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constructed by the SCS under the Appalachian and Resource Conservation and Development programs.
A review of Public Law 566, Appalachian and R.C. & D. projects being planned and carried out in Alabama by the SCS indicates that too many of these watershed projects have been initiated more to enhance land values than to reduce flooding and usually at a cost greater than programed benefits. In support of this statement, let me review a sample of Public Law 566 watershed projects where there is sufficient data to make an evaluation. Five of the 76 Alabama watershed projects picked at random which have been constructed, are now under construction or are planned provide over 204 miles of stream channelization and 63 stream alteration structures and are reported to benefit 744 individual landowners by reducing flood damage by in average of 75.8 percent at a cost in Federal funds in excess of $18.8 million. In other words, each of the 744 landowners will receive all average of over $24,282 in Federal moneys to enhance the value of their personal property at the expense of valuable natural resources, Even by using the SCS's maximum land value figures, the Federal Government could purchase, in fee simple, the entire flood plains that the projects are supposed to protect for considerably less money than will be spent for stream channelization and floodwater retarding structures in at least four of these five projects.
If the $18.8 million, the Federal cost for stream channelization and floodwater retarding structures in these five Public Law 566 watershed projects, were invested at 5 percent, the annual interest alone would pay for all flood damages the projects are supposed to reduce with an excess of $221,000 each year.
In a prepared statement forwarded to your committee on April 23, 1971, as chairman of the Water Resource Committee of the International Association of Game, Fish and Conservation Commissioners I stated, "The International Association of Game, Fish and Conservation Commissioners is aware of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Watersheds Memorandum 108."
(NOTE.See: Watersheds memorandum No. 108 of February 4, 1971, "Re Guidelines for Planning and Review of Channel Improvement.")
If followed, this document can be helpful but still falls far short of positive action necessary to protect our streams and streambank habitat. If past experiences are any indicators, policy memorandum 108 will be subjected to broad interpretation by the different State soil conservation service authorities and can be changed without congressional action. For example, section 8 of watersheds memorandum 108 states in part “Even though they may increase cost, the least destructive construction techniques are to be used.” If the extra cost for providing least destructive construction techniques to protect fish and wildlife result in an unfavorable cost-benefit, will not the more destructive construction techniques be utilized in order for the Soil Conservation Service to justify the project?
Since April 23, personnel of the Alabama Game and Fish Division have met on two occasions with SCS personnel to review the reports on watersheds containing channelization prepared by the SCS as directed under watersheds memorandum 108. These SCS reports are quite revealing and confirm my misgivings expressed in my statement of April 23. For example, a proposed watershed project in which
a State game management area is located proposes to reduce flooding by channelization measures only. Two floodwater retarding structures were considered but were rejected because a railroad and a public highway would have to be relocated if floodwater retarding structures were installed. As a result, the SCS watershed plan includes only "extensive channel improvement and land treatment measures” to reduce floods to a level of protection acceptable to the sponsors.
The lower section of the stream proposed to be channeled passes through one of the Alabama Department of Conservation's wildlife management areas. Stream alteration will reduce wildlife and fish habitat within the management area as well as increase siltation in the most heavily fished section of the management area where flowing water from the stream enters the slack water of a major TVA reservoir.
The SCS review report based on watersheds memorandum 108 places the project “effects on the environment” in group 1, "conformance to enumerated guidelines" in group 2 and "economic justification” in group 1. No mention is made in this report of the proposed project crossing a State management area and the losses that will result to fish and wildlife resources. Included in the report are the following measures proposed to reduce adverse environmental effects of the project:
A. Seasonal and sectional construction.
B. Vegetate spoil and channel banks during and immediately after construction.
C. Vegetate portions of the spoil with plants beneficial to wildlife.
Gentlemen, by placing more value on highway and railroad rightof-way than on fish and wildlife resources, by listing the environmental losses that will occur on Swan Creek as a result of 12.7 miles of stream channelization and alteration in group 1 (minor or no known adverse effect on the environment) and to advance inadequate measures to reduce adverse environmental effects of channelization and alteration indicates to me that watersheds memorandum 108 will fall far short of doing what is necessary to protect fish, wildlife, and other valuable natural resources.
Further proof of the effort by the SCS to justify channelization regardless of environmental losses follows.
In the review report on the watershed plan as required under watersheds memorandum 108, the SCS lists the upper reaches of the stream planned for channelization as having little or no adverse environmental effect (group 1), while channelization on the lower reaches of the stream is considered to have serious adverse effect on the environment (group 3). In order to reduce the adverse environment impact grouping from group 3 to group 1 within the lower reaches, they offer the following five punitive measures:
A. Seasonal and sectional construction.
B. Accomplish excavation with minimum amount of spoil spreading and prompt vegetation of spoil and channel banks.
C. In the lower segments for fish habitat, dig basins in channel bottom between rock ledges and develop portions of present channel for fish and wildlife habitat.
D. Plant portions of the spoil area to wildlife food and cover.
E. Excavate from one side of channel where present alinement is satisfactory.
It is apparent to me that these measures will not reduce adverse environmental effects of the project to any appreciable extent, but do appear to be an effort to justify channel construction; otherwise, the five measures would all have been included in the original work plan. Unfortunately, none of these measures will replace den and mast trees, adequately protect redeye bass and other fish species from the rise in water temperature that will result from the removal of shade-producing trees which overhang the stream, and prevent the increased silt load that will be created by construction and increased turbidity.
A large watershed now under construction in north Alabama is a prime example of the SCS giving almost total consideration to landowner benefits without recognizing or not providing protection or compensation for fish and wildlife resources,
Through the insistence of the watershed sponsors, the SCS reversed its normal practice of constructing upstream floodwater retarding structures before developing downstream channel excavation. Downstream channels were dug without the protection afforded by upstream retarding structures. As a result, flood crests increased some 2 feet above previous crests for floods of the same magnitude.
At the point where the creek entered a gorge and the natural channel was considered adequate, the SCS, rather than construct planned upstream water retarding structures, has developed plans to channelize an additional 700 feet of the stream into the gorge area and clear all trees and other vegetation to the 18 foot contour above normal stream flow through the gorge area for 7,300 feet.
Had upstream retarding structures been constructed prior to channelization, this additional environmental destruction would have in all probability been avoided.
The SCS is not the only Federal agency engaged in stream channelization in Alabama. The Army Corps of Engineers is planning channelization in at least five major tributaries of the Upper Tombigbee and Tennessee Rivers. One of these tributaries originates in Alabama and fiows into the Upper Tombigbee River north of Columbus, Miss. The severe adverse environmental impact that would result from channelization is expressed in a report by the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife of the U.S. Department of the Interior,
and I quote:
The proposed project will result in destruction of woodduck nesting, rearing, and roosting habitat; migratory waterfowl resting and feeding areas; fur-bearer habitat; and forest game habitat; and seriously degrade or destroy the stream fishery. It will provide the outlet for extensive ditching and drainage that could convert adjacent woodlands to row crops or pasture and eventually lead to loss of most of the flood plain habitat for deer, squirrel, swamp rabbit, woodduck, beaver, raccoon, and otter.
Construction of the new channel will result in the transport of silt and sediment to the Tombigbee River to the detriment of the downstream fisheries. The stream will no longer be of value to the Tombigbee Basin walleye fishery as a spawning and rearing stream. Its attraction as a fishing and recreation stream will be greatly reduced, affecting a large number of local people. Those having invested in cabins and boat launching ramps will be seriously affected.
Needless to say, the corps is still pushing the channelization phase of this interstate stream.
The TVA has in the past engaged in destructive stream channelization projects. This organization is to be commended on a pilot project now underway to reduce flooding on a tributary of the Tennessee River. Instead of channelizing this stream, the TVA has created a floodway away from the natural stream that does not become activated until floodwaters raise the natural stream water level approximately 2 feet. This type of construction preserves the normal streamflow within the natural channel and preserves important habitat for fish and wildlife. Initially the floodway construction was thought to be more expensive than stream channelization. In reality, the floodway proved to be less expensive. Where stream alteration is designed for flood reduction, the floodway offers the least destructive environmental effect to fish and wildlife resources and as in the case of the TVA project, may prove to be less expensive than channelization.
The destruction of fish and wildlife and other natural resources by stream channelization under the direction of Federal agencies is occurring at the same time that large segments of land and water areas are being lost to industrial, urban, and other related uses not compatible to outdoor recreational activities.
With the heavy tax burden and all other revenues tapped to capacity, there is no way for State and Federal resource agencies to meet present and future needs in outdoor recreation. The citizens of this country are even now demanding more land and water for their outdoor needs. With the end of the population explosion not in sight, the additional loss of more choice outdoor recreational areas to stream channelization and pollution will ultimately lead to a national calamity.
Stream channelization projects pushed by Federal agencies with public tax moneys that destroy the public's natural resources in order to benefit a few individual landowners, is not, in my opinion, in the best public interest.
Mr. Reuss. Thank you very much, Mr. Kelley.
If it is agreeable, Mr. Gude, we will hear from all the witnesses before questioning.
Mr. GUDE. Yes.
Mr. Reuss. We will next hear from Dr. O. Earle Frye, director of the Florida Division of Game and Fresh Water Fish.
STATEMENT OF DR. 0. EARLE FRYE, JR., DIRECTOR, FLORIDA
DIVISION OF GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH
Dr. FRYE. Mr. Chairman, we have some slides that I would like to present while I am presenting my paper. It is not a slide lecture, but I think it would be interesting to the committee, if this is proper.
Vír. Reuss. Would you be able to read if we dim the light? We can get a better picture.
Dr. FryE. Yes, sir. I think we are going to have to.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for giving me this opportunity to appear before this subcommittee. We are real pleased that you are holding this hearing. We think that the subcommittee is bringing out some things that need to be brought out.
We are attempting in this presentation to answer the basic questions that you have posed, which are:
1. Does my agency have data which show some of the environmental effects caused by stream channelization?
2. Is it possible to protect and enhance our environment while still providing needed flood proiection?
3. Should funding and construction involving stream channelization by the Department of Agriculture, be temporarily halted, pending a complete review of the environmental effects of such work?
The answer to each of these questions is, “Yes.” The answer to the last question is a qualified, “Yes."
Presently, for example, we are reviewing with the Soil Conservation Service all of the watershed projects, and they are temporarily halted, and we think that we can work this out. But what I am really saying is that we are not calling for a blanket moratorium; we are calling for a moratorium where there is doubt; that we need to have impact statements wherever there is a serious question, that we should take a good look at it.
As recently as 1958, Flordia was considered to have an abundance of surface freshwater resources. It has 7,712 lakes, covering 2,373,586 acres; and 1,711 streams with a total length of 11,876 miles; and is bordered on the west by the Gulf of Mexico and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. Historically, much of its land area was periodically inundated because 60 to 70 percent of our rainfall occurs during a 120-day period in the summertime.
In Flordia, water has always been traditionally looked at our law reads as if water is the enemy. Well, we are finally learning that water is not our enemy.
These are before and after shots mostly.
River and stream channelization in Florida has created major problems. Two Federal agencies, the Soil Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as State, local, and private interests, are continuing to alter the subtropical landscape by drainage.
Investigations by the Soil Conservation Service indicate that there are approximately 500 Florida watersheds, and about 250 of them are considered feasible for study and construction. Since the start of small watershed projects in Florida in 1958, 16 projects have been constructed and approximately 639 miles of channels have replaced our natural streams and rivers. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public works projects have adversely affected the natural environment on approximately 958 miles of rivers and streams by channelization.
In the interest of time, I would like to cite just one example of the effects of two drainage projects on Lake Okeechobee, a highly treasured resource of south Florida.
Two channelized streams, Taylor Creek (Soil Conservation Service) and the Kissimmee River (Corps of Engineers) have aggravated the eutrophication problem in this, the second largest lake totally within the United States. The channelization of Taylor Creek under Public Law 566 in Okeechobee County has produced severe problems. After channelization of this stream, lateral feeder canals were constructed from the dairy barns to the main canal.
The manure accumulating in the barns thus is washed via the secondary and main canals into Lake Okeechobee. In some canals we have observed 6 inches of water and 6 feet of cow manure. Counting the people and the cows on this 15-mile-long watershed and calculating their fecal output per day (one cow equals 16.4 persons), we find that