[Federal Register: March 21, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 54)]
[Page 13301-13302]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Intent To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Report/
Environmental Impact Statement for the Buena Vista Lagoon Restoration 
Project, San Diego County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), the California 
Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), and the State Coastal Conservancy 
(SCC) are announcing our intent to prepare a joint Draft Environmental 
Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (DEIR/DEIS) for the 
proposed restoration of approximately 200 acres (81 hectares) of 
wetland habitat at Buena Vista Lagoon, a coastal lagoon in the cities 
of Carlsbad and Oceanside, CA. The Buena Vista Lagoon is a State 
Ecological Reserve, managed by the CDFG. It is bordered by the Pacific 
Ocean on the west, Vista Way/State Highway 78 on the north, and 
Jefferson Street on the east and south. The proposed action, for 
purposes of environmental analysis, is restoration of the Buena Vista 
Lagoon to a predominantly tidal saltwater system to increase shorebird 
and marine fish habitat, while taking advantage of the lagoon basin 
bathymetry to protect and enhance existing freshwater habitat at the 
lagoon's upper (easterly) end that supports sensitive bird species. The 
DEIR/DEIS is being developed to assess the impacts of various lagoon 
restoration alternatives as discussed below and further identified 
during the public scoping process.

DATES: A public scoping meeting to receive input on topics, issues, and 
alternatives for the DEIS/DETR is scheduled for April 18, 2007, from 
6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Written comments will be accepted until close of 
business on April 20, 2007. See ADDRESSES section below for information 
on submitting comments.

ADDRESSES: The public scoping meeting will be held at the City of 
Carlsbad, Faraday Building, Room 173 A & B, 1635 Faraday Avenue, 
Carlsbad, CA 92008. Written comments should be addressed to the Coastal 
Program Coordinator, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden 
Valley Road, Carlsbad, CA 92011. Written comments may be sent by 
facsimile to 760-431-5901. Comments may be submitted by electronic mail 
(e-mail) to: fw8cfwocomments@fws.gov. Please include ``Public Comments 
on the Buena Vista Lagoon Restoration NOI'' in the subject line of the 
email and your name and return address in the body of your e-mail 

Coordinator, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 760-431-9440 extension 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Several Federal, state, and local agencies, 
and citizen groups are jointly proposing a project to restore 
approximately 200 acres (81 hectares) of wetland habitant at Buena 
Vista Lagoon. Historically (e.g., pre-1940s), the lagoon was in a 
dynamic equilibrium between a tidal-influenced saltwater system during 
dry conditions and a river-influenced freshwater system during wet 
weather. Over time, the lagoon has been converted to a freshwater 
system as a result of highway, roadway, and railroad construction and 
installation of a weir. Buena Vista Lagoon has been progressively 
degrading in terms of its value to biological communities, habitats, 
and human uses. Without restoration, it would most likely become a 
vegetated freshwater marsh or riparian woodland-meadow within the next 
30 to 50 years. This degradation would reduce or eliminate wetland 

[[Page 13302]]

and values, and result in greater concerns about mosquitoes, water 
quality impairment, and impacts to aesthetic resources. Creation of a 
predominantly saltwater regime would be achieved through elimination 
and disposal of existing freshwater vegetation (principally cattails), 
dredging and disposal to remove excess sediment (up to approximately 2 
million cubic yards), and establishment of continuous tidal exchange 
through an ocean inlet/outlet. Dredging would create elevations for 
intertidal salt marsh and eelgrass habitats. An existing 50-foot wide 
weir would be removed and an open channel would be constructed to 
provide continuous tidal exchange between the lagoon and the Pacific 
Ocean. Depending on the final distribution of habitats to be created 
and inlet maintenance considerations, the ocean inlet/outlet may 
require stabilization with one or two jetties of similar length to 
those constructed farther south in the City of Carlsbad for the 
Batiquitos Lagoon inlet/outlet. Various scenarios of habitat creation 
and lagoon flow characteristics would influence which potential 
infrastructure modifications may be considered for the three action 
alternatives. Potential modifications may include changes to the 
existing bridges over the lagoon for U.S. Interstate 5 (I-5), a 
railroad, and Carlsbad Boulevard (``Coast Highway''), along with 
culverts and/or a weir.
    Guidelines under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (40 
CFR 1502.14[a]) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) 
(Public Resources Code, Section 21000-21177) require that an EIR and a 
EIS examine alternatives to a project in order to explore a reasonable 
range of alternatives that fulfill the project's purpose, while 
reducing potentially significant environmental impacts. A series of 
Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meetings and informal public 
meetings/workshops were held over the past few years to solicit input 
on the development of project alternatives. Three public meetings were 
held between June 2002 and April 2004 with the last meeting held on 
April 8, 2004. Further, a comprehensive Feasibility Analysis funded by 
the SCC was completed in 2004 by Everest International Consultants, 
Inc. This analysis documented the general engineering feasibility and 
associated potential environmental impacts and considerations for a 
full range of hydrologic regimes and alternatives. Based on this 
analysis and input from the public and the TAC, alternatives that will 
receive detailed analysis in the DEIR/DEIS, are: (a) Proposed Action; 
(b) Restore and Enhance the Existing Freshwater Regime; (c) Create a 
Mixed Saltwater-Freshwater Regime; and (d) No Project/No Acton.
    The alternative to Restore and Enhance the Existing Freshwater 
Regime would focus on elimination and disposal of some existing 
freshwater vegetation to help restore flow conditions, and dredging and 
disposal to remove excess sediment necessary for creation of freshwater 
habitat and two islands to provide riparian forest and fringing upland 
habitat. Additionally, channel enhancement would be provided to improve 
water flow and circulation, and the existing 50-foot wide weir would be 
replaced with a larger-width weir at the ocean outlet. No structural 
modifications would occur to the existing I-5, railroad, or Coast 
Highway crossings over the lagoon.
    The alternative to Create a Mixed Saltwater-Freshwater Regime would 
focus on elimination and disposal of some existing freshwater 
vegetation to help restore flow conditions, dredging and disposal to 
remove excess sediment necessary for creation of saltwater habitat and 
eelgrass habitat west of I-5, and shallow freshwater habitat east of I-
5. The existing weir would be replaced with an ocean inlet/outlet to 
provide continuous tidal exchange between the western portion of the 
lagoon and the ocean, and a new weir would be constructed under I-5 to 
maintain a freshwater basin east of the freeway. As noted for the 
proposed action, the ocean inlet/outlet may require stabilization with 
one or two jetties, and various scenarios of habitat creation and 
lagoon flow characteristics would influence considerations for 
modifying lagoon crossings to optimize tidal exchange, such as related 
to I-5, railroad, and Coast Highway bridges.
    The No Project/No Action alternative would not involve any 
restoration or enhancement of the lagoon.
    Written comments from interested parties are welcome to ensure that 
issues of public concern related to the proposed action are identified. 
Comments and materials received will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES above). Comments will 
also be accepted at the public scoping meting (see DATES).
    Our practice is to make comments, including names, home addresses, 
home phone numbers, and email addresses of respondents, available for 
public review. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their names and/or homes addresses, etc., but if you wish is to 
consider withholding this information you must state this prominently 
at the beginning of your comments. In addition, you must present a 
rationale for withholding this information. This rationale must 
demonstrate that disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted 
invasion of privacy. We will always make submissions from organization 
or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as 
representatives of or officials of organizations or businesses, 
available for public inspection in their entirety.
    The environmental review of this project will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the NEPA of 1969 as amended (42 
U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), Council on Environmental Quality regulations (40 
CFR parts 1500-1518), other applicable Federal laws and regulations, 
and applicable policies and procedures of the Service. This notice is 
being furnished in accordance with 40 CFR 1501.7 to obtain suggestions 
and information from other agencies and the public on the scope of 
issues and alternatives to be addressed in the DEIR/DEIS.

    Dated: March 14, 2007.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
[FR Doc. 07-1373 Filed 3-20-07; 8:45 am]