[Federal Register: September 6, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 172)]
[Page 51245-51247]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Tidal Restoration of the Cullinan Ranch Unit of San Pablo Bay 
National Wildlife Refuge

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement; 
request for public comment.


[[Page 51246]]

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are 
preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the tidal 
restoration of the Cullinan Ranch Unit of the San Pablo Bay National 
Wildlife Refuge, located in Solano County, California. This notice 
advises the public that we intend to gather information necessary to 
prepare an EIS pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA). We encourage the public and other agencies to participate in 
the planning process by sending written comments on management actions 
we should consider.

DATES: To ensure that we have adequate time to evaluate and incorporate 
suggestions and other input into the planning process, we must receive 
your comments on or before October 22, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments or requests to be added to the mailing 
list to: Christy Smith, Refuge Manager, San Pablo Bay National Wildlife 
Refuge, 7715 Lakeville Highway, Petaluma, CA 94954. Alternatively, fax 
written comments to (707) 769-8106, or send comments by e-mail to 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christy Smith, Refuge Manager, (707) 



    The Cullinan Ranch restoration project would restore approximately 
1,500 acres (ac) of diked baylands back to historic tidal conditions by 
reintroducing tidal flow into the project area. Cullinan Ranch is 
located in an area of the Napa River Delta that was historically 
defined by a network of meandering sloughs and extensive estuarine 
tidal marshes. Reintroduction of tidal flow will restore vital salt 
marsh habitat for endangered species, including the salt marsh harvest 
mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris) and the California clapper rail 
(Rallus longirostris obsoletus), as well as provide foraging and 
roosting habitat for fish, migratory waterfowl, and waterbirds.
    In keeping with one of the purposes of the Refuge--``to conserve 
fish, wildlife, or plants which are listed as endangered species or 
threatened species''--the Cullinan Ranch restoration project would 
restore historic salt marsh habitat for the benefit of threatened and 
endangered species, as well as many other estuarine-dependent species.
    We published a notice of intent to prepare an environmental 
assessment (EA) and hold a public meeting on July 15, 2002 (67 FR 
46538). We held public meetings on August 7, 2002, and March 9, 2007. 
All meetings were announced in local newspapers. Four members of the 
public attended the first meeting and provided comments. One person 
attended the second meeting and provided no comments. All of the 
comments we received on the EA will go forward into the EIS planning 
process. During the EA planning process, we determined that possible 
impacts to traffic flows on Highway 37 required that we complete an 
environmental impact statement. In addition, since some of the project 
would take place on State lands belonging to California Department of 
Fish and Game (CDFG), an environmental impact report (EIR) under the 
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) will be prepared. 
California Department of Fish and Game is the lead State agency for 
this project under the CEQA.
    Thus far, the Service and CDFG have identified and analyzed a total 
of eight alternatives based on a set of criteria including the 
following factors: effects to adjacent habitats, effects to the 
existing levees, effects on the hydrology of the existing slough 
channels and adjacent water bodies, costs of implementing restoration 
activities and long-term maintenance, and effects of project 
construction on existing uses on and adjacent to the Cullinan Ranch 
Site. Five of these alternatives were removed from further 
consideration because they did not meet the cost and engineering 
feasibility criteria as set forth by the lead agencies. Many of the 
alternatives considered were formulated with optional implementation 
features in order to minimize effects on adjacent habitats (such as the 
fringe marshes along Dutchman Slough and Pritchett Marsh), such as 
staging the Proposed Action and/or limiting the amount of tidal 
exchange. These features were analyzed but removed from further 
consideration because hydrologic modeling revealed that they would not 
significantly reduce adverse effects to adjacent habitats.
    The lead agencies will carry forward three possible restoration 
alternatives to environmental analysis: the No-Action Alternative, the 
Preferred Restoration Alternative, and the Partial Restoration 
Alternative. The lead agencies will consider public input from the 
scoping period to determine whether any modification should be made to 
the alternatives or whether any additional issues should be addressed 
in the EIS.

Summary of Alternatives

No-Action Alternative

    Under the No-Action Alternative, the lead agencies would take no 
action to restore tidal influence to the Site; however, the lead agency 
would be required to maintain the northern levee along Dutchman and 
South Sloughs in perpetuity. Maintenance activities would likely be 
increased as the levees age and erosive action increases in response to 
activities undertaken by the Napa Sonoma Restoration Project, a tidal 
restoration project conducted by the State of California adjacent to 
Cullinan Ranch.

Preferred Restoration Alternative

    The Preferred Restoration Alternative would restore the entire 
1,525-ac Cullinan Ranch Site, with implementation of the following 
project components:
    Component 1: Construct boardwalk to provide access to existing 
electrical towers.
    Component 2: Block drainage ditches to promote redevelopment of 
natural sloughs.
    Component 3: Improve the CDFG Pond 1 levee and install water 
control structures.
    Component 4: Protect Highway 37 from project induced flooding and 
    Component 5: Construct public access areas.
    Component 6: Breach the levees along Dutchman and South Sloughs and 
Guadalcanal Village.
    Component 7: Implement long-term monitoring.

Partial Restoration Alternative

    The Partial Restoration Alternative would restore 300 ac of the 
Cullinan Ranch Site. The Service developed the Partial Restoration 
Alternative in order to limit potential impacts to the hydrology of 
Dutchman Slough. While it would meet the purpose and need of the 
project, a smaller overall area within Cullinan Ranch would be 
restored, and connectivity with other adjacent restoration projects 
would be limited.
    The Partial Restoration Alternative would include implementation of 
the following project components:
    Component 1: Block drainage ditches to promote redevelopment of the 
natural sloughs.
    Component 2: Construct internal levee.
    Component 3: Protect Highway 37 from project-induced flooding and 
    Component 4: Breach the levee along Dutchman Slough.

[[Page 51247]]

    Component 5: Long-term monitoring.

Public Comment

    Comments we receive will help us identify key concerns and issues 
to be evaluated in the EIS. Opportunities for public participation will 
occur throughout the process. Before including your address, phone 
number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in 
your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment, including 
your personal identifying information, may be made publicly available 
at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your 
personal identifying information from public review, we cannot 
guarantee that we will be able to do so.

    Dated: August 30, 2007.
Kenneth McDermond,
Acting Manager, California/Nevada Operations, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. E7-17587 Filed 9-5-07; 8:45 am]