The permit will also be used to survey two alternative routes in Craig, Giles, Montgomery and Roanoke Counties, as well as Monroe County, West Virginia.
Officials with the Forest Service say the surveys for wetlands, water, soil, and suitable habitat for sensitive species, including federally listed threatened and endangered plants and animals, will be conducted within the next year. Surveys will also record cultural resources.
"The information gathered from these surveys is needed for federal agencies to make informed decisions on whether or not to allow construction and operation of the proposed natural gas pipeline, and if allowed, to avoid, or reduce the impacts to sensitive resources," explained Forest Supervisor Tom Speaks.
Many of the 3,700 comments officials say they received on the survey permit related to concerns about the construction and operation of the proposed pipeline, rather than the surveys. "It is important to remember that allowing these survey activities does not mean we are allowing the construction of a pipeline," said Speaks in a written statement, released on Tuesday.
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