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Federal Government

FORT BELVOIR BALD EAGLE
BIOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT

U.S. Army, Fort Belvoir
Fort Belvoir, Virginia

Fort Belvoir is an historic and active U.S. Army Installation located along the Potomac River in Fairfax County, Virginia. Dogue Creek, a tributary to the Potomac River, winds through the South Post and converges with the Potomac River. Fort Belvoir’s Marina is located along the eastern bank of Dogue Creek and had curtailed operations because of sedimentation in the creek. Fort Belvoir proposed maintenance dredging of the channel and physical modifications to the marina to restore full function to the facility. The proposed project included dredging and removal of dredge material to a receiving site at Possum Point, Virginia 15 miles downstream of Dogue Creek. In addition to providing support to the dredge project itself, and in accordance with Section 7(c) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, EA was contracted to provide a biological evaluation for the proposed dredging project on Dogue Creek, Fort Belvoir. Informal consultation with agencies, literature review, and consultation with local experts were used to evaluate the proposed actions and resulted in the biological evaluation.

Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) are found in the project area year-round, and include a nesting population that is part of the Chesapeake Bay Breeding Population as well as eagles that migrate through or winter along the Potomac River. A portion of the Fort Belvoir shoreline is included in the Mason Neck Bald Eagle Concentration Area which supports a year-round roost site, a high-use foraging area, and 9-10 active nests—3 of which are located on Fort Belvoir including 2 that are 0.6 and 1.3 miles downstream from the Dogue Creek Marina. Other nests located along the Potomac downstream included 2 at Possum Point in the vicinity of the proposed dredge disposal site. Possum Point is also a known “High Use Area” for bald eagles. Fort Belvoir’s Integrated Natural Resource Plan provides for the protection of shoreline habitat, and the Fort Belvoir Bald Eagle Management Plan based on Virginia’s Bald Eagle Protection Guidelines provides guidelines to protect bald eagle habitat and nests from activities conducted on Fort Belvoir.

EA concluded that the project “may affect” but was “not likely to adversely affect” bald eagles in the vicinity due to unavoidable noise and human activity from the project actions. The effects would be short term and could disrupt foraging and roosting eagles. Nesting eagles were protected by the nest protection zones already established in the Fort Belvoir Bald Eagle Management Plan.