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									3.0     AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT

This section describes the natural and man-made environment which may be affected by the
proposed PCS mine continuation. Figures 1-3 and 2-8 show the 70,000-acre study area and the
15,100-acre project area considered in this DEIS. The general field sampling area encompasses
the proposed mine continuation tracts and adjacent lands and waters.


3.1     Topography and Physiography
Beaufort County is located in the Atlantic Coastal Plain physiographic province, a northeast-
southwest trending area of low-relief, bordered on the west by the Piedmont physiographic
province and on the east along the Atlantic shoreline by the Continental Margin physiographic
province (Fenneman 1938, Heezen et al. 1959). The Atlantic Coastal Plain physiographic
province is underlain by seaward-dipping, semi-consolidated to unconsolidated siliciclastic
sediments which thicken seaward. These sediments overlie a deformed Upper Precambrian and
Lower Paleozoic metamorphic basement complex which also slopes seaward (King 1969).

Lying within the Atlantic Coastal Plain, Beaufort County is bisected roughly east to west by the
Pamlico River and north to south by the Suffolk Scarp. The Scarp also divides the county into
two physiographic regions, the Tidewater Region in the eastern half and the Inner Coastal Plain
in the western portion (Figure 3-1). The Suffolk Scarp is a north-south trending old beachfront
which rises abruptly from 20 feet to 50 feet in elevation along much of the western boundary of
the study area (Figure 3-2). The Scarp, the top of which is known locally as the “Minnesott
Ridge,” is a relict Pleistocene strandline underlain by approximately 20 feet of beach sands
overlying a 0.5- to 1.5-foot-thick (0.2- to 0.5-meter) peat stratum (Stuckey 1965). It marks the
western boundary between two marine terraces, the Pamlico Surface and the Talbot Surface.
The Talbot Surface includes the Atlantic Coast Flatwoods Region, a flat to gently rolling, well-
drained land of the Inner Coastal Plain while the Pamlico Surface includes the Tidewater Region,
a relatively flat and poorly-drained land with extensive swamplands (Johnson 1907, Stuckey
1965, Kirby 1995).

The study area lies within the Tidewater Region where elevations are predominantly 10 to 20 feet
above sea level, although small areas as high as 40 feet do occur [USGS 1950 (photo revised
1974), Aurora, NC Topographic Quadrangle, 7.5 minute series, USGS 1968 (photo revised
1983), Bayboro, NC Topographic Quadrangle, 7.5 minute series]. The drainage systems of the
general study area are classified as modified dendritic and empty into tributaries of the Pamlico
River, which flows eastward into the Pamlico Sound, west of Cape Hatteras. The presence of
hydric soils in large portions of the study area indicates that drainage has been relatively poor
historically. Over past decades, natural hydrology of the area has been extensively altered by
agricultural and silvicultural ditches. The drainage systems and their respective acreages are
shown in Figure 3-3.


3.2     Soils
Soils in the study area are primarily fine sandy loams (Kirby 1995) derived from unconsolidated
sands, silts, and clays which were deposited during intermittent glacial events throughout the
Pleistocene epoch (Stuckey 1965) (Figure 3-4 and Table 3-1). The four major soil units include:
1) Tomotley - Roanoke – Portsmouth; 2) Torhunta - Leon – Bonneau; 3) Tarboro - Seabrook –
State; and 4) Augusta - Altavista - Tomotley. These soils are nearly level and poorly drained with
a high runoff potential, although drainage ditches have improved infiltration in some cases by
lowering the water table and decreasing runoff potential. Under natural conditions, the seasonal

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Aurora, North Carolina
high water table (the highest level the groundwater reaches during most years) in these soil types
characteristically ranges from the ground surface to 2 feet below ground level. Limitations on
building site developments are moderate to severe, indicating that one or more of the soil
properties are either unfavorable or difficult to overcome for development. Additional soil units
found in portions of the study area eliminated from detailed consideration (Grace and Edward
Tracts) contain a large component of very poorly drained muck soils found in the Belhaven-Dare,
Arapahoe-Ponzer-Dare, and Stockade-Arapahoe-Washington soil units. In some areas, these
muck soils have been drained and used as croplands. Otherwise the water table is at or near the
surface most of the time, severely limiting development.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has
defined prime farmland soils based on their suitability for food, feed, fiber, and oil seed production
(Kirby 1995). Prime farmlands are not necessarily under cultivation, but may be used as
woodland or pasture. Urban or built upon upland, public land, and open water cannot be
considered prime farmland (Kirby 1995). The NRCS has identified the following soils in the
county as prime farmland: Altavista, Arapahoe, Augusta, Craven, Dogue, Dragston, Goldsboro,
Hyde, Lynchburg, Pantego, Perquimans, Portsmouth, Rains, State, Tomotley, Torhunta, Wasda,
and Yeopim. The project area contains 9,308 acres of potential prime farmland soils, most of
which is located in the S33 Tract (Figure 3-5 and Table 3-2). However, of this acreage, only
drained areas are considered prime farmland (Kirby 1995). Currently, 3,503 acres of prime
farmland in the project area are under cultivation. The remaining 5,805 acres of prime farmland
are primarily woodland or shrub-scrub. Over ninety percent of the cultivated prime farmland in
the project area is located south of NC 33.

Most soils naturally contain trace amounts of various elements and compounds, including certain
metals. The existence of these naturally occurring elements and compounds has been studied
primarily in connection with the potential uptake of metals (including cadmium, lead, nickel, and
zinc) by plants and wildlife living on the gypsum/clay blend.


3.3     Geology and Mineral Resources

3.3.1   Geologic History
Interpretations of subsurface stratigraphy determined that the geology of the study area
developed by the periodic advance (transgression) and retreat (regression) of the ocean (Brown
1959, Kimrey 1965, Stuckey 1965, Riggs et al. 1982, Soller and Mills 1991). These
transgressions and regressions were associated with downwarping (which created embayments
such as Albemarle and the smaller Aurora) and upwarping (which created arches such as Cape
Fear and Neuse) of the metamorphic basement complex. Episodic differential movement and
lateral shifts of the axes of the arches and the basins have controlled Mesozoic and Cenozoic
depositional environments for the past 245 million years (Soller and Mills 1991). The
geomorphology of the region has been determined by episodic accretion of marine sediments
during higher sea levels and subsequent erosion and dissection of those marine sediments mixed
with some areas of fluvial and deltaic deposition as sea level retreated. In general, the geologic
units have a northeastern strike and dip southeastward at an approximate gradient of 10 to 20
feet per mile. Stratigraphic units of the coastal plain sediments were deposited after the Triassic
Period, and are generally wedge-shaped, beginning as a thin edge along their western boundary
and thickening southeastward.

The North Carolina Geological Survey published an extensive collection of abstracts which
contains a thorough summary of much of the work done in recent years on the formations of
Onslow Bay and the Aurora Embayment (Riggs and Ames 1992). The Carolina Geological
Society produced a commemorative volume for their fiftieth anniversary which compiled the latest



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Aurora, North Carolina
interpretations on the geology of the Carolinas (Carolina Geological Society 1991).         Both
resources were consulted in preparation of this document.


3.3.2   Stratigraphy
The region of the study area is underlain by approximately 2,300 feet of gently seaward dipping,
semi-consolidated to unconsolidated sediments deposited since the early Cretaceous period,
which overlie a deformed metamorphic basement complex (Kimrey 1965). Overlying the
Precambrian to Lower Paleozoic basement complex are the Lower Cretaceous unnamed unit; the
Upper Cretaceous Tuscaloosa, Black Creek, and Pee Dee Formations; the Paleocene Beaufort
Formation; the Middle Eocene Castle Hayne Limestone; the Middle Miocene Pungo River
Formation; the Pliocene Yorktown Formation; the Pleistocene Croatan Formation; and the
Holocene undifferentiated units (Figures 3-6 and 3-7).


3.3.3   Structural Geology
The Atlantic Coastal Plain physiographic province typically contains no significant surficial
structural features. However, variations in depth to bedrock delineate several basement
structures near, or beneath, the study area. Structural features which historically have been
recognized as controlling Tertiary sedimentation in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina are the
Norfolk and Cape Fear Arches, with the associated basinal area, the Albemarle Embayment
(Gibson 1967, Miller 1971, Brown et al. 1972, Mauger 1979). Pungo River sediments were
deposited in the Aurora Embayment, a smaller depositional basin within the Albemarle
Embayment (Scarborough et al. 1982). The western and eastern margins of the Aurora
Embayment are delineated by north-south trending hinge lines (Miller 1971, Brown et al. 1972).
The western hinge line, the White Oak Lineament, coincides for the most part with the
approximate up dip limit of the Pungo River Formation (Snyder et al. 1982, Miller 1971, 1982).
The northern margin is delineated by the east-west trending Chowan Arch, located just south of
the Albemarle Sound (Miller 1980). The southern margin is defined by the Cape Lookout High,
an east-west trending topographic high (Snyder et al. 1982).


3.3.4   Phosphate Deposition
Geologists from American Metals Climax identified phosphate pellets in samples obtained from
water-well drillers in Beaufort County in the early 1950’s and recognized the phosphate potential
of the area. Amco Exploration, Inc. (a subsidiary of American Metals Climax) was granted a state
lease to explore for phosphate in the sediments under the Pamlico River and its tributaries six
miles upstream and 30 miles downstream from Washington, North Carolina. Amco drilled about
50 test holes in conjunction with other exploration techniques before canceling the lease in 1953
(Chamness 1985).

Subsurface phosphatic sediments in Beaufort County were first described and delineated by
Brown (1958), who correlated them with the middle Miocene Calvert Formation of Maryland and
Virginia on the basis of benthic foraminifera. This correlation was supported by Gibson (1967,
1980, and 1982) and Katrosh and Snyder (1982). Kimrey (1964) proposed the name Pungo
River Formation for these sediments of lower through upper Miocene age found only in the
subsurface of eastern North Carolina. He described these sediments as consisting of
interbedded phosphatic sands, silts, and clays; diatomaceous clays; and phosphatic and non-
phosphatic limestones. The Pungo River Formation is also equivalent to the phosphatic portions
of the Hawthorn Group of Florida (Gibson 1967, Riggs 1979). Miller (1980) compared the
structural setting and rock types of the Pungo River Formation to those of the Hawthorn
Formation in north Florida, and concluded that structure on the Miocene basin floor was primarily
responsible for the deposition and concentration of sand-sized sedimentary phosphate in both
units. A representative geologic cross section at PCS mine site is shown in Figure 3-8.


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Aurora, North Carolina
Pungo River sediments in North Carolina were deposited in a restricted marine basin which
typically trends east-northeast and plunges to the east. Erosional remnants of the formation
occur in Onslow, Jones, and Beaufort Counties, west of the White Oak Lineament, indicating that
the lineament was crossed by the middle Miocene sea (Miller 1971, 1982). This hinge line and
another eastern, down-basin hinge line appears to have been the primary control in deposition of
an area of high concentration of Pungo River phosphate.            Miller (1982) hypothesized
downdropping of the ocean floor caused a steepening seaward tilt of the basin, creating shallow
water conditions up-basin. Phosphatic sands and diatomaceous clays were deposited in
progressively deeper water. Consequently, primary phosphate deposition occurred in the area of
the easternmost hinge line. Furthermore, Miller suggests that the basin between the hinge lines
was bounded to the north and south by structural highs which served to restrict circulation and
thereby enhance phosphate concentration.

The limits of this unique ore body are determined by where phosphorite is present at recoverable
depths and in sufficient concentrations to constitute classification as an ore. By definition, an ore
contains a mineral of sufficient value as to quality and quantity to be mined with a profit. In
general, the quality (percent P2O5 content) within this phosphate ore body decreases from east to
west and from north to south.           Besides overburden removal and ore quality/quantity
considerations, the ore transport distance from the mine to the mill is a primary operating cost
factor. Therefore, technically, much of the area projected as ore reserve may not truly be an ore
reserve based on mill location, ore quality/quantity considerations, and current market conditions.


3.3.5   Phosphate Concentrations
In North Carolina, the Pungo River Formation is included in the Miocene Phosphate Formation
and extends eastward to the North Carolina coast from approximately 77°00' W longitude,
although the formation occurs slightly to the west of this parallel in Carteret and Jones Counties
(Miller 1982) (Figure 3-7). Phosphorite sediments of the Pungo River Formation have been
recovered from core holes drilled on Bogue Banks in Carteret County (Steele 1980) and off the
southeastern North Carolina coast in a submarine outcrop in Onslow Bay (Lewis et al. 1982).
Based on data from 241 boreholes in eastern North Carolina, Miller (1982) concluded that the
formation ranges in thickness from a "feather edge" along its western up-dip limit, to a maximum
measured thickness of 969 feet at Cape Hatteras. The average thickness in Beaufort County (n
= 74) is at least 53 feet, ranging from 6 or 7 feet in the western part of the county, to 140 feet in
the southeastern corner.

Phosphate pellets occur in all rock types in the Pungo River Formation, but are found in high
concentrations only in the sands of the unit. The general facies progression of sediments in the
Pungo River Formation, from shallow to deeper water, is described by Miller (1982) as follows:
“carbonate rocks; interbedded carbonates and phosphatic sands; phosphatic sands; interbedded
phosphatic sands and diatomaceous clays; and finally, diatomaceous clays and chalky to algal
limestones.” Based on data from a well just north of the project area, phosphatic sands and
sandy limestone of approximately 30 to 40 feet occur at a depth of approximately 75 feet below
mean sea level (Miller 1982). Phosphorite is present at recoverable depths and in sufficient
concentrations to constitute classification as an ore, as shown in Figure 3-8. The location of the
PCS Phosphate mine is dictated by the limits of this unique ore body.

Exploration drilling data within the project area indicate that the phosphate ore in the Pungo River
Formation is generally thicker and of higher grade eastward. The upper one-third to one-half of
the ore section contains a higher grade matrix and is primarily a sandy material. The lower two-
thirds to one-half is a lower grade matrix. Going increasingly updip (westward) across the ore
body, the higher grade ore at the top of the section has eroded away. This is evident where the
limestone cap unit (coquina) is absent and the associated high grade portion of the ore is partially
truncated. This zone is marked by an unconformity, or erosional contact, where the lower
Yorktown Formation directly overlays the phosphorite ore. Pungo River sediments are overlain


PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS            3-23                               September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
by the Pliocene Yorktown Formation. The lowermost beds of this overlying formation may occupy
small channels cut a few feet deep into the top of the Pungo River Formation. These channels,
and the higher areas between them, are blanketed with well-rounded, pebble-sized particles of
quartz and phosphate mixed with coarse-grained sand and abundant fossil debris. These coarse
materials form a basal zone which is thought to be derived from the reworking of Pungo River
sediments caused by the erosive action of a transgressive Yorktown sea (Miller 1982).

The Miocene Pungo River Formation has been classified into four distinct units in the project area
(Figure 3-8). Each of these depositional sequences is characterized by similar vertical sediment
patterns, consisting of phosphate, carbonate, and terrigenous sediments (Riggs et al. 1982).
These units are described as follows:

        Unit A – This basal unit consists of dense dolomitic clay and dolomitic sandstone (lean
        ore) which overlies the Castle Hayne Aquifer. This clay unit acts as an aquitard between
        the ore and the underlying aquifer. The top of Unit A is an indurated dolosandstone
        (caprock) and forms a lower limit to mining. The unit is a dolomitic depositional sequence
        with phosphatic pebbles and sand;

        Unit B – This unit consists of clayey phosphatic sand which is part of the ore section, or
        matrix. The upper layer of this unit is a thin dolomitic unit which is highly burrowed and
        discontinuous;

        Unit C – This unit consists of sandier phosphatic clay, interbedded with layers of
        phosphatic claystone and coquinoid limestone. The limestone unit is not considered part
        of the ore section, but contains lenses of phosphatic sands and clays; and,

        Unit D –This upper unit consists of bryozoan dolosilt which is mostly devoid of
        phosphatic sand. This unit is discontinuous, and is not considered part of the ore section.


3.3.6   Fossils
The Pungo River and Yorktown Formations contain one of the largest known concentrations of
marine vertebrate fossils in the world. Among the more prominent vertebrate fossil assemblages
found at the site are sharks, fish, sea and terrestrial birds, baleen and toothed whales, walrus,
and true seals. Mining at PCS has provided a unique opportunity for extensive study of this fossil
assemblage. The mining operation has made available a wealth of paleontologically valuable
data to the scientific community, and ultimately, the public (Ray 1983, 1987).


3.4     Groundwater

3.4.1   Introduction
The principal source of groundwater in the study area is the Castle Hayne Limestone, which is
located immediately beneath the phosphatic Pungo River Formation. The Beaufort and upper
Pee Dee Formations are located more than 300 feet below the ore body (Figure 3-9). In addition,
a shallow aquifer system consisting of the Croatan and younger formations is situated above the
ore. A representative hydrogeologic cross-section for the southern half of Beaufort County is
presented in Figure 3-9. Figure 3-10 illustrates the relationship of area hydrogeologic units to
stratigraphic units, and lists their primary hydrogeologic characteristics. To fully describe the
groundwater system, groundwater conditions prior to the start of PCS mining operations will be
presented, followed by a discussion of the current groundwater levels after more than 40 years of
mining. Groundwater in the Aurora, North Carolina area has been the subject of numerous
studies. Complete technical data can be found in the publications mentioned below and in
additional references listed at the end of the document.

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Aurora, North Carolina
3.4.2   Hydrogeologic Systems and Units
The various stratigraphic formations have been divided into hydrogeologic units according to their
lithology and hydraulic properties. The basal hydrogeologic unit in the study area is composed of
the lower part of the Pee Dee Formation, the Black Creek Formation, the Tuscaloosa Formation,
and an unnamed Lower Cretaceous Formation (Figure 3-10). This unit is primarily an aquitard
consisting of several hundred feet of low permeability clay and sand.

The Castle Hayne Aquifer system is comprised of three hydrogeologic sections. The lowest
section overlies the Pee Dee-Black Creek aquitard and includes the upper part of the Pee Dee
Formation and all of the Beaufort Formation. The lower Castle Hayne unit is the middle
hydrogeologic section, and the top section is the upper Castle Hayne unit. All three units are
confined aquifers, except in their outcrop areas to the west. Also, the two lower units both have a
naturally occurring relatively high chloride content, particularly in the eastern part of Beaufort
County. High chloride levels are indicative of the presence of salt water or brackish water.
Groundwater flow in this formation is regionally toward the east and southeast (Peek and Nelson
1975).

The Pungo River Formation and most of the Yorktown Formation form an upper aquitard which
overlies the Castle Hayne aquifer system. The thickness of this aquitard decreases to the west
and is very thin, or absent, in the western portion of Beaufort County. Above this aquitard, sands
in the Croatan Formation form an aquifer which is partially confined by clay over much of the
area. The Croatan sands are hydraulically connected with the Post-Croatan Aquifer. The Post-
Croatan sands and the Croatan Formation form a shallow aquifer system which covers the entire
area (Figures 3-10 and 3-11). Groundwater in this shallow aquifer system flows toward streams
and rivers, indicating the general influence of topography (Lloyd and Daniel 1988).


3.4.3   Precipitation, Evapotranspiration, and Recharge
Aquifers are recharged by infiltration and subsurface flow from outcrop areas, vertical flow from
other aquifers, and directly by precipitation. Much of the annual average rainfall of 50 inches in
the study area is lost by evaporation from the soil, transpiration from plants, or surface runoff.

After depressurizing pumpage began, downward leakage into the Castle Hayne Aquifer from the
overlying aquifer, as well as from area water bodies, was calculated to be 6.8 million gallons per
day (mgd) averaged over a 57-square mile cone of influence caused by pumping at the mine
(Harshbarger and Associates 1970). In areas where the mining excavation is backfilled to the
land surface, Leggette, Brashears, and Graham, Inc. (1976) estimated 2.6 mgd/square mile
would leak into the upper Castle Hayne unit. DeWiest (1968) calculated a recharge rate of 280
mgd, assuming the recharge area is 550 square miles. Additionally, he concluded that there is
enough natural recharge to maintain complete saturation of the Castle Hayne Aquifer.


3.4.4   Summary of Hydrology Prior to 1965
Information concerning area hydrology prior to 1965 is extremely limited. Prior to the initiation of
mining activities at the Beaufort County Mine in 1965, the potentiometric surfaces of all the
hydrogeologic units in Beaufort County were above sea level (North Carolina Department of
Water and Air Resources, et al. 1971). The upper Castle Hayne unit was, and remains, the
area's principal source of groundwater supply. The amount of water pumped from this unit prior
to 1965 is unknown, but is estimated to have been less than 3 mgd (North Carolina Department
of Water and Air Resources et al. 1971).




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Aurora, North Carolina
3.4.5   Hydrology since Initiation of Mining
Dry open-pit mining was begun by PCS in July 1965 with the removal of overburden. The
withdrawal rate for the last 40 years has averaged 54 mgd and currently averages 59 mgd
(Personal communication, 24 June 2004, Ross Smith, Manager, Environmental Affairs, PCS). As
much as 70 mgd were pumped from the upper Castle Hayne geohydrologic unit for the initial
operation of the pit. An immediate lowering of the potentiometric surface of the upper Castle
Hayne unit was observed in the surrounding area, eventually affecting more than 1,400 square
miles (North Carolina Department of Water and Air Resources, Groundwater Division et al. 1971).
The vast majority of the decline in water levels occurred in the first year of mining. Since that
time, there have not been any extensive changes in the potentiometric surface. The lowering of
the upper Castle Hayne unit surface necessitated modifications to over 900 wells or pumps in
previously naturally flowing wells (Personal communication, 28 March 1990, I.K. Gilmore, Mine
Geologist, PCS). PCS voluntarily bore the associated costs for these modifications. A cone of
depression with a typical radius of approximately 20 miles has been formed in the potentiometric
surface as a result of depressurizing activities. The cone is stable for the most part, although it
fluctuates somewhat with the movement of the mining pit (Personal communication, 21
September 2004, I. K. Gilmore, Chief Geologist and Superintendent of Mine Planning, PCS).
Depressurization of the upper Castle Hayne unit is required to provide dry and safe pit mining.
An uncontrolled influx of groundwater creates instability in the highwall and in the slopes used by
equipment, reduces stacking characteristics of spoil, and dilutes ore.


3.4.6   Existing Groundwater Withdrawal Permits
Groundwater withdrawals are regulated by the NCDENR Division of Water Resources. Effective
1 August 2002, Capacity Use Area (CUA) No. 1 was replaced by the Central Coastal Plain
Capacity Use Area, a collection of 15 counties including much of former CUA No. 1. This change
occurred because of the recognition that Cretaceous-aged aquifers west of PCS needed the
protection afforded by a capacity use area (Personal communication, 21 April 2004, Nat Wilson,
Lead Hydrogeologist, Division of Water Resources, NCDENR).

PCS currently operates under two capacity use permits, CU 1007 issued 8 August 2001 with a
withdrawal limit of 8 mgd from the surficial and upper Tertiary aquifers, and CU 1003 issued on
15 October 2001 with a withdrawal limit of 78 mgd from the Castle Hayne Aquifer. Both permits
expire in 2011. From 1996 to 2003, the average daily withdrawal by PCS from the surficial and
upper Tertiary aquifer units varied between 33,000 gallons in 2003 and 1.8 million gallons in
2000. Over the same time period, the average daily withdrawal by PCS from the Castle Hayne
Aquifer varied between 34 million gallons in 1999 and 58 million gallons in 2003.

The PCS mining operation utilizes a three tiered dewatering program for the shallow aquifer
system (Figure 3-11). A wellpoint pumping system is employed in the upper tier to extract water
from the Post-Croatan Aquifer to a maximum depth of 25 to 30 feet below land surface prior to
removal of the overburden by bucket wheel excavator. Pumpage from the wellpoint system has
averaged approximately 0.3 mgd from 1989 to 1998. The wellpoint system has only been
operated sporadically since 1998. In the middle tier, overburden dewatering wells are located
around the perimeter of the mine block. These wells are utilized to dewater the Channel Sand
Unit (CSU) in the Croatan Aquifer prior to removal of this material by dragline. Pumpage from
these wells averaged about 1,000 gallons per day in 2005. Without pumping, water from shallow
aquifers can cause unstable overburden, unsafe mining conditions, and poor ore recovery.

To ensure that the quantity of groundwater available to users of the Castle Hayne Aquifer
continues without adverse impacts, the Division of Water Resources carefully evaluates every
Capacity Use Area permit application prior to issuance. Likewise, the Division also requires
groundwater withdrawal permittees in North Carolina to obtain non-discharge permits (to surface
waters) for activities that can impact groundwaters and when necessary, conduct groundwater
monitoring to ensure compliance with state groundwater standards. These two regulatory

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Aurora, North Carolina
programs have been successful since the mine inception to ensure that a safe and useful water
supply has been available to users of the Castle Hayne Aquifer in eastern North Carolina.


3.4.7   Groundwater Quality
Groundwater quality has been continuously monitored throughout the history of the mining
operation. Approximately 80 wells are monitored for water quality on a regular basis, and are
located both in the area of the mine and processing plant and are scattered throughout Beaufort
County. These wells measure chloride concentration in the upper Castle Hayne Unit, the lower
Castle Hayne Unit, and the underlying Beaufort Unit in order to monitor the potential movement of
salt water within the individual units. There are no trends in the average annual chloride
concentration since 1968 in either the plant wells or the county wells as a whole, and the majority
has shown only slight variations in water quality since 1968. A few individual wells, however,
have shown significant variation over the period-of-record. Chloride concentrations have
decreased in some wells, while others show an upward trend. The data from the regional
monitoring system show no apparent regional changes in water quality (Leggette, Brashears, and
Graham, Inc. 2006).

During 2005, the average annual chloride concentration decreased or remained essentially
unchanged from 2004 in 21 of the 26 Sentinel Wells that monitor the Castle Hayne Aquifer
System. Of the wells with increased in chloride concentration in 2005, only one well showed
concentrations above historic values. The data indicated that increase in chloride concentrations
occurred in the lower Castle Hayne unit well within the mine complex area (Leggette, Brashears,
and Graham, Inc. 2006).


3.5     Climate

3.5.1   General
Beaufort County and the PCS study area experience warm temperate climatic patterns which are
moderated by the maritime effects of the Pamlico Sound and Atlantic Ocean. There are four
seasons of almost equal length with hot and humid weather in summer and cool winters with
occasional brief cold periods. Rain occurs throughout the year; snowfall is rare. Measurements
of weather parameters for 1969 through 2003 were obtained by PCS from a meteorological
station located at 35°23' latitude, 76°47' longitude.


3.5.2   Temperature
Temperature data for the PCS Aurora facility were compiled from monthly weather summaries
over a 35-year period. The average monthly minimum and maximum temperatures are
presented in Table 3-3. January was the coolest month with minimum temperatures averaging
33°F and maximum temperatures averaging 52°F. The warmest month was July, with an
average minimum of 71°F and an average maximum of 89°F.


3.5.3   Wind
Average annual prevailing wind direction at the PCS Aurora facility is from the south, with an
average wind velocity of 8 miles per hour (mph). Table 3-4 presents monthly and annual
averages for wind direction and velocity measured from 1995 through 2003.




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Aurora, North Carolina
3.5.4   Precipitation
From 1969 through 2003, average annual precipitation was 50.35 inches. Average seasonal
snowfall is 3.4 inches. Table 3-5 presents total monthly precipitation for the years 1969 through
2003 and the monthly averages for this period. On average, the months of July, August, and
September have the highest precipitation rates. Most summer rainfall is produced by
convectional storms, while precipitation for the remainder of the year is due primarily to the
movement of frontal systems through the area (Conservation Consultants, Inc. 1982).


3.5.5   Severe Weather
Beaufort County is rated by the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management as a county
with “High” risk potential for hurricanes, nor’easters, tornadoes, and associated consequential
flooding. Severe thunderstorms may be accompanied by locally strong winds and hail which may
cause considerable damage to crops and property.

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric (NOAA) data indicate that tornadoes occur
occasionally in the North Carolina Coastal Plain. Beaufort County had 13 tornadoes from 1954 to
1998 (North Carolina Division of Emergency Management, unpublished data, 2 April 2004). This
equates to an average of one tornado in the county every 3.5 years.

The entire Atlantic Coast of the United States is subject to tropical storm occurrences. Over the
88-year period 1899 to 1986, 154 hurricanes (winds 74 mph or greater) and 135 tropical storms
(winds 39 to 73 mph) have crossed or passed immediately offshore of the United States
(Newman et al. 1987). The central coast of North Carolina has experienced a slightly higher
frequency of storms than other coastal areas between central Florida and Long Island, New York
(North Carolina Phosphate Corporation 1975). Largely due to its protruding geomorphology, the
coast of North Carolina can expect to intercept a tropical storm or a hurricane once every four
years, while a tropical cyclone affects the state every 1.3 years (State Climate Office of North
Carolina, unpublished data 2004) Since 1800, coastal North Carolina has experienced the
effects of 59 direct landfalling hurricanes and tropical storms (North Carolina Phosphate
Corporation 1975; Newman et al. 1987, State Climate Office of North Carolina, unpublished data
2004). North Carolina had 17 major hurricanes from 1879 to 2003 (North Carolina Division of
Emergency Management, unpublished data, 15 March 2005). Hurricane season is from June
through November, with the climax of the season being reached during the first half of September
(Dunn and Miller 1960). The damage created by a hurricane may range from minimal to
catastrophic, depending on the intensity of the storm, coastal configuration, astronomical tides,
terrain features, population concentration, and industrialization. The probability of a hurricane
striking the region of the PCS Aurora mine is approximately 1 in 10 for any one year, and 1 in 50
for a hurricane with winds greater than 124 mph (200 kph) (Conservation Consultants, Inc. 1982).


3.6     Water Resources

3.6.1   Major Waterbodies, Classifications, and Buffer Rules
The study area is located in the Tar-Pamlico River Basin System which has an overall length of
175 miles and a drainage area of 4,498 square miles. PCS's mining and mineral processing
operations are located within the 8-digit Pamlico hydrologic unit (03020104) in Subbasin 03-03-
07, south of the Pamlico River estuary between the Durham and South Creek tributaries
(NCDENR 2003). General descriptions and overall characterizations of the Pamlico River and
the tributary creeks that lie near or within the three potential mining boundaries, the NCPC Tract,
the S33 Tract, and the Bonnerton Tract, are presented below. The information presented is a
result of field surveys, with supporting data collected during literature reviews of the respective
water bodies. Figure 1-3 shows the locations of the creeks and tributaries sampled within the


PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS           3-28                              September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
three potential mine continuation tract boundaries. Average water depths and sediment
characteristics given in the text, unless otherwise noted, were obtained during the 1988-1989
water quality sampling activities (Stanley 1990). Figure 3-3 depicts acreage of drainage basins of
creeks and unnamed tributaries within the project area. Drainage areas reflect reductions from
previous development activities.

Also, described below are the waterbody classifications for all surface waters located in the three
mine continuation tracts. Surface waters of North Carolina are classified by NCDENR-DWQ by a
determination of the best uses of state water bodies (e.g. swimming, fishing, drinking water
supply) and assignment of water quality standards to protect those uses. Water quality
classifications are based on rules defined in the North Carolina Administrative Code 15A NCAC
02B.0100 and .0200. NCDWQ classifications of North Carolina waters (15A NCAC 2B.0302-
.0307) are presented in Table 3-6. NCDWQ classifications of creeks within the general field
sampling area are provided in Table 3-7. The entire Tar-Pamlico River Basin system is
designated nutrient sensitive waters (NSW). In addition, waterbodies in which technology-based
effluent limitations required by Section 301 of the Federal Clean Water Act are not stringent
enough to attain and maintain applicable water quality standards, Section 303(d) of the Clean
Water Act requires states, territories, and authorized Tribes to identify such waters and establish
total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for the pollutants causing impairment in those waterbodies
and submit the list of impaired waterbodies and TMDLs to the USEPA. TMDLs are not required
for waters not impaired by a pollutant. Portions of six of the creeks within the project area were
added to the 303(d) list in January 2006 and are closed to shellfishing due to fecal coliform from
an unknown source (NCDENR 2006). The NCDWQ goal is to have a TMDL management plan in
place within 10 years of a waterbody first appearing on the 303(d) list.

As part of basinwide nutrient management and reduction policy, the Tar-Pamlico River Basin:
Nutrient Sensitive Waters Management Strategy: Protection and Maintenance of Existing
Riparian Buffers (15A NCAC 02B.0259) was established as temporary rules effective 1 January
2000 and adopted by the Environmental Management Commission effective 1 May 2000. The
Strategy contains three rules: rules for protection of riparian buffers, rules for mitigation for
permitted impacts to those buffers, and rules for delegation of criteria and process for local
governments to obtain authority to implement the rules. Riparian buffers can be either upland or
wetland communities, occupy 50 feet on either (both) sides of waterbodies, and are divided into
two zones. Zone 1 is the first 30 feet from the edge of the waterbody and Zone 2 is the next 20
feet from the outer edge of Zone 1. Waterbodies must be depicted on either a USGS topographic
map or on the county soil survey map in order to be protected under the buffer rule. Man-made
ponds and hydraulic canals within the PCS project area are not protected. For the purposes of
this DEIS, riparian buffers have been calculated separately by zone and by biotic community type
within each alternative boundary.


3.6.1.1      Pamlico River
The navigable Pamlico River is a continuation of the Tar River and is the major tributary of the
Pamlico Sound. It extends approximately 35 miles from Washington, North Carolina, to the
Pamlico Sound near Pamlico Point. The Tar-Pamlico Basin has a drainage area of 4,498 square
miles and includes portions of 17 counties. The river is approximately 8 miles in width at the
mouth, and less than 1 mile wide near Washington. Average depth ranges between 6 and 15
feet (NOAA Chart 11554). It is classified SC NSW near Washington and SB NSW from the Town
of Washington Park to a line across the Pamlico from Cousin Point to Hickory Point. Below that
line it is classified SA HQW NSW waters until it reaches a line from Roos Point to Persimmon
Tree Point, where it becomes SA HQW water.

Numerous tributaries flow into the Pamlico River, including Blounts and Broad Creeks near the
mouth of the Tar River. Major downstream drainages are the Pungo River, Durham, Goose,
South, Bath, and North Creeks. The midreaches of the river are considered mesohaline (salt


PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS           3-29                              September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
content of 5 to 18 parts per thousand (ppt). Lunar tides are minimal and the water levels are
controlled by wind action. Sediments are characterized as coarse sand along much of the
shoreline, but are of a fine mud texture in the deeper, channelized portions of the river (Giese et
al. 1979; CZR Incorporated 1990).

There are five types of shorelines along the Pamlico River estuary (Bellis et al. 1975). A marsh
fringe dominates much of the low-lying areas near the mouth with black needle rush (Juncus
roemerianus) and patches of cordgrass (Spartina sp.) present. Low banks are scattered
throughout the estuary, but high banks and bluffs are common, particularly along the
southwestern shoreline. Cypress-gum swamp forest is the dominant shoreline near the Town of
Washington. Aquatic macrophytes are prevalent along much of the shallow, sandy shoreline, and
include stands of widgeon grass (Ruppia maritima) and pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.).

Total drainage basin of the Pamlico River within the NCPC Tract is 278 acres and represented by
an unnamed tributary designated UP1 which contains a total of 3,059 linear feet (782 linear feet
of Public Trust Areas, 271 linear feet of perennial, and 2,006 linear feet of intermittent streams).
The Bonnerton and the S33 Tracts contain no areas or stream segments which drain directly to
the Pamlico River.


3.6.1.2      South Creek
South Creek is a major tributary of the Pamlico River estuary and is located approximately 11
miles from the Pamlico Sound on the south side of the Pamlico River. It has a drainage basin of
approximately 49,622 acres. The creek is approximately 1-mile wide at the mouth, with an
average width in the lower reaches of 0.5-mile. It narrows dramatically near Deephole Point,
where it averages 60 feet in width. South Creek extends upstream in a southwesterly direction
crossing Secondary Road (SR) 1923, until it becomes a channelized stream. South of SR 1926,
South Creek takes a sharp western turn and continues parallel to SR 1926. The headwaters of
South Creek along the Suffolk scarp alternate between swamp, channelized stream, and
unchannelized stream.

From its source to a point 0.75 mile downstream of SR 1924, it is classified a C Sw NSW stream.
From that point to Deephole Point (the demarcation for inland/coastal waters), it is classified SC
NSW. Below Deephole Point to its confluence with the Pamlico River it is a Class SA HQW NSW
stream, designated as a Special Secondary Nursery Area (SNA) by the NCDENR, North Carolina
Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) [15 NCAC 3R.0005(1)(b) and (c)]. Since January 2006,
portions of South Creek have been designated 303(d) impaired waters and closed to shellfishing
due to fecal coliform from an unknown source.

Major tributaries of South Creek are Bond, Long, Short, and Little Creeks entering from the east,
and Tooley, Drinkwater, Jacobs, Jacks, Whitehurst, and Bailey Creeks entering from the west.
South Creek is a brackish to freshwater stream in the upper reaches, but is classified as
mesohaline in the lower reaches. Several unnamed tributaries (UTs) and Sibyl Creek also
contribute smaller components of flow into South Creek (reference Section 3.6.15). Sediments of
South Creek are sandy along the shoreline, but tend to be muddy and contain low to moderate
organics near the channel (CZR Incorporated 1990).

The channelized portions of South Creek run through primarily hardwood and mixed pine
hardwood forest, as well as bottomland hardwood in the vicinity of SR 1925. Vegetation along
the shoreline above NC 33 is a mixture of saw grass (Cladium jamaicense), silverling or
groundsel-tree (Baccharis halimifolia), and cattail (Typha latifolia). Further downstream these
communities transition to cordgrass and black needle rush. Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV)
(widgeon grass) is occasionally heavy within the lower portions of South Creek. Filamentous
algae (Enteromorpha spp.) are frequently encountered along the sandy shoreline.



PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS           3-30                               September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
Excluding the larger named creeks described in the sections below, the total drainage basin of
South Creek within the project area includes 734 acres within the NCPC Tract and 2,388 acres
within the S33 Tract. Within the NCPC Tract, unnamed tributaries draining into South Creek,
along with the small stream called Sibyl Creek, and a wetland creation area called PAII, comprise
a total of 6,796 linear feet of stream (5,208 linear feet of Public Trust Areas, 1,243 linear feet of
perennial, and 345 linear feet of intermittent streams). The Bonnerton Tract contains no stream
segments of South Creek or its unnamed tributaries or areas which drain to South Creek.


3.6.1.3      Bailey Creek
Bailey Creek is a narrow, fresh to brackish-water tributary of South Creek located approximately
670 yards above the coastal/inland waters demarcation (Deephole Point). The drainage area for
Bailey Creek is 2,922 acres in the study area. The size of the drainage combined with the creek's
distance from the more saline Pamlico River creates frequent freshwater conditions. Bailey
Creek is classified as a C Sw NSW stream near the headwaters and a SC NSW stream in the
lower reaches below the Norfolk Southern Railroad until it flows into South Creek.

Bordering much of lower Bailey Creek is a brackish marsh dominated by big cordgrass near the
mouth and sawgrass in the upper reaches. Bottom sediments are high in organics and range
from mud to sandy mud in texture. No SAV was found in the highly turbid water during 1988-
1989 field investigations.

In the early and mid- 1990s PCS mined about 2,695 acres in the central portion of the study area
(Figure 1-2). This area is almost exclusively upland, but includes the headwaters of Bailey Creek.
The headwaters of Bailey Creek within this area were highly channelized and contained one
small area of adjacent wetlands. In March 1996, the Corps authorized the relocation of 0.82 acre
of the channel and the filling of 0.23 acre of wetlands so that mining could continue. This
relocation included creation of a new 0.9-acre channel and 4.8 acres of adjacent wetlands.

Total drainage basin of Bailey Creek within the Bonnerton Tract is 81 acres and 1,308 acres are
contained within the S33 Tract. The S33 Tract contains a total of 10,159 linear feet of Bailey
Creek (6,714 linear feet of perennial and 3,445 linear feet of intermittent streams). The
Bonnerton Tract contains no stream segment of Bailey Creek and the NCPC Tract contains no
stream segment of Bailey Creek or any areas which drain into Bailey Creek.


3.6.1.4      Whitehurst Creek
This brackish-water tributary enters South Creek from the west near the coastal/inland waters
demarcation. It historically was one of the largest drainages emptying into South Creek.
Historically, the drainage area of Whitehurst Creek totaled approximately 3,328 acres but was
reduced to 654 acres in the study area by ongoing mine development. Salinity in Whitehurst
Creek is influenced by local rainfall as well as the wind-driven tides of the Pamlico River. Salinity
values fluctuate from freshwater to high mesohaline conditions. Presence of SAV is common,
with widgeon grass often abundant in the mid to upper reaches, especially along small rivulets.
Horned pondweed (Zannichellia palustris) is present occasionally.

In the vicinity of the mouth, loblolly and long-leaf pine are prevalent at the water's edge.
Upstream from the mouth a transition zone of brackish marsh is dominated by needle rush.
Toward the headwaters and along NC Highway 306, cattail, saw grass, and silverling are
common. It is classified as a C Sw NSW stream from its source to SR 1940 (currently NC
Highway 306), and a SA HQW NSW stream from that point to South Creek. Sediments are high
in organic content, with sandy mud to muddy substrates frequently comprising 20 to 25 percent
organics. Since January 2006, portions of Whitehurst Creek have been designated 303(d)
impaired waters and closed to shellfishing due to fecal coliform from an unknown source.


PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS            3-31                               September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
In the early and mid-1990s PCS mined about 2,695 acres in the central and eastern portion of the
study area (Figure 1-2). This area is almost exclusively upland, but includes the headwaters of
Whitehurst Creek. The headwaters of Whitehurst Creek within this area consisted of a
channelized stream channel with no adjacent wetlands. In order to allow the continued mining of
the upland block, the Corps permitted the relocation of the channel in 1992 and again in 1995. In
each case, the Nationwide Permit number 26 was used for stream impacts of 0.6-acre and 0.7-
acre of stream, respectively. The temporary mitigation channels included water quality
enhancement features including sediment ponds and vegetative bank stabilization. In 1998 the
Whitehurst Creek West Prong permanent mitigation channel was constructed through reclaimed
land located in the approximate location of the historic upper Whitehurst Creek. The West Prong
mitigation channel was connected to the undisturbed segment of Whitehurst Creek in September
2002.

Total drainage basin of Whitehurst Creek within the NCPC Tract is 42 acres and it contains 639
linear feet of perennial stream. The Bonnerton and S33 Tracts contain no stream segments of
Whitehurst Creek or areas which drain into Whitehurst Creek.


3.6.1.5      Jacks Creek
This short, narrow tributary of South Creek enters from the west approximately 0.5-mile below the
coastal/inland waters line. It drains 328 acres of marsh, disturbed-herbaceous assemblage,
bottomland hardwood forest, and pine forest in the study area. It is a Class C NSW stream (see
Table 3-6) from its source to a point 0.2-mile (0.3-kilometer) downstream of SR 1942, and a SA
HQW NSW stream from that point to its confluence with South Creek. Jacks Creek is designated
a Primary Nursery Area (PNA) by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC).
Since January 2006, portions of Jacks Creek have been designated 303(d) impaired waters and
closed to shellfishing due to fecal coliform from an unknown source.

Downstream reaches of Jacks Creek are bordered by a brackish marsh of primarily needle rush
interspersed with stands of big cordgrass. Upstream marshes are dominated by big cordgrass
and saw grass, eventually giving way to bottomland hardwood forest dominated by green ash
(Fraxinus pennsylvanica) and water oak. Sediments are high in organic content and are muddy
near the headwaters and sandy mud near the mouth. Dense beds of the submerged macrophyte
widgeon grass are present throughout much of the year and horned pondweed appears
occasionally. Filamentous algae are present and sometimes become dense during the cooler
months, with Ectocarpus spp. and Enteromorpha spp. common.

In 2000, the mine advanced through the headwaters of Jacks Creek (Figure 1-2). Water quality
and quantity has been monitored in several stations in Jacks Creek in order to determine the
potential effects of drainage basin reduction. Water quality monitoring from May 1999 through
December 2004 has detected no significant change in water quality. Parameters measured
include: temperature, depth, salinity, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, total dissolved
phosphorus, dissolved orthophosphate, ammonia nitrogen, nitrate nitrogen, and dissolved
Kjeldahl nitrogen (CZR Incorporated et al. 2005). Although baseline data prior to mine impacts
was limited less than a year for hydrology, flow, and water quality parameters, data through 2004
appear to indicate that flow is not the main factor controlling water levels, most of the time.
Significant flow in the creek channels occurred frequently but always in conjunction with rainfall,
making conclusions about the influence of flow difficult. Large flow events appear to cause or
contribute to short-term peaks in surface water. However, because these peaks are infrequent
and short-lived, it is not anticipated that reduction in frequency or magnitude of these peaks
would have a major impact on the hydrology of the wetlands. Because of the rarity of wetland
water level fluctuations that can be attributed directly to flow, post-drainage basin reduction
monitoring on Jacks Creek has not detected any obvious change in the pattern of flow-induced
water level peaks. Total drainage basin of Jacks Creek within the NCPC Tract is 310 acres
including a total of 7,685 linear feet of stream (3,329 linear feet of Public Trust Areas, 1.197 linear


PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS             3-32                               September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
feet of perennial, and 3,159 linear feet of intermittent streams). The Bonnerton and S33 Tracts
contain no areas which drain into Jacks Creek.


3.6.1.6      Jacobs Creek
Located approximately 4 miles from the mouth of South Creek, this small, shallow creek is typical
of many of the South Creek tributaries. Jacobs Creek has a small drainage basin of only 418
acres in the study area. Salinity is influenced more by wind tides than local runoff. This creek is
designated a C NSW classification from its source to a point 0.5 mile above the mouth, and is
classified SA HQW NSW below that point. Jacobs Creek is designated a PNA by the NCWRC.
Since January 2006, portions of Jacobs Creek have been designated 303(d) impaired waters and
closed to shellfishing due to fecal coliform from an unknown source.

Vegetation in the vicinity of the mouth is dominated by needle rush, salt grass, and saw grass.
Along the headwaters, black needle rush and salt-marsh bulrush (Scirpus robustus) are common.
Marsh vegetation eventually gives way to wooded banks dominated by green ash and water oak.
Sediments tend to be muddy along the headwaters and sandy mud along the mouth; all are high
in organics. Open water areas are frequently covered with dense mats of rooted, submerged
macrophytes, including widgeon grass, Eurasian water-milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), and
occasionally, horned pondweed.

In 1997 a permit was issued by the Corps for phosphate mining on the NCPC Tract. The
permitted mine advance will temporarily reduce the drainage basin area for Jacobs Creek. Total
drainage basin of Jacobs Creek within the NCPC Tract is 406 acres and contains a total of
11,168 linear feet of stream (5,002 linear feet of Public Trust Areas, 1,811 linear feet of perennial,
and 4,355 linear feet of intermittent streams). The Bonnerton and S33 Tracts contain no areas
which drain into Jacobs Creek.


3.6.1.7      Drinkwater Creek
The mouth of Drinkwater Creek enters Jacobs Creek at its confluence with South Creek. It is
similar to Jacobs Creek in size, vegetative cover, and drainage area size (418 acres) in the study
area. Drinkwater Creek is a Class C NSW stream 0.5 mile upstream of its mouth and a SA HQW
NSW stream below that point. Bottom sediments are muddy and high in organics. Rooted
macrophytes, including widgeon grass and Eurasian water-milfoil, often cover much of the upper
half of the creek. Since January 2006, portions of Drinkwater Creek have been designated
303(d) impaired waters and closed to shellfishing due to fecal coliform from an unknown source.

Total drainage basin of Drinkwater Creek within the NCPC Tract is 418 acres including a total of
8,362 linear feet of stream (5,741 linear feet of Public Trust Areas, 508 linear feet of perennial,
and 2,113 linear feet of intermittent streams). The Bonnerton and S33 Tracts contain no stream
segments of Drinkwater Creek or areas which drain into Drinkwater Creek.


3.6.1.8      Tooley Creek
Tooley Creek is a shallow tributary that enters South Creek from the west approximately 3 miles
from the Pamlico River. It has a relatively small drainage area of only 444 acres in the study
area. Salinity tends to be influenced more by wind tides and/or freshwater flushing from the Tar-
Pamlico than by localized runoff. Similar to other tributaries near the mouth of South Creek,
Tooley Creek is classified as a Class C NSW stream from its source to a point 0.5 mile below SR
1945, and a Class SA HQW NSW stream beyond that point. NCWRC has designated this creek
a PNA. Since January 2006, portions of Tooley Creek have been designated 303(d) impaired
waters and closed to shellfishing due to fecal coliform from an unknown source.



PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS            3-33                                September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
Vegetation along the mouth consists primarily of a marsh fringe of big cordgrass and needle rush,
with small stands of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) near the water's edge. Farther upstream, the
marsh fringe is interspersed with silverling, sawgrass, and wax myrtle (Cerothamnus cerifera).
The headwaters drain pine plantations, hardwood forests, and agricultural lands.

Creek bottom substrate textures range from sandy mud to mud with moderate amounts of
organics. Submerged aquatic vegetation can be dense, with widgeon grass, Eurasian water-
milfoil, and filamentous algae frequently forming mats.

In 1997, a permit was issued by the Corps for phosphate mining on the NCPC Tract. The
permitted mine advance will temporarily and slightly reduce the drainage basin area for Tooley
Creek. In compliance with a condition of that permit, pre-drainage basin reduction baseline
vegetation, fish, and benthic parameters were monitored from 1998 through 2001, water quality
was monitored in several stations in Tooley Creek from 1999 through June 2002, and baseline
water quantity was monitored from 1999 through April 2004. When the mine advance begins to
impact the Tooley Creek drainage basin, post-reduction monitoring will occur.

Total drainage basin of Tooley Creek within the NCPC Tract is 429 acres and it contains a total of
9,421 linear feet of stream (6,323 linear feet of Public Trust Areas, 918 linear feet of perennial,
and 2,180 linear feet of intermittent stream). The Bonnerton and S33 Tracts contain no stream
segments of Tooley Creek or areas which drain into Tooley Creek.


3.6.1.9      Huddles Cut
This shallow, narrow, mesohaline drainage is located adjacent to the Aurora-Bayview ferry
landing on the south shore of the Pamlico River. It drains approximately 756 acres in the study
area. Sediments near the mouth are coarse sand with little organics, while those in the
headwaters are muddy with moderate organic content. Presence of SAV in the highly turbid and
tannin-stained waters is unusual. Huddles Cut is classified a SC NSW stream in its entirety.

Shoreline vegetation is dominated by big cordgrass near the mouth, but becomes dominated by
saw grass and phragmites or common reed (Phragmites australis) further upstream and forested
wetland at the origin. This system drains bottomland hardwoods, pine plantations, shrub/scrub
assemblage, and mixed pine-hardwood forest.

In 1997 a permit was issued by the Corps for phosphate mining on the NCPC Tract. The
permitted mine advance will temporarily reduce the drainage basin area for Huddles Cut. In
compliance with a condition of that permit, pre-drainage basin reduction baseline vegetation, fish,
and benthic parameters were monitored from 1998 through 2001, water quality was monitored in
several stations in Huddles Cut from 1999 through June 2002, and baseline water quantity was
monitored from 1999 through April 2004. When the mine advance begins to impact the Huddles
Cut drainage basin, post-reduction monitoring will occur.

Total drainage basin of Huddles Cut within the NCPC Tract is 707 acres and it contains 7,584
linear feet of stream (4,343 linear feet of Public Trust Areas, 184 linear feet of perennial, and
3,057 linear feet of intermittent streams). The Bonnerton and S33 Tracts contain no stream
segments of Huddles Cut or areas which drain into Huddles Cut.


3.6.1.10 Huddy Gut
Huddy Gut is located just over a mile downriver of the Aurora-Bayview Ferry and drains
approximately 392 acres of land consisting predominantly of brackish marsh and pine plantations
with areas of bottomland hardwood and mixed forest in its upper drainage. Huddy Gut is
classified a SC NSW stream in its entirety and drains into the Pamlico River.


PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS           3-34                              September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
Total drainage basin of Huddy Gut within the NCPC Tract is 284 acres and it contains 814 linear
feet of perennial stream. Bonnerton and S33 Tracts contain no stream segments of Huddy Gut or
areas which drain into Huddy Gut.

3.6.1.11     Durham Creek
Durham Creek is a major tributary of the Pamlico River estuary and is located on the south side
of the Pamlico River approximately 20 miles upriver from the mouth. It has the largest drainage
basin of all tributaries within the study area, draining over 41,543 acres. This brackish to
freshwater creek is approximately 12.5 miles long and is nearly 2,000 feet wide at the mouth,
tapering to a width of about 50 feet roughly 4 miles upstream at SR 1936. From its origin to a
point 2 miles upstream from Tan Swamp, this black-water swamp drainage stream is classified C
NSW. From that point to its confluence with the Pamlico River, it is a Class SC NSW stream.

Three tributaries drain into Durham Creek; Porter Creek, entering from the southeast near the
mouth, and Brown and Crawford Mill Runs, entering from the north. Sediments range from a mud
texture at mid-channel to sandy along the shoreline. The muddy-type substrates are moderate in
organic content, while the sandy sediments are typically low in organics. Shoreline vegetation in
the lower reaches is predominantly needle rush. Upriver near Brown Run, the marsh border
widens and consists of big cordgrass, needle rush, and saw grass. In the vicinity of SR 1936, the
marsh fringe is replaced by a bottomland hardwood forest dominated by black gum, red maple,
and water oak.

SAV frequently occurs in much of the open water area in the upper reaches. Stands of widgeon
grass, pondweeds, and water nymphs (Najas spp.) are common. Downstream, near Porter
Creek, tapegrass (Vallisneria americana) is present in dense beds.

Total drainage basin of Durham Creek within the Bonnerton Tract is 751 acres and it contains
2,430 linear feet of intermittent stream. The NCPC and S33 Tracts contain no stream segments
of Durham Creek or areas which drain into Durham Creek.


3.6.1.12     Porter Creek
This moderately sized tributary of Durham Creek enters from the southeast approximately 1 mile
from the mouth. Drainage in this system has been reduced by mining activity along the east
bank. It presently drains approximately 2,618 acres. Average sampling station water depth was
approximately 4.0 feet. Porter Creek is classified a C Sw NSW stream from its source to SR
1936, and a SC NSW stream from that point to Durham Creek. NCWRC has designated Porter
Creek as a PNA.

Vegetation along the mouth is a combination of low banks with mixed pines and hardwoods, and
a brackish marsh dominated by needle rush. Upstream, cattail, saw grass, silverling, and
cordgrasses become more prevalent. Porter Creek drains bottomland forest and agricultural
fields.

Sediments are typically mud to sandy mud in texture and are relatively high in organics. SAV
occurs in dense stands. Widgeon grass is dominant in most of the creeks, but tapegrass is more
common along the mouth.

Total drainage basin of Porter Creek within the Bonnerton Tract is 1,973 acres and it contains
14,676 linear feet of stream (1,876 linear feet of Public Trust Areas, 8,148 linear feet of perennial,
and 4,652 linear feet of intermittent streams). The NCPC and S33 Tracts contain no stream
segments of Porter Creek or areas which drain into Porter Creek.




PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS            3-35                                September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
3.6.1.13     Broomfield Swamp Creek
Broomfield Swamp Creek is a tributary of South Creek draining approximately 2,948 acres of
primarily farmland in the study area. The headwaters are located just north of SR 1923 between
SR 1937 and SR 1938. Broomfield Swamp Creek flows parallel to SR 1923 until it runs in to
South Creek east of the town of Idalia. Broomfield Swamp Creek is designated C Sw NSW from
its origin to South Creek.

Most of Broomfield Swamp Creek is channelized and runs through hardwood, pine, pine
plantation, and mixed pine hardwood forests, as well as some herbaceous and bottomland
hardwood systems.

In-stream habitat in Broomfield Swamp Creek was characterized by CZR in the summer of 2002.
The creek has physical characteristics typical of low gradient coastal plain streams. Riffle-pool
sequences are generally absent, and debris dams, snags, and islands are common. The
substrate of the headwaters is sand and silt, with an increasing amount of silt and muck toward
South Creek. Substrates often contain a significant amount of leaf and coarse woody debris,
while hard clay bottom and pebble are less common. Depth ranges from a few inches in the
headwaters to greater than 6 feet further downstream. The riparian zone is either entirely
hardwood forest or hardwood bordering one side of the stream and unpaved spoil access road
with weed and shrub species on the other side. Therefore, significant in-stream cover is present
on at least one side.

Total drainage basin of Broomfield Swamp Creek within the S33 Tract is 2,294 acres and it
contains 9,209 linear feet of stream (6,118 linear feet of Public Trust Areas, 1.512 linear feet of
perennial, and 1,579 linear feet of intermittent streams). The NCPC and Bonnerton Tracts
contain no stream segments of Broomfield Swamp Creek or areas which drain into Broomfield
Swamp Creek.


3.6.1.14     Cypress Run
Cypress Run is a channelized tributary of South Creek with a drainage basin of approximately
3,308 acres in the study area. The creek originates between SR 1929 and SR 1927 and flows
southeast to South Creek. Cypress Run is designated C Sw NSW from its origin to South Creek.

Most of Cypress Run drains through hardwood and mixed pine/hardwood forest. Cypress Run
has water depth, substrate, and riparian characteristics similar to Broomfield Swamp. The
substrate of the headwaters is sand, silt, and leaf and woody material, with debris dams, snags,
and islands also common.

Total drainage basin of Cypress Run within the S33 Tract is 2,695 acres and it contains 12,119
linear feet of stream (3,545 linear feet of Public Trust Areas and 8,574 linear feet of perennial
stream). The NCPC and Bonnerton Tracts contain no stream segments of Cypress Run or areas
which drain into Cypress Run.


3.6.1.15     Other Drainages
Sibyl Creek, a narrow, short creek downstream from Jacks Creek, and several unnamed
tributaries to South Creek are also present on the NCPC Tract. The largest are UT 4 and UT 5,
which are located north of Sandy Landing Road (SR 1945) and drain 84 acres and 166 acres,
respectively. In addition, two created estuarine creeks, PA I and PA II, are present just north of
the NCPC barge slip on the shore of South Creek. PA1 is included within Drinkwater Creek
basin. UT 2 and UT 3 are small tributaries to South Creek located between Sandy Landing Road
and Tooley Creek. Sibyl Creek, UT1, and UT6 are also small tributaries located south of PA I
and PA II. Acreages and linear feet of these drainages have been included in the description of

PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS           3-36                              September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
South Creek (reference 3.6.1.2). Bonnerton contains several unnamed tributaries to Porter Creek
and Durham Creek and each have been included in the larger creek drainage basins as
appropriate. There are unnamed drainages off the east side of the Suffolk Scarp in the S33 Tract
connected via agricultural ditches to either Bailey Creek or South Creek and have been included
in those drainage basins as appropriate.


3.6.2     Water Quality
Water quality standards set by NCDWQ for Tidal Saltwater Classifications SA, SC, and SB are
given in Table 3-8. Several data sources are available for describing water quality in the study
area. First, Dr. Donald Stanley of East Carolina University's Institute for Coastal and Marine
Resources has collected biweekly monitoring water samples from the Pamlico River since 1975
(Figure 3-12). In addition, as described in the 1996 FEIS (Corps 1996), a year-long (November
1988 through October 1989) water quality and sediment chemistry sampling program was
conducted at 57 stations in the Pamlico River and several tributary creeks located in the
proposed mining blocks. The data were analyzed and summarized in "Tg Inc. Mine Continuation
DEIS Study--Water Quality and Sediment Data Analyses" (Stanley 1990).

More recent hydrographic data for the NCPC Tract have been collected pursuant to the current
permit issued in 1997 by the Corps for continued phosphate mining on the NCPC Tract. Because
the permitted mine advance will temporarily reduce the drainage basin area for Jacks Creek,
Huddles Cut, and Tooley Creek, permit conditions required that PCS monitor water quality in
these tributaries. Accordingly, PCS, working through its consultants CZR, Dr. Wayne Skaggs of
North Carolina State University, and Dr. Donald Stanley, have monitored flow, salinity, wetland
hydrology, and water quality in the headwaters and mid-reaches of Jacks Creek for one year of
pre-reduction and four years post-reduction (1999-2004), Tooley Creek for four years pre-
reduction (1999-2002), and Huddles Cut for four years pre-reduction (1999-2002). Only one year
of pre-reduction data could be collected in Jacks Creek because of the location of the mine at the
time monitoring was required. Complete hydrographic data collected during the 1998-2004
monitoring period (the 2005 report is in preparation) can be found in a series of seven annual
reports (CZR Incorporated et al. 1998 annually through 2005). Post-reduction monitoring will
begin in Tooley Creek and in Huddles Cut as the currently permitted mine advance impacts their
watersheds.

Stanley’s summary conclusion for Jacks Creek states that overall there have been no significant
changes in water quality in Jacks Creek during the study period (June 1999-December 2005) and
that water quality in this creek is about what would be expected for such an ecosystem.
Ammonium nitrogen and dissolved organic nitrogen concentrations are relatively high, in
comparison to concentrations farther down the creek and in South Creek and the Pamlico River.
But concentrations of nitrate, the more oxidized inorganic nitrogen fraction, are relatively low in
the creek. The high ammonium and low nitrate, along with low dissolved oxygen concentrations,
suggest that nitrogen dynamics in the creek are dominated by decomposition processes.
Inorganic phosphorus levels are also relatively high, as would be expected in such an
environment. Despite the high nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the creek, chlorophyll a levels
were usually not higher than in South Creek or the Pamlico River. Shading and flushing probably
limit phytoplankton growth in the creek.


3.6.2.1       Hydrology and Tides
South and Durham Creeks and their tributaries drain 66,234 acres of Beaufort County south of
the Pamlico River estuary (Figure 3-3). Individual tributary drainage areas along the west side of
South Creek vary in size by almost an order of magnitude. In contrast to the regular, strong lunar
tidal fluctuations in many estuaries, tidal exchange in this system is greatly lessened by the Outer
Banks, a chain of barrier islands fringing the North Carolina coast. Nevertheless, water levels
can vary substantially due to irregular changes in wind direction and force.

PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS           3-37                               September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
In the Pamlico River estuary, flushing rates vary as much as an order of magnitude, depending
on the inflow from the Tar River (Nixon 1989). These rates are difficult to calculate due to much
of the basin (30 percent) consisting of low-lying land (Hobbie 1974). The total volume of water in
the estuary has been estimated at two billion cubic meters (Giese et al. 1979). Vertical mixing
and circulation of the Pamlico is dependent on the wind (Nixon 1989). Summer prevailing winds
typically blow northeasterly or southwesterly across the channel and are responsible for most of
the vertical mixing.

Flow data collected during NCPC stream monitoring (1998-2005) has varied greatly during the
monitoring period, reflecting the prolonged low rainfall of 2001 to 2002 and the above average
rainfall of 2003. The headwaters of most South Creek tributaries are intermittent streams.
Monitoring data suggests that outflow from South Creek tributaries occurs when the water table
was at or close to the soil surface indicating that most of the outflow occurred as surface runoff or
very shallow subsurface flow. Inflow is also an important hydrologic component. Water levels in
South Creek tributaries are influenced by both lunar and wind tides as evidenced by large
variations in salinity and water level that cannot be attributed to rainfall and runoff alone.

South Creek and its tributaries have been studied more extensively than Durham Creek.
However, water quality information gathered during the DEIS study period (November 1988 to
October 1989) indicate that at any given time, differences between Durham Creek and South
Creek are usually minor (Stanley 1990).


3.6.2.2      Temperature, Salinity, pH, and Turbidity
In a normal year, surface water temperatures for all waterbodies in the study area vary between
39° Fahrenheit in January and February to about 86° Fahrenheit during June and July (Stanley,
unpublished data 2003). While protected, shallow, tributary creeks cool and warm faster than
other areas; there are no spatial patterns in temperature on a given day. Vertical temperature
stratification is not common, but does occur at times in the deeper areas, usually in conjunction
with salinity stratification.

Monthly salinity in the Pamlico River, South Creek, and Durham Creek are very similar (CZR
Incorporated et al. 2004; Stanley, unpublished data 2004). Extended droughts, such as those
that occurred during 1988-1989 and 2001-2002 can result in abnormally high salinities in Durham
Creek, South Creek and their tributaries. Salinities as high as 18 to 20 ppt were measured near
the mouth of South Creek in 1988 and 2002. During normal years, highest salinities occur in late
fall and lowest salinities occur in the spring. This pattern is caused more by differences in
evapotranspiration and Tar River discharge from the drainage areas than by differences in local
precipitation rates (Brinson et al. 1985; CZR Incorporated et al. 1999-2005).

Water quality monitoring in the study area suggests that long-term salinity fluctuations in the
Pamlico River, Durham Creek, and South Creek and its tributaries are controlled mainly by Tar
River discharge, while wind tides and freshwater runoff from the creek drainage area are the
factors contributing to short-term changes in salinity (Stanley 1990; CZR Incorporated 1994; CZR
Incorporated et al. 2002). Normally, salinities range from approximately 10 ppt at the mouth of
South Creek to freshwater (0 ppt) at the upper end of the creek and in some of the upper
tributaries. Water quality monitoring in NCPC indicates that this within-creek variation, especially
in the headwaters, is controlled primarily by wind tides and local runoff; while the influence of
these factors is less pronounced further downstream (CZR Incorporated et al. 1999-2005). Thus,
the lowest salinities are in the headwaters of tributaries that have relatively large watersheds, and
also are farthest away from the Pamlico River (i.e. Bailey and Whitehurst Creeks, Cypress Run
and Broomfield Swamp Creek). Overall, however, the headwaters of tributary creeks are subject
to highly variable salinity levels.




PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS            3-38                               September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
Although recent water quality data from upper Durham Creek and Porter Creek do not exist,
salinity in these areas is likely to exhibit spatial patterns similar to those of South Creek and its
tributaries. However, Porter Creek may vary somewhat from natural conditions because PCS
mining operations take up much of its eastern drainage basin.

Most instances of water column stratification occur in the deeper waters of the Pamlico River and
in Durham, South, and Bond Creeks. Since salinity has more of an effect on water density than
does temperature, the most intense stratification is associated with high vertical salinity gradients.
Stratification in the South Creek vicinity can occur at any time of the year, although an episode
usually lasts no more than a few days. Typically, stratification events occur following increased
precipitation, resulting in a lens of freshwater running out over saltwater that encroached from
Pamlico Sound during the preceding days or weeks of low freshwater inflow.

The pH in Durham Creek and South Creek normally ranges between 6.5 and 8.0. It is normal for
pH in their tributary creeks to range between 6.0 and 9.0 (Stanley 1990). In general there is a
direct correlation between pH and salinity. Accordingly, pH is often lower in the tributaries further
away from the Pamlico River. For example, in the 1988-1989 study, Bailey, Whitehurst, and
Jacks Creeks had the lowest median pH values, 6.4, 6.7, and 6.9, respectively (Stanley 1990).
Between 1999 and 2002, pH in Tooley Creek, Jacks Creek, and Huddles Cut ranged from
approximately 5.5 to 8.5 with the lowest values generally occurring during winter, (CZR
Incorporated et al. 2003). Seasonally, pH is influenced by salinity and primary production such
that pH is lowest during early spring and peaks during the summer months.

During the 1988-1989 study, Secchi depths taken to assess turbidity ranged from 1.1 to 1.6 feet
in shallow creeks and 1.9 to 2.4 feet in deeper creeks and the Pamlico River. Usually the Secchi
depth was less than the water column depth. Turbidity in South Creek, Durham Creek and their
tributaries was usually in the range of 1.4 to 10 Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU), with an
overall range of less than 1 NTU to 35 NTU. The medians did not differ significantly from creek to
creek (Stanley 1990). The Huddles Cut median turbidity was somewhat higher, 8 NTU, which is
consistent with the lower median Secchi depth found there (Stanley 1990). NCPC monitoring has
recorded turbidities over 150 NTU; however, most readings are less than 50 NTU (CZR
Incorporated et al. 2003).


3.6.2.3      Nutrients
As in other estuarine systems, a major process in the Pamlico River Estuary is the transformation
and removal of nutrients. Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations in South Creek are
controlled by a combination of inputs from the South Creek watershed and the Pamlico River,
dilution by Pamlico Sound water, and biological uptake and recycling. Most of the variability in N
and P in this area is temporal rather than spatial. For example, nitrate concentrations for 1988-
1989 study samples with salinity greater than 7 ppt were all less than 0.5 milligrams per liter
(mg/l). Higher nitrates were always associated with low salinities (Stanley 1990). Thus, in the
absence of point source loadings, saline dilution of high nitrate freshwater is the principal factor
regulating N and P concentrations.

Ammonia-nitrogen (NH4-N) in the estuary is not as variable as nitrate (NO3-N), probably because
ammonia, unlike nitrate, is produced within the estuary in large quantities by decomposition
processes. Generally speaking, NH4-N concentrations are usually less than 0.15 mg/l (Stanley
1988, 1990; CZR Incorporated et al. 2002). South Creek, Durham Creek and Porter Creek had
similar NH4-N in the DEIS study (Stanley 1990). South Creek had higher NH4-N concentrations
than its tributaries with the exception of Whitehurst Creek and Bailey Creek, which had higher
median NH4-N concentrations than South Creek and the other tributary creeks. NO3-N was below
the detection limit of 0.05 mg/l at most sites except for Bailey Creek and Whitehurst Creek
(Stanley 1990).



PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS            3-39                                September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
Between 1999 and 2002, mean monthly NH4-N and NO3-N in Tooley Creek, Jacks Creek, and
Huddles Cut was generally less than 0.3 mg/l and 0.05 mg/l, respectively (CZR Incorporated et al.
2003). The spring NH4-N and NO3-N peaks found in these creeks are thought to result from
rainfall and the resulting freshwater inputs. In the Pamlico River and Durham Creek, both N
fractions appear to peak in fall and winter and reach the lowest concentrations in spring and
summer (Stanley, unpublished data 2004). Between 1996 and 2003, NH4-N and NO3-N
concentrations in the Pamlico River and Durham Creek were similar and did not appear to
increase during this sampling period. In fact, the annual peaks in NO3-N concentrations appear to
have decreased since 2001 (Stanley, unpublished data 2004).

Dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) is one of the most abundant N fractions in estuarine water.
Median DON levels for the creeks sampled during the previous DEIS study period (November
1988 to October 1989) were approximately 1 mg N/l (Stanley 1990) with slightly higher levels in
Bailey Creek, Huddles Cut, and Whitehurst Creek. Particulate nitrogen (PN) in the estuary is
usually less concentrated than DON, but more abundant than NO3-N or NH4-N. Evidently, in situ
phytoplankton production is an important, but not sole, source of particulate N and P in the water
column, based on the positive correlations seen between chlorophyll a and particulate forms of
the nutrients (Davis et al. 1985a, Stanley 1988).

Filterable reactive phosphorus (FRP) (frequently referred to as orthophosphate P) in South
Creek, as in many other estuaries, is normally highest during the late summer and lowest in the
winter (D’Elia 1987; Stanley, unpublished data 2004). This pattern is thought to be driven by
changes in the balance between uptake and release of P by the sediments in these systems
(Kuenzler et al. 1984; Stanley 1988). In 1988-1989, FRP was below 0.3 mg/l at all stations
except Huddles Cut, which had a relatively high (median 0.5 mg/l) FRP concentration compared
to Durham Creek, South Creek and their tributaries (average median near 0.1 mg/l). Huddles Cut
also had a relatively high median particulate phosphorus (PP) concentration (0.2 mg/l) compared
to medians in the tributaries of South Creek (approximating 0.12 mg/l). Highest PP levels
occurred during the summer, which is indicative of PP association with phytoplankton (Stanley
1990).

NCPC water quality data from 1999 to 2002 indicate that FRP is usually less than 0.4 mg/l year
round in Jacks Creek, Tooley Creek, and Huddles Cut and that Huddles Cut continues to have
somewhat higher FRP than South Creek and its tributaries (CZR Incorporated et al. 2003). FRP
levels are similar in the Pamlico River and Durham Creek. Mean monthly FRP in Durham Creek
and the Pamlico River is strongly related to season, and the late summer peaks appear to have
increased since 1999 (Stanley, unpublished data 2004).

The entire Tar-Pamlico River Basin System was designated a Nutrient Sensitive Water System
by the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission (NCEMC) in 1989 based upon
NCDWQ (then known as North Carolina Division of Environmental Management [NCDEM])
recommendations (NCDEM 1989). By the NSW designation, the NCEMC placed limitations on
the nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient discharges. PCS was cited by DEM as historically
contributing 50 percent of the phosphorus nutrient to the Tar-Pamlico River Basin System.
However, DEM noted that PCS would reduce its phosphorus discharge by 90 percent pursuant to
the new water management system required by the NPDES permit effective in 1992 (NCDEM
1989). This system was completed and operational in September 1992. A 96 percent reduction
of phosphorus and a 90 percent reduction of fluoride (over pre-1992 levels) previously discharged
from the PCS complex has been achieved with this new system (Stanley 2006).

Although recommending phosphorus for control, DEM acknowledged that chlorophyll a violations
and excessive growth of phytoplankton occur in the upper section of the Pamlico River estuary
near Washington, considerably upstream of any discharges from PCS's operations (NCDEM
1989). Furthermore, DEM found that:



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Aurora, North Carolina
          After three years of intensive phosphorus monitoring with poor correlation
          between phosphorus concentrations and algal blooms, researchers began to
          focus their attention on nitrogen as the element whose concentration might be
          controlling algal growth. Nitrogen appears to be the major factor limiting
          production in the estuary.

PCS has an extremely small discharge of nitrogen. DEM also noted that a 1987 USEPA study
found that phosphorus added to water samples taken from the Pamlico River near PCS "had no
significant effect" on algal production and that algal growth was directly related to the contribution
of nitrogen (NCDEM 1989). However, Mallin (1994) implicated phosphate inputs from mining as
contributing to this N limitation in the Pamlico River Estuary, but, as noted above, a 96 percent
reduction of phosphorus (over pre-1992 levels) previously discharged from the PCS complex has
been achieved with the new recirculation system implemented by PCS (Stanley 2006).

An extensive evaluation of the available data regarding nutrients in the Pamlico River found that
little or none of the phosphorus contribution from the PCS plant appears to be retained in the
estuary (Nixon 1989). This contribution flows into the Pamlico Sound and subsequently, the
Atlantic Ocean.


3.6.2.4       Organic Carbon, Bacteria, and Biochemical Oxygen Demand
Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations during the period November 1988 to October
1989 ranged between 5 mg/l and 15 mg/l in South Creek, and between 5 mg/l to 25 mg/l in
Durham Creek and Porter Creek (Stanley 1990). There appears to be no particular spatial
pattern in the DOC variability among the creeks.           Particulate organic carbon (POC)
concentrations are estimated to be mostly between 0.2 and 2 mg/l, nearly an order of magnitude
lower than the DOC concentrations. There is higher POC at most stations in the warm-weather
months than during the cold-weather periods (Stanley 1990).

Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) provides a useful index of the degree of impact on aquatic
systems by human sewage, animal waste, storm water runoff, or labile organic materials from
other sources. The BODs in the South Creek area are relatively low. Median values for the
individual creeks and Pamlico River were all less than 5 mg/l. The highest individual sample
BOD value was 8.8 mg/l in Jack's Creek. Values of 8.4 mg/l and 8.6 mg/l were found in the
Pamlico River (Stanley 1990).

Coliform bacteria are another indicator of sewage impacts. Total coliform counts were highly
variable in the 1988-1989 samples, both between creeks and within individual creeks. Median
values for the more frequently sampled South Creek tributaries were around 400/100 milliliters
(ml), except for Whitehurst Creek, where the median was over 2,000/100 ml, the latter value
suggesting a point source input. Median fecal coliform counts ranged between 2.5/100 ml for the
Pamlico River stations, to 300/100 ml in Bailey Creek. The wide ranges in counts at most
stations indicate that a key factor affecting the fecal coliform counts is local drainage from lands
surrounding the smaller creeks. The impact of local runoff is reflected by the increase in fecal
coliform counts from the mouth towards the headwaters of South Creek. This trend was evident
in coliform counts for South Creek and its tributaries (Stanley 1990). As mentioned in Section
3.6.1, as of January 2006, portions of five of the South Creek tributaries and portions of South
Creek itself have been added to the 303(d) impaired waters list due to fecal coliform from an
unknown source.


3.6.2.5       Chlorophyll a
During the 1988-1989 sample period, chlorophyll a concentrations ranged between 1 micrograms
per liter (ug/l) and 110 ug/l in Durham Creek, South Creek and their tributaries, although the


PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS            3-41                                September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
interquartile range (the absolute difference between the upper and lower quartile of the data
range) was much smaller (approximately 5 to 40 ug/l). Medians for these stations were similar,
ranging from 15 to 35 ug/l. In late 1988, chlorophyll a concentration was approximately 10 ug/l.
Concentration experienced a steady rise thereafter, such that by the summer of 1989, chlorophyll
a levels were mostly in the 20 to 70 ug/l range. However, there was considerable spatial
variation, regardless of the time of year (Stanley 1990). Long-term chlorophyll a monitoring in the
Pamlico River has revealed: 1) blooms of algae occur each late winter or early spring, although
median chlorophyll a peaks during summer months; 2) winter blooms occur in the middle reaches
of the estuary, are short-lived, and usually are detected at only a few of the sampling stations
(Hobbie 1974; Stanley 1988); and 3) Tar River flow can play an important role in the timing and
location of winter blooms. In some years, high water inflow from the Tar River flushes out much
of the algal community from the Pamlico River. Nixon (1989) found no relationship between the
size of either the winter-spring or the summer phytoplankton blooms and the discharge of
phosphorus by PCS.

Between 1999 and 2002 chlorophyll a levels at Jacks Creek, Tooley Creek, and Huddles Cut
were generally 3-50 ug/l, similar to the 1988-1989 study (CZR Incorporated et al. 2003). Between
1996 and 2003, chlorophyll a levels in the Pamlico River and Durham Creek were generally less
than 40 ug/l, although peaks of over 80 ug/l were recorded in 2003. Mean monthly chlorophyll a
levels were often higher in Durham Creek during the 1996 to 2003 sampling (Stanley,
unpublished data 2004).


3.6.2.6      Dissolved Oxygen
During the 1994 DEIS study period (November 1988 to October 1989), median dissolved oxygen
(DO) concentrations ranged from 5.7 mg/l in Bailey Creek, up to 8.0 mg/l in the Pamlico River
(Stanley 1990). Much of the temporal variability was due to changing solubility of the gas with
rising and falling temperatures. Typically, surface DO percent saturations were in the 80 to 90
percent range. The notable exception was Bailey Creek near Aurora, where the surface DO
saturations were significantly lower (median near 62 percent). Because most areas in shallow
creeks seldom stratify, bottom water anoxia in these creeks is not a problem, except possibly in
the summer months. However, DO levels may be considerably less than 100 percent saturation
at times, as indicated by the Bailey Creek results and by the substantial numbers of DO readings
below saturation in the other creeks. Oxygen demand exerted by water column and sediment
respiration, as well as chemical oxidation, is greater than the rate of oxygen production in these
instances. Anoxic conditions do occur in the Pamlico River estuary but occur sporadically and
are space limited (Copeland and Gray 1989). The deeper waters of the Pamlico River and
Durham, Bond, and South Creeks can stratify during the summer and remain unmixed for several
days during which most or all of the oxygen in the bottom waters is depleted.

Data from NCPC monitoring (1999-2005) suggest that dissolved oxygen in the creeks is typically
low. Most readings were <8.0 mg/l and quite a few were in the 1-5 mg/l range. There was a
seasonal trend in which the lowest values were in the summer and higher values in November
and December. High decomposition-related respiratory demands and low aeration associated
with sluggish stream flow combine to produce relatively low summertime DO levels. There were
no clear trends in either concentrations or percent saturations when the data were compared by
sampling stations (Jacks Creek, Tooley Creek, and Huddles Cut), nor were there noticeable year-
to-year differences. Between 1996 and 2003, Durham Creek and the Pamlico River displayed
similar seasonal DO patterns and surface DO levels were found to be similar in both locations,
with monthly means rarely less than 5 mg/l (Stanley, unpublished data 2004).


3.6.2.7      Fluoride
Fluoride appears to behave conservatively in estuaries (i.e. its concentration is affected only by
dilution), so that a steady increase in concentration should be expected toward the mouth.

PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS           3-42                              September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
Normally, salt water has a higher fluoride concentration than freshwater. Median total fluoride in
the DEIS project area ranged between 0.3 mg/l and 0.6 mg/l (Stanley 1990). Regression analysis
indicated that fluoride was directly related to salinity, as expected. Huddles Cut had the highest
fluoride concentrations of all areas sampled. Comparison of the data from the 1988-1989 study
with earlier data indicated no significant changes in fluoride (Stanley 1990). More recent data
from the NCPC Tract indicates fluoride levels usually fall between 0.25 and 0.55 mg/l, similar to
the DEIS study (CZR Incorporated et al. 2003).


3.6.2.8      Metals
For the 1996 FEIS, concentrations of water column aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, chromium,
copper, iron, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc were measured from November 1988 to October
1989, in the Pamlico River, South Creek, Durham Creek, and their tributaries located within the
study area. Initial readings were unrealistically high, but improved equipment detection increased
measurement accuracy. Although, certain individual measurements exceeded water quality
standards for many of these metals, metal levels in most samples were at or below the water
quality standards for their North Carolina Waterbody Classification (Stanley 1990).

A 1997 study of metal concentrations in Durham Creek, Porter Creek (upper and lower reaches),
South Creek, and the Pamlico River, revealed that surface water concentrations of arsenic,
cadmium, chromium, copper, and molybdenum were within expected background range. Only
dissolved zinc was found to be elevated (CZR Incorporated, Trefry and Logan 1999).


3.6.2.9      Bottom Sediments
Sediment ammonia nitrogen concentrations in the study area were found to be between 1 and 2
grams per kilogram (g/kg). As often occurs in the highly reducing (i.e. low oxygen) environment
of estuarine sediments, the more oxidized nitrogen fractions were not nearly as concentrated as
ammonia. In fact, there was only about 1 percent as much nitrate in the sediments (5-10
milligrams per kilogram [mg/kg]) as ammonia, and nitrite nitrogen levels were below the detection
limit (1 mg/kg) (Stanley 1990). Bailey Creek's total phosphorus was relatively high in comparison
to the other creeks (200-500 mg/kg), likely due to it being receiving water for 1,308 acres of
agricultural production in the S33 Tract. Median concentrations of total volatile solids range
between 8 and 25 mg/kg for all areas except Huddles Cut, where it is much lower (1 mg/kg). This
may be attributed to the fact that one of the two stations had very sandy sediments and very low
organic matter content. Sediment fluoride concentrations in the creeks typically range from 80 to
200 mg/kg (Stanley 1990).

Organic matter content varies over a wide range (0.22 percent to 25.44 percent) in the general
field sampling area, but shows the expected spatial patterns. Low organic matter normally is
correlated with low sediment metals concentrations. In almost every creek, there is increasing
organic matter upstream from the mouth. Fine-grained, high organic content sediments are most
likely to be found in all quiet areas of the shallow tributary creeks and in all areas of the river and
larger creeks, except those next to shorelines where there is significant wave action such as
Huddles Cut (Stanley 1990).

At most stations sampled during the 1988-1989 study, sediment metals concentrations were
much lower than concentrations in more urbanized US estuaries (Stanley 1990). However, it
appears that sediments in southeastern estuaries, including the Pamlico, are enriched (relative to
crustal composition) with arsenic, cadmium, and, to a lesser degree, with lead and mercury
(Windom et al. 1989). Other studies have shown that phytoplankton and marsh vegetation can
also make a significant contribution to total cadmium concentrations in these estuaries. These
plants concentrate cadmium in their tissues, and the metal is mineralized as the plants die and
decompose. Sediments of the Pamlico-South Creek area, as well as the other southeastern
areas, show no enrichment (or in some cases depletion) of copper, nickel, chromium, or zinc.

PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS             3-43                               September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
More recent sediment metal data (aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron,
molybdenum, selenium, silver, and zinc) were collected in Durham Creek, Porter Creek, South
Creek, and the Pamlico River during a 1997 study of metal enrichment in PCS reclamation areas
(CZR Incorporated, Trefry, and Logan 1999). Also, as part of the NCPC monitoring permit
requirements, concentrations of aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron,
molybdenum, selenium, silver, and zinc were measured every August from 1998 to 2001 in Jacks
Creek, Huddles Cut, and Tooley Creek. In the 1997 study and NCPC monitoring, arsenic,
cadmium, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc were found to be elevated above the level in the
continental crust in most, if not all, of the sampling stations (CZR Incorporated, Trefry, and Logan.
1999). Cadmium levels were similar in the three creeks, ranging from 0.8 ug/g to 2.6 ug/g.
Selenium ranged from 0.4 to1.64 ug/g and displayed no spatial pattern. The elevated cadmium
levels in sediments of South Creek can be evaluated within the context of potentially harmful
effects. No ERL or ERM values are available for selenium.

Measured pesticide and polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations were below quantification limits
at all 57 study stations sampled in January 1989 (Stanley 1990). Radioactivity in the sediments
of the study area is close to background levels for ocean sediments. Gross alpha radioactivity in
the estuary ranges from less than 1 picocurie per gram (pCi/g) to 14.1 pCi/g (reference Section
3.15).

An area of cadmium concentration in bottom sediments has occurred in plumes within the middle
Pamlico River (Riggs et al. 1990), in the vicinity of the PCS discharge (Outfall 010). Additional
discussion of cadmium is found in Section 4.1.3.


3.6.2.10     Riparian Buffers
Riparian buffers are those vegetated areas which are known to perform significant nutrient
removal functions and are located immediately adjacent and parallel to either side of surface
waters (intermittent and perennial streams, lakes, ponds, and estuaries). Riparian buffers
improve water quality through performance of functions including, but not limited to, temperature
reduction and nutrient capture and filtering, in addition to other aquatic habitat improvements.
Riparian buffers can be either jurisdictional wetlands or uplands and each of the two zones has
specific mitigation ratios regardless of Section 404 jurisdictional status. Zone 1 is rated the most
important functionally, especially if it is a mature forest. For the purposes of this DEIS, riparian
buffers have been calculated separately by zone and by biotic community type within each
alternative boundary.

A total of 271 acres of riparian buffers exist within the project area. In the NCPC Tract, 74
percent of the buffers are wetland, in the Bonnnerton Tract 82 percent of the riparian buffers are
wetland, and in S33 Tract 23 percent are wetland. Table 3-9 shows riparian buffer amounts within
each tract by biotic community type.


3.7     Floodplain
Important environmental functions performed by floodplains include water storage, floodflow
attenuation, sediment trapping, and habitat diversity. According to the Beaufort County Flood
Insurance Rate Map, dated 30 September 2002, the 100-year floodplain varies from 8 feet above
mean sea level (east of the landing strip and adjacent to South Creek) to 9 feet above mean sea
level (west of landing strip). Using digital data available online from the North Carolina Center for
Geographic Information and Analysis, approximately 2,346 acres of land in the project area are
located within the 100-year floodplain as shown in Figure 3-13.




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Aurora, North Carolina
3.8     Biotic Communities
The term "biotic community" has been used to designate a distinct assemblage of flora and fauna
that is associated with a particular type of dominant vegetation (e.g., bottomland hardwood forest,
pine plantation, herbaceous assemblage, and others). Biotic communities are delineated by
mapping these dominant vegetation types.

Biotic communities within the approximately 15,100-acre project area include those found in the
NCPC Tract, Bonnerton Tract, and the S33 Tract. The biotic communities were mapped using
1998 geo-referenced color-infrared aerial photographs supplied by the USGS, limited field
truthing, and first-hand knowledge of the project area. A January 2002 geo-referenced color
aerial photograph provided by PCS was used as a reference for biotic community classification
and determination.

The biotic communities of the project area north of NC 33 (NCPC and Bonnerton Tracts) were
mapped for the 1996 EIS (Corps 1996). The base year for that mapping was 1989. Since then,
many of the herbaceous and shrub/scrub areas have become young forests. Also, some areas
that were forested in 1989 have undergone timber harvests and are now herbaceous or
shrub/scrub. Due to the changes that have occurred since 1989, the biotic communities map was
updated. Using data provided by the PCS Land Office, it was determined that 400 acres on the
NCPC Tract, 135 acres on the Bonnerton Tract, and 1,010 acres on the S33 Tract were logged
since 1996.     Approved Section 404 wetland delineation survey data were used to revise and
update the biotic community map. Upland/wetland boundaries, as approved and depicted in the
1996 FEIS (Corps 1996) were maintained in the new mapping. Biotic community boundaries
within wetlands and uplands were revised and adjusted based on recent timber and management
practices, 1998 aerial photograph community signatures, beaver activity, and active mine area
data. Biotic communities were revised to reflect conditions as of the end of 2001, using a
January 2002 aerial photograph and timber harvest data from PCS (Personal communication,
multiple dates in 2003 and 2004, Mr. Curtis Brown, Land Office, PCS). The Review Team agreed
that it was appropriate to use the existing wetland delineation data and established the base
years to be used for all updates and revisions to biotic community maps (e.g., 1998 color infrared
photos with modifications to reflect conditions as of 2001).

The biotic communities of the S33 Tract were mapped based on Corps-approved wetland survey
lines delineated from fall of 1999 to spring of 2004. Biotic community boundaries within wetland
and uplands were also revised and adjusted based on recent timber management practices, 1998
aerial photograph community signatures, beaver activity, and active mine area data. Biotic
communities were revised to reflect conditions as of the end of 2001, using a January 2002 aerial
photograph and timber harvest data from PCS.

The limits of CAMA jurisdiction of all creeks and unnamed tributaries in the project area were
approved in the field by a representative of the NCDCM, were surveyed by PCS’s contract
surveyor and are described in Section 3.10. Biotic communities were mapped as an overlay on a
1 inch = 400 feet aerial photographic 1998 base and are presented in Figures 3-14a, 3-14b, and
3-14c. From this mapping, biotic communities have been quantified in the project area where
mine continuation is proposed. The communities and their approximate acreages within the
project area as of January 2002 are shown in Table 3-9.

Upland and wetland terrestrial and aquatic biotic communities were identified within the general
field sampling area as follows: hardwood forest, mixed pine-hardwood forest, pine plantation,
pine forest, sand ridge forest, pocosin-bay forest, bottomland hardwood forest, brackish marsh
complex, agricultural land, herbaceous assemblage, shrub/scrub assemblage, maintained areas,
non-vegetated/maintained areas, ponds, Public Trust Areas, perennial streams, and intermittent
streams.




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Aurora, North Carolina
The following sections discuss each biotic community (upland and wetland) identified within the
project area in terms of its characteristic physical environmental factors, biota, and functional role.
Faunal species found within the project area are outlined in Section 3.11. Protected species
documented by surveys or otherwise known to occur in the area are discussed in Section 3.12.


3.8.1   Terrestrial
Each terrestrial biotic community is an assemblage of plants and animals whose species
composition and role in the environment are subject to change in response to the physical
environment. Abandoned cropland will typically develop into a community of herbaceous plants
that stabilize the soil and provide food and cover for various small animals and some larger
predators. A stable soil allows woody plants to emerge and convert the field to shrubland.
Shrubland provides resources for more species of animals and gradually converts to forest. A
forest, in turn, provides habitat for many species of animals, nutrient reservoirs, and water
cycling. The process involving the changes occurring in species composition and environmental
roles of biotic communities is called succession. Stages of succession can be recognized as
distinct communities, each with a characteristic structure and species composition. A typical
community successional series in this region proceeds as follows: herbaceous assemblage,
shrub assemblage, pine forest, mixed pine-hardwood forest, hardwood forest. The series of
communities involved will vary with regional conditions and disturbances, such as fire or logging.

Climate, geology, topography, soils, time, and human activities have combined to influence the
development of biotic communities in the PCS study area. Terrestrial communities described in
this section range from the sand ridges of the Suffolk Scarp to brackish marshes along the
Pamlico River. The elevated sand ridges provide seeps into low-lying areas, which, in some
cases, support pocosin-bay forests. Water leaves the sand ridges and pocosin-bay forests in
drainages which flow through bottomland hardwood forests. Creek banks and associated
lowlands support mixed pine-hardwood forests and hardwood forests. Much of the border
between the terrestrial communities and the Pamlico River and creeks of the study area consists
of brackish marsh complex. This habitat, which includes emergent macrophytes and shrubs
associated with shallows and the water's edge, is discussed here as a transitional terrestrial
community.

Agriculture and silviculture have been practiced on much of the study area. Ditches 1 to 2 feet
deep have been excavated ranging 200 to 300 feet apart throughout much of the study area to
facilitate drainage. These ditches are generally connected to deeper ditch systems which
ultimately drain into the upper reaches of area creeks. The four largest creek drainage systems
in the project area are South Creek, Cypress Run, Broomfield Swamp, and Porter Creek, all of
which have been ditched (channelized) in their headwaters (field observations and Personal
communication, 28 April 1993, Mr. Dan Windley, Chairman, Beaufort County Soil and Water
Conservation District). The headwaters of South Creek and its major tributaries, Cypress Run
and Broomfield Swamp were channelized circa 1950. Porter Creek was channelized circa 1955.
Ditching and draining operations were prevalent throughout the study area prior to the 1940s,
based on historic SCS aerial photos (Corps 1996). These activities, in conjunction with
silvicultural activities in the 1960s, have effectively drained many of the hydric soils occurring in
the study area (Corps 1996). These activities have altered much of the landscape within the
mitigation search area as well.

The following sections characterize the terrestrial biotic communities identified within the project
area: hardwood forest, mixed pine-hardwood forest, pine plantation, pine forest, sand ridge
forest, pocosin-bay forest, bottomland hardwood forest, brackish marsh complex, agricultural
land, herbaceous assemblage, shrub/scrub assemblage, maintained area, and non-
vegetated/maintained area.




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3.8.1.1      Hardwood Forest
Hardwood forests are characterized by a canopy of mixed hardwood species whose composition
is largely dictated by hydrologic conditions. Total acreage for the hardwood forest community
within the project area is approximately 2,180 acres.

This community was more prevalent prior to conversion of large expanses of land for agricultural
and silviculture uses. The soils have been ditched in wetter areas, changing moisture regimes.
However, these areas retain low soil chromas and vegetation indicative of earlier hydric
conditions. The largest remaining hardwood stand is located in the Bonnerton Tract on the north
side of SR 1958 in the Porter Creek drainage basin.

Hardwood forests on wetter soils support canopy species such as red maple (Acer rubrum),
sweet-gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), willow oak (Quercus
phellos), swamp chestnut oak (Q. michauxii), water oak (Q. nigra), and black gum (Nyssa
sylvatica var. biflora). The understory typically consists of red bay (Persea borbonia), sweet bay
(Magnolia virginiana), holly (Ilex opaca), and horse sugar (Symplocos tinctoria). Commonly
occurring herbaceous species are Virginia chain-fern (Woodwardia virginica), netted chain-fern
(W. aereolata), false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica), royal fern (Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis),
poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), cane (Arundinaria gigantea), and slender spikegrass
(Chasmanthium laxum). An uncommon component of the ground cover is the crane-fly orchid
(Tipularia discolor).

On better-drained soils, common canopy species are white oak (Quercus alba), southern red oak
(Q. falcata), post oak (Q. stellata), water oak, mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa), and beech
(Fagus grandiflora). The understory consists of French mulberry (Callicarpa americana), witch
hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), ironwood (Carpinus caroliniana), sassafras (Sassafras albidum),
flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), and highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum). Hercules’
club (Aralia spinosa) is common on disturbed sites. Herbaceous species include partridge berry
(Mitchella repens), Virginia heartleaf (Hexastylis virginica), little-brown-jug (H. arifolia), and
Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides).

Common vines in hardwood forests throughout the range of moisture regimes are yellow
jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), muscadine
(Vitis rotundifolia), greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia), rattan vine (Berchemia scandens), and
particularly in drier areas, Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica).


3.8.1.2      Mixed Pine-hardwood Forest
This community represents an intermediate successional stage between pine forest and
hardwood forest. It is also found in situations where a hardwood forest has suffered a
disturbance such as fire or selective cutting. Mixed pine-hardwood forests represent 2,091 acres
of the project area. Stands of this association are prominent along the Suffolk Scarp.

Species composition is similar to hardwood forests although the relative abundance of each
species differs. In this community, pines and hardwoods each make up at least 30 percent of the
canopy. Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) is the most common pine species, interspersed in the canopy
with sweet-gum, red maple, tulip tree, willow oak, water oak, and southern red oak. Shrub and
herb species vary little from those mentioned for hardwood forests with the exception of
huckleberry (Gaylussacia sp.), wax myrtle (Cerothamnus ceriferus), bracken fern (Pteridium
aquilinium), ebony spleenwort (Asplenium platyneuron), and pipsissewa (Chimaphila maculata).
Common species include red bay, sweet bay, holly, horse sugar, French mulberry, witch-hazel,
ironwood, sassafras, flowering dogwood, and highbush blueberry.




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3.8.1.3      Pine Plantation
Approximately 1,612 acres of the project area are pine plantations, managed primarily by
Weyerhaeuser and PCS. Loblolly pine is the dominant species planted because it has a wide soil
moisture tolerance and is quickly established. Most pine plantations have been ditched.

Unlike pine forests, pine plantations are typically managed for maximum timber production.
Stands are thinned and competing hardwoods are removed by controlled burning, chemicals, or
mechanical means. Trees are harvested 25 to 30 years after planting. If left unmanaged, the
canopy closes and allows little sunlight for understory growth, encouraging shade tolerant
hardwood species to encroach on the canopy. Red maple, sweet-gum, sweet bay, black gum,
holly, various oaks, wax myrtle, dangleberry (Gaylussacia frondosa), and blueberries are typical
invading trees and shrubs. Muscadine, Virginia creeper, yellow jessamine, and catbriers (Smilax
spp.) are common vines. Virginia chain-fern, false nettle, poison ivy, and cane are typical
herbaceous species. Additionally, southern twayblade (Listera australis) occurs within the study
area in some mature pine plantations.


3.8.1.4      Pine Forest
The pine forest community consists of naturally occurring stands of pine, as opposed to planted
pine plantations. Approximately 943 acres of the project area exist as this community. Remnant
pine forests are dispersed throughout the study area. Loblolly pine typically dominates the
canopy and generally is larger and older than in pine plantations. Long-leaf pine (Pinus palustris)
is sparsely scattered in the canopy on sites with drier soils.

Subcanopy, shrub, herbaceous species, and vines in the pine forest are frequently the same as
those in pine plantations. Common subcanopy and shrub species are red maple, sweet-gum,
sweet bay, black gum, holly, various oaks, wax myrtle, dangleberry, and blueberries. Common
vines are muscadine, Virginia creeper, yellow jessamine, and catbriers. The herbaceous layer is
usually sparse. Pipsissewa, favoring acidic soils, is encountered more frequently in pine forests
than in mixed pine-hardwood forests. Pink moccasin flower (Cypripedium acaule) is found
occasionally.

Another distinct type of pine forest occurs in the Huddy Gut drainage basin. In this area, the
dominant canopy species is pond pine (Pinus serotina), which is interspersed with loblolly pine.
The majority of shrubs are evergreen, with leucothoe (Leucothoe axillaris), and fetter-bush
(Lyonia lucida) being the most common species present. Catbriers are frequently encountered in
these pond pine stands.


3.8.1.5      Sand Ridge Forest
Sand ridge forests make up approximately 188 acres of the project area. The best-developed
sand ridge forests occur on relict dune ridges along the Suffolk Scarp on nearly level to gently
sloping sandy soils. These soils are generally xeric, but may be saturated in winter due to poor
drainage. Sand ridge forests are frequently adjacent to pocosin-bay forests which occurs
downslope. The best examples of this community are found in the western boundary of the S33
Tract along NC 306.

Characteristically, sand ridges have an open canopy of long leaf pine, with an understory
dominated by wire grass (Aristida stricta). Frequent fires are necessary to maintain the open
understory of this community. Without periodic fire, the shrub layer grows denser and loblolly
pine replaces the long-leaf pine component. The sub-canopy consists of one or more of the
following: turkey oak (Quercus laevis), blue-jack oak (Q. incana), black jack oak (Q. marilandica),
water oak, southern red oak, red bay, red maple, and persimmon (Diospyros virginiana).
Ericaceous shrubs such as gale-leaf blueberry (Vaccinium tenellum), highbush blueberry,

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Aurora, North Carolina
dangleberry, and lamb-kill (Kalmia angustifolia) predominate, along with inkberry (Ilex glabra),
sweet gallberry (I. coriacea), and sassafras. Wire grass grows in association with creeping
blueberry (Vaccinium crassifolium), cnidoscolus (Cnidoscolus stimulosus), elephant’s foot
(Elephantopus tomentosus), butterfly pea (Clitoria mariana), milkweed (Asclepias humistrata),
stylisma (Stylisma humistrata), hairy chaffhead (Carphephorus paniculatus), yellow jessamine,
bracken fern, goldenrod (Solidago spp.), and broom-straw (Andropogon spp.).


3.8.1.6      Pocosin-Bay Forest
Pocosin-bay forests are typically characterized by a canopy of pines and bays, dense evergreen
shrub cover, and poorly drained, shallow peat-based soils. Within the study area, this community
occupies highly organic soils on the perimeter of sand ridges, in drainage basin heads, and in
seepage zones off the Suffolk Scarp. Approximately 309 acres of the project area exist as
pocosin-bay forest. The most well-developed pocosin-bay forest is located in Bonnerton Tract on
the north side of SR 1926 southwest of the active mine.

Common canopy species are loblolly pine, black gum, red maple, pond pine, and interspersed
long-leaf pine. A well-developed sub-canopy is composed of red maple, black gum, sweet bay,
and loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus). Prevalent shrubs are fetter-bush, inkberry, sweet
gallberry, leucothoe, blueberry (Vaccinium sp.), and sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia). The
sparse herbaceous layer is dominated by Virginia chain-fern, bracken fern, cinnamon fern
(Osmunda cinnamomea), and cane. Common vines are bamboo vine (Smilax laurifolia), catbrier,
and muscadine.


3.8.1.7      Bottomland Hardwood Forest
Bottomland hardwood forests occur along creeks and drainage ways in Beaufort and Pamlico
County (Blair 1967). This community is characterized by a natural hydrologic regime of
alternating annual wet and dry periods (Wharton et al. 1982). Trees are buttressed and some are
fluted in response to anaerobic conditions caused by periodic inundations. Root systems are
shallow and frequently visible. Within the project area, bottomland hardwood forests are found in
the drainage basins of Huddles Cut, Whitehurst Creek, and, to a lesser extent, Jacks, Jacobs,
Drinkwater, and Porter Creeks. This community also occurs within the vicinity of the headwaters
of South Creek, east of Highway 306. In areas adjacent to the project area, bottomland
hardwood stands occur in the Durham Creek drainage basin and along Porter Creek. Large
areas of bottomland adjacent to Porter Creek were subjected to extended periods of standing
water because of beaver dams. Approximately 205 acres of the project area exist as bottomland
hardwood forest.

Species composition of bottomland hardwood forest varies with local moisture regimes. Black
gum, tulip tree, laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), green ash, red maple, willow oak, sweet-gum,
swamp chestnut oak, and American elm (Ulmus americana) are canopy species common in
areas of infrequent flooding. Red maple, holly, red bay, sweet bay, wax myrtle, dwarf palmetto
(Sabal minor), and tag alder (Alnus serrulata) are frequently found in the understory. Bald
cypress (Taxodium distichum) is found where there exists, or has historically been, permanent
standing water. Lizard’s tail (Saururus cernus), netted chain-fern, royal fern, arrowhead
(Saggittaria spp.), false nettle, knotweed (Polygonum spp.), marsh pennywort (Hydrocotlye
umbellata), climbing hydrangea (Decumaria barbara), rattan vine, and muscadine are common
ground cover and vine species of bottomland hardwood forests.


3.8.1.8      Brackish Marsh Complex
The estuarine waters of the project area are sufficiently separated from the ocean, such that
salinity is most heavily influenced by tidal action, local freshwater runoff, and discharge from the

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Aurora, North Carolina
Tar/Pamlico River. Tides are wind dominated, with lunar influence being minimal. Irregular tidal
flooding allows for minimal mineral sedimentation and a high accumulation of organic matter. In
general, the marsh complex lacks mud flats, and open-water edges of this community are eroded
to an escarpment (Copeland et al. 1984). Unlike more uniform marsh systems which occur
nearer ocean inlets where salinities are stable, this complex consists of a mosaic of vegetation,
zoned by the variations in salinity from the headwaters to the mouth of the creek (Bellis and
Gaither 1984). The brackish marsh complex occurs as a transition community between terrestrial
communities and the creeks community. Approximately 87 acres of the project area exist as
brackish marsh complex.

Rise in mean sea level 1.22 feet per century at NOAA station 8656483 Beaufort, North Carolina
(NOAA CO-OPS unpublished website data) undercuts the peaty substrate on which the brackish
marsh complex grows (Benton 1979). This results in a gradual migration of the marsh up onto
the low slope of the land. The landward extent of the marsh complex is limited by the height of
the flooding from wind tides. As the outer perimeter is eroded away, the upland edge of the
marsh complex encroaches inland (Bellis et al. 1975).

Needle rush (Juncus roemerianus) is the dominant species in the brackish marsh complex, and is
interspersed with big cordgrass (Spartina cynosuroides). Salt grass (Distichlis spicata), smooth
cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), and saltmeadow cordgrass (Spartina patens) colonize areas
near the mouths of creeks. Upstream, these communities give way to saw grass (Cladium
jamaicense) and southern cattail (Typha dominagensis). Rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos),
seashore mallow (Kosteletskya virginica), saltmarsh morning glory (Ipomoea sagittata), and
spike-rush (Eleocharis spp.) are other common species. The shrub border of the marsh is
dominated by wax myrtle, silverling (Baccharis halimifolia), and black willow (Salix nigra). Black
gum, bald cypress, and loblolly pine are found scattered along creek edges and in the upper
reaches, although most are dying or dead.

Included within the brackish marsh complex are areas planted by PCS and NCPC. These are
referred to as NCPC Project Areas I and II. These areas were created in April 1981 and April
1983, respectively, from uplands on the northwest shore of South Creek. Project Area I (1.60
acres) was planted with sprigs of smooth cordgrass, saltmeadow cordgrass, and big cordgrass.
Project Area II (8.8 acres) was planted with the same three cordgrass species, plus needle rush.
At present, these creation areas appear to be functioning habitats, with SAV and juvenile fish
observed in open water areas (Broome et al. 1988, Rulifson 1990, West 1990, Personal
communication, 19 October 1990, J.C. Furness, Environmental Scientist, PCS; personal
observation, CZR Incorporated 2004).


3.8.1.9       Agricultural Land
Agriculture has historically been the primary human-related land use within the study area. Some
agricultural lands were allowed to succeed to forest, while others (especially in the NCPC and
Bonnerton Tracts) were planted as pine plantations, primarily by Weyerhaeuser, in the 1960s and
1970s. An extensive ditch system was used to effectively drain the soils to facilitate agricultural
uses in hydric soil types. This community contains only those lands currently managed for
agriculture, including fields under cultivation, fields temporarily fallow, and support areas
associated with farming these fields. A total of 4,973 acres of the project area exists as
agricultural land.

Agricultural lands produce corn, soybeans, small grains, and forage crops in the project area.
Because of routine management practices associated with farming, this community is considered
to retain only isolated remnants of its native character, providing little of its initial value as wildlife
habitat. Remnants of native vegetation and various invading weedy species occur within the
agricultural fields and along field edges, ditches, canals, or natural drainages (some of which
have been channelized).


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Trees and saplings commonly found in such areas include sweet-gum, red maple, and loblolly
pine. Other common plants include tall goldenrod (Solidago canadensis var. scabra), dog-fennel
(Eupatorium capillifolium), cranesbill (Geranium carolinianum), fall panic grass (Panicum
dichotomiflorum), black nightshade (Solanum americanum), hairy crabgrass (Digitaria ciliaris),
and panic grass (Dichanthelium acuminatum).


3.8.1.10     Herbaceous Assemblage
The vegetation of this community consists primarily of a mixed assemblage of herbs, with less
than 50 percent cover of shrubs. This community covers approximately 1,072 acres of the project
area. This biotic community contains recently timbered and cleared areas not replanted,
abandoned agricultural fields, and human-altered sites which have been allowed to revegetate
naturally, such as powerline rights-of-way. Typical of early stages of succession, these areas are
characterized by plants that have short life cycles, are relatively small in size, reproduce annually
by seeds, and produce an abundance of small seeds which are able to persist in the soil until
conditions are right for germination and growth (Smith 1980). This type of community is
considered the first phase of revegetation, or successional stage, that develops in a highly
disturbed area. Areas of herbaceous assemblage created by human disturbances are scattered
throughout the project area. The largest area is located north of Sandy Landing Road, a result of
timbering in fall 2001.

Common plant species occurring within well-drained areas within this community include broom
sedge (Andropogon virginicus), trumpet vine (Campsis radicans), lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium
album), Mexican-tea (C. ambrosioides), cypress witchgrass (Dichanthelium dichotomum), dog-
fennel, flat-topped goldenrod (Euthamia tenuifolia), rabbit tobacco (Gnaphalium obtusifolium),
pineweed (Hypericum gentianoides), Japanese clover (Kummerowia striata), Japanese
honeysuckle, vasey grass (Paspalum urvillei), poke (Phytolacca americana), dewberry (Rubus
trivialis), catbrier (Smilax bona-nox), tall goldenrod, and poison ivy. Species common in wetter
areas include cane, false nettle, slender spikegrass, broom panic grass (Dichanthelium
scoparium), sugar cane plumegrass (Erianthus giganteus), boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum),
round-leaf thorough-wort (Eupatorium pilosum), leathery rush (Juncus coriaceus), soft rush (J.
effusus), climbing hempweed (Mikania scandens), marsh-fleabane (Pluchea camphorata), little
water pepper (Polygonum opelousanum), dotted smartweed (P. punctatum), lizard’s tail, and
wool-grass (Scirpus cyperinus). Reed (Phragmites australis) is often located on fill material
mounds. As succession continues, various shrub species invade and, if allowed to proceed
naturally, will dominate within three to five years.


3.8.1.11     Shrub/scrub Assemblage
Two distinct types of shrub/scrub communities occur within the project area. The most common
is produced as a result of recently-harvested woodlands in which debris remains and where no
site preparation or replanting has occurred. In some areas, cull trees or seed-source trees have
been left, while in others, most standing timber has been removed. Characteristically, waste and
debris have not been cleared, windrowed, or burned, and no site preparation or tree-planting has
been performed. A second community type occurs where agricultural land or other previously
cleared areas have been abandoned and result in greater than 50 percent coverage of shrubs
and a sparse or absent tree canopy. Dominance by shrub species may result from the
succession of herbaceous cover or from removal of the canopy layer for silvicultural
management. Approximately 992 acres of this community exist within the project area. This type
of shrub/scrub community occurs primarily on the NCPC Tract, and is dominated by wax myrtle
and silverling. Commonly associated species are joint-head arthraxon (Arthraxon hispidus), dog-
fennel, tall goldenrod, dewberry, wool-grass, slender spikegrass, and soft rush.




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3.8.1.12      Non-Vegetated/Maintained Areas.
This biotic community is comprised of areas where human structures or activities (exclusive of
agriculture or silviculture) either eliminate vegetative cover or prevent natural plant succession.
Examples of non-vegetated areas include paved, graveled, or graded roads, parking lots,
railroads, buildings, and unvegetated mounds of spoil material. Maintained areas include lawns,
yards, and road edges where existing vegetation is restricted by man's continued use and routine
management. Non-vegetated/maintained areas comprise approximately 363 acres in the project
area.

Vegetation in maintained areas consists primarily of herbs but also contains landscaped tree
species including pecan (Carya illinoensis), sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), sweet-gum, red
maple, and flowering dogwood. Representative herbs of this community include pyrrhopappus
(Pyrrhopappus carolinianus), white clover (Trifolium repens), bitter-weed (Helenium amarum),
false garlic (Nothoscordium bivalve), wild onion (Allium canadense), sandspur (Cenchrus
longispinus), henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), rye grass
(Lolium multiflorum), Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), and Kentucky bluegrass (Poa
pratensis). Common vines include poison ivy and trumpet vine.


3.8.2     Aquatic
The aquatic communities consist of the pond community which includes human-made ponds,
borrow pits, and hydraulic canals associated primarily with the NCPC and Bonnerton Tracts, and
the creeks community (Public Trust Areas, intermittent, and perennial streams). These
communities are considered open water habitats.


3.8.2.1       Ponds
This community includes 21 acres of man-created sedimentation ponds, borrow pits, and
hydraulic canals which are found on, and adjacent to, the NCPC Tract and Bonnerton. The
borrow pits and canals are steep-sided and contain either coarse substrate or clay-based
bottoms. The successional stage of vegetation is dependent upon age and topography of these
depressions. Spoil deposits surrounding the pits and adjacent to canals support goldenrod, dog-
fennel, and broom sedge. Cattails, wool-grass, soft rush, and black willow are common invaders
of shallow and temporarily flooded areas. The extent of vegetation varies in relation to water
depth. Shallow waters supporting thick homogeneous strands of cattails have been mapped and
classified as freshwater marsh. Deeper waters contain only a narrow fringe of emergent aquatic
vegetation.


3.8.2.2       Creeks
The open water (Public Trust Areas, perennial, and intermittent streams) of the project area
creeks comprise approximately 66 acres.          Beds of SAV are scattered over a muddy
unconsolidated bottom and are found in tributaries of South Creek and Durham Creek.
Submerged aquatic macrophytes found in open waters include primarily widgeon grass, with
Eurasian water-milfoil and horned pondweed also occurring. Widgeon grass and water-milfoil
have also colonized the NCPC Project Area II (West 1990) and NCPC Project Area I (Personal
communication, 19 October 1990, J.C. Furness, Environmental Scientist, PCS). A complete
description of major waterbodies in the study can be found in Section 3.6.1.


3.9       Wetlands and Open Waters (Section 404 Jurisdictional Areas)
Section 404 jurisdictional areas within the PCS project area consist of open waters of area
creeks, open waters of ponds and hydraulic canals, and wetlands. Wetlands are defined as

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Aurora, North Carolina
possessing three essential characteristics: (1) hydrophytic vegetation, (2) hydric soils, and (3)
wetland hydrology. These characteristics and the technical criteria for identification purposes are
described in the Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual (Environmental Laboratory
1987).

Functional wetlands are an integral component of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Important
physical and ecological functions of wetlands that deserve consideration include:                    (1)
atmospheric, climatological, and meteorological stabilization; (2) groundwater discharge and
recharge; (3) flood control; (4) erosion control; (5) water purification; (6) nutrient accumulation and
cycling; (7) primary production; (8) secondary production; and (9) wildlife refuge and habitat
(Sather and Smith 1984).

Wetlands provide important natural functions related to protecting the physical, biological, and
chemical integrity of water. These functions include reducing sediment load, processing chemical
and organic wastes, and reducing excess nutrients.

Wetlands buffer rivers, streams, lakes, and estuaries from upland sources of pollution. An
undisturbed, vegetated wetland filters surface runoff and captures sediment loads. Wetlands
provide particularly important filtering functions because of their location between land and water.
Wetlands can intercept runoff from land before it reaches the water helping to filter nutrients,
wastes (i.e., heavy metals, pesticides, or other compounds) and sediment carried during floods.

Additionally, isolated wetlands, such as pocosins, provide important functions such as infiltration
and storage of water. The slowing and dispersal of runoff and floodwaters allow additional time
for this water to infiltrate and recharge groundwater aquifers when there is available storage
space. The slowing of runoff and floodwater may also provide water purification benefits as the
water infiltrates into the aquifer. In addition, water can also flow from higher groundwater
systems into lower surface waters during periods of low flow, so that the frequency and duration
of extremely low flows may be reduced.

Wildlife refuge and habitat are additional important functions of wetlands. Wetlands maintain
breeding and feeding grounds for fish and wildlife species, create and enhance waterfowl habitat,
and protect habitat for rare and endangered species. Bottomland hardwood forests of the south
are primary wintering grounds for North American waterfowl as well as important breeding areas
for many species.

While the quantity of wetlands (i.e., the acreage) impacted by a particular boundary is important
in that the loss represents the general magnitude of wetland impact that a particular boundary
would have, certain wetlands are considered to have special characteristics and roles within the
natural system. These special features result because of the location of the wetland, the
opportunity of the wetland to provide certain functions, and the structural character of the wetland.
The Corps in consultation with Review Team, and other interested parties, identified such
wetlands within the project area as wetlands that meet the following criteria: 1) important for
drainage basin integrity and 2) large or contiguous, mature, principally undisturbed wetlands
and/or disturbed wetlands. Creeks, brackish marsh complex, bottomland hardwood forest,
pocosin-bay forest, and hardwood forest wetlands are considered to be of higher value than other
wetland types within the 15,100 acre project area, and typically meet these two criteria.

The USEPA and the Corps are federal agencies charged with regulating the discharge of
dredged or fill material in jurisdictional wetlands and open waters under Section 404 of the Clean
Water Act of 1977, as amended. Such wetland and open water areas were delineated in the
project area between fall 1999 and spring 2004. During this time, an area of approximately
11,492 acres (in the vicinity of the Bonnerton and S33 Tracts) was delineated according to the
Corps 1987 manual. The NCPC Tract and the majority of the Bonnerton Tract were delineated in
conjunction with the 1996 FEIS process. Supplemental reference materials used for wetlands
delineation included the US Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) National Wetlands Inventory

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Maps, the Soil Conservation Service's Beaufort County soil survey maps, aerial photographs
(color, black-and-white, and infrared), and USGS topographic maps.

Section 404 jurisdictional areas, along with the equivalent USFWS wetland classification
(Cowardin et al. 1979), and acreage estimates, are presented by biotic community in Table 3-10.
Each open water and wetland type occurring in the project area is described in the following
sections and shown on Figures 3-14 a, b, and c).


3.9.1   Creeks
The creek systems of the project area include Public Trust Areas, perennial and intermittent
streams, and total 66 acres. Creek systems in the NCPC Tract total 55,528 linear feet in length.
Creek lengths in Bonnerton Tract total 17,106 linear feet and total 43,209 linear feet in S33 Tract.
The creeks of Bonnerton Tract and those creeks South of NC 33 are generally channelized and
bordered by herbaceous vegetation or hardwoods. Tides in the creek systems in the project area
are predominantly wind-driven with salinities generally less than 12 ppt at the mouth and less
than 5 ppt in the headwaters. The mouths of the creek systems on the NCPC Tract are bordered
by vegetation typical of brackish marsh (Section 3.8.2.2), with water milfoil, horned pondweed
and widgeon grass present within the channel.


3.9.2   Ponds
Open water within ponds, borrow pits, and hydraulic canals in the project area comprises
approximately 21 acres. The borrow pits are steep-sided and are characterized by either coarse
substrate or clay-based bottoms. This habitat is closely associated with the freshwater marsh
community, with the extent of vegetation varying with water depth. Ponds have moderate value
to wildlife as a permanent water source.


3.9.3   Hardwood Forest
Wet hardwood forests, excluding bottomland hardwood forest, comprise approximately 1,734
acres within the project area. Dominant vegetation varies with soils and moisture regimes.
Ditching has altered the natural drainage and hydroperiod in many of these hardwood forests.
Dominant overstory vegetation includes red maple, sweet-gum, tulip tree, willow oak, swamp
chestnut oak, water oak, and black gum. Understory vegetation consists of red bay, sweet bay,
holly, and horse sugar. Cane is a common herbaceous species, often present in dense stands.


3.9.4   Mixed Pine-Hardwood Forest
Wet mixed pine-hardwood forests comprise approximately 1,326 acres and exist as either a
transition community between uplands and wetlands or as areas disturbed by selective or clear
cutting. On elevated areas surrounded by wet hardwood forests, loblolly pines become co-
dominant with sweet-gum, red maple, tulip tree, willow oak, water oak, and southern red oak.


3.9.5   Pine Plantation
Historic aerial photography indicates that a large portion of the natural woodlands in the PCS
project area has been cleared and converted to loblolly pine plantation. Most pine plantations
under Section 404 jurisdiction are seasonally wet due to the water table rising within 12 inches of
the surface early in the growing season. Many pine plantations on hydric soils have been drained
by extensive ditching during the 1960s and 1970s, and lack sufficient wetland hydrology. Wet
pine plantations occur on approximately 862 acres within the project area and are composed of


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large, monotypic stands of loblolly pine. Understory vegetation consists of red maple, sweet-
gum, sweet bay, black gum, holly, and wax myrtle.


3.9.6   Pine Forest
Wet pine forests are found on approximately 577 acres within the project area. Most pine forest
wetlands are dominated by loblolly pine, although some areas along Huddy Gut are dominated by
pond pine. Several species of hardwoods comprise the understory including red maple, sweet-
gum, sweet bay, holly, and wax myrtle. Dominant understory species along Huddy Gut are fetter-
bush, leucothoe, and catbriers.


3.9.7   Sand Ridge Forest
Sand ridge forests are common along the Suffolk Scarp on gently sloping sandy soils. Wetlands
occur within the sand ridge community as transitional areas adjacent to pocosin-bay forests.
These wet ecotones comprise approximately 32 acres within the project area. The overstory is
dominated by loblolly pine. Common shrubs include gale-leaf and highbush blueberry, inkberry,
sweet gallberry, and other ericaceous species encroaching from adjacent pocosin-bay forests.


3.9.8   Pocosin-Bay Forest
Pocosin-bay forests occur on approximately 309 acres within the project area. Most are found
adjacent to sand ridges, in drainage basin heads, and in seepage zones off the Suffolk Scarp.
Dominant overstory species include loblolly pine, pond pine, red maple, black gum, sweet bay,
and loblolly bay. Prevalent shrubs are fetter-bush, inkberry, sweet gallberry, leucothoe,
blueberry, and sweet pepperbush. Pocosin ecosystems are among the most rapidly disappearing
habitats of the Southeast (Sharitz and Gibbons 1982). Pocosin-bay forests provide refuge sites
for wildlife and may be locally important for several species. Most of the black bears (Ursus
americanus) remaining in eastern North Carolina are associated with pocosin ecosystems
(Sharitz and Gibbons 1982, Tiner 1984). These areas are typically wetlands and provide
functions and values such as infiltration, storage of water, and wildlife habitat.


3.9.9   Bottomland Hardwood Forest
Bottomland hardwood forests occur on approximately 205 acres within the project area.
Bottomland hardwood forests are found along creeks or in the headwaters of drainage basins.
Upper headwaters and drainage basins of most creeks have been disturbed by channelization
and ditching. Dominant vegetative species in wetter areas include black gum, water oak, tulip
tree, laurel oak, swamp chestnut oak, green, red maple, willow oak, sweet-gum, American elm,
and bald cypress. Agriculture and silviculture have contributed to the loss of most bottomland
hardwoods in the Southeast (Wharton et al. 1982). These areas typically provide functions such
as flood and erosion control, water purification, nutrient accumulation and cycling, primary
production, reduction of sediment load, and wildlife refuge and habitat.


3.9.10 Brackish Marsh Complex
Brackish marsh complex covers approximately 87 acres along creeks within the project area.
Dominant plant species include needlerush, big cordgrass, saw grass, and cattail. Occasional
shrubs of wax myrtle, silverling, and black willow are scattered along marsh borders. This
community is relatively common both nationally and within the ecoregion. In terms of surface
area and proportion of shoreline, non-tidal brackish marshes are the single most important
wetland type in the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system (Copeland and Gray 1989).
Aboveground primary productivity appears to be "modest" for needle rush in the area (Williams

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Aurora, North Carolina
and Murdoch 1972). The brackish marsh/open water edge areas are an integral component of
the nursery areas for several species of commercial and recreational fish (Rulifson 1985, CZR
Incorporated 1990). These areas typically provide functions such as nutrient accumulation and
cycling, primary and secondary production, erosion control, nursery and habitat areas for fish,
shellfish and wildlife, and reduction of sediment load.


3.9.11 Herbaceous Assemblage
Wet herbaceous assemblages are not a native vegetative community to the project area, but exist
because of disturbance by humans. Vegetation in these areas has been disturbed by land
clearing or timbering practices during the past few years. Most of these areas are ditched and, in
many cases, the soils have been compacted by heavy machinery. The compaction of soils has
created an impenetrable layer which acts to hold, or perch, water close to the surface. The
natural water table was several feet below the surface in some of these perched wetland areas.
Also included within this community are areas dominated by reed within diked impoundments and
scattered locations along a few creeks.           Approximately 586 acres of wet herbaceous
assemblages are found within the project area. Dominant vegetation includes wool-grass, broom
panic grass, soft rush, cypress witchgrass, tall goldenrod, dewberry, and, in limited areas, reed.
These areas typically provide functions such as infiltration, storage of water, and wildlife habitat.


3.9.12 Shrub/scrub Assemblage
Wet shrub/scrub assemblages are predominantly the result of human disturbance. Occurring on
575 acres within the project area, this community has resulted from land clearing activities during
the recent past, with subsequent natural succession to a shrub stage. Most of these areas are
ditched, and in many cases the soils have been compacted by heavy machinery. Some of this
community exists as a narrow transitional area along estuarine creeks. Wet shrub/scrub
assemblages occur as wax myrtle/silverling thickets or young hardwood thickets dominated by
sweet-gum and red maple. These areas typically provide functions such as infiltration, storage of
water, and wildlife habitat.


3.10    CAMA Jurisdictional Areas and Public Trust Areas
The North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission, through its staff, the Division of Coastal
Management (DCM), issues CAMA permits for development in Areas of Environmental Concern
(AECs). One of the four categories of AEC occurs in the project area, The Estuarine and Ocean
System. Four components of this AEC within the project area have been identified by DCM.
These components include Coastal Wetlands, Public Trust Areas, Coastal Shoreline (either
Estuarine or Public Trust Shoreline), and Estuarine Waters. Some portions of the project area
contain areas mapped as combinations of various overlapping CAMA AEC components (e.g.,
Public Trust/Estuarine Waters or Coastal Wetlands/Estuarine Waters).

Coastal wetlands are defined as tidal marshes by 15A NCAC 7H.0205. Approximately 87 acres
of irregularly-flooded brackish marsh areas along the fringes of project area creeks are coastal
wetlands. Public Trust Areas are defined by 15A NCAC7H.0207. The open waters of Jacks
Creek, Jacobs Creek, NCPC Project Areas I and II, Drinkwater Creek, Tooley Creek, unnamed
tributaries to South Creek, Huddles Cut, an unnamed tributary to Pamlico River in NCPC, Porter
Creek in Bonnerton, and Broomfield Swamp and Cypress Run in S33 contain 48 acres of Public
Trust Areas. The Coastal Shoreline AEC category includes Public Trust Shoreline and Estuarine
Shoreline. This AEC component is defined as all lands within 75 feet of the normal water level of
Estuarine Waters and lands within 30 feet of the normal water level of Public Trust waters located
inland of the dividing line between coastal fishing waters (Estuarine Shoreline) and inland fishing
waters (Public Trust Shoreline). Coastal Shoreline within the project area totals 84 acres.
Coastal Shoreline within the NCPC Tract totals 68 acres, totals 3 acres within the Bonnerton

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Tract, and totals 13 acres within the S33 Tract. Estuarine Waters are waters downstream of the
boundary between inland and coastal fishing waters set forth in an agreement adopted by the
Wildlife Resources Commission and the Department of Environment, Health, and Natural
Resources and in the most current revision of the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Regulations for
Coastal Waters, (15A NCAC 3F.0200). Estuarine Waters associated with Huddy Gut, Sibyl
Creek, NCPC Project Areas I and II, the NCPC barge slip, and six unnamed tributary creeks
(UP1, UT1, UT2, UT3, UT4, and UT5) in the project area total approximately 34 acres. Total
CAMA acreage within the project area is approximately 179 acres.

The upper extents of jurisdiction on the creek systems within the project area were determined by
Division of Coastal Management personnel, surveyed by Chiles Engineering, and included in the
jurisdictional plat submitted to the Corps. The CAMA AECs within each creek were mapped from
1 inch = 200 feet scale photographs. Table 3-11 lists the acreages of each AEC by creek
system.


3.11    Fish and Wildlife Resources

3.11.1 Terrestrial Resources
Intensive surveys of the fauna, flora, and associated environment within the 1996 FEIS general
field sampling area were conducted from October 1988 through January 1990.                   The
methodologies and results from surveys of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians can be
found in "Report on Mammal, Bird, and Reptile/Amphibian Surveys in Support of the
Environmental Impact Statement for the Tg Inc. Mine Continuation" (CZR Incorporated 1991).
Mammals, reptiles, and amphibians were collected with the use of funnel traps and pit-fall traps.
Further mammal collections were made using snap traps, Sherman live traps, leg-hold traps, and
mist nets. Reptiles and amphibians were also hand-collected or incidentally documented during
the course of other field work. Bird surveys were conducted along transects through
representative habitats. Data presented in text are derived from winter and spring bird censuses.
Species relative abundance is determined from observations per time period within each habitat
and is expressed as birds per hour. Although the 1988 to 1990 surveys were not conducted in
the portion of the current project area South of NC 33, faunal assemblages in corresponding
biotic communities are likely similar to those found north of NC 33.

The following sections characterize the terrestrial faunal communities found in the following biotic
communities: hardwood forest, mixed pine-hardwood forest, pine plantation, pine forest, sand
ridge forest, pocosin-bay forest, bottomland hardwood forest, brackish marsh complex,
agricultural  land,    herbaceous     assemblage,       shrub/scrub   assemblage,       and    non-
vegetated/maintained areas.

Hardwood Forest. Sampling efforts within this habitat yielded 20 species of mammals.
Common species include the Dismal Swamp southeastern shrew (Sorex longirostris fisheri)
southeastern shrew (Sorex longirostris), golden mouse (Ochrotomys nuttalli), cotton mouse
(Peromyscus gossypinus), gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus
virginianus). Also documented in the 1988-1989 sampling area are the northern short-tailed
shrew (Blarina brevicauda telmalestes) and the pine vole (Microtus pinetorum).

A total of 67 bird species were surveyed within hardwood forests. The Carolina wren
(Thryothorus ludovicianus), great crested flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus), wood thrush (Hylocichla
mustelina), ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus), and blue-gray gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) are
the most common summer birds. The most common winter birds are the yellow-rumped warbler
(Dendroica coronata), white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), Carolina chickadee (Parus
carolinensis), Carolina wren, and ruby-crowned kinglet (Regulus calendula).



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Hardwood forests supported 14 species of reptiles, the highest number of any habitat.
Commonly occurring reptiles are the green anole (Anolis carolinensis), ground skink (Scincella
lateralis), broad-headed skink (Eumeces laticeps), common box turtle (Terrapene carolina),
eastern ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus), and copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix). The
worm snake (Carphophis amoenus) was found only in hardwood forest.

Hardwood forests supported 12 species of amphibians, the highest number of any habitat.
Common amphibians include the bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana), southern leopard frog (R.
sphenocephala), eastern narrow-mouthed toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis), southern toad (Bufo
terrestris), slimy salamander (Plethodon glutinosus), and marbled salamander (Ambystoma
opacum). The southern dusky salamander (Desmognathus auriculatus) and Brimley's chorus
frog (Pseudacris brimleyi) were found only in hardwood forests.

Mixed Pine-Hardwood Forest. Sampling within mixed pine-hardwood forests yielded 13
species of mammals. Representative mammals of this habitat are the cotton mouse, golden
mouse, gray squirrel, southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans), Virginia opossum (Didelphis
virginiana), raccoon (Procyon lotor), black bear, and, where mixed forests border bottomlands
and marshes, marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris).

A total of 70 bird species were surveyed within the mixed pine-hardwood forest. The most
common summer birds are Carolina wren, wood thrush, great crested flycatcher, ovenbird, and
northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). The most common winter species include the white-
throated sparrow, yellow-rumped warbler, American robin (Turdus migratorius), ruby-crowned
kinglet, and northern cardinal.

Ten species of reptiles were found in the mixed pine-hardwood forest. Commonly occurring
species are the ground skink, rough green snake (Opheodrys aestivus), copperhead, and
common mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum). Six species of amphibians were found in this
community. Common species are the squirrel treefrog (Hyla squirella) and southern toad.

Pine Plantation. Sampling efforts revealed that the pine plantation was the richest community
for mammals, with 21 species encountered. The white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus),
eastern harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys humulis), gray squirrel, and black bear are common in
more mature stands, while the least shrew (Cryptotis parva), house mouse (Mus musculus), and
gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) are common in younger stands. Results indicate that this
community provides an important habitat for the pine vole and the southeastern shrew.

A total of 74 bird species were found in the pine plantation community. The most common
summer birds are the Carolina wren, great crested flycatcher, northern cardinal, fish crow (Corvus
ossifragus), and tufted titmouse (Parus bicolor). The most common winter species include the
yellow-rumped warbler, white-throated sparrow, ruby-crowned kinglet, Carolina wren, and
Carolina chickadee.

Nine species of reptiles were encountered. Common species are green anole, broad-headed
skink, spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata), common box turtle, and racer (Coluber constrictor). Ten
species of amphibians were found. Representative species are the southern leopard frog, spring
peeper (Hyla crucifer), eastern narrow-mouthed toad, and slimy salamander.

Pine Forest. Seven species of mammals were documented in the pine forest. Common species
include the cotton mouse and the eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus). Characteristic avian
species were found to be similar to those in pine plantations and mixed pine-hardwood forests.
Common summer birds are the Carolina wren, great crested flycatcher, northern cardinal, and
ovenbird. Common winter species include the yellow-rumped warbler, white-throated sparrow,
ruby-crowned kinglet, and Carolina wren.



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There were seven species of reptiles recorded in the pine forest. The green anole, ground skink,
common box turtle, and corn snake (Elaphe guttata) are common representatives. Two species
of amphibians, spring peeper and slimy salamander, were found in the pine forest.

Sand Ridge Forest. Sixteen species of mammals were identified from the sand ridge forest.
Common species include the southeastern shrew, northern short-tailed shrew, eastern harvest
mouse, golden mouse, cotton mouse, eastern mole, and white-tailed deer. This habitat also
contains the southern bog lemming (Synaptomys cooperi helaletes). Previously believed to be a
Dismal Swamp endemic (Webster et al. 1984), this record increases the range of this species
approximately 70 miles to the south.

A total of 35 species of birds were found in the sand ridge forest. The great crested flycatcher,
ovenbird, worm-eating warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus), purple martin (Progne subis), and blue-
gray gnatcatcher are the most common summer birds. The American robin, ruby-crowned
kinglet, yellow-rumped warbler, northern cardinal, and pine warbler (Dendroica pinus) are the
most common winter birds.

Eight species of reptiles were found in the sand ridge forest. Common species are the six-lined
racerunner (Cnemidophorus sexlineatus), green anole, southeastern five-lined skink (Eumeces
inexpectatus), racer, and rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta). Five species of amphibians were found in
this community. Common species are the eastern narrow-mouthed toad, southern toad, and
slimy salamander.

Pocosin-Bay Forest.        Nine mammal species were found in the pocosin-bay forest.
Representative mammals are the southeastern shrew, northern short-tailed shrew, eastern
harvest mouse, cotton mouse, and black bear. A total of 46 species of birds were documented in
the pocosin-bay forest. The most common summer birds are the great crested flycatcher,
Carolina wren, blue-gray gnatcatcher, rufous-sided towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus), and
summer tanager (Piranga rubra). The American robin, ruby-crowned kinglet, yellow-rumped
warbler, Carolina wren, and rufous-sided towhee are the most common winter inhabitants.

Seven reptile species were found in the pocosin-bay forest. Common species are the green
anole, five-lined skink (Eumeces fasciatus), broad-headed skink, common box turtle, and eastern
garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis). Five species of amphibians were identified in this community.
Common species are the spring peeper, southern toad, and slimy salamander.

Bottomland Hardwood Forest. The bottomland hardwood forest supports high numbers of
mammals, birds, and herpetofauna. Seventeen species of mammals were found in this
community. The cotton mouse, white-footed mouse, muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), beaver
(Castor canadensis), marsh rabbit, and mink (Mustela vison) were found in greater numbers in
bottomland hardwood forests than in any other habitat. Other common mammals include the
raccoon, gray fox, black bear, white-tailed deer, and bobcat (Lynx rufus).

A total of 98 bird species were found in this community. Bottomland hardwood forests contained
the highest avian species richness compared to all other biotic communities in the 1996 sampling
area; 60 in summer and 53 in winter. The most common summer birds are the Carolina wren,
great crested flycatcher, tufted titmouse, Acadian flycatcher (Empidonax virescens), and blue-
gray gnatcatcher. The most common winter birds are the yellow-rumped warbler, white-throated
sparrow, American robin, ruby-crowned kinglet, and red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus).
The red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus), barred owl (Strix varia), prothonotary warbler
(Protonotaria citrea), white-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis), and hairy woodpecker
(Picoides villosus) are regular nesters only in bottomland forests.

Thirteen species of reptiles were found in bottomland hardwood forests. Box-turtle, common mud
turtle, ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus), plain-bellied water snake (Nerodia
erythrogaster), and cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus) are common species. Eleven species

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Aurora, North Carolina
of amphibians were identified in this community. Bottomlands are important for the southern
toad, Cope's gray treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis), spring peeper, pine woods treefrog (Hyla
femoralis), and green frog (Rana clamitans).

Brackish Marsh Complex. Eight species of mammals were found in the brackish marsh
complex. Common mammals are the cotton mouse, marsh rice rat (Oryzomys palustris),
muskrat, and marsh rabbit.

The avian community in the brackish marsh complex was composed of many species that favor
shrubby ecotones or marsh edges. Common summer birds include the red-winged blackbird,
common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas), white-eyed vireo (Vireo griseus), and prairie warbler
(Dendroica discolor). Several water-related species, including the belted kingfisher (Megaceryle
alcyon), great blue heron (Ardea herodias), king rail (Rallus elegans), green-backed heron
(Butorides striatus), and marsh wren (Cistothorus palustris), are common within creek marshes.
Wading birds and waterfowl are also frequent visitors. A bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
nest and over 20 osprey (Pandion haliaetus) nests were found in the brackish marsh complex
during the 1988-1989 sampling.

Four species of reptiles were encountered during field sampling. These species include the
green anole, common mud turtle, spotted turtle, and cottonmouth. This habitat was not heavily
used by amphibians, primarily due to salinity of adjoining waters.

Agricultural Land. Agriculture has historically been the primary human-related land use within
the study area. Some agricultural lands were allowed to succeed to forest, while others
(especially in the Bonnerton and NCPC Tracts) were planted as pine plantations, primarily by
Weyerhaeuser, in the 1960s and 1970s. An extensive ditch system was used to effectively drain
the soils to facilitate agricultural uses in hydric soil types. This community contains only those
lands currently managed for agriculture, including fields under cultivation, fields temporarily
fallow, and support areas associated with farming these fields. A total of 4,973 acres of the
project area exists as agricultural land.

On-site surveys indicate that 12 species of mammals used agricultural fields. Species
frequenting this habitat include the hispid cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidis), eastern mole, white-
tailed deer, bobcat, and eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus).

A total of 57 bird species were found in this community. Breeding bird use of active agricultural
land was virtually absent in open areas, as most associated nesting species were found nesting
along agricultural edges or in windrows. The killdeer (Charadrius vociferus), American robin, red-
winged blackbird, brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater), common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula),
and crows are frequent visitors to plowed winter fields. Avian nesting surveys revealed that fallow
fields contained the greatest abundance of breeding birds (116.8 birds/hour) and the second
greatest abundance of wintering birds (408.3 birds/hour). The most common summer birds in
fallow fields are the indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea), field sparrow (Spizella pusilla), and
rufous-sided towhee. The most common winter birds in fallow fields are the song sparrow
(Melospiza melodia), red-winged blackbird, and white-throated sparrow.

Five reptile species were identified in agricultural land; spotted turtle, common mud turtle,
snapping turtle, racer, and eastern garter snake. Three species of amphibians were found in
agricultural land; southern toad, southern chorus frog (Pseudacris nigrita), and southern leopard
frog.

Herbaceous Assemblage. As a result of the sampling survey, 15 species of mammals were
identified within this community. Common mammals include the least shrew, house mouse,
hispid cotton rat, Virginia opossum, gray fox, white-tailed deer, and bobcat.



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Aurora, North Carolina
A total of 77 species of birds were documented within this community. Avian composition was
similar to that found in fallow agricultural land, but the herbaceous assemblage contained the
fewest numbers of individuals for summer (16.4 birds/hour) and second lowest in winter (76.8
birds/hour). The most common summer birds are the red-winged blackbird, eastern meadowlark
(Sturnella magna), and northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). The most common winter birds
are the song sparrow, eastern meadowlark, and savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis).
The red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), northern harrier (Circus cyaneus), and American kestrel
(Falco sparverius) also use these areas heavily during the winter.

Only four reptiles were found within this habitat; the spotted turtle, racer, prairie kingsnake
(Lampropeltis calligaster), and northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon). Nine species of
amphibians were identified within this habitat. Common species are the pine woods treefrog,
squirrel treefrog, green treefrog (Hyla cinerea), little grass frog (Limnaoedus ocularis), and
southern leopard frog.

Shrub/scrub Assemblage. On-site mammal surveys resulted in the documentation of 18
species within this habitat. Common species are the golden mouse, eastern harvest mouse,
hispid cotton rat, eastern mole, Virginia opossum, and eastern cottontail, and, in wet areas, the
marsh rice rat and marsh rabbit.

 A total of 66 bird species were found in this community. The most common summer birds are
the rufous-sided towhee, common yellowthroat, indigo bunting, yellow-breasted chat (Icteria
virens), and prairie warbler. The most common winter birds are yellow-rumped warbler, American
robin, white-throated sparrow, rufous-sided towhee, and song sparrow. Shrub/scrub areas
dominated by wax myrtle and silverling are abundant with yellow-rumped warblers during the
winter. This species contributed to the total 700 birds/hour found in winter shrub/scrub areas,
which contained the highest number of individuals compared to all other habitats and seasons
during 1989.

Fourteen species of reptiles were identified within this habitat. Characteristic species are the
southeastern five-lined skink, common mud turtle, racer, rat snake, eastern garter snake, and
copperhead. Eleven species of amphibians were found in the disturbed-shrub/scrub assemblage.
Common species are the southern cricket frog (Acris gryllus), eastern narrow-mouthed toad,
green treefrog, squirrel treefrog, spring peeper, pine woods treefrog, little grass frog, southern
chorus frog, and southern leopard frog.

Non-vegetated/Maintained Areas. Eighteen species of mammals were found in these areas.
Common species include the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus), gray squirrel, eastern mole,
raccoon, eastern cottontail, and white-tailed deer.

Characteristic birds of these areas varied among sub-types of this habitat. Residential areas
attract common species such as the mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos), American robin, chimney
swift (Chaetura pelagica), purple martin, and common nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) during the
summer. The house sparrow (Passer domesticus), starling (Sturnus vulgaris), rock dove
(Columba livia), and brown-headed cowbird are common birds of industrial areas, old farmyards,
and residential areas. Roadsides and railroads attract many species found in ecotones, such as
the Carolina wren, brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum), gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis), and
rufous-sided towhee, as well as the American kestrel and red-tailed hawk.

Sixteen species of reptiles were identified in non-vegetated/maintained areas. Representative
species include green anole, southeastern five-lined skink, racer, common kingsnake
(Lampropeltis getulus), and rough earth snake (Virginia striatula).

Seven species of amphibians were found to occur in this habitat. Common species are the
southern toad, eastern narrow-mouthed toad, spring peeper, squirrel treefrog, southern chorus
frog, and slimy salamander.

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Aurora, North Carolina
Ponds. Ponds, borrow pits, and canals provide a permanent source of water that attracts
numerous mammals. Seven species of mammals were identified by sight or sign in and on the
periphery of these areas. Bats commonly feed over ponds and borrow pits. The Virginia
opossum, raccoon, gray fox, and white-tailed deer are common along the periphery. Common
residents include beaver, river otter (Lutra canadensis), nutria (Myocastor coypus), and muskrat.

Open waters of this community attract few avian species during the summer, however, many
species roost and feed in these areas during the winter. Several species of wading birds, such as
great blue heron and great egret (Casmerodius albus), frequent the shallow waters throughout
the year. The hooded merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus), green-winged teal (Anas crecca), ring-
necked duck (Aythya collaris), mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), and American black duck (Anas
rubripes) are common winter residents. A human-created mill pond, near the administration
building within the PCS plant, provides refuge for large flocks of both diving and puddle ducks.
Waterfowl numbers averaged 1,987 birds per winter census on this mill pond during the winter of
1988-1989, where approximately 3,000 canvasback (Aythya valisineria) often roosted. The
canvasback, ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis), northern shoveler (Anas clypeata), scaup (Aythya
spp.), and green-winged teal are the most common wintering waterfowl on this pond (CZR
Incorporated 1991). More information on waterfowl is presented in Section 3.11.2.

One species of reptile was identified within this habitat, the common slider (Trachemys scripta).
Three species of amphibians were found in and at the edge of ponds and borrow pits, including
the green treefrog, southern leopard frog, and bullfrog.


3.11.2 Aquatic Resources
Waterfowl. Durham Creek, South Creek, and the Pamlico River harbor large populations of
wintering waterfowl (grebes, swans, geese, ducks, and coot), therefore, these systems are
particularly valuable as wildlife habitat. The most common wintering species in the general field
sampling area during the winter of 1988-1989 were the canvasback, scaup, ruddy duck, black
scoter (Melanitta nigra), and surf scoter (Melanitta persipicillata). Approximately 10,000
individuals each of canvasback, scaup, and ruddy duck wintered in the sampling area during
1988-1989 (CZR Incorporated 1991).

The USFWS conducts mid-winter waterfowl surveys using aerial censuses in North Carolina.
Results from 1996 to 2005 surveys for Unit One, which encompasses the Pamlico River and its
tributaries from and including the Pungo River to Washington, NC are provided in Table 3-12.
Scaup, ruddy ducks, and canvasbacks continued to be the most commonly observed waterfowl.
American coot was also common during the 1996 to 2005 yearly surveys. An average of 12,709
individuals was observed each winter between 1996 and 2005. No trends in total waterfowl data
or data for individual species are apparent between 1996 and 2005 (USFWS unpublished data
2006).

Fish and Benthos. Surveys of fish and benthic communities were conducted for the 1994 DEIS.
The methodologies and results of these surveys of fisheries, benthos, and plankton in the creeks
and Pamlico River within the study area are presented in "Report on Water Quality and Sediment
Surveys in Support of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Tg Inc. Mine Continuation"
(Stanley 1990) and "Report on 1988-1989 Hydrography, Sediment, Benthic, Fisheries, and
Zooplankton/Ichthyoplankton Surveys in Support of the Environmental Impact Statement for the
Texasgulf Inc. Mine Continuation" (CZR Incorporated 1990). More recent data is available from
fish and benthos monitoring in Jacks Creek, Tooley Creek, and Huddles Cut conducted by CZR.
In addition, recent NCDMF data were used to update the status of juvenile fish and commercial
finfish and shellfish harvests. Finally, fish communities in Broomfield Swamp Creek and Cypress
Run, which were not part of the 1996 FEIS project area, were sampled in the summer of 2002.
The species list for all fish and benthos found within the study area is provided in Appendix F
(updated Aquatic Technical Memorandum).


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Aurora, North Carolina
Three planktonic forms exist in the Pamlico River and creeks adjacent to the PCS study area.
Animal plankton is called zooplankton and the plant forms are referred to as phytoplankton. A
third form often separated from zooplankton is ichthyoplankton, which consists of fish larvae.
Plankton of estuaries tend to be abundant, but of limited species diversity (Riley 1967; Lawson
1981, 1982). Extensive documentation of planktonic communities in the 1994 project area was
conducted by CZR for the DEIS. For detailed information on planktonic communities in the study
area, see the document entitled “1988-1989 Hydrography, Sediment, Benthic, Fisheries and
Zooplankton/Ickthyoplankton Surveys in support of the Environmental Impact Statement for the
Texasgulf Inc. Mine Continuation” (CZR Incorporated 1990).

The midreaches of the Pamlico River and associated creeks are characterized as an oligohaline-
mesohaline environment. Benthos found in the areas adjacent to PCS have adapted to the
widely fluctuating conditions. Due to the extreme range of salinities, species abundance and
diversity are low (Reid 1970, Tenore 1972). The established fauna includes meiobenthic (e.g.,
nematodes and copepods) and macrobenthic (e.g., polychaetes and mollusks) forms. Extensive
documentation of benthic communities in the study area was conducted by CZR for the 1996
FEIS (CZR Incorporated 1990).

As part of PCS’s mine permit requirements CZR has monitored estuarine benthic communities in
three creeks on the NCPC Tract: Jacks Creek (1998-2005), Tooley Creek (1998-2001), and
Huddles Cut (1998-2001). Yearly variation in benthic communities was high, although
Gammarus tigrinus, Chironomus sp., and Hobsonia florida were fairly common throughout the
NCPC monitoring period. Polychaetes and Dipterans were the most common taxa groups
encountered (CZR Incorporated et al. 2002). The data also suggest that benthic communities
may be responsive to long-term changes in salinity as well as the presence or absence of SAV.
A list of benthic invertebrates collected in Jacks Creek (1998 to 2005), and Tooley Creek and
Huddles Cut (1998 to 2001) during NCPC monitoring, is presented in the Aquatic Technical
Memorandum in Appendix F.

Blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) and penaeid shrimp (white, pink, and brown shrimp) are the only
commercially important shellfish found in the study area. Blue crabs are typically harvested by
crab pots, while shrimp are collected by trawls. The stock status of the blue crab is categorized
as “of concern” by the NCDMF due to substantial fluctuations in yearly catch. Trawling is
prohibited in PNAs (Jacks Creek, Tooley Creek, Jacobs Creek, and Porter Creek). Commercial
shell fishing is a multi-million dollar industry in Beaufort County. Table 3-13 presents the value of
commercial shellfish harvested in the Pamlico River by boats registered in Beaufort County.
Commercial shellfish value has fluctuated from 1996 to 2005. Total value dropped substantially
during 2000 and 2001, but has risen in subsequent years (NCDMF unpublished data 2006).

Nektonic communities consist of those free-swimming organisms that are independent of tidal
action and current for locomotion, and include both finfish and invertebrates. The NCDMF has
sampled the Pamlico River and certain estuarine creeks in the study area for several years,
documenting species composition, organism abundance, and seasonal habitat use. Within the
Pamlico River estuary, the nekton community consists primarily of estuarine organisms.
According to data collected by NCDMF and analyzed by Epperly (1984), four species of
commercially important invertebrates and 132 species of fish have been reported to occur within
the Pamlico-Albemarle peninsula. Bay anchovy (Anchoa mitchilli), spot (Leiostomus xanthurus),
and Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus) comprised over 75 percent of the total catch. A
literature review suggested that 126 species of freshwater, estuarine, and marine fish have
actually been collected from the Pamlico River estuary and nearby Pamlico Sound (Appendix F).

More recent fisheries data from NCDMF and CZR are available for Jacks Creek, South Creek,
Tooley Creek, Jacobs Creek, Bailey Creek, Whitehurst Creek, Broomfield Swamp, Cypress Run
and Porter Creek between 1996 and 2005 (CZR Incorporated et al. 2005; CZR Incorporated
2002b; CZR Incorporated consultant report 2002c; CZR Incorporated 2006; NCDMF unpublished
data 2006). A complete list of species collected during these surveys is presented in Table 3-14.

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Aurora, North Carolina
For most estuarine waterbodies found in the study area, Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias
undulates), spot, and bay anchovy were collected most frequently in yearly trawl surveys
conducted by CZR and the NCDMF. Menhaden, inland silverside (Menidia beryllina), and
rainwater killifish (Lucania parva) were also common in the estuarine creeks of South Creek.
Also collected during lower salinity years were freshwater species such as pumpkinseed
(Lepomis gibbosus), bluegill (Lepomis machrochirus), and brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus).
Catch numbers of individual species varied greatly with season and with year.

In July and August 2002, fish communities in Cypress Run, Broomfield Swamp Creek, and the
portions of South Creek located in the mining block South of NC 33/306 were evaluated by CZR.
Survey results revealed the expected gradients in fish communities from headwaters to deeper
wider downstream locations.       Most species encountered were freshwater fish such as
centrarchids and catfish (Ameiurus spp). However, the marine/estuarine species, spot, gizzard
shad (Dorosoma cepedianum), and striped mullet (Mugil cephalus), were also collected or
observed. A summary list of species collected is presented in Table 3-15. See Appendix F for a
complete description and analysis of survey results and fish habitat in these waterbodies.

A large number of commercially important species, such as flounder (Paralichthys spp.), spot,
croaker, seatrout (Cynoscion spp.) and menhaden are common in the study area. Table 3-13
presents the value of commercial finfish harvested in the Pamlico River by boats registered in
Beaufort County. Finfish value generally fluctuated between $200,000 and $259,000 from 1996
to 2003 with significant declines in 2004 and 2005 (NCDMF unpublished data 2006).

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is an interstate compact that seeks to
promote the better utilization of marine and anadromous fish and shellfish species along the
Atlantic seaboard through fisheries research, habitat conservation, species restoration, law
enforcement, and the development of fisheries management plans. Member states include
Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey,
Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The
commission is composed of three representatives from each member state, including the director
for the state’s marine fisheries management agency, as well as representatives from the USFWS
and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Species managed by the ASMFC are
presented in Table 3-16 along with the stock status of the species and its presence in the study
area. Also listed are species found in the study area that the NCDMF has listed as being
overfished or of concern. Atlantic croaker, shad (Alosa spp.), striped mullet, white perch (Morone
americana), and yellow perch (Perca flavescens) are listed as species whose stock status is of
concern. Striped bass (Morone saxatilus), southern flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma), coastal
sharks, and Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhnchus) are all found within the study area and are
considered overfished (Table 3-16).

The life history of many marine fish species requires residence in estuarine habitats like those
found in the study area. Consequently, the following creeks in the study area have been
designated PNAs by the NCWRC: Porter Creek, Tooleys Creek, Jacobs Creek, and Jacks Creek.
PNAs are defined by the Wildlife Resources Commission as those areas in which young marine
fish or crustaceans spend a major portion of their initial growing season due to favorable food,
cover, bottom type, salinity, temperature, or other factors (15A NCAC 10C.0502). Although the
inland portions of South Creek and Durham Creek have not been designated PNAs by the
NCWRC, these creeks provide important spawning and nursery habitat. South Creek contains
good populations of sunfish and yellow perch, and Durham Creek has traditionally provided
excellent seasonal fisheries for white perch, yellow perch, and striped bass (Personal
communication, 20 April 2004, Bob Barwick, NCWRC). In addition South Creek has been
designated a Special SNA by the NCDMF.




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Aurora, North Carolina
3.11.3 Essential Fish Habitat
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 USC 1801 et seq.)
requires the Secretary of Commerce to develop guidelines assisting regional fisheries
management councils in identification and creation of management and conservation plans for
Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). Each council is required to amend existing fisheries management
plans (FMPs) to include EFH designations and conservation requirements. The Act also requires
federal agencies to consult with the Secretary on all actions, or proposed actions—authorized,
funded, or undertaken by the agency—that might adversely affect EFH.

The term EFH is defined as “those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning,
breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity” (16 USC 1802(10)), “waters” include aquatic areas and
their associated physical, chemical, and biological properties that are used by fish and can
include aquatic areas historically used by fish where appropriate. “Substrate” includes sediment,
hard bottom, structures underlying the waters, and associated biological communities.
“Necessary” means the habitat required to support a sustainable fishery and the managed
species’ contribution to a healthy ecosystem. “Spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to
maturity” covers a species’ full life cycle. Designations and conservation requirements for EFH
are required only for species or species units for which Councils have developed FMPs.

Managed species found in the study area fall under the joint responsibility of the South Atlantic
Fisheries Management Council (SAFMC), the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council
(MAFMC), and NMFS. The SAFMC has defined several habitats as EFH for managed species
(SAFMC 1998). All EFH habitat types and their presence in the study area (SAFMC 1998) are
found in Table 3-17.

The paragraphs that follow present brief descriptions of EFH in the project area. Locations and
descriptions of these habitats are also presented in Section 3.8.

Estuarine Emergent. Estuarine emergent wetlands are brackish and salt marsh habitats. The
wetlands fringing portions of the Pamlico River, South Creek, Durham Creek, and their tributaries
are wetlands of this type. Salt marshes are nutrient-rich and have high primary productivity,
allowing these habitats to support a diversity of fish, invertebrates, and waterfowl. Fish use salt
marsh wetlands during multiple life stages because they provide nursery habitat for juveniles and
foraging areas for adults. Descriptions and locations of estuarine emergent habitats within the
study area are presented in Section 3.8. Estuarine emergent EFH is equivalent to brackish
marsh complex in the biotic community nomenclature (Section 3.8.1.8).

Palustrine Emergent and Forested. Palustrine emergent systems include tidal and non-tidal
marshes and forests. Because of the primary productivity of tidal marshes, this transition zone
supports a variety of managed species and their food sources. Although palustrine forested
systems are often not used directly by managed species, they provide functions which support
other types of EFH, including nutrient transformation, sediment retention, and detrital export.
Descriptions and locations of palustrine emergent and forested habitats within the project area
are presented in Section 3.8. Palustrine emergent and forested EFH is equivalent to portions of
brackish marsh and bottomland hardwood communities under the biotic community nomenclature
(Section 3.8.1.7).

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation. Tidal and non- tidal freshwater and oligohaline open water
habitats of the project area may contain SAV. These habitats are highly dynamic, often
displaying rapid seasonal changes in species composition, abundance, and distribution. During
field investigations from 1999 to 2005, CZR personnel have observed high temporal and spatial
variability in SAV communities in the lower reaches of Jacks Creek, Huddles Cut, and/or Tooley
Creek, likely related to salinity fluctuations. The distribution and composition of SAV are
influenced by several important factors such as light, salinity, turbidity, and nutrient levels.
Surveys for SAV in the study area found wild celery, naidad (Najas spp.), pondweed and widgeon


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Aurora, North Carolina
grass at Durham Creek. Widgeon grass and horned pondweed were found in Jacks Creek and
Jacobs Creek (Davis and Brinson 1976; Davis et al. 1985b). In addition, CZR personnel have
observed pondweeds and milfoils in the tributaries of South Creek.

Submerged aquatic vegetation serves as EFH in several ways. For many juvenile and adult fish,
the structural complexity of seagrass habitat provides refuge from predators. This habitat also
has high primary productivity and is rich in zooplankton and macroinvertebrates and therefore
serves as important foraging areas for managed species. This habitat also provides functions
which support other types of EFH, including nutrient export and transformation, sediment
retention, and detrital export. This community is occasionally found in creeks and rivers
described in Section 3.6.

Intertidal Flats. Intertidal flats are unvegetated or sparsely vegetated, sandy or soft bottom
areas and are found throughout the project area in the vicinity of creeks and rivers. The flats
provide year round habitat for invertebrates and are important feeding areas for both resident
fishes and seasonal migrants. Particularly important is the microhabitat known as the “marsh
edge,” or the detritus-rich area where the flats interface with marsh vegetation. The spatial extent
of intertidal flats is determined by local topography and tidal amplitude. Intertidal flats EFH are
found within the brackish marsh biotic communities described in Section 3.8.1.8.

Estuarine Water Column. The estuarine water column extends from the estuarine bottom to the
water surface. This habitat encompasses oligohaline (low salinity), mesohaline (moderate
salinity), and polyhaline (high salinity) waters, which includes all open water of the Pamlico River
estuary. Distinct zones within the water column can be defined by several parameters, such as
temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen. Water column zonation is continually fluctuating and
is a function of tidal dynamics, season, nutrient levels, and proximity to the ocean.

Fish and invertebrates often exploit distinct resources within the water column, based on species-
specific diet, behavior, and morphology. For example, demersal fishes (bottom-dwelling) are
adapted for bottom habitat, typically exhibiting specialized feeding organs, body shape, and
coloration; whereas, estuarine pelagic fishes are adapted for swimming and feeding higher in the
water column. Descriptions and locations of estuarine open waters within the study area are
presented in Section 3.8.2.2 and 3.9.1.

The SAFMC and MAFMC have developed fisheries management plans for several species, or
species units (SAFMC 1998; MAFMC 1998), although not all of theses species are found in the
study area. In addition, highly migratory species FMPs and Atlantic billfish FMP were developed
by the Highly Migratory Species Management Unit, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, NMFS (NMFS
1999a; NMFS 1999b). As part of each FMP, the council designates not only EFH, but also
Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPC), a subset of EFH that refers to specific locations
required by a life stage(s) of that managed species. Table 3-18 presents the species or species
units for which FMPs exist, whether these species are found within the study area, and
designated EFH and HAPC in the study area. Below is a description of managed species with
EFH found in the study area. Information on the distribution and life history of managed species
given in this text were obtained from SAFMC (1998) and Murdy et al. (1997).

Black Sea Bass (Centropristis striata). The black sea bass is a demersal species found from
Maine to Florida. Spawning occurs offshore from May to October along the continental shelf in
an area extending from southern New England to North Carolina. Larvae develop in coastal
waters and estuaries, with highest concentrations from Virginia to New York. As juveniles and
adults, this species is associated with submerged structure in estuarine and marine waters.
Black sea bass enter the Pamlico Sound during the late spring, summer, and fall to take
advantage of seasonally abundant fish and invertebrate prey. No black sea bass EFH is
designated in the study area by the MAFMC. However, black sea bass are considered part of the
Snapper Grouper Management Unit by the SAFMC, and therefore all estuarine emergent
wetlands, intertidal flats, and unconsolidated bottom habitats within the study area are designated

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black sea bass EFH by the SAFMC. All seagrass habitat, PNAs and SNAs are identified as EFH-
HAPC for black sea bass. In the study area, Jacks Creek, Jacobs Creek, Tooley Creek, and
Porter Creek are designated PNAs, and South Creek is a SNA. This species is considered over-
fished by the MAFMC.

Bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix). Bluefish are pelagic fish found in coastal waters from Nova
Scotia to South America. Adults are piscivorous (eat other fish) and generally feed on small
baitfish in inshore and estuarine habitats. This species makes long-distance migrations to Florida
during the fall and migrates north during the spring. They are seasonal visitors to the Pamlico
Sound, with the greatest abundance occurring from April to October. Spawning takes place on
the continental shelf at various times of the year depending on latitude. The Pamlico River
estuary is designated by the MAFMC as EFH for bluefish juvenile and adult life stages. No HAPC
has been designated. This species is considered over-fished by the MAFMC.

Summer Flounder (Paralichthys dentatus). The summer flounder is an estuarine-dependent
species found along the Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida. Spawning occurs from Cape Cod to
Cape Hatteras between October and May along the continental shelf in waters 30 to 360 feet in
depth. Larvae enter the estuaries, including the Pamlico Sound, in the late winter and spring
where they develop into juveniles before migrating to the ocean during the fall. As adults,
summer flounder continue to make seasonal use of estuaries. The MAFMC designates estuaries
of the Pamlico River as EFH for larval, juvenile, and adult life stages of summer flounder. In
addition, the SAV beds in the study area are designated HAPC by the MAFMC. This species is
considered over-fished by the MAFMC.

Scup (Stenotomus chrysops). Scup are found from Nova Scotia to eastern Florida, but are
rare south of North Carolina. Scup are migratory species that occupy offshore waters in winter
and inshore waters from spring to fall. Their diet consists mainly of invertebrates such as
crustaceans and mollusks. The MAFMC has not designated EFH for scup in the Pamlico Sound;
however, this species is considered over-fished by the MAFMC. Scup are considered part of the
Snapper Grouper Complex by the SAFMC. Therefore, all estuarine emergent wetlands, SAV,
intertidal flats, and unconsolidated bottom habitats within the study area are designated as scup
EFH by the SAFMC. All seagrass habitat, PNAs (Jacks Creek, Jacobs Creek, Tooley Creek, and
Porter Creek) and SNAs (South Creek) are identified as EFH-HAPC for scup.

Penaeid and Rock Shrimp (Penaeus sp.). Penaeid shrimp (white, pink, and brown shrimp) are
estuarine dependent species of ecological and commercial importance. Penaeid shrimp spawn
offshore where larval and postlarval development occurs as well. After currents carry postlarvae
into estuaries, shrimp distribute themselves according to substrate and salinity preference. As
shrimp grow, they migrate to deeper, high salinity waters before leaving for offshore spawning
grounds. All estuarine emergent wetlands, SAV, palustrine emergent and forested wetlands, and
intertidal flats within the study area are designated penaeid shrimp EFH. All SAV habitat, PNAs,
and SNAs within the Pamlico River Estuary are designated HAPCs for penaeid shrimp. There
are no rock shrimp or rock shrimp EFH in the project area.

Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus). Red drum are found in the coastal waters, inlets, and
estuaries of the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to northern Mexico. Spawning occurs in
shallow water along beaches and inlets, after which eggs and larvae are carried into estuaries
where juvenile development takes place. Juvenile feed and grow during the warmer months
before moving into deep estuarine or oceanic waters. As adults, red drum make pronounced
seasonal migrations along the coast, moving offshore or to southern waters in fall and back to
more northern, inshore waters in the spring. Red drum arrive at the Pamlico Sound between
March and April, with a second peak in abundance during fall as fish begin migrating south from
the Mid-Atlantic coast. All estuarine emergent wetlands, palustrine emergent wetlands, intertidal
flats, SAV, and unconsolidated bottom habitats within the study area are designated red drum
EFH. SAV, PNAs (Jacks Creek, Jacobs Creek, Tooley Creek, and Porter Creek) and SNAs
(South Creek) are identified as EFH-HAPC for red drum.

PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS          3-67                              September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
Snapper Grouper Management Unit. More than 70 species of fish, occupying a range of
niches, are included in the Snapper Grouper Management Unit. Although most of these species
occupy offshore structure and are not found within the study area, several representatives from
the following families of fish may be seasonally present in certain life stages: snapper
(Lutjanidae), triggerfish (Balistidae), jacks (Carangidae), spadefish (Ephippidae), sea bass and
grouper (Serranidae), and porgies (Sparidae). In addition, several estuarine dependent species,
such as mutton snapper (Lutjanus analis), grey snapper (L. griseus), and lane snapper (L.
synagris) can be found in the Pamlico River estuary. For these estuarine dependent species, all
estuarine emergent wetlands, intertidal flats, SAV, and unconsolidated bottom habitats within the
study area are designated EFH. All SAV, PNAs (Jacks Creek, Jacobs Creek, Tooley Creek and
Porter Creek), and SNAs (South Creek) are identified as EFH-HAPC.

Coastal Migratory Pelagics. This category refers to six species of migratory fish found along
the Atlantic coast from nearshore to the edge of the continental shelf. While adults generally are
found offshore, their prey is often estuarine dependent; therefore, estuarine habitats are
considered part of the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Management Unit. There is only limited use of
the study area by adult coastal migratory pelagics. However, at various life-stages, cobia
(Rachycentron canadum), Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus), and king mackerel
(Scomberomorus cavalla) may be found in the study area. PNAs (Jacks Creek, Jacobs Creek,
Tooley Creek, and Porter Creek) and SNAs (South Creek) are identified for coastal migratory
pelagics. No HAPC for coastal migratory pelagics are designated in the project area.


3.12    Protected Species
Federally-listed floral and faunal species have been granted protection under the Endangered
Species Act of 1973 (16 USC 1531-1543) which mandates that federal agencies ensure that any
actions authorized, funded, or carried out by that agency do not jeopardize the "continued
existence" of listed species, or result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat
(16 USC 1536). Section 7 consultation may require any proposed species with the potential to be
impacted by the project to be addressed.

Federally-listed endangered, threatened, and proposed species which occur in the study area
and the surrounding vicinity were identified from the US Fish and Wildlife (27 April 2006) listings
for Beaufort County (Table 3-19). The following species are listed for Beaufort County as
endangered by the USFWS: red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis), West Indian manatee
(Trichechus manatus), Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempi), and rough-leaved
loosestrife (Lysimachia asperulaefolia). In addition, two species, bald eagle (Haliaeetus
leucocephalus) and sensitive joint-vetch (Aeschynomene virginica), are listed for Beaufort County
as threatened. One reintroduced species, the red wolf (Canis rufus), is listed as experimental.
Species descriptions, biological conclusions, and potential for adverse impact to federally
endangered or threatened species are presented in Section 4.2.1.12.

The USFWS has also provided a list of “species of concern” which are not legally protected under
the Act, and are not subject to any of its provisions, including Section 7 of the Endangered
Species Act of 1973, as amended, until they are formally proposed or listed as threatened and
endangered. Federal species of concern for Beaufort County include: Rafinesque’s big-eared bat
(Corynorhinus rafinesquii), Eastern Henslow’s sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii), coastal plain
population of the black-throated green warbler (Dendroica virens waynei), Carolina gopher frog
(Rana capito capito), American eel (Anguilla rostrata), grassleaf arrowhead (Sagittaria
weatherbiana), and Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) (Table 3-19).

Endangered or threatened species under the jurisdiction of the NMFS for North Carolina include
six species of whales, five species of sea turtles, and one fish (Table 3-19). These species are:
blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), finback whale (Balaenoptera physalus), humpback whale
(Megaptera novaeangliae), northern right whale (Eubaleana glacialis), sei whale (Balaenoptera

PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS            3-68                                September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
borealis), sperm whale (Physeter catodon), green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill sea
turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate), leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerhead sea
turtle (Caretta caretta), Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), and shortnose sturgeon
(Acipenser brevirostrum). In addition, two species, Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus
oxyrhinchus), and American eel are listed by NMFS as species of concern.

Plants and animals with state designations of endangered, threatened, or special concern are
granted protection by the NC State Endangered Species Act (G.S. 113-113 to 113-337) and the
State of North Carolina Plant Protection and Conservation Act of 1979 (G.S. 196 106-202.19).
These acts are administered and enforced by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the NC
Department of Agriculture, respectively. Legal protection under North Carolina state law for listed
plant species deals primarily with the possession, propagation, or sale of individual plants.

State-protected species for Beaufort County were obtained from the database at the North
Carolina Natural Heritage Program (NCNHP) dated 4 May 2006 (Table 3-19). The following
species are listed for Beaufort County as endangered by the NCNHP: West Indian manatee,
Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, red-cockaded woodpecker, rough-leaved loosestrife, and sensitive joint-
vetch. In addition, four species, Rafinesque’s big-eared bat, bald eagle, Carolina gopher frog,
and snowy orchid (Platanthera nivea) are listed for Beaufort County as threatened.

The NCNHP has also provided a list of “special concern” species for Beaufort County. They
include the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), pigmy rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius), Carolina
water snake (Nerodia sipedon williamengelsi), Carolina diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys
terrapin centrata), Neuse River waterdog (Necturus lewisi), and Venus flytrap (Table 3-19).

The presence or potential presence of species listed in Table 3-19 is discussed below. The
NCNHP database, NCNHP element occurrence records, and discussions with state and federal
fish and wildlife representatives, as well as floral and faunal surveys of the potential mining blocks
were used to document species occurrences. Intensive surveys of the fauna, flora, and
associated environment within the 1996 FEIS general field sampling area were conducted from
October 1988 through January 1990. The methodologies and results from these intensive
surveys of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians can be found in "Report on Mammal, Bird,
and Reptile/Amphibian Surveys in Support of the Environmental Impact Statement for the
Texasgulf Inc. Mine Continuation" (CZR Incorporated 1991). Additional surveys occurred in
conjunction with field work conducted between 1999 and 2004 for some species (i.e., rough-
leaved loosestrife and red-cockaded woodpecker) in potential habitat not previously surveyed
(i.e., areas along the Suffolk Scarp) during the 1996 FEIS. In addition, several visits were made
by NCNHP staff to survey for the presence of protected species and natural communities of
particular interest.


3.12.1 Mammals
No endangered mammals have been observed or documented from the project area. However,
the endangered West Indian manatee has been confirmed in Tar-Pamlico waters as far inland as
Washington, North Carolina (Personal communication, 24 January 1990, Cathy Beck, Sirenia
Project, USFWS, Gainesville, FL). The West Indian manatee is a large aquatic mammal, which
feeds primarily on seagrasses. In the United States, the manatee occurs in Florida, although
occasional occurrences during the summer have been documented as far north as coastal
Virginia. The manatee has been documented in several locations along the North Carolina coast,
including Beaufort County (NCNHP database 2006). The manatee can be found in a variety of
aquatic marine, freshwater, and brackish habitats including rivers, estuaries, canals, and bays.
Protected whales listed in Table 3-19 are not found in the study area, nor is suitable habitat
present (NCNHP database 2006).




PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS            3-69                                September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
Although once found throughout the southeastern United States, red wolves were extinct in the
wild by 1980. Four pairs were released in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in 1987.
Pups and second generation pups have been born in the wild. Any heavily vegetated area of
sufficient size to provide adequate food, water, and cover is considered potential habitat for the
red wolf. They establish dens in hollow trees, stream banks, abandoned dens of other animals,
drain pipes, and culverts. Their diet consists of white-tailed deer and a wide range of small
mammals. Red wolves have been documented in Beaufort County, south of the Pamlico River.
The most recent record is from November 2001 at which time a single red wolf was located
southeast of Chocowinity, North Carolina. However, none are currently thought to be present in
the study area (Personal communication, 20 April 2004, Bud Fazio, Coordinator, Alligator River
National Wildlife Refuge USFWS).

Rafinesque's big-eared bat, listed by the state as a special concern species, has been
documented in the study area, and may be present in the project area (NCWRC unpublished data
2004; NCNHP database 2006). This species was not encountered during 1988-1990 field
surveys, although suitable habitat exists. No endangered or threatened mammals were observed
within the 1996 sampling area or in conjunction with field work conducted for this DEIS between
1999 and 2005; nor do NCNHP records of other state or federally listed mammals exist for the
project area.


3.12.2 Birds
The endangered red-cockaded woodpecker was once common throughout the southeastern
United States, but has now been reduced in number to a point where it remains primarily in
scattered populations, with only a few areas remaining as strongholds for the species. Preferring
mature open longleaf pine stands, it was naturally one of the first species to feel the pressures of
agriculture and the logging industry. The endangered red-cockaded woodpecker was not
observed during the 1988-1990 field surveys, but has been documented in other areas of
Beaufort County (Jackson 1971). There are two known sites where red-cockaded woodpeckers
have nested in Beaufort County, Goose Creek Gamelands, approximately 10 miles east of the
study area, and Goose Creek State Park, north of the Pamlico River. Red-cockaded
woodpeckers no longer occur at these sites and the last recorded nesting occurred in the 1990s
(Personal communication, 2 January 2003, David Allen, Coastal Region Faunal Diversity
Supervisor NCWRC; and 4 May 2005, Curtis Dykstra, Ranger, Goose Creek State Park). The
NCNHP lists a 1982 record of a red-cockaded woodpecker in the southern portion of the Grace
Tract (NCNHP database 2006) and suitable habitat exists in the project area (Personal
communication, 2 January 2003, David Allen, Coastal Region Faunal Diversity Supervisor
NCWRC). The best potential habitat for this species in the area occurs near the Suffolk Scarp
along NC 306 between NC 55 and NC 33. Although the habitat along the Scarp appears
potentially favorable, no birds or nest trees have been reported despite searches in conjunction
with DEIS field work 1999 through 2005. The Scarp has been the subject of surveys by NCNHP
and CZR conducted extensive field work in this area with regulatory agencies during the course
of data collection associated with the preparation of this DEIS. However, neither CZR nor
NCNHP personnel have encountered this species or any evidence of this species during field
work, agency on-site reviews, and NCNHP surveys conducted during 2003-2005 (Personal
communication, Michael Shafele, Community Ecologist NCNHP, 7 September 2006).

The threatened bald eagle occurs throughout North America. This species is an uncommon, but
local, permanent resident found in areas near open water throughout North Carolina. However,
the number of nesting birds in the state is relatively low compared to Virginia and South Carolina.
Bald eagles suffered greatly from the use of pesticides during the 1950s and 1960s and have
been protected by the Endangered Species Act since its inception in 1973. Bald eagles have
recovered over the past years, and the species’ federal status was changed from endangered to
threatened in 1995, and is currently proposed for removal from the federal list of threatened and
endangered wildlife.


PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS           3-70                               September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
Nesting bald eagles have been documented in the study area (NCNHP database 2006). An
eagle pair established a nest less than 550 feet from active mining reclamation activities in 1987
and successfully produced offspring from 1988 through 1992. The nest and the nest tree were
destroyed during a storm in March 1993, and the eagle pair began nesting nearby on the west
side of Porter Creek. More recently, one nest near Core Point produced a fledgling in 2005, and
an active bald eagle nest was observed near Durham Creek in 2002 and 2003. There was no
activity on known nests in 2001. A pair was seen nesting in 2000 near the point where an arm of
Durham Creek crosses Durham Creek Road (Personal communication, 2 December 2005, David
Allen, Coastal Region Faunal Diversity Supervisor NCWRC). Although there are eight known
eagle nests in Beaufort County in 2006, there are none within the project area proposed for mine
continuation. (Personal communication 15 June 2006, David Allen, Coastal Region Faunal
Diversity Supervisor NCWRC)

Eastern Henslow’s sparrow is a federal species of concern and is listed by the state as
significantly rare. In eastern North Carolina, the Henslow’s sparrow is an occasional winter
resident and migrant, and a local nester in early successional fields/pine plantations/clear-cut
areas. The species was documented in a young pine plantation from the study area during the
spring of 1975 (CZR Incorporated 1991). A single singing bird, likely a migrant, was noted by
CZR on 16 April 1991 in an old field on the NCPC Tract. The black-throated green warbler is a
localized breeder in some swamps, pine, and bay forests. A few black-throated green warblers
have been documented singing along the Suffolk Scarp and may nest in the older bay/pine
forests. Several other birds listed as endangered, threatened or state species of concern for the
NCWRC have been documented in the study area. Documented sightings include glossy ibis
(Plegadis falcinellus), little blue heron (Egretta caerulea), loggerhead shrike (Lanius
ludovicianus), snowy egret (Egretta thula), black vulture (Coragyps atratus), common tern (Sterna
hirundo), Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii), gull-billed tern (S.nilotica), least tern (S.antillarum),
and tricolored heron (Egretta tricolor). Although these species have been documented from the
study area, most are non-breeding visitors. The black vulture and Cooper’s hawk could
potentially breed in the study area. No active colonial waterbird nesting sites are known from the
study area, although the least tern has nested within the active mine/plant site in past years (CZR
Incorporated 1991).


3.12.3 Reptiles
Sea turtles are generally warm water oceanic species that nest on tropical beaches, and, less
commonly, on the beaches of the Carolinas and Virginia. Sea turtles are occasionally sighted in
the Pamlico River. There are at least seven records of sea turtles from the Pamlico River
between 1988 and September 2006 (Personal communications, 4 October 2006, Joanne Braun-
McNeill, Research Fisheries Biologist, NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Beaufort, NC;
29 January 1990, Sheryan Epperly, NMFS; 27 November 1990, Tom Henson, NCWRC). All of
the seven records are from Beaufort County between Bath Creek and Pungo River within the
months of June through August. Three of the sightings are loggerhead sea turtle (June 1988,
June 1989, August 2006), two sightings are Kemp’s ridley sea turtles (July 1989, August 1990),
one is a green sea turtle (June 1992), and one is unknown (July 2005). The Kemp’s ridley and
green sea turtles were caught in pound nets near the Bayview Ferry landing, which are the
records closest to PCS. Although the endangered leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles occur in
the Pamlico Sound, they are generally ocean residents and have not been documented in the
study area in the last two decades (NCNHP database 2006; Personal communication, 24 May
2004, Joanne Braun-McNeill, NMFS).

Two reptiles, the Carolina watersnake and diamondback terrapin, both having state special
concern status, have been documented in the region but not in the study area (NCNHP database
2006). However, two other species of special concern, the pigmy rattlesnake and the timber
rattlesnake have been documented in the study area (NCNHP database 2006).



PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS             3-71                               September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is federally listed as threatened due to its
similarity of appearance to the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), although it is not listed for
Beaufort County by the USFWS. The alligator’s range in the Coastal Plain extends south from
the Albemarle Sound into Florida. This species was not encountered during CZR’s past and
present aquatic sampling efforts, although sightings have been reported by PCS employees in
the past (Conservation Consultants Inc. 1982).


3.12.4 Amphibians
At present, no state- or federally-listed endangered, threatened, or special concern amphibian
species are known or expected to occur in the region. There are historic (greater than 20 years
old) Beaufort County occurrence records of the Carolina gopher frog, a federal species of
concern and state threatened species, and the Neuse River waterdog, a state listed special
concern species. However, these species were not encountered during the reptile and amphibian
surveys conducted in the 1996 FEIS sampling area from November 1988 through August 1991
and there are no records of these species for the current study area (CZR Incorporated 1991;
NCNHP database 2006).

The Carolina gopher frog was last recorded in Beaufort County in the 1930s and habitat at the
two documented sites has been altered (filled and/or drained). The closest known active
breeding site to Aurora is in Carteret County, over 30 miles to the south. Ponds in association
with long-leaf pine forests and clay-based bays represent potential habitat. After the Corps’
discussion with representatives of the North Carolina Heritage Program and the USFWS, a
survey targeting the Carolina gopher frog was conducted in 1993 by Mr. Alvin L. Braswell,
Curator of Amphibians, NC State Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, North Carolina with the
assistance of CZR biologists. This survey was conducted on areas primarily along the Suffolk
Scarp north of NC 33. According to Mr. Braswell, no evidence of the Carolina gopher frog was
found on PCS properties during this survey (Braswell 1993). Mr. Braswell believes that the best
potential habitats (ponds along the Suffolk Scarp) were visited, and that the chance for
occurrence of this frog on this property was low. However, no impacts to ponds are proposed in
the vicinity of the Suffolk Scarp.


3.12.5 Fish
At present, no state- or federally-listed endangered, threatened, or special concern fish species
are known or expected to regularly occur in the vicinity of the study area. Although habitat for
shortnose sturgeon and Atlantic sturgeon is present in the vicinity of the study area, this species
is likely to be rarely present in the study area. In Beaufort County, no records of this species exist
for the study area (NCNHP database 2006).


3.12.6 Other Animals
No state or federally threatened or endangered mollusks are known to occur in Beaufort County
(NCNHP database 2006). Additionally, there are no federally-listed threatened or endangered
amphibians, crustaceans, arachnids, or insects known to occur in or near the study area (NCNHP
database 2006).


3.12.7 Flora
The rough-leaved loosestrife, an endangered species, is endemic to the Carolinas in the Coastal
Plain, occurring in moist sandy areas in savanna-pocosin ecotones and occasionally in peaty soil
(Sutter et al. 1987). This species was not encountered in the general field sampling area, but has
been historically documented in Beaufort County in the past (Radford et al. 1968). A 1993 record


PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS            3-72                                September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
of the rough-leaved loosestrife exists for the southern portion of the Grace Tract (NCNHP
database 2006). Potentially suitable habitat occurs in the western region of the study area, but
no individuals were found during surveys conducted by CZR along the Suffolk scarp in the
summer of 2002.

The sensitive joint-vetch (Aeschynomene virginica) is known from sites located in Maryland, New
Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia. This species occurs in slightly brackish marshes in a variety
of substrates from Virginia north; however, all documented sites in North Carolina are in
disturbed, weedy habitats, such as agricultural and/or roadside ditches in the lower coastal plain.
The following information was taken from the Federal Register, Vol. 57, No. 98, 20 May 1992:

        The sensitive joint-vetch (Aeschynomene virginica), a federally-listed threatened
        species and state-listed endangered species, is an annual legume that requires
        the unique growing conditions occurring along segments of river systems close
        enough to the coast to be influenced by tidal action, yet far enough upstream to
        consist of fresh or slightly brackish water. There have been three marginal
        occurrences recorded in North Carolina, one of which was in a ditch in Beaufort
        County. Intensive fieldwork in 1989 and 1990 in North Carolina's fresh tidal
        marshes in the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds located no new sensitive joint-
        vetch populations. These areas represented the best potential habitat in North
        Carolina, and it is therefore unlikely that any additional significant joint-vetch
        populations will be found in North Carolina.

Although extensive field work was conducted in the 1996 FEIS study area, including biotic
community mapping and description, compilation of a detailed study area plant list, wetlands
delineations throughout the study area, CAMA area delineations, and Habitat Evaluation
Procedures (HEP) sampling in all study area habitats from late 1989 to mid-1992, the sensitive
joint-vetch was not documented. The irregularly flooded marsh areas, mapped as CAMA
"Coastal Wetlands" as well as some wet ditches represent potential habitat for this species.
Additional surveys targeting this species were conducted during August and September 1993, but
this federally-listed threatened species was not found (DuMond 1993). Additional surveys for this
species were conducted in the project area during October 2006 after the discovery of two new
documented sites along NC 92 near Bayview, NC. These sites are about ten miles north of
Aurora and probably contain more than 1000 plants (Personal communication, October 2006,
Dale Suiter, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, USFWS and Michael Schafele, NCNHP).

Within the project area, records also exist for one federal species of concern, the Venus flytrap,
which was documented in portions of the Grace Tract in 1966 and 1982 (NCNHP database
2006). There are no records since 1982, despite additional surveys for this species.

There is one historical (over 20 years old) record of the state threatened snowy orchid
(Plantanthera nivea) from Beaufort County.. In addition, the NCNHP has no records of this
species in the study area (NCNHP database 2006). Plants not mentioned above but listed as
significantly rare by the Natural Heritage Program that are known from the vicinity, but not
documented on the project area, and for which suitable habitat may occur include: the grassleaf
arrowhead (Sagittaria weatherbiana).


3.13    Air Quality
The "ambient air" is defined by the USEPA as "that portion of the atmosphere, external to
buildings, to which the general public has access." Ambient air quality is determined by
measuring ambient pollutant concentrations and comparing the concentrations to the
corresponding standard. The ambient air quality standards set by the USEPA (as required by the
Clean Air Act [last amended in 1990]) are classified as primary standards, secondary standards,
or both. Table 3-20 lists the National and North Carolina Ambient Air Quality Standards. Primary

PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS           3-73                              September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
standards set limits that are designed to protect public health, including the health of “sensitive”
populations i.e., the elderly, children, and asthmatics. Secondary standards are designed to
protect public welfare including protection against decreased visibility and damage to animals,
crops, vegetation, and buildings. The air quality monitoring program in North Carolina (including
a summary of National and NC Ambient Air Quality Standards, discussions of measured
parameters, and monitoring stations) is discussed in detail in the 2000 Ambient Air Quality Report
(NCDENR, Division of Air Quality, Ambient Monitoring Section 2002).

The project is located within the jurisdiction for air quality of the Washington Regional Office of
the NCDENR. Emissions from the PCS mineral processing facilities are regulated by a Title V air
quality permit issued by the NCDENR, Division of Air Quality (DAQ). Beaufort County is
designated as an attainment area (NCDNR, Division of Air Quality 2004), and the area is in
compliance with Section 176 (c) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), as amended. The State of North
Carolina does have a State Implementation Plan (SIP) approved or promulgated under Section
110 of the CAA. However, for the following reasons, a conformity determination is not required:

a.     40 CFR Section 93.153 (b) of the CFR states, "For Federal actions not covered by
       paragraph (a) of this section, a conformity determination is required for each pollutant
       where the total of direct and indirect emissions in a nonattainment or maintenance area
       caused by a Federal action would equal or exceed any of the rates in paragraphs (b)(1) or
       (2) of this section." The study area has been designated by the State of North Carolina as
       an attainment area.

b.     The direct and indirect emissions from the project fall below the prescribed de minimus
       levels (40 CFR Section 93.153 (c)(1)) and therefore, no conformity determination would be
       required pursuant to USEPA regulation 40 CFR 93.153. The Corps is only concerned with
       emissions resulting from the proposed mine continuation. Therefore, only the mining
       equipment emissions would be considered in this project. Sections 2.1 and 3.17.10
       indicate that the bucket wheel excavators, the large draglines, and the pumps used to
       transport phosphate slurry from the mine to the plant are electric powered. The only fossil
       fuel-powered equipment used at the mine is the smaller earth moving equipment, and light
       transport vehicles.

c.     The project is located within the jurisdiction for air quality of the Washington Regional Office
       of the NCDENR. The ambient air quality for Beaufort County has been determined to be in
       compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. This project is not anticipated
       to create any adverse effect on the air quality of this attainment area.




3.14     Noise
In general, the outdoor noise environment varies greatly in magnitude and character depending
on the time of day, season of the year, human activity, land use, transportation networks, and
degree of urbanization, industrialization, and forestation. Residual noise is the relatively constant
noise which one might hear in a backyard at night, which seems to come from no identifiable
direction or source. Daytime residual, or ambient, noise may vary from 33 dBA on a rural farm to
77 dBA overlooking an eight-lane freeway (Eldred 1974). [Note: dBA is decibels A-weighted.
Amplitudes of the various frequencies are electronically weighted to approximate human hearing
sensitivity. A decibel is a unit for expressing the relative intensity of sounds on a scale from zero
for the average least perceptible sound to about 130 for the average pain level.] Noise levels
have an inverse square relationship to distance; that is, noise dissipates rapidly as distance from
the source increases.



PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS             3-74                                September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
PCS conducted a 1990 noise survey at six locations selected to encompass the then active mine
area. Noise levels were continuously recorded on dosimeters for ten minute sample periods over
a 24-hour period on 27-28 February and 5 March 1990 (Figure 3-15). Average noise levels
ranged from 43.9 dBA to 64.4 dBA, with an overall average of 52.1 dBA (Table 3-21). Although
these noise levels are higher than ambient noise within the area, noise dissipates as the square
of the distance from the source increases and is attenuated by groundcover, foliage, and man-
made or natural barriers (USEPA 1988a). Also, Woodward-Envirocon, Inc. conducted an
ambient noise survey at a site similar in land use, human activity, and physical features to the
North Carolina Phosphate Corporation site. Study results indicated that the average ambient
noise level ranged from approximately 35 dBA to about 60 dBA (North Carolina Phosphate
Corporation 1975). Based on these studies, and the fact that plant activities have not
substantially changed in the last 10 years, it could be projected that ambient noise levels would
range from 33 to 64 dBA throughout the study area.

The advancement of the mining operations brings with it several sources of mechanical noise.
The primary sources associated with this operation include heavy mobile equipment (haulage
trucks, scrapers, front-end-loaders, bulldozers, backhoes, or other such equipment), the bucket
wheel excavator system, maintenance work (fabrication and repairs), pipeline work (reverberation
noise from impact wrenches), diesel pumps and small gasoline engines, air compressors and
welding machines, exploratory drill rigs, automobiles, trains, and light trucks. Peak noise levels of
heavy mobile equipment used in site preparation for mining are typically around 84 to 91 dBA 50
feet from the equipment (USEPA 1988a; U. S. Department of Energy 2003).

Due to the unconsolidated nature of the overburden and the phosphate ore itself, explosives for
blasting purposes have not been required. However, the Mine Safety and Health Administration
(MSHA) requires that all heavy mobile equipment have back-up alarms and that the conveyors for
the bucket wheel excavator system have start-up alarms. The alarms on the heavy mobile
equipment operate only while the equipment is in reverse, and the conveyor start-up alarms
operate for a maximum duration of 20 seconds at each start-up. The bucket wheel excavator
system is scheduled to operate seven days per week and 24 hours per day. Although downtimes
occur intermittently for operational and mechanical reasons, start-ups are not frequent. The
MSHA regulations require that back-up and start-up alarms be audible enough to be heard over
surrounding noise. For the most part, the on-going (more continuous) noise from the mining
operation is located on the mine bench, which is 35 feet below ground level and is muffled,
blocked, or reduced. The perimeter of this active mine area is bordered by a system of ditches,
an access road, and, depending on mine block location, varying widths of vegetated buffer.

An Employee Notification System has recently been installed on the plantsite to provide a means
of communication to all PCS personnel. The system includes use of the company radio system,
speakers within buildings, and an external public address system. Some local residents have
indicated that under certain meteorological conditions they can hear the public address system.

Additionally, in the fall of 2002, PCS began operating a new animal feed manufacturing facility or
Defluorinated Feed Phosphate (DFP) plant which generated a noise complaint from residents
within a five mile radius. In response, at a cost of $200,000, PCS installed an Aeroacoustic
“Silentflow” Scrubber stack silencer which has significantly reduced noise levels.


3.15    Radiation
People are exposed daily to radiation from naturally occurring radioactive materials on the earth
and from cosmic sources. The oceanic physical and chemical processes that concentrate
phosphate in sediments also concentrate uranium. Uranium238 accounts for 99.38 percent of the
naturally occurring uranium. Phosphate rock mined and processed in North Carolina has about
0.0081 percent (81 ppm) uranium (Horton 1990 unpublished report of Scientific Analysis, Inc.),
compared to 0.01 to 0.02 percent (100 to 200 ppm) average uranium concentrations in central

PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS            3-75                               September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
Florida phosphate deposits (USEPA 1988b). Uranium238 decays through 13 intermediate
daughter nuclides until the stable nuclide, lead 206, is reached. In a sealed environment, the
relative concentrations of the 15 nuclides reach a state of equilibrium. The concentrations in
undisturbed phosphate deposits are in such equilibrium, at least with respect to the first six of the
15 nuclides – uranium238, thorium234, protactinium234, uranium234, thorium230, and radium226
(USEPA 1988b). Radium and its daughter nuclide, radon (and its decay products), are the most
biologically active of the 15 nuclides. Radium is chemically similar to calcium, tends to be
concentrated in bone and other tissues, and may be ingested in contaminated drinking water or
inhaled or ingested as particulates. Radium decays to radon, an inert gas, which can be inhaled,
resulting in radiation exposure to lung tissue.

Gamma radiation data collected by the North Carolina Environmental Radiation Surveillance
Branch of the Department of Human Resources, Radiation Protection Section (NCERSB) at the
PCS mine, plant, and surrounding areas during on-going mine operations yield annual averages
of 70 to 86 miliRems/yr (mR/yr). The coastal North Carolina average is 66 mR/yr, and the United
States average is 105 mR/yr (USEPA 1972). The National Council on Radiation Protection and
Measurements (1987) has recommended a general public exposure limit of 500 mR/yr.

Typically, each day PCS moves 35,000 to 45,000 tons of prestrip overburden, 70,000 to 75,000
tons of stripping overburden, and 30,000 to 40,000 tons of ore matrix. Radium concentrations in
vegetation and in surface an subsurface materials range from 0.07 ± picocurie/gram (pCi/g) in
vegetation on reclaimed land to 5.86 ± 0.04 pCi/g in ore (NC Department Human Resources
1981). The disturbance of these materials permits the escape of a greater amount of radiation
than would occur in the absence of such disturbances. PCS currently maintains approximately
400 acres of phosphogypsum stacks, with a radium concentration ranging from 4.3 pCi/g (PEDCo
1984) to 5.54 ± 0.05 pCi/g, stockpiled in previous years as a by-product of the mineral processing
plant. The stacks emit an average of 1.2 to 1.5 pCi-m /s of radon (USEPA 1989b), well below the
limit of 20 pCi-m /s of radon (Horton 1990). While radon emissions from lands reclaimed with
blend are greater than those documented in earlier reclaimed lands, those levels are well within
the standard for inactive phosphogypsum stacks. Approximately 5,200 acres have been filled
with blend through 2005.

Gross alpha activity in groundwater and in the vicinity of PCS ranged from 0.00 ± 1.86 to 3.09 ±
9.76 pCi/L and gross beta activity from 0.00 ± 6.06 to 31.94 ± 11.10 pCi/L (NCERSB 1985). The
North Carolina groundwater quality standard is 15 pCi/L for alpha activity excluding radon and
uranium. Mitsch (1982) measured 0.25 ± 0.07 to 0.86 ± 0.11 pCi/L radium concentrations in wells
at PCS. The NCERSB found 0.04 pCi/L ± 50 percent to 2.1 pCi/L ± 3 percent radium from wells
at and in the vicinity of PCS in 1980. Samples have not been analyzed by state agencies or
researchers for the combined concentration of radium226 and radium228 (total radium), but values
are expected to be well below the North Carolina groundwater quality standard of 5 pCi/L.
Reported groundwater radon concentrations of 22 ± 7 pCi/L to 80 ± 10 pCi/L are relatively low
and pose no health risk (Mitsch 1982).

The reported radium concentrations in surface waters in and around PCS property range from 0.2
± 13 percent to 1.9 ± 4 percent pCi/L (NC Department Human Resources 1981). Total radium
concentrations are well below the North Carolina surface water quality standard of 5 pCi/L. The
NCERSB found low levels of total uranium in 1986, but none in 1987. There is no surface water
quality standard for uranium. Reported gross alpha activity from all sources (including radon and
uranium activity) in surface water at and in the vicinity of PCS of 0.00 ± 52.20 to 14.07 ± 31.45
pCi/L are lower than the 15 pCi/L standard for alpha activity from all sources other than radon and
uranium. Gross beta activity from naturally occurring radionuclides ranged from 0.00 ± 50.15 to
145.97 ± 32.35. There is no surface water quality standard for gross beta activity from naturally
occurring radionuclides. Tritium activity levels at and in the vicinity of PCS of 0.00 ± 412.44 to
182.36 ± 844.11 pCi/L are well within the 20,000 pCi/L standard.



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Aurora, North Carolina
Gross alpha activity and gross beta activity in sediment samples from 57 stations in the Pamlico
River, Durham Creek, Porter Creek, Huddles Cut, South Creek, and the tributaries of South
Creek were low, ranging from 0.0 ± 4.7 pCi/g to 14.1 ± 3.9 pCi/g, and 0.0 ± 4.4 pCi/g to 17.5 ± 3.3
pCi/g, respectively (Stanley 1990). The NCERSB data confirm that levels of radiation and
concentrations of radionuclides in bottom sediments are low. North Carolina has no set
standards for radioactivity in sediments (Stanley 1990).


3.16    Cultural Resources

3.16.1 Historic and Archaeological Sites
The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) lists no historic architectural resource sites
within the study area. An archaeological survey of the study area North of NC 33/306, including
Bonnerton and NCPC as well as directly adjacent lands, was conducted by Dr. David S. Phelps
for the 1996 FEIS from mid-August 1989 through January 1990. The survey investigated a total
of 62 sites: seven previously recorded archaeological sites, 35 previously unrecorded
archaeological sites, and 20 cemeteries. The 62 sites range in age from the Late Paleo-Indian
period (10,000 - 8,000 B.C.) to the present and reflect the almost complete cultural continuum for
the region. Twelve of these sites are within the project area or close enough to the boundary to
be included in this study. Dr. Phelps recommended that no further investigation at the recorded
archaeological sites within the previous 1996 study area be undertaken. None of the sites were
deemed eligible for nomination to the NRHP, but they have provided significant additions to the
cultural record (Phelps 1992). By letter dated 9 March 1993, the North Carolina State Historic
Preservation Officer (SHPO) reviewed Dr. Phelps archaeological survey and concurred with his
recommendation.

Table 3-22 lists the 45 sites (40 archeological sites and five cemeteries) which are within the
project area or close enough to a tract boundary to be potentially impacted by mining activities.
There are nine sites in the Bonnerton Tract (four archaeological sites and five cemeteries). There
are four archeological sites in the NCPC tract and 32 sites (all archaeological) in the S33 Tract.
The type of archaeological site or name of the cemetery is indicated, as well as the
recommended research or mitigation procedure for each site. None of the archaeological sites
require mitigation. If any of the cemeteries would be directly impacted, the graves would need to
be relocated as stipulated by pertinent North Carolina statutes.

The majority of standing residential structures includes variations of twentieth century designs
and mobile homes. A few houses representative of the late nineteenth and/or early twentieth
century still exist, but do not represent classic styles. Similarly, some of the churches located in
lands adjacent to the current Bonnerton Tract in the study area are examples of local architectural
practices, which, while different in style, are not of National Register significance. Among these
are St. John's (currently used as a residence), St. Matthew’s, and Oak Grove churches, all
located along the Bonnerton Road (SR 1936). The observed lack of historically significant
structures is confirmed by a survey accomplished by the Survey and Planning Branch of the NC
Division of Archives and History, which listed a few significant structures in the town of Aurora
and the Bonner house near the community of Edward but identified none in the 2006 DEIS
project area (NC Department of Cultural Resources 1977). Tables 5-8 and 5-10 in the 1992 Draft
Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) (CZR Incorporated 1992) show the cultural resource sites
known.

Cultural resources in the S33 Tract, which represent an addition to the 1996 FEIS project
boundary, were surveyed 9-17 December 2002 and 2-7 February 2004 by TRC Garrow
Associates, Inc (TRC). Detailed survey results can be found in the Cultural Resource Survey for
the Proposed PCS Phosphate Aurora Facility Expansion, Beaufort County, North Carolina
Volumes I and II (Draft and Final) (TRC Garrow Associates, Inc. 2003 and 2004 [Appendix G of


PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS           3-77                               September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
this document]). The survey included systematic surface inspection within agricultural fields and
shovel testing of the non-hydric soils within the study area. Vehicular and pedestrian methods
were used to locate potential architectural resources. Local residents and the PCS Land Office
Manager were also consulted regarding the location of historic resources. The survey resulted in
the identification of 9 historic house sites, 10 historic artifact scatters, and 13 isolated historic
finds (Table 3-22). All but two of the historic house sites had been demolished and none were
considered eligible for the NRHP. The 10 historic artifact scatters and the 13 isolated finds were
within actively cultivated agricultural fields and were not associated with intact cultural remains.
TRC concluded that given the high rate of disturbance and destruction found within the entire
study area, it is unlikely that intact sites exist in the remainder of the unsurveyed areas and no
further cultural resource investigations were recommended for the study area. By letter dated 22
December 2003 and a second letter dated 30 November 2004, the North Carolina SHPO
reviewed TRC’s archaeological survey and concurred with TRC’s recommendation.

Cultural resources were also surveyed in early spring 2006 by TRC near the PCS Outfall 010.
This area near the northern perimeter of the NCPC Tract was not surveyed by Phelps in 1992.
Approximately 45 acres were surveyed, including rivershore, old agricultural field, and environs.
The 2006 TRC survey resulted in three archaeological sites, but only one, an historic artifact
scatter, is located within the project area. None of these sites are considered eligible for the
NRHP and no NRHP-eligible architectural resources were identified within the area surveyed
(TRC Garrow Associates, Inc. Revised Draft Cultural Resources Study for the Potential PCS
Phosphate Aurora Facility Expansion, Beaufort County Volume III. [Appendix G of this
document]). Concurrence from SHPO on the 2006 survey was received in a letter dated 28 July
2006.


3.16.2 Existing Structures
On 7 July 2005 a survey of existing structures (primarily residences and churches) was
conducted in the field on the Bonnerton and S33 Tracts. Soil survey maps, USGS topography
maps, and 1998 CIR images were used to locate potential sites prior to the field reconnaissance.
In the Bonnerton Tract, a total of eight residences appeared to be within the base boundary, five
houses and three trailers. One of the houses was vacant and in disrepair. All structures
appeared to be very close to the base boundary.

In the S33 Tract a total of 67 residences appeared to be within the base boundary, 59 houses
and eight trailers. One of the houses was abandoned and two appeared unoccupied. Two of the
trailers appeared unoccupied. In addition to the residences there were two churches, the Cedar
Grove AME on SR 1925 and the Mt. Shiloh Baptist on SR 1926. There is also a Duck and Gun
Club with several structures, including one dwelling, in the far southern section on SR 1926.
Adjacent to NC 33 there is a car lot, as well as a shed complex and a communications tower.




3.17    Socioeconomic Considerations

3.17.1 General Introduction and County Overviews
The PCS mine and mineral processing facility are located in a predominantly rural area in
Richland Township of Beaufort County, North Carolina, a few miles north of the town of Aurora.
PCS owns approximately 46,000 acres of land in Beaufort County, making it the County's second
largest landowner. Additionally, the PCS mining and processing facilities are the major industrial
land use in the county, as well as the County's largest employer (Personal communication, 19
April 2004, Sharon Singleton, Administrative Assistant to Beaufort County Manager and Clerk to
Board of Commissioners, Washington, NC).

PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS            3-78                               September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
PCS has its greatest social and economic impact on Beaufort County, from which it draws
approximately 55 percent of its work force (based on 2003 figures; 603 persons). However, PCS
also impacts adjacent Pamlico, Craven, and Pitt Counties (Figure 3-16), primarily by providing
employment and income to county residents and by purchasing goods and services in these
counties. Short summaries of these four counties follow below, although most of the
socioeconomic considerations beginning with Section 3.17.1.1 are discussed relative to Beaufort
County.


3.17.1.1     Beaufort County
At the time of preparation of this document, Beaufort County is in the preliminary phases of
coordination with its municipalities to update its Land Use Plan (LUP). A draft version is available
online but a final version of the LUP is not expected until later in 2006 (Beaufort County Land Use
Plan Steering Committee 2006). The 1997 LUP for Beaufort County (Beaufort County Planning
Board 1997) was the most current available source for information and was utilized in conjunction
with US census data, personal contact with agencies, the consultant preparing the new LUP, and
the draft online version. Figures 3-17 through 3-20 depict existing land use and land
classification for Beaufort County and the PCS Phosphate area.

Comprising 827 square miles of land with an additional 131 square miles of water, it is the eighth
largest county in the state and has the state’s second longest shoreline. Rich in water resources
and fertile lands for agriculture, Beaufort County developed prosperous port communities along
the navigable waterways early in its history. Originally named Pamptecough Precinct in 1705, it
was renamed Beaufort in 1712. The county is bisected in a northwest-southeast direction by the
Pamlico River and is partially bordered on the eastern side by the Pungo River. The Suffolk
Scarp, an old beach ridge, divides the county roughly into eastern and western halves with
characteristic soil and hydrology differences in either half.

Over one-quarter of all land is devoted to agricultural use which comprises the second largest
share of all land uses, behind silviculture. In 1995, Beaufort County ranked number one in the
state for production of corn and wheat, and second in production of soybeans. Urban
development has affected the pattern of agricultural activity in recent years with some farmland
being converted to residential use. Following the national trend, the total number of farms in the
county has been decreasing, while the average size of farms has been increasing. Also on the
increase are intensive livestock operations (ILOs), many of which are centered within a 10-mile
radius of the Town of Pantego, across the river and east of the PCS facility.

The county’s three largest employers are PCS, Beaufort County Hospital Association Inc., and
National Spinning Company. In 1995, over one in four employed persons was involved in a
manufacturing enterprise. Like all North Carolina coastal counties, population growth has
increased steadily during the past 40 years in Beaufort County and is exerting development
pressures on land use and property values. Between 1976 and 2003, population has grown by
17.4 percent in the county, compared to a 52 percent increase statewide for the same period.
Per capita income in Beaufort County has increased steadily since 1976 (up 343 percent)
although median income typically lags behind the state as a whole ($22,592 compared to
$27,308 in 2001) (Beaufort County Statistics 1976-2003 LINC topic report-Multiple Topic Profile
unpublished data 2004).

Tourism income to the county averaged $43M for the period of 1994 to 2002 with a high of $48M
annually in 2002 and a low of $35M in 1994 (NC Department of Commerce unpublished data
2004).




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Aurora, North Carolina
3.17.1.2     Craven County
The most current Land Use Plan for Craven County is an addendum to the 1996 plan adopted in
1999 and was used to update portions of this section (Craven County Planning Board 1998).
Originally named Archdale Precinct in 1705, and later changed to Craven County in 1712, the
majority of Craven County’s 706 square miles of land is forested land unsuited for either
development or crop production. Most of the county is located in the Neuse River basin, although
the Tar-Pamlico and the White Oak River basins also are receiving waters for the county. Some
of the 67 square water miles of the county are PNAs and SNAs and include anadromous fish
spawning areas.

Tourism, commercial fisheries, agriculture, silviculture, and the military (Marine Corps Air Station
Cherry Point) are all significant components of the county economy, with tourism and silviculture
leading the growth. Between 1994 and 2002, tourism income for the county averaged $66M
annually, with a high of $74M in 2000 and a low of $56M in 1994 (NC Department of Commerce
unpublished data July 2004). With approximately $33M estimated as 2002 forest income for the
county, Craven represents two percent of the state total in this category (North Carolina
Cooperative Extension 2002). Commercial landings for 2003 rank the county fifteenth in value
($752K) and fourteenth in pounds (963K) among the 19 coastal fishing counties (Personal
communication, 23 June 2004, Alan Bianchi, License and Statistics Section, NCDMF). Hard blue
crabs dominated the total landings for the county for the period of 1994-2001 at 82 percent of the
total (Bianchi 2003).

An important demographic trend in Craven County since 1970 is the increase in “urban”
population, or that portion of the population living in incorporated areas or in municipalities with a
population greater than 2,500. The areas experiencing the most growth are New Bern, Havelock,
River Bend, and Trent Woods. Retail trade was the single largest employment category for the
period between 1993 and 1998. During the last planning period, the population of school age
children decreased while the elderly and those aged 30 to 44 increased. The county has seen a
30 percent increase in total population from 1976 to 2003 and a 449 percent increase in per
capita income between 1976 and 2001. Craven County per capita income was $25,772 in 2001
compared to $27,308 for the state (Craven County Statistics 1976-2003 LINC topic report-
Multiple Topic Profile unpublished data 2004).


3.17.1.3     Pamlico County
An isolated peninsula bordered by the Neuse River to the south, Goose Creek and Pamlico River
to the north, Upper Broad Creek to the west, and Pamlico Sound to the east, Pamlico County
contains 560 square miles. European settlers named the area after the local Pampticoe Indians
who called their home “TaTakua”, meaning “where the land and sea meet the sky.” It was formed
from Craven County in 1872 and consists of eight towns with Bayboro as the county seat.

The predominantly rural county’s many miles of scenic navigable waterways, extensive forests,
and productive soils provide a rich natural resources base for fishing, farming, and forestry. With
40 percent of its area comprising Pamlico Sound, commercial fishing has long been a primary
industry in the county. According to 2003 fisheries statistics, the county ranked fourth in value
($5.2M) and fifth in landings (5.5M pounds) (Personal communication, 23 June 2004, Alan
Bianchi, License and Statistics Section, NCDMF). Three species comprised over 88 percent of
the total value during the period of 1994 to 2001; hard blue crabs (42 percent), shrimp (34
percent), and summer flounder (14 percent) (Bianchi 2003). With some fluctuations, since 1976
the acreage in agricultural production has remained about 39,000 acres with leading crops of
corn, soybeans, tobacco, grain, and sweet and white potatoes.

Manufacturing jobs have steadily decreased in the county over the past 30 years. However, the
economy also includes a variety of businesses that take advantage of developing information
technology, that support the retirement and second home markets, and that provide support for

PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS            3-80                                September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
resource-based tourism: sailing, fishing, hunting, and paddling (Pamlico County Steering
Committee 2004). Tourism income for Pamlico County between 1994 and 2002 averaged
$10.7M per year, with a high in 2000 of $11.5M and a low in 1994 of $9M (NC Department of
Commerce unpublished data July 2004). The county experienced a 36 percent increase in total
population from 1976 to 2003 and a 356 percent increase in per capita income from 1976 to
2001. Pamlico County per capita income was $22,956 in 2001 compared to $27,308 for the
state. (Pamlico County Statistics 1976-2003 LINC topic report-Multiple Topic Profile unpublished
data 2004).


3.17.1.4     Pitt County
Another rural, predominantly agricultural coastal county, Pitt comprises approximately 655 square
miles of the eastern coastal plain. The Tar River bisects the county on a generally east-west axis
as it flows into the Pamlico River. It is the largest flue-cured tobacco producing county in the
United States. In 1999, of the 120,000 acres of cropland, 11,181 acres were harvested in
tobacco. Farm cash receipts from sales and government payments totaled $151K in 2001 (Pitt
County Statistics 1976-2003 LINC topic report unpublished data 2004). Since 1976, there has
been a 24 percent decrease in the overall acreage of harvested cropland. In 2002, forests
comprised approximately 43 percent of the county and 54 million board feet of timber (hard and
soft wood) was removed (Brown 2004) with an estimated value of $38M (including stumpage and
delivered values) (North Carolina Cooperative Extension 2002). Greenville, the county seat, has
experienced a significant increase in growth and population over the last 20 years, fueled by East
Carolina University and its associated School of Medicine.

Tourism income for Pitt County over the period between 1994 and 2002 averaged $121M
annually; with a high of $143M in 2000 and a low of $95M in 1994 (NC Department of Commerce
unpublished data July 2004). Per capita income for the county in 2001 was $24,854 compared to
$27,308 for the state (Pitt County Statistics 1976-2003 LINC topic report-Multiple Topic Profile
unpublished data 2004).


3.17.2 PCS Phosphate Facilities
PCS's Aurora facilities consist of two basic components, the mining operation, and the mineral
processing facilities. The mining operation involves land clearing, overburden removal, ore
extraction and transport, and mined land reclamation. A network of roads, ditches, and power
lines are associated with the mining operation. Mine operations and maintenance buildings are
located remote to the mineral processing facilities. The general locations of the existing mining
area, reclamation area, and plant site (including materials storage areas) are shown in Figure 1
-2.


3.17.3 Land Use
Historically, land use in the study area has been agricultural and silvicultural. The Beaufort
County Land Use Plan is currently being updated. The official draft of their planning document
may or not be available for this DEIS. Digital information on land use and land classification from
the draft Land Use Plan was obtained from the preparer of the Beaufort County document and is
displayed in Figures 3-17 through 3-20. The current information is not as detailed as the previous
Land Use Plan and does not have as many categories identified. At the time of the previous
FEIS, approximately 92 percent of all land in the County was undeveloped; of this, 28 percent
was crop or pasture land and 64 percent was forested (Beaufort County Land Use Advisory
Committee 1987). The new information indicates that 91 percent of the county is undeveloped
(or at least uncategorized) and remains primarily rural in nature (Beaufort County Land Use Plan
Steering Committee 2006).



PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS           3-81                              September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
3.17.4 Population
Population trends from 1983 to 2003 for Beaufort, Craven, Pamlico, and Pitt Counties are
presented in Table 3-23 and indicate that growth has been continuous, if slow to moderate, for all
four counties with Pitt County experiencing the largest percentage and actual increase. In the
latest US Census Bureau estimate, the town of Aurora is listed as having a population of 580
people, a decrease of less than one-half percent since the official 2000 census (US Census
Bureau 2000; 2003). The nearest population centers to the project area are the cities of
Washington and New Bern, both located approximately 28 miles distant, Washington to the
northwest and New Bern to the southwest. Both cities provide housing and commercial areas for
many of the employees of PCS.


3.17.5 Income and Employment
Labor force and employment trends for the four counties compared to the state trends are
presented in Table 3-24. Such trends are grouped by place of residence for the period of 1983 to
2003.

Of individuals 16 years and over residing in Aurora and Richland Township, 57 percent (237) are
in the labor force (US Census Bureau 2000). Of the total labor force, nearly 59 percent (139) are
employed at the PCS facilities. Beaufort County has continued to experience the highest
unemployment rate of the four counties for most of the 1980s and 1990s (Beaufort, Craven,
Pamlico and Pitt County Statistics LINC topic reports-Multiple Topic Profiles unpublished data
2004). In 2003, PCS employed a total of 1,033 people with a breakdown by county as follows:
55 percent (584 persons) from Beaufort County; 23 percent (238) from Craven County; 15
percent (161) from Pamlico County; 5 percent (54) from Pitt County; and two percent (21) from
nearby counties. Of these employees, 433 are involved primarily with the mining operation and
600 with the mineral processing facilities.

In the most recent US census (2000), median household income in Aurora was $25,917.
Approximately two-thirds of Aurora’s workforce was classified as having production,
transportation, sales, office, management, or professional occupations. Most of the remaining
workers were in services or construction (US Census Bureau 2000).

PCS is the area’s largest private employer with an annual payroll of over $60 million.


3.17.6 State and Local Government Finance
Approximately $5 million in state and local taxes is paid by PCS annually.


3.17.7 Purchases of Goods and Services
Total annual purchases of goods and services in the state by PCS averages over $100 million. In
addition, PCS is the largest user of the state port at Morehead City, shipping approximately one
million tons of product through that single port at an average yearly cost of approximately $11
million. (Personal communication, 30 June 2004, Ross Smith, Manager, Environmental Affairs,
PCS).


3.17.8 Public Utilities and Services
Public services and utilities are provided by municipal, county, and state governments, as well as
designated special districts. In general, municipalities provide services (police protection, sewer
and water, or other services) to their residents. The county supplements city functions and
provides services to residents outside the municipalities. Special districts supply certain services,

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Aurora, North Carolina
such as fire protection and rescue assurance, within a designated area. The state oversees local
government operations and manages the highway system.

Although the socioeconomic study area includes Beaufort, Craven, Pamlico, and Pitt Counties,
the discussion of services and utilities will be limited to Beaufort County, as related to PCS and
the surrounding communities, where applicable. The PCS study area is adjacent to the
incorporated municipality of Aurora. Although the town of Aurora supplies some services and
utilities, the immediate study area is primarily reliant on the state and Beaufort County for those
services which PCS does not provide on site.


3.17.8.1     Public Safety
Since PCS is not within municipal jurisdiction, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Department and the
North Carolina Division of Highway Patrol are responsible for public safety and protection. The
Beaufort County Sheriff's Department has 44 full-time deputized officers with patrol cars
(Personal communication, 24 May 2004, Ms. Retha Jefferson, Administrative Captain, Beaufort
County Sheriff's Department, Washington, NC). The Highway Patrol has nine troopers assigned
to the county (Personal communication, 25 May 2004, First Sgt. Chris Phillips, Personnel
Director, NC Dept. of Crime Control and Public Safety, Division of Highway Patrol, Raleigh, NC).
PCS has two private patrol vehicles and 12 guards who are responsible for physical security of
the facility. All of the PCS guards are required to obtain certification as an emergency medical
technician (EMT) (Personal communication, 6 July 2006, Steve Mistretta, Manager, Health &
Safety, PCS).

Fire protection at PCS is provided by PCS employed and trained volunteer firemen on each shift.
There are two fire trucks on the grounds, one near the mineral processing facilities and one near
the mine. In the event that backup equipment or personnel support is needed, PCS contacts the
Aurora Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad and the Beaufort County Sheriff’ Office for
response by other fire and EMS departments in the county (Personal communication, 6 July
2006, Steve Mistretta, Manager, Health & Safety, PCS).


3.17.8.2     Medical Facilities
PCS provides health services at a clinic located at the facility. A nurse practioner is on duty
Monday through Thursday, 10 hours per day, and a registered nurse is also on duty during day
shift, Monday through Friday. During all other shifts, the Security Officers/EMTs provide
coverage for medical emergencies. For those medical situations which cannot be handled at the
PCS facility, patients are taken either to the Tri-County Health Services Aurora Medical Center in
Aurora, Beaufort County Hospital in Washington, Craven Regional Medical Center in New Bern,
or to Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville for more specialized care. PCS is equipped with an
ambulance and also utilizes East Care Helicopter Service from Pitt Memorial for critical
emergencies (Personal communication, 6 July 2006, Steve Mistretta, Manager, Health & Safety,
PCS).


3.17.8.3     Water and Sewer
Aurora is one of five incorporated communities in Beaufort County with a public water system.
The design capacity of the system is 288,000 gallons per day (gpd) and consists of two wells
(Beaufort County Land Use Plan Steering Committee 2006). Area residents used approximately
60,000 gpd in 2005, a usage rate of less than 22 percent capacity (Personal communication, 12
July 2006 Sandra Sartin, Aurora Town Clerk/Finance Officer). PCS owns and operates six (6)
public water systems at its facility for potable water as well as water supplied from the Beaufort
County Water District (Personal communication, 9 November 2004, D.D. Winstead,
Environmental Engineer, PCS).

PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS           3-83                              September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
The town of Aurora has a public sewer system with a design capacity of 120,000 gallons per day.
Wastewater plant capacity is the permitted amount of flow and flows could be higher based on
monitored parameters. Wastewater is treated using a lagoon treatment system (Personal
communication, 26 May 2004, Sandra Bonner Sartin, Aurora Town Clerk/Finance Officer).
Average usage is approximately 85,000 gpd, or 71 percent of capacity. However, due to inflow
and infiltration, the system periodically experiences flows that exceed design capacity. Upgrades
are required in order for the wastewater system of Aurora to support any significant new growth
(Beaufort County Land Use Plan Steering Committee 2006). At present, the PCS mine and
recreation facilities employ multiple subsurface systems. Wastewater from the plant site area is
treated using an activated sludge package treatment plant, which employs a non-discharge high
rate infiltration system (Personal communication, 9 November 2004, D.D. Winstead,
Environmental Engineer, PCS).


3.17.8.4     Solid and Hazardous Waste
PCS is served by the waste disposal company GDS of Washington and New Bern, NC. The
company picks up non-hazardous solid waste and transports it to the Regional Subtitle D Landfill
in Bertie County. This waste includes normal trash as well as non-regulated industrial wastes,
which are profiled and approved by the operator of the landfill (East Carolina Landfill). PCS is
permitted to dispose of a specific list of inert materials in the Mine Refuse Disposal area on site.
Any additions to the list require approval by the NCDENR. PCS also has a materials recovery
department which recycles metals, white office paper, computer paper, cardboard, newspaper,
aluminum cans, and various plastics. Reusable empty drums that contained grease and oil are
picked up by the oil jobber and sent for recycling. Drums that cannot be reused are crushed and
sold as scrap metal through the company’s Materials Recovery Department. PCS is currently
classified as a small quantity hazardous waste generator (less than 2,200 pounds per month). All
hazardous waste generated at PCS (methanol still bottoms, acetone, and outdated laboratory
chemicals) is removed off-site by ECOFLO, based in Greensboro, North Carolina (Personal
communication, 21 June 2004, Ross Smith, Manager, Environmental Affairs, PCS). Annual
tonnage of off-site solid waste and hazardous waste for 2001 to 2004 is presented in Table 3-25.


3.17.9 Transportation
A portion of the materials from the PCS facility are barged to the State Port in Morehead City.
These materials are then shipped from the port to both national and international customers.
Products are also shipped from PCS by railway via the Norfolk Southern Railroad, connecting
with other railways for interstate transport. The major highway corridors utilized by PCS in
Beaufort County are US 17 and US 264, as well as State Highways 306 and 33. There are
numerous unimproved State Roads in the project area, including, but not limited to, Sandy
Landing Road in the NCPC Tract (SR 1945), Creekmur and Gray Roads (SRs 1942 and 1958
respectively) in the Bonnerton Tract, and Bergin, Sparrow, West, and Broome Roads (SRs 1927,
1926, 1923, and 1938 respectively) in the S33 Tract.


3.17.10 Energy Consumption
The types of energy consumed by PCS mine and plant operations include electrical power
(offices, plants, draglines, dredges, bucket wheel excavators, pumps, or other uses), coal and
petroleum coke (calciners and DFP), No. 2 diesel fuel (heavy mobile equipment, pumps, and
some light vehicles, or other needs), No. 6 diesel fuel (calciners, boilers, or other needs), gasoline
(light vehicles, small pumps, or other needs), sulfur (manufacture of sulfuric acid), and propane
(torches, heaters, or other needs).

PCS's electrical power is currently provided by Progress Energy Carolinas, Inc., and by PCS's
40-megawatt cogeneration plant. In 2003, PCS used over 648 million kilowatt hours of electrical


PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS            3-84                                September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
energy. Of this consumption, almost 192 million kilowatt hours were developed by PCS's
cogeneration plant.

In 2003, coal consumption totaled 67,901 short tons. Petroleum coke consumed totaled 3,227
short tons. Number 2 diesel fuel use slightly exceeded 2.0 million gallons. Number 6 diesel fuel
use was slightly below 3.3 million gallons. Gasoline consumption was 128,472 gallons. Sulfur
consumption reached 857,523 long tons. Propane consumption was 6,835 gallons (Personal
communication, 3 June 2004, Ross Smith, Manager, Environmental Affairs, PCS).


3.17.11 Commercial Resources
Commercial resources in Beaufort County include phosphate reserves, agriculture, forestry, and
fisheries. The importance of phosphate resources has been discussed in detail in the Purpose
and Need Section, but for comparative purposes, PCS sold over $413M of phosphate products
during 2003 (Personal communication, 21 June 2004, Ross Smith, Manager, Environmental
Affairs, PCS). Farm cash receipts from sales and government payments in Beaufort County were
$79.9M in 1998 and $83.9M in 2001 (Beaufort County Statistics 1976-2003 LINC report-Multiple
Topic Profile unpublished data 2004). In 2002, 181 million board feet of sawtimber, including
hardwood and softwood, were removed in Beaufort County at an estimated value of $1.4M
(stumpage plus delivered value) (Brown 2004). Estimated forest income of $114M in the county
for 2002 represented five percent of the state total (including stumpage and delivered values)
(North Carolina Cooperative Extension 2002).

Dockside value of commercial fisheries sold in Beaufort County in 2003 was $5.3M placing the
county fifth in the state in value although it ranked fourth in the state in overall landings in pounds
(6.2 million) (Personal communication, 23 June 2004, Alan Bianchi, License and Statistics
Section, NCDMF). Hard blue crabs dominated the total landings for the county for the period of
1994-2001 at 94 percent of the total with southern flounder and shrimp being the only other
statistically significant species (Bianchi 2003).


3.17.12 Recreational Resources
Recreational resources of the coastal region of North Carolina are primarily water-related, with
beaches, sport fishing, and resort areas comprising the most use. Additionally, hunting for big
game, small game, and waterfowl is also a popular activity. The four counties in the
socioeconomic area of impact are not among the major recreational counties in the coastal
region, although they do have a variety of recreational resources attractive to tourists and local
residents. Based on data gathered from the LINC system database for North Carolina, Beaufort,
Pitt, and Pamlico Counties have less than three percent of their land area dedicated to outdoor
recreation, including athletic fields, parks, historic sites, wildlife gamelands, forests, and wildlife
refuges. Craven County has 14 percent of its land area utilized for recreational purposes, with
Croatan National Forest representing the bulk of this acreage.

Recreational resources within the general area associated with hunting attract a substantial
number of visitors and residents. Big Pocosin Game Land (13,242 acres) in Beaufort and Craven
Counties, Goose Creek Game Land (7,599 acres) in Beaufort and Pamlico Counties, and the
Croatan Game Lands (156,634 acres) in Carteret, Craven, and Jones Counties are significant
hunting areas. Additionally, numerous private hunting clubs lease or own land in the four-county
area. In 2003, Pitt County sold 7,985 combination hunting/fishing licenses compared to 5,337 in
Craven County, 4,499 in Beaufort County, and 1,247 in Pamlico County (Personal
communication, 9 July 2004, Jaque Gray, Computer Room Manager, NCWRC). PCS leases
5,800 acres of land to local hunting clubs: 2,000 acres in the NCPC Tract, 1,700 acres in the
Bonnerton Tract, and 2,100 acres in the S33 Tract. (Personal communication, 12 February 2006,
Ross Smith, Manager, Environmental Affairs, PCS).


PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS             3-85                               September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina
3.17.13 Aesthetic Resources
The project area contains few features which could be considered valuable aesthetic resources,
with the exception of views from the shorelines of the Pamlico River, South Creek and Durham
Creek. Because the proposed action is a continuation of mining activities, the natural vista on-
site in the NCPC area has already been somewhat disrupted by clearing, mining, and reclamation
processes. Additionally, agricultural and silvicultural lands are prevalent throughout the study
area, especially in the area south of NC 33, further limiting the overall aesthetic character of the
entire project area. Several small ponds occur in the project area but are little more than farm
ponds or borrow pits, having limited aesthetic value as landscape features.


3.17.14 Environmental Justice
Environmental justice is defined by the EPA as “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.” As a topic of
increasing interest, President Clinton signed the Executive Order 12898, Federal Action to
Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Population, in February
of 1994. The Executive Order requires federal agencies to use environmental justice when
proposing environmental impacts to areas inhabited by minority or low-income populations.
Section 4.2.1.17.11 describes PCS efforts to comply with this Order.




PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS           3-86                               September 2006
Aurora, North Carolina

								
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