[Federal Register: April 22, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 77)]
[Page 19583-19584]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Revised Notice of Intent To Prepare a Comprehensive Conservation 
Plan and Associated Environmental Impact Statement for the South San 
Diego Bay Unit of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge and the 
Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, San Diego County, CA.

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Revised notice of intent.


SUMMARY: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969, as amended (NEPA), this Notice advises other agencies, Tribes, 
and the public that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) 
intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) related to 
the Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the South San Diego Bay 
Unit of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and Sweetwater 
Marsh NWR. In this EIS, the Service will describe and evaluate a range 
of reasonable alternatives and the anticipated impacts of each. This 
information will be utilized in the draft CCP for the South San Diego 
Bay Unit of the San Diego NWR and Sweetwater Marsh NWR.
    This Notice revises the Notice of June 23, 2000 (65 FR 39172). At 
that time, the Service had not yet determined whether an Environmental 
Assessment or EIS would be prepared. Based on information gathered and 
analyses conducted to date, and pursuant to NEPA guidance, the Service 
has since determined that an EIS will be prepared, and this Notice 
serves to announce that intention.
    The original Notice announced two public scoping meetings and the 
opening of the public scoping comment period, which opened June 23, 
2000, and closed July 31, 2000. Additional opportunities for public 
input were provided at five subsequent public workshops held since 
August 2000. This Notice does not re-open the public scoping comment 
period, as the only change since its publication has been the Service's 
decision to proceed with an EIS for this CCP. When the draft CCP and 
associated draft EIS are completed

[[Page 19584]]

and made available, expected to occur in late spring 2002, the public 
will have additional opportunities to provide comments to the Service.



    By Federal law, all lands within the National Wildlife Refuge 
System are to be managed in accordance with an approved CCP (16 U.S.C. 
668dd-668ee). A CCP describes the desired future conditions of the 
refuge and provides long-range guidance and management direction to 
accomplish the purposes of the refuge, contribute to the mission of the 
National Wildlife Refuge System, and meet other relevant mandates. 
Additional goals of the CCP process include: (1) Conducting refuge 
planning in accordance with an ecosystem approach; (2) providing a 
forum for the public to comment on the type, extent, and compatibility 
of wildlife-dependent and other uses within the refuge area; (3) 
ensuring public involvement in refuge management decisions by providing 
a process for effective coordination, interaction, and cooperation with 
affected parties; (4) utilizing the best available science and sound 
professional judgement; and (5) ensuring that the six priority uses 
(hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, 
environmental education, and interpretation) receive priority 
consideration during CCP preparation. Some of the topics to be 
addressed in the CCP include: wildlife and habitat management, habitat 
restoration, public use, and operation of a solar salt production 
    Review of the CCP and associated EIS will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act, as amended (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), NEPA (42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.), Federal regulations for implementing NEPA (40 CFR parts 
1500-1508), other appropriate Federal laws and regulations, and Service 
policies and procedures for compliance with those regulations.

Refuge Information

    The South San Diego Bay Unit of the San Diego NWR is located at the 
southern end of San Diego Bay in the Cities of Chula Vista, National 
City, San Diego, Coronado, and Imperial Beach, California. This Refuge 
supports a variety of habitats including open water, mudflats, coastal 
saltmarsh, and uplands. These habitats provide important feeding, 
resting, and nesting areas for thousands of migrating shorebirds, 
colonial nesting seabirds, wintering sea ducks, and other migratory 
waterfowl. In addition, the Refuge supports three Federally endangered 
bird species (California Least Tern, California Brown Pelican, and 
Light-footed Clapper Rail), a Federally endangered plant species (salt 
marsh bird's beak), the Federally threatened Western Snowy Plover and 
Pacific Green Sea Turtle, and the Belding's Savannah Sparrow, a bird 
species listed as endangered by the State of California. Included 
within the Refuge boundary is a solar salt production operation that 
maintains about 1,050 acres of salt ponds. These ponds provide large 
amounts of food in the form of brine shrimp, brine flies, and other 
brine invertebrates, all of which are particularly important for 
shorebirds and seabirds.
    The Sweetwater Marsh NWR is located in the southeast end of San 
Diego Bay in the Cities of Chula Vista and National City, California. 
This Refuge, which includes 316 acres of salt marsh and coastal 
uplands, provides habitat for two Federally endangered bird species 
(California Least Tern and Light-footed Clapper Rail), a Federally 
endangered plant species (salt marsh bird's beak), the Federally 
threatened Western Snowy Plover, and the State endangered Belding's 
Savannah Sparrow. Sweetwater Marsh functions as an essential link 
between the habitats in the region's Multiple Species Conservation 
Program wildlands, the South San Diego Bay Unit of the San Diego NWR, 
and the Tijuana Slough NWR in Imperial Beach, California.

Planner, at (619) 691-1185.

    Dated: April 12, 2002.
D. Kenneth McDermond,
Deputy Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 02-9727 Filed 4-19-02; 8:45 am]