[Federal Register: July 23, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 141)]
[Page 44053-44054]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of the Draft Environmental Impact 
Statement for Caspian Tern Management To Reduce Predation of Juvenile 
Salmonids in the Columbia River Estuary

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces that 
the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) for Caspian Tern 
(Sterna caspia) Management to Reduce Predation of Juvenile Salmonids in 
the Columbia River Estuary is available for review and comment. This 
Draft EIS was prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA) and evaluates the environmental impacts 
of the proposed action of redistributing the Caspian tern colony on 
East Sand Island, Columbia River estuary, and reasonable alternatives. 
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and National Marine Fisheries 
Service (NOAA Fisheries) are cooperating agencies in the preparation of 
this Draft EIS.

DATES: Written comments must be received no later than 5 p.m. pacific 
time on September 21, 2004. Interested parties may contact the Service 
for more information at the address below.

ADDRESSES: Address comments, requests for copies, or more information 
related to the Draft EIS to: Nanette Seto, Migratory Birds and Habitat 
Programs, 911 NE. 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232, telephone (503) 231-
6164, facsimile (503) 231-2019 or cateeis@r1.fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nanette Seto or Tara Zimmerman, 
Migratory Birds and Habitat Programs, 911 NE 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 
97232, telephone (503) 231-6164, facsimile (503) 231-2019.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Copies of the Draft EIS will be available 
for viewing and downloading online at:
    1. http://migratorybirds.pacific.fws.gov/CATE.htm,    2. http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/pm/e/, and

    3. http://nwr.noaa.gov
    Printed documents will also be available for review at the 

following libraries:
    1. North Olympic Library System, Port Angeles Branch, Port Angeles, 
    2. North Olympic Library System, Sequim Branch, Sequim, WA,
    3. Astoria Public Library, Astoria, OR,
    4. Multnomah County Central Library, Portland, OR,
    5. Eugene Public Library, Eugene, OR,
    6. Lake County Library, Lakeview, OR,
    7. San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, CA, and
    8. Oakland Main Public Library, Oakland, CA.

Copies of the Draft EIS may be obtained by writing to U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Migratory Birds and Habitat Programs, Attn: Nanette 
Seto, 911 NE. 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232.


    Recent increases in the number of Caspian terns nesting in the 
Columbia River estuary, Oregon, have led to concerns over their 
potential impact on the recovery of threatened and endangered Columbia 
River salmon. In 1999, the Corps initiated a pilot project to relocate 
a large tern colony from Rice Island to East Sand Island, near the 
mouth of the estuary, where more marine fish are abundant, for the 
purpose of reducing tern predation on juvenile salmonids.
    In 2000, Seattle Audubon, National Audubon, American Bird 
Conservancy, and Defenders of Wildlife filed a lawsuit against the 
Corps alleging that compliance with NEPA for the proposed action of 
relocating the large colony of Caspian terns from Rice Island to East 
Sand Island was insufficient, and against the Service in objection to 
the potential take of eggs as a means to prevent nesting on Rice 
Island. In 2002, all parties reached a settlement agreement. The 
settlement agreement stipulates that the Service, Corps, and

[[Page 44054]]

NOAA Fisheries prepare an EIS to address Caspian tern management in the 
Columbia River estuary and juvenile salmonid predation.
    In the April 7, 2003 Federal Register (68 FR 16826), the Service 
published a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS for the proposed 
project. The NOI informed the public of the proposed scope of the EIS, 
solicited public participation in the scoping process, and announced 
public scoping meetings that were held in Washington, Oregon, and 
California in April and May 2003. The public scoping period closed on 
May 22, 2003. Comments received during the public scoping process were 
used in preparing the Draft EIS.

Purpose of and Need for Action

    The purpose of the proposed action is to comply with the 2002 
Settlement Agreement by identifying a management plan for Caspian terns 
in the Columbia River estuary that reduces resource management 
conflicts with ESA-listed salmonids while ensuring the conservation of 
Caspian terns in the Pacific Coast/Western region.

Alternatives Considered

    The four alternatives considered in the Draft EIS are briefly 
described below, followed by features common to all alternatives.
    Alternative A, the ``No Action'' alternative, assumes no change 
from the current management program on East Sand Island and is the 
baseline from which to compare the other alternatives. Under this 
alternative, six acres of nesting habitat would be prepared annually 
for Caspian terns on East Sand Island.
    Alternative B would provide no management actions on East Sand 
Island. No habitat would be prepared for Caspian terns, most likely 
resulting in the elimination of tern nesting habitat on East Sand 
Island within 3 years.
    Alternative C (Preferred Alternative) would reduce tern predation 
on juvenile salmonids in the Columbia River estuary by redistributing 
the tern colony on East Sand Island throughout the Pacific Coast/
Western region. This would be achieved by reducing the tern nesting 
site on East Sand Island to approximately 1 to 1.5 acres and managing 
sites in Washington, Oregon, and California specifically for displaced 
Caspian terns. Potential management sites considered in this 
alternative include Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, Washington; 
Summer, Crump, and Fern Ridge lakes, Oregon; and San Francisco Bay 
(three sites), California.
    Alternative D would also reduce tern predation on juvenile 
salmonids by redistributing the tern colony on East Sand Island as 
proposed in Alternative C, with the only difference being 
implementation of a lethal control program if the redistribution 
efforts described in Alternative C are not successful in reducing the 
number of nesting terns on East Sand Island.

Action Common to All Alternatives

    The following components are proposed to be implemented under all 
alternatives (A through D): (1) The Corps would continue efforts, such 
as hazing, to prevent Caspian tern nesting on upper estuary islands 
(e.g., Rice Island, Miller Sands Spit, Pillar Rock Island) of the 
Columbia River estuary to prevent high tern predation rates of juvenile 
salmonids and comply with the 1999 Corps Columbia River Channel 
Operation and Maintenance Program Biological Opinion; (2) the Service 
would issue an egg take permit to the Corps for upper estuary islands 
(not including East Sand Island) if the efforts to prevent tern nesting 
at these sites fail; and (3) the Corps would resume dredged material 

(e.g., sand) disposal on the downstream end of Rice Island, on the 
former Caspian tern nesting site.

Public Comments

    Comments and materials received will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours, at the above 
address. All comments received from individuals on Environmental Impact 
Statements become part of the official public record. Requests for such 
comments will be handled in accordance with the Freedom of Information 
Act, the Council on Environmental Quality's NEPA regulations [40 CFR 
1506.6(f)], and other Service and Departmental policies and procedures. 
When requested, the Service generally provides comment letters with the 
names and addresses of the individuals who wrote the comments. However, 
if the commenter requests that his or her telephone number be withheld, 
we will honor such requests to the extent permissible by law. 
Additionally, public comment letters are not required to contain the 
commentator's name, address, or other identifying information. Such 
comments may be submitted anonymously to the Service.
    The environmental review of this project will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), NEPA Regulations (40 
CFR 1500-1508), other appropriate Federal laws and regulations, and 
Service policies and procedures for compliance with those regulations.

    Dated: June 23, 2004.
William F. Shake,
Acting Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1, 
Portland, Oregon.
[FR Doc. 04-16490 Filed 7-22-04; 8:45 am]