endangered; T = Threatened

S, H, C S, H, C C S, H, C S, H, C S C S, H, C S, H, C C H, C S, H, C C H, C S, H, C H, C S, H, C S, C S, C S, H, C S, H, C S, H, C H, C S, H, C
S S C S, H, H S, H S

T T E T E T E T T E, T T T T T T T T T T T T E E T T
E E E E E E E

E E

E E

E E E E E E E

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Mexican Treefrog (Smilisca baudinii) The Mexican treefrog is found along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and inland from South Texas into northern Mexico. In Texas, it is found in the extreme southern tip of the state. This nocturnal frog prefers sub-humid regions and breeding occurs year-round with rainfall. It is seen near streams and in resacas. It finds shelter under loose tree bark or in damp soil during the heat of the day (MG.5). This species was observed in Segment O-10. Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) The Texas horned lizard ranges from the south-central United States to northern Mexico, throughout much of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico. It can be found in arid and semiarid habitats in open areas with sparse plant cover. Because horned lizards dig for hibernation, nesting and insulation purposes, they commonly are found in loose sand or loamy soils (MG.6). This species was observed in Segment O-2. White-Lipped Frog (Leptodactylus labialis) The white-lipped frog is found in the extreme southern tip of Texas. This frog's habitat consists of various moist places including roadside ditches, irrigated fields, and low grasslands. This nocturnal frog burrows in the damp soil during the day and forages at night. Breeding takes place in the Spring with heavy rains (MG.5). Potential habitat for this species was observed in Segment O-8, but no individuals were found. Mexican Burrowing Toad (Rhinophrynus dorsalis) The Mexican burrowing toad is found in extreme South Texas. This nocturnal frog prefers low areas with loose soil (i.e., cultivated fields) and feeds on termites and ants. Breeding occurs after heavy rains (MG.5). Potential habitat for this species was observed in Segment O-2, but no individuals were found. [[Preparer’s Note: Information will be updated when surveys on Refuge lands are allowed and completed, and when species location data from NatureServe are delivered.]] The LRGV provides important habitat for migratory birds. The Central and Mississippi flyways meet here and the most southern tip of Texas is also the northernmost range for many bird species (CAS.3). Nearly 500 bird species, including neotropical migratory birds, shorebirds, raptors, and waterfowl, can be found in the LRGV. For species such as the plain chachalaca, green jay, great kiskadee, least grebe, and many others, this is the only area in the nation in which they can be observed (CAS.3). Habitat Potential. On-site inspection of habitat within the potential fence alignment was conducted by species specialists in October 2007 (CAS.2). While
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much of the survey corridor included highly disturbed segments (e.g. urban areas, dump sites, levees) and agricultural fields, areas of suitable habitat for ocelot, jaguarundi, Texas indigo snake, and Texas tortoise were scattered throughout. Migratory bird habitat is also distributed throughout the survey corridor. Segment O-1 was observed to contain high quality habitat potential for Zapata bladderpod and Walker’s manioc, although these two species were not observed within this segment. Segment O-2 provides habitat for Texas horned lizards, one individual of which was observed in that segment. Two Mexican tree frogs were observed in suitable habitat in Segment O-10. Segments O-2 and O8 presented potential habitat for white-lipped frog and Mexican burrowing toad, respectively; however, no individuals of these two taxa were discovered during the surveys (CAS.2). [[Preparer’s Note: Information will be updated when Phase I Biological Survey Report are completed.]]

3.8

CULTURAL RESOURCES

[[Preparer’s Note: This cultural resources section is based on limited data largely compiled from the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Historic Sites Atlas and Texas Archaeological Sites Atlas. This information was supplemented by other sources. These atlases provide summary information about archaeological sites and surveys, markers describing historical sites and events, neighborhood surveys, and individual properties and historic districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Because the atlases include only architectural resources that are listed in the NRHP and none that have been determined eligible for the NRHP, it is not a complete data set for architectural resources. It is expected that the project area will contain a large number of additional buildings and other resources that have been previously determined to be eligible for listing in the NRHP, as well as additional ones that have not been surveyed or evaluated. Further research and cultural resources surveys are being conducted at this time. Once completed, a separate report will be prepared and presented in Appendix J. The findings of the report will be summarized and will replace the following length discussion.]]

3.8.1

Definition of the Resource

NEPA and the CEQ regulations require consideration of the impacts of Federal actions on the "human environment.” CEQ regulations define the human environment as “the natural and physical (built) environment and the relationship of people with that environment” (40 CFR 1508.14). Many Federal laws, regulations, and EOs require consideration of the built or human environment, present and past. The specific subjects of these legal requirements and the legal triggers vary and overlap.
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Cultural resources are commonly subdivided into archaeological resources (prehistoric or historic sites where human activity has left physical evidence of that activity but no structures remain standing), architectural resources (buildings or other structures or groups of structures that are of historic, architectural, or other significance), and traditional cultural resources (e.g., traditional gathering areas, locations referenced in origin myths or traditional stories). Archaeological resources comprise areas where human activity has measurably altered the earth or where deposits of physical remains of human activity are found. Architectural resources include standing buildings, bridges, dams and other structures of historic, architectural, engineering, or aesthetic significance. Generally, resources must be more than 50 years old to be considered for the NRHP. More recent resources, such as Cold War-era buildings, might warrant protection if they have the potential to gain significance in the future or if they meet “exceptional” significance criteria. Traditional cultural properties (TCPs) are properties eligible for or listed in the NRHP that Native Americans or other groups consider essential for the preservation of traditional cultures. Examples of TCPs are archaeological resources, prominent topographic features, habitat, plants, minerals, and animals and the physical location or referent of the resource. For example, an animal would not constitute one of the five property types (see discussion below), but the forest occupied by the animal could meet the definition of a property type. The NRHP is our nation’s official listing of properties significant in history, architecture, or prehistory, and includes both publicly and privately owned properties. The list is administered by the National Park Service (NPS) on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior. Cultural resources that are listed in or eligible for listing in the NRHP (36 CFR 800.16(l)) are called historic properties. Properties are determined to be eligible for listing in the NRHP by the Secretary of the Interior (NPS) or by consensus of a Federal agency official and the SHPO. In Texas, the SHPO is Mr. Lawrence Oaks, executive director of the Texas Historical Commission (THC). NRHP-listed properties of exceptional national significance can be designated as National Historic Landmarks (NHLs) by the Secretary of the Interior. Buildings, structures, sites, objects, or districts are property types that might be historic properties. To be listed in or eligible for listing in the NRHP, a resource must be one of the property types, generally should be at least 50 years of age or older, and must meet at least one of the four following criteria (cf. 36 CFR 60.4): • • • The resource is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad pattern of history (criterion A). The resource is associated with the lives of people significant in the past (criterion B). The resource embodies distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction; represents the work of a master; possesses high
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artistic value; or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components might lack individual distinction (criterion C). • The resource has yielded, or could be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history (criterion D).

In addition to meeting at least one of the above criteria, a historic property must also possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. Integrity is defined as the authenticity of a property’s historic identity, as evidenced by the survival of physical characteristics it possessed in the past and its capacity to convey information about a culture or group of people, a historic pattern, or a specific type of architectural or engineering design or technology. Resources that might not be considered individually significant can be considered eligible for listing on the NRHP as part of a historic district. According to the NPS, a historic district possesses a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of sites, buildings, structures, or objects that are historically or aesthetically united by plan or physical development.

3.8.2

Affected Environment

The prehistory and history of the lower Rio Grande are rich, unique, and important. The river has been a critical conduit for trade and a natural border between interests to the north and the south. This is true from the earliest times. Evidence of human occupation in the region is abundant. The area’s archaeological record is dominated by open-air sites, burned rock middens, lithic artifact scatters, clay dunes in the Rio Grande delta, and shell middens near the coast. These sites are difficult to date because of heavy erosion, shallow soil horizons, and extensive artifact removal by collectors. The lack of excavation of deeply stratified subsurface sites means that the chronology of the south Texas plains is poorly understood. The following discussion of the precontact south Texas plains is divided into five general cultural periods. The Paleoindian period represents the first welldocumented human occupation of the region. Evidence of the earliest Paleoindian complexes, Clovis and Folsom, has been found throughout South Texas, although most of this evidence is from surface collections of the distinctive fluted points that characterize these complexes. Clovis and Folsom hunters appear to have specialized in hunting large animals, including mammoth and bison. Two stratified Paleoindian sites have been excavated in the South Texas region, Berger Bluff (41GD30) in Goliad County, and Buckner Ranch (41BE2) in Bee County (TARL Archives). The long Archaic period in southern Texas is divided into the early, middle, and late periods. The Archaic period is marked by the continuation of hunting and gathering, but also by the utilization of a greater range of plant and animal resources and geographic settings. The Archaic period is also characterized by
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changes in climate. Specifically, the Early and Middle Archaic periods overlap with the Altithermal (ca. 6000–2000 B.C.), a warm and dry climate episode. The Early Archaic period is poorly documented in the southern Texas region, especially on the Rio Grande Delta, thanks to deep sediment deposition. The available evidence suggests that population density was unchanged from the Paleoindian period, and that Early Archaic hunters continued to live in small, highly mobile groups. Middle Archaic sites appear to be more common than Early Archaic sites, and are found in upland, alluvial, and tributary settings and estuary bays. The Middle Archaic in southern Texas is also distinguished by the appearance of ground stone artifacts (MIN1) and other signs of expanded plant use, including an increase in the number of burned rock middens. Exploitation of coastal resources also appears to have increased. The increasing diet breadth is accompanied by an increase in site size and artifact abundance, suggesting an increase in population (MIN1). Sites from the later Middle Archaic also contain evidence of trade between the Rio Grande plain and the coastal delta. Late Archaic sites are relatively common in the project area, suggesting increasing population density (MIN1). Along with increasing site density, the period is marked by a continued expansion in diet breadth, with rodents and rabbits becoming more common in the archaeological record and with an increase in specialized plant resource extraction features such as hearths. Sites also appear to have been used repeatedly, suggesting a more sedentary settlement pattern or an increasingly scheduled subsistence regime. Regional trade of items such as marine shell pendants is also present, as are the cemeteries that appeared in the Middle Archaic. The Late Prehistoric period (A.D. 700–historic times) is well-documented in this region due to the abundance and careful preservation of sites. It is characterized by the appearance of pottery and the bow and arrow, although point typologies have not been formalized (Hester et al. 1989). In much of southern Texas, the Late Prehistoric period has two distinct horizons: the Austin (A.D. 800-1350) and the Toyah (A.D. 1350-1600) (Black 1986). Bone-tempered pottery with incised designs appears by A.D. 1000. The Toyah horizon is the best documented and is associated with Perdiz points, small end scrappers, flake knives, beveled knives, Leon Plain bone-tempered pottery, ceramic figurines and pipes, and shell and bone ornaments and beads. Toyah sites are generally found near streams. Along the coast, the Late Prehistoric period begins around A.D. 1200 with the Rockport complex. In the delta, the Late Prehistoric begins around A.D. 1200 with the Brownsville complex. These complexes are similar to the Austin and Toyah horizons, and are characterized in large part by bone-tempered ceramics virtually identical to inland types. The Brownsville complex is also associated with a well-developed shell-working industry. In the nearly 500 years since initial Spanish exploration, the area has been claimed and influenced by four nations: Spain, Mexico, Republic of Texas, and the United States. Each has pursued its own interests and left its mark as historic landmarks or patterns of land uses. Missions were the focus during the Spanish
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colonial period (ca. 1519–1822) (MIN2). Spanish-speaking peoples established ranches in support of the missions. During the Early Anglo-European period (1822–1845), the missions of northern Mexico and Texas were secularized and became less important. Anglo-Americans and Anglo-Europeans began rapidly settling in Texas, bringing with them their own customs, traditions, and influences. Some were of Irish and Mexican descent, and practiced small-scale farming and ranching. These Empresarios had been granted lands in exchange for settling in the area and becoming Mexican citizens. Still large-scale Mexican/Spanish ranching interests continued in the area. Roma became an important port town in this period because of its favored location where river boats met overland routes. In 1836, the Anglo colonists revolted against Mexico and won their independence within the same year by defeating Santa Anna at San Jacinto. During the Texas Republic period (1836–1846), the lower Rio Grande was central to the border tensions between the newly independent Texan republic and the government of Mexico, culminating in the Mexican-American War (1846– 1848). On behalf of the Texans, U.S. troops under General Zachary Taylor landed their forces at Port Isabel and established Fort Brown on the Rio Grande across from Matamoros. The presence of the troops provoked the Mexican government to attack, starting the Mexican-American War. Besides military action at Fort Brown, significant battles occurred at Palo Alto and Resaca de los Palmas in the lower Rio Grande. During the American period (1848–present), Anglo-European farmers and ranchers settled the lower Rio Grande area and continued large-scale, export cattle ranching started by the Mexicans. To protect the U.S. border, the U.S. Army constructed a line of forts from north-central Texas to the Rio Grande. A second line of forts was established, including Fort Ringgold. As Anglo-American and Anglo-European settlers moved in, towns grew at road and river crossings. Potteries, brick kilns, and local commercial centers were established. The lower Rio Grande valley played an important role during the Civil War as local supporters used the river to transport cotton and war materials to support the Confederate effort. Roma and Brownsville, in particular, prospered during the period. The last battle of the Civil War occurred at Fort Brown, ironically a month after the war’s official end at Appomattox. The following decades were the years of the large cattle drives north on Chisolm Trail, which began at Brownsville. Railroads, drought, and the use of barbed wire contributed to the eventual breakup of large ranches into smaller farms owned by immigrants from the mid western states and the end of open range ranching and the large cattle drives. New irrigation systems enabled large-scale agriculture, and the lower Rio Grande became noted for its rich croplands and citrus groves. In recognition of the important-contribution of the lower Rio Grande to Texas and American history, the Texas Historical Commission designated the 200-mile area from Laredo to Brownsville as Los Rios del Camino Heritage Trail (MIN3). The
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binational Los Caminos del Rio Heritage Project was created to support the understanding and appreciation of the history of the area (ACHP 1997; ACHP 1994). The location of the Proposed Action along the lower Rio Grande places it in an area rich in archaeological, historical, and cultural resources. Alternatives 2 and 3 will cross within two historic districts that are designated NHLs: the Roma Historic District and Fort Brown. It will extend adjacent to or within the bounds of three additional NRHP-listed historic districts: Fort Ringgold Historic District, Louisiana-Rio Grande Canal Company Irrigation System Historic District (including Hidalgo Pumphouse), Old Brulay Plantation. It will be in the general vicinity of many other NRHP-listed properties, such as the Rancho Toluca Historic District, La Lomita Historic District, Neale House, and Stillman House. It is known that additional architectural resources eligible for the NRHP but not formally nominated for listing are also in the vicinity of the Proposed Action. Others that meet the NRHP eligibility criteria but have not been inventoried or evaluated are expected. Historic-era property in the lower Rio Grande area include historic residential, commercial, and institutional buildings both in settled communities and in rural contexts, military forts, transportation resources (ferry crossing and ferry, suspension bridge), cemeteries, religious complexes, industrial resources (irrigation systems and associated water lift pumphouses), farmsteads and plantations, and ranch complexes. Historic archaeological sites include shipwrecks, forts, homesteads, and trash scatters. One site is listed on the NRHP (Fort Brown).

Specific Historic Property Discussion
In the following discussion, historic districts and individual properties listed in the NRHP have been described near Alternatives 2 and 3. Previously identified archaeological resources are identified also. This is based on information contained in the THC Texas Historic Sites Atlas and Texas Archaeological Sites Atlas. It is acknowledged that there are additional properties eligible for listing in the NRHP and others not yet surveyed or evaluated for NRHP eligibility. Roma Historic District. The Roma Historic District was designated an NHL by the Secretary of the Interior in 1993. The 15-block historic district includes 35 contributing buildings, such as the Nestor Sáenz Store (1884) and Manuel Guerra House and Store (1878–84). The Roma-San Pedro International Bridge (1928) is a contributing property of the historic district. It is anticipated that there are additional buildings that are individually eligible for listing in the NRHP that are both within and outside of historic district. The 19th-century town of Roma was an important shipping point for steamboats along the Rio Grande. The site was first settled in 1760 by Spanish colonists from the colonial settlement, Mier, located on the south bank of the Rio Grande. With the development of steamboat river commerce in the middle of the 19th century, Roma prospered as the western port for flatbed ships carrying cotton
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down the Rio Grande and supplies upriver. It also was a connection point for overland trade into western Texas and the eastern interior of Mexico. The Roma Historic District represents an outstanding example of the building techniques of the Lower Rio Grande. These techniques, derived from the 18thcentury traditions of northern Mexico, are best exemplified by the finely detailed brick commercial and residential buildings designed and constructed by German emigrant mason Heinrich Portscheller. Influenced by the architecture of its sister city of Mier across the river and by the architecture of Guerrero Viejo, Mexico, Roma possesses buildings of river sandstone, caliche limestone, and molded brick. Masons used both rejoneado and sillar techniques in Roma. The International Bridge linking Roma to Mexico is the last suspension bridge on the Rio Grande and a contributing element of the historic district (MIN6). Fort Ringgold Historic District. Fort Ringgold was one of four military posts the Federal government organized along the Lower Rio Grande following the Mexican-American War. Its location on the Rio Grande made the post an important supplier of goods and materials to military installations further upriver. Troops stationed at Fort Ringgold helped quell numerous border conflicts that erupted from 1849 to 1917. The troops ultimately helped bring stability that contributed to the economic development on both sides of the Rio Grande. The fort was deactivated by the Army in 1944 and sold to the Rio Grande City school system (MIN3). The Fort Ringgold Historic District encompasses much of this U.S. Army installation established in 1848 and closed in 1944. The Fort Ringgold Historic District was listed in the NRHP in 1993 under Criteria A and C at the state level of significance. The district, which includes approximately 75 acres, has 41 contributing properties. Most of the buildings are at the northern end of the historic district surrounding the parade ground. They are associated with the later post-1869 development of the older fort. During the earlier phase (1848– 1869), frame buildings were constructed to the south on two hills overlooking the Rio Grande and a steamboat dock. A small settlement grew called Davis Landing or Davis Rancho. The 1848 buildings included a hospital, storehouses, barracks, Commandant’s house, stables, mess hall and fort store, and cemetery. When new buildings were constructed to the north in 1969, these earlier structures were given new uses. The Commandant’s house became the quartermaster’s office. Archaeological site 41SR142 is the archaeological component of the earlier fort, and is larger than the historic district. The Commandant’s house, also known as the Lee House or Robert E. Lee House, is a contributing element of the historic district (MIN3). Los Ebanos Crossing, Ferry, and Community of Los Ebanos. The Los Ebanos ferry crossing is located on an ancient ford site with the first historic use during the 1740s by the Spanish colonist, Jose de Escandón. Historically, a salt
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trail led from the ford crossing to La Sal del Rey, an inland salt lake 40 miles northeast that produced the first export from the region. The ford also was used over several centuries, notably by troops of the Mexican-American War, 1846; by Texas Rangers chasing cattle rustlers, 1874; and by smugglers in many eras, especially during the American prohibition years, 1920–33 (MIN3). A ferry and inspection station are located at the crossing today. Los Ebanos Ferry, established in 1950, is notable as the only government-licensed, hand-pulled ferry on any boundary of the United States. The ferry has capacity for 3 automobiles and approximately 12 persons. The ferry cable is connected to an estimated 250-year old Texas ebony tree that is included in the Texas Forest Service’s Famous Trees of Texas (ACHP 2005). It is possible that the Los Ebanos Ferry is eligible for listing in the NRHP and that the area including the ferry is a historic landscape. The community of Los Ebanos is an historic town, and has a cemetery where veterans of many wars are buried. La Lomita Historic District. La Lomita Historic District, listed in the NRHP in 1975, comprises three contributing properties. The earliest remaining property is the stucco and stone mission chapel with a bell tower constructed in 1899. On the small hill is the mission-style St. Peter's Novitiate erected in 1912 that served as a novitiate training center for student priests. Together the Mission chapel, 122 acres of farm and ranch lands, and novitiate are tangible reminders of the important role of the Catholic Church in the lower Rio Grande Valley. They also document the contribution of the Oblate Fathers in settling this southern tip of Texas. The community of Granjenos is immediately north of Segment O-5. The historic Granjenos cemetery is at the north end of the community. Louisiana-Rio Grande Canal Company Irrigation System Historic District. The Louisiana-Rio Grande Canal Company Irrigation System Historic District was listed in the NRHP in 1995. The 31,200-acre historic district comprises the firstlift and second-lift pumphouses and the associated historic irrigation canal network. The first-lift pumphouse, known as the Hidalgo Pumphouse, is significant for its historical associations and engineering and retains original equipment. The historic canal system extends for approximately 500 miles, and includes border-to-border earthen canals, concrete-lined facilities, and canals in pipes on original alignments. The historic district is significant at the state level under Criterion A with a period of significance from 1904 to 1949. The system contributed to the early 20th century agricultural revolution in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Private irrigation systems, like the Louisiana-Rio Grande system constructed by the Louisiana-Rio Grande Canal Company, transformed the arid brush land of the Lower Rio Grande Valley into a vast patchwork of 20- to 80-acre irrigated farms within two decades following the 1904 arrival of the first railroad to the isolated area. Once established, the successful produce of those farms defined South Texas as one of the nation's three largest winter agricultural regions until a freeze in 1949. Today the irrigation system, except the Hidalgo Pumphouse, is owned by the Hidalgo County Irrigation District No. 2. (ACHP 2007C). Segment O-6, as
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proposed, will extend north/south along the west boundary of the historic district, immediately adjacent to the Hidalgo Pumphouse on both sides and easterly within the southern portion of the district for a distance of about 1.5 miles. In its easterly extension Segment O-6 would cross canals that contribute to the historic district. As proposed the corridor would break for the Hidalgo Pumphouse and its parcel. Toluca Ranch. The Toluca Ranch, listed in the NRHP in 1983 as a historic district, is one of the few intact ranch ensembles in the Rio Grande Valley. Originally the ranch land holdings included 5,900 acres. The four contributing properties constituting Toluca Ranch are the Church of St. Joseph of the Worker, a two-story house, store, and a schoolhouse. Constructed in 1899 by Florencio Saenz, the Gothic Revival church with a tower served the Saenz family and local community. The two-story Italianate-style house was constructed in 1906 by Saenz. The schoolhouse was built in 1903 and operated for the children of the local community and Saenz family until 1911. Saenz was a progressive farmer. Four hundred acres of Saenz’s croplands were irrigated to grow beans, corn, melons, and sugar cane for ranch consumption. On pasturelands further north of the river he raised horses, sheep, goats, and cattle (ACHP 2007c). Sabas Cavazos Cemetery. The Sabas Cavazos Cemetery was established in 1878 with the burial of a rancher and businessman, Sabas Cavazos. Cavazos was great grandson to Jose Salvador de la Garza, recipient of the Espiritu Santo royal land grant of approximately 250,000 acres encompassing present-day Brownsville (ACHP 2007C). It is located approximately 0.25 miles north of the Segment O-17 corridor (ACHP 2007c). Brownsville and Fort Brown Historic District. Brownsville is rich in historic buildings and sites, many of which are listed in the NRHP. Fort Brown, a historic district designated an NHL, was established in April 1846 by Brigadier General Zachary Taylor and became the first U.S. military post in Texas. The fort was important in some of the earliest battles of the Mexican-American War, the Battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. The early fort was earthworks with six bastions in the form of a six-pointed star with 15-foot thick walls. During the Civil War, Brownsville became an important Confederate port town. Boats transported cotton bound for Europe and inbound war material for the Confederacy. Union troops fought for control of Fort Brown, which was held by the Confederate army until the end of the war. Troops from Fort Brown engaged in the last battle of Civil War, the Battle of Palmetto Hill, nearly a month after Appomattox (MIN 8). After the Civil War, the fort was re-occupied by the U.S. Army and expanded. Under the efforts of Lieutenant William Gorgas (later U.S. Army Surgeon General), Fort Brown had a major role in the medical research related to the control of yellow fever. Fort Brown also contributed to efforts to control the Mexican bandit trouble of 1913–1917. In 1948, the fort was transferred to the city of Brownsville. Today the former hospital building is part of the Texas
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Southmost College (ACHP 2007A). The former barracks, medical lab, and guardhouse are extant. Archaeological site 41CF96 is south of the later fort complex and is the remnants of the earthworks of the original Fort Brown (ACHP 2001). Brownsville has many other NRHP-listed historic buildings and sites. Near Fort Brown is the Neale House (ca. 1850). Although relocated, the Neale House is one of the oldest houses in Brownsville. The Stillman House, constructed in 1850 and listed in the NRHP in 1979, is one of the earliest Greek Revival-style brick structures in the region (ACHP 2007b). The house was originally built for and occupied by Charles Stillman, who hired a surveyor to lay out the town lots adjacent to Fort Brown before Brownsville was founded. The house was later occupied by Thomas Carson, Brownsville mayor from 1879 to 1892 and judge of the Cameron County Commissioners Court. There are a number of historic shipwrecks that are reported west of Fort Brown including archaeological site 41CF177, a steamboat shipwreck site, and others. (ACHP 2007C) Old Brulay Plantation Historic District. The Old Brulay Plantation, listed in the NRHP in 1975, is composed of the two-story brick house of French emigrant George N. Brulay, and nine buildings associated with his sugar cane plantation. The Brulay plantation was purchased in 1870 by Brulay. In 1872, he built the first commercial sugar mill in the area to produce piloncillo (a dark brown sugar) on his 300-acre plantation and began irrigating his fields, thereby revolutionalizing agricultural practices in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Cultivated fields are north of the structures (ACHP 2007c). The Brulay Cemetery is north and east of the plantation complex. Archaeological Resources. There are previously reported prehistoric archaeological resources within the corridor and within a mile of the area of the Proposed Action. They are primarily open air campsites and lithic scatters. Temporal and cultural affiliations are unclear, and few sites are very extensive. The recorders did not evaluate the NRHP eligibility of most of them. Historic archaeological sites include forts, shipwrecks, homesteads, and historic trash scatters. There may be additional types of historic archaeological sites. Should any sites be found through archaeological surveys, they will be considered for various treatment options such as redesigning the project or data recovery.

Historic Property Surveys
To date discussion of archaeological resources of the project area is based on existing information about previously recorded sites acquired from the THC Texas Historic Sites Atlas and Texas Archaeological Sites Atlas, supplemented by additional sources. Information about previously recorded archaeological, historical, and architectural sites within the 150-foot survey corridor and within a 1-mile radius of the corridor was compiled and plotted on project maps. It is acknowledged that this data set has limitations: much of the survey data is not recent and might not be complete. Not all of the area of the 150-foot corridor has
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had recent archaeological surveys, and the information from past surveys is quite fragmentary. In addition, information about architectural resources from the Texas Historic Sites Atlas is limited to buildings and historic districts listed in the NRHP. Many additional buildings and resources are eligible for listing in the NRHP but have not been formally listed. There are many additional resources that have not been surveyed or evaluated for eligibility for listing in the NRHP. Acknowledging these data shortcomings, additional information about historic properties in the general area or that might be affected by the Proposed Action is being gathered and analyzed. Field-based cultural resources surveys of both archaeological, historic, and architectural resources are being conducted. Efforts are being undertaken to identify historic properties within the Area Potentially Effected (APE), the geographical area within which effects on historic properties can be expected. This APE needs to account for direct construction impacts, as well as indirect effects such as the intrusion of contrasting visual elements, noise, and vibration. Section 4.8.1 provides further discussion regarding the delineation of the APE. Construction of Alternative 3 of the Proposed Action (Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative) as currently proposed would directly affect a 130-foot-wide corridor. Alternative 2 as currently proposed would affect only a 50-foot-wide corridor. In addition, there are ancillary areas outside the corridor such as construction staging areas. Thus, for direct construction purposes, the APE considers a 150-foot-wide corridor plus ancillary areas outside that corridor. A second APE is being determined to account for visual impacts and other indirect effects of the Preferred Action on historic properties. This APE is being determined based on consideration of a variety of factors such as topography, vegetation, and surrounding development, in consultation with the THC. The 150-foot-wide APE is being subject to an archaeological survey conducted in accordance with the THC requirements and standards identified in Archaeological Survey Standards of Texas and the approved Texas Antiquities Permit. The survey also will be conducted in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines Archaeology and Historic Preservation Projects (including the Standards and Guidelines for Identification, Evaluation, and Archaeological Documentation). Professional archaeologists meeting the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualifications Standards will carry out the survey (NPS). In conjunction with the survey, consultation will be undertaken with the THC, federally recognized Indian tribes that attach religious and cultural significance to cultural resources in the APE or that are culturally affiliated with the lands contained within the APE, and others. An architectural and historic resources survey will be undertaken within the 150wide corridor, areas of ancillary project elements, and areas beyond the corridor to account for visual and other indirect effects. Buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts (including landscapes) will be surveyed and evaluated for NRHP eligibility. Information about past surveys of nonarchaeological resources
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(e.g., buildings and historic sites) will be evaluated for completeness, level of effort, conformance to current standards and survey results. This information will help to focus survey efforts so that all resources are considered. Architectural and historic resources 40 years of age or older will be surveyed and evaluated for NRHP eligibility according to THC architectural survey standards (ACHP 2005). All surveyed archaeological, architectural, and historic resources will be evaluated for their NRHP eligibility using the National Register Criteria (36 CFR 60.4) and relevant guidance of the NPS such as National Register Bulletins 15 and 22. USBP will request the Texas SHPO’s concurrence regarding determination of a property’s NRHP eligibility; a determination of eligibility from the Keeper of the National Register (NPS) will be sought if the SHPO does not concur with USBP’s evaluation. The historical and architectural survey will be conducted in accordance with both the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Archaeology and Historic Preservation and the THC’s Historic Resources Survey Form and survey guidance. Professionals who meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualifications Standards for architectural historian, historian, and other appropriate discipline will conduct the survey (ACHP 2007a, DOI 1983). A proposed Programmatic Agreement for compliance with Section 106 of the NHPA will guide the completion of the efforts to identify historic properties and evaluate them for NRHP eligibility, as well as to assess effects and to resolve adverse effects on historic properties. This is discussed further in Section 4.8.3.

3.9
3.9.1

AESTHETICS AND VISUAL RESOURCES
Definition of the Resource

Review of current methodologies for analysis and assessment of visual impacts, particularly those associated with linear corridor projects, resulted in the selection of the methology outlined in Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Publication No. FHWA-HI-88-054: Visual Impact Assessment for Highway Projects (STG1). These methodologies were chosen for analysis of visual impacts for this EIS. Under the FHWA approach, the major components of the visual analysis process include establishing the visual environment of the project, assessing the visual resources of the project area, and identifying viewer response to those resources. Establishing a Visual Environment. To characterize the visual environment, one must perform two related steps: (1) develop a framework for visual assessment that will help compare project alternatives and (2) define the physical limits of the visual environment that each alternative may affect. The concept of landscape classification enables us to establish the general visual environment of a project and its place in the regional landscape. The starting point for the classification is an understanding of the landscape components that make up the
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regional landscape, which then allows comparisons between landscapes. The components of the regional landscape are its landforms (or topography) and landcover. It should be noted that landcover is not equivalent to land use, as that latter term is defined and used in Section 3.4 of this PDEIS. Landcover is essentially that – identification of what features (e.g., water, vegetation, type of manmade development) dominate the land within a given parcel. Examples of landcover would include agricultural field, housing development, airport, forest, grassland, or resevoir. While there is some overlap with land use, landcover doesn’t distinguish function or ownership of parcels. Relatively homogenous combinations of landforms and landcover that recur throughout a region can be considered to be landscape types. To provide a framework for comparing the visual effects of the project alternatives, regional landscape are divided into distinct landscape units; these are usually enclosed by clear landform or landcover boundaries and many of the views within the unit are inward-looking. Landscape units are usually characterized by diverse visual resources, and it is not uncommon for several landscape types may be in view at any one time. Assessing the Visual Resources. An assessment of the visual resources within a project area involves characterization of the character and quality of those resources. Descriptions of visual character can distinguish at least two levels of attributes: pattern elements and pattern character. Visual pattern elements are primary visual attributes of objects; they include form, line, color, and texture. Our awareness of these pattern elements varies with distance. The visual contrast between a project and its visual environment can frequently be traced to four aspects of pattern character: dominance, scale, diversity, and continuity. Visual quality is somewhat more subjective, as it relies on the viewer’s enjoyment or interpretation of experience. For example, there is a clear public agreement that the visual resources of certain landscapes have high visual quality and that plans for projects in those areas should be subject to careful examination. Approaches to assessing visual quality include identifying landscapes already recognized at the national, regional, or local level for their visual excellence (e.g., National Landmarks, National Scenic Rivers); asking viewers to identify quality visual resources; or looking to the regional landscape for specific resource indicators of visual quality. One set of evaluative approach that has proven useful includes three criteria: vividness (the visual power or memorability of the landscape), intactness (the visual integrity of the natural and manmade landscape and its freedom from encroaching elements), and unity (the visual coherence and compositional harmony of the landscape considered as a whole). A high value for all three criteria equates to a high visual quality; combinations of lesser values indicate moderate or low visual quality. It should be noted that low visual quality does not necessarily mean that there will be no concern over the visual effects of a project. In instances, such as urban settings, communities might ask that projects help improve existing visual quality. Improvements to the visual quality of everyday environments deserve consideration just because these environments are experienced so frequently by so many people. A fence
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that stretches for miles on the edge of a community is a major public investment, and attention to its design can do much to raise visual quality around it. Identifying Viewer Response. To understand and predict viewer response to the appearance of a project, one must know something about the viewers who might see the project and the aspects of the visual environment to which they are likely to respond. Vision is an active sense; we usually have some reason for looking at the landscape and what we see is unconsciously conditioned by what we are looking for. How we feel about what we see is conditioned by other human factors and can be shared by large groups of people, or be an individual response. The receptivity of different viewer groups to the visual environment and its elements is not equal. Viewer sensitivity is strongly related to visual preference; it modifies visual experience directly by means of viewer activity and awareness, and indirectly by means of values, opinions, and preconceptions. Because viewers in some settings are more likely to share common distractions, activities, and awareness of their visual environment, it might be practical to distinguish among project viewers located in residential, recreational, and industrial areas. Visual awareness is the extent to which the receptivity of viewers is heightened by the immediate experience of visual resource characteristics. Visual change heightens awareness: a landscape transition, such as entering a mountain range or a major city, can heighten viewer awareness within that particular viewshed. Measures that modify viewer exposure, such as selective clearing or screening, can also be deliberately employed to modify viewer awareness. Viewers also tend to notice and value the unusual, so they may see more value in preserving the view towards a particularly dramatic stand of trees than the view towards more ubiquitous landscape features. Local values and goals operate indirectly on viewer experience by shaping view expectations, aspirations, and appreciations. For example, at a regional or national level, viewers might be particularly sensitive to the visual resources and appearance of a particular landscape due to its cultural significance, and any visual evidence of change might be seen as a threat to these values or resources. Concern over the appearance of the Proposed Action often might be based on how it will affect the visual character of an area rather than on the particular visual resources it will displace.

3.9.2 Affected Environment
Visual Environment. Based on the Physiographic Map of Texas (STG2), the Rio Grande Valley crosses portions of the Coastal Prairies and Interior Coastal Plains subprovinces of the Gulf Coast Plains physiographic province. Within the Coastal Prairies subprovince (Segments O-7 through O-21), young deltaic sands, silts, and clays erode to nearly flat grasslands that form almost imperceptible slopes to the southeast. Minor steep slopes, from 1 foot to as much as 9 feet
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high, result from subsidence of deltaic sediments along faults. The Interior Coastal Plains subprovince (Segments O-1 through O-6) comprises alternating belts of resistant uncemented sands among weaker shales that erode into long, sandy ridges. Primary landform types present within the APEs include the Rio Grande channel, its active floodplain and terraces, the man-made levee and floodway system, arroyos feeding into the Rio Grande River, low to moderate height cliffs formed through subsidence, soil erosion, downcutting of arroyos into the soft sediments, various irrigation canals and ditches, vegetation-covered dunes, small ponds, and low sand ridges. Within the relict floodplain are a number of abandoned meander loops, some containing water (ponds) and some only visible as traces on aerial photographs. The terraces and floodplain of the Rio Grande, which are parallel or adjacent to the river, range from extremely narrow landforms to broad level expanses as much as 3 miles wide in places. Flooding on the nearly level terraces along the Rio Grande is controlled by seven watershed structures built under P.L. 566. Land cover types overlying these landforms include agricultural fields, range lands, rural farmsteads or ranches, transportation features (e.g., highways, paved and unpaved roads, bridges), suburban housing developments, towns and cities, commercial and industrial areas (e.g., some urban, some isolated), floodways, parks, and wildlife refuges. At the macro level of analysis, the Rio Grande Valley is a distinct land unit. Within that larger land unit, combinations of landform types with the range of land cover types form smaller land units: • Park/refuge land unit – Includes portions of the Rio Grande floodplain and terraces that have been subject to minimal development or land use, so that the natural vegetation and topography dominate. Typical features include vegetated dune ridges, arroyos, cliffs, unpaved access roads, trail networks, and occasional interpretive buildings and signage. Primary examples are the discontiguous sections of the LRGVNWR (see Figure 3.9-1). This land unit is present within Segments O-1, O-2, O-11, O-13, O-16, O-18, O-20, and O-21. Rural land unit – Includes the terraces of the Rio Grande where they are overlain by agricultural and range land uses; however, the character of the underlying landforms are still clearly visible and play a role in the locations of overlying features (see Figure 3.9-2). Typical features include field breaks, irrigation features, unpaved roads, occasional farmsteads or ranches typically located in clusters of trees, occasional water towers, and larger metal utility towers. This land unit is present within Segments O-1, O-2, O-3, O-4, O-5, O-7, O-8, O-9, O-10, O-11, O-12, O-13, O-14, O-15, O-16, O-17, O-18, and O-20.
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Figure 3.9-1. Photograph View of Arroyo within Wildlife Refuge (Segment O-1)
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Figure 3.9-2. Photograph View of Typical Rural Land Unit (Segment O-17)
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Town/Suburban Development land unit – includes the terraces of the Rio Grande where they are overlain by clusters of houses or businesses, often connected with gridded road networks (paved and unpaved). The underlying landforms are visible in places but, except for water sources (e.g., ponds, reservoirs, or lakes), the topography and form of the land do not play a significant role in the layout or location of overlying features. Typical features include houses, small outbuildings, driveways, planned landscaping, clumps or lines of trees, small commercial buildings, water towers, and overhead power lines on poles rather than towers. Examples would be the town of Los Ebanos in Segment O-3 (see Figure 3.9-3), the town of Granjeno in Segment O-5, and the subdivisions of Joann and Galaxia in Segment O-18. This land unit is present within Segments O-1, O-3, O-4, O-5, O-6, O-9, O-14, O-15, O-16, O-17, O-18, O-19, O-20, and O-21.

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Figure 3.9-3. Town of Los Ebanos Photograph, Segment O-3
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• Urban/Industrial land unit – includes the terraces of the Rio Grande where they are overlain by moderate to high density mixed use development. The underlying landforms are almost completely masked by man-made features and play little or no role in the layout or location of overlying features. Typical features include buildings of varying heights, sizes, and materials, a mixture of gridded and more organic road networks (primarily paved), planned park areas (often near water sources), open paved areas (e.g., parking areas), the larger POEs, industrial and commercial areas, overhead utility lines on poles, elevated roadways and overpasses, and elevated signage. Examples include the City of Roma in Segment O-1, Rio Grande City in Segment O-2 (see Figure 3.9-4), and Hidalgo in Segment O-6. This land unit is present within segments O-2, O-4, O-6, O10, O-14, O-17, O-19, O-20, and O-21.

Figure 3.9-4. Photograph View of Rio Grande City POE, Segment O-2

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Character and Quality of Visual Resources. Tables 3.9-1 and 3.9-2 provide summaries of the visual character and quality, respectively, of visual resources observed within the land units within the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Values reflect visual character and visual quality of resources visible from distances of 50 feet to 2,000 feet. It should also be noted that, at these distances, direct views of the Rio Grande and active floodplain are typically seen only from the vantage of riverfront parks, refuge trails, bridges across the river (POEs), tall office or residential buildings, or from the top of the levee. For viewers not occupying one of these vantage points, typical views toward the proposed fence(s) are obstructed by the levees. In terms of visual quality, the analysis presumed that any view that included the Rio Grande constituted a high-quality view, except for views dominated by industrial or commercial elements (e.g., views of the POEs). Similarly, given that quality of view can be somewhat subjective, it was considered possible to find at least one low- and one high-quality view within any land unit type. For example, someone with an interest in old railroad bridges might find the view of the bridge in Segment O-17 to be memorable, while other viewers might only see a large rusted metal structure blocking an otherwise natural view. Rather than simply provide a range of ratings of low to high for each, the quality of the most common views within a given land unit type was used. In addition to these averaged assessments of visual character and quality of resources within each land unit type, there are a number of specific visual resources considered to be of particular importance because of their natural or cultural value [[Preparer’s Note: this list will increase once cultural resources surveys are completed]]: • • • • • • • • • • • LRGVNWR (Segments O-1, O-2, O-11, O-13, O-16, O-18, O-20, and O21) Roma World Birding Center and Overlook (Segment O-1) Roma Historic District and National Historic Landmark (Segment O-1) Fort Ringgold Historic District/Site 41SR142 (earthworks) (Segment O-2) Los Ebanos Ferry Crossing (Segment O-3) Penitas Cemetery (Segment O-4) La Lomita Historic District (Segment O-5) Town of Granjeno and Granjeno Cemetery (Segment O-5) Hidalgo Pumphouse Nature Park (Segment O-6) Louisiana-Rio Grande Canal Company Irrigation System Historic District (Segment O-6) Toluca Ranch Historic District (Segment O-10)
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Table 3.9-1. Character of Visual Resources within Typical Rio Grande Valley Land Units (Current Conditions)
Line mostly horizontal and gentle curves Park/Refuge Color earthy (browns, greens) punctuated by seasonal brightness Form mostly curved, organic shapes Texture low to moderate variety depending on mix of vegetation and inclusion of water elements relatively subtle variations in texture (mostly bare earth or crops)

Rural

primarily horizontal lines (fields, roads, canals), with occasional vertical elements (silos, utility towers, tree lines, buildings) mixed vertical (trees, utility poles, water towers, buildings) and horizontal (similar heights of buildings, lines of trees or shrubs, roads, lawns) lines vertical lines more prominent than horizontal

earthy colors (bare earth and crops)

mixture of angled and curved forms (roads and buildings vs rolling hills and meandering river)

Town/Suburban Development

variety of colors due to mix of manmade and natural elements

variety of forms due to mixture of man-made and natural elements

variety of textures due to mix of manmade and natural elements

Urban/Industrial

often a high variety of colors associated with buildings, signs, green spaces

primarily rectilinear forms but can be punctuated by curves from more elaborate architecture or organic shapes of natural elements

variety of textures related to different building materials against natural textures in green spaces

4

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Table 3.9-2. Quality of Visual Resources within Typical Rio Grande Valley Land Units (Current Conditions)
Vividness Park/Refuge Rural Town/Suburban Development Urban/Industrial Moderate/High Moderate Moderate Low to high Intactness Moderate/High Moderate/High Low/Moderate Moderate Unity Moderate/High Moderate/High Low/Moderate Low to high Rating Moderate/High Moderate/High Low/moderate Moderate

3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

• • • • • • • • • •

Sabas Cavazos Cemetery (Segment O-13) Hope Park (Segment O-19) Neale House (Segment O-19) Fort Brown Historic District and National Historic Landmark (Segment O-19) City of Brownsville Lincoln Park (Segment O-20) Stillman House (Segment O-20) Santa Rosalina Cemetery (Segment O-21) Sabal Palm Sanctuary (Segment O-21) Berry Farms Cemetery (Segment O-21) Old Brulay Plantation Historic District and Brulay Cemetery (Segment O-21).

Viewer Response. The pool of viewers making up the affected environment include single individuals, such as rural landowners on whose property the fence will be constructed, and groups of individuals such as residents of the Towns of Los Ebanos or Granjeno, business owners within the City of Hidalgo, or recreational users of the LRGVNWR. Viewers could also include avocational groups such as local historical societies or local chapters of the Audubon society that have interests in preserving the settings of cultural or natural resources. These viewers are likely to have both individual responses to specific resources related to their experiences and emotional connection to those resources, as well as collective responses to visual resources considered to be important on a regional, state, or national level. Although individual viewer responses will be captured where possible from viewer comments, for the purposes of this analysis, the pool of affected viewers will be grouped into the following general categories: • Residential viewers o Rural landowners, primarily farmers and ranchers
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o Town lots and suburban developments o Urban residents • Commercial viewers o Rural farms, ranches, and isolated businesses o Town-based businesses o Urban businesses • Industrial viewers o Rural industries (e.g., pump stations, pipeline monitors) o Town and urban • Recreational viewers o Visitors to parks and wildlife refuges o Tourists visiting towns and cities • Special interest viewers o o o o o • Native American tribes Local historical societies Local chapters of conservation societies (e.g., Audubon Society) Park commissions Regulatory agencies (e.g., USFWS, THC)

Intermittent viewers (view primarily from transportation corridors) o Commuters o Commercial (e.g., truck drivers, railroad operators, ferry operator).

Within each of these categories, viewer response will also vary depending on the typical duration of exposure to visual resources and the typical distance from which they view those resources. For example, a residential viewer who currently has an unobstructed view of a high-quality resource from their backyard will be impacted differently than a residential viewer who lives several streets away and already has an obstructed view of those resources. Similarly, a viewer who only views a resource such as the LRGVNWR from the highway as they pass through the region will have a different viewer response relative to that resource than a viewer that regularly hikes the trails within the LRGVNWR.

3.10 SOCIOECONOMIC RESOURCES, ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, AND SAFETY
3.10.1 Definition of the Resource
Socioeconomic Resources. Socioeconomics is defined as the basic attributes and resources associated with the human environment, particularly characteristics of population and economic activity.

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Socioeconomic data shown in this chapter are presented at the community and county levels to characterize baseline socioeconomic conditions in the context of regional and state trends. Data have been collected from previously published documents issued by Federal, state, and local agencies; and from state and national databases (e.g., U.S. Census Bureau). Environmental Justice, Protection of Children, and Safety. There are no Federal regulations specifically addressing socioeconomics; however there is one EO that pertains to environmental justice issues. This EO is included in the socioeconomics section because it relates to various socioeconomic groups and the health effects that could be imposed on them. On February 11, 1994, President Clinton issued EO 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. This EO requires that Federal agencies’ actions substantially affecting human health or the environment do not exclude persons, deny persons benefits, or subject persons to discrimination because of their race, color, or national origin. The EO was created to ensure the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Fair treatment means that no groups of people, including racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic groups, should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of Federal, state, tribal, and local programs and policies. Consideration of environmental justice concerns includes race, ethnicity, and the poverty status of populations in the vicinity of a proposed action. Such information aids in evaluating whether a proposed action would render vulnerable any of the groups targeted for protection in the EO. EO 13045, Protection of Children From Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks, protects of children from exposure to disproportionate environmental health and safety risks. This EO established that each agency has a responsibility to ensure that its policies, programs, activities, and standards address risk to children that result from environmental health risks or safety risks.

3.10.2 Affected Environment
USBC proposes to construct, maintain, and operate tactical infrastructure in the southern portions of Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron counties in Texas. Therefore, these counties constitute the study area for the Region of Influence (ROI). Tactical infrastructure would cross multiple land use types, including rural, urban, suburban, and agricultural.

Population Growth and Characteristics
Cameron, Hidalgo, and Starr counties, Texas have a total population of 1.15 million. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Cameron County has a
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population of 387,717, and is home to Brownsville, the city with the largest population in the three-county area (SD 16). Hidalgo County has the largest county population of 700,634 in 2006. Starr County at the western end of the ROI is the least populated of the three counties, with an estimated population of 61,780 in 2006 (SD 16). The population in the three county area has grown rapidly since 1980, increasing by 31 percent in the 1980s and 39 percent in the 1990s (BEA 2007). Over the past 6 years, some portions of the three-county area have been among the fastest growing areas in the United States. Both Hidalgo County and Borwnsville in Cameron County had a 23 percent increase in population between 2000 and 2006 (SD 16). Brownsville has had the 24th highest growth rate of any city with more than 100,000 residents in the United States. Table 3.10-1 compares population trends in the ROI with the state of Texas between 1980 and 2006. Table 3.10-2 extrapolates continued trends in the ROI as compared to the rest of Texas through the year 2020. Table 3.10-1. State and County Population Trends Comparison in the ROI 1980 to 2006
Year 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2006 Change 1980 to 1990 Change 1990 to 2000 Change 2000 to 2006 State of Texas 14,338,208 16,272,722 17,056,755 18,958,751 20,851,820 23,507,783 19.0 percent 22.2 percent 12.7 percent Cameron County 211,944 245,894 261,728 304,928 335,227 387,717 23.5 percent 28.1 percent 15.7 percent Hidalgo County 286,540 341,145 387,200 487,593 569,463 700,634 35.1 percent 47.1 percent 23.0 percent Starr County 27,666 34,274 40,805 49,598 53,597 61,780 47.5 percent 31.3 percent 15.3 percent

18 19

Source: BEA 2007

Table 3.10-2: County Population Trends, 2000 to 2020
Year 2000 2005 2010 2015 2020 State of Texas 20,851,820 22,928,508 24,330,612 26,156,715 28,005,788 Cameron County 335,227 378,905 415,307 457,255 499,380 Hidalgo County 569,463 678,652 752,909 854,936 959,669 Starr County 53,597 60,479 67,528 74,905 82,205
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Projected Change 2000 to 2010 Projected Change 2010 to 2020

16.7% 15.1%

23.9% 20.2%

32.2% 27.5%

26.0% 21.7%

Sources: 1. BEA 2007. 2. U.S. Census Bureau, 2006 and 2007. 3. Texas State Data Center and Office of the State Demographer, 2006 (BEA 2007), (SD7) (SD 13) (SD 15)

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Cameron County has more than 40 miles of beaches along its eastern side, including the southernmost section of Padre Island. Brownsville, with a 2006 population of 172,437, is the southernmost city in Texas, and is across the Rio Grande from the City of Matamoros, Mexico (SD 16). Other large cities in the county include Harlingen and San Benito; however, these cities are farther away from the project corridor. Together these three cities account for 68 percent of the county’s population. Cameron County also comprises the BrownsvilleHarlingen-San Benito Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Five other cities and nine towns, including La Feria, South Padre Island, and Bayview, account for another 10 percent of the county population. The remaining county population (86,303 residents) lives outside of these cities and towns. The county is home to the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College (SD 16). In Hidalgo County, the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA includes the entire county area and is made up of the three principal cities of McAllen, Edinburg and Mission. McAllen and Mission do not border Mexico, but are less than 10 miles from the Mexican city of Reynosa. Other larger cities in the county include Pharr, San Juan, and Weslaco. Sixteen other cities have population ranging from 311 (Granjeno) to 16,287 (Alamo) and make up another 15 percent of the county population. The remaining county population (214,209 persons) lives in outlying rural areas or unincorporated communities and make up 31 percent of the county’s population (SD 16). The bulk of the county’s population is in the southern half of the county within 20 miles of the Mexican border. The county is home to the University of Texas - Pan America (SD 16). The largest cities in Starr County are Rio Grande City and Roma. These cities, plus the smaller La Grulla, are at or near the Mexican border, with the Mexican cities of Camargo and Miguel Aleman just a short distance away. Outside of these three cities, the population of 34,945, represents 57 percent of the county population (SD 16). The largest employer in the county is Starr Produce with 1,500 to 2,000 employees, followed by the county, school districts and Wal-Mart. Rio Grande City is home to the South Texas Community College, and the University of Texas – Pan American has a campus there. Population projections through 2010 from the Texas state demography office show a 29 percent growth rate and continued growth of 25 percent through the following decade (SD 7). Key factors contributing to the rapid growth include
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both domestic and international migration related to the expanding availability of job opportunities, an influx of retirees, and an increasing number of children related to the many younger households that have migrated into the area, particularly in Hidalgo County. While the areas population growth has more than doubled since 1980, the area’s racial and ethnic characteristic remains predominantly Hispanic (SD 15) (see Table 3.10-3). While the non-Hispanic population has increased 8 percent in past 6 years, the Hispanic population has grown by more than 20 percent over the same period (SD 15). The proportion of Hispanics in the three-county area is 88.7 percent, about 2.5 times the proportion of Hispanics in the state of Texas. Estimates for 2006 indicate that the three-county area is 9.9 percent nonHispanic whites, and only 1.3 percent other races (SD 15). Table 3.10-3. Racial and Ethnic Characteristics in the ROI 2000 to 2006
Change 2000 to 2006 12.7% 25.7% 3.3% 13.0% 34.5% 28.7% 15.7% 18.0% 0.7% 42.0% 27.3% 40.4% 23.0% 24.6% 6.0% 58.6% 57.2% 82.3% 15.3% 15.1% Portion of Total Population: 2006 Estimate 100.0% 35.7% 48.3% 11.4% 3.2% 1.4% 100.0% 86.1% 12.8% 0.3% 0.5% 0.3% 100.0% 89.5% 9.1% 0.4% 0.7% 0.3% 100.0% 97.4%
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2000 Census* State of Texas 20,851,820 Hispanic 6,669,666 Non-Hispanic Population by Race: White Alone 10,986,965 Black Alone 2,378,444 Asian 567,528 Other Races 249,217 Cameron County 335,227 Hispanic 282,736 Non-Hispanic Population by Race: White Alone 49,133 Black Alone 923 Asian 1,568 Other Races 867 Hidalgo County 569,463 Hispanic 503,100 Non-Hispanic Population by Race: White Alone 60,033 Black Alone 1,976 Asian 3,261 Other Races 1,093 Starr County 53,597 Hispanic 52,278
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2006 Estimate 23,507,783 8,385,139 11,351,060 2,687,401 763,381 320,802 387,717 333,733 49,460 1,311 1,996 1,217 700,634 626,742 63,641 3,133 5,126 1,992 61,780 60,193

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Non-Hispanic Population by Race: White Alone 1,111 Black Alone 8 Asian 141 Other Races 59

1,294 26 202 65

16.5% 225.0% 43.3% 10.2%

2.1% 0.0% 0.3% 0.1%

Source: Census Estimates Program, Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 (SD 15) Note: Census 2000 population differs slightly in the estimates file as compared to the Census 2000 data.

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Employment and Income
Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron counties have seen great improvement in the economy in the past two decades. The total number of jobs in the ROI has increased by 236 percent since 1980 (BEA 2007). As a result, the unemployment rate has dropped more than 20 percent, to 7.3 percent (BLS 2007). Per capita income (adjusted for inflation) has increased 18 percent in Starr County, 19 percent in Hidalgo County, and 18 percent in Cameron County. Figure 3.10-1 shows county employment trends between 1980 and 2005.

10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, REIS, 2007 (BEA 2007)

Figure 3.10-1. Total County Employment, 1980 to 2005 Several industries have seen substantial growth thus creating local jobs in the ROI. The biggest employers include the private industry, health care, retail and tourism, and local manufacturing. Table 3.10-4 details employment by industrial sector. Private employment has increased by 17 percent across the three-county area from 2001 to 2005 (as compared to 6 percent for the state of Texas) (BEA 2007).
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The health care industry has been a key economic driver in terms of job growth. With the population 65 years and older increasing by 17 percent from 2000 to 2006 and other increases in demands for health services, this sector has grown by nearly 40 percent in the three-county area and now makes up 18 percent of the areas jobs (SD 14 and BEA 2007).

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Table 3.10-4. Employment by Industrial Sector in the ROI, 2005
% of Texas Total 100.0% 78% 22% 2% 98% 84% 1% 2% 0% 7% 7% 4% 11% 4% 2% 5% 4% 6% ThreeCounty Total 403,194 329,749 73,445 3,554 399,640 328,416 (D) 2,384 1,060 25,205 16,952 12,345 52,015 13,775 4,695 12,091 11,333 11,933 % of ThreeCounty Total 2005 100% 82% 18% 1% 99% 81% n/a 1% 0% 6% 4% 3% 13% 3% 1% 3% 3% 3%
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Sector or Summary Level

Texas

Cameron County 156,193 127,700 28,493 1,714 154,479 126,595 2,897 216 322 8,748 7,808 4,167 19,205 5,628 1,489 4,204 4,958 4,601

Hidalgo County 267,366 215,817 51,549 3,057 264,309 215,653 6,925 2,282 783 18,234 9,355 8,417 35,027 8,638 3,252 8,171 6,574 7,678

Starr County 20,365 13,768 6,597 1,217 19,148 13,832 (D) 114 45 1,777 211 239 2,217 491 46 284 199 346

TOTAL EMPLOYMENT Wage and salary employment Proprietors employment Farm employment Nonfarm employment Private employment Forestry, fishing, related activities, and other Mining Utilities Construction Manufacturing Wholesale trade Retail Trade Transportation and warehousing Information

13,088,946 10,269,066 2,819,880 281,727 12,807,219 10,979,216 68,253 244,837 51,045 899,172 951,778 530,192 1,417,748 469,746 262,195 631,849 524,931 828,786

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Finance and insurance Real estate, rental, leasing Professional and technical

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Sector or Summary Level services Management of companies and enterprises Administrative and waste services Educational services Health care and social assistance Arts, entertainment, and recreation Accommodation and food services Other services, except public administration Government & government enterprises Federal, civilian Military State government Local government

Texas

% of Texas Total

Cameron County

Hidalgo County

Starr County

ThreeCounty Total

% of ThreeCounty Total 2005

69,896 843,486 178,321 1,168,205 200,551 879,593 758,632 1,828,003 181,107 161,205 337,769 1,147,922

1% 6% 1% 9% 2% 7% 6% 14% 1% 1% 3% 9%

323 8,327 1,479 28,803 1,895 11,406 10,119 27,884 2,352 984 4,021 20,527

472 13,823 1,946 46,870 2,225 17,687 17,294 48,656 2,710 1,530 5,265 39,151

40 626 103 4,243 (D) (D) 1,733 5,316 396 136 132 4,652

755 21,524 3,322 71,430 (D) (D) 25,680 71,224 4,666 2,378 9,154 55,026

0% 5% 1% 18% n/a n/a 6% 18% 1% 1% 2% 14%
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Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, REIS, 2007 (BEA 2007)

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Retail trade accounts for 13 percent of the areas jobs in 2005, a 12 percent increase in jobs since 2001. This expansion has also been important to the regional economy and is due in part to retirees coming into the area in the winter and shopping in the border areas. Mexican nationals also cross the border legally to enjoy the broad selection of products at retail outlets in the three-county area (BEA 2007 and SD 3). The local manufacturing sector has declined by nearly 30 percent from 2001 to 2005 in terms of employment (BEA 2007). Manufacturing jobs now make up 4 percent of the area’s economy. However, the border economy benefits from maquiladoras, manufacturing and assembly establishments located in Mexico that use U.S. inputs, which then import finished products and sub-assemblies via POE crossings in these counties for further distribution. Related to this are jobs in the wholesale trade, transportation, and warehousing industries, which make up another 6 percent of the area’s jobs and which have increased by 9 percent since 2001 (BEA 2007). Other growth sectors are related to the general boom in housing and population. Construction jobs make up 7 percent of the jobs in the 2005 economy in the three-county area, increasing in number by 9 percent since 2001 (BEA 2007). Large increases have also been seen in finance and insurance (22 percent growth) and real estate (28 percent growth) (BEA 2007). Tourism cannot be overlooked. Cameron County is the home of South Padre Island, which attracts many tourists over the winter and early spring. Besides vacationers at the beach, the area is home to nine World Bird Centers (developed by the Texas Department of Parks and Recreation to boost tourism in the area) and the National Audubon Society’s Sabal Palms Sanctuary in Brownsville. Tourism-related businesses have experienced an expansion in the past 5 years with growth in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industries at 9 percent and growth in accommodation and food services at 11 percent. These industries now make up about 7 percent of the area’s jobs (BEA 2007). Large increases in jobs have also been seen in information industry, professional and technical services, management companies and enterprises, and administrative and waste services. These four industries have had growth rates of more than 20 percent and together make up 9 percent of the jobs in the area (BEA 2007). Government employment has increased by 8 percent in the three-county area. Federal civilian employment has increased by 7 percent, and these jobs now make up 1 percent of the area’s employment (BEA 2007). State employment over the period has increased by only 1 percent while local government employment has seen the largest increase by 10, percent (BEA 2007). As a portion of total jobs, local government makes up 14 percent of the total economy, and local school districts and other local government entities are among the biggest employers in these counties (BEA 2007).
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Although the economy has improved in the ROI, the area remains relatively poor. The unemployment rate in the ROI is high (7.3 percent) when compared to the Texas unemployment rate of 4.9 percent (BLS 2007). Table 3.10-5 shows how the unemployment rate in the ROI compares with the state. As shown in Figure 3.10-2, the 2005 per capita income for the three-county area of $16,490 is about half of the per capita income of the rest of the state of Texas ($32,460) (BEA 2007). Table 3.10-5. State and ROI Labor Force and Unemployment Rate Averages
2000 State of Texas Labor Force Unemployment Rate Cameron County Labor Force Unemployment Rate Hidalgo County Labor Force Unemployment Rate Starr County Labor Force Unemployment Rate
Source: BLS 2007

2003 10,999,132 6.7% 143,231 9.6% 247,486 10.4% 21,308 15.9%

2004 11,127,293 6.0% 143,439 8.8% 257,511 9.1% 21,625 14.5%

2005 11,282,845 5.4% 142,204 7.6% 264,251 7.9% 21,471 13.0%

2006 11,487,496 4.9% 144,709 6.6% 269,586 7.4% 21,758 11.7%

10,347,847 4.4% 127,011 7.0% 210,984 9.2% 17,722 16.8%

$40,000 $35,000 $30,000
[$ 2006]

Texas Hidalgo

Cameron Starr

$25,000 $20,000 $15,000 $10,000 $5,000 $0 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005

9 10 11

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, REIS, 2007 (BEA 2007)

Figure 3.10-2. Per Capita Income, 1970 to 2005 (Real $2006)
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According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program, the poverty rate among all individuals has dropped in the area from 44.8 percent in 1989 to 30.3 percent in 2004. However, Table 3.10-6 shows the area’s poverty rate is still almost twice the 16.2 percent poverty rate for the state of Texas (SD 9). Table 3.10-6. Poverty Rates and Median Income
Geographic Area State of Texas Cameron County Hidalgo County Starr County Overall Poverty Rate 16.2 percent 29.4 percent 30.5 percent 34.8 percent Child Poverty Rate (Under 18) 22.7 percent 40.4 percent 41.2 percent 46.6 percent Median Income (2004 dollars) $41,645 $26,719 $26,375 $19,775

Source: Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, Census Bureau, 2006 (SD 9)

7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32

Agriculture
Low poverty rates and per capita income are mainly attributed to the local agricultural industry. Although nonfarm private sector employment has increased by nearly 17 percent, farm employment has declined by 12 percent from 2001 to 2005 across these three counties, now accounting for just over 1 percent of the area’s 2005 jobs (BEA 2007). Though Texas might be famous for cattle, farm income from crops far outweighs income from livestock in Cameron and Hidalgo counties. In the three-county area, crops made up 73 percent of the 2005 farm income as compared to 12 percent for livestock and related products (BEA 2007). In the 2002 Agricultural Census, 41 percent of the farms raised cattle in the three-county area, and 56 percent of the land was identified as cropland. Sugar cane is a major crop in the project corridor (SD 18). Figure 3.10-3 compares local distribution of agricultural income with the state. Table 3.10-7 characterizes local farms.

Selected Public Services
Public Education. School enrollment and the demographics of school enrollment generally match those of the population of the three counties. In Cameron County, 10 school districts provided educational services to 98,010 students in 130 schools in school year 2007 (SD 5). In Hidalgo County, 20 school districts, including five charter school districts, provided educational services to 190,501 students in school year 2007. In Starr County, three school districts provided educational services to 16,645 students in 23 schools in school year 2007 (SD 5). Similar to demographics of the area, the demographic characteristics of the students enrolled in these schools are predominantly Hispanic and predominantly low income (SD 6). Table 3.10-8 provides detailed ethnic information by county and school district in the ROI.
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Distribution of Farm Income, by Type - 2005
100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%
$10.8 State of Texas Cameron $23.7 Hidalgo Starr $12,557.8 $116.9 $310.5 $5,637.6 $28.5 $3,648.0 $42.3 $45.8 $8.7 O her Income Souces

Cash Recieipts: Crops

Cash Reciipts: Livestock/Products

$39.3

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, REIS, 2007 (SD 18)

Figure 3.10-3. Distribution of Farm Income by Type, 2005 Law Enforcement. Law enforcement and other community services are provided by 40 law enforcement agencies in the three-county area. Cameron County is served by 16 different agencies with 628 commissioned officers. Hidalgo County is served by 21 different agencies with 1,052 commissioned officers. Starr County is served by 3 different agencies with 77 commissioned officers (SD 4). Table 3.10-9 shows the breakdown of law enforcement by county and agency.

Environmental Justice
Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies (EPA 1999). EO 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, tasks “each Federal agency [to] make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high adverse human health and environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations.” Federal agencies must provide minority and low-income communities with access to information on matters relating to human health or the environment and opportunities for input in the NEPA process, including input on potential effects and mitigation measures.

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Table 3.10-7. Characteristics of Local Agriculture, 2002
Texas Counties Description Cameron Number of Farms Acres in Farms Total Cropland (acres) Harvested Cropland (acres) Farms by Size, 2002 1 to 9 Acres 10 to 49 Acres 50 to 179 Acres 180 Acres or more Farms by Value of Sales, 2002 Less than $5,000 $5,000 to $49,999 $50,000 or more Principal Occupation, 2002 Farming Other Hired Farm Labor Farms with hired workers Farms with 1 worker Farms with 2 or more workers Select Livestock for 2002 Farms with Cattle/Calves 402 614 671 1,687
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Census of Agriculture for 2002 (SD 18)

Hidalgo 2,104 593,158 405,094 277,406 393 866 401 444 958 814 332 1,115 989 671 295 376

Starr 870 570,430 193,688 41,759 5 50 281 534 573 263 34 492 378 341 103 238

Total for Three Counties 4,094 1,514,025 852,353 471,088 589 1,386 866 1253 2,134 1,371 589 2,273 1,821 1,349 599 750

1,120 350,437 253,571 151,923 191 470 184 275 603 294 223 666 454 337 201 136

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

The CEQ oversees the Federal government’s compliance with EO 12898 and the NEPA process. Based on CEQ guidance, this EIS uses the following three-step methodology to evaluate potential environmental justice impacts: • • • Identify potential environmental justice populations located in the project area or that could otherwise be affected by the Proposed Action Identify the potential human health and environmental effects of the proposed alternatives Assess whether there are potential significant adverse effects on minority and low-income populations that would be disproportionately high and adverse.
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Table 3.10-8. Ethnic and Racial Distribution by county and School District in the ROI
Percent Hispanic 2004 Percent White 2004 Percent Other Races 2004 0.0% 1.0% 0.0% 1.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 8.0% 0.0% 1.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 3.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 1.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 2.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 1.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% Total Schools Percent Economically Disadvantage d 2004 93.1% 71.8% 79.2% 85.5% 88.3% 81.9% 83.9% 97.8% 96.8% 53.1% 91.3% 90.6% 85.2% 92.2% 82.2% 90.5% 89.8% 69.5% 92.1% 84.2% 84.3% 88.6% 92.8% 90.0% 94.2% 52.6% 85.8% 94.1% 87.4% 86.5% 84.5% 89.2% 81.1%

School District

Cameron County Brownsville ISD 48,334 49 98.0% Harlingen CISD 17,684 24 88.0% La Feria ISD 3,186 8 91.0% Los Fresnos CISD 8,935 10 93.0% Point Isabel ISD 2,597 4 85.0% Rio Hondo ISD 2,292 5 95.0% San Benito CISD 10,694 18 98.0% Santa Maria ISD 633 5 100.0% Santa Rosa ISD 1,195 3 97.0% South Texas ISD 2,460 4 76.0% Hidalgo County Donna ISD 13,363 17 99.0% Edcouch-Elsa ISD 5,598 9 99.0% Edinburg CISD 28,772 36 97.0% Hidalgo ISD 3,331 6 100.0% Idea Academy 2,073 1 94.0% La Joya ISD 25,130 27 100.0% La Villa ISD 615 4 100.0% McAllen ISD 24,570 32 89.0% Mercedes ISD 5,279 10 99.0% Mid-Valley Academy 252 2 94.0% Mission CISD 15,462 20 98.0% Monte Alto ISD 603 2 96.0% One Stop Multiservice Charter School 5,536 3 97.0% Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD 28,868 36 99.0% Progreso ISD 1,989 5 100.0% Sharyland ISD 8,208 9 85.0% Technology Education Charter High 451 1 97.0% Valley View ISD 4,099 5 100.0% Vanguard Academy 369 1 93.0% Weslaco ISD 15,933 20 97.0% Starr County Rio Grande City CISD 9,969 11 100.0% Roma ISD 6,417 10 100.0% San Isidro ISD 259 2 95.0% Source: Texas Education Agency, 2006 and 2007 (SD 5, SD 6)
Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 3-66

School Year 2007 Enrollment

2.0% 11.0% 9.0% 6.0% 15.0% 5.0% 2.0% 0.0% 3.0% 16.0% 1.0% 0.0% 3.0% 0.0% 6.0% 0.0% 0.0% 8.0% 1.0% 6.0% 2.0% 3.0% 3.0% 1.0% 0.0% 13.0% 3.0% 0.0% 7.0% 2.0% 0.0% 0.0% 5.0%

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Table 3.10-9. Law Enforcement Agencies and Personnel in the ROI
Commissioned Cameron County Cameron County Sheriff's Office Local Police Departments (15) Total Hidalgo County Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office Local Police Departments (20) Total Starr County Starr County Sheriff's Office Local Police Departments (2) Total 33 34 77 57 14 71 90 58 148 217 835 1,052 435 346 781 652 1,181 1,833 94 534 628 258 234 492 352 768 1,120 Civilian Total

Source: 2004 Crime in Texas, Texas Department of Public Safety, 2006 (SD 4)

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

A demographic analysis assessed the presence of a potential environmental justice prescribed population living near the project area. Census 2000 information is available for racial, ethnic, and economic characteristics at the census tract level. The census tracts in which the portions of the project would be located were identified (see Figure 2.2-1 through Figure 2.2-3). All are located just north of the Rio Grande. Some of these census tracts have a substantial amount of land and population away from the project area; however, these census tracts have demographic characteristics similar to those of the persons living at or near project construction activity. In some cases, the population in the census tract closest to the project area would seem to be lower in income than the population in the same census tract farther away from the river. Table 3.10-10 identifies the minority populations associated with the project area and its associated infrastructure. As shown in Table 3.10-11, each census tract has a potential environmental justice community based upon its racial and ethnic characteristic of being more than 50 percent minority and also a substantially higher percentage than the general population in both Texas and the United States. Each census tract has a potential environmental justice community based upon the presence of a large proportion of persons with incomes at or below the poverty level and based upon this proportion being meaningfully greater than the proportion of persons with incomes at or below the poverty rate for the general populations in both Texas and the United States. Based upon Census 2000 information, the population living in each of these census tracts meet these two criteria as a potential environmental justice population.

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Table 3.10-10. Racial and Ethnic Population Composition in Geographic Comparison Areas
Percentage of Total Population Geographic Area by Census Tract White and not Hispanic or Latino 69.1% 52.4% 14.5% Asian and not Hispanic or Latino 3.6% 2.6% 0.4% Black or African American and not Hispanic or Latino 12.0% 11.3% 0.3% Other Races, Two or More Races, and not Hispanic or Latino 2.8% 1.7% 0.3% Total Racial and Ethnic Minorities (B) + (C) + (D) + (E) 30.9% 47.6% 85.5% Difference in Percent Minority Population Above/Below the State Average -16.7% -37.9%

Hispanic or Latino Ethnicity 12.5% 32.0% 84.5%

United States Texas Cameron County Census Tracts Included in Project Area Census Tracts Not Included in Project Hidalgo County Census Tracts Included in Project Area Census Tracts Not Included in Project

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7.6%

0.0%

0.0%

0.1%

92.2%

92.4%

44.8%

15.3% 10.4%

0.5% 0.5%

0.4% 0.4%

0.3% 0.3%

83.5% 88.4%

84.7% 89.6%

37.1% 42.0%

6.3%

0.0%

0.1%

0.1%

93.5%

93.7%

46.1%

Preliminary Draft EIS

10.7%

0.6%

0.4%

0.3%

88.1%

89.3%

41.8%

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Percentage of Total Population Geographic Area by Census Tract White and not Hispanic or Latino 1.6% Asian and not Hispanic or Latino 0.3% Black or African American and not Hispanic or Latino 0.0% Other Races, Two or More Races, and not Hispanic or Latino 0.0% Total Racial and Ethnic Minorities (B) + (C) + (D) + (E) 98.4% Difference in Percent Minority Population Above/Below the State Average 50.8%

Hispanic or Latino Ethnicity 98.1%

Starr County Census Tracts Included in Project Area Census Tracts Not Included in Project Three-County Area

2.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

98.0%

98.0%

50.4%

1.4% 11.3%

0.4% 0.5%

0.0% 0.3%

0.0% 0.3%

98.2% 87.6%

98.6% 88.7%

51.0% 41.1%

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Source: 2000 US Census, U.S. Census Bureau, Summary File 1 (SD 11)

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Table 3.10-11. Census Tract Detail of Demographic Characteristics Relevant to Environmental Justice
Proportion of Total Population: Racial and Ethnic Minorities 98.0% 79.1% 95.4% 96.4% 89.3% 97.4% 100.0% 93.4% 96.9% 98.1% 96.2% 98.6% 87.3% 97.8% 97.9% 98.4% Difference in Proportion of Minority Population above the State Proportion 50.4% 31.5% 47.8% 48.8% 41.7% 49.8% 52.4% 45.8% 49.3% 50.5% 48.6% 51.0% 39.7% 50.2% 50.3% 50.8% Proportion of Total Population: Below Poverty Level Difference in the Proportion of Low Income Population above the State Proportion 31.2% 20.1% 19.2% 26.6% 14.4% 18.2% 39.8% 42.2% 17.1% 28.4% 30.2% 36.7% 21.7% 26.9% 38.6% 30.4%

Geographic Area

Cameron County Census Tracts Included in Project Area 119.03 121 125.05 125.07 125.08 128 133.07 140.01 141 213.01 228 242.01 242.02 9501.02 9501.03 9502.02 46.5% 35.4% 34.5% 42.0% 29.8% 33.5% 55.2% 57.6% 32.4% 43.8% 45.6% 52.1% 37.1% 42.3% 53.9% 45.7%

Hidalgo County Census Tracts Included in Project Area

Starr County Census Tracts Included in Project Area

Source: 2000 US Census, U.S. Census Bureau, Summary File 1 and 3 (SD 11, SD 12)

3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

3.11 UTILITIES AND INFRASTRUCTURE
3.11.1 Definition of the Resource
Infrastructure consists of the systems and physical structures that enable a population in a specified area to function. Infrastructure is wholly human-made, with a high correlation between the type and extent of infrastructure and the degree to which an area is characterized as “urban” or developed. The availability of infrastructure and its capacity to support growth are generally regarded as essential to the economic growth of an area. Below is a brief overview of each infrastructure component that could be affected by the Proposed Action. The infrastructure components to be discussed in this section
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include flood control and levee systems, irrigation and drainage systems, municipal water systems, sanitary sewer systems, storm water drainage systems, solid waste management, transportation systems, and utilities, including electrical and natural gas systems. Solid waste management primarily relates to the availability of landfills to support a population’s residential, commercial, and industrial needs. Alternative means of waste disposal might involve waste-to-energy programs or incineration. In some localities, landfills are designed specifically for, and limited to, disposal of construction and demolition debris. Recycling programs for various waste categories (e.g., glass, metals, papers, asphalt, and concrete) reduce reliance on landfills for disposal. Transportation systems and utilities are self-explanatory.

3.11.2 Affected Environment
Agricultural Irrigation and Drainage Systems. The principal source of water for irrigation in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (which is composed of Starr, Hidalgo, Cameron, and Willacy counties) is the Rio Grande. Approximately 74,000 acres of agricultural lands are irrigated in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (VW.013). The irrigation system is characterized by approximately 642 miles of canals, 10 miles of pipelines, and 45 miles of resacas (i.e., former channels or oxbows of the Rio Grande) (VW.013). Irrigation runoff is collected in drainage ditches and resacas that eventually discharge into the Laguna Madre (VW.012). Pumps and pump houses are also part of the irrigation system. Irrigation and drainage infrastructure within the impact corridor is presented in Table 3.11-1. Municipal Water Systems. The Rio Grande is a source of water for many communities and cities in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Municipal water infrastructure within the proposed impact corridor includes pumps and canals (see Table 3.11-1). Municipal Sanitary Sewer Systems. Some municipal sanitary sewer systems in the Lower Rio Grande Valley discharge into the Rio Grande. Municipal sanitary sewer infrastructure within the proposed impact corridor includes outfall pipes (see Table 3.11-2). Storm Water Drainage Systems. Storm water systems convey precipitation away from developed sites to appropriate receiving surface waters. Storm water systems provide the benefit of reducing amounts of sediments and other contaminants that would otherwise flow directly into surface waters. Failure to appropriately size storm water systems to either hold or delay conveyance of the largest predicted precipitation event will often lead to downstream flooding and the environmental and economic damages associated with flooding. As a general rule, higher densities of development such as urban areas require greater degrees of storm water management because of the higher proportions of impervious surfaces that occur in urban centers.

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Numerous storm water drainages occur within the ROI. The number of storm water drainage systems along the proposed construction route has not been inventoried. Table 3.11-1. Water Intake and Outfall Pipes Within the Impact Corridor by Fence Segment
Fence Segment O-1 O-2 O-4 O-6 Water Intake and Outfall Pipes Roma municipal water intake pipes Roma municipal sewer outfall pipes One private water pump 7 private water pumps Peñitas municipal water pump house Old Hidalgo municipal water pump house intakes Mac Pump intakes McAllen pump house intakes 8 irrigation stand pipes Donna municipal water pump station 2 irrigation pumps Santa Maria municipal water canal La Feria municipal water pump house La Feria municipal water canal Irrigation pump and stand pipe Harlingen municipal water canal San Benito municipal water canal IBWC pump Cameron County irrigation pump Private irrigation pumps Irrigation stand pipes Irrigation pumps Overhead electrical power lines Pump houses Pumps El Jardin water pump for Brownsville municipal water

O-9

O-11 O-12 O-13 O-14 O-16 O-17 O-18 O-19 O-21 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Solid Waste Management. As of 2005, there were three active municipal landfills in Starr County, three active municipal landfills in Hidalgo County, and one active municipal landfill in Cameron County. The remaining capacity in terms of years for these landfills was determined in 2005, based on compaction rate and the amount disposed in 2005 (VW 03). The remaining capacity of these landfills as of 2005 is reported in Table 3.11-2.

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Table 3.11-2. Remaining Capacity of Municipal Landfills as of 2005 Landfill Name City of Roma City of La Grulla Starr County Landfill Edinburg Regional Sanitary Landfill Peñitas Landfill BFI Rio Grande Landfill Brownsville County Starr Starr Starr Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Cameron Remaining Capacitya (Years) 30 109.67 0.70 21.70 3.58 5.30 80.20

Note: Based on rate of compaction and amount disposed in 2005. (VW 03)

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Transportation Systems. The Texas Department of Transportation (TDOT), in cooperation with local and regional officials, is responsible for planning, designing, building, operating and maintaining the state's transportation system. Numerous roadways are within the ROI. Highway systems in the ROI inlcude U.S. Highway 83, State Highway 374, U.S. Highway 281, State Highway 415, Business U.S. Highway 77, State Highway 48, and State Highway 4. In addition to the above highways, there are numerous municipal city roads, farm roads, county roads, levee roads, and unpaved roads. Electrical and Natural Gas Systems. Electrical transmission lines and natural gas distribution lines that are part of the electrical and natural gas systems for the Lower Rio Grande Valley are within ROI. The segments in which these utilities infrastructure occur are presented in Table 3.11-3. The impact corridor for Alternative 3 is larger. Therefore, a greater number of utility lines could be affected under Alternative 3. Table 3.11-3. Location of Utility Infrastructure Within the Impact Corridor by Fence Segment Fence Segment O-4 O-6 O-7 O-8 O-18 Infrastructure 1 Electric Transmission Line; 1 Gas Distribution Line 1 Electric Transmission Line; 3 Gas Distribution Lines 1 Electric Transmission Line; 1 Gas Distribution Line 1 Electric Transmission Line; 2 Gas Distribution Lines 1 Electric Transmission Line

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3.12 HAZARDOUS MATERIALS AND WASTE
3.12.1 Definition of the Resource
Hazardous materials are defined by 49 CFR 171.8 as “hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, marine pollutants, elevated temperature materials, materials designated as hazardous in the Hazardous Materials Table (49 CFR 172.101), and materials that meet the defining criteria for hazard classes and divisions” in 49 CFR 173. Transportation of hazardous materials is regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations within 49 CFR. Hazardous substances are defined by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) at 42 U.S.C. §9601(14), as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The definition of hazardous substance includes (1) any substance designated pursuant to 33 U.S.C §1321 (b)(2)(A); (2) any element, compound, mixture, solution, or substance designated pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §9602; (3) any hazardous waste; (4) any toxic pollutant listed under 33 U.S.C. §1317(a); (5) any hazardous air pollutant listed under section 112 of the CAA (42 U.S.C. §7412); and (6) any imminently hazardous chemical substance or mixture with respect to which the Administrator of USEPA has taken action pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §2606. The term hazardous substance does not include petroleum products and natural gas. Hazardous wastes are defined by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) at 42 U.S.C. §6903(5), as amended by the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments, as: “a solid waste, or combination of solid wastes, which because of its quantity, concentration, or physical, chemical, or infectious characteristics may (A) cause, or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible, illness; or (B) pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, or disposed of, or otherwise managed.” Certain types of hazardous wastes are subject to special management provisions intended to ease the management burden and facilitate the recycling of such materials. These are called universal wastes. and their associated regulatory requirements are specified in 40 CFR 273. Four types of waste are currently covered under the universal waste regulations: hazardous waste batteries, hazardous waste pesticides that are either recalled or collected in waste pesticide collection programs, hazardous waste thermostats, and hazardous waste lamps. Toxic substances are regulated under TSCA (15 U.S.C. §2601 et seq.), which was enacted by Congress to give USEPA the ability to track the approximately 75,000 industrial chemicals currently produced or imported into the United States. USEPA screens these chemicals and can require reporting or testing of those that might pose an environmental or human-health hazard. USEPA can ban the manufacture and import of those chemicals that pose an unreasonable
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risk. Asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are among the chemicals regulated by TSCA. In general, hazardous materials, hazardous substances, and hazardous wastes include elements, compounds, mixtures, solutions, and substances which, when released into the environment or otherwise improperly managed, could present substantial danger to the public health, welfare, or the environment. Evaluation of hazardous materials and wastes focuses on underground storage tanks (USTs); aboveground storage tanks (ASTs); and the storage, transport, handling, and use of pesticides, herbicides, fuels, solvents, oils, lubricants, asbestos containing materials (ACM), and lead-based paint (LBP). Evaluation might also extend to generation, storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous wastes when such activity occurs at or near the project site of a proposed action. In addition to being a threat to humans, the improper release of hazardous materials and wastes can threaten the health and well-being of wildlife species, botanical habitats, soil systems, and water resources. In the event of release of hazardous materials or wastes, the extent of contamination varies based on the type of soil, topography, and water resources.

3.12.2 Affected Environment
The ROI is predominantly used for agriculture. Therefore, pesticides and herbicides are currently used in the ROI. It is assumed that all such substances are applied according to Federal, state, and local standards and regulations. There are no known waste storage or disposal sites within the proposed 150-foot construction corridor (VW.001). Waste storage or disposal sites include superfund sites, toxic release sites, and hazardous waste sites (under RCRA). ASTs have been observed in Segment O-2 of the proposed construction corridor. There are also private buildings in the ROI. Depending on the construction date, these buildings could contain ACM or LBP. [[Preparer’s Note: A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment would be conducted prior to any real estate transactions to determine and quantify amounts of ACM or LBP.]] The TCEQ is authorized by USEPA to regulate and enforce the provisions of RCRA. As such, TCEQ regulates the treatment, storage, transport, and disposal of hazardous waste. TCEQ also administers some site cleanup programs. There are no known hazardous waste sites within the proposed construction corridor.

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4. ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES
4.1 INTRODUCTION

This chapter presents an analysis of the potential direct and indirect impacts each alternative would have on the affected environment as characterized in Section 3. Each alternative was evaluated for its potential to harm or destroy plant and animal species, as well as the habitats they utilize. The following discussion elaborates on the nature of the characteristics that might relate to various impacts: • Short-term or long-term. These characteristics are determined on a case-bycase basis and do not refer to any rigid time period. In general, short-term impacts are those that would occur only with respect to a particular activity or for a finite period or only during the time required for construction or installation activities. Long-term impacts are those that are more likely to be persistent and chronic. Direct or indirect. A direct impact is caused by a Proposed Action and occurs contemporaneously at or near the location of the action. An indirect impact is caused by a Proposed Action and might occur later in time or be farther removed in distance but still be a reasonably foreseeable outcome of the action. For example, a direct impact of erosion on a stream might include sediment-laden waters in the vicinity of the action, whereas an indirect impact of the same erosion might lead to lack of spawning and result in lowered reproduction rates of indigenous fish downstream. Negligible, minor, moderate, or major. These relative terms are used to characterize the magnitude or intensity of an impact. Negligible impacts are generally those that might be perceptible but are at the lower level of detection. A minor impact is slight, but detectable. A moderate impact is readily apparent. A major impact is one that is severely adverse or exceptionally beneficial. Significance. Significant impacts are those that, in their context and due to their intensity (severity), meet the thresholds for significance set forth in CEQ regulations (40 CFR 1508.27). This EIS meets the agencies’ requirements to prepare a detailed statement on major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment (42 U.S.C. 102.2(c)). Adverse or beneficial. An adverse impact is one having adverse, unfavorable, or undesirable outcomes on the man-made or natural environment. A beneficial impact is one having positive outcomes on the man-made or natural environment. A single act might result in adverse impacts on one environmental resource and beneficial impacts on another resource. Context. The context of an impact can be localized or more widespread (e.g., regional).
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Intensity. The intensity of an impact is determined through consideration of several factors, including whether the Proposed Action might have an adverse impact on the unique characteristics of an area (e.g., historical resources, ecologically critical areas), public health or safety, or endangered or threatened species or designated critical habitat. Impacts are also considered in terms of their potential for violation of Federal, state, or local environmental law; their controversial nature; the degree of uncertainty or unknown effects, or unique or unknown risks; if there are precedent-setting effects; and their cumulative impact (see Section 5).

4.2
4.2.1

AIR QUALITY
Alternative 1: No Action Alternative

Under the No Action Alternative, USBP would not construct or maintain new tactical infrastructure along the 21 segments in the Rio Grande Valley sector and operational activities would remain unchanged. Therefore, the No Action Alternative would have no impact on air quality.

4.2.2

Alternative 2: Proposed Action

The air quality impacts associated with the Proposed Action would be expected to be the same along either routing depicted as Route A or Route B because the overall length of the proposed construction corridors for Route A and Route B would be similar. Therefore, the analysis presented below is applicable to both route alternatives. Regulated pollutant emissions from the Proposed Action would not contribute to or affect local or regional attainment status with the NAAQS. The Proposed Action would generate air pollutant emissions from the proposed construction projects, maintenance activities, and the operation of generators to supply power to construction equipment. Proposed Construction Projects. Minor, short-term adverse effects would be expected from construction emissions and land disturbance as a result of implementing the Proposed Action. The proposed project would result in impacts on regional air quality during construction activities, primarily from site-disturbing activities and operation of construction equipment. The construction projects would generate total suspended particulate and PM10 emissions as fugitive dust from ground-disturbing activities (e.g., grading, trenching, soil piles) and from combustion of fuels in construction equipment. Fugitive dust emissions would be greatest during the initial site preparation activities and would vary from day to day depending on the construction phase, level of activity, and prevailing weather conditions. The quantity of uncontrolled fugitive dust emissions from a construction site is proportional to the area of land being worked and the level of construction activity.
[[Preparer’s Note: More information on actual amount of ground disturbance/grading from alternative is requested. For planning purposes, it was assumed that ground
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disturbance for the fence would be approximately 69.89 miles long by 10 feet wide and for the access road disturbance would be approximately 69.89 miles long by 12 feet wide for a total of 186.37 acres of land.]] Construction operations would also result in emissions of criteria pollutants as combustion products from construction equipment. These emissions would be of a temporary nature. The emissions factors and estimates were generated based on guidance provided in USEPA AP-42, Volume II, Mobile Sources. Fugitive dust emissions for various construction activities were calculated using emissions factors and assumptions published in USEPA’s AP-42 Section 11.9. Therefore, the General Conformity Rule does not apply to the Proposed Action (SM#4). For purposes of this analysis, the project duration and affected project site area that would be disturbed (presented in Section 2) were used to estimate fugitive dust and all other criteria pollutant emissions. The construction emissions presented in Table 4.2-1 include the estimated annual construction PM10 emissions associated with the Proposed Action. These emissions would produce slightly elevated short-term PM10 ambient air concentrations. However, the effects would be temporary, and would fall off rapidly with distance from the proposed construction sites. Table 4.2-1. Estimates of Total Proposed Construction Emissions from the Proposed Action
Description Construction Emissions Maintenance Emissions Generator Emissions Total Proposed Action Emissions Federal de minimis Threshold BLIAQCR Regional Emissions Percent of BLIAQCR Regional Emissions NOx (tpy) 149.990 0.042 22.777 172.810 NA 44,137 0.392% VOC (tpy) 22.358 0.005 1.859 24.223 NA 73,577 0.033% CO (tpy) 175.224 0.021 4.907 180.152 NA 317,422 0.057% SOx (tpy) 3.000 0.010 1.498 4.508 NA 2,940 0.153% PM10 (tpy) 242.089 0.005 1.601 243.696 NA 132,788 0.184%

Note: NA = Not applicable (criteria pollutant is in attainment/unclassified)

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Specific information describing the types of construction equipment required for a specific task, the hours the equipment would be operated, and the operating conditions vary widely from project to project. For purposes of analysis, these parameters were estimated using established methodologies for construction and experience with similar types of construction projects. Combustion by-product emissions from construction equipment exhausts were estimated using USEPA’s AP-42 emissions factors for heavyduty, diesel-powered construction equipment. The construction emissions presented in Table 4.2-1 include the estimated annual emissions from construction equipment exhaust associated with the Proposed Action in
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Calendar Year (CY) 2008 and operation of the diesel-powered generators. As with fugitive dust emissions, combustion emissions would produce slightly elevated air pollutant concentrations. Early phases of construction projects involve heavier diesel equipment and earthmoving, resulting in higher NOx and PM10 emissions. Later phases of construction projects involve more light gasoline equipment and surface coating, resulting in more CO and VOC emissions. However, the effects would be temporary, fall off rapidly with distance from the proposed construction site, and would not result in any long-term impacts. Maintenance Activities. [[Preparer’s Note: More information on maintenance activities such as mowing the project area is requested. Please provide information on types of potential non-road vehicles planned (e.g., agricultural mowers) and number of days per year.]] Generators. Six diesel powered generators would be required to power construction equipment. It is assumed that these generators would be approximately 75 hp and operated approximately 8 hours per day for 190 working days. Summary. Since the BLIAQCR is within an area classified as being in attainment for all criteria pollutants, General Conformity Rule requirements are not applicable to the Proposed Action. Table 4.2-1 illustrates that the emissions from the Proposed Action would be much less than 10 percent of the emissions inventory for BLIAQCR (SM#3). Therefore, no adverse impacts on regional or local air quality are anticipated from implementation of the Proposed Action. According to 40 CFR Part 81, there are no Class I areas in the vicinity of the Proposed Action. Therefore, Federal PSD regulations would not apply. In summary, no adverse impacts on regional or local air quality are anticipated from implementation of the Proposed Action. A conformity determination in accordance with 40 CFR 93-153(1) is not required, as the total of direct and indirect emissions from the Proposed Action would not be regionally significant (e.g., the emissions are not greater than 10 percent of the BLIAQCR emissions inventory). Emissions factors, calculations, and estimates of emissions for the Proposed Action are shown in detail in Appendix K.

4.2.3

Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative

As discussed earlier, the Proposed Action would be within the BLIAQCR, which is in attainment/unclassified for all criteria pollutants. Regulated pollutant emissions from Alternative 3 would not contribute to or affect local or regional attainment status with the NAAQS. Alternative 3 would generate air pollutant emissions from the proposed construction projects, maintenance activities, and the operation of generators to supply power to construction equipment. Proposed Construction Projects. Alternative 3 would have similar impacts as the Proposed Action. Minor short-term adverse effects would be expected from construction emissions and land disturbance as a result of implementing Alternative 3.
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The proposed project would result in impacts on regional air quality during construction activities, primarily from site-disturbing activities and operation of construction equipment. The construction projects would generate total suspended particulate and PM10 emissions as fugitive dust from ground-disturbing activities (e.g., grading, trenching, soil piles) and from combustion of fuels in construction equipment. Fugitive dust emissions would be greatest during the initial site preparation activities and would vary from day to day depending on the construction phase, level of activity, and prevailing weather conditions. The quantity of uncontrolled fugitive dust emissions from a construction site is proportional to the area of land being worked and the level of construction activity. [[Preparer’s Note: More information on actual amount of ground disturbance/grading from alternative. For planning purposes, it was assumed that ground disturbance for the primary and secondary fences would be approximately 69.89 miles long by 20 feet wide and for the access road and staging areas disturbance would be approximately 69.89 miles long by 12 feet wide for a total of 279.09 acres of land.]] Construction operations would also result in emissions of criteria pollutants as combustion products from construction equipment. These emissions would be of a temporary nature. The emissions factors and estimates were generated based on guidance provided in USEPA AP-42, Volume II, Mobile Sources. Fugitive dust emissions for various construction activities were calculated using emissions factors and assumptions published in USEPA’s AP-42 Section 11.9. For purposes of this analysis, the project duration and affected project site area that would be disturbed (presented in Section 2) was used to estimate fugitive dust and all other criteria pollutant emissions. The construction emissions presented in Table 4.2-2 include the estimated annual construction PM10 emissions associated with Alternative 3. These emissions would produce slightly elevated short-term PM10 ambient air concentrations. However, the effects would be temporary, and would fall off rapidly with distance from the proposed construction sites. Specific information describing the types of construction equipment required for a specific task, the hours the equipment is operated, and the operating conditions vary widely from project to project. For purposes of analysis, these parameters were estimated using established methodologies for construction and experience with similar types of construction projects. Combustion by-product emissions from construction equipment exhausts were estimated using USEPA’s AP-42 emissions factors for heavyduty, diesel-powered construction equipment.

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Table 4.2-2. Estimates of Total Proposed Construction Emissions from Alternative 3
Description Construction Emissions Maintenance Emissions Generator Emissions Total Alternative 3 Emissions Federal de minimis Threshold BLIAQCR Regional Emissions Percent of BLIAQCR Regional Emissions NOx (tpy) 321.510 0.042 22.777 344.330 NA 44,137 0.078% VOC (tpy) 47.926 0.005 1.859 49.791 NA 73,577 0.068% CO (tpy) 375.600 0.021 4.907 380.528 NA 317,422 0.120% SOx (tpy) 6.430 0.010 1.498 7.938 NA 2,940 0.270% PM10 (tpy) 355.597 0.005 1.601 357.203 NA 132,788 0.269%

Note: NA = Not applicable (criteria pollutant is in attainment/unclassified)

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The construction emissions presented in Table 4.2-2 include the estimated annual emissions from construction equipment exhaust associated with Alternative 3 in CY 2008 and operation of the diesel-powered generators. As with fugitive dust emissions, combustion emissions would produce slightly elevated air pollutant concentrations. Early phases of construction projects involve heavier diesel equipment and earthmoving, resulting in higher NOx and PM10 emissions. Later phases of construction projects involve more light gasoline equipment and surface coating, resulting in more CO and VOC emissions. However, the effects would be temporary, fall off rapidly with distance from the proposed construction site, and would not result in any long-term effects. Maintenance Activities. [[Preparer’s note: More information on maintenance activities such as mowing the project area. Please provide information on types of potential non-road vehicles planned (e.g., agricultural mowers) and number of days per year.]] Generators. Alternative 3 would require six diesel powered generators to power construction equipment. It is assumed that these generators would be approximately 75 hp and operated approximately 8 hours per day for 190 working days. Operational emissions associated with Alternative 3 would not result in an adverse impact to air quality. The emission factors and estimates were generated based on guidance provided in USEPA AP-42, Volume I, Stationary Internal Combustion Sources. According to TAC Title 30, internal combustion engines greater than 500 brake horsepower require an operating permit (SM#1). Therefore, the generators under Alternative 3 are exempt from requiring an operating permit from the TCEQ. Summary. Since the BLIAQCR is within an area classified as being in attainment for all criteria pollutants, General Conformity Rule requirements are not applicable to Alternative 3. Table 4.2-2 illustrates that the emissions from Alternative 3 would be
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much less than 10 percent of the emissions inventory for BLIAQCR (SM#3). Therefore, no adverse impacts on regional or local air quality would be expected. According to 40 CFR Part 81, there are no Class I areas in the vicinity of Alternative 3. Therefore, Federal PSD regulations would not apply. In summary, no adverse impacts on regional or local air quality would be anticipated from implementation of Alternative 3. A conformity determination in accordance with 40 CFR 93-153(1) is not required, as the total of direct and indirect emissions from Alternative 3 are not regionally significant (e.g., the emissions are not greater than 10 percent of the BLIAQCR emissions inventory). Emissions factors, calculations, and estimates of emissions for Alternative 3 are shown in detail in Appendix K.

4.3
4.3.1

NOISE
Alternative 1: No Action Alternative

Under the No Action Alternative, current activities would be the dominant source of noise and there would be no short- or long-term changes to the noise environment.

4.3.2

Alternative 2: Proposed Action

The noise impacts associated with the Proposed Action would be expected to be the same along either routing depicted as Route A or Route B because the overall length of the proposed construction corridors and duration of construction activities for Route A and Route B would be similar. Therefore, the analysis presented below is applicable to both route alternatives. Short-term moderate adverse impacts would be expected under Alternative 2. Sources of noise from the implementation of Alternative 2 would include blasting, operation of construction equipment, and noise from construction vehicles. Noise from construction activities and vehicle traffic can impact wildlife as well as humans. Impacts on nesting, feeding and migration could all occur on various species due to construction noise. For specific information regarding impacts to wildlife from noise, see Section 4.7.2. Construction Noise. The construction of the fence segments and related tactical infrastructure, such as the patrol and access roads and construction staging areas, would result in noise impacts on populations in the vicinity of the proposed sites. Construction of the fence segments and the patrol roads adjacent to the fence would result in grading and construction noise. Populations that could be impacted by construction noise include adjacent residents, personnel visiting one of the wildlife refuges or recreation areas, or employees in nearby office or retail buildings. Noise levels for the construction of the Proposed Action were calculated using equipment typical of construction projects. Noise from construction assumes several different pieces of construction equipment operating simultaneously (see Table 3.3-1). Because noise attenuates over distance, a gradual decrease in noise level occurs the further a receptor is away from the source of noise. Based on these calculations, construction
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noise levels at a distance of 50 feet to 5,280 feet from the source are shown in Table 4.3-1. Table 4.3-1. Estimated Noise from Proposed Construction Activities
Distance 50 feet Noise Level 85 dBA 100 feet 79 dBA 300 feet 70 dBA 1,000 feet 59 dBA 5,280 feet 45 dBA

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Implementation of the Proposed Action would have temporary effects on the noise environment from the use of heavy equipment during construction activities. However, noise generation would last only for the duration of construction activities and would be isolated to normal working hours (i.e., between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.). Therefore, it is anticipated that implementation of the Proposed Action would have negligible impacts as a result of the construction activities. Alternative 2 would impact residential areas as well as recreational facilities and wilderness areas. In general, users of recreational facilities and sites anticipate a quiet environment. Noise from construction would impact the ambient acoustical environment around these sites. While construction would be a temporary source of noise, and no significant impacts would be anticipated at recreational sites or wilderness areas, noise from construction would reach areas that are anticipated to have low levels of ambient noise. Vehicular Noise. Noise impacts from increased construction traffic would be temporary in nature. These impacts would also be confined to normal working hours (i.e., between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.) and would last only as long as the construction activities were ongoing. Most of the major roadways in the vicinity pass by residential areas. Therefore, it is anticipated that the Proposed Action would have short-term minor adverse noise impacts as a result of the increase in traffic, most notably in the areas around Brownsville, McAllen, Progreso, Santa Maria, and Relampago.

4.3.3

Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative

Short-term moderate adverse impacts would be expected under Alternative 3. Under Alternative 3, primary and secondary fences would be constructed 130 feet apart along the same route as Alternative 2, Route B. Noise impacts from Alternative 3 would be similar to those discussed under Alternative 2 and shown in Table 4.3-1. However, residences would be closer to the secondary fence; therefore, noise impacts from construction equipment would be slightly higher than under Alternative 2.

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4.4
4.4.1

LAND USE
Alternative 1: No Action Alternative

In some locations, land use and land values are currently adversely affected by illegal border crossings. Under the No Action Alternative, current land uses and values would not change.

4.4.2

Alternative 2: Proposed Action

Constructing the proposed fence segments and access roads could result in long-term minor adverse impacts on land use. The severity of the impact would vary depending on the need for rezoning to accommodate the fence segments and access roads. USBP might be required to obtain a permit or zoning variance based on local restrictions and ordinances. Short-term minor adverse impacts would occur from construction and use of staging areas during the construction. Impacts on land use would vary depending on potential changes in land use and the land use of adjacent properties. USBP would adhere to local zoning laws and ordinances to lessen impacts on land use conditions of areas affected. The proposed fence, access roads, and patrol roads would traverse both public and private lands. Therefore, USBP would have to acquire the land within the project area. There are three ways for USBP to acquire these lands: lease/easements, purchase, and eminent domain (CBP-REF.033). USBP could obtain a lease/easement from landowners to construct the proposed fenceline and access road. The lease/easement between the landowner and USBP typically specifies compensation for the loss of use during construction, loss of renewable or other resources, and restrictions on the permanent ROW after construction. The acquisition of a lease/easement is a negotiable process that would be carried out between USBP and individual landowners on a case-by-case basis. Construction along the border usually requires the government to acquire some interest in the land. Current law authorizes the Secretary of the DHS to contract for and buy any interest in land adjacent to or in the vicinity of the international land border when the Secretary deems the land essential to control and guard the border against any violation of immigration law. The acquisition of land is a negotiable process that would be carried out between USBP and individual landowners on a case-by-case basis. Congress has granted USBP the power of eminent domain to facilitate the construction of the Proposed Action. Eminent domain is used as a last resort if a landowner and the project proponent cannot reach agreement on compensation for use or purchase of property required for the Proposed Action. The project proponent is still required to compensate the landowner for the use of the property and for any damages incurred during construction. However, the level of compensation would be determined by a
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court according to applicable laws and procedures for such proceedings. If USBP is unable to negotiate easements with the landowners, then eminent domain would be used as a last resort measure to aquire the land as long as the property owner is justly compensated as established by law. The Proposed Action would traverse park/refuge lands, agricultural lands, residential areas, municipalities, undeveloped lands, and industrial/commercial lands. The Proposed Action would affect landowners whose property would be traversed or adjacent to the proposed alignment. USBP would be required to purchase or obtain a lease/easement from each landowner or land-managing agency allowing them to construct, operate, and maintain the fenceline and access road. USBP would be required to compensate the landowner or land-managing agency for the loss of use and construction-related property damage, even in cases where eminent domain is exercised. Special permits might be required to traverse railroads, roadways, streams, and state and federal lands. Agricultural lands within 60 feet of the Proposed Action would not be available for future crop production. In addition, residential, industrial, commercial, and undeveloped lands within 60 feet of the Proposed Action would not be available for future development. Gates would be located within the fence that would allow landowners access to portions of their property on both sides of the fence to reduce potential impacts to landowners. Minor indirect adverse impacts on recreation would occur during construction of the Proposed Action. However, impacts would be localized and short-term. No adverse impacts on recreation would be expected after construction because access to recreational areas along the fence would remain open to users. Long-term indirect beneficial impacts on access to recreational areas could occur as a result of decreased illegal traffic coming into these recreational areas. In addition, by reducing the amount of illegal traffic within and adjacent to the project areas, disturbance to lands north of the project areas would be reduced. The figures in Appendix F show the location of the proposed fence segments and access roads and the proximity of adjacent and intersecting land uses. The current land uses traversed by Alternative 2, Routes A and B is described in Table 4-4.1. Land uses were identified by using aerial photograph interpretation and the GIS data showing the proposed project.

4.4.3

Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative

Alternative 3 would have similar impacts to the Proposed Action. The figures in Appendix F show the location of the proposed fence segments and access roads and the proximity of adjacent and intersecting land uses. The current land uses traversed by Alternative 3 is described in Table 4-4.1. Table 4.4-2 outlines by fence segment the existing communities within or adjacent to Alternative 2 and Alternative 3. Land uses were identified by using aerial photograph interpretation and the GIS data showing the proposed project.
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4.5.2

Alternative 2: Proposed Action

Physiography and Topography. Short- and long-term minor adverse impacts on the natural topography would be expected. Grading, contouring, and trenching associated with the installation of the fence, patrol roads, access roads, and other tactical infrastructure would impact approximately 186.37 acres, which would alter the existing topography. However, the existing topography of much of the proposed project corridor was previously altered to construct the levees, provide access roads, and to level agricultural fields for irrigation. Geology. Short- and long-term negligible to minor adverse impacts on geologic resources could occur at locations if bedrock is at the surface and blasting would be necessary to grade for fence placement or patrol and access road development. Geologic resources could affect the placement of the fence or patrol and access roads due to the occurrence of bedrock at the surface, or as a result of structural instability. In most cases, it is expected that project design and engineering practices could be implemented to mitigate geologic limitations to site development. Soils. Short-term minor direct adverse impacts on soils in the Lower Rio Grande Valley would be expected as a result of implementing the Proposed Action. Soil disturbance and compaction due to grading, contouring, and trenching associated with the installation of the fence, patrol roads, access roads, and other tactical infrastructure would impact approximately 186.37 acres. The proposed construction activities would be expected to result in an increase in soil erosion, especially in the western portion of the project area (in Segments O1, O-2, and O-3). This area is characterized by low ridges with moderately steep-sided bluffs with narrow arroyos. Soil disturbance on steep slopes has the potential to result in excessive erosion due to instability of the disturbed soils and high runoff energy and velocity. Sediments washed from construction sites would be carried to and deposited in the Rio Grande. In addition, wind erosion has the potential to impact disturbed soils where vegetation has been removed due to the semiarid climate of the region. Construction activities would be expected to directly impact the existing soils as a result of grading, excavating, placement of fill, compaction, and mixing or augmentation necessary to prepare the site for development of the fence, patrol and access roads and associated utility lines. Following construction activities, the areas disturbed should be revegetated with native species to the maximum extent practicable to reestablish native plant communities and help stabilize soils. Because proposed construction would result in a soil disturbance of greater than 5 acres, authorization under TCEQ Construction General Permit (TXR150000) would be required. Construction activities subject to this permit include clearing, grading and disturbances to the ground, such as stockpiling or excavation, but do not include regular maintenance activities performed to restore the original line, grade, or capacity of the facility. The Construction General Permit requires the
Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 4-15 October 2007

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Preliminary Draft EIS

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development and implementation of a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). The SWPPP should contain one or more site map(s), which show the construction site perimeter, existing and proposed buildings, lots, roadways, storm water collection and discharge points, general topography both before and after construction, and drainage patterns across the project. The SWPPP must list best management practices (BMPs) the discharger will use to protect storm water runoff along with the locations of those BMPs. Additionally, the SWPPP must contain a visual monitoring program; a chemical monitoring program for “non-visible” pollutants to be implemented if there is a failure of BMPs; and a sediment monitoring plan if the site discharges directly to a water body listed on the 303(d) list for sediment. Part III.F of the Construction General Permit describes the elements that must be contained in a SWPPP. Additional soil disturbance could occur during and following construction as a result of scheduled patrols. Compaction and erosion of soil would be expected as a result of patrol operations and possible off-road vehicle use that could decrease vegetation cover and soil permeability. Long-term minor direct adverse impacts on prime farmland soils in Hidalgo and Cameron Counties would occur as a result of construction activities. [[Preparer’s Note: A letter to the NRCS at the state office will be submitted to determine acreage of prime farmland soils potentially impacted by Alternative 2 and 3.]] No soils associated with farmland of local, unique, or statewide importance are identified for Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron Counties. In areas not currently being used for agriculture, the proposed project corridor would be linear and limited in extent, therefore any impacts to the areas considered prime farmland would be considered minor. In the areas where crops, such as sorghum and sugar cane, were observed being grown in the proposed project corridor during the site survey, construction of the Proposed Action would result in the permanent loss of existing cropland. Coordination should occur with NRCS to determine the extent of prime farmland to be impacted.

4.5.3

Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative

The Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative would result in similar environmental impacts on geologic and soils resources as described above for the Proposed Action. However, the magnitude of the impacts would affect a larger area, due to the additional fence and overall wider corridor. Approximately 279.09 acres would be impacted.

Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 4-16

October 2007

FME005661

Preliminary Draft EIS

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4.6
4.6.1

WATER RESOURCES
Alternative 1: No Action Alternative

Under the No Action Alternative, the Proposed Action would not be implemented. As a result, there would be no change from baseline conditions as described in Section 3.5. Effects on water resources could occur as a result of regional drought locally and/or within the drainage basin or other natural events affecting precipitation patterns.

4.6.2

Alternative 2: Proposed Action

The impacts on water resources associated with the Proposed Action would be expected to be the same along either routing depicted as Route A or Route B because the overall length and general area of the proposed construction corridors for Route A and Route B would be similar. Therefore, the analysis presented below is applicable to both route alternatives. Hydrology and Groundwater. Short-and long-term negligible direct adverse impacts on hydrology of the Rio Grande would be expected to occur as a result of implementing the Proposed Action in Segments O-1, O-2, and O-3. Under the Proposed Alternative, grading and contouring would be expected to alter the topography and remove vegetation within the floodplain of the Rio Grande, which could in turn increase erosion potential and increase runoff during heavy precipitation events. Revegetating the area with native vegetation following construction along with other best management practices to abate runoff and wind erosion could reduce the impacts of erosion and runoff due to the changes in hydrological potential. Additionally, the small increase in impervious surface within the floodplain would result in negligible increases in the quantity and velocity of storm water flows to the Rio Grande. As require by the Texas Construction General Permit (TXR150000), BMPs would be developed as part of the required SWPPP to manage storm water both during and after construction. Therefore, effects are expected to be negligible. No impacts on hydrology are expected in Segments O-4 through O-21. These fence segments would be constructed and operated behind the IBWC levee system, outside the Rio Grande floodplain. Short-term minor direct adverse impacts on groundwater resources in Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron Counties would be expected as a result of implementing the Proposed Action. Under the Proposed Action, water would be required for pouring concrete, watering of road and ground surfaces for dust suppression during construction, and to wash construction vehicles. Water use for construction would be temporary, and the volume of water used for construction would be minor when compared to the amount used annually in the area for municipal, agricultural, and industrial purposes.
Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 4-17 October 2007

FME005662

Preliminary Draft EIS

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Implementation of storm water and spill prevention BMPs developed consistent with the SWPPP and other applicable plans and regulations would minimize potential runoff or spill-related impacts on groundwater quality during construction. Surface Water and Waters of the U.S. Long-term and short-term negligible adverse effects on water quality would be expected as a result of the Proposed Action. The Proposed Action would increase impervious surface area and runoff potential in the project area. Approximately 186 acres of soil disturbance would occur during construction activities. Additional disturbance could occur as a result of staging areas and the placement of temporary structures and equipment to support construction activities. The soil disturbance associated with the Proposed Action would disturb more than 5 acres of soil, and therefore would require authorization under the Texas Construction General Permit (TXR1500000). The Construction General Permit would require an SWPPP. The SWPPP would include erosion and sediment control and storm water BMPS for activities resulting during and after construction. Based on these requirements, adverse effects associated with storm water runoff on surface water quality would be reduced to negligible. Impacts on surface water and wetlands that are potentially jurisdictional waters of the U.S. would be avoided to the maximum extent practicable. Impacts that cannot be avoided would be minimized and BMPs enacted that would comply with all applicable Federal, state, and local regulations. Potential impacts include filling wetlands and moving the alignment of irrigation canals and drainage ditches. Currently, wetland vegetation is routinely removed mechanically from canal banks as a maintenance action to improve flow and reduce water loss to evapotranspiration. If wetland impacts cannot be avoided, the USACE Fort Worth District on behalf of USBP would obtain a CWA Section 404 Permit and a RHA Section 10 Permit, as applicable, from the USACE Galveston District. As part of the permitting process, the USACE Fort Worth District would develop, submit, and implement a wetlands identification, mitigation, and restoration plan to reduce impacts and compensate for unavoidable impacts. The plan would be developed in accordance with USACE guidelines and in cooperation with USEPA. The plan would outline BMPs from preconstruction to post-construction activities to reduce impact on wetlands and waterbodies. The USACE Fort Worth District would also obtain a Section 401 (a) CWA Permit from TCEQ, to ensure that action would comply with state water quality standard. [[Preparer’s Note: Impacts on surface waters and waters of the U.S. will be analyzed in greater detail, once the fence alignment in relation to the arroyos, canals, resacas, and drainages ditches is known and jurisdictional wetlands are delineated.]]

Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 4-18

October 2007

FME005663

Preliminary Draft EIS

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Floodplains. Impacts on floodplains would be avoided to the maximum extent practicable; however, short- and long-term minor adverse impacts on the Rio Grande floodplain would occur as a result of construction in the short-term and a long-term increase in impervious surface associated with Segments O-1 through O-3. These segments, as currently designed, parallel the Rio Grande floodplain. In accordance with FEMA Document, Further Advice on EO 11988, Floodplain Management, USBP has determined that Segment O-1 through O-3 cannot be practicably located outside the floodplain. The current floodplain extends past local communities and roads strategic to the operations of USBP. In order to operate outside the existing floodplain, USBP would have to move all operations northward several miles in some areas. This would not meet USBP mission needs. The increase in impervious surface associated with Segments O-1, O-2, and O-3 would have no effect on the IBWC international drainage, which starts in Peñitas, Texas, in Hidalgo County. USBP would mitigate unavoidable impacts on floodplains using planning guidance developed by the USACE. [[Preparer’s Note: Government to provide information on modeling efforts and mitigation plans for construction and operation in areas including arroyos, washes, and intermittent streams located within floodplains when that information becomes available.]] No impacts on floodplains or IBWC international floodways are expected in Segments O-4 through O-21. These fence segments would be constructed and operated behind the IBWC levee system, outside the Rio Grande floodplain.

4.6.3

Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative

Hydrology and Groundwater. Impacts on hydrology in Segments O-1, O-2, and O-3 under Alternative 3 would be similar, but slightly greater than the impacts described under Alternative 2. The primary and secondary fence segments proposed under Alternative 3 would result in a larger increase in impervious surface under this alternative. Impacts on groundwater under Alternative 3 would be similar, but not significantly greater than the impacts under Alternative 2 because the area of surface disturbance would be greater under this alternative. Disturbance at the ground surface would not affect ground water aquifers directly, and post-construction runoff patterns could result in minor groundwater recharge. Surface Waters and Waters of the U.S. Alternative 3 would result in impacts on surface waters and waters of the U.S. similar to those described in Alternative 2. However, the magnitude of the impacts would affect a larger area due to the additional fence and wider corridor. Approximately 279 acres of soils would be disturbed under Alternative 3. As described in Section 3.5.2, the Texas Construction General Permit would be required to address the development and implementation of a SWPPP with BMPs to reduce the effects of storm water runoff. Additionally, CWA Section 404, Section 401a, and RHA Section 10
Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 4-19 October 2007

FME005664

Preliminary Draft EIS

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permits would be obtained prior to all unavoidable impacts on jurisdictional waters of the U.S. A wetlands mitigation and restoration plan to lessen unavoidable impacts would be developed, submitted, and implemented. The plan would outline BMPs from preconstruction to post-construction activities to reduce impact on wetlands and waterbodies. Floodplains. Impacts on floodplains in Segments O-1, O-2, and O-3 under Alternative 3 would be similar, but slightly greater than the impacts described under Alternative 2. The primary and secondary fence segments proposed under Alternative 3 would result in an increase in impervious surface, contributing slightly more surface runoff to the Rio Grande and its associated floodplain.

4.7

BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES

Vegetation.

4.7.1

Alternative 1: No Action Alternative

Under the No Action Alternative, vegetation would continue to be influenced by Federal, state, and non-profit resource agency and private land management plans, development, agricultural crop production, wildfires, drought, floods, recreationists, and illegal aliens crossing the international border individually or with illegal contraband and being monitored/pursued by USBP agents. Native vegetation stands would continue to be adversely affected due to trampling by recreationists (primarily hunters), illegal aliens, and agents in pursuit of aliens, including crushing vegetation by vehicles used off-trail during apprehension.

4.7.2

Alternative 2: Proposed Action

Route A. Under the proposed action, Route A, a 60-foot-wide corridor containing the proposed new pedestrian and hybrid fence and access/patrol roads on either side would be cleared during construction and a portion maintained following construction to support long-term maintenance, sight distance, and patrol activities. For the period of construction, lay-down areas for materials and equipment would be identified within the disturbed corridor. For the proposed length of approximately 70 miles, this cleared corridor totals approximately 508 acres. Existing land use and vegetation comprising approximately 508 acres includes: urban land, private residences, and agricultural land (approximately 25 percent of the corridor), non-native grasslands and herbaceous vegetation (approximately 40 percent of the corridor), disturbed thornscrub shrublands and woodlands (approximately 25 percent of the corridor), and disturbed floodplain shrublands, woodlands, and forests (approximately 10 percent of the corridor). Following construction, approximately one-half this area, or about 250 acres, would be allowed to revegetate to native and non-native vegetation and wildlife habitat or be used for urban, residential, or agricultural crop production. Approximately 190 acres would be available for vegetation and wildlife habitat following construction.
Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 4-20 October 2007

FME005665

Preliminary Draft EIS

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The loss of vegetation from approximately 125 acres of urban and agricultural land would result in short- and long-term insignificant to minor adverse effects due to the disturbed land becoming a nursery for non-native plant species to propagate and invade surrounding plant communities. Removal of individual large mature native trees of Texas ebony, sabal palm, eastern cottonwood, sugarberry, and honey mesquite would result in long-term moderate to major adverse effects, because they are irreplaceable due to age and size. Avoidance of these large trees would require protection of the soil and root zone at least to the canopy drip-line, a zone up to 50-75 feet wide. The loss of approximately 200 acres of herbaceous vegetation, more than half of this area dominated by non-native buffelgrass, Bermuda grass, and windmill grass, would result in short- and long-term, low to moderate adverse effects due to habitat conversion. Following construction, approximately 100 acres would be allowed to revegetate and would likely become a dense herbaceous plant community of composition similar to adjacent, existing stands. The loss of approximately 125 acres of disturbed thornscrub shrubland and woodland habitat, predominantly honey mesquite and retama, would result in short- and long-term moderate adverse effects due to habitat conversion. On National Wildlife Refuges, a portion of this acreage represents stands that were previously revegetated by the USFWS around 2002 and 2003. Following construction, approximately 65 acres would be allowed to revegetate and would likely become a shrub herbaceous or shrubland plant community of composition similar to adjacent, existing stands. In the first one-mile of proposed Segment O-1, approximately 4.0 acres of Tamaulipan thornscrub that has become established on gravel substrate of hills and ridges would be removed, resulting in long-term high adverse effects due to habitat conversion by disruption of the substrate. The first 0.85 acres of this habitat has been root plowed, resulting in an invasion of the non-native buffelgrass and loss of native vegetation cover, diversity and community structure. Restoration of this root plowed habitat with its loss of gravel veneer and need to eliminate invasive grass species would likely not occur. In the first 0.5 miles of proposed Segment O-1, sedimentary rock outcrops on south-facing slopes have been avoided through construction planning and design, resulting in short- and long-term moderate to high beneficial effects, due to preservation of a unique habitat that in other sites supports federally listed plant species (e.g., the Zapata bladderpod). Loss of these unique sedimentary rock outcrops would be irreplaceable. The loss of approximately 50 acres of disturbed floodplain shrubland, woodland, and forest habitat, predominantly honey mesquite and sugarberry and to a lesser extent sabal palm, would result in short- and long term, moderate to high adverse effects due to habitat conversion and the size and age of mature floodplain trees. Following construction, approximately 25 acres would be allowed to revegetate
Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 4-21 October 2007

FME005666

Preliminary Draft EIS

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and would likely become a wooded herbaceous or woodland plant community of composition similar to adjacent, existing stands. During and following construction of these primary fence segments as proposed, the effects of fire, drought, flooding, etc. as described in the No Action Alternative, would occur over time, resulting in short- and long-term low to moderate adverse effects to remaining native and non-native plant communities. Route B. [[Preparer’s Note: The differences between Route A and B impacts will be detailed after the Phase I Surveys are complete.]]

4.7.3

Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative

Under the Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative, a 150-foot-wide corridor containing the proposed new pedestrian and hybrid fence and access/patrol roads on either side would be cleared during construction and would remain cleared following construction to support long-term maintenance, sight distance, and patrol activities. For the period of construction, lay-down areas for materials and equipment would be identified within the disturbed corridor. The cleared area totals approximately 1,103 acres over the 70-mile length of the proposed corridor. Existing land use and vegetation in this 1,103 acres include: urban land, private residences, and agricultural land (approximately 275 acres), nonnative grasslands and herbaceous vegetation (approximately 445 acres), disturbed thornscrub shrublands and woodlands (approximately 275 acres), and disturbed floodplain shrublands, woodlands, and forests (approximately 110 acres). The loss of vegetation from approximately 275 acres of urban and agricultural land would result in short- and long-term insignificant to low adverse effects due to the disturbed land becoming a nursery for non-native plant species to propagate and invade surrounding plant communities. Removal of individual large mature native trees of Texas ebony, sabal palm, eastern cottonwood, sugarberry, and honey mesquite would result in long-term moderate to high adverse effects, because they are irreplaceable due to age and size. Avoidance of these large trees would not be possible under this alternative. The loss of approximately 445 acres of herbaceous vegetation, more than half of this area dominated by non-native buffelgrass, Bermuda grass, and windmill grass, would result in short- and long-term moderate adverse effects due to permanent habitat conversion. The loss of approximately 275 acres of disturbed thornscrub shrubland and woodland habitat, predominantly honey mesquite and retama, would result in short- and long-term moderate to high adverse effects due to permanent habitat conversion. On National Wildlife Refuges, a portion of this acreage represents stands that were previously revegetated by the USFWS during 2002 and 2003.

Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 4-22

October 2007

FME005667

Preliminary Draft EIS

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In the first 1-mile of proposed Segment O-1, approximately 9.0 acres of thornscrub that has become established on gravel substrate of hills and ridges would be permanently removed, resulting in long-term high adverse effects due to habitat conversion by disruption of the substrate and elimination of vegetation cover. In the first 0.5 miles of proposed Segment O-1, sedimentary rock outcrops on south-facing slopes have been avoided through construction planning and design, resulting in short- and long-term, moderate to high beneficial effects due to preservation of a unique habitat that in other sites supports federally listed plant species (e.g., the Zapata bladderpod). Loss of these unique sedimentary rock outcrops would be irreplaceable. The loss of approximately 110 acres of disturbed floodplain shrubland, woodland, and forest habitat, predominantly honey mesquite and sugarberry and to a lesser extent sabal palm, would result in short- and long-term, moderate to high adverse effects due to permanent habitat conversion, the size and age of mature floodplain trees, and the endemicity of the sabal palm. During and following construction of these primary fence segments as proposed, the effects of fire, drought, flooding, etc. as described in the No Action Alternative, would occur over time, resulting in short- and long-term low to moderate adverse effects to the remaining native and non-native plant communities.

Aquatic and Wildlife Resources
No Action Alternative. Under the No Action Alternative, new tactical infrastructure would not be built and there would be no change in fencing, access roads, or other facilities along the U.S./Mexico international border in the proposed project locations within the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Wildlife and aquatic resources in the project area would continue as described for the baseline condition. Therefore, there would be no change to the wildlife and no wildlife impacts. Alternative 2: Proposed Action. Routes A and B would follow the IBWC levee system for the majority of its length; however, under both Route Alternatives, some proposed fence segments would encroach on portions of unique or protected habitats. The proposed fence alignment would cross several Texas state parks and Wildlife Management Areas in the Rio Grande Valley and would intersect LRGVNWR at several locations (see Table 2 in Appendix F). Potential threats to wildlife in these areas include: barrier to movement, interruption of corridors, increased human activity, loss of habitat, and increased traffic mortality. Noise created during construction would be anticipated to result in short-term, minor to moderate, adverse effects on wildlife. These effects would include subtle, widespread effects from the overall elevation of ambient noise levels during construction. Noise levels after construction are anticipated to return to
Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 4-23 October 2007

FME005668

Preliminary Draft EIS

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close to current ambient levels. Elevated noise levels during construction could result in reduced communication ranges, interference with predator/prey detection, or habitat avoidance. More intense effects would include behavioral change, disorientation, or hearing loss. Predictors of wildlife response to noise include noise type (i.e., continuous or intermittent), prior experience with noise, proximity to a noise source, stage in the breeding cycle, activity, and age. Prior experience with noise is the most important factor in the response of wildlife to noise, because wildlife can become accustomed (or habituate) to the noise. The rate of habituation to short-term construction is not known, but it is anticipated that wildlife would be permanently displaced from the areas where the habitat is cleared and the fence and associated TI constructed, and temporarily dispersed from areas adjacent to the project areas during construction periods. See Section 4.3.2 for additional details on expected noise levels associated with the Proposed Action. The area temporarily impacted within the 21 segments (both route alternatives) would total approximately 508 acres. Following construction, approximately onehalf this area, or 250 acres, would be allowed to revegetate to vegetation and wildlife habitat if it does not occur in urban, residential, or agricultural lands. Previous disturbances (i.e., agriculture and grazing) in the area around the site reduce the significance of potential impacts to the local wildlife community. Unique or rare habitats would be avoided to the extent practicable. Riparian areas within the LRGVNWR and arroyos would be avoided and therefore would not be impacted. Therefore, no significant impacts to wildlife would occur under the proposed action. Removal of vegetation and grading during construction could temporarily increase siltation in the river and therefore have short-term minor adverse impacts on fishes within the Rio Grande River. Under Route A, tactical infrastructure would be adjacent to the river bank, and could result in increased siltation in the Rio Grande River. There is one state-listed fish species known to overlap with a proposed fence segment in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. The Rio Grande silvery minnow could potentially occur in the Rio Grande River in three proposed segments (O18, O19, and O21). However, implementation of stand BMPs such as use of silt fences, such as use of silt fences, should reduce this potential impact to negligible. Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative. Impacts of Alternative 3 will be similar to those of Alternative 2; however, the area impacted would be greater. Alternative 3 would be constructed as a continuous fence and therefore the area temporarily impacted by the 230-mile alignment would total approximately 1,673 acres. Increased threats to wildlife in these areas include: barrier to movement, interruption of corridors, increased human activity, loss of habitat, and increased traffic mortality.

Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 4-24

October 2007

FME005669

Preliminary Draft EIS

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Special Status Species
[[Preparer’s Note: Anticipated impacts for federally listed species will be developed when the Phase I surveys are complete, and those data as well as the dataset from NatureServe have been incorporated into the analysis. These impacts will be for NEPA analysis only. Impacts estimated through NEPA analysis will be independent of determinations of impacts made by the USFWS through the Section 7 Consultation process.]] Alternative 1: No Action Alternative. Under the No Action Alternative, new tactical infrastructure would not be built and there would be no change in fencing, access roads, or other facilities along the U.S./Mexico international border in the proposed project locations within the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Federal and state threatened and endangered species in the project area would continue as described for the baseline condition. Therefore, there would be no change to the existing impacts on Federal or state-listed species or migratory birds. Alternative 2: Proposed Action. Under the proposed action, anticipated impacts on Federal or state-listed species that might result from the construction, maintenance, and operation of the fence and associated tactical infrastructure include increased noise levels during construction, direct and indirect loss of habitat and habitat quality, and increased mortality. For both Routes A and B, moderate, short-term, adverse impacts would be anticipated for state-listed animals and migratory birds due to elevated noise levels during construction. These elevated noise levels could interfere with important communications during breeding and nesting periods, affect predator/prey interactions, and result in habitat avoidance. Impacts on federally listed species will be evaluated in the Biological Assessment, and addressed in the Biological Opinion, both of which are currently being developed by the USFWS. Impacts due to habitat loss or alteration and increase mortality for state-listed species in segments O-1, O-2, O-8, and O-10 could approach minor in intensity, being small, localized and of little consequence to state-wide viability of the species anticipated to occur in these segments (Mexican treefrog, Mexican burrowing toad, Texas horned lizard, white-lipped lizard). BMPs to avoid and minimize impacts, such as pre-construction clearance surveys, are anticipated to reduce potential impacts to minor or lower in intensity. Impacts resulting from construction would be short-term, minor, and adverse, while impacts from maintenance and operation would be long-term, minor, and adverse due to potential mortality on associated roads. However, long-term minor beneficial impacts may result from reduced foot traffic in areas north of the fence corridor. Impacts on state-listed species in all other segments are anticipated to be negligible in both the short and long terms. These segments did not present high
Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 4-25 October 2007

FME005670

Preliminary Draft EIS

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quality habitat for state-listed species, and no species were observed in these segments during the surveys. Impacts on migratory birds other than noise (described above) could be substantial, given the potential timing of fence construction. However, implementation of BMPs to avoid or minimize adverse impacts could markedly reduce their intensity. The following is a list of BMPs recommended for reduction or avoidance of impacts to migratory birds: • Any groundbreaking construction activities should be performed before migratory birds return to the area (approximately 1 March) or after all young have fledged (approximately 31 July) to avoid incidental take. If construction is scheduled to start during the period in which migratory bird species are present, steps should be taken to prevent migratory birds from establishing nests in the potential impact area. These steps could include covering equipment and structures, and use of various excluders (e.g. noise). Birds can be harassed to prevent them from nesting on the site. Once a nest is established, they cannot be harassed until all young have fledged and left the nest site. If construction is scheduled to start during the period when migratory birds are present, a supplemental site-specific survey for nesting migratory birds should be performed immediately prior to site clearing. If nesting birds are found during the supplemental survey, construction should be deferred until the birds have left the nest. Confirmation that all young have fledged should be made by a competent biologist.

If the above BMPs cannot be fully implemented, a Migratory Bird Depredation Permit must be obtained from USFWS. Assuming implementation of the above BMPs, impacts of the proposed action on migratory birds is anticipated to be short- and long-term, minor, and adverse due to construction disturbance and associated loss of habitat, and long-term, minor, and beneficial due to reduction of foot traffic through migratory bird habitat north of the impact corridor. Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative. Under this alternative, the impact corridor would increase to 130 feet (slightly more than double that of the proposed action (60 feet)). Impacts to state-listed species would be similar to those described for the proposed action, but more extensive in nature. However, given the paucity of habitat in most sections and the apparently low populations densities of the populations occupying the corridor, the impacts of this alternative on state-listed species are anticipated to remain below moderate intensity. Impacts to migratory birds from implementation of Alternative 3 would be similar in nature to those described for the proposed action. However, given the
Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 4-26 October 2007

FME005671

Preliminary Draft EIS

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extensive habitat disturbance and loss associated with the larger footprint of this alternative, moderate short- and long-term adverse impacts would be anticipated. Long-term beneficial impacts due to reduction of foot traffic through habitat north of the corridor would remain minor. [[Preparer’s Note: Impacts will be updated when surveys on Refuge lands are allowed and completed, and when species location data from NatureServe are delivered.]]

4.8
4.8.1

CULTURAL RESOURCES
Alternative 1: No Action Alternative

Under the No Action Alternative, proposed tactical infrastructure would not be built and there will be no change in fencing, access roads, or other facilities along the prescribed border segments in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Since there would be no tactical infrastructure built, there would be no change to cultural, historical, and archaeological resources. No historic properties would be impacted.

4.8.2

Alternative 2: Proposed Action

Under the Proposed Action Alternative, impacts on historic properties from Alternative 2 (the Proposed Action) would be long-term, negative, and major. Routes A and B both follow a nearly identical route through the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Construction staging areas are at the same locations on the two routes. However, the small differences in their routes will impact historic properties differently. Segment O-1 of both Routes A and B, as currently proposed, will extend along the southern boundary of the Roma Historic District and parallel the river. The segment would break for Bravo Boulevard. so that it is both north and south of the Roma-San Pedro International Bridge. The NHL-designated Roma Historic District will incur major long-term negative impacts from the Proposed Action Alternative. The infrastructure will constitute an element out of character with the historic district and cause an alteration to its historic setting and relationship to the river. The historic relationship of district to the river will be altered. Segment O-2, as currently proposed, will cross the southern tip of the Fort Ringgold Historic District. The impact needs to be more closely examined relative to contributing buildings of the historic district. The alternative could present long-term negative visual impacts on the historic district. In addition, the location proposed for the construction of the infrastructure might have archaeological remains related to the early fort. Archaeological remains could occur under a staging area proposed to be located adjacent to the east boundary of the historic district. This is within an area that might have archaeological significance related to the early fort. Its archaeological integrity is unknown. The
Rio Grande Valley Tactical Infrastructure EIS 4-27 October 2007

FME005672

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use of the area for construction staging will be short-term; however, it is possible that this use will impact any intact archaeological remains that might exist. An archaeological survey with subsurface testing is needed to determine if there are intact archaeological remains that might be affected by the construction of the infrastructure. Segment O-3 of Routes A and B, as currently proposed, lies in close proximity to the Los Ebanos crossing, ferry, and the community of Los Ebanos. The alignment will break for the road leading to the crossing. It is likely that the crossing, ferry, Las Cuervas ebony, and surrounding area are eligible for listing in the NRHP as a historic landscape. The ferry likely is eligible for the NRHP for its historical and engineering significance. Route A as proposed is approximately 500 feet north of the ferry crossing, and would present less visual impacts on the ferry and crossing. Route B will be closer to the ferry and crossing, an estimated distance of about 250 feet. Both routes would enclose the area of the ferry and crossing, presenting visual impacts as one approaches the crossing and ferry from the road to the river. The alternative will be very close to the community of Los Ebanos, which needs to be surveyed and evaluated for properties that might be eligible for listing in the NRHP. Route A will surround the community of Los Ebanos to its south and east more closely than Route B. Los Ebanos has a community cemetery. Impacts on Los Ebanos crossing, ferry, and community would be long-term, major, and negative. Segment O-5, as currently proposed, is about .25 miles south of La Lomita Historic District. This could result in visual effects on this historic district. Impacts would be long-term and major. Segment O-6, as proposed, will extend north/south along the western boundary of the Lousiana-Rio Grande Canal Company Irrigation System Historic District. It would be constructed adjacent to the Hidalgo Pumphouse on both sides and continue easterly within the southern portion of the district for a distance of approximately 1.5 miles. In its easterly extension Segment O-6 would cross canals that contribute to the historic district. As currently proposed, the corridor would break for the Hidalgo Pumphouse and its parcel. The Proposed Action alternative would impact the Lousiana-Rio Grande Canal Company Irrigation System Historic District. The relationship of the pumphouse to the river is fundamental. The visual impacts of the Proposed Action on the historic district would be long-term major and negative. The extension of the infrastructure into the canal system would constitute a long-term major negative impact. The Proposed Action would damage or destroy historic canals. Segment 0-10, as currently proposed, will pass to the south of and approximately 0.3 miles from Toluca Ranch. Visual impacts on the historic district from the construction of the infrastructure are probable.

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The Sabas Cavazos Cemetery was established in 1878 with the burial of a rancher and businessman, Sabas Cavazos. It is approximately 0.25 miles north of the Segment O-17 corridor (MIN3). In Segment O-19, Route B parallels the Rio Grande, while Route A curves northward close to the developed portion of Brownsville. Route B of Segment O19 presents a route further away from many historic properties in Brownsville such as the Stillman house. The two routes meet and continue southerly along the western side of the Fort Brown Historic District, a designated National Historic Landmark. They continue easterly along the northern boundary of the southern portion of the historic district going along the levee through the golf course area with the remnant earthworks of the original Fort Brown. A staging area is proposed for this location which would most likely impact the archaeological site. Contributing properties to the district such as the former hospital buildings might be impacted visually from the Proposed Action. This alternative would separate Brownsville and Fort Brown from the river. Impacts would be long-term, major, and negative. The impact on the archaeological site would be long-term, negative, and major, although use of the area as a staging area would be short-term. Segment O-21 would parallel the southern boundary of the Old Brulay Plantation at a distance of approximately 100 feet from the historic district complex. Construction of the infrastructure likely would impact the complex, and would likely encounter historical archaeological materials. Visual impacts also would be extensive. The historic complex could be damaged from construction activities. The Brulay Cemetery is about 1,000 feet to the north of the alignment and east of a proposed staging area.

4.8.3

Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative

Under Alternative 3 of the Proposed Action, additional visual impacts on historic properties would occur because the infrastructure would consist of a doublelayered fence with the patrol road in the median. A full 130-foot-wide corridor would be needed as currently proposed. This larger corridor would present greater impacts on historic properties due to a greater possibility of damage to or destruction of archaeological resources. It would present greater visual impacts on historic properties, and would separate properties from the river to a greater degree. There appear to be no advantages for historic properties over Alternative 2 and many relative disadvantages. Impacts on historic properties from Alternative 3 would be long-term, negative, and major.

Treatment of Historic Properties
USBP anticipates development and implementation of a Programmatic Agreement to guide the identification of historic properties and evaluation of their eligibility for listing in the NRHP, assessment of effects including adverse effects, and consultations to resolve adverse effects. A programmatic approach would
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encompass all phases of the Proposed Action, design, construction, operation, and maintenance. USBP would consult with the Texas SHPO and the ACHP to develop the Programmatic Agreement. Other consulting parties would be involved in the project. The document would provide for the identification of historic properties, evaluation of their NRHP eligibility, finding of the project effects on historic properties and assessment of adverse effects, and resolution of adverse effects to historic properties. This will be done in consultation with the Texas SHPO, federally recognized Indian tribes that might attach religious and cultural significance to historic properties affected by the project, representatives of local governments, landowners, and historic preservation groups and individuals. The Programmatic Agreement would provide a formal process for involving consulting parties in the development of treatment options to avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse effects of the Proposed Action on historic properties. Treatment options might include such approaches as re-routing limited lengths of the Proposed Action to avoid or minimize effects on historic properties, relocating staging areas away (such as those proposed near Fort Brown and Fort Ringgold), and screening historic properties with vegetation if the property is located sufficiently away from the tactical infrastructure and will not interrupt its operation. Similarly, other approaches would be locating the tactical infrastructure behind existing development to minimize visual effects on historic properties, recording properties to the level of Historic American Building Survey (HABS) or Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), or recovering archaeological data through a data recovery effort. Additionally, there are other treatment options that will be investigated.

4.9

AESTHETICS AND VISUAL RESOURCES

Aesthetics is the science or philosophy concerned with the quality of visual experience. One cannot meaningfully assess the impacts of an action on visual experience unless one considers both the stimulus (visual resources) and the response (viewers) aspects of that experience. The Proposed Action has the potential to impact visual resources both directly and indirectly. Construction of tactical infrastructure would result in the introduction of both temporary (e.g., heavy equipment, supplies) and permanent (e.g., fencing and patrol roads) new visual elements into existing viewsheds. Clearing and grading of the landscape during construction, as well as demolition of buildings and structures within the permanent construction corridor, would result in the removal of visual elements from existing viewsheds. Finally, the fence segments would create a physical barrier potentially prohibiting viewers access to some visual resources. Impacts on aesthetic and visual resources would include short-term impacts associated with the construction phase of the project and use of staging areas, recurring impacts associated with monitoring and maintenance, and long-term
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impacts associated with the completed action. Impacts can range from minor, such as the impacts on visual resources adjacent to the construction corridor when seen from a distance or when views of fences are obstructed by intervening elements (e.g., trees, buildings) to major, such as the intrusion of fence segments into high-quality views within the LRGVNWR or the setting of an NHL. The nature of the impacts would range from neutral for those land units containing lower quality views or few regular viewers, to negative, for those land units containing high-quality views, important cultural or natural resources, or viewers who would have constant exposure to the fence at close distances. Beneficial impacts are also possible (e.g., addition of the fence increases the unity or dramatic impact of a view, removal of visual clutter within the construction corridor clarifies a view, or a viewer positively associates the fence with a feeling of greater security), but are considered to be less common.

4.9.1

Alternative 1: No Action Alternative

Under the No Action Alternative, proposed tactical infrastructure would not be built and there would be no change in fencing, access roads, or other facilities along the U.S./Mexico international border in the proposed project locations within the Rio Grande Valley Sector.

4.9.2

Alternative 2: Proposed Action

Under the Proposed Action, a single line of fence and an associated patrol road would be constructed along either the routing depicted as Route A or Route B (see Appendix F). Although the choice of routing might alter the impacts on specific visual resources within the APE (i.e., avoidance of section of park/refuge or culturally significant resource), the broader visual impacts associated with the two routes are comparable. Project characteristics. The primary introduced visual elements associated with the Proposed Action are the single line of fencing, gates, the patrol road, access roads, staging areas, and construction clutter (stockpiles of supplies and heavy equipment during construction). The Proposed Action would also potentially remove existing visual elements, such as buildings, vegetation, and subtle landforms (through grading or filling) that occur within the 60-foot permanent construction corridor. Finally, the fence would act as a physical barrier between viewers and those views that can only be viewed from vantage points on the other side of the fence (e.g., views from the top of levees). Of these, addition of the line of fencing and the associated patrol road, removal of existing elements from the construction corridor, and the loss of access to specific visual resources due to the fact that the fence is a barrier would have long-term impacts on visual resources, while the remaining elements would have temporary or short-term impacts limited to the period of construction. The nature (negative or beneficial) and degree (minor to major) of the long-term impacts can be affected by the appearance of the fencing (width, height, materials, color,
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lighting), the patrol road (paved or unpaved, width), and the access roads (number, paved or unpaved, width). The height and basic parameters of the fencing have already been established under the Secure Fence Act; however, the type of fence (transparent, aesthetic) and color choices could mitigate the visual impact of the fence, particularly from a distance. Similarly, the choice to pave the patrol road and access roads could affect the degree to which they blend with a given landscape (paved roads in urban or commercial land units, unpaved roads in rural or park/refuge land units). Finally, limiting the number of new access roads would reduce the number of new visual elements introduced into the landscape. Removal of existing visual elements would also constitute a long-term impact. Where the existing element adds to the visual character and quality of the resource, the impact of its removal would be negative. On the other hand, where the existing element detracts from the visual character and quality of the resource (e.g., rusted equipment or dead trees), the impact of removal could be beneficial. Whether the impact of removal is minor or major depends in large part on how many elements are removed from a particular viewshed. For example, removal of a large number of detracting elements from the construction corridor could have a major beneficial impact, whereas removal of only a few such elements would have a minor beneficial impact. In all cases, removal of existing elements would have the net result of exposing more of the fence, patrol road, and other tactical appurtenances; in settings where the addition of the fence is considered to have a major negative impact on visual resources, any benefit accruing from removal of existing elements would be outweighed by the more dominant negative visual impact of the fence. The impacts associated with the loss of access to specific visual resources can be affected primarily by the placement of the fence relative to those resources and inclusion of gates that allow access to those resources. Route B is being designed to decrease the extent to which the fence would physically impact certain cultural and natural resources, selection of this route thus reduces or removes some of the impacts related to access compared to Route A. Similarly, USBP has already included provisions for a number of gates to allow access to agricultural fields, businesses, and cemeteries; these gates also allow access to some of the visual resources that would otherwise be blocked. Proposed gate locations are described in Appendix D. The nature of the short-term impacts can be affected primarily by duration of use of staging areas, the placement of these areas on the landscape, and the number of such areas. Clearly, reduction of the duration of use and number of staging areas, in conjunction with selection of locations for these areas away from high-quality views or cultural significant resources, have the potential for reducing the degree of the impacts on visual resources from short-term major effects to short-term minor effects. The nature of the impacts associated with construction activities is considered to be negative in all instances.
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Visual Resource Concerns. In Section 3.8.2, Tables 3.8-1 and 3.8-2 provided a summary of the character and quality of visual resources currently present within the APE for the Proposed Action. Tables 4.9-1 and 4.9-2 show how implementation of Route B would likely alter the character and quality of existing visual resources within each land unit. Figures 4.9-1 through 4.9-4 provide examples of typical impacts; these images show the effects associated with the addition of a fence constructed using hybrid vehicle-pedestrian fence design currently being considered by USBP for the Rio Grande Valley Sector. These photographs provide approximations of the degree of alteration that would result from introduction of the fence and patrol road to these viewsheds; the photos can be altered to include scaled versions of the fence and patrol road, but cannot readily be altered to remove existing elements from the construction corridor. In general, within park/refuge land units, the introduction of the fence and removal of vegetation from the construction corridor would likely constitute a negative effect on the character and quality of visual resources. The degree of the impact would vary depending on the height of surrounding vegetation and the presence of any other visually intrusive elements. For example, where the fence is shorter than the levee and the levee has thick vegetation, the fence would have less of a visual impact than in those areas where clearings or shorter vegetation make the fence more visible. In rural land units, the fence might blend with other linear features (levee, field breaks) to the point where the impact is neutral. The degree to which the fence contrasts with its surroundings would vary by season, as mature crops would provide a greater variety of forms and textures, as well as greater screening, of the fence compared to fallow fields. Inclusion of a larger number of other intrusive elements (visual clutter), such as utility poles or towers, water towers, and remote video surveillance system, can also reduce the overall impact on visual resources within this land unit. For this land unit, therefore, impacts could range from minor to major and neutral to negative.

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Table 4.9-1. Character of Visual Resources within Typical Rio Grande Valley Land Units (Alternative 2, Route B)
Line The fence and patrol road also represent horizontal lines, but might disrupt existing layers and gentle curves, particularly where the fence would be taller than surrounding vegetation. Clearing and grading would introduce a visual break in the vegetation pattern. At short distances the fence would introduce a primarily horizontal line that might blend with other dominant horizontal lines like the levee and field breaks. The patrol road and access roads also should blend, both at short and longer distances. With greater distance, the mesh of the fence would “disappear,” making the vertical bollards of the fence the dominant line. These vertical lines might blend where other vertical elements are present (power poles, silos, remote video surveillance system) depending on the height of those elements in each area. The regularity of the lines could contrast with less regular lines. Color The current fence design parameters call for fencing to be black. Although the vertical posts in the fence may blend with tree trunks and the transparent mesh “disappear” with distance, choice of a color scheme that matches the vegetation would reduce the impact. The current fence design parameters call for fencing to be black. Although the vertical posts in the fence might blend with tree trunks and the transparent mesh “disappear” with distance, choice of a color scheme that matches the dominant vegetation would reduce the impact. Form The fence and patrol road are rectilinear in form and would contrast with existing forms in this land unit Texture As man-made, synthetic elements, the fence and patrol road would contrast with the dominant texture of this land unit

Park/Refuge

The fence and patrol road are rectilinear in form and might result in greater domination of rectilinear forms compared to organic forms when viewed at a distance.

Rural

As a man-made, synthetic element, the fence would contrast with the dominant textures of this land unit. The patrol roads and access roads would not significantly alter the viewshed for most rural landscapes, as a number of roads and field breaks are already present in this land unit.
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Line Because this land unit already includes a mixture of horizontal and vertical lines, the introduction of additional vertical lines would be consistent with the existing landscape from a distance. In closer proximity, however, the height and regularity of the fence line will likely contrast with existing lines.

Color The current fence design parameters call for fencing to be black. This coloration might blend or contrast with its surroundings depending on the colors in the foreground and background. Again, it might be possible to match coloration of the fence to match the dominant colors in the land unit, but this would be less important for this land unit than others.

Form Because this land unit contains a larger number of rectilinear forms than the previous land units, the rectilinear forms of the fence and associated roads are more likely to blend with the forms of this land unit. The massing of the fence (height and length) would likely contrast with most other rectilinear forms, however. Because this land unit contains a larger number of rectilinear forms than the previous land units, the rectilinear forms of the fence and associated roads are more likely to blend with the forms of this land unit. Depending on the forms in the immediate area, though, the massing of the fence (height and length) could blend or contrast with existing forms.

Texture Because this land unit contains a variety of textures, the textures of the fence and associated roads are more likely to blend with the textures of this land unit at least at a distance. Up close, the fence would contrast against natural textures and be more prone to blend with man-made elements.

Town/Suburban Development

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Because this land unit already includes a mixture of horizontal and vertical lines, the introduction of additional vertical lines would be consistent with the existing landscape from a distance. In closer proximity, however, the height and regularity of the fence line would likely contrast with existing lines.

The current fence design parameters call for fencing to be black. This coloration might blend or contrast with its surroundings depending on the colors in the foreground and background. Again, it might be possible to match coloration of the fence to match the dominant colors in the land unit, but this would be less important for this land unit than others.

Because this land unit contains a variety of textures, the textures of the fence and associated roads are more likely to blend with the textures of this land unit at least at a distance. Up close, the fence would contrast against natural textures and be more prone to blend with man-made elements.

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Table 4.9-2. Quality of Visual Resources Within Typical Rio Grande Valley Land Units (Alternative 2, Route B)
Vividness Park/Refuge Rural Town/Suburban Development Urban/Industrial Moderate Moderate Low/Moderate Low to high Intactness Moderate Moderate/High Low/Moderate Low/Moderate Unity Moderate Moderate Low/Moderate Low to high Rating Moderate Moderate Low/moderate Moderate

4

5 6 7 8 9

Figure 4.9-1. Typical Views towards Proposed Construction Corridor, Showing How the Park/Refuge Land Unit would Appear with a Fence and Patrol Road

10 11 12 13

Figure 4.9-2. Typical Views towards Proposed Construction Corridor, Showing How the Rural Land Unit would Appear with a Fence and Patrol Road

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Figure 4.9-3. Typical Views towards Proposed Construction Corridor, Showing How the Town/Suburban Land Unit would Appear with a Fence and Patrol Road

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Figure 4.9-4. Typical Views towards Proposed Construction Corridor, Showing How the Urban/Industrial Land Unit would Appear with a Fence and Patrol Road In Town/Suburban Development land units, there would likely be greater screening of the fence due to the greater variety of lines, colors, forms, and textures present; however, an 18-foot tall fence would likely be one of the tallest manmade visual elements in this setting, reducing its ability to blend. As with the visual resources in other land units, the impact of the Preferred Alternative would vary depending on its immediate setting; the more exposed the fence is and the greater the contrast between it and surrounding elements, the greater the visual impact. For this land unit, therefore, impacts could range from minor to major, but would typically be negative.
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In Urban/Industrial land units, there would likely be greater screening of the fence due to the greater variety of lines, colors, forms, and textures present, and an increase in the use of other fences and more common occurrence of tall or massive forms would increase the ability of the fence to blend with its surroundings. As with the visual resources in other land units, the impact of the Preferred Alternative would vary depending on its immediate setting; the more exposed the fence is and the greater the contrast between it and surrounding elements, the greater the visual impact. For this land unit, therefore, impacts would range from minor to major, and neutral to negative. The FHWA guidance (STG1) cites examples where addition of a consistent aesthetic element to an urban setting helps create greater unity to the views within the land unit, thus resulting in a beneficial impact. Although this outcome is possible within this land unit type, a review of the settings along the fence corridor suggests that the bestcase scenario would be a neutral or minor negative impact. Finally, with respect to the impacts on the specific visual resources listed in Section 3.14.2, implementation of the Route B would likely have short- or longterm negative impacts on the settings of those resources. The greater the distance between the resource and the intrusive visual elements (primarily the fence), and the more intervening visual elements between them, the less the degree of the impact. For example, construction of the fence at a distance of 60 feet from a historic building would typically constitute a major negative impact, while construction of the fence several hundred feet from the resource with intervening vegetation or buildings would reduce the impact to moderate or minor. Placement of the fence within the boundaries of an NHL or historic district, particularly where there is a high degree of visual continuity between resources (few noncontributing elements) would also be considered a major negative impact on that resource. A more detailed discussion of the impacts on the settings or viewsheds of specific cultural resources is provided in Section 4.8.2 of this EIS. Intrusions into the settings or viewshed of many of these resources would need to be avoided, minimized, or mitigated depending on the extent and duration of the impact. Mitigation measures could include HABS documentation of historic resources, use of different fence materials (e.g., use of brick facing on a fence where surrounding buildings are brick construction, or change of color of fencing to blend into natural settings). Viewer Response Concerns. In Section 3.9.2, the pool of potential viewers was grouped into several general categories. As noted in that discussion, any single viewer would have some responses to the alteration to the visual resources in each land unit that are based on their own personal experiences and ties to those resources, and other responses tied to more common experiences (group sentiment). Specific comments received from viewers during the scoping process for this EIS identified concerns about visual impacts throughout the APE and with some of the specific natural or cultural resources noted above, but did not identify any new visual resources of concern. Accordingly, analysis of viewer response
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to the alterations of the existing visual environment should Route B be implemented focuses on group concerns. In many respects, the principle of “not in my backyard” has a strong correlation with the responses of viewers for whom view of the fence would be regular or constant (i.e., residential, commercial, or industrial viewers). Where the fence would directly impact private property, the viewer response from the landowner is likely to be that the Proposed Action would represent a major negative impact on visual resources visible from their property. This response is partially colored by the emotional response of the viewer to loss of property rights or perceived damage to their business, but it is also a valid response given that the fence might dominate the view out one’s back door, even if you could only see the levee before the fence was constructed. There is also a possibility that the viewer response in this instance could be positive, based on a feeling of increased safety or security (e.g, fence as protection). Responses from viewers located a greater distance from the fence, particularly if their view of the fence is obstructed by other elements or is simply part of the overall visual clutter, would typically be less intense (minor) and more likely neutral, unless the fence would obstruct a visual resource considered to be of high quality or cultural importance. In general, the closer the proximity of the viewer to the fence, the more likely the response is to be major and negative. For viewers likely to view the fence on a less regular basis (i.e., recreational viewers, special interest viewers, intermittent viewers), viewer responses would be tied to perception of how the Proposed Action has altered their access (impede existing views or impede physical access to views) to valued visual resources. Although any of these groups might object on principal to any type of alteration, responses would be more intense and negative where alterations downgrade the quality or character of existing visual resources. Based on the comments received during the scoping process for this EIS, viewer responses appear to range from minor to major and neutral to negative. As a final point, for viewers accustomed to accessing views available from the levees or from settings other than parks or refuges, the construction of the fence would place a permanent barrier between the viewer and the visual resources in those locales. By presumption, any visual resource regularly sought out by a viewer would constitute a moderate or high quality visual resource; restricting physical access to those resources would thus constitute a long-term major adverse impact for those viewers.

4.9.3

Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative

Project characteristics. In addition to those physical characteristics already noted for the Preferred Alternative, Alternative 3 would involve addition of a second line of fencing (permanent element, long-term impact) and remove a greater number of existing visual elements due to the larger construction corridor. As with the single line of fencing in the Preferred Alternative, choice of fence
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colors and material types could affect the nature (negative, neutral, beneficial) or intensity (minor to major) of the impacts on visual resources in certain land units or viewshed, as could removal of existing visual elements. In general; however, having two lines of fencing amplifies the overall visual impact of the Proposed Action, as does the larger construction corridor. Impacts related to the physical characteristics of Alternative 3 are, therefore, likely to be major and adverse compared to those of the Preferred Alternative. Visual Resource Concerns. Implementation of Alternative 3 would also amplify the impacts to the character and quality of visual resources within each of the land units compared to the Preferred Alternative. The broader construction corridor and additional line of fencing would have a greater visual contrast and a greater chance of dominating the view in most settings, although one could argue that parallel lines of fencing would potentially add more visual unity to some settings. Long-term impacts on the visual environment associated with the Alternative 3 (permanent construction elements) would range from neutral to negative, and moderate to major. Short-term impacts would also be more negative and intense (moderate to major) given that construction of a double fence and wider corridor would take more time. Viewer Response Concerns. Implementation of Alternative 3 would also amplify viewer responses, in most cases changing minor or neutral responses to moderate or major adverse responses. For the viewers with constant or close proximity exposure, a double line of fencing and larger corridor would be perceived as doubly intrusive. The corridor would intrude more closely on many landowners, increase the number of viewers that would have regular exposure, and would further complicate access to visual resources behind the far line of fencing. For viewers with less regular exposure, Alternative 3 would still likely be perceived as having a greater impact than Alternative 2, simply because it makes impacts on various visual resources more difficult to avoid.

4.10 SOCIOECONOMIC RESOURCES, ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, AND SAFETY
4.10.1 Alternative 1: No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative, there would be no change from the baseline conditions. Under this Alternative, illegal immigration, narcotics trafficking, and opportunities for terrorists and terrorist weapons to enter the United States would remain. Over time, the number of crimes committed by smugglers and some illegal border crossers would increase, and an increase in property damage would also be expected. If Alternative 1 were implemented, short-term local employment benefits from the purchase of construction materials and the temporary increase in construction jobs would not occur. Furthermore, money from construction payrolls that would circulate within the local economy would not be available.
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4.10.2 Alternative 2: Proposed Action
Socioeconomics. Construction of proposed tactical infrastructure would have minor beneficial direct and indirect impacts on socioeconomics through increased employment and the purchase of goods and services. Project impacts related to employment, temporary housing, public services, and material supplies would be minor, temporary, and easily absorbed within the existing Rio Grande Valley Sector regional resource and socioeconomics infrastructure. Construction would occur over approximately 8 months in 2008, with a construction workforce peaking at about 200 workers. There would be no change in the permanent workforce. Construction costs associated with Alternative 2 have not been defined. As stated in Section 2.2, if approved, competitive design/build contracts would be issued to construct the fence. However, for this analysis, estimated construction costs are based on USACE studies for other similar projects. [[Preparer’s Note: Estimated construction costs for pedestrian fence per mile is requested.]] Changes in economic factors can also impact the social fabric of a community. For example, increases in employment could stimulate the need for new housing units, and, as a result, increase demand for community and social services such as primary and secondary education, fire and police protection, and health care. There would be no change in population size or distribution, and a relatively small increase in employment and contribution to the local economy under this alternative. Therefore, demand for new housing units and other social services would not be expected. Population Growth and Characteristics. Negligible short-term adverse and beneficial impacts on population growth and characteristics would be expected. Short-term moderate increases to populations would be expected in construction areas. Due to the large size of the regional construction trades industry, construction is expected to be drawn primarily from the regional workforce, with some project managers and specialized skilled workers brought in by the selected contractor. The temporary need for approximately 200 construction workers can be easily supplied by the three-county construction workforce of more than 25,000 (Table 3.10-1). Given the short timeframe for construction, it is unlikely that any nonlocal workers would be accompanied by their families. Therefore, the short-term nature and scale of the construction project would not induce secondary population growth in the region. Similarly, there would be new permanent employees associated with the project. Construction of the project would require some acquisition of private property, including the potential dislocation of some property owners and tenants. Such dislocation could result in some population relocations within the region, but with little or no net change in the region’s population.
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Employment and Income. Minor short-term beneficial impacts on employment and income would be expected. Each job created by Alternative 2 would generate additional jobs within companies that supply goods and services for the project. Direct and secondary jobs created would be temporary and short-term in nature. The project would not create any long-term employment in the region. During the public scoping process, concerns were expressed that the project could hinder legitimate trade activities between the two border economies, and that environmental effects associated with the construction and long-term presence of the project could detract from outdoor recreation and ecotourism, particularly birding—reported to contribute $150 million to the local economy annually. As to retail trade, cross-border trade is estimated to contribute at least $1.2 million in retail trade in McAllen and Brownsville alone (Coronado, Roberto and Phillips, Keith R. 2005). However, there is nothing inherent in the design or location of the fence segments that would hinder or restrict normal, legal crossborder interaction. The project would not affect the operations of established border crossings and bridges, nor alter procedures affecting the ability of individuals from either the United States or Mexico to continue to travel back and forth as they now do. As a consequence, little or no long-term effects on regional income or economic structure are anticipated. No permanent or long-term effects on employment, population, personal income, or poverty levels; or other demographic or employment indicators would be expected from construction. Since Alternative 2 would not measurably affect the local economy or workforce, no social effects are expected. There would be a net short-term increase in income to the region, as the funding for the project would come from outside the area, and, as a Federal project, construction workers would be paid the “prevailing wage” under the Davis-Bacon Act, which might be higher than the average wage in the construction industry locally (Source). Agriculture. Overall the impact on agriculture and agricultural landowners would be adverse, moderate, and long-term. The proposed project would impact agricultural lands in two ways. First there could be some loss of cropland along the alignment of the proposed fence for both construction and the proposed accompanying roadways for USBP vehicles. New tactical infrastructure is expected to permanently affect a corridor 60 feet wide, although the existing levee road would serve this function on the river side of the fence. The proposal provides gates at key locations that are intended to provide landowners with access to their property, but there could be some extra distance in reaching a given field. Installation of a fence with gates would have minor adverse effects on landowner’s access, the movement of machinery and equipment, planting and harvesting, potential problems of access for agricultural service firms (as opposed to owners/lessees), and a resulting increase in costs.
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Select Public Services. Minor short-term beneficial and adverse impacts on public services would be expected. Generally, workers spend approximately 25 to 30 percent of their wages locally for food, shelter, and entertainment, which would have an indirect beneficial impact on the local economy. Other indirect impacts would be noticed through the taxes generated by purchases, as well as payroll deductions. However, based on the large size of the ROI the impacts would be minor and dispersed throughout the ROI. Minor short-term adverse and long-tern beneficial impacts would be expected on local law enforcement. The impact on local law enforcement could be mixed in the short run. Many locals are opposed to the proposed fence and there could be conflicts with the construction workers, particularly those who might not themselves be local residents. Such situations could result in additional demands on local law enforcement. In the long run, however, the objective of the fence in reducing illegal activity along the border could ease the burden of local law enforcement agencies. Land Use. Minor to moderate adverse indirect impacts would be expected from the imminent dislocation of some families due to property acquisition. Some housing properties will either be removed or visually impaired by the fence and adjacent patrol roads. The social aspects of dislocation could be disruptive. Many families in the corridor have lived there for decades, some even centuries, and have strong emotional ties to the family land and homes. These effects would be mitigated to some extent by fair compensation for the acquisition or impairment, and relocation assistance to any displaced families. However, it would still be an adverse impact on those who do not wish to relocate regardless of the level of compensation. Furthermore, renters might receive relocation assistance, but are less likely than property owners to have the resources to resettle in a comparable location. Environmental Justice, Protection of Children, and Safety. No adverse disproportionate impacts on minority or low-income populations would be expected. Indirect beneficial effects on safety and the protection of children are expected from the expected deterrence of illegal aliens, smugglers, terrorists, and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, and therefore provide for safer communities. Environmental justice could be an issue depending on the exact alignment of the project infrastructure and how individual properties will be affected. In cases where properties will be acquired or substantially impaired the impact can be mitigated through purchase at a fair price and relocation assistance. The proposed tactical infrastructure under this alternative (Route A and B) would have short- to long-term indirect beneficial effects on children and safety in the ROI and surrounding areas. The addition of tactical infrastructure would increase the safety of USBP agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. The Proposed
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Action would help to deter illegal border crossings in the immediate area, which in turn could prevent drug smugglers, terrorists, and illegal border crossers from entering the surrounding area.

4.10.3 Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative
Socioeconomic Resources. Short-term beneficial impacts for this alternative would be similar to those under Alternative 2. This alternative would increase the need for more construction workers and materials. Also, the USACE predicted that the 25-year life cycle costs would range from $16.4 million to $70 million per mile depending on the amount of damage sustained by the fencing (CRS 2006). Environmental Justice, Protection of Children, and Safety. Impacts under this alternative would be similar to those discussed for Alternative 2. Indirect beneficial effects on safety and the protection of children are expected as Alternative 3 would be designed two layers of fence along each segment. The additional layer of fencing would deter drug smugglers, terrorists, and illegal aliens, and therefore provide for a generally safer ROI and immediate area.

4.11 UTILITIES AND INFRASTRUCTURE
4.11.1 Alternative 1: No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative there would be no impact on utilities and infrastructure.

4.11.2 Alternative 2: Proposed Action
Irrigation and Drainage Systems. Short-term minor adverse impacts on the Lower Rio Grande Valley irrigation system could occur. Any canals or pipelines that would be affected by Alternative 2 would be moved. Temporary interruptions in irrigation might be experienced when this infrastructure is moved. No longterm impacts are expected. Municipal Water Systems. Short-term minor adverse impacts on municipal water systems could occur within the impact corridor. Any canals or pumps that would be affected by the proposed construction would be moved. No long-term impacts are expected. Municipal Sanitary Sewer Systems. Short-term minor adverse impacts on municipal sanitary systems could occur within the impact corridor. Any outfall pipes that would be affected by the proposed construction would be moved. No long-term impacts are expected. Storm Water Drainage Systems. Short-term minor adverse impacts on local storm water drainage systems would occur from Alternative 2. All storm water drainages would be identified during design build, and impacts to these systems
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would be kept minimal. The fence line and road would avoid most drainages and culverts or reroute the project around this infrastructure. Alternative 2 would not increase impervious surface area that could potentially affect local storm water management. Adherence to proper engineering practices and applicable codes and ordinances would reduce storm water runoff-related impacts to a level of insignificance. In addition, erosion and sedimentation controls would be in place during construction to reduce and control siltation or erosion impacts on areas outside of the construction site. Solid Waste Management. Short-term minor adverse impacts on solid waste management could occur as a result of Alternative 2. Solid waste generated from the proposed construction activities would consist of building materials such as concrete and metals (conduit and piping). The contractor would recycle construction materials to the greatest extent possible. Non-recyclable construction debris would be taken to one or more of the Starr, Hidalgo, or Cameron County landfills permitted to take this type of waste. While some of the landfills in the Lower Rio Grande Valley area might be at or near capacity, the remaining landfills have sufficient capacity. Solid waste generated as a result of Alternative 2 is expected to be negligible compared to the solid waste currently generated in Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron counties, and would not exceed the capacity of any landfill. Transportation Systems. No adverse impacts on transportations systems would be expected. The construction of alternative 2 would require delivery of materials to and removal of debris from the construction site. Construction traffic would comprise a small percentage of the total existing traffic and many of the vehicles would be driven to and kept onsite for the duration of construction activities, resulting in relatively few additional trips. Furthermore, potential increases in traffic volume associated with proposed construction activities would be temporary. Heavy vehicles are frequently driven on local transportation systems. Therefore the vehicles necessary for construction are not expected to have a heavy impact on local transportation systems. No road or lane closures are anticipated at this time. However, if roadways or lanes are required to be closed, USBP would coordinate with TDOT and local municipalities to reduce these impacts to less than significant. Electrical and Natural Gas Systems. Short minor adverse impacts on the Lower Rio Grande Valley electrical and natural gas systems could occur within the impact corridor. Any electrical transmission or natural gas distribution lines by construction would be moved. Temporary interruptions in electrical power transmission and natural gas distribution could be experienced when this infrastructure is moved. No long-term impacts are expected.

4.11.3 Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative
The potential impacts of Alternative 3 on infrastructure and utilities are expected to be similar to the potential impacts of Alternative 2. However, more
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infrastructure could be affected because of the larger impact area. Additional solid waste would be generated under Alternative 3 because of two fences being built rather than one.

4.12 HAZARDOUS MATERIALS AND WASTE
4.12.1 Alternative 1: No Action Alternative
Under the No Action Alternative there would be no impacts on hazardous materials and waste management.

4.12.2 Alternative 2: Proposed Action
Negligible short-term adverse effects would be expected as a result of Alternative 2. Products containing hazardous materials (such as fuels, oils, lubricants, pesticides, and herbicides) would be procured and used during construction. It is anticipated that the quantity of products containing hazardous materials used would be minimal and their use would be of short duration. Herbicides would be used along the fence line to maintain vegetation in an herbaceous state. Herbicides would be applied according to USEPA standards and regulations. Therefore, no long-term effects on humans, wildlife, soils, and water would be expected. Accidental spills could occur during construction. A spill could potentially result in adverse effects on wildlife, soils, water, and vegetation. However, only small amounts of hazardous materials are expected. Contractors would be responsible for the management of hazardous materials and wastes. USBC would also require that the contractor keep any necessary materials and equipment on site to quickly contain any spill or leak. The management of hazardous materials and wastes would include the use of BMPs, a pollution prevention plan, and a storm water management plan. All hazardous materials and wastes would be handled in accordance with applicable Federal, state, and local regulations. Pesticides and herbicides are currently used within the proposed construction corridor. It is assumed that all such substances are applied according to USEPA standards and regulations. As such, these substances are not expected to be above the level that would cause harm to humans, wildlife, soils, and water. There are no known waste storage or disposal sites within the construction corridor (VW.001). ASTs have been observed within the proposed construction corridor. If it is necessary to remove the ASTs as part of Alternative 2, removal would be conducted in accordance with all applicable Federal, state, and local regulations. A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment would be conducted prior to real estate transactions associated with the Proposed Action. If ACM and LBP are identified in buildings that need to be removed, removal and disposal would be conducted in accordance with all applicable Federal, state, and local regulations. Therefore, no impacts on humans, wildlife, soils, water, and vegetation would be expected as a result of hazardous materials and wastes.
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Additionally, Alternative 2 would not have an impact on Federal, state, or local hazardous wastes management or pollution prevention programs. [[Preparer’s Note: It is unknown whether the demolition of buildings will be required under the Proposed Action.]]

4.12.3 Alternative 3: Secure Fence Act Alignment Alternative
Short-term minor adverse impact as a result of hazardous materials and waste would be expected under Alternative 3. The impacts of Alternative 3 as a result of hazardous materials and wastes would be similar to the impacts of Alternative 2; however, there is a greater potential for impacts under Alternative 3, because two fences would be built under this alternative.

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5. CUMULATIVE IMPACTS
CEQ defines cumulative impacts as the “impacts on the environment that result from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions” (40 CFR 1508.7). Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time by various agencies (Federal, state, and local) or individuals. Informed decisionmaking is served by consideration of cumulative impacts resulting from projects that are proposed, under construction, recently completed, or anticipated to be implemented in the reasonably foreseeable future. This cumulative impacts analysis summarizes expected environmental effects from the combined impacts of past, current, and reasonably foreseeable future projects within the Proposed Action area. Projects that were considered for this analysis were identified by reviewing USBP documents, news releases, and published media reports, and through consultation with planning and engineering departments of local governments, and state and Federal agencies. Projects that do not occur in close proximity to the proposed infrastructure would not contribute to a cumulative impact and are generally not evaluated further. Cumulative Fencing, Southern Border. There are currently 62 miles of landing mat fence at various locations along the U.S./Mexico international border (CRS 2006), 14 miles of single, double, and triple fence in San Diego, California, 70 miles of new pedestrian fence approved and currently under construction at various locations along the U.S./Mexico international border, and fence at POE facilities throughout the southern border. In addition, 225 miles of proposed new fence (including the 70 miles proposed under the action considered in this EIS). Proposed new fence segments are being studied for Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Past Actions. Past actions are those within the cumulative effects analysis areas that have occurred prior to the development of this EIS. Past actions have shaped the current environmental conditions around the Proposed Action. Therefore, the effects of these past actions are generally included in the affected environment described in Section 3.0. For example, most of the proposed route alignments would follow the IBWC levee ROW or existing USBP patrol roads in the southern portions of Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron counties in Texas. Consequently, some of the proposed segments would be located on private lands and cross multiple land use types, including rural, urban, suburban, and agriculture that have undergone changes as the result of urban sprawl. These past actions are now part of the existing environment. Present Actions. Present actions include current or funded construction projects, USBP or other agency operations in close proximity to the proposed
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fence locations, and current resource management programs and land use activities within the affected areas. Ongoing actions considered in the cumulative effects analysis include: • Anzalduas POE. The Anzalduas POE is currently under construction in the Granjeno/Mission area. This POE is adjacent to a National Wildlife Refuge parcel west of Granjeno and would become an extension of Stuart Road, which intersects FM 494. When completed, Anzalduas POE would contain elevated north and south bound lanes. This elevated roadway would provide access across two levees and a floodway just below Anzalduas Dam and Anzalduas County Park. The proposed fence Segment O-5 would intersect this new roadway by crossing underneath the new Anzalduas POE. UTB TSC Bond Program Projects. In November 2004, the community said “yes” to a $68 million bond package that would provide facilities necessary for growing enrollment. The bond is providing the financial resources to build seven projects, of which two are currently under construction: 1) East Library & Oliveira Library construction project would redefine the functions of the Oliveira Library, and expand and address new technology in the East Library. The groundbreaking is scheduled for October 25, 2007; 2) Recreation, Education & Kinesiology Center is being constructed to house Health and Human Performance classrooms and labs and to provide a fitness facility for students, faculty and staff. Texas Department of Transportation (TDOT). TDOT has several ongoing road improvement projects scheduled for the counties impacted by the Proposed Action. However, the area of impacts would tend to be low, as the majority of the construction would be within existing ROW. These projects are in various stages of completion: U.S. 83 Mercedes Project consists of widening the highway to a six-lane expressway facility with a median concrete barrier. Bridges would be constructed over the floodway and Mercedes Main Canal. July 2008 is the estimated completion date. U.S. 83 Weslaco Project consists of reconstructing expressway facility to six lanes from FM 1423 to FM 1015. This expansion would include construction of new overpasses. Road Construction San Benito. Construction for North Sam Houston Boulevard (FM 345) has commenced. The project would expand and overlay the road, at a cost of $7.7 million. Completion is expected in 2009.

Reasonably Foreseeable Future Actions. Reasonably foreseeable future actions consist of activities that have been proposed or approved and can be evaluated with respect to their effects. The following are reasonably foreseeable future actions that are related to securing the southern international border:

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SBInet is a comprehensive program focused on transforming border control through technology and infrastructure. The goal of the program is to field the most effective proven technology, infrastructure, staffing, and response platforms, and integrate them into a single comprehensive border security suite for DHS. Potential future SBInet projects include deployment of sensor technology, communications equipment, command and control equipment, fencing, barriers capable of stopping a vehicle, and any required road or components such as lighting and all-weather access roads (Boeing 2007). Construction of Tactical Infrastructure. USBP is currently constructing a border infrastructure system along the U.S.-Mexico border within San Diego County. The infrastructure system project spans 14 miles and includes: secondary and tertiary fences, patrol and maintenance roads, lights, and integrated surveillance and intelligence system resources. Approximately 9 miles of the 14-mile project have been completed or are currently under construction. These projects were addressed under individual EAs as pilot projects for the barrier system. When completed, the infrastructure system would impact approximately 297 acres, consisting of disturbed/developed lands, coastal sage scrub, maritime succulent scrub, and grasslands.

Table 5.0-1 presents the Reasonably Foreseeable Future Actions by proposed segment in the proposed project corridor area. Cumulative Analysis by Resource Area. This section presents the resourcespecific impacts related to the past, present, and reasonably foreseeable actions discussed above. Only those actions that are additive to the potential impacts associated with the Proposed Action are considered. Table 5.0-2 presents the cumulative effects by resource area that might occur from implementation of the Proposed Action when combined with other past, present, and future activities that are discussed in more detail below. Table 5.0-1. Reasonably Foreseeable Future Actions by Proposed Fence Segments for the Rio Grande Valley Sector
Fence Segment Number O-1 O-2 O-3 Border Patrol Station Rio Grande City Rio Grande City McAllen Plans are likely to be developed sometime in 2008 for a new POE facility. This plan is only for the POE facility itself. There are no plans to construct a bridge. The plan involves keeping the ferry operational.
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Fence Segment Number O-4

Border Patrol Station McAllen

Description of Future Action Proposed levee upgrades. According to a recently released document from USIBWC, the design phase of this project is scheduled through February 2008. Construction is scheduled from March 2008 through September 2009. Work would be completed by Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1. Proposed levee upgrades. However, preliminary plans indicate USIBWC would rehabilitate the south floodway levee (AKA Common Levee) from the Anzalduas Dam area to the Hidalgo area. Construction is projected to occur from March 2008 through September 2009. Work would be completed by Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1. 1) According to the Chairman of the Hidalgo County Water District #3, there are plans to build a reservoir just northeast of the McAllen Pump on land currently owned by the district. The plans are to integrate the reservoir into the upgraded levee in this area. Exact timeframes for this project are unknown. 2) USIBWC, in conjunction with the City of Hidalgo, is planning on relocating the current levee southward toward the river in the area just east of the Hidalgo POE. These plans have recently become available and indicate the rerouting of the levee from an area near or under the Hidalgo POE Bridge to a point near the Old Hidalgo Pump house. The length of this relocation project is approximately 0.65 miles. 3) Additional levee rehabilitation. Construction for Phase 1 of the levee rehabilitation is anticipated to begin in April 2008 from the Common Levee (south floodway levee) to the Hidalgo POE. Construction for Phase 2 is anticipated to commence during December 2008. Phase 2 begins at the Hidalgo POE and runs downriver for approximately 1.5 miles along the levee to the 2nd street canal. Construction for the levee in the Hidalgo area would be performed by USIBWC. The Donna POE facility would be located south of FM 493. Construction is to start early November 2008.

O-5

McAllen

O-6

McAllen

O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10 O-11 O-12

Weslaco Weslaco Weslaco Weslaco Harlingen Harlingen
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Fence Segment Number O-13 O-14

Border Patrol Station Harlingen Harlingen

Description of Future Action

A 40-acre parcel is proposed by the Texas Department of Transportation (TDOT) for construction of a state of the art DPS inspection station for commercial truck traffic. In La Paloma near FM 732 the Texas Department of Transportation would begin construction within the next few years of the expansion of U.S. 281 from La Paloma to Brownsville. The highway would be expanded to a four-lane highway to accommodate international commercial truck traffic. Dates of construction are not known. Construction of a residential subdivision is proposed adjacent to the proposed action corridor in El Ranchito, Texas. Dates of construction are unknown at this time. 1) The B&M railroad bridge (Union Pacific) is being relocated just west of River Bend Resort within the next two years. 2) ANCLA Design and Construction is considering subdividing land and developing a new neighborhood in project area. 3) Expansion of U.S. 281 to four lanes. Stakes in the field indicate an expansion of the hardtop of about 21-30 feet. 4) USBP is proposing to improve the Russell / Barreda Canal, frequently used by smugglers and aliens to hide. USBP proposes to have it buried (install a pipe underground rather than open canal). 1) Expansion of U.S. 281 from Pharr, Texas to FM 3248 Alton Gloor. This would be a five-lane highway. 2) New proposed commercial POE Bridge located at Flor De Mayo and IBWC levee. 3) Fish & Wildlife Service and the City of Brownsville are proposing and planning a Nature Trail Park in this area. 1) A residential subdivision is currently under construction adjacent to levee/proposed fence area. 2) Brownsville waterfront redevelopment project near Hope Park, on private property. No additional information about this proposal is available at this time.

O-15

Harlingen

O-16

Harlingen

O-17

Brownsville

O-18

Brownsville

O-19

Brownsville

O-20

Brownsville

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Fence Segment Number O-21

Border Patrol Station Fort Brown

Description of Future Action 1) Proposed East Loop, Phase II Project, would begin at U.S. 77/83 and end at FHM 1419. The project is a part of the Trans Texas Corridor I-69 that would link the Rio Grande Valley to Denison, Texas. It is slated for construction in 2010 and is being funded by the City of Brownsville and the Texas Department of Transportation. The levee in the proposed project area would be redirected and would be placed further south of its current location. The location of the existing levee would become a four lane highway which would be used to redirect commercial traffic around the city of Brownsville. The City of Brownsville is in the process of finalizing negotiations to purchase land from private landowners in the area. The city has already acquired a majority of the land with the exception of four landowners. 2) The Mayor of Brownsville and the Brownsville Public Utility Board (PUB) are proposing the construction of a weir and reservoir approximately six miles downriver of the Gateway International Bridge. The weir proposal would impound a water reservoir approximately 42 rivermiles long, extending from river mile 48 to 90. The reservoir would be located within the existing riverbanks and inside the levees that parallel the banks of the river. The USACE has prepared an environmental assessment, concluding that the proposal would have no significant impact on the quality of the human environment. The project would impact approximately 65 acres of jurisdictional riverine habitat and wetlands on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande, and 65 acres on the Mexico side of the Rio Grande. The proponent proposes to mitigate this loss through the creation or enhancement of 130 acres of wetlands downstream of the project area. The proponent also proposes to mitigate any impacts by purchasing and protecting a 280 tract of land that would form a corridor between the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and the Boca Chica National Wildlife Refuge that would allow wildlife to travel between the two refuges (SP.3).

1

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Table 5.0-2. Summary of Potential Cumulative Effects
Resource Air Quality Past Actions Attainment criteria for all criteria pollutants. Current Background Activities Emissions from vehicles and agricultural areas. Proposed Action Fugitive dust and combustion emissions generation during construction. Short-term noise from construction and increased traffic. USBP purchase of land or easements to construct tactical infrastructure. Natural areas developed for tactical infrastructure. Installation of fence posts and other structures. Known Future Actions Fugitive dust and increased equipment operation during construction. Short-term noise from construction equipment and increased traffic. Residential and commercial development permanently alters natural areas and agricultural lands. Installation of pipelines, fencing, and other infrastructure. Cumulative Effects Continued attainment. Effect not significant.

Noise

None.

Current background noise from urban sprawl.

Short-term adverse impacts from construction equipment and increased traffic. Moderate adverse impacts to recreational and agricultural lands.

Land Use

Agricultural lands impacted by urban sprawl.

Development of undeveloped and agricultural lands.

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Geology and Soils

Installation of pipelines and other features.

Installation of pipelines and other features.

Minor long-term impact from additional infrastructure.

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Resource Hydrology and Groundwater

Past Actions Degradation of aquifers to historical pollution. Point and nonpoint discharges including wastewater treatment effulgent, agricultural runoff, and storm water have impacted water quality. Permanently altered by development and safety features such as levees and dams.

Current Background Activities Continued degradation of aquifers from pollution. Point and nonpoint discharges including wastewater treatment effluent, agricultural runoff, and storm water have impacted water quality. None.

Proposed Action None.

Known Future Actions Minor to moderate short and long term impacts. Construction erosion and sediment runoff, potential oil spills and leaks.

Cumulative Effects Minor to moderate short and long tern impacts. Moderate short- term impacts from construction activities. Minor long-term erosion impacts from infrastructure.

Surface Waters and Waters of the U.S.

Construction erosion and sediment runoff, potential oil spills and leaks.

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Floodplains

None.

None.

None.

Biological Resources Vegetation Resources Degraded historic habitat of sensitive and common wildlife species. Continued urbanization results in loss of native species. Minor to moderate loss of native species and habitat. Minor to moderate loss of native species and habitat. Moderate adverse impacts on native habitats and vegetation.
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Resource Wildlife and Aquatic Resources

Past Actions Urbanization and loss of green corridors impacted habitat and food sources. Degraded water quality and urbanization impacted sensitive species. Possible destruction of unknown artifacts. Historical development of undeveloped lands.

Current Background Activities Minor to moderate loss of green corridor for wildlife.

Proposed Action Minor to moderate loss of green corridor and water access for wildlife. Minor to moderate loss of green corridor and water access for wildlife.

Known Future Actions Loss of green corridor for wildlife.

Cumulative Effects Moderate loss of green corridor and water asses for wildlife. Current and future activities would continue to delete green corridor and water access for wildlife. Long-term adverse impacts from past actions. Extent is unknown. Minor to moderate long-term impacts from permanent infrastructure.

Threatened and Endangered Species

Urbanization and agricultural development degraded habitat for sensitive species. Identification and recordation of historic and cultural resources. Development of natural areas for community and industry infrastructure.

Loss of habitat for sensitive species and water quality degradation.

Cultural Resources

None.

None.

5-9 Aesthetic and Visual Resources
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Constant static visual interruption at fixed points. Loss of recreational area.

Constant static visual interruption at fixed points.

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Resource Socioeconomics, Environmental Justice, and Human Health and Safety

Past Actions Urban development throughout counties.

Current Background Activities Strong local economy and high land values.

Proposed Action Minor to moderate short-term and long-term beneficial impacts to local construction.

Known Future Actions Continued strong local economy, high land values, and expansion in counties.

Cumulative Effects Minor stimulation of local economies from construction activities. No adverse impact on environmental justice or protection of children or human health and safety. None.

Utilities and Infrastructure and Roadways/Traffic

Historical development and maintenance of utilities, infrastructure, and roadways in area. Use of hazardous substances in vehicles. Possible illegal dumping.

Utilities, infrastructure, and roadways have been upgraded as necessary.

Minor to moderate short-term adverse impacts to local utilities, infrastructure, and roadways during construction. Minor use of hazardous materials during construction.

Continued development and maintenance of utilities, infrastructure, and roadways in area. Minor use of hazardous materials during construction.

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Use of hazardous substances in vehicles. Possible illegal dumping.

None.

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5.1

AIR QUALITY

Minor cumulative impacts on air quality are expected from the additive effects of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Construction equipment would increase fugitive dust and operation emissions from combustion fuel sources. Limited operation of temporary or permanent lighting along the fence line would also indirectly impact local air quality.

5.2

NOISE

Minor cumulative impacts on ambient noise are expected from the additive effects of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Construction activities would add to the ambient background noise generated from urbanization of the area due to additional vehicle traffic and heavy machinery.

5.3

LAND USE

Moderate impacts on land use are expected from the additive effects of the past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Recreational lands, residential areas, and agricultural lands would be displaced by the Proposed Action. Future development of residential areas would further alter the current land use.

5.4

GEOLOGY AND SOILS

Minor impacts on geology and soils are expected from the additive effects of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Additive effects include changes in topography; increases in erosion; and a loss of prime farmland. Potential impacts of the Proposed Action would include minor changes in topography due to grading, contouring, and trenching; minor soil disturbance; a minor increase in erosion; and a loss of prime farmland. However, the impacts associated with the Proposed Action would be negligible in comparison to the impacts of current and future actions.

5.5

HYDROLOGY AND GROUNDWATER

Moderate impacts on hydrology and groundwater are expected from the additive effects of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Additive effects could include changes in hydrology (i.e. drainage into the Rio Grande) due to changes in topography, the increase of impervious surface area, and a reduction in the quantity and quality of groundwater in local aquifers.

5.6

SURFACE WATERS AND WATERS OF THE U.S.

Moderate impacts on surface water and waters of the U.S. are expected from the additive effects of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Past
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actions, including historic and current fishing, vessel traffic, sewage, agricultural runoff, and industrial discharges have generally degraded the quality of water in the lower Rio Grande and have resulted in long-term direct moderate impacts on water quality. However the general water quality meets Federal and state water quality standards.

5.7

FLOODPLAINS

Negligible impacts on floodplains would be expected from the additive effects of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Floodplains were greatly impacted by the construction of the levee system which controls the flow of water over low lying areas. Fencing in Segments O-1, O-2, and O-3, would further regulate water flow in those areas where no levee system exists.

5.8

VEGETATION RESOURCES

Moderate impacts on native species vegetation and habitat are expected from the additive effects of past, present and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Urbanization of the area has directly reduced habitat for sensitive flora species. Indirect impacts from urbanization include changes in floodways, water quality, and the introduction of non-native species.

5.9

WILDLIFE AND AQUATIC RESOURCES

Minor to moderate impacts on wildlife and species are expected from the additive effects of the past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Urbanization of the area has effectively reduced green corridor and water access for wildlife. Cumulative impacts would mainly result from habitat disturbance and degradation, construction traffic, and permanent loss of green corridors. Indirect impacts would result from noise during construction, operational lighting, and loss of potential food web species. Species would also be impacted by equipment spills and leaks.

5.10 THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES
Moderate impacts on threatened and endangered species are expected from the additive effects of the past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Cumulative impacts would mainly result from habitat disturbance and degradation, construction traffic, and permanent loss of green corridors. Indirect impacts would result from noise during construction, operational lighting, and loss of potential food web species. Species would also be impacted by equipments spills and leaks.

5.11 CULTURAL RESOURCES
No cumulative impacts on known historic and cultural resources are expected from the additive effects of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future
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actions. Planning and consultation with SHPOs would limit the possibility of future impact to unknown historical and cultural resources.

5.12 AESTHETICS AND VISUAL
Minor to moderate impacts on aesthetics and visual resources are expected from the additive effects of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. The construction and installation of tactical would create a permanent and fixed visual interruption at fixed points.

5.13 SOCIOECONOMICS
Short-term beneficial impacts on the local and regional socioeconomic resources are expected from the additive effects of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Fence and road construction has the potential for minor beneficial effects from temporary increases in construction jobs and the purchase of goods and services.

5.14 ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND PROTECTION OF CHILDREN
Cumulative beneficial impacts on human health and safety are expected from the additive effects of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. The proposed tactical infrastructure would have short- to long-term indirect beneficial effects on children by reducing the number of illegal border crossers, smugglers, terrorists, and terrorist weapons.

5.15 HUMAN HEALTH AND SAFETY
Cumulative beneficial impacts on human health and safety are expected from the additive effects of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. The proposed tactical infrastructure would have short- to long-term indirect beneficial effects on safety by reducing the number of illegal border crossers, smugglers, terrorists, and terrorist weapons. It would have indirect minor adverse impact on human safety by encouraging illegal border crossers to cross in more remote or hazardous areas.

5.16 UTILITIES AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Minor cumulative impacts on utilities and infrastructure are expected from the additive effects of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Minor impacts on roadways and traffic are expected from the additive effects of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions.

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5.17 HAZARDOUS MATERIALS AND WASTE
No cumulative impacts are expected from past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions. Small quantities of hazardous materials may be used to install, build, and install tactical infrastructure.

5.18 SUSTAINABILITY AND GREENING
No cumulative impacts on sustainability and greening would be expected.

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6. REFERENCES
ACHP ACHP Regulations, 36 CFR 800. Protection of Historic Properties. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1 July 2007. Davenport, Elizabeth Pettit. “Fort Brown.” The Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association, 2001. 17 October 2007. <http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/FF/qbf7. html> “Las Cuevas Ebony.” Famous Trees of Texas. Texas Forest Service, Texas A&M University System. 2005. 18 October 2007.
http://famoustreesoftexas.tamu.edu/TreeHistory.aspx?TreeName=Las%20Cuevas %20Ebony>

ACHP

ACHP

Sánchez, Mario L. and Kitty A. Henderson. “Los Caminos del Rio: A Bi-national National Heritage Study Along the Lower Rio Grande.” Cultural Resource Management Magazine 20:11 (1997): 13. 18 October 2007. < http://crm.cr.nps.gov/issue.cfm?volume=20&number=11> Sánchez, Mario Ed. “A Shared Experience: The History, Architecture and Historic Designations of the Lower Rio Grande Heritage Corridor.” 1994. Texas Historical Commission. 18 October 2007. < http://www.rice.edu/armadillo/Past/Book/index.html> “Stillman House Museum” Brownsville Historical Association. 2007. 17 October 2007. http://brownsvillehistory.org/?page id=148 ACHP. Texas Historical Commission. Texas Historic Sites Atlas and Texas Archaeological Sites Atlas. <http://www.atlas.thc.state.tx.us> Search by quad maps, then downloaded various pages to provide coverage nearby to the lower Rio Grande area. AirNav. 2007. Airport Information for Brownsville/South Padre International Airport. Available online <http://www.airnav.com/airport/KBRO>. Accessed 17 October 2007. AirNav. 2007. Airport Information for McAllen Miller International Airport. Available online <http://www.airnav.com/airport/KMFE>. Accessed 17 October 2007.

ACHP

ACHP ACHP

AirNav 2007a

AirNav 2007b

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AP.001

AP.001 FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM)s for project areas located in the Rio Grande River Area. FIRMettes are available online through the FEMA map service center website. http://msc.fema.gov. Accessed on October 17 AP.003 Definitions of FEMA Flood Zone Designations. Available online through the FEMA map center service website. http://msc.fema.gov. Accessed on October 17 AP.004 Executive Order 11988: Floodplain Management. Available online http://www.fema.gov/plan/ehp/ehplaws/eo11988.shtm#1. Accessed on October 18 Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2007. Regional Economic Information System, Local Area Personal Income 1969 – 2005. http://www.bea.gov/regional/reis/. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2007. Local Area Unemployment Statistics. http://data.bls.gov/PDQ/outside.jsp?survey=la. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). 2006. “Border Patrol Overview.” Last updated January 11, 2006. Available online: <http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/border_security/border_patrol/ov erview.xml>. Accessed October 2, 2007. CBP. 2007. Rio Grande Valley Sector Homepage. Available online: <http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/border_security/ border_patrol/border_patrol_sectors/rio_grande_valley_sector/ >. Accessed September 20, 2007. U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine. 2007. Available online: <http://chppmwww.apgea.army.mil/hcp/NoiseLevels.aspx>. Accessed 20 October 2007. Congressional Research Service (CRS). 2006. “Report For Congress.” Border Security: Barriers Along the U.S. International Border. 12 December 2006. Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines. Federal Register 48: 44716-44742. Weitze, Karen. Roma Historic District. National Historic Landmark Nomination Form. National Register of Historic Places. 1993. National Park Service. “How To Apply National Register Criteria for Evaluation” National Register Bulletin 15 (1997): 5.

AP.003

AP.004

BEA 2007

BLS 2007

CBP 2006

CBP 2007

CHPPM 2007

CRS 2006

DOI DOI

DOI

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IBWC 2007

U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC). 2007. “The International Boundary and Water Commission, Its Mission, Organization and Procedures for Solution of Boundary and Water Problems.” Available online: <www.ibwc.state.gov/About_Us/About_Us.html>. Accessed September 20, 2007. Landrum & Brown, Inc. 2002. “Common Noise Sources.” Available online <www.landrumbrown.com/env/PVD/EIS/Jan%202002%20Chapter%204/ 4%201-1%20%20common_noise_sources.pdf>. Accessed 6 July 2004. NatureServe Explorer. 2007. Ecological System Comprehensive Reports. Accessed On-line at: http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/. Ohio State University. 2007. Noise on the Farm Can Cause Hearing Loss. Available online <http://ohioline.osu.edu/aexfact/0590.html>. Accessed 20 October 2007.
Texas Administrative Code (TAC). 2007. Chapter 106, Subchapter W, Turbines and Engines. <http://info.sos.state.tx.us/pls/pub/readtac$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=5 &ti=30&pt=1&ch=106&sch=W&rl=Y >. Accessed 15 October 2007.

Landrum & Brown 2002

NatureServe (2007 Ohio State University 2007
SM#1 TAC 2007 SM#2

USEPA 2006a
SM#3 USEPA 2006b SM#4 USEPA 2007 TDPS 2006

USEPA. 2006. “National Ambient Air Quality Standards.” Available online: <http://www.epa.gov/air/criteria.html>. Accessed 15 October 2007.
USEPA. 2006. AirData NET Tier Report for BLIAQCR Available online: <http://www.epa.gov/air/data/geosel.html>. Accessed 15 October 2007. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). 2007. Green Book Nonattainment Areas for Criteria Pollutants. Available online: <http://www.epa.gov/oar/oaqps/greenbk>. Accessed 15 October 2007.

Texas Department of Public Safety, Crime Information Bureau. 2006. 2004 Crime in Texas. http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/crimereports/04/2004index.htm#cit2004. Texas Education Agency, 2006. Enrollment Report, 20062007. http://www.tea.state.tx.us/adhocrpt/Standard_Report.html. Texas Education Agency, 2006. Snapshot Download Statistics, District and Charter Detail Data for SY 2003-2004. http://www.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/snapshot/download.html. Texas State Data Center, Office of the State Demographer, 2006. Population 2000 and Projected Population 2005 to 2040. http://txsdc.utsa.edu/cqi-bin/prj2006totnum.cgi.
October 2007 6-3

TEA 2006 TEA 2006

TSDC-OSD 2006

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U.S. Census 2002

U.S. Census Bureau, 2002. Census 2000 Summary File 3, Matrice H76, Median Value (dollars) for Specified OwnerOccupied Housing Units. http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main.html? lang=en. U.S. Census Bureau, 2002. Census 2000 Summary File 3, Matrice P7, Hispanic and Latino by Race: 2000. http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main.html?_lang=en. U.S. Census Bureau, 2002. Census 2000 Summary File 3, Matrice P88, Ratio of Income in 1999 to Poverty Level. http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main.html?_lang=en. U.S. Census Bureau, 2006. Small Area Income & Poverty Estimates, Model-based Estimates for States, Counties and School District, 1995, 1999, 2000 and 2004.
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/saipe/.

U.S. Census 2002 U.S. Census 2002 U.S. Census 2006

U.S. Census 2006

U.S. Census Bureau, 2006. Annual Population Estimates and Estimated Components of Population Change for the United States and States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006 (NST_EST2006_ALLDATA). http://www.census.gov/popest/datasets.html. U.S. Census Bureau, 2007. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population by Selected Age Groups and Sex for Counties, April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006 (CC-EST2006-AGESEX[ST_FIPS]). http://www.census.gov/popest/counties/asrh/CC-EST2006agesex.html. U.S. Census Bureau, 2007. Subcounty Population Estimates: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006 (SUB-EST2006). http://www.census.gov/popest/cities/SUB-EST2006-states.html. U.S. Census Bureau, 2007. Table 4: Annual Estimates of Housing Units for Counties in Texas: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006 (HU-EST2006-04-48). http://www.census.gov/popest/housing/HUEST2006-4.html. U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2004. 2002 Census of Agriculture – Texas State and County Data, Table 1.
http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2002/index.asp

U.S. Census 2007

U.S. Census 2007 U.S. Census 2007

USDA 2004

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1 % µg/m °F ACHP ACM APE AQCR AST BAT BMP BLIAQCR
3

7. ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS
percent micrograms per cubic meter degrees Fahrenheit EIS EO ESA FEMA FHWA FIRM ft FY HABS HAER IBWC LBP LRGVNWR m MBTA MCL MCLG MD mg/m3 mph MSA NAAQS NEPA NHL NO2 NOI Support Office Environmental Impact Statement Executive Order Endangered Species Act Federal Emergency Management Agency

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
asbestos containing material area of potential effect air quality control region aboveground storage tank best available technology Best Management Practice

Federal Highway Administration
Flood Insurance Rate Map feet fiscal year

Brownsville-Laredo Intrastate Air Quality Control Region
Biological Opinion Clean Air Act Clean Air Act Amendments U.S. Customs and Border Protection California Code of Regulations Council on Environmental Quality Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act Code of Federal Regulations carbon monoxide Clean Water Act calendar year A-weighted decibels C-weighted decibels U.S. Department of Homeland Security Description of the Proposed Action and Alternatives Environmental Assessment Engineering Construction

BO CAA CAAA CBP CCR CEQ CERCLA

Historic American Building Survey Historic American Engineering Record
International Boundary and Water Commission lead based paint Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge meter Migratory Bird Treaty Act Maximum Contaminent Level

CFR CO CWA CY dBA dBC DHS DOPAA EA ECSO

Maximum Contaminant Level Goals
Management Directive milligrams per cubic meter miles per hour Metropolitan Statistical Area National Ambient Air Quality Standards National Environmental Policy Act

National Historic Landmarks
nitrogen dioxide Notice of Intent
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NOx NPDES NPS NHRP O3 OSHA P.L. Pb PCB PM10 PM2.5 POE ppm PSD RCRA ROI ROW SARA SHPO SIP SO2 SDWA SWPPP TAAQS TAC TCEQ TCP TDOT

Nitrogen oxide National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System National Parks Service National Register of Historic Places ozone Occupational Safety and Health Administration Public Law lead polychlorinated biphenyls particles equal to or less than 10 microns in diameter particles equal to or less than 2.5 microns in diameter Port of Entry parts per million Prevention of Significant Deterioration Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Region of Interest right-of-way Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act State Historic Preservation Office State Implementation Plan sulfur dioxide

TMDL tpy TSCA U.S.C. USACE USBP USEPA USFWS UST VOC

Total Maximum Daily Load tons per year
Toxic Substances Control Act United States Code U.S. Army Corps of Engineers U.S. Border Patrol U.S. Environmental Protection Agency U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service underground storage tank volatile organic compound

Safe Drinking Water Act
Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan Texas Ambient Air Quality Standards

Texas Administrative Code Texas Commission on Environmental Quality traditional cultural properties Texas Department of Transportation
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8. LIST OF PREPARERS
This EIS has been prepared by engineering-environmental Management, Inc. (e²M) under the direction of USBP. The individual contractors that contributed to the preparation of this document are listed below.
5 (b) (6) 6 B.A. Geography 7 Years of Experience: 2 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58
(b) (6)

8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

(b) (6)

M.S. Biology B.S. Environmental Studies Years of Experience: 3
(b) (6)

M.P.A. Public Administration B.S. Political Science Years of Experience: 7
(b) (6)

M.S. Natural Resources B.S. Applied Biology Years of Experience: 31
(b) (6)

Ph.D. Anthropology B.A. Anthropology and Archaeology Years of Experience: 21
(b) (6)

M.S. Environmental Sciences and Engineering B.S. Geology Certificate of Water Quality Management Years of Experience: 10
(b) (6)

B.A. Geography GIS Professional Certificate Years of Experience: 5
(b) (6)

M.S. Environmental Studies B.S. Earth Science and Geography Years of Experience: 10
(b) (6)

B.S. Geology USACE Certified Wetland Delineator Certified Professional Soil Scientist Years of Experience: 23 h.D. Mass Communications

B.S. Environmental Science Registered Environmental Professional Years of Experience: 12

29 (b) (6) 31 B.A. Journalism 32 Years of Experience: 22 33 34 35 36
(b) (6)

59 (b) (6) 60 M.A. Anthropology 61 Years of Experience: 15 62(b(b) (6) 63) M.A. Anthropology 64 Years of Experience: 17 65 66 67 68
(b) (6)

B.S. Economics M.S. Economics Years of Experience: 31

B.S. Environmental Policy and Planning Years of Experience: 3

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(b) (6)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

M.S. Environmental Science M.A. Political Science/International Economics B.A. Political Science Years of Experience: 22
(b) (6)

40 (b) (6) 41 B.S. Environmental Studies 42 Years of Experience: 8 43 44 45 46 47 48
(b) (6)

M.B.A. Business Administration B.S. Forestry and Natural Resources Management Years of Experience: 11
(b) (6)

, AICP Sammons/Dutton LLC B.S. Civil Engineering Graduate Studies, City and Regional Planning Years of Experience: 43

, Ph.D.

49 (b) (6) 50 B.S. Biology 51 Years of Experience: 4 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
(b) (6)

Ph.D. Biochemistry B.S. Chemistry Registered Environmental Manager Years of Experience: 23

B.S. Biology M.S. Biology Ph.D. Biology Years of Experience: 22
(b) (6)

18 (b) (6) 19 A.A.S. Nursing 20 Years of Experience: 17 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33
(b) (6)

B.S. Biology Ph.D. Botany Years of Experience: 24

M.S. Historic Preservation M.S. Anthropology B.S. Anthropology Years of Experience: 24
(b) (6)

61 (b) (6) 62 B.S. Geography 63 Years of Experience: 2 64 (b) (6) 65 Masters of Engineering 66 Years of Experience: 5 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76
(b) (6)

B.S. Environmental Science B.A. Communications Years of Experience: 6
(b) (6)

B.S. Environmental Science B.A. Business Administration Years of Experience: 9 .S. Natural Resource Management J.D. with Certificate in Environmental Law Years of Experience: 11

B.S. Biology M.S. Environmental Science and Education Years of Experience: 9
(b) (6)

34 (b) (6) 36 37 38 39

Masters in Public Policy B.A. Economics and Political Science Years of Experience: 14

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1 (b) (6)

.S. Environmental Studies
3 Years of Experience: 3 4 5 6 7
(b) (6)

B.S. Biology M.S. Biology Years of Experience: 32

11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

(b) (6)

M.S. Resource Economics/Environmental Management B.A. Political Science Years of Experience: 32
(b) (6)

8 (b) (6) 9 B.S. Environmental Science 10 Years of Experience: 5 21

M.S. Fisheries Science B.S. Marine Science Years of Experience: 12

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