[Federal Register: October 29, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 209)]
[Page 66780-66781]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Bureau of Reclamation

Fish and Wildlife Service

Suisun Marsh Habitat Management, Preservation, and Restoration 
Plan, California

AGENCIES: Bureau of Reclamation and Fish and Wildlife, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of draft environmental impact statement/
environmental impact report (EIS/EIR) and notice of public meetings.


SUMMARY: The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the Fish and 
Wildlife Service (Service), as the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) Federal joint lead agencies, and the State of California 
Department of Fish and Game (DFG), acting as the California 
Environmental Quality Act State lead agency, have made available for 
public review and comment the Suisun Marsh Habitat Management, 
Preservation, and Restoration Plan (SMP) Draft EIS/EIR. The SMP is a 
comprehensive 30-year plan designed to address various conflicts 
regarding use of resources within approximately 51,000 acres of the 
Suisun Marsh (Marsh), with the focus on achieving an acceptable multi-
stakeholder approach to the restoration of tidal wetlands and the 
enhancement of managed wetlands and their functions.

DATES: Written comments on the Draft EIS/EIR must be received by 5 p.m. 
Pacific time on December 28, 2010.
    Two public meetings have been scheduled to receive written comments 
regarding environmental effects:
     Thursday, November 18, 2010, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Suisun 
City, CA.
     Thursday, November 18, 2010, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Benicia, 

ADDRESSES: Send any written comments on the Draft EIS/EIR to Ms. Becky 
Victorine, Bureau of Reclamation, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 
95825; or e-mail to rvictorine@usbr.gov.
    The public meetings will be held at the following locations:
     Suisun City, CA at Rush Ranch, 3521 Grizzly Island Road, 
Suisun City, CA 94585.
     Benicia, CA at Benicia Public Library, 150 East L Street, 
Benicia, CA 94510.
    The Draft EIS/EIR is accessible at the following Web site: http://
www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_projdetails.cfm?Project_ID=781. Copies may 
also be requested from Ms. Becky Victorine, at the above addresses or 
at 916-978-5035.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Becky Victorine, Bureau of 
Reclamation, 916-978-5035, rvictorine@usbr.gov, or Ms. Cay Goude, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 916-414-6600, cay_goude@fws.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Draft EIS/EIR documents the direct, 
indirect, and cumulative effects to the physical, biological, and 
socioeconomic environment that may result from implementing the SMP 
    As the largest contiguous brackish water marsh remaining on the 
west coast of North America, the Marsh is a critical part of the San 
Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Bay-Delta) estuary 
ecosystem. The values of the Marsh have been recognized as important, 
and several agencies have been involved in the area's protection since 
the mid-1970s. In 2001, the principal Federal, State, and local 
agencies that have jurisdiction or interest in the Marsh directed the 
formation of a charter group to develop

[[Page 66781]]

a plan for Suisun Marsh that would balance the needs of the California 
Bay-Delta Program (CALFED), the Suisun Marsh Preservation Agreement, 
and other plans by protecting and enhancing existing land uses and 
existing waterfowl and wildlife values, including those associated with 
the Pacific Flyway, endangered species, and State and Federal water 
project supply quality. A subset of this charter group has 
collaboratively prepared the SMP Draft EIS/EIR. The principal agencies 
include the Service, Reclamation, National Marine Fisheries Service 
(NMFS), DFG, State of California Department of Water Resources, Suisun 
Resource Conservation District, and the California Bay-Delta Authority. 
When the EIS/EIR is finalized, each principal agency will use it to 
implement particular actions described and analyzed in the document 
that would contribute to the overall implementation of the SMP. NMFS 
and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are cooperating agencies in 
accordance with NEPA.


    The historical diking of tidal wetlands resulted in a loss of 
habitat for many species, including some listed as threatened or 
endangered. However, managed wetlands provide important habitats for 
numerous wetland species, migratory birds, and waterfowl; support 
existing wildlife populations; and are vital to the heritage of hunting 
in Suisun Marsh. Protecting the ecological values of both the 
historical tidal wetland habitat and the current managed wetland 
habitat is vital to ensure stability of the many species that depend on 
each of these wetland types. Managed wetlands, tidal wetlands, and 
uplands, whether publicly or privately owned, provide important 
wetlands for migratory waterfowl and other resident and migratory 
wetland-dependent species and opportunities for hunting, fishing, bird 
watching, and other recreational activities. There is a need to 
maintain these opportunities as well as improve public stewardship of 
the Marsh to ensure that the implementation of restoration and managed 
wetland activities is understood and valued for both public and private 
land uses. Current restrictions regarding levee maintenance activities 
in the Marsh have forced maintenance to be deferred on some exterior 
levees, increasing the risk of catastrophic flooding. Multiple factors 
contribute to the degradation of water quality in the Marsh, and 
improvement of water quality and water quality management practices is 
needed to benefit the ecological processes for all habitats, including 
managed and tidal wetlands. Given these needs, the SMP is a 
comprehensive plan designed to address the various conflicts regarding 
use of Marsh resources, with the focus on achieving an acceptable 
multi-stakeholder approach to the restoration of tidal wetlands and the 
enhancement of managed wetlands and their functions. The SMP is 
intended to guide near-term and future actions related to restoration 
of tidal wetlands and managed wetland activities in the Marsh.

Preferred Alternative

    All action alternatives of the SMP include the same basic 
components, which provide a framework for how restoration and managed 
wetland activities would be implemented. The alternatives differ in the 
amount of acreage of restored tidal wetlands and remaining managed 
wetlands subject to managed wetland activities. Restoration of tidal 
wetlands would help to achieve the restoration goals established for 
the Marsh by the CALFED Ecosystem Restoration Program Plan, San 
Francisco Bay Area Wetlands Ecosystem Goals Project, and the Service's 
Draft Recovery Plan for Tidal Marsh Ecosystems of Northern and Central 
California. Restoration of tidal wetlands would be implemented over the 
30-year SMP timeframe, and benefits from individual projects would 
change as elevations rise due to sediment accretion, vegetation becomes 
established, and vegetation communities shift over time from low marsh 
to high marsh condition.
    Managed wetlands provide valuable habitat for a variety of non-
waterfowl birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The intended 
outcomes of the managed wetlands activities described in the Draft EIS/
EIR are to maintain and improve habitat conditions and minimize or 
avoid adverse effects of wetland operations. Most of these activities 
are already occurring in the Marsh; however, some of the current 
activities would be modified, and some new activities would be 
conducted, as described in detail in the Draft EIS/EIR.
    The preferred alternative identified in the Draft EIS/EIR includes 
restoring 5,000 to 7,000 acres in the Marsh to fully functioning, self-
sustaining tidal wetland and protecting and enhancing existing tidal 
wetland acreage; and improving the remaining 44,000 to 46,000 acres of 
managed wetlands, levee stability, and flood and drain capabilities, as 
previously identified in the 2007 CALFED Programmatic Record of 

Special Assistance for Public Meetings

    If special assistance is required to participate in the public 
meetings, please contact Becky Victorine at 916-978-5035, TDD 916-978-
5608, or via e-mail at rvictorine@usbr.gov. Please notify Ms. Victorine 
as far in advance as possible to enable Reclamation to secure the 
needed services. If a request cannot be honored, the requestor will be 
notified. A telephone device for the hearing impaired (TDD) is 
available at 916-978-5608.

Public Disclosure

    Before including your name, 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: May 4, 2010.
Pablo R. Arroyave,
Deputy Regional Director, Mid-Pacific Region, U.S. Bureau of 
    Dated: May 17, 2010.
Alexandra Pitts,
Assistant Regional Director of External Affairs, Pacific Southwest 
Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2010-27364 Filed 10-28-10; 8:45 am]