On January 31, FERC filed notes from a conference call that took place on January 10 regarding visual impacts of the Mountain Valley Pipeline on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (ANST).
Participating in the call were representatives from the following groups and organizations:
- Appalachian Trail Conservancy
- US Forest Service
- Galileo Project, LLC (contractor to the Forest Service)
- US National Parks Service
- US Department of the Interior Counsel
- Virginia Department of Historic Resources
- Giles County
- Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC
- GAI Consultants (contractor to MVP)
- Tetra Tech (contractor to MVP)
- Cardno (contractor to FERC)
For the call, Mountain Valley prepared a summary of their visual impact assessment, in which they indicated that, of the 40 miles of the ANST from which the pipeline route would be “theoretically visible,” vegetation will screen views along 98 percent of the area.
They indicated there are only seven points on the ANST from which the pipeline will be visible, primarily located at Kelly’s Knob, Angel’s Rest, and Dragon’s Tooth.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy mentioned the following issues:
- MVP will parallel the trail for 15 miles at a distance of 4 miles from the trail itself, which they worry will heavily impact the viewshed of the ANST
- Problems associated with pipeline access using Pocahontas Road
- The proximity of the pipeline right-of-way to a campsite on the Peter’s Mountain segment of the trail — at which point the pipeline would be 0.2 miles from the campsite
The memo indicates that despite these concerns, “participants [in the call] agreed that the MVP would have ‘no adverse effects’ on the ANST, if certain measures are implemented by Mountain Valley.”
In the Jefferson National Forest, MVP will implement measures indicated in the Plan of Development with the Forest Service, including
- feathering/undulating of the edge of the right-of-way during tree clearing
- plantings along the right-of-way during revegetation/restoration
- Reduced mowing to a 10-foot-wide strip centered over the pipeline during maintenance/operation.
- Extended monitoring season of revegetation process to five years (rather than the two seasons requited by FERC)
Outside of the Jefferson National Forest, MVP “conduct a program of plantings along the edge of the right-of-way during restoration/revegetation” on portions of the corridor that may be visible to ANST hikers. The ATC indicated they would provide Mitigation Plans to FERC “in the near future” for portions of the pipeline route they worry will be visible from the trail
One mitigation method being considered is the permanent relocation of the ANST at the crossing of Pocahontas Road for safety reasons. If this relocation is not accomplished, MVP intends to use a system of flagging and monitoring to help escort hikers across the construction zone.
Discussion of cumulative impacts on the ANST was “tabled for now.”