[Federal Register: April 20, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 77)]
[Page 20320-20322]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent To Prepare a Joint Environmental Impact 
Statement/ Environmental Impact Report for the Invasive Spartina 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior (Lead Agency).

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the California 
State Coastal Conservancy (Conservancy) are preparing a programmatic 
Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/R) on 
implementation of a regional eradication and/or control program for 
nonnative, invasive Spartina, a perennial cordgrass, in the San 
Francisco Bay Estuary. The EIS/R is intended to provide National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and California Environmental Quality 
Act (CEQA) compliance for the overall Invasive Spartina Project, 
including identification of all necessary permits and approvals from 
lead agencies and supporting environmental documentation for other 
necessary local, State, and Federal permits. The EIS/R would also 
provide supporting documentation for future grant applications to 
obtain funding necessary to implement certain elements of the overall 

DATES: A public scoping meeting to solicit comment on possible 
alternatives for the eradication and/or control on nonnative, invasive 
Spartina in the San Francisco Bay Estuary will be held on April 24th, 
2001 at the Office of the Association of Bay Area Governments, Joseph 
P. Bork Metro Center, 101 8th Street (8th & Oak Streets), Oakland, 
California, 94607 at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Written comments are encouraged 
and should be received on or before June 4, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Information or comments related to the NEPA process should 
be submitted to Wayne White, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W-2605, 
Sacramento, California 95825. Written comments may also be sent by 
facsimile to (916) 414-6713. All comments, including names and 
addresses, will become part of the administrative record and may be 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Questions regarding the NEPA process, 
including scoping, may be directed to Ms. Marla Macoubrie, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage 
Way, W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825 (telephone (916) 414-6600). 
For questions concerning the CEQA process, please contact Ms. Maxene 
Spellman, California State Coastal Conservancy, 1330 Broadway, 11th 
Floor, Oakland, California, 94612 (telephone (510) 286-0332).


Project Description

    This EIS/R will evaluate the environmental effects of adopting and 
implementing a regional program, the Invasive Spartina Project, being 
established to eradicate and/or control invasive species of Spartina in 
the San Francisco Bay Estuary. This programmatic document may be 
supplemented in the future by project-specific CEQA/NEPA documents at 
up to four pilot project sites. These project-level studies would allow 
for consideration of techniques specifically tailored for conditions at 
each site.
    The primary goal of the Invasive Spartina Project is to eradicate 
and/or control invasive Spartina in the tidal marshlands and intertidal 
mudflats along margins of the San Francisco Bay, an area providing 
habitat for several Federal and State listed species. These efforts 
will be regionally coordinated with other resource and wildlife 
agencies in order to minimize disturbance to sensitive habitats and 
    It is estimated that eradication of S. alterniflora could provide 
restoration and possible preservation of up to 40,000 acres of tidal 
wetlands and up to 29,000 acres of intertidal mud flats. Three other 
nonnative, introduced species of Spartina (S. anglica, S. densiflora, 
and S. patens) would be targeted by this project along margins of the 
San Francisco Bay.
    An ongoing project in Washington State provides preliminary 
information to this effort on six methods to control and/or eradicate 
invasive Spartina. These methods, listed below, will be evaluated in 
the EIS/R. Any alternative in the EIS/R process may consider one or 
more of the following control methods in conjunction with habitat type 
or setting and geographic location:
     Covering Spartina with fabric and/or plastic materials to 
prevent photosynthesis;
     Mowing Spartina with mowers or ``weed-eaters'' and/or 
mowing and burying with sediments;
     Physical removal of Spartina seedlings and plants by 
digging, pulling, pushing or seedhead clipping;
     Chemical control of Spartina with registered herbicide 
(Rodeo) or experimentally permitted herbicides (Sonar, Arsenal) and 
surfactants using ground application (backpack, truck, airboat, 
hovercraft, all terrain vehicles) or aerial application;
     Temporary diking of wetlands;
     Prescribed burns; and
     Combinations of the above methods (such as mowing and 
herbicide application).
    The EIS/R will evaluate individual and cumulative impacts of 
alternatives based on the above control methods, as well as the no 
project/no action alternative, in accordance with NEPA and CEQA. 
Additional methods may be

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added following the public scoping process. The alternatives will be 
developed in coordination with the Service, the California Department 
of Fish and Game (DFG), the Conservancy (Invasive Spartina Project 
team), and private landowners with populations of nonnative Spartina on 
their properties.
    The following actions and approvals are anticipated to be necessary 
to implement Spartina eradication and/or control efforts that might be 
established as a result of completion of this EIS/R process:
     U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit(s) for Section 10 of 
the Rivers and Harbor Act and Section 404 of the Federal Clean Water 
     Federal and State Endangered Species Act consultations;
     California State Coastal Conservancy Plan approval;
     California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) 
Encroachment permit(s);
     DFG Streambed Alteration Agreement(s), Section 1601 of the 
DFG Code;
     California State Regional Water Quality Control Board 401 
Certification(s) and/or Discharge permit(s);
     California State Bay Area Air Quality Management District 
     Certified Unified Program Agency permit(s) (CUPA Fire 
Department coordination);
     San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission 
permit(s); and
     Local agency approval of specific implementation of 

Project Location

    The geographic scope of the Invasive Spartina Project includes 
intertidal zones of 10 Bay Area counties bordering and including the 
San Francisco Bay. Seven of these counties have known populations of 
nonnative, invasive Spartina, including Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa 
Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Marin and Solano counties. The 
remaining three counties, Napa, Sacramento and Sonoma, do not currently 
have known populations and are being monitored.
    Distribution of invasive Spartina is generally greatest in the 
Central and South San Francisco Bays with the North Bay and far reaches 
of the South Bay being the least infested. The largest infestations of 
S. alterniflora currently exist at four general sites within the 
Central and South Bays. These sites include the Hayward Regional 
Shoreline, Old Alameda Creek, the Alameda Flood Control Channel, and in 
San Bruno, just north of the San Francisco International Airport. 
Populations at these locations exceed 100 net acres of S. alterniflora. 
Populations between 10 and 100 net acres occur along the Oakland and 
Alameda Shoreline, San Leandro Bay, the Don Edwards National Wildlife 
Refuge, Greco Island, and Bair Island. Small scattered populations 
occur at Richmond, Emeryville, Coyote Creek, Stevens Creek, Coyote 
Point vicinity, Candlestick Cove, Yosemite Channel, Richardson Bay, 
along the Eastshore State Park shoreline, Guadalupe Slough, Palo Alto 
Baylands, Corte Madera, and San Rafael. The greatest infestation of S. 
densiflora exists along the length of Corte Madera Creek in Marin 
County. Populations of S. densiflora have also become established in 
San Rafael, Point Pinole, and in Burlingame. Spartina anglica is found 
only at Creekside Park in Marin County and S. patens is found only in 
Benecia and at Tolay Creek.

Potential Effects of Alternative Control Methodologies

    The direct effects of physical and mechanical eradication/control 
measures may include disruption of soil/sediment, potentially resulting 
in erosion, increased water turbidity, and related adverse effects on 
aquatic biota. These measures also may have the potential to cause 
accidental mortality of non-target species, including sensitive species 
such as the California clapper rail (Rallus longirostris obsoletus), 
California black rail (Laterallus jamaicensis), salt marsh harvest 
mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris), and others. In addition, by 
possibly disrupting the soil/sediment, these measures could facilitate 
subsequent colonization by nonnative Spartina or other invasive 
    Any possible chemical measures (herbicides) have the potential to 
kill non-target plant species such as native salt marsh plants, 
eelgrass, and algae. This could result in adverse indirect impacts to 
the salt marsh community in general, including sensitive species such 
as the California clapper rail, California black rail, salt marsh 
harvest mouse, and others. Loss of eelgrass and other marine flora, if 
occurring as a result of these measures, could provide for the loss of 
nursery and feeding habitat for many species of fish and invertebrates, 
including sensitive species such as the winter-run chinook salmon 
(Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), 
steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and others. These areas also provide 
foraging habitat for many marine bird species, including the California 
least tern (Sterna antillarum). The toxicity to animals from herbicides 
under consideration is generally considered to be low. However, the 
environmental analysis will evaluate this toxicity, as well as the 
persistence and transport of these herbicides and their potential toxic 
effects away from the application site.
    Spartina eradication and/or control also has the potential to 
change existing sediment accretion (shoaling) and erosion patterns, 
possibly affecting hydrodynamic patterns (currents, circulation, and 
waves). This could potentially degrade water quality (turbidity, 
flushing) as well as any associated biological communities (eelgrass, 
kelp beds, or marshes).

Scoping Process

    The EIS/R will be prepared in compliance with NEPA and the Council 
on Environmental Quality NEPA 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. The Service will be the lead 
agency for the NEPA process and the Conservancy will be the lead agency 
for the CEQA process. In accordance with both CEQA and NEPA, these lead 
agencies have the responsibility for the scope, content, and legal 
adequacy of the document. Therefore, all aspects of the EIS/R scope and 
process will be fully coordinated between the two agencies.
    The draft EIS/R 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/R will address the comments 
received on the draft EIS/R during public review and will be made 
available to all commenters on the draft EIS/R and anyone requesting a 
copy during the 45-day public review period. The final EIS/R shall (1) 
provide a full and fair discussion of the proposed action's significant 
environmental impacts, and (2) inform the decision-makers and the 
public of the reasonable measures and alternatives that would avoid or 
minimize adverse impacts or enhance the quality of the human 
    The final step in the Federal EIS process is preparation of a 
Record of Decision (ROD), a concise summary of the decision(s) made by 
the Service. The

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ROD can be published immediately after the final EIS comment period has 
ended. 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. A 
certified EIR indicates the following: (1) The environmental document 
has been completed in compliance with CEQA; (2) the decision-making 
body of the lead agency reviewed and considered the final EIR prior to 
approving the project; and (3) the final EIR reflects the lead agency's 
independent judgement and analysis.
    This notice is provided pursuant to regulations for implementing 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: April 12, 2001.
Steve Thompson,
Acting Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office.
[FR Doc. 01-9702 Filed 4-19-01; 8:45 am]