Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of El Paso Corporation is currently increasing the capacity of its 300-Line to transport new natural gas supplies, including newly accessed Appalachian and Marcellus shale gas. The 300-Line Project involves the installation of seven looping segments in Pennsylvania and New Jersey totaling approximately 128 miles of 30-inch pipeline. That section of the 300-Line located in New Jersey is identified as the 325-Loop and is approximately 15.98 miles in length located through Sussex and Passaic Counties. To minimize impacts from construction, the planned pipeline route will generally follow an existing Tennessee pipeline corridor wherever practicable. An approximate 10.0-mile segment of the 325-Loop ROW located through Vernon Township, Sussex County and West Milford Township, Passaic County is situated within known threatened and endangered species habitat, most specifically, the Timber Rattlesnake (TR), State-listed endangered.
As part of the number of conditions set forth in the Permits issued to Tennessee Gas (TG) as part of project approvals, TG was required to install snake exclusion fence along certain sections of the existing ROW/proposed work space and employ a certain number of NJDEP Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP)-approved TR Construction Monitors (Monitors). In accordance with ENSP protocols, Monitors are required to “sweep” all section of snake exclusion fence and areas of open trench twice-daily and actively monitor areas of active construction. TR’s that make their way into the active work space and become in danger of being harmed by construction activities are required to be moved outside the work space / exclusion fence. When not in immediate danger and when located proximate to a gap in the fence / unfenced area, TR’s are required to be passively observed until they move from the active work space.
In addition to TR’s, Northern Copperheads (State-listed Species of Special Concern) and Wood Turtles (State-listed threatened) are included on the list of monitored species; however, any species of reptile and/or amphibian trapped within the active work space is permitted to be relocated to safety. To date, a number of garter snakes, black racers, and black rat snakes have been caught and relocated outside the snake exclusion fence/active work space.