[Federal Register: January 6, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 4)]
[Page 924-927]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers


Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Integrated Environmental Impact 
Statement/Environmental Impact Report/Feasibility Report for the South 
San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study: Alviso Ponds and Santa Clara County 
Interim Feasibility Study

AGENCY: Department of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; 
Department of Defense; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of 
the Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 
1969, as amended, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) intend to prepare a joint project-
level integrated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/Environmental 
Impact Report (EIR)/Feasibility Report, hereafter called the Report, to 
address the potential impacts of the first Interim Feasibility Study 
component of the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study, San Francisco 
Bay, CA. This study is closely interrelated with the ongoing South Bay 
Salt Ponds Restoration Project, discussed in the Notice of Intent dated 
November 9, 2004. It will function as a project-level EIS/EIR tiered 
under that programmatic EIS/EIR and will be issued subsequently to the 
programmatic document. The California State Coastal Conservancy 
(Conservancy) will be the lead agency under the California 
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
    Federal Lead Agencies Proposed Actions and Related Programmatic 
EIS/EIR. The Corps, in cooperation with the USFWS, is proposing to 
study flood protection and ecosystem restoration for the Alviso portion 
of the South San Francisco Bay (South Bay) Salt Ponds and adjacent 
areas to determine whether there is a federal interest in constructing 
a project with flood protection and/or ecosystem restoration components 
in this area, and if so, to determine the optimum project to recommend 
to Congress for authorization. The Report will recommend a plan which 
will provide for long-term restoration for these salt ponds and 
adjacent areas as well as flood protection and recreation components, 
if these actions are justified under Federal criteria. The Report and 
its alternatives will be tiered to the programmatic EIS/EIR for the 
South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project.
    One public scoping meeting will be held to solicit comments on the 
environmental effects of the range of potential projects and the 
appropriate scope of the Report. The public is invited to comment 
during this meeting on environmental issues to be addressed in the 

DATES: Written comments from all interested parties are encouraged and 
must be received on or before February 7, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Written comments and requests for information should be sent 
to Yvonne LeTellier, Project Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 333 
Market Street, 8th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-2197, or to Mendel 
Stewart, Refuge Manager, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San Francisco 
Bay NWR Complex, P.O. Box 524, Newark, CA 94560.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Yvonne LeTellier, Project Manager, 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (415-977-8466) or Mendel Stewart, Refuge 
Manager, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San Francisco Bay NWR Complex 
(510-792-0222). For questions concerning the CEQA aspects of the study, 
contact Brenda Buxton, California State Coastal Conservancy, 1330 
Broadway, 11th Floor, Oakland, CA 94612, telephone: 510-286-0753.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On November 9, 2004, the USFWS and the Corps 
issued a Notice of Intent for the proposed South Bay Salt Ponds 
Restoration Project programmatic EIS/EIR. The Corps and the USFWS 
propose to integrate the planning process for the Alviso Pond and Santa 
Clara County Interim Feasibility Study component of the South San 
Francisco Bay Shoreline Study with the planning process for the South 
Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project. The two projects include ecosystem 
restoration, flood protection, and public access components. However, 
the current Interim Feasibility Study is a project-level component of 
the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Study and it will be tiered to the 
above-mentioned programmatic EIS/EIR. This Interim Feasibility Study 
and the Report to be prepared will only cover a portion of the larger 
geographic area addressed in the South Bay Salt Ponds programmatic EIS/
    Project Description. South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project. The 
South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project area comprises 15,100 acres of 
salt ponds and adjacent habitants in South San Francisco Bay the USFWS 
and California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) acquired from the 
Cargill Salt Company in 2003. USFWS owns and manages the 8,000-acre 
Alviso pond complex and the 1,600-acre Ravenswood pond complex. CDFG 
owns and manages the 5,500-acre Eden Landing pond complex.
    The oversearching goal of the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration 
Project is to restore and enhance wetlands in the South San Francisco 
Bay while providing for flood protection and wildlife-oriented public 
access and recreation. The following project objectives were adopted by 
the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project's Stakeholder Forum which 
includes representatives of local governments, environmental 

[[Page 925]]

neighboring landowners, businesses, and community organizations:
    1. Create, restore, or enhance habitats of sufficient size, 
function, and appropriate structure to:
    a. Promote restoration of native special-status plants and animals 
that depend on South San Francisco Bay habitat for all or part of their 
life cycles.
    b. Maintain current migratory bird species that utilize existing 
salt ponds and associated structures such as levees.
    c. Support increased abundance and diversity of native species in 
various South San Francisco Bay aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem 
components, including plants, invertebrates, fish, mammals, birds, 
reptiles and amphibians.
    2. Maintain of improve existing levels of flood protection in the 
South Bay area.
    3. Provide public access and recreational opportunities compatible 
with wildlife and habitat goals.
    4. Protect or improve existing levels of water and sediment quality 
in the South Bay, and fully evaluate ecological risks that could be 
caused by restoration.
    5. Implement design and management measures to maintain or improve 
current levels of vector management, control predation on special-
status species, and manage the spread of non-native species.
    6. Protect the services provided by existing infrastructure (e.g., 
power lines, railroads).
    USFWS and CDFG reviewed the proposed project objectives to ensure 
compliance with legal mandates, such as compatibility of wildlife with 
public access. Two additional evaluation factors were identified in the 
Alternatives Development Framework for comparative analysis:
    7. Cost Effectiveness: Consider costs of implementation, 
management, and monitoring so that planned activities can be 
effectively executed with available funding.
    8. Environmental Impact: Promote environmental benefit and reduce 
impacts to the human environment.
    The South Bay salt ponds are now being managed by the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game under 
an Initial Stewardship Plan which was evaluated in a March 2004 Final 
EIS/EIR. The long-term restoration plan currently under evaluation in 
the ongoing programmatic NEPA/CEQA process may include general plans 
for the entire project area as well as detailed design plans for a 
specific Phase I project.
    South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study. The Corps plans to prepare 
a Feasibility Report integrated with anfsalt ponds of EIS/EIR for the 
South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study: Alviso Ponds and Santa Clara 
County Interim Feasibility Study, pursuant to the following resolution 
by the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure 
Committee, adopted July 24, 2002:

    ``Resolved by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure 
of the United States House of Representatives, that the Secretary of 
the Army is requested to review the Final Letter Report for the San 
Francisco Bay Shoreline Study, California, dated July 1992, and all 
related interims and other pertinent reports to determine whether 
modifications to the recommendations contained therein are advisable 
at the present time in the interest of tidal and fluvial flood 
damage reduction, environmental restoration and protection and 
related purposes along the South San Francisco Bay shoreline for the 
counties of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda, California.''

    The South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study area extends along 
South San Francisco Bay and includes the Alviso, Ravenswood, and Eden 
Landing pond complexes which are described above, as well as additional 
shoreline and floodplain areas in the counties of Alameda, San Mateo, 
and Santa Clara. The Report referenced in this Notice of Intent would 
propose implementation of the findings of the first Interim Feasibility 
Study component of the Shoreline Study.
    The area to be examined in the first Interim Study consists of 25 
ponds in the Alviso pond complex on the shores of the South Bay in 
Fremont, San Jose, Sunnyvale and Mountain View, located in Santa Clara 
and Alameda counties, plus substantial adjacent areas which may need 
flood protection or which may be affected by flood protection or 
ecosystem restoration measures. The study area is bordered by San 
Francisco Bay and the operational salt ponds of Alameda County to the 
north and San Francisquito Creek on the west. To the south and east, 
the study area extends beyond the salt ponds to include all lands 
subject to inundation from a 100-year tidal flooding event. These 
additional lands are primarily urbanized areas in Palo Alto, Mountain 
View, Sunnyvale, and San Jose to the south, and urbanized lands in 
Milpitas and Fremont to the east. These lands are generally delineated 
on maps which are on file with the Corps of Engineers, San Francisco 
District. During the course of the study the exact delineation of which 
lands are subject to tidal inundation may be modified based on 
technical studies.
    The Corps proposes to conduct the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline 
Study: Alviso Ponds and Santa Clara County Interim Feasibility Study in 
coordination with the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project and in 
partnership with the USFWS, CDFG, Conservancy, and the Santa Clara 
Valley Water District. It is expected that the Corps's Report for the 
first Interim Feasibility Study component of the Shoreline Study will 
be released after the completion of the South Bay Salt Ponds 
Restoration Project programmatic EIS/EIR, so the EIS/EIR components of 
the Report for the Shoreline Study will tier off from the joint 
programmatic South Bay Salt Ponds EIS/EIR.
    Public Involvement. The public scoping meeting will be held on 
Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at the Milpitas Library Community Room 
located at 40 North Milpitas Blvd., Milpitas, CA 95035 (408-262-1171), 
from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Persons needing reasonable accommodation in order 
to attend and participate in the public scoping meeting should contact 
Bill DeJager at 415-977-8670 at least one week in advance of the 
meeting to allow time for arrangements to be made.
    Written comments may be sent to the addresses indicated in the 
Addresses section above, by facsimile to 415-977-8695, or via e-mail 
through the public comments link on the South Bay Salt Ponds 
Restoration Project Web site, located at http://www.southbayrestoration.org/Question_Comment.html.
 All comments 

received, including names and addresses, will become part of the 
administrative record and will be available to the public unless 
commenters request that this information not be released.
    Alternatives. The Report will consider a range of alternatives and 
their impacts, including the No Action Alternative. Scoping will be an 
early and open process designed to determine the issues and 
alternatives to be addressed in the Report. For example, the range of 
alternatives may include varying mixes of managed ponds and tidal marsh 
habitat, varying levels and means of flood protection, and varying 
levels and means of recreation and public access components which 
respond to the Shoreline Study objectives.
    Content of the Report. The Report will identify the anticipated 
effects of the project alternatives (detrimental and beneficial) and 
describe and analyze direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental 
impacts of the project alternatives, including the No Action 
Alternative, in accordance with NEPA (40 CFR 1500-1508) and CEQA. For 
each issue listed below, the EIS/EIR will include discussion of: The 

[[Page 926]]

used in evaluating the impacts as well as recommended mitigation; the 
effectiveness of mitigation measures proposed to be implemented; and 
any additional measures that would reduce the impacts to a less-than-
significant level.
    The list of issues presented below is preliminary both in scope and 
number. These issues are presented to facilitate public comment on the 
scope of the Report, and are not intended to be all-inclusive or a 
predetermination of impact topics to be considered.
    Biological Resources. The Report will address the following issues 
and potential detrimental and beneficial impacts related to biological 
     Effects on population sizes of endangered species and 
other species of concern, including California clapper rail, snowy 
plover, California least tern, salt marsh harvest mouse, Chinook salmon 
and steelhead trout.
     Shift in populations and effects on population sizes of 
migratory waterfowl and shorebirds.
     Increased habitat connectivity for all organisms that use 
multiple marsh and/or aquatic habitats, including birds, mammals, and 
     Potential for improved habitat connectivity with adjacent 
upland habitats.
     Potential loss of hypersaline wetlands and their unique 
     Reduction in predation for species of concern with larger 
habitat blocks.
     Increased nursery habitat in wetlands for fish.
     Potential for salmonid entrainment into managed ponds.
     Effects of Spartina alterniflora and the hybrids of this 
species, and other invasive species.
     Effects of flood control structures on existing ecosystem 
attributes and functions including acquatic and terrestrial species.
     Effects of public access and recreation on aquatic and 
terrestrial species.
    Hydrology and Flood Protection. The Report will address the 
following issues and potential detrimental and beneficial impacts 
related to hydrology and flood protection:
     Existing and future without-project tidal flood hazards as 
affected by fluvial inputs.
     Effects on the tidal regime and tidal mixing from project 
components, and related effects on salinity of Bay waters.
     Effects on high-tide water levels and resulting effects on 
flood hazards.
     Changes in tidal hydrodynamics, including tidal prism and 
tidal range in tidal sloughs, resulting changes in channel geometry and 
changes in tidal flood risks (including during project implementation).
     Effects on flood flow conveyance as a result of converting 
salt ponds to tidal marsh.
     Potential decrease in wave energy associated with tidal 
marsh restoration and reduced erosion of flood protection levees.
     Impacts on tidal flooding frequency and extent, and flood 
protection due to breaches in salt pond levees, improvement of existing 
levees, and construction of new levees.
     Impacts on groundwater quality.
    Water and Sediment Quality. The Report will address the following 
issues and potential detrimental and beneficial impacts related to 
water and sediment quality:
     Effects of salt pond levee breaches, including changes in 
salinity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, biochemical and biological 
oxygen demand, metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and other 
pollutants of concern.
     Changes in residence time of water in the South Bay and 
related effects on water quality.
     Changes in mercury and/or methyl mercury concentrations, 
and other pollutants of concern, in Bay and slough waters.
     Potential to mobilize existing sediment contaminants, 
including mercury, PCBs, and other pollutants of concern.
     Potential contamination from outside sources, including 
urban runoff, wastewater discharges, imported sediment and atmospheric 
    Recreation and Public Access. The Report will address the project's 
effects on existing recreation facilities and their use as well as the 
potential effects of expansion or creation of new facilities. The 
benefits and impacts of increased or decreased public access on 
biological resources and achievement of other project objectives will 
also be addressed.
    Economics. The Report will evaluate the economic effects of the 
alternatives, including costs and benefits of flood protection, 
recreation, and effects on commercial fishing.
    Cumulative Impacts. The Report will examine the cumulative impacts 
of past, ongoing, and reasonably foreseeable future projects affecting 
tidal marsh and estuarine habitats in the South Bay, as well as effects 
on adjacent urban and rural lands and communities.
    Environmental Analysis Process. The Report will be prepared in 
compliance with NEPA and Council on Environmental Quality 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 Corps and the USFWS will be Joint Lead Agencies 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 are 
responsible for the scope, content, and legal adequacy of the document. 
The SCVWD will be a Responsible Agency under the provisions of CEQA. 
Therefore, all aspects of the Report scope and process will be fully 
coordinated between these four agencies.
    The scoping process will include the opportunity for public input 
during one public meeting and by written comments submitted during the 
30-day scoping period.
    The draft Report will address public concerns associated with the 
issues identified in the scoping process and in subsequent public 
involvement 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 draft Report. The final Report 
will address the comments received on the draft during public review 
and will be made available to all commenters on the draft Report. 
Copies of the draft and final reports will be posted on the Internet as 
part of the public review process.
    The final step in the NEPA process is the preparation of a Record 
of Decision (ROD). This document is a concise summary of the decisions 
made by the Corps and the USFWS. The ROD will identify the alternative 
selected by the agencies and other alternatives that were considered. 
It also will discuss the mitigation measures that were adopted. Because 
there re two lead agencies, it is possible that each agency will 
prepare its own ROD.
    The Record, or Records, of Decision may be published no earlier 
than thirty days after publication of the Notice of Availability of the 
final EIS/EIR. The final step in the CEQA process is certification of 
the CEQA document, which includes preparation of a Mitigation, 
Monitoring, and Reporting Plan and adoption of its findings, should the 
project be approved.
    This notice is provided pursuant to regulations for implementing 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (40 CFR 1501.7 and 

[[Page 927]]

    Dated: December 23, 2005.
John Engbring,
Acting Manager, California/Nevada Operations Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service.

Philip T. Feir,
Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding, San Francisco District, U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers.
[FR Doc. 06-102 Filed 1-5-06; 8:45 am]