[Federal Register: April 23, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 79)]
[Page 22091-22093]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Bureau of Reclamation

Fish and Wildlife Service

Trinity River Fishery Restoration Program, Weaverville, CA

AGENCIES: Bureau of Reclamation and Fish and Wildlife Service, 

ACTION: Notice of availability of the Draft Supplemental Environmental 
Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (Draft SEIS/EIR) and 
notice of public hearings.


SUMMARY: The Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service, Hoopa 
Valley Tribe (Tribe) and Trinity County (County) have made available 
for public review and comment the Draft SEIS/EIR for the Trinity River 
Fishery Restoration Program (Program).
    A final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Program was 
issued in November 2000, and a Record of Decision (ROD) executed on 
December 19, 2000. Central Valley water and power interests filed suit 
in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California 
seeking to enjoin implementation of the ROD. On March 22, 2001, the 
district court issued a Memorandum Decision and Order preliminarily 
enjoining the Federal defendants from implementing certain flow related 
aspects of the ROD. In its Memorandum Decision and Order the court 
found that the effects of reasonable and prudent measures in the two 
biological opinions, as well as the effects on power in light of the 
California energy crisis were not adequately analyzed in the EIS. This 
Draft SEIS/EIR addresses the court's concerns and updates alternatives.
    The purpose for the project alternatives outlined in the October 
2000 EIS/EIR was as follows: to restore and maintain the natural 
production of anadromous fish on the Trinity River mainstem downstream 
of Lewiston Dam. The purpose of the Draft SEIS/EIR has been amended, 
consistent with court orders on the Program. The revised purpose for 
the alternatives discussed in the Draft SEIS/EIR is as follows: to 
restore and maintain the natural production of anadromous fish in the 
Trinity River basin downstream of Lewiston Dam and to meet the U.S. 
Government's tribal trust obligations. Secondary consideration is given 
to: (a) Meeting the Trinity Basin fishery and wildlife restoration 
goals of the Act of October 24, 1984, Public Law 98-541, and (b) 
achieving a reasonable balance among competing demands for use of

[[Page 22092]]

Central Valley Project (CVP) water, including the requirements of fish 
and wildlife, agricultural, municipal and industrial, and power 

DATES: Submit written comments on the Draft SEIS/EIR on or before June 
22, 2004, at the address provided below. Two public hearings have been 
scheduled to receive oral or written comments regarding the project's 
environmental effects:
     Thursday, June 1, 2004, 4:30-7:30 p.m., Redding, 
     Tuesday, June 3, 2004, 4:30-7:30: p.m., Hoopa, 

ADDRESSES: The public hearings will be held at the following locations:
     Redding, CA--Holiday Inn, 1900 Hilltop Drive
     Hoopa, CA--Hoopa Fire Department, Highway 96
    Written comments on the Draft SEIS/EIR should be sent to Mr. 
Russell Smith, Bureau of Reclamation, P.O. Box 723, Shasta, CA 96087; 
telephone: 530-275-1554; fax 530-275-2441.
    Copies of the Draft SEIS/EIR (but not the previous EIS/EIR) may be 
requested from Mr. Smith at the above address or by calling 530-275-

Reclamation, P.O. Box 723, Shasta, CA 96087; telephone: 530-275-1554; 
fax 530-275-2441.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The primary objective of the Program is to 
meet Federal trust responsibilities for tribal fishery resources and 
restore the fisheries in the Trinity River basin to the level that 
existed prior to the construction of the Trinity River Division (TRD) 
of the CVP. These actions are authorized by the Act of August 12, 1955, 
69 Stat. 719; the Trinity River Basin Fish and Wildlife Management Act, 
Public Law 98-541 (1984), as amended, and the Central Valley Project 
Improvement Act, Public Law 102-575, Title XXXIV (1992) (CVPIA). The 
Service and Reclamation are the Federal co-leads for purposes of 
complying with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); along with 
Hoopa Valley Tribe, which is also acting in a co-lead capacity. Trinity 
County functions as the state lead agency for purposes of complying 
with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
    In 1983, an EIS on the Trinity River Basin Fish and Wildlife 
Management Program was prepared by the Service (U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 1983). The environmental document analyzed habitat restoration 
actions, watershed rehabilitation, and improvements to the Trinity 
River Salmon and Steelhead Hatchery (TRSSH). The 1983 EIS clarified 
that the hatchery's purpose was to mitigate for the loss of the 109 
miles of habitat upstream of Lewiston Dam, whereas, the restoration and 
rehabilitation projects were explicitly designed to increase natural 
fish production below the dam.
    In 1984, Congress enacted the Trinity River Basin Fish and Wildlife 
Management Act (Pub. L. 98-541). It formalized the existence of the 
Trinity River Basin Fish and Wildlife Task Force (Task Force) and 
directed the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) to implement 
measures to restore fish and wildlife habitat in the Trinity River 
Basin. The Task Force was directed at implementation of a fish and 
wildlife management program to ``restore natural fish and wildlife 
populations to levels approximating those which existed immediately 
prior to the construction of the Trinity Division.'' In 1996, Congress 
reauthorized and amended the original Trinity River Basin Fish and 
Wildlife Management Act (Pub. L. 104-143). The 1996 amendments 
clarified that ``restoration is to be measured not only by returning 
adult anadromous fish spawners, but by the ability of dependent tribal, 
commercial, and sport fisheries to participate fully, through enhanced 
in-river and ocean harvest opportunities, in the benefits of 
restoration * * *.''
    In 1992, Congress passed the CVPIA (Pub. L. 102-575, Title XXXIV) 
in order to protect, restore, and enhance fish, wildlife, and 
associated habitats in the Central Valley, including the Trinity River 
Basin. Specifically, the CVPIA provides at section 3406(b)(23), that 
``[i]n order to meet Federal trust responsibilities to protect the 
fishery resources of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and meet the fishery 
restoration goals of Public Law 98-541,'' the Secretary is directed to 
complete the Trinity River Flow Evaluation Study (TRFES) and to develop 
recommendations ``based on the best available scientific data, 
regarding permanent instream fishery flow requirements and TRD 
operating criteria and procedures for the restoration and maintenance 
of the Trinity River fishery.'' The CVPIA also specifically provided 
for the Secretary to consult with the Hoopa Valley Tribe on the TRFES 
and, upon the Tribe's concurrence, to implement the restoration 
recommendations accordingly.
    A joint EIS/EIR for the Program was prepared by the Service, 
Reclamation, Trinity County, and the Hoopa Valley Tribe, and was 
completed in October 2000. A ROD selecting the alternative to be 
implemented for the Program was signed by the Secretary, with the 
concurrence of the Hoopa Valley Tribe, pursuant to section 3406(b)(23) 
of the CVPIA, and issued in December 2000. However, the EIR was not 
certified by Trinity County and it is not a finalized document under 
    Subsequent to execution of the ROD, water and power interests in 
the Central Valley of California amended a previously filed lawsuit in 
Federal court against the Federal agencies materially involved in 
either the decision making process for the ROD or the associated 
Endangered Species Act (ESA) approvals for the Program (Reclamation, 
the Service, and the National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS)), in 
Federal district court. Plaintiffs sought, and were granted a 
preliminary injunction for implementation of certain flow-related 
aspects of the ROD. The terms of the injunction limit the increase in 
flows in the Trinity River which may be implemented in the ROD, but 
allow the Secretary to proceed with all other activities approved by 
the ROD. Westlands Water District v. United States Department of the 
Interior, CIVF-00-7124-OWW/DLB (E.D. Cal., filed May 3, 2001).
    The lead agencies published a Notice of Intent on March 25, 2002 
(67 FR 13647) announcing plans to produce a Draft SEIS/EIR and 
soliciting public input and comment on the process. A scoping meeting 
was held in Redding, California on May 9, 2002.
    On December 10, 2002, the court issued a Memorandum Decision and 
Order re: Cross-motions for Summary Judgment to address the merits of 
the litigation including the validity of the EIS and ROD. The court's 
ruling on the merits found that the EIS failed to comply with Federal 
environmental statutes in certain respects and enjoined, in part, the 
ROD until Interior completes the Draft SEIR/EIR. The court's December 
10 memorandum provided detailed direction regarding the preparation of 
the Draft SEIS/EIR that was not available for the previous scoping 
effort, including direction on the purpose statement for the Draft 
SEIS/EIR, alternatives to be considered in the Draft SEIS/EIR, and a 
timeline for completion of the Draft SEIS/EIR.
    On February 20, 2003, the court entered final judgment in the case, 
finding that the ROD for the Program, issued on December 19, 2000, and 
the associated biological opinions issued by the Service and the NMFS, 
were unlawful in part. The court found that the ROD was in violation of 
NEPA in that it had an improperly framed purpose statement and the 
range of alternatives was too narrow. Certain

[[Page 22093]]

reasonable and prudent measures set forth in the biological opinions 
were found to exceed the agencies' authority under the ESA in that they 
required major modifications to operations of the CVP. The court also 
found the Government in breach of its general and specific Federal 
trust obligations to the Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes, as set out 
under CVPIA section 3406(b)(23) and related statutes. The case 
currently is on appeal to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth 
    In response to the more detailed direction from the district 
court's ruling, additional scoping meetings were held on July 8, 2003, 
in Redding, California, and July 10, 2003, in Hoopa, California, to 
solicit public input on alternatives, concerns, and issues to be 
addressed in the Draft SEIS/EIR.
    The Draft SEIS/EIR updates information on alternatives described in 
the October 2000 EIS/EIR. These alternatives include: Existing 
Conditions, No Action, Mechanical Restoration (revised to address the 
court's concerns and using information submitted by commenters), 
Percent Inflow (modified to address the court's concerns), Flow 
Evaluation and Maximum Flow. An additional alternative is also 
evaluated: a 70 Percent Inflow Alternative, based on comments 
documented in the October 2000 EIS/EIR. Consistent with the October 
2000 EIS/EIR, the Flow Evaluation Alternative remains the designated 
Preferred Alternative.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review. Individual 
respondents may request that we withhold their home address from public 
disclosure, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. There 
also may be circumstances in which we would withhold a respondent's 
identity from public disclosure, as allowable by law. If you wish us to 
withhold your name and/or address, you must state this prominently at 
the beginning of your comment. We will make all submissions from 
organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or 
businesses, available for public disclosure in their entirety.

    Dated: March 30, 2004.
Willie R. Taylor,
Director, Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance.
[FR Doc. 04-9300 Filed 4-22-04; 8:45 am]