[Federal Register: April 18, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 75)]
[Page 19220-19221]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental 
Impact Report for the San Francisco Estuary Invasive Spartina Project: 
Spartina Control Program

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces availability 
of the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental 
Impact Report (Draft EIS/R) for the San Francisco Estuary Invasive 
Spartina Project: Spartina Control Program. The Draft EIS/R will be 
available for public comment for a period of 45 days after publication 
of this Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. The Service and 
the California State Coastal Conservancy jointly prepared the Draft 
EIS/R to address environmental impacts and benefits of alternatives for 
the Spartina Control Program and provide for early-stage public 
involvement, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Spartina 
Control Program would attempt to eradicate four species of non-native, 
invasive perennial cordgrass (genus Spartina) in the San Francisco Bay 
Estuary (Estuary), including the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife 

Public meetings will be held:
    1. April 22, 2003, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Fremont, California.
    2. April 23, 2003, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Oakland, California.
    The public comment period for the Draft EIS/R will end June 2, 

    Meeting locations are:
    1. Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge, 1 Marshlands Road, 
Fremont, CA 94536.
    2. Association of Bay Area Governments Offices, Room 171, Oakland, 
CA 94607.
    Mail comments and requests for copies of the Draft EIS/R to Mr. 
Wayne White, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, 
Sacramento, CA 95825. Copies of the Draft EIS/R can also be downloaded 
from the Fish and Wildlife Service Web site at http://sacramento.fws.gov.
 Comments and requests can alternatively be sent via 
electronic mail to spartina@fws.gov, or via facsimile to (916) 414-
    The California State Coastal Conservancy is located at 1330 
Broadway, 11th Floor, Oakland, CA 94612.

    NEPA Information: Mr. Mark Littlefield, Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office, (916) 414-6600.
    CEQA Information: Ms. Maxene Spellman, California State Coastal 
Conservancy, (510) 286-0332.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Comments must be received by the end of the 
comment period to be considered during preparation of the Final EIS/R 
and finalization of the Spartina Control Program. All comments, 
including names and addresses, will become part of the public record.
    The programmatic EIS/R analyzes potential effects of implementing 
Spartina treatment methods at a generalized, region-wide program level 
rather than a detailed, individual project level. The purpose of the 
Spartina Control Program is to arrest and reverse the spread of 
invasive, non-native cordgrasses (S. alterniflora, S. anglica, S. 
densiflora, and S. patens) in the Estuary to preserve and restore the 
ecological integrity of its intertidal habitats and estuarine 
    The Estuary supports a diverse array of native plants and animals, 
including several Federal and State listed species. Many non-native 
species of plants and animals have been introduced to the Estuary, and 
some now threaten to cause fundamental changes in the structure, 
function, and ecological value of the Estuary's tidal lands. In recent

[[Page 19221]]

decades, populations of non-native cordgrasses were introduced to the 
Estuary and rapidly began to spread. Although valuable in their native 
settings, these introduced cordgrasses are highly invasive in new 
environments and frequently become the dominant plant species. In 
particular, the non-native cordgrass species Atlantic smooth cordgrass 
(S. alterniflora) and its hybrids, formed when this species crosses 
with native Pacific cordgrass (S. foliosa), are now threatening the 
ecological balance of the Estuary. In the Estuary, Atlantic smooth 
cordgrass is likely to choke tidal creeks, dominate newly restored 
tidal marshes, impair thousands of acres of existing shorebird habitat, 
and eventually cause extinction of the native Pacific cordgrass.
    Once established in the Estuary, non-native invasive cordgrass 
could rapidly spread to other estuaries along the California coast 
through seed dispersal on the tides. Non-native invasive cordgrasses 
are spreading rapidly in the Estuary and currently dominate 500 acres 
of mudflats and tidal marshes on State, Federal, municipal, and private 
lands. The Spartina Control Program proposes to implement a 
coordinated, region-wide eradication program, consisting of a number of 
on-the-ground treatment techniques that should stave off this invasion. 
The Spartina Control Program will be focused within the nearly 40,000 
acres of tidal marsh and 29,000 acres of tidal flats that compose the 
shoreline areas of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, 
San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, and Sacramento counties.
    At this time, three alternatives have been developed for full 
analysis: (1) Regional eradication using all available control methods 
in an integrated vegetation management (IVM) approach, (2) regional 
eradication using only non-chemical control methods in a program of 
IVM, and (3) no action (continued limited, regionally uncoordinated 
treatment). A fourth alternative, no control program at all, did not 
meet the purpose and need for the action and was removed from further 
    Alternatives 1 and 2 would employ a variety of manual and 
mechanical treatment methods including: (a) Hand-pulling and manual 
excavation; (b) mechanical excavation and dredging; (c) pruning, 
burning, and mowing; (d) smothering (blanketing); and (e) drowning and 
draining cordgrass. In addition to these methods, Alternative 1, the 
Preferred Alternative, would also employ application of herbicides in 
suitable situations. Both Alternatives 1 and 2 would incorporate a 
modified IVM approach by: (a) Using all available information regarding 
the estuarine ecosystem and cordgrass physiology and ecology; (b) 
combining this with the awareness of likely economic, ecological, and 
sociological consequences of the cordgrass invasion; (c) implementing a 
program that is effective and economical; and (d) protecting public and 
environmental health.
    Because NEPA and CEQA have different requirements for some 
compliance elements, the Draft EIS/R was prepared to comply with 
whichever law's requirements were most stringent. The Draft EIS/R also 
identifies necessary permits and approvals from local, State, and 
Federal agencies, and includes supporting environmental documentation 
for the permits. Efforts will be regionally coordinated with 
appropriate natural resource agencies in order to develop a program 
that minimizes disturbance to sensitive habitats and species. The Final 
EIS/R will respond to comments received during public review of the 
Draft EIS/R and identify the Spartina Control Program alternative to be 
implemented. A copy of the Final EIS/R will be made available to all 
who commented on the Draft EIS/R and anyone requesting a copy.

(Authority: National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.); Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the 
National Environmental Policy Act (40 CFR 1500-1508)).
Mary Ellen Mueller,
Acting Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office.
[FR Doc. 03-8196 Filed 4-17-03; 8:45 am]