Notice of Availability the Initial Study/Environmental Assessment of the Sonoma Creek Marsh Enhancement Project

San Pablo Bay Refuge is seeking comments for the Initial Study/Environmental Assessment of the Sonoma Creek Marsh Enhancement Project.  Deadline to submit comments is February 19, 2014.


The US Fish and Wildlife Service San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) lead agency in the preparation of an Initial Study/Environmental Assessment (IS/EA) for the Sonoma Creek Marsh Enhancement Project. The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board is designated as the lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

The Refuge, in collaboration with Audubon California (Audubon) and the Marin-Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District (District), proposes to enhance tidal exchange and drainage within the fringing tidal marsh along the western bank of Sonoma Creek, at the confluence with San Pablo Bay, in Sonoma County, California. This marsh routinely ponds water for long periods following spring tides and storm events when high waters inundate the entire marsh and become trapped in a large topographic basin in the marsh interior and between a series of relic levee berms along the western boundary of the marsh. The ponded water in these problem areas leads to high mosquito production rates and reduced vigor of marsh vegetation. These conditions, in turn, reduce habitat functions for the federally endangered salt marsh harvest mouse and California clapper rail, as well as other marsh-dependent species.

The Sonoma Creek Marsh Enhancement Project includes marsh enhancement elements to reduce mosquito production and to enhance marsh and associated upland transitional habitat. It consists of the following components:

• Enhancement of the central basin of the marsh to improve tidal exchange and drainage by constructing a new, approximately 5,750-foot long, 30 to 50-foot wide (4.20 ac) by 7-foot deep channel that would extend into the marsh interior and connect to San Pablo Bay via lower Sonoma Creek. Lateral channels, totaling approximately 2,450 linear feet (0.55 acres) also would be constructed to connect the relic berm area of the marsh to this channel.
• About 3,500 linear feet (2 acres) of marsh mounds would be constructed in the central basin to provide habitat heterogeneity and high tide refuge habitat for marsh wildlife.
• About 3,200 linear feet (10 acres) of marsh/upland transitional habitat, 650 feet (0.07 acres) of new drainage channels, 3,200 feet (0.37 acres) of enhanced existing drainage channels, and 2,100 feet (3 acres) of high marsh lifts would be constructed in the relic berm area.

This notice is to inform you of the availability of the Draft IS/EA for your review and comment. Your comments and concerns regarding the environmental issues associated with construction of this project are requested.

The IS/EA is available for review at the following locations:

San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge Office
2100 Highway 37
Petaluma, CA 94954

It is also available online.  Click here to download the document (6.5 MB).  Please give it a few minutes to download.  Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to open the document.  You may download the free program from the Adobe website.  

A 30-day review period has been set to facilitate public comment. The review period is scheduled to run between January 21, 2014 and February 19, 2014. Due to the time limits mandated by federal and state law, your response must be received no later than February 19, 2014.

The CEQA and NEPA lead agency contacts are provided below. Any and all comments on the IS/EA should be sent by email or hard copy to the NEPA lead agency contact (Don Brubaker, USFWS).

CEQA Initial Study:
Abigail Smith
San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board,
1515 Clay Street, Ste. 1400
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 622-2413

NEPA Environmental Assessment
Don Brubaker, Refuge Manager
US Fish and Wildlife Service
San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge
7715 Lakeville Hwy
Petaluma, CA 94954
(707) 769-4200