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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
REGION 8: Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan for Almaden Quicksilver County Park (Santa Clara County) Finalized
Region 8, November 1, 2008

by Jim Haas, Region 8
The Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Game are overseeing the implementation of five restoration projects valued at more than $7 million in the Guadalupe River Watershed and South San Francisco Bay. The projects were selected following legal settlement of a natural resource damage claim resulting from the release of mercury to the Guadalupe River in historical mining operations.

The Service's California and Nevada Region, on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior, and the California Department of Fish and Game, on behalf of the State of California, recently finalized the Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (RP/EA) for the Almaden Quicksilver County Park CERCLA Site in Santa Clara County, California.  The RP/EA describes how we will accomplish restoration, replacement or acquisition of equivalent resources to make the environment and the public whole for natural resources injuries caused by the release of mercury within the Guadalupe River Watershed. These releases were primarily from the historic New Almaden Mining District (a portion of which is now Almaden Quicksilver County Park) to the Guadalupe River Watershed and south San Francisco Bay. 

The RP/EA was developed through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration process authorized under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (also known as Superfund). Restoration planning is the link between injury assessment and restoration.  The RP/EA describes the injuries that occurred due to the release of mercury into the aquatic system of the upper watershed, and provides a description of each of the preferred and non-preferred restoration projects, including the objectives, success criteria, monitoring, and environmental consequences of each project.

The projects selected as the preferred alternative will directly restore stream sediments and lotic/riparian habitat at two discrete sites where significant releases to Alamitos Creek occurred (primary restoration)  and provide compensation for interim lost services at three other locations (compensatory restoration).  The compensatory projects include Arundo control in Coyote Creek and fish passage improvement on the Guadalupe River to benefit anadromous fish, and predator control in the Cooley Landing tidal marsh in East Palo Alto to benefit California clapper rails. The projects will be implemented by the Santa Clara Valley Water District, Santa Clara County Department of Parks and Recreation, the City of San Jose, and the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District, who cooperated with the trustee agencies to resolve the damage claim. Additional project funding is being provided by the corporate successors to the historical mining companies. The projects are valued at approximately $7.8 million.

In addition to presenting the restoration alternatives, the RP/EA is meets the requirements of an Environmental Assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Decision Document, which provides a Finding of No Significant Impact for three of  five projects, is provided in Appendix A of the document. Additional environmental review is underway for the two primary restoration projects

The final RP/EA is posted on the California Department of Fish and Game website at: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/ospr/spill/nrda/nrda_almaden.html.

 

Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov