[Federal Register: January 23, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 15)]
[Page 3993-3994]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Sears Point Wetland and Watershed Restoration Project

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), in 
coordination with the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), 
are preparing a joint environmental impact report/environmental impact 
statement (EIR/EIS) for the Sears Point Wetland and Watershed 
Restoration Project (Project), located in Sonoma County, California. At 
this early stage in the planning process, the purpose of the Project is 
to restore natural estuarine ecosystems on diked baylands, while 
providing public access and recreational and educational opportunities 
compatible with ecological and cultural resources protection. This 
scoping notice advises the public that we intend to gather information 
necessary to prepare an EIS pursuant to the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA). We encourage the public and other agencies to 
participate in the NEPA scoping process by sending written suggestions 
and information on the issues and concerns that should be addressed in 
the draft EIR/EIS, including the range of suitable alternatives, 
appropriate mitigation measures, and the nature and extent of potential 
environmental impacts. Throughout the EIR/EIS process, we will announce 
additional opportunities for public input.

DATES: To ensure that we have adequate time to evaluate and incorporate 
suggestions and other input, we must receive comments on or before 
February 28, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments or requests to be added to our mailing 
list to the following address: Christy Smith, Refuge Manager, San Pablo 
Bay National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 7715 
Lakeville Highway, Petaluma, CA 94954. Alternatively, you may fax 
written comments to 707-769-8106, or send them by electronic mail to 
christy_smith@fws.gov. Please include the heading ``Sears Point NEPA 

Scoping Comments'' in your response.

[[Page 3994]]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christy Smith, Refuge Manager, San 
Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, at (707) 769-4200, or John Brosnan, 
Baylands Program Manager, at (707) 526-6930 x 109.



    At this early stage of the planning process, project goals are to 
restore the maximum feasible extent of tidal marsh and channel 
habitats. Where full tidal extent cannot be restored, we would seek to 
maximize diked wetland functions through management, enhancement, and 
restoration actions while maintaining viable agricultural uses to the 
extent compatible. In addition, we would provide public access and 
recreational and educational opportunities that are compatible with 
ecological and cultural resources protection.
    The project site is located at Sears Point near the intersection of 
Lakeville-Reclamation Road and State Route 37 (SR 37) in southern 
Sonoma County, California. The site is also traversed from east to west 
by an inactive rail line owned by the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit 
(SMART) District.
    The project site is a total of 2,327 acres (ac) owned by the Sonoma 
Land Trust and is comprised of two large properties, the North Point 
Joint Venture (NPJV) parcel and the Dickson Ranch parcel, which are 
situated on the edge of San Pablo Bay between the mouth of the Petaluma 
River and Tolay Creek. The 1,679-ac NPJV parcel extends both north and 
south of SR 37. It is bounded on the north by the Infineon Raceway 
property, on the east by Cougar Mountain (north of SR 37) and Paradise 
Vineyards (south of SR 37), on the south by the SMART rail line, and on 
the west by Lakeville-Reclamation Road. The 648-ac Dickson Ranch parcel 
is located entirely south of Highway 37, and is bounded on the north by 
the SMART rail line, on the west by Tolay Creek, on the south by San 
Pablo Bay, and on the west by the outboard levee as it veers bayward 
from the SMART rail line. The entire Dickson Ranch parcel and 858 acres 
of the North Point Joint Venture parcel are located within the approved 
acquisition boundary of the San Pablo Bay NWR.
    Site topography ranges from below mean sea level (msl) in portions 
of the subsided diked baylands along the southern project boundary to 
approximately 400 feet above msl in the rolling uplands north of SR 37. 
With the exception of a small number of barns, houses, and outbuildings 
scattered throughout the project site, the area is predominantly 
undeveloped, comprising a mixture of tidal, seasonal, and riparian 
wetlands, streams, and upland habitats.
    The project site contains existing or potential suitable habitat 
for a number of special status species, including the federally listed 
endangered salt marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris), 
California clapper rail (Rallus longirostris obsoletus), and the 
federally listed threatened California red-legged frog (Rana aurora 
draytonii). Two federally listed threatened fish species--the Central 
Valley and Central California Coast steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and 
green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris)--may also benefit from the 
project goals. Other species may be addressed as necessary in the EIR/
EIS based on further analysis, new information, agency consultation, 
and public comment.

NEPA Compliance

    Information gathered through this scoping process will assist us in 
preparing a reasonable range of alternatives to address the restoration 
of the project site at Sears Point. These alternatives are likely to 
include some activity within the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife 
Refuge. We will use the EIR/EIS to determine whether to authorize 
activities within the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge in order 
to accomplish project goals. A detailed description of the proposed 
action and alternatives will be included in the EIR/EIS.
    The EIR/EIS will identify the direct, indirect, and cumulative 
impacts of the alternatives on biological resources, cultural 
resources, land use, air quality, water quality, water resources, and 
other environmental resources. It will also identify appropriate 
mitigation measures for adverse environmental effects.
    We will conduct environmental review of the EIR/EIS in accordance 
with the requirements of NEPA, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), its 
implementing regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), other applicable 
regulations, and our procedures for compliance with those regulations. 
The environmental document will be prepared to meet both the 
requirements of NEPA and the California Environmental Quality Act 
(CEQA). The California Department of Fish and Game is the CEQA lead 
agency. We anticipate that the draft EIR/EIS will be available for 
public review in Spring 2008.
    We are furnishing this notice in accordance with section 1501.7 of 
the NEPA implementing regulations to obtain suggestions and information 
from other agencies and the public on the scope of issues to be 
addressed in the EIR/EIS. We invite written comments from interested 
parties to ensure identification of the full range of issues.
    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Dated: January 16, 2008.
Ken McDemond,
Acting Regional Director, California Nevada Region.
[FR Doc. E8-1069 Filed 1-22-08; 8:45 am]