[Federal Register: January 14, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 10)]
[Page 2651-2652]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

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

AGENCY: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces that 
the Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final 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 
Final EIS was prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA) with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
(Corps) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) as 
cooperating agencies. This Final EIS describes the three Federal 
Agencies' proposal for the redistribution of the Caspian tern colony 
from East Sand Island, Columbia River estuary to various sites located 
throughout the Pacific Coast/Western region. The purposes of the 
proposed action are to reduce tern predation on juvenile Columbia River 
salmonids and eliminate the vulnerability of the regional tern 
population associated with having the majority of the population (70 
percent) breeding in one location.

DATES: A Record of Decision may be signed no sooner than 30 days after 
publication of this notice (40 CFR 1506.10 (b) (2)).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For more information or to request a 
copy of

[[Page 2652]]

the Final EIS, 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 Final 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 Final 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, or cateeis@fws.gov.


    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 2000, Seattle Audubon, National Audubon, American Bird 
Conservancy, and Defenders of Wildlife filed a lawsuit against the 
Corps alleging that compliance with NEPA for a 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 NOAA 
Fisheries prepare an EIS to address Caspian tern management in the 
Columbia River estuary and juvenile salmonid predation.
    The three cooperating agencies analyzed four alternatives for 
future Caspian tern management in the Columbia River estuary; of these, 
Alternative C has been identified as the preferred alternative.
    Alternative C has not been modified from the Draft EIS which was 
released on July 23, 2004 for public review. This alternative proposes 
management actions that would reduce tern predation on juvenile 
salmonids in the Columbia River estuary by redistributing a portion of 
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. Future management sites include Dungeness National 
Wildlife Refuge, Washington; Summer, Crump, and Fern Ridge lakes, 
Oregon; and Brooks Island, Hayward Regional Shoreline, and Don Edwards 
San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in San Francisco Bay, 
California. We expect a colony size of approximately 2,500 to 3,125 
nesting pairs to remain on East Sand Island.
    The Corps would continue efforts, such as hazing (e.g., disturbance 
to terns prior to the nesting season), 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. 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. Additionally, 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 were requested, considered, and incorporated 
throughout the planning process in numerous ways. Public outreach has 
included open houses, planning updates, Federal Register notices, and a 
project website. Two previous notices were published in the Federal 
Register concerning this EIS (68 FR 16826, April 7, 2003 and 69 FR 
44053, July 23, 2004). During the Draft EIS comment period (July 23, 
2004 to September 21, 2004), the Service received a total of 37 
comments (e-mails, letters, faxes, or postcards). All substantive 
issues raised in the comments have been addressed through revisions 
incorporated into the Final EIS text or in responses to comments 
contained in Appendix J of the Final EIS.

    Dated: December 3, 2004.
David J. Wesley,
Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1, Portland, 
[FR Doc. 05-4 Filed 1-13-05; 8:45 am]