[Federal Register: March 9, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 46)]
[Page 10719-10720]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service


Department of the Army; Corps of Engineers

South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, San Francisco Bay, CA

AGENCIES: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior; U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers, DoD.

ACTION: Notice of availability: Draft environmental impact statement/
environmental impact report; request for comments.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the 
California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) are proposing a 
restoration plan for 15,100 acres (6,111 hectares) of former commercial 
salt ponds in south San Francisco Bay. This South Bay Salt Pond (SBSP) 
Restoration Project would use a combination of restored tidal marsh, 
managed ponds, flood control measures and public access features to 
meet the three goals of the plan: to restore wildlife habitat, to 
provide flood protection and to provide wildlife-oriented public 
access. The ponds are located at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay 
National Wildlife Refuge and at the Eden Landing State Ecological 
    The Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact 
Report (EIS/EIR) includes program-level evaluation of the SBSP long-
term alternatives as well as project-level analysis of the first phase 
of restoration (the Phase 1 actions).
    The Draft EIS/EIR has been prepared jointly by the Service, the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the CDFG to analyze the 
impacts of the SBSP. The EIS/EIR presents a limited evaluation of the 
potential impacts associated with the list of possible South San 
Francisco Bay Shoreline Study (Shoreline Study) actions. The Shoreline 
Study area includes the SBSP Restoration Project area as well as 
shoreline and floodplain areas in the counties of Alameda, San Mateo, 
and Santa Clara. The Corps and non-Federal sponsors will prepare an 
EIS/EIR for the Shoreline Study, which will tier off of this EIS/EIR 
and cover specific project-level actions.
    Note that the Draft SBSP EIS/EIR is being submitted for public 
review under separate Federal and State processes. The following 
addresses and due dates are applicable to the Federal NEPA review 

DATES: For the Federal process, written comments under the National 
Environmental Policy Act should be received on or before April 23, 
2007. We will hold two public meetings in March 2007 to solicit 
comments on the draft Environmental Impact Statement. Dates, times, and 
addresses for the public meetings follow.
     March 28, 2007, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., NASA Research Center, 
Building 943 (Eagle Room), Moffett Field, CA 94035.
     March 29, 2007, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Centennial Hall, 22292 
Foothill Boulevard, Room 4, Hayward, CA 94541.
    Call Anna Schneider at (510) 286-1015 if directions are needed. 
Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and 
participate in these public meetings should contact Anna Schneider at 
(510) 286-1015 sufficiently in advance of the meeting to allow time to 
process the request.

ADDRESSES: Written comments and requests for information should be sent 
to Clyde Morris, Refuge Manager, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR, 
9500 Thornton Avenue, Newark, CA 94560. Written comments may also be 
sent by facsimile to (510) 792-5828 or through the public comments link 
on the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project Web site, at http://www.southbayrestoration.org/Question_Comment.html.
 All comments 

received, including names and addresses, will become a part of the 
administrative record and be made available to the public.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Questions regarding the Federal 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process may be directed to 
Clyde Morris, Refuge Manager, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR, at the 
above address; telephone (510) 792-0222, or Yvonne LeTellier, Project 
Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1455 Market Street, San 
Francisco, CA 94103; (415) 503-6744. Questions related to the 
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process may be directed to 
John Krause, California Department of Fish and Game, Region 3 
Headquarters, P.O. Box 47, Yountville, CA 94599; telephone (707) 944-


Availability of Documents

    Individuals wishing copies of the Draft EIS/EIR should contact the 
Service by letter, facsimile to the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife 
Refuge Complex or contact through the restoration project Web site (see 
ADDRESSES). The document is also available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during regular business hours, at the San Francisco Bay 
National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Fremont, California, U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers, San Francisco, California, the California Dept. of Fish 
and Game, Region 3 Headquarters, 7329 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558, 
and the Santa Clara Valley Water District, 5750 Almaden Expressway, San 
Jose, California, 95118. Copies are also available for public review 
     Alviso Branch Library: 5050 North First St., San 
Jos[eacute], CA 95002, (408) 263-3626;
     City of Mountain View Library: 585 Franklin Street, 
Mountain View, CA 94041, (650) 903-6337;
     Palo Alto Main Library: 1213 Newell Road, Palo Alto, CA 
94303, (650) 329-2436;
     Menlo Park Library: 800 Alma Street, Menlo Park, CA 94025, 
(650) 330-2500;
     Sunnyvale Public Library: 665 West Olive Avenue, 
Sunnyvale, CA 94086, (408) 730-7300;
     Hayward Public Library: 835 C Street, Hayward, CA 94541, 
(510) 293-8685; and
     Fremont Main Library: 2400 Stevenson Blvd, Fremont, CA 
94538, (510) 745-1400.
    The document may also be viewed on the restoration project Web site 


    On March 16, 2003, the State of California and the Service acquired 
15,100 acres of commercial salt ponds from Cargill, Inc. in South San 
Francisco Bay which are the subject of the SBSP. The purpose of the 
acquisition was to protect, restore and enhance the property for fish 
and wildlife, as well as to provide

[[Page 10720]]

opportunities for wildlife-oriented recreation and education. Of the 
acquired lands, CDFG owns and manages the 5,500-acre Eden Landing pond 
complex and the Service owns the 8,000-acre Alviso pond complex and the 
1,600-acre Ravenswood pond complex.
    The SBSP Restoration Project was planned in close coordination with 
a related but separate project, the Shoreline Study. The 
Congressionally-authorized Shoreline Study will identify and recommend 
for Federal funding one or more projects for flood damage reduction, 
ecosystem restoration and related purposes such as public access. 
Because they have similar objectives and geographic scope and include 
restoration and flood management components, the planning and 
management of these two projects is being closely integrated. Planning 
for the Shoreline Study will be conducted through several stages 
referred to as Interim Feasibility Studies, and the Corps is currently 
developing alternatives for the first stage of the Shoreline Study (the 
Alviso Ponds and Santa Clara County Interim Feasibility Study) in 
partnership with the Study's non-Federal sponsors, the Santa Clara 
Valley Water District and the California Coastal Conservancy and in 
cooperation with the Service. Potential Shoreline Study actions include 
flood protection improvements, ecosystem restoration, and recreation 
and public access features, which may overlap considerably with 
proposed SBSP Restoration Project actions.
    The Initial Stewardship Plan (ISP) is an interim plan now in 
operation to maintain and enhance the biological and physical 
conditions within the SBSP area in the interim period between the 
cessation of salt production and the implementation of the long-term 
restoration plan that will emerge from the SBSP Restoration Project 
planning process. Because the SBSP Restoration Project will be 
implemented in phases over time, some ponds may be managed under the 
ISP for many years. The ISP actions include construction and operation 
of water control structures to circulate bay waters through a series of 
pond clusters to maintain low salinity, provide wildlife habitat, and 
maintain at least the current level of flood protection. Three of the 
ponds' levees were breached to allow full tidal wetland restoration. 
Additionally, some ponds are managed as seasonal wetlands that are 
allowed to fill with rain water in the winter and dry through 
evaporation during the summer months while other ponds are operated as 
high salinity ponds to provide habitat for wildlife requiring those 
conditions. Certain ponds are still being managed by Cargill while they 
reduce the salinity levels by moving the saltiest brines to its plant 
site in Newark, California.
    The actual long-term restoration of the salt ponds is the subject 
of the SBSP Restoration Project. Implementation of the long-term 
restoration plan is expected to be conducted in phases with some phases 
extending beyond 20 years. This EIS/EIR is programmatic, covering the 
long-term plan for the entire SBSP planning area and is project 
specific for the Phase 1 projects which will be implemented in the near 

Alternatives Analyzed

    The Draft EIS/EIR considers three programmatic alternatives for the 
SBSP: a No Action Alternative (Alternative A), a Managed Pond Emphasis 
Alternative (Alternative B), and a Tidal Emphasis Alternative 
(Alternative C).
    Under the No Action alternative (Alternative A), the expected 
scenario at Year 50 is evaluated as if no long-term restoration plan is 
implemented. CDFG and the Service would continue to operate and 
maintain the ponds in a manner similar to the ISP, although it is 
assumed that CDFG and the Service would not have the funding to 
maintain full ISP operations over the 50-year planning horizon. No new 
public access or recreational facilities are proposed under this 
    Under the Managed Pond Emphasis Alternative (50 percent tidal 
habitat: 50 percent managed ponds by area) (Alternative B), the 
expected scenario at Year 50 would contain approximately 7,500 acres of 
tidal habitat and 7,500 acres of managed pond habitat. Approximately 20 
percent of the managed ponds would be reconfigured to improve foraging, 
roosting, and nesting opportunities for shorebirds, waterfowl, and 
other waterbirds. In addition, Alternative B would provide a cohesive 
line of flood protection along the perimeter of the project area. This 
alternative would also provide public access and recreation features in 
the form of trails and viewing platforms, interpretive stations, 
waterfowl hunting, access to and interpretation of cultural resource 
features, opportunities for education and interpretation, non-motorized 
boat launching points and associated staging and parking areas.
    Under the Tidal Emphasis Alternative (90 percent tidal habitat : 10 
percent managed ponds by area), the expected scenario at Year 50 would 
contain approximately 13,400 acres of tidal habitat and 1,600 acres of 
managed pond habitat. All managed ponds in Alternative C would be 
reconfigured to substantially enhance foraging, roosting and nesting 
opportunities for shorebirds, waterfowl and other waterbirds. Flood 
protection under Alternative C would be similar to Alternative B, with 
the exception that the length of existing slough levees abandoned would 
increase in Alternative C. Alternative C would also provide public 
access and recreation features similar to those described for 
Alternative B.
    Alternatives B and C are ``bookends'' that represent possible 
outcomes ranging from a 50:50 tidal to managed pond scenario to a 90:10 
tidal to managed pond scenario. The optimal configuration of tidal 
habitat and managed ponds that achieves the SBSP objectives while 
avoiding significant impacts to environmental resources would fall 
somewhere between these bookends and would be guided by the Adaptive 
Management Plan, the cornerstone of the SBSP.
    The Draft EIS/EIR also addresses, at the project level, Phase 1 of 
the SBSP. The Phase 1 actions are common elements of the long-term 
Alternatives B and C. Phase 1 actions would include a range of habitat 
types and early experiments that will be used to inform the Adaptive 
Management Plan. These include creating tidal, muted tidal and managed 
pond habitats as well as a variety of public-access features.
    The Service and the Corps invite the public to comment on the Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement during a 45-day public comment period. 
The Service and the Corps will evaluate the comments submitted thereon 
to prepare a Final EIS/EIR. A decision will be made no sooner than 30 
days after the publication of the Final EIS/EIR. It is anticipated that 
a Record of Decision will be issued by the Service in the fall of 2007.
    This notice is provided pursuant to regulations for implementing 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: February 28, 2007.
Steve Thompson,
Manager, California/Nevada Operations, Sacramento, CA.

    Dated: March 1, 2007.
Craig W. Kiley,
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, Commanding.
[FR Doc. 07-1061 Filed 3-8-07; 8:45 am]