[Federal Register: June 13, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 113)]
[Page 32678-32679]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Record of Decision for the Bair Island Restoration and Management 
Plan and a Final Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact 
Report, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the 
Bair Island State Ecological Reserve, San Mateo County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces the 
decision and availability of the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Bair 
Island Restoration and Management Plan and Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) for the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife 
Refuge. A thorough analysis of the environmental, social, and economic 
considerations was completed and presented in the Final EIS. The Final 
EIS was released to the public and a Notice of Availability was 
published in the Federal Register on July 28, 2006. The ROD documents 
the Service's decision to adopt and implement Alternative 1, Tidal 
Marsh Restoration with Moderate Public Access for the Bair Island 
Restoration and Management Plan.

DATES: The ROD was signed by the Acting Manager, California/Nevada 
Operations, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on May 22, 2007.

ADDRESSES: A copy of the ROD may be obtained by writing to: Clyde 
Morris, Manager, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife 
Refuge, 9500 Thornton Avenue, Newark, California 94560 or by e-mailing 
clyde_morris@fws.gov. A copy of the Final ROD and EIS is available at 

the following Web site address: http://southbayrestoration.org/bair.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Clyde Morris, Refuge Manager, at the 
above street and e-mail address or via telephone at (510) 792-0222 
extension 25, or by fax at (510) 792-5828.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Bair Island is a 3,000 acre former 
commercial salt pond complex on San Francisco Bay in Redwood City, 
California. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the 
California Department of Fish and Game are preparing to restore and 
manage the 1,400 acres of Bair Island that are still contained within 
the former salt pond levees to tidal wetlands.
    The Bair Island Complex is divided into three distinct areas 
separated by slough channels: Inner, Middle, and Outer Bair. Inner Bair 
Island is connected to the mainland with access from Whipple Avenue and 
U.S. Highway 101. Inner Bair Island is separated from Middle Bair by 
Smith Slough, which is separated from Outer Bair by Corkscrew Slough.
    Historically, Bair Island was part of a large complex of tidal 
marshes and mud flats within the drainage of San Francisco Bay, Redwood 
Creek and Steinberger Slough. Bair Island was diked in the late 1800's 
and early 1900's for agricultural purposes. It was converted to 
commercial salt ponds in 1946 and remained in production until 1965. 
The lands were then drained and sold to a series of real estate 
development companies. A local referendum in the City of Redwood City 
halted development plans for Bair Island. The California Department of 
Fish and Game (CDFG) and the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National 
Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) both acquired portions of Bair Island over 
time. The Peninsula Open Space Trust purchased the majority of the 
remaining portions of Bair Island in 1999 and their interests were 
acquired by these agencies.
    Five alternatives for restoration and management of Bair Island and 
the consequences of implementing each alternative were described in 
detail in the Draft and Final EIS. The Draft EIS was distributed on 
August 27, 2004 and a public meeting to accept comments on the draft 
document was held on September 22, 2004. The Service received 31 
comment letters from organizations or individuals. All substantive 
issues raised in these comments were addressed through

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changes incorporated into the Final Bair Island Restoration and 
Management Plan and EIS and/or through responses to the comments, which 
are included in the Final EIS.
    The ROD for the Bair Island Restoration and Management Plan has 
been prepared by the Service in compliance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended. It documents the 
decision of the Service, based on the information contained in the 
Final Bair Island Restoration and Management Plan EIS and the entire 
Administrative Record. The Service adopted and plans to implement 
Alternative 1, Tidal Marsh Restoration with Moderate Public Access. 
This alternative has been identified by the Service as the alternative 
that would best achieve the goal of the restoration plan, the refuge 
purposes, and contribute toward the mission of the National Wildlife 
Refuge System, consistent with sound principles of fish and wildlife 
science, conservation, legal mandates, and Service policies. The 
selected alternative would restore Bair Island to a tidal salt marsh to 
provide habitat for endangered species and other native wildlife as 
well as to enhance the public's appreciation and awareness of the 
unique resources at Bair Island. Once restored, the site will assist 
with the preservation and recovery of both the California clapper rail 
and the salt marsh harvest mouse. These two species were listed by the 
Fish and Wildlife Service as endangered species on October 13, 1970.
    The restoration of Bair Island would take place in phases. The 
first phase would be breaching of Outer Bair Island at two locations on 
Steinberger Slough near its entrance to San Francisco Bay. The second 
phase would be restoration of Inner and Middle Bair Island by breaching 
their former commercial salt pond levees after constructing a flow 
restrictor in Corkscrew Slough and reestablishing the historic meander 
of Smith Slough on Inner Bair Island. Dredge and/or fill material would 
raise the bottom elevation of Inner Bair Island to quicken the 
establishment of vegetated marsh. The third phase, which could take 
place during or after the first two phases, would be the construction 
of wildlife oriented public use facilities on Inner Bair Island and a 
portage with wildlife viewing platform on Outer Bair Island. Inner Bair 
Island improvements would include a new pedestrian bridge from the 
existing Refuge parking lot, a 1.8 mile public trail, and two wildlife 
viewing platforms with interpretive signage.
    The Service considered the environmental and relevant concerns 
presented by agencies, organizations, and individuals and believes that 
implementing Alternative 1 is the best way to achieve the vision and 
goals of the restoration project. The selected alternative is also the 
most consistent with the purposes of the Refuge, the mission of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System, and the recovery actions proposed for 
the federally listed species found in the area. This alternative 
recognizes the need to restore habitat essential to the recovery of 
listed species as well as other tidal wetland dependent native species. 
The selected alterative also includes appropriate types and levels of 
recreational access for the public to experience and enjoy the 
resources being protected.

    Dated: June 7, 2007.
Ken McDermond,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Sacramento, 
 [FR Doc. E7-11392 Filed 6-12-07; 8:45 am]