[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 52 (Monday, March 18, 2013)]
[Pages 16705-16706]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-06178]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-R-2013-N039; FXRS12610800000V2-134-FF08RSRC00]

Llano Seco Riparian Sanctuary Unit Restoration and Pumping Plant/
Fish Screen Facility Protection Project, CA; Final Environmental Impact 
Statement and Environmental Impact Report

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the 
California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), announce that the 
final environmental impact statement and environmental impact report 
(EIS/EIR) for the Llano Seco Riparian Sanctuary Unit Restoration and 
Princeton, Codora, Glenn & Provident Irrigation Districts (PCGID-PID) 
Pumping Plan/Fish Screen Facility Protection Project is now available. 
The final EIS/EIR, which we prepared and now announce in accordance 
with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), describes 
the alternatives identified to protect the pumping plant and fish 
screen facility located at river mile 178.5 on the Sacramento River, 
and to restore the Riparian Sanctuary Unit of the Sacramento River 
National Wildlife Refuge.

ADDRESSES: The final EIS/EIR is available at:
     Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 752 County 
Road 99 W, Willows, CA 95988; telephone 530-934-7814.
     River Partners Office, 580 Vallombrosa Avenue, Chico, CA 
95926; telephone 530-894-5401.
     Orland Free Library, 333 Mill Street, Orland, CA 95963.
     Chico Branch Library, 1108 Sherman Avenue, Chico, CA 
     CDFW Office, 629 Entler Ave, Suite 12, Chico, CA 95928.
     PCGID-PID Office, 258 South Butte Street, Willows, CA 
95988; telephone 530-934-4801.
     Internet: www.fws.gov/sacramentovalleyrefuges/ and http://www.riverpartners.org/where-we-work/sanctuary/documents.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kelly Moroney, Refuge Manager, 
Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge, 530-934-2801 (phone); 
kelly_moroney@fws.gov (email), or; Helen Swagerty, River Partners, 
530-894-5401 (phone); hswagerty@riverpartners.org (email).



    The Llano Seco Riparian Sanctuary Unit was acquired by the Service 
in 1991 and added to the Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge. The 
Service acquired the Llano Seco Riparian Sanctuary Unit as part of the 
Joint Management Agreement between Parrot Investment Co., The Nature 
Conservancy, California Department of Fish and Game, and the Service to 
cooperatively manage lands on the Llano Seco Ranch. The Llano Seco 
Riparian Sanctuary Unit is one piece of the larger Llano Seco Ranch, 
and was cleared of riparian vegetation for agricultural production by 
the previous landowner during the 1970s. Although the property has been 
out of agricultural production for close to 15 years, the habitat 
remains dominated by nonnative and invasive noxious weeds. Currently, 
just over 200 acres is farmed to dryland row crops to help control 
nonnative weeds.
    Prior to acquisition by the Service, rock revetment was placed on 
the north end of the Llano Seco Riparian Sanctuary Unit by the 
Department of Water Resources in 1985 and 1986. The rock was placed in 
order to lock the Sacramento River in place, ensuring that flood flows 
would continue to be diverted from the Sacramento River through the 
Goose Lake overflow structure and into the Butte Basin. When the 
Service acquired the ranch property in 1991, we did so with the 
understanding that our management activities would not impact the Goose 
Lake overflow structure that diverts flood water into the Butte Basin.
    Since the placement of rock revetment in 1986, the natural 
riverbank that is south of the revetment has eroded approximately 600 
feet. The erosion on refuge property is directly across from the PCGID-
PID pumping plant and fish screening facility. In 1999, the PCGID-PID 
consolidated three pumping plants into one new facility equipped with 
state-of-the-art fish screens. The fish-screening efficiency of the new 
PCGID-PID pumping plant is now endangered by the bank erosion on the 
refuge property and the migration of the Sacramento River. Although the 
rock revetment on the north edge of refuge property is decades old and 
eroding, it plays a key role in protecting the PCGID-PID pumping plant. 
As the bank erodes, the angle of flow and velocity of the water passing 
the screens will change, trapping fish against the screen rather than 
sweeping them past. Without some type of protection, it is likely the 
bank will continue to erode and the pumping plant facility will fail to 
meet guidelines for operation of the pumping-plant fish screens that 
were published by the National Marine Fisheries Service of National 
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Department of Commerce).
    The Draft EIS/EIR was available for a 45-day public review and 
comment period, which we announced via several methods, including 
public notices in local newspapers and a notice in the Federal Register 
(77 FR 26569, May 4, 2012). We held a public meeting to solicit 
comments on the Draft EIS/EIR on May 30, 2012. We identified and 
analyzed four alternatives in the Draft EIS/EIR:

Alternative 1: No-Action Alternative

    Under the No-Action Alternative, only the ongoing removal and 
management of invasive plant species would occur at the Riparian 
Sanctuary. No active restoration of native plants would occur. 
Maintenance activities for the PCGID-PID pumping plant and fish screens 
would continue, but no new actions would be taken to prevent river 

Alternative 2: Spur Dikes and Site-Specific Plantings

    Under Alternative 2, bank protection measures would consist of 
installing eight rock spur dikes along the

[[Page 16706]]

Sacramento River on the northern side of the Riparian Sanctuary. The 
dike field would extend about 2,000 feet in length. The dikes would be 
spaced 225 feet apart, and each dike would extend 75 feet into the 
river. Restoration activities on the Riparian Sanctuary would consist 
of site-specific plantings across 400 acres of the site. Restoration 
activities would include preparing the site, planting native plants, 
irrigating plants for the first 3 years, and monitoring and managing 
the restored area.

Alternative 3: Traditional Riprap and Site-Specific Plantings

    Under Alternative 3, bank protection measures would consist of 
installing riprap with or without a low berm along the Sacramento River 
on the northern side of the Riparian Sanctuary. Riprap revetment would 
be installed from the end of the existing riprap upstream for 2,500 to 
2,700 feet, to a point almost directly across from the pumping plant 
and fish screen facility, to protect the riverbank from further 
erosion. In addition to the site-specific plantings described under 
Alternative 2, revegetation is proposed on both the bank and low berm 
areas under this alternative.

Alternative 4: Traditional Riprap With Upstream Rock Removal and Site-
Specific Plantings

    Under Alternative 4, bank protection measures would consist of 
installing riprap with or without a low berm along the Sacramento River 
on the north side of the Riparian Sanctuary as described in Alternative 
3, including revegetation on both the bank and low berm. Riparian 
restoration would take place as described in Alternative 2. In 
addition, under Alternative 4, we proposed to remove approximately 
2,300 linear feet of upstream bank revetment on State- and Service-
managed lands along the north side of the peninsula upstream of the 
Riparian Sanctuary. Removal of the revetment would encourage a natural 
progression of streambank erosion, and the eventual cutoff of an oxbow. 
This cut off would allow the river to flow parallel to the pumping 
plant and fish screen facility, which is the desired alignment for the 
fish screen to properly function. Installing traditional riprap on the 
northern side of the Riparian Sanctuary would hold the river in place 
to prevent it from migrating further east, away from the facility.
    Following public review of the Draft EIS/EIR, the Service and CDFG, 
in coordination with PCGID-PID, river Partners, and the design 
engineers, identified the preferred alternative, which is based on a 
combination of the features of Alternative 4. Preferred Alternative: 
The preferred alternative includes installation of traditional riprap 
on the northwest bank of the Riparian Sanctuary, including a low berm 
along the gravel bar and a toe trench just off the gravel bar; removal 
of upstream rock; and site-specific plantings on the Riparian 
Sanctuary. The upstream rock removal and site-specific plantings would 
be the same as described for Alternative 4 in the Draft EIS/EIR. The 
traditional riprap was designed to incorporate the beneficial features 
of both the low-berm and no-berm options described in Alternative 4. 
The traditional riprap without a berm would be located in areas where 
the channel would be affected to reduce the footprint, and a low berm 
would be located across the gravel bar and would be planted with native 
trees, sedges, and grasses, along with large woody debris to provide 
immediate fish habitat. The traditional riprap under the preferred 
alternative would involve less excavation than the no-berm option and 
have a smaller footprint than the low-berm option, resulting in less 
riprap placement in the Sacramento River. It would incorporate the key 
benefit of the low-berm option by providing a planting surface for 
native vegetation.

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    We will make a decision no sooner than 30 days after the 
publication of the final EIS/EIR. We anticipate issuing a Record of 
Decision in the summer of 2013.
    We provide this notice under regulations in the Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) for implementing the National Environmental Policy 
Act (40 CFR 1506.6).

Alexandra Pitts,
Acting, Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2013-06178 Filed 3-15-13; 8:45 am]