[Federal Register: November 24, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 226)]
[Page 65944-65946]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent To Conduct Restoration Planning for Natural 
Resources Injured by the Release of Oil From the MV Stuyvesant Oil 
Spill, Humboldt County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Department of the 
Interior), California Department of Fish and Game, and California State 
Lands Commission are joint trustees (Trustees) for natural resources 
and are authorized to assess injuries to Federal and State resources 
caused by the MV Stuyvesant Oil Spill and to plan and implement 
restoration actions to address those injuries. The Trustees announce 
the intent to conduct restoration planning for the MV Stuyvesant Oil 
Spill. The purpose of this restoration planning effort is to complete 
an assessment of the natural resource injuries and damages caused by 
the oil spill, and to prepare a plan for the restoration of the injured 

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive written comments on or 
before December 24, 2003.


Review of Administrative Record

    The Administrative Record will be available for public inspection, 
by appointment, during normal business hours at these locations:
[sbull] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife 
Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825
[sbull] California Department of Fish and Game, 619 2nd Street, Eureka, 
California 95501
    You may schedule a time to review the Administrative Record by 
contacting the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office or the California 
Department of Fish and Game's Eureka office (see FOR FURTHER 

Submission of Comments

    You may submit your written comments on this Notice, Administrative 
Record materials, and all upcoming restoration planning documents by 
any of the following methods:
    1. Send written comments and information by mail to Charlene Hall, 
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, at the above address.
    2. Hand-deliver written comments to the Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office, at the above address.
    3. Fax comments to (916) 414-6713 (Attn.: Charlene Hall).
    4. Send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to Charlene_Hall@fws.gov. For directions on how to submit electronic comments, see 
the ``Public Comments Solicited'' section.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Charlene Hall, Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office, telephone (916) 414-6590; California Department of 
Fish and Game, Eureka, (707) 441-5752. To receive public notices about 
future Restoration Planning activities, contact Charlene Hall by 



    On or about September 6, 1999, oil was spilled from the dredge 
vessel M/V Stuyvesant into the Pacific Ocean offshore of Humboldt Bay 
in the State of California. Oil was spread by tide, currents and winds 
and washed ashore along the coasts of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. 
The oil affected a number of natural resources, including seabirds, 
shorebirds, marine waters, and beaches. This oil spill is hereafter 
referred to as the ``Incident.''
    Pursuant to section 1006 of the Oil Pollution Act (OPA), 33 U.S.C. 
2701 et seq., Federal and State trustees (Trustees) for natural 
resources are authorized to assess natural resource damages resulting 
from oil spills into navigable waters and to develop and implement a 
plan for restoration of such injured resources. The Trustees for this 
Incident are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Department of the 
Interior), the California Department of Fish and Game, and the 
California State Lands Commission. The Natural Resource Damage 
Assessment Regulations under OPA, 15 CFR part 990 (the ``NRDA 
regulations''), provide that the Trustees are to prepare a Notice of 
Intent to Conduct Restoration Planning (Notice) if they determine 
certain conditions have been met and if they decide to quantify the 
injuries to natural resources and to develop a restoration plan.
    This Notice is to announce, pursuant to Sec.  990.44 of the NRDA 
regulations, that the Trustees, having collected and analyzed data, 
intend to proceed with restoration planning actions to address injuries 
to natural resources resulting from the Incident. The purpose of this 
restoration planning effort is to further evaluate injuries to natural 
resources and services and to use that information to determine the 
need for, type of, and scale of restoration actions.

[[Page 65945]]

Determination of Jurisdiction

    The Trustees have made the following determinations pursuant to 15 
CFR 990.41 and 990.42:
    (1) On or about September 6, 1999, the dredge vessel MV Stuyvesant 
spilled a quantity of intermediate fuel oil, estimated to be at least 
2,100 gallons, in the Pacific Ocean off Humboldt Bay, near Eureka, 
California. This occurrence constituted an ``Incident'' within the 
meaning of 15 CFR 990.30. The Incident is also a spill or discharge as 
defined at California Government Code 8670.3(u).
    (2) The Incident was not permitted under a permit issued under 
Federal, State, or local law; was not from a public vessel; and was not 
from an onshore facility subject to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authority 
Act, 43 U.S.C. 1651 et seq.
    (3) Oil discharged during the Incident affected marine and 
shoreline habitats, wildlife, and human uses of natural resources in 
the area. Consequently, natural resources under the trusteeship of the 
Trustees have been injured as a result of the Incident.
    (4) As a result of the foregoing determinations, the Trustees have 
jurisdiction to pursue restoration under the Federal Oil Pollution Act 
(OPA), 33 U.S.C. 2701-2761, and California's Lempert-Keene-Seastrand 
Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act, Government Code Sections 8670.1 
et seq.

Determination To Conduct Restoration Planning

    The Trustees have determined, pursuant to 15 CFR 99.42(a), that:
    (1) Data collected pursuant to 15 CFR 990.43 demonstrate that 
injuries to natural resources have resulted from the Incident, 
including but not limited to the following:
    (i) Injury to a wide variety and number of seabirds and shorebirds, 
among them marbled murrelets and western snowy plovers (species listed 
as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544);
    (ii) Impacts to beaches, tide pools, offshore rocks, sea cliffs, 
and jetties such that the ecological services provided by these 
habitats were reduced for varying periods of time;
    (iii) Impacts to water quality in marine waters affected by the 
spill such that the ecological services provided by this habitat were 
reduced for some period of time; and
    (iv) Lost public recreational uses of beaches, parks, and other 
public areas, including lost or diminished opportunities for public 
hiking, camping, fishing, surfing, beach combing, and wildlife viewing.
    (2) The response and cleanup actions taken during early stages of 
the Incident have not adequately addressed the injuries resulting from 
the Incident to the extent where restoration would not be necessary. 
Response efforts included collection and removal of oil and oiled 
debris along beaches and rehabilitation of oiled birds. These efforts 
reduced the magnitude and duration of impacts to beach habitats and 
wildlife, but did not eliminate all injuries or make restoration 
    (3) Potential assessment procedures to be used to evaluate injuries 
and to design and implement the appropriate type and scale of 
restoration for these injured natural resources and services consist 
of, but are not limited to:
    (i) Compilation of data on numbers, species, and collection 
locations of dead or debilitated birds found during the spill response;
    (ii) Compilation of demographic data for key bird species;
    (iii) Field studies and/or literature searches to estimate rates of 
removal of carcasses from beaches by scavengers and effectiveness of 
wildlife operations personnel and techniques at finding oiled birds 
stranded on beaches;
    (iv) Computer modeling of bird distribution and abundance data and/
or oil trajectory data to estimate spill-related avian mortality;
    (v) Resource Equivalency Analysis or other techniques to scale bird 
restoration projects to bird injuries;
    (vi) Habitat Equivalency Analysis or other techniques to scale 
habitat restoration projects to habitat injuries;
    (vii) Field studies to ascertain restoration suitability of various 
tracts of land; and
    (viii) Analysis of habitat quality information to properly scale 
restoration projects.
    (4) Feasible primary and compensatory restoration actions exist to 
address injuries from the Incident. Restoration activities are expected 
to focus on marbled murrelets and other seabirds, snowy plovers and 
other shorebirds, marine and shoreline habitats, and lost recreation. 
Restoration actions for the injured resources may include, but are not 
necessarily limited to:
    (i) Acquisition of marbled murrelet nesting habitat from willing 
sellers, potentially including acquisition of forested lands identified 
as the Grizzly Creek Marbled Murrelet Conservation Area in the Pacific 
Lumber Company's Habitat Conservation Plan;
    (ii) Enhancement and/or protection of nesting locations of seabirds 
along the California coast;
    (iii) Enhancement and/or protection of beaches, wetlands and other 
habitats used by bird species that were affected by the spill, 
potentially including eradication of invasive exotic plants from dune 
areas; and
    (iv) Enhancement of trails or other facilities used for public 
recreation at beaches or parks where public access was lost or 
diminished during the spill response.

Administrative Record

    The Trustees have opened an Administrative Record (Record) in 
compliance with 15 CFR 990.45. The Record includes documents relied 
upon by the Trustees during the assessment and restoration planning 
performed thus far in connection with the Incident, including data 
supporting the above determinations. The Record is on file and 
available to the public at the locations specified in the ADDRESSES 

Public Comments Solicited

    Pursuant to 15 CFR 990.14(d), the Trustees seek public involvement 
in restoration planning for this Incident, through public review of, 
and comment on, this Notice and the documents contained in the 
Administrative Record, as well as on the Draft Restoration Plan after 
it has been prepared.
    Please submit electronic comments in an ASCII file format and avoid 
the use of special characters and encryption. Please also include 
``Attn: Stuyvesant NOI'' and your name and return address in your e-
mail message. If you do not receive a confirmation from the system that 
we have received your e-mail message, please contact us directly by 
calling Charlene Hall at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (see 
ADDRESSES section).
    Our practice is to make all comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their home addresses from the record, which we will honor to the extent 
allowable by law. In some circumstances, we would withhold from the 
record a respondent's identity, as allowable by law. If you wish for us 
to withhold your name and/or address, you must state this prominently 
at the beginning of your comments. However, we will not consider 
anonymous comments. We will make all submissions from organizations or 
businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as 
representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, available 
for public inspection in their entirety.

[[Page 65946]]


    The primary author of this notice is Daniel Welsh (Sacramento Fish 
and Wildlife Office; see ADDRESSES section).


    The authority for this action is the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (33 
U.S.C. 2701 et seq.).

    Dated: November 14, 2003.
Michael B. Fris,
Acting Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 03-29301 Filed 11-21-03; 8:45 am]