Fort Kent Levee Extension Environmental Assessment - FEMA

Department of Homeland Security-Federal Emergency Management Agency

PUBLIC NOTICE

Notice of Availability of an Environmental Assessment for the
Fort Kent Levee Extension
Fort Kent, Aroostook County, ME

FEMA-4208-DR-ME

Notification is hereby given of the intent of the Department of Homeland Security-Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS-FEMA) to provide federal funding to the Town of Fort Kent through the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) for the Fort Kent Levee Extension (proposed project). The proposed project would be partially funded through the FEMA-MEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Project Purpose

Flooding has occurred regularly along the St. John and Fish Rivers, resulting in continued loss of property in Fort Kent’s downtown commercial and residential areas, the repeated disruption to residents and traffic, and interference with Fire Department services. Recovery costs for single events have exceeded $2,000,000. Although the existing levee affords the area some protection against flooding, it was designed to require the placement of sandbags along the bank of the Fish River during storm events, a design that the Town has found to be impractical due to the limited resources available during these periods and the continued risks to life, health, and human safety.

To help reduce the risk of flooding, the Town proposes to construct an approximately 800 foot-long block wall and earthen levee in the vicinity of the Fort Kent Blockhouse. This block wall levee would provide protection to the Blockhouse, private residences along Blockhouse Road and Meadow Lane, as well as businesses along the north side of Main Street.

The project area is partially within a FEMA-designated flood zone and floodway, as shown on the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map. As required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and federal floodplain management regulations, several alternatives including a No Action alternative and the Proposed Alternative were evaluated. Other alternatives included a sheet piling wall and soil berm, extending the levee along the St. John River, and relocation of the Blockhouse. The Proposed Alternative was selected based on feasibility and cost effectiveness. The project location in a floodway required a “no flood-rise” analysis, and a Letter of [Flood] Map Revision (LOMR). A revision to the current levee certification is also required. This proposed project will limit the extent of flooding by preventing water to rise above the “100 year” base flood elevation of the area. Designs, maps and all other supporting documentation are referenced or included as attachments to an environmental assessment (EA) prepared by FEMA as required by NEPA.

The Fort Kent Blockhouse is a National Historic Landmark. FEMA determined that consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act was required, and determined that the project would introduce a new visual feature to the surroundings of the Fort Kent Blockhouse National Historic Landmark. The proposed removal of the trees behind the Blockhouse would also change the visitors’ experience of the park. FEMA worked with the Maine Historic Commission, the National Park Service, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and other interested parties in order to address the changes to the area surrounding the Fort Kent Blockhouse through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). The Draft MOA is included as an attachment to the EA.

The draft EA summarizes the project purpose and need, alternatives, the affected environment, and potential environmental consequences for considered alternatives.

The draft EA is available for public comment and can be viewed and downloaded from:  Fort Kent Levee Extension

The draft EA can be viewed in hard copy at the following location:

Fort Kent Town Office
416 West Main Street
Fort Kent, ME 04743

The comment period will end 15 days from the date of this legal notice publication in the Saint John Valley Times and the (online) Fiddlehead Focus, whichever is later. Written comments on the EA can be mailed or emailed to the contact below. If no substantive comments are received, the EA will become final and a Finding of No Significant Impact will be signed. Substantive comments will be addressed as appropriate in the final documents. Contact: FEMA Region 1, Office of Environmental & Historic Preservation, Attention: Fort Kent Levee Extension or via email at: Fema-r1ehppubliccomments@fema.dhs.gov