[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 77 (Friday, April 20, 2012)]
[Pages 23740-23741]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-9577]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-R-2011-N276; FGRS12610800000V5-123-FF08RSFC00]

Sears Point Wetland and Watershed Restoration Project, Sonoma 
County, CA; Final Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Impact 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the 
California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), in cooperation with the 
Sonoma Land Trust (SLT), announce that a final environmental impact 
report and environmental impact statement (EIR/EIS) for the Sears Point 
Wetland and Watershed Restoration Project is now available. The final 
EIR/EIS, which we prepared and now announce in accordance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), describes the 
restoration of approximately 2,300 acres (ac) of former farmland 
located in Sonoma County, California, near the San Pablo Bay. The final 
EIR/EIS responds to all comments we received on the draft document. The 
restoration project, which would be implemented by the SLT, would 
restore natural estuarine ecosystems on diked baylands, while providing 
public access and recreational and educational opportunities compatible 
with ecological and cultural resources protection. The U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers, San Francisco District, and the National Marine Fisheries 
Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are 
cooperating agencies on the final EIR/EIS.

ADDRESSES: The Final EIR/EIS is available at:
     Refuge Headquarters Office, San Pablo Bay National 
Wildlife Refuge, 2100 Highway 37, Petaluma, CA 94954; (707) 769-4200.
     San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 9500 
Thornton Avenue, Newark, CA 94560; (510) 792-0222.
     John F. Kennedy Public Library, 505 Santa Clara, Vallejo, 
CA 94590.
     Internet: www.sonomalandtrust.org.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Don Brubaker, Refuge Manager, San 
Pablo Bay NWR, (707) 769-4200 x100 (phone); don_brubaker@fws.gov. 
(email), or Julian Meisler, Baylands Program Manager, Sonoma Land 
Trust, at (707) 526-6930 x109 (phone); julian@sonomalandtrust.org 


[[Page 23741]]


    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 a rail line owned by the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) 
    The project site is a total of 2,327 ac owned by the Sonoma Land 
Trust (SLT) 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. The parcel 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 south by San Pablo Bay and on the west by Tolay Creek and the 
outboard levee as it veers bayward from the SMART rail line. The entire 
Dickson Ranch parcel and 858 ac of the NPJV parcel are located within 
the approved acquisition boundary of the Service's San Pablo Bay 
National Wildlife Refuge. The SLT is transferring approximately 500-ac 
of the land bounded by Highway 37 and the SMART rail line to the 
Service, and the remainder of the land to CDFG.


    We identified and analyzed a total of eight alternatives. The 
alternatives were analyzed based on a set of criteria, including (1) 
ability to meet the project purpose and need; (2) technical, 
logistical, and financial feasibility; and (3) ability to avoid or 
substantially reduce one or more significant impacts. We removed five 
of these alternatives from further consideration because they did not 
meet the purpose and need, were not feasible, or did not provide 
substantial variation in environmental impacts. The lead agencies 
carried forward three possible alternatives for environmental analysis: 
The No-Action Alternative, the Partial-Tidal (Preferred) Restoration 
Alternative, and the Full-Tidal Restoration Alternative.

No-Action Alternative

    Under the No-Action Alternative, there would be no wetland 
restoration or enhancement, no new trails, and no new habitat creation, 
with the exception of the California red-legged frog enhancement, which 
would likely proceed as a separate enhancement project. The Sonoma Land 
Trust (SLT) would maintain ownership of the property north of Highway 
37, and would still move forward with the transfer of title of the 
Sears Point properties south of Highway 37 to the Federal and State 
agencies. SLT will honor existing agricultural and commercial leases on 
the property through May 2012.

Partial-Tidal (Proposed) Restoration Alternative

    The Partial-Tidal Restoration Alternative would restore 955 acres 
of tidal marsh; preserve and enhance a 106-acre area of non-tidal 
seasonal wetland while maintaining agriculture between the SMART line 
and Highway 37; provide public recreation access south and possibly 
north of Highway 37; and enhance 15.5 acres of additional breeding 
habitat for the California red-legged frog, including 0.86 acres of 
excavation in the floodplain near the northern project boundary.

Full-Tidal Restoration Alternative

    The Full-Tidal Restoration Alternative would restore 1,352 acres of 
tidal marsh; provide public recreation access south and possibly north 
of Highway 37; and enhance 15.5 acres of additional breeding habitat, 
including 0.86 acres of excavation in the floodplain, for the 
California red-legged frog near the northern project boundary.

NEPA Compliance

    The entire Dickson Ranch parcel and 858 acres of the NPJV parcel 
are located within the approved acquisition boundary of the San Pablo 
Bay NWR. Federally owned lands within the Refuge boundary are adjacent 
to these properties. In order to implement the action alternatives 
described above, some activity (levee breaching and habitat 
restoration) within the San Pablo Bay NWR is necessary. We will use the 
EIR/EIS to determine whether to authorize activities within the San 
Pablo Bay NWR in order to accomplish project goals.
    The EIR/EIS discusses 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 also identifies appropriate mitigation 
measures for adverse environmental effects.

Public Review

    We conducted public 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 formal public comment period for the draft EIR/EIS opened on August 
28, 2009, and closed on October 13, 2009. We announced the availability 
of the draft document by several methods, including press releases and 
public notice, including a notice in the Federal Register (74 FR 44379, 
August 28, 2009). While we received a number of comments on the draft 
EIR/EIS, none of the comments received from interested individuals, 
groups, or agencies required us or CDFG to add new alternatives or to 
significantly alter existing alternatives.
    The EIR/EIS meets the requirements of both NEPA and the California 
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The California Department of Fish and 
Game is the CEQA lead agency. The final EIR/EIS contains our responses 
to all comments received on the draft document. Following the release 
of the final EIR/EIS, we will prepare a Record of Decision not sooner 
than 30 days after the Environmental Protection Agency has published 
its notice of filing of the document in the Federal Register. We 
anticipate that we will issue a Record of Decision in the spring of 
    We provide this notice under regulations implementing NEPA (40 CFR 

Alexandra Pitts,
Acting, Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2012-9577 Filed 4-19-12; 8:45 am]