We believe the above recommendations provide a flexible solution to a very difficult problem. However, a strong commitment from the Corps of Engineers will be necessary to bring this program to fruition. Without such a commitment, we can only conclude that the impacts of any increases in navigation traffic will not be adequately mitigated, and balanced use of this nationally significant ecosystem will not be achieved.

Of all the issues discussed in this letter, mitigation planning is possibly the most urgent. We need to increase our coordination efforts to: (1) develop a detailed mitigation implementation strategy and (2) develop a method to link impacts and mitigation measures. The Service recommends that "workshop meetings" of the NECC be scheduled soon to address these two issues. This recommendation is supported by the NECC representatives from all the state agencies. Please feel free to contact me or Mr. Jon Duyvejonck of my staff to continue our coordination on this or any other navigation issues.

This letter provides comments under the authority of and in accordance with provisions of the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (48 Stat. 401, as amended; 16 U.S.C. 661 et seq.); and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended.

Sincerely,

Richard C. Nelson

Supervisor



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