[Federal Register: November 9, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 216)]
[Page 64965-64968]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service


Army Corps of Engineers

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement/
Environmental Impact Report for the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration 
Project and the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study

AGENCIES: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior; U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers, Defense.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as 
amended (NEPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. 
Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) intend to prepare a joint programmatic 
Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) to 
address the potential impacts of the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration 
Project and the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study, San Francisco 
Bay, California. The two projects are closely interrelated and proposed 
planning and actions would be done in coordination with each other. The 
California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) will be the lead agency 
under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Federal Lead Agencies Proposed and Connected Actions

    The Federal Joint Lead Agencies are proposing to undertake two 
closely related actions that would help prevent flooding and provide 
for the restoration of the South Bay Salt Ponds. USFWS proposes to 
prepare a long-term restoration plan for the South Bay Salt Ponds, 
which includes managed pond and tidal marsh habitat, as well as flood 
management and recreation components. The proposed action would provide 
for implementation of the first phase (Phase 1) of the South Bay Salt 
Ponds restoration plan. The area of the FWS proposed project falls 
within the larger scope of the actions the Corps is proposing along 
South San Francisco Bay shoreline. The Corps is proposing to implement 
a series of activities for tidal and fluvial flood damage reduction, 
environmental restoration, and related purposes along the South San 
Francisco Bay shoreline. The Corps' feasibility study may include most 
of the components of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project. Thus 
these interconnected actions are deserving of one cohesive EIS/EIR 
    Two public scoping meetings will be held to solicit comments on the 
environmental effects of the range of potential projects and the 
appropriate scope of the EIS/EIR. The public is invited to comment on 
environmental issues to be addressed in the EIS/EIR during these 

DATES: Written comments from all interested parties are encouraged and 
must be received on or before December 9, 2004. The first of two public 
scoping meetings will be held on Tuesday, November 16, 2004, from 7 
p.m. to 9 p.m. at the NASA Research Center, Building 943, Moffett 
Field, California. A second scoping meeting will be held on Wednesday, 
November 17, 2004, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Centennial Hall, 22292 
Foothill Boulevard, Room 4, in Hayward, California. Persons needing 
reasonable accommodations in order to attend and participate in the 
public scoping meetings should contact Tim Corrigan at (510) 286-0325 
sufficiently in advance of the meeting to allow time to process the 

ADDRESSES: Written comments and requests for information should be sent 
to Margaret Kolar, Refuge Manager, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San 
Francisco Bay NWR Complex. PO Box 524, Newark, California 94560, or 
Yvonne LeTellier, Project Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 333 
Market Street 8th Floor, San Francisco, California 94105-2197. Written 
comments may also be sent by facsimile to (510) 792-5828, or via e-mail 
through the public comments link on the South Bay Salt Ponds 
Restoration Project Web site, at http://www.southbayrestoration.org/Question_Comment.html.
 All comments received, including names and addresses, 

will become part of the administrative record and available to the 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Margaret Kolar, Refuge Manager, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, San Francisco Bay NWR Complex, (510) 792-
0222, or Yvonne LeTellier, Project Manager, U.S. Army corps of 
Engineers, (415) 977-8466. For questions concerning the CEQA process, 
contact Carl Wilcox, Habitat Conservation Manager, California 
Department of fish and Game, Region 3 Headquarters, PO Box 47, 
Yountville, California, 94559, telephone: (707) 944-5525.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The joint programmatic EIS/EIR will address 
both the proposed South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project and the 
South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study. USFWS and the Corps propose to 
integrate the

[[Page 64966]]

planning for these two projects, which have similar geographic scope 
and include restoration and flood management components.


South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project

    The South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project area comprises 15,100 
acres of salt ponds and adjacent habitats in South San Francisco Bay 
which USFWS and CDFG acquired from the Cargill Salt Company in 2003. 
USFWS owns and manages the 8,000-acre Alviso pond complex and the 
1,600-acre Ravenswood pond complex. CDFG owns and manages the 5,500-
acre Eden Landing pond complex.
    The Alviso pond complex consists of 25 ponds on the shores of the 
South Bay in Fremont, San Jose, Sunnyvale and Mountain View, in Santa 
Clara and Alameda Counties. The pond complex is bordered by the Palo 
Alto Baylands Nature Preserve and Charleston Slough on the west, on the 
south by Moffett Naval Air Station and Sunnyvale Baylands Park, and to 
the east by Coyote Creek and Cushing Parkway in Fremont. The Ravenswood 
pond complex consists of seven ponds on the bay side of the Peninsula, 
along both sides of Highway 84 west of the Dumbarton Bridge, and on the 
bayside of the developed areas of the City of Menlo Park in San Mateo 
County. Bayfront Park is directly west of the pond complex, and the 
Dumbarton Bridge approach and the Union Pacific Railroad are along its 
southern border.
    The Eden Landing pond complex consists of 23 ponds on the shores of 
the East Bay, west of Hayward and Union City in Alameda County. The 
approach to the San Mateo Bridge and the CDFG Eden Landing Ecological 
Reserve form the northern boundary of the acquisition area. Alameda 
Creek Flood Control Channel and the Coyote Hills form the southern 

South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study

    The South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study area extends along 
South San Francisco Bay and includes the three pond complexes within 
the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project area, which are described 
above, as well as shoreline and floodplain areas in the counties of 
Alameda, San Mateo, and Santa Clara.
    The South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study area includes the 
Alameda Creek Flood Control Channel in Alameda County, areas in San 
Mateo and Santa Clara Counties between the Ravenswood and Alviso pond 
complexes, including the City of Palo Alto, and several creeks within 
the Alviso pond complex in Santa Clara County. Three other parcels--
Moffett Field (owned by NASA-Ames), Pond A4 (Alviso pond complex; owned 
by the Santa Clara Valley Water District), and Pond A18 (Alviso pond 
complex; owned by the City of San Jose)--are adjacent to the study 

Project Description

South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project

    The overarching goal of the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration 
Project is to restore and enhance wetlands in the South San Francisco 
Bay while providing for flood management and wildlife-oriented public 
access and recreation.
    The following project objectives were adopted by the South Bay Salt 
Ponds Restoration Project's Stakeholder Forum which includes 
representatives of local governments, environmental organizations, 
neighboring landowners, businesses, and community organizations:
    1. Create restore, or enhance habitats of sufficient size, 
function, and appropriate structure to:
    a. Promote restoration of native special-status plants and animals 
that depend on South San Francisco Bay habitat for all part of their 
life cycles.
    b. Maintain current migratory bird species that utilize existing 
salt ponds and associated structures such as levees.
    c. Support increased abundance and diversity of native species in 
various South San Francisco Bay aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem 
components, including plants, invertebrates, fish, mammals, birds, 
reptiles and amphibians.
    2. Maintain or improve existing levels of flood protection in the 
South Bay area.
    3. Provide public access and recreational opportunities compatible 
with wildlife and habitat goals.
    4. Protect or improve existing levels of water and sediment quality 
in the South Bay, and take into account ecological risks caused by 
    5. Implement design and management measures to maintain or improve 
current levels of vector management, control predation on special-
status species, and manage the spread of non-native species.
    6. Protect the services provided by existing infrastructure (e.g., 
power lines, railroads).
    USFWS and CDFG reviewed the proposed project objectives to ensure 
compliance with legal mandates, such as compatibility of wildlife with 
public access. Two additional evaluation factors were identified in the 
Alternatives Development Framework for comparative analysis:
    7. Cost Effectiveness: Consider costs of implementation, 
management, and monitoring so that planned activities can be 
effectively executed with available funding.
    8. Environmental Impact: Promote environmental benefit and reduce 
impacts to the human environment.
    The South Bay salt ponds are now being managed by the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game under 
an Initial Stewardship Plan which was evaluated in a March 2004 Final 
Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report. The long-
term restoration plan being evaluated in the present NEPA/CEQA process 
may include general plans for the entire project area as well as 
detailed design plans for a specific Phase I project.

South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study

    The Corps plans to prepare a Feasibility Report for the South San 
Francisco Bay Shoreline Study, pursuant to the following resolution by 
the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure 
Committee, adopted July 24, 2002:
    ``Resolved by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of 
the United States House of Representatives, that the Secretary of the 
Army is requested to review the Final Letter Report for the San 
Francisco Bay Shoreline Study, California, dated July 1992, and all 
related interims and other pertinent reports to determine whether 
modifications to the recommendations contained therein are advisable at 
the present time in the interest of tidal and fluvial flood damage 
reduction, environmental restoration and protection and related 
purposes along the South San Francisco Bay shoreline for the counties 
of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda, California.''
    The Corps proposes to conduct the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline 
Study in coordination with the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project 
and in partnership with USFWS and CDFG. It is possible that the Corps' 
Feasibility Report may be released after the completion of the joint 
programmatic EIS/EIR, and supplemental NEPA documentation may be 
required to address the potential impacts of the South San Francisco 
Bay Shoreline Study and future phases of the long-term South Bay Salt 
Ponds Restoration

[[Page 64967]]

Project. If a supplemental NEPA document is required, the agencies 
propose to tier off the joint programmatic EIS/EIR.


    The joint programmatic EIS/EIR will consider a range of 
alternatives and their impacts, including the No Action Alternative. 
Scoping will be an early and open process designed to determine the 
issues and alternatives to be addressed in the EIS/EIR. For example, 
the range of alternatives may include varying mixes of managed ponds 
and tidal marsh habitat as well as varying levels and means of flood 
management and recreation and public access components which respond to 
the project objectives.

Content of the EIS/EIR

    The EIS/EIR will identify the anticipated effects of the project 
alternatives (negative and beneficial) and describe and analyze direct, 
indirect, and cumulative potential environmental impacts of the project 
alternatives, including the No Action Alternative, in accordance with 
NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508) and CEQA. For each issue listed below, 
the EIS/EIR will include a discussion of the parameters used in 
evaluating the impacts as well as recommended mitigation, indicating 
the effectiveness of mitigation measures proposed to be implemented and 
what, if any, additional measures would be required to reduce the 
impacts to a less-than-significant level. The EIS/EIR will include a 
proposed programmatic analysis of the long-term restoration project and 
flood management and recreation and public access components as well as 
a project-level analysis of the proposed Phase 1 project.
    The list of issues presented below is preliminary both in scope and 
number. These issues are presented to facilitate public comment on the 
scope of the EIS/EIR, and are not intended to be all-inclusive or to be 
a predetermination of impact topics to be considered.

Biological Resources

    The EIS/EIR will address the following issues and potential 
detrimental and beneficial impacts related to biological resources:
     Effects on population size for endangered species and 
other species of concern, including California clapper rail, snowy 
plover, California least tern, salt marsh harvest mouse, Chinook salmon 
and steelhead trout, and opportunities for movement and breeding 
between populations.
     Shifts in populations of migratory waterfowl and 
     Increased habitat connectivity for all organisms that use 
multiple marsh and/or aquatic habitats, including birds, mammals, and 
     Potential for improved habitat connectivity with adjacent 
upland habitats.
     Potential loss of hypersaline wetlands and their unique 
     Reduction in predation for species of concern with larger 
habitat blocks.
     Increased nursery habitat in wetlands for fish.
     Potential for salmonid entrainment into managed ponds.
     Effects of Spartina alterniflora and the hybrid of this 

Hydrology and Flood Management

    The EIS/EIR will address the following issues and potential 
detrimental and beneficial impacts related to hydrology and flood 
     Effects on the tidal regime and mixing, and related 
effects on salinity of Bay waters.
     Effects on high-tide water levels.
     Changes in tidal hydrodynamics, including tidal prism and 
tidal range in tidal sloughs, and resulting changes in channel 
     Effects on flood flow conveyance as a result of converting 
salt ponds to tidal marsh.
     Potential decrease in wave energy associated with tidal 
marsh restoration and reduced erosion of flood protection levees.

Water and Sediment Quality

    The EIS/EIR will address the following issues and potential 
detrimental and beneficial impacts related to water and sediment 
     Effects of salt pond levee breaches, including changes in 
salinity, turbidy, dissolved oxygen, BOD, and metals, PCBs and other 
pollutants of concern.
     Changes in residence time of water in the South Bay and 
related effects on water quality.
     Changes in mercury and/or methyl mercury concentrations, 
and other pollutants of concern, in Bay waters and sloughs.
     Potential to mobilize existing sediment contaminants, 
including mercury, PCBs, and other pollutants of concern.
     Potential contamination from outside sources, including 
urban runoff, wastewater discharges, imported sediment and atmospheric 

Recreation and Public Access

    The EIS/EIR will address the project's effects on existing 
recreation facilities and their use as well as the potential for 
expansion or creation of new facilities. The benefits and impacts of 
increased public access on biological resources and achieving the other 
project objectives will also be addressed.


    The EIS/EIR will evaluate the economic effects of the alternatives, 
including effects on commercial fishing of Bay shrimp.

Cumulative Impacts

    The EIS/EIR will examine the cumulative impacts of past, ongoing, 
and probable future projects affecting tidal marsh and estuarine 
habitats in the South Bay.

Environmental Analysis Process

    The EIS/EIR will be prepared in compliance with NEPA and Council on 
Environmental Quality Regulations, contained in 40 CFR parts 1500-1508; 
and with CEQA, Public Resources Code Sec 21000 et seq., and the CEQA 
Guidelines as amended. Because requirements for NEPA and CEQA are 
somewhat different, the document must be prepared to comply with 
whichever requirements are more stringent. USFWS and the Corps will be 
Joint Lead Agencies for the NEPA process and CDFG will be the Lead 
Agency for the CEQA process. In accordance with both CEQA and NEPA, 
these Lead Agencies are responsible for the scope, content, and legal 
adequacy of the document. Therefore, all aspects of the EIS/EIR scope 
and process will be fully coordinated between these three agencies.
    The scoping process will include the opportunity for public input 
during two public meetings and by written comments submitted during the 
30 day scoping period.
    The draft EIS/EIR will incorporate public concerns associated with 
the project alternatives identified in the scoping process and will be 
distributed for at least a 45-day public review and comment period. 
During this time, both written and verbal comments will be solicited on 
the adequacy of the document. The final EIS/EIR will address the 
comments received on the draft during public review and will be made 
available to all commenters on the draft EIS/EIR.
    The final step in the Federal EIS process is the preparation of a 
Record of Decision, a concise summary of the decisions made by USFWS 
and the Corps. The Record, or Records, of Decision may be published no 
earlier than thirty days after publication of the Notice of 
Availability of the final EIS.

[[Page 64968]]

The final step in the State EIR process is certification of the EIR, 
which includes preparation of a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting 
Plan and adoption of its findings, should the project be approved.
    This notice is provided pursuant to regulations for implementing 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (40 CFR 1501.7 and 

    Dated: November 1, 2004.
Russell Joe Bellmer,
Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
    Dated: November 1, 2004.
Philip T. Feir,
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, Commanding.
[FR Doc. 04-24885 Filed 11-8-04; 8:45 am]