Final Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Impact Report; Giacomini Wetlands Restoration Project; Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, CA; Notice of Availability, 36027-36030 [E7-12714]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 126 / Monday, July 2, 2007 / Notices Copies of the ROD may be obtained from the contact listed above or may be viewed online at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Dated: May 16, 2007. Ernest Quintana, Regional Director, Midwest Region. [FR Doc. E7–12715 Filed 6–29–07; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9312–88–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES Final Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Impact Report; Giacomini Wetlands Restoration Project; Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, CA; Notice of Availability Summary: Pursuant to § 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (Pub. L. 91–190, as amended), and the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations (40 CFR part 1500– 1508), the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, has prepared a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) identifying and evaluating the no-action alternative and four action alternatives for the restoration of the Giacomini wetlands. When approved, the plan will guide the National Park Service in restoration and public access actions for lands at the headwaters of Tomales Bay, Marin County, California. Because some of the proposed restoration project area includes state, county and private lands, the document also fulfills California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements as a Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The California State Lands Commission (CALC) is the CEQA lead agency for this project. Through the FEIS/EIR, the potential impacts of the five alternatives are assessed and, where appropriate, measures to avoid or reduce the intensity of potential effects are identified. Three preliminary restoration options that were considered, but rejected because they did not achieve restoration objectives or were infeasible, are also described in the FEIS/EIR. Project Planning Background: Point Reyes National Seashore is a unit of the National Park Service (NPS) located in western Marin County, California. It was established by Congress on September 13, 1962, ‘‘to save and preserve, for the purpose of public recreation, benefit, and inspiration, a portion of the diminishing seashore of the United States that remains undeveloped’’ (Pub. L. 87–657). A large portion of Tomales Bay watershed lands were acquired by VerDate Aug<31>2005 22:57 Jun 29, 2007 Jkt 211001 the NPS in the 1960s and 1970s for establishment of two neighboring parks—Point Reyes National Seashore (Seashore) and Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). In 1980, the boundary for GGNRA was expanded to include the Waldo Giacomini Ranch (Giacomini Ranch) and the eastern portion of Tomales Bay. The Giacomini Ranch falls within the north district of the GGNRA, which is administered by the Seashore. The Seashore and CALC are proposing to restore historic wetlands at Giacomini Ranch in Tomales Bay, an embayment that borders the Seashore to the east and north. The Giacomini Ranch property was once part of a large tidal marsh complex at the southern end of Tomales Bay that also encompassed portions of Olema Marsh (a 60-acre freshwater marsh that is partially owned by the NPS). The Giacomini property was diked in 1946 and has been used by the Waldo Giacomini family as a dairy since then. The property was purchased from the Giacomini family in 2000. Partial funding for the purchase came from the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans), which was under obligation to the California Coastal Commission (CCC) to mitigate for impacts resulting from the Lone Tree road repair along State Route 1 conducted in the early 1990s. The CCC eventually allowed CalTrans to fulfill mitigation obligations by making funds available to the NPS to purchase, restore, and manage a replacement wetland site. While the NPS is obligated under its agreement with CalTrans and CCC to mitigate only a total of 3.6 acres, the Seashore believes that the potential value of the historic salt marsh is significant not only to the NPS and its resource conservation objectives, but to the Tomales Bay watershed ecosystem as a whole. Tomales Bay was recently declared impaired for sediment, nutrients, and fecal coliform by the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board under § 303(d) of the Clean Water Act. Coastal wetlands act as both a food source and filtering system for estuarine and marine systems, and the loss of these wetlands in many parts of the bay has contributed to this designation. The diking of the Giacomini property resulted in the loss of hydrologic connectivity and diminished delta functionality for more than 50 percent of the coastal tidal wetlands present in Tomales Bay in the late 1800s. Restoration would reestablish hydrologic connectivity between Tomales Bay and the project area, resulting in increased wetland functionality. PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 36027 The project purpose and goals reflect a broad ecosystem-level approach to restoration. The purpose of the proposed project is to restore natural hydrologic processes within a significant portion of the project area, thereby promoting restoration of ecological processes and functions. Three goals, which further support the overall purpose, were also developed, as follows: • Restore natural, self-sustaining tidal, fluvial (streamflow), and groundwater hydrologic processes, thereby enabling reestablishment of some of the ecological processes and functions associated with wetland and riparian areas, such as water quality improvement, floodwater storage, food chain support, and wildlife habitat. • Pursue a watershed-based approach to restoration so as to emphasize opportunities to improve ecological conditions within the entire Tomales Bay watershed, not just in the project area itself. • To the extent possible, incorporate opportunities for the public to experience and enjoy the restoration process as long as opportunities do not conflict with the project’s purpose or with NPS, CALC, or other agency legislation or policies. For these reasons, the NPS and CALC propose to restore natural hydrologic and ecological processes on most or all of the 563-acre property. The NPS and CALC developed a range of alternatives for accomplishing this restoration project that encompass a spectrum of hydrologic and topographic changes. However, there are a series of activities that would be conducted under all five alternatives, including: Discontinuation of agricultural land management on the property, removal of general agricultural infrastructure and buildings from upland areas, and periodic maintenance of creeks to ensure that sediment deposition does not elevate flood risk to adjacent properties. In addition, the Giacomini family would remove all personal property from the project area, including worker housing trailers near Mesa Road. Water rights to Lagunitas Creek, acquired as part of the transfer of ownership, would be dedicated to instream flow. The NPS would also enter into a lease agreement with the CALC for leasing of subtidal lands in Lagunitas Creek within the project area. Finally, the NPS will be working with the USGS on an effort to expand the tidewater Goby population within the southern portions of Tomales Bay. Proposed Giacomini Wetlands Restoration: Extensive Restoration of the Giacomini Ranch East Pasture, Full Restoration of the West Pasture, and E:\FR\FM\02JYN1.SGM 02JYN1 jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES 36028 Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 126 / Monday, July 2, 2007 / Notices Restoration of Olema Marsh with Limited Public Access (Alternative D). This alternative has been determined to be ‘‘environmentally preferred’’, and involves complete removal of levees in both the West and East Pasture. In general, this alternative builds upon the actions proposed in Alternative B and Alternative C (see below) by fully realigning one of the leveed creeks within the Giacomini Ranch; excavating a portion of the ranch pasture into active intertidal marshplain and floodplain; increasing the amount of culvert replacement to improve hydraulic connectivity, streamflow, and passage of salmonid species; and increasing active revegetation and invasive non-native plant removal efforts. In addition, this alternative incorporates adaptive restoration of Olema Marsh (which is located south of Giacomini Ranch and White House Pool and is owned by Audubon Canyon Ranch (ACR) and the NPS); this would include a phased approach to shallow channel excavation, vegetated berm removal, and potential replacement of Levee Road and/or Bear Valley Road culverts in the future should initial restoration efforts not achieve the desired degree of success. Public access components of Alternative D include an improved spur trail leading to the edge of the Dairy Mesa; an improved spur trail extension of the existing Tomales Bay Trail; an improved spur trail on the southern perimeter following the existing alignment of an informal social path; and an ADA-compliant path in White House Pool County Park. The NPS would also pursue working with Marin County (through separate environmental compliance) to consider additional public access facilities on the southern perimeter of the project area, including reevaluation of a trail along Levee Road, extension of a trail to Inverness Park, and, should other options not prove viable, a non-vehicular bridge across Lagunitas Creek. Alternatives to Proposed Project: Under the No Action Alternative, levees, tidegates, and culverts in the Giacomini Ranch will remain. An 11-acre area will be restored on the northeast corner of the east pasture to satisfy mitigation requirements for aquatic habitat impacts caused by CalTrans due to road repairs on State Route 1 in Marin County in exchange for the NPS receiving monies to purchase and restore the Giacomini Ranch. The remainder of the levees in the East Pasture and West Pasture would no longer be maintained. Under the No Action Alternative only, there is potential for limited grazing, with consultation conducted under a separate VerDate Aug<31>2005 22:57 Jun 29, 2007 Jkt 211001 compliance process. Olema Marsh would not be restored, and there would be no new public access facilities. Alternative A—Limited Restoration of the Giacomini Ranch East Pasture Only with Expanded Public Access, Including Culverted Earthen Fill Trail on Eastern Perimeter. This alternative involves selective breaching of the East Pasture levee, while levees and tidegates in the West Pasture would not be removed. A limited amount of tidal channel creation, creek bank grading, and revegetation would also be performed in the East Pasture. Most of the actions under this alternative focus on removing agricultural infrastructure such as filling of ditches, ripping of compacted roads, fence removal, and removal of pumps, pipelines, and concrete spillways, as well as removal of ranch buildings. For future public access, the southern perimeter trail would include a prefabricated bridge across Lagunitas Creek, near the old summer dam location across from White House Pool County Park. The bridge design would place footings outside of the active channel, so as to not impinge on hydrologic processes. Future extension of the southern perimeter trail, in collaboration with the County of Marin, would connect White House Pool County Park with a path along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard (that would either run alongside the road or move off the road at the southern end of the unrestored West Pasture onto a lowelevation boardwalk that would join back with Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Inverness Park). Other infrastructure constructed is a culverted berm throughtrail on the eastern perimeter of the East Pasture. Alternative B—Moderate Restoration of the Giacomini Ranch East Pasture and Limited Restoration of the West Pasture with Expanded Public Access, Including Boardwalk Trail on the Eastern Perimeter. This alternative would completely remove the East Pasture levees and create several breaches in the West Pasture levee, as well as remove the tidegate on Fish Hatchery Creek. More tidal channel creation, grading, and revegetation would occur than under Alternative A. There would be no activities taken at Olema Marsh. Most of the new public access facilities would continue to be limited to the eastern and southern perimeters of the East Pasture, including construction of the pedestrian access bridge across Lagunitas Creek near the old summer dam, and extension of the southern perimeter trail to Inverness Park. The culverted berm through-trail on the eastern perimeter in Alternative A would instead be a boardwalk. On the PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 West Pasture north levee, a viewing area would replace the existing informal trail. Alternative C—Full Restoration of the Giacomini Ranch East and West Pastures and Restoration of Olema Marsh, with Moderate Public Access. This alternative involves complete removal of levees in both the West and East Pasture. In general, this alternative would result in more tidal channel creation, grading, and revegetation than Alternative B. In addition, the project boundary is expanded to include Olema Marsh, which is located south of the Giacomini Ranch and White House Pool and is owned by ACR and the NPS. Olema Marsh and the Giacomini Ranch once formed an integrated tidal wetland complex. In Alternative C, there would be an adaptive approach for Olema Marsh restoration that would include phased shallow channel excavation and vegetated berm removal. Levee Road and Bear Valley Road culverts could be replaced in the future should initial restoration efforts not achieve the desired degree of success. Public access components include the southern perimeter path and proposed future trails as described under Alternative A and Alternative B, but there would be two spur trails rather than a throughtrail on the eastern perimeter of the Giacomini Ranch. Principal Differences Between the Draft and Final EIS/EIR: Change in Preferred Alternative: The alternative preferred by the NPS and CALC has been changed to Alternative D from Alternative C. The lead agencies initially chose Alternative C as the Preferred Alternative as it appeared to best meet both wetland restoration goals and community public access needs. During public review of the DEIS/EIR, a large number of responses from the public, organizations, and agencies advocated selecting Alternative D because it was more compatible with restoration and would have less traffic, noise, pollution, and land use impacts. Changes to Alternative D: Alternative D has been modified slightly in the FEIS/EIR in response to public feedback so as to slightly decrease the degree of excavation, to remove eucalyptus from Tomasini Creek, and to construct an ADA-compliant trail and viewing platform at the nearby White House Pool County Park. In addition, this alternative now also incorporates the option for NPS to collaborate with Marin County in a separate environmental process on possible additional public access facilities on the southern perimeter of the project area (as noted above). E:\FR\FM\02JYN1.SGM 02JYN1 jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 126 / Monday, July 2, 2007 / Notices Change in Impact Determinations: Because of refinement of construction scheduling and project design (identified in Chapter 2), the NPS and CALC have re-assessed some levels of impact identified, although none of these changes results in any ‘‘Significant, Unavoidable Impacts’’, such that all major impacts are mitigated to moderate or lesser intensities. • Construction-related air quality impacts under Alternative C have been reduced to moderate, although Alternative D still would have major or substantial impacts that are mitigated to moderate levels through implementation of recommended Best Management Practices. • Alternative A and Alternative B would have major impacts on riparian habitat due to construction of the eastern perimeter trail that could conflict with state and local policies on riparian habitat protection, but these impacts would be mitigated to minor or moderate through active and passive revegetation efforts. • Major restoration actions in Olema Marsh identified as part of the adaptive restoration under Alternative C and Alternative D such as culvert replacement would not be implemented until the NPS can confirm these actions would not cause major impacts to municipal water supply through increasing water salinities in the portion of the Lagunitas Creek that is adjacent to municipal groundwater wells. Summary of Public Engagement: On September 23, 2002, a Notice of Intent (NOI) to conduct public scoping to inform preparation of an EIS was published in the Federal Register. On September 25, 2002, a copy of the NOI and scoping information was sent to 45 landowners adjacent to the project area, and 163 persons and organizations on a public review request list maintained by the Seashore. On October 4, 2002, the NOI was sent to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research State Clearinghouse for distribution to relevant state agencies (SCH# 2002114002). Following agreement by CALC to act as the lead CEQA agency, a Notice of Preparation (NOP) for preparation of a joint EIS/EIR was prepared by CALC, and distributed to the State Clearinghouse, which circulated the NOP between May 29 and June 30, 2003. The extensive public scoping period also closed on June 30, 2003. Oral comments were heard at a public information meeting at the October 19, 2002 Advisory Commission held at the Point Reyes Dance Palace where approximately 30 to 40 members of the VerDate Aug<31>2005 22:57 Jun 29, 2007 Jkt 211001 public attended. In addition to the oral comments obtained, approximately 86 individuals or private organizations provided written comments regarding the proposed restoration. Regulatory scoping meetings were conducted on November 6, 2002 and November 8, 2002 during the public scoping period. The NPS and CALC received comments from seven local, state, or federal agencies. After the public scoping phase concluded on June 30, 2003, a staff report was prepared that summarized all information derived from the public scoping process. After a series of internal post-scoping discussions in spring 2004, the NPS and CALC hosted a series of information meetings with regulatory and local and state agencies, adjacent landowners, and local technical experts in the field of wetland restoration, to present and receive feedback on preliminary restoration and public access concepts. This phase culminated in a public workshop on June 22, 2004, at the Seashore Red Barn attended by more than 110 people. Following the June public workshop, all interested individuals and organizations were encouraged to submit comments to the NPS and CALC on the restoration concepts and scope of the proposed DEIS/EIR. Through July 23, 2004 written letters or e-mails from 58 individuals and 14 private organizations were received, as well as two petitions with a total of approximately 450 signatures. NPS staff also met with representatives of stakeholder groups from Marin County and interested agencies that requested briefings. In response to the comments received, the NPS and CALC contracted for two additional studies on public access options within the project area that evaluated potential impacts on resources and adjacent land uses, as well as technical feasibility and costs. As part of this effort, additional meetings were held with adjacent landowners and the general public in February–March, 2005. The Seashore’s Notice of Availability for the DEIS/EIR was published in the Federal Register on November 3, 2006. The EPA’s notification of filing of the DEIS/EIR was published in the Federal Register on December 15, 2006, formally initiating the 60-day public comment period. A notice that the DEIS/EIR had been also filed with the State Clearinghouse was published on December 18, 2006. The Seashore mailed over 450 letters regarding availability of the DEIS/EIR for public review on December 13, 2006 (this letter also announced a public meeting scheduled for January 25, 2007, at the PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 36029 Seashore Red Barn, and confirmed that the public comment period would end February 14, 2007). On December 14, 2006, a press release announcing the public meeting was distributed to the Point Reyes Light, Marin Independent Journal, and Press Democrat, as well as 28 other media outlets, including newspapers, radio stations, and television stations. Details about the public meeting were also posted on the Seashore’s Web site. The Marin Independent Journal and Point Reyes Light published articles about release of the DEIS/EIR and the pending public meeting. Approximately 100 members of the public attended the January 25, 2007 meeting. The Point Reyes Light published an account of the meeting on February 1, 2007. Altogether approximately 180 interested individuals and organizations responded to release of the DEIS/EIR; approximately 170 were from private individuals. There were no form letters. More than 99 percent of the letters submitted were from residents of Marin County. Organizations providing comments included the Environmental Action Committee of Marin; Point Reyes Lodging Association; Marin County Bicycle Coalition/Community Pathways Committee/Access 4 Bikes; California Native Plant Society; Point Reyes Village Association; Sierra Club, Marin Chapter; and Tomales Bay Association. Ten responses were received from local, state, or federal agencies—the California Coastal Commission; the California Regional Water Quality Control Board; the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary; the North Marin Water District; the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District; the County of Marin Department of Public Works; the County of Marin Department of Parks and Open Space District; the State Department of Conservation; the State of California Department of Fish and Game; and the EPA. More than 90 percent of the oral and written comments received during the public meeting and throughout the comment period concerned the choice of Alternative C as the Preferred Alternative. A large number of comments also advocated modifications to either the existing Preferred Alternative or to Alternative D, with most of these proposed modifications focusing on changes to the public access components on the eastern and southern perimeters of the project area. On March 2, 2007, the EPA published its Lack of Objection (LO) findings regarding the DEIS/EIR, noting that the ‘‘EPA supports the proposed project and believes it will significantly improve the hydrologic E:\FR\FM\02JYN1.SGM 02JYN1 36030 Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 126 / Monday, July 2, 2007 / Notices and ecological processes and functions in the Tomales Bay Watershed.’’ All written comments received and a summary of commentary from the January 25, 2007, public meeting are available for inspection at the Seashore Administration Building, 1 Bear Valley Road, Point Reyes Station, CA. Substantive comments and responses are documented in the FEIS/EIR. Copies of the FEIS/EIR may be obtained from the Superintendent, Point Reyes National Seashore, Point Reyes, CA 94956, Attn: Giacomini Wetlands Restoration Project, or by e-mail request to: pore_planning@nps.gov (in the subject line, type: Giacomini Wetlands Restoration Project). The document will be sent directly to those who have requested it, and also will be posted on the Internet at the Seashore’s Web site https://www.nps.gov/pore; and both the printed document and digital version on compact disk will be available at the park headquarters and local libraries. Decision: As a delegated EIS/EIR, the official responsible for the final decision is the Regional Director, Pacific West Region. A Record of Decision, fully documenting the entire conservation planning and environmental decisionmaking process, will be prepared not sooner than 30 days following publication in the Federal Register of the EPA’s notice of filing and availability of the Final EIS/EIR. Subsequently and prior to implementation, notice of approval of the Record of Decision will likewise be published in the Federal Register, as well as announced via local and regional news media. Following approval of the Giacomini Wetlands Restoration Project, the official responsible for project implementation will be the Superintendent, Point Reyes National Seashore. Dated: April 25, 2007. George J. Turnbull, Acting Regional Director, Pacific West Region. [FR Doc. E7–12714 Filed 6–29–07; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4312–FW–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service Notice of Inventory Completion: Pierce College District, Lakewood, WA; Correction National Park Service, Interior. Notice; correction. jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES AGENCY: ACTION: Notice is here given in accordance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), 25 U.S.C. 3003 (5), of the VerDate Aug<31>2005 22:57 Jun 29, 2007 Jkt 211001 completion of an inventory of human remains in the possession of the Pierce College District, Lakewood, WA. The human remains were removed from site 45–PI–07, also known as the Purdy 1 site, at Carr Inlet, Pierce County, WA. This notice is published as part of the National Park Service’s administrative responsibilities under NAGPRA, 25 U.S.C. 3003 (d)(3). The determinations in this notice are the sole responsibility of the museum, institution, or Federal agency that has control of the Native American human remains. The National Park Service is not responsible for the determinations in this notice. This notice corrects the number of tribes that were determined to be culturally affiliated in a Notice of Inventory Completion previously published in the Federal Register of November 22, 2006 (FR Doc E6–19790, pages 67634–67635) by adding the Nisqually Indian Tribe of the Nisqually Reservation, Washington. After publication in the Federal Register of the Notice of Inventory Completion, Pierce College District determined that the Nisqually Indian Tribe of the Nisqually Reservation, Washington were also culturally affiliated with the Native American human remains from site 45–PI–07, also known as the Purdy 1 site, at Carr Inlet, Pierce County, WA. In the Federal Register of November 22, 2006, on page 67634, paragraph number 5, is corrected by substituting the following: Site 45–PI–07 is a shell mound measuring 5 feet high, 30 feet wide, and 120 feet long. Osteological and archeological analysis indicate that the human remains removed from site 45– PI–07 are of Native American ancestry, based on the presence of extreme degrees of dental wear, marked shoveling of the exposed permanent incisors, blunt nasal sills, rounded chins, squatting facets on the talus, and their flex-kneed burial position, and site context. Archeological materials recovered from the site indicate a wide range of use during the prehistoric and historic periods. Site 45–PI–07 is located within the area long occupied by the Shotlemamish, a Southern Lushootseed speaking group. Members of the Puyallup Tribe of the Puyallup Reservation, Washington speak the Southern Lushootseed language. Around 1870s, remaining Shotlemamish, in what is now the Purdy I area, moved to the Puyallup Reservation where there were already Shotlemamish living on the reservation. Officials of Pierce College have reasonably determined that there is also a shared group identity through PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 marriage between the Burley Lagoon, Purdy Washington Shotlemamish and Nisqually Indian Tribe of the Nisqually Reservation, Washington. Descendants of the Shotlemamish are members of the Puyallup Tribe of the Puyallup Reservation, Washington. Officials of the Pierce College District have determined that, pursuant to 25 U.S.C. 3001 (9–10), the human remains described above represent the physical remains of 29 individuals of Native American ancestry. Officials of the Pierce College District also have determined that, pursuant to 25 U.S.C. 3001 (2), there is a relationship of shared group identity that can be reasonably traced between the Native American human remains and the Nisqually Indian Tribe of the Nisqually Reservation, Washington and Puyallup Tribe of the Puyallup Reservation, Washington. Lastly, officials of the Pierce College District have determined that there is a preponderance of the evidence in favor of the Puyallup Tribe of the Puyallup Reservation, Washington’s claim. Representatives of any other Indian tribe that believes itself to be culturally affiliated with the human remains should contact Chris MacKersie, District Director of Safety & Security and Assistant Director of Facilities, Pierce College District, 9401 Farwest Drive SW, Lakewood, WA 98498, telephone (253) 912–3655, before August 1, 2007. Repatriation of the human remains to the Puyallup Tribe of the Puyallup Reservation, Washington may proceed after that date if no additional claimants come forward. Pierce College District is responsible for notifying the Nisqually Indian Tribe of the Nisqually Reservation, Washington and Puyallup Tribe of the Puyallup Reservation, Washington that this notice has been published. Dated: June 13, 2007 Sherry Hutt, Manager, National NAGPRA Program. [FR Doc. E7–12712 Filed 6–29–07; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4312–50–S DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service Notice of Inventory Completion: University of Colorado Museum, Boulder, CO National Park Service, Interior. Notice. AGENCY: ACTION: Notice is here given in accordance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act E:\FR\FM\02JYN1.SGM 02JYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 126 (Monday, July 2, 2007)]
[Notices]
[Pages 36027-36030]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-12714]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Park Service


Final Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Impact 
Report; Giacomini Wetlands Restoration Project; Point Reyes National 
Seashore, Marin County, CA; Notice of Availability

    Summary: Pursuant to Sec.  102(2)(C) of the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (Pub. L. 91-190, as amended), and the Council on 
Environmental Quality Regulations (40 CFR part 1500-1508), the National 
Park Service, Department of the Interior, has prepared a Final 
Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) identifying and evaluating the 
no-action alternative and four action alternatives for the restoration 
of the Giacomini wetlands. When approved, the plan will guide the 
National Park Service in restoration and public access actions for 
lands at the headwaters of Tomales Bay, Marin County, California. 
Because some of the proposed restoration project area includes state, 
county and private lands, the document also fulfills California 
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements as a Final Environmental 
Impact Report (EIR). The California State Lands Commission (CALC) is 
the CEQA lead agency for this project. Through the FEIS/EIR, the 
potential impacts of the five alternatives are assessed and, where 
appropriate, measures to avoid or reduce the intensity of potential 
effects are identified. Three preliminary restoration options that were 
considered, but rejected because they did not achieve restoration 
objectives or were infeasible, are also described in the FEIS/EIR.
    Project Planning Background: Point Reyes National Seashore is a 
unit of the National Park Service (NPS) located in western Marin 
County, California. It was established by Congress on September 13, 
1962, ``to save and preserve, for the purpose of public recreation, 
benefit, and inspiration, a portion of the diminishing seashore of the 
United States that remains undeveloped'' (Pub. L. 87-657). A large 
portion of Tomales Bay watershed lands were acquired by the NPS in the 
1960s and 1970s for establishment of two neighboring parks--Point Reyes 
National Seashore (Seashore) and Golden Gate National Recreation Area 
(GGNRA). In 1980, the boundary for GGNRA was expanded to include the 
Waldo Giacomini Ranch (Giacomini Ranch) and the eastern portion of 
Tomales Bay. The Giacomini Ranch falls within the north district of the 
GGNRA, which is administered by the Seashore.
    The Seashore and CALC are proposing to restore historic wetlands at 
Giacomini Ranch in Tomales Bay, an embayment that borders the Seashore 
to the east and north. The Giacomini Ranch property was once part of a 
large tidal marsh complex at the southern end of Tomales Bay that also 
encompassed portions of Olema Marsh (a 60-acre freshwater marsh that is 
partially owned by the NPS). The Giacomini property was diked in 1946 
and has been used by the Waldo Giacomini family as a dairy since then. 
The property was purchased from the Giacomini family in 2000. Partial 
funding for the purchase came from the California Department of 
Transportation (CalTrans), which was under obligation to the California 
Coastal Commission (CCC) to mitigate for impacts resulting from the 
Lone Tree road repair along State Route 1 conducted in the early 1990s. 
The CCC eventually allowed CalTrans to fulfill mitigation obligations 
by making funds available to the NPS to purchase, restore, and manage a 
replacement wetland site.
    While the NPS is obligated under its agreement with CalTrans and 
CCC to mitigate only a total of 3.6 acres, the Seashore believes that 
the potential value of the historic salt marsh is significant not only 
to the NPS and its resource conservation objectives, but to the Tomales 
Bay watershed ecosystem as a whole. Tomales Bay was recently declared 
impaired for sediment, nutrients, and fecal coliform by the San 
Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board under Sec.  303(d) of 
the Clean Water Act. Coastal wetlands act as both a food source and 
filtering system for estuarine and marine systems, and the loss of 
these wetlands in many parts of the bay has contributed to this 
designation. The diking of the Giacomini property resulted in the loss 
of hydrologic connectivity and diminished delta functionality for more 
than 50 percent of the coastal tidal wetlands present in Tomales Bay in 
the late 1800s. Restoration would reestablish hydrologic connectivity 
between Tomales Bay and the project area, resulting in increased 
wetland functionality.
    The project purpose and goals reflect a broad ecosystem-level 
approach to restoration. The purpose of the proposed project is to 
restore natural hydrologic processes within a significant portion of 
the project area, thereby promoting restoration of ecological processes 
and functions. Three goals, which further support the overall purpose, 
were also developed, as follows:
     Restore natural, self-sustaining tidal, fluvial 
(streamflow), and groundwater hydrologic processes, thereby enabling 
reestablishment of some of the ecological processes and functions 
associated with wetland and riparian areas, such as water quality 
improvement, floodwater storage, food chain support, and wildlife 
habitat.
     Pursue a watershed-based approach to restoration so as to 
emphasize opportunities to improve ecological conditions within the 
entire Tomales Bay watershed, not just in the project area itself.
     To the extent possible, incorporate opportunities for the 
public to experience and enjoy the restoration process as long as 
opportunities do not conflict with the project's purpose or with NPS, 
CALC, or other agency legislation or policies.
    For these reasons, the NPS and CALC propose to restore natural 
hydrologic and ecological processes on most or all of the 563-acre 
property. The NPS and CALC developed a range of alternatives for 
accomplishing this restoration project that encompass a spectrum of 
hydrologic and topographic changes. However, there are a series of 
activities that would be conducted under all five alternatives, 
including: Discontinuation of agricultural land management on the 
property, removal of general agricultural infrastructure and buildings 
from upland areas, and periodic maintenance of creeks to ensure that 
sediment deposition does not elevate flood risk to adjacent properties. 
In addition, the Giacomini family would remove all personal property 
from the project area, including worker housing trailers near Mesa 
Road. Water rights to Lagunitas Creek, acquired as part of the transfer 
of ownership, would be dedicated to in-stream flow. The NPS would also 
enter into a lease agreement with the CALC for leasing of subtidal 
lands in Lagunitas Creek within the project area. Finally, the NPS will 
be working with the USGS on an effort to expand the tidewater Goby 
population within the southern portions of Tomales Bay.
    Proposed Giacomini Wetlands Restoration: Extensive Restoration of 
the Giacomini Ranch East Pasture, Full Restoration of the West Pasture, 
and

[[Page 36028]]

Restoration of Olema Marsh with Limited Public Access (Alternative D). 
This alternative has been determined to be ``environmentally 
preferred'', and involves complete removal of levees in both the West 
and East Pasture. In general, this alternative builds upon the actions 
proposed in Alternative B and Alternative C (see below) by fully 
realigning one of the leveed creeks within the Giacomini Ranch; 
excavating a portion of the ranch pasture into active intertidal 
marshplain and floodplain; increasing the amount of culvert replacement 
to improve hydraulic connectivity, streamflow, and passage of salmonid 
species; and increasing active revegetation and invasive non-native 
plant removal efforts. In addition, this alternative incorporates 
adaptive restoration of Olema Marsh (which is located south of 
Giacomini Ranch and White House Pool and is owned by Audubon Canyon 
Ranch (ACR) and the NPS); this would include a phased approach to 
shallow channel excavation, vegetated berm removal, and potential 
replacement of Levee Road and/or Bear Valley Road culverts in the 
future should initial restoration efforts not achieve the desired 
degree of success.
    Public access components of Alternative D include an improved spur 
trail leading to the edge of the Dairy Mesa; an improved spur trail 
extension of the existing Tomales Bay Trail; an improved spur trail on 
the southern perimeter following the existing alignment of an informal 
social path; and an ADA-compliant path in White House Pool County Park. 
The NPS would also pursue working with Marin County (through separate 
environmental compliance) to consider additional public access 
facilities on the southern perimeter of the project area, including 
reevaluation of a trail along Levee Road, extension of a trail to 
Inverness Park, and, should other options not prove viable, a non-
vehicular bridge across Lagunitas Creek.
    Alternatives to Proposed Project: Under the No Action Alternative, 
levees, tidegates, and culverts in the Giacomini Ranch will remain. An 
11-acre area will be restored on the northeast corner of the east 
pasture to satisfy mitigation requirements for aquatic habitat impacts 
caused by CalTrans due to road repairs on State Route 1 in Marin County 
in exchange for the NPS receiving monies to purchase and restore the 
Giacomini Ranch. The remainder of the levees in the East Pasture and 
West Pasture would no longer be maintained. Under the No Action 
Alternative only, there is potential for limited grazing, with 
consultation conducted under a separate compliance process. Olema Marsh 
would not be restored, and there would be no new public access 
facilities.
    Alternative A--Limited Restoration of the Giacomini Ranch East 
Pasture Only with Expanded Public Access, Including Culverted Earthen 
Fill Trail on Eastern Perimeter. This alternative involves selective 
breaching of the East Pasture levee, while levees and tidegates in the 
West Pasture would not be removed. A limited amount of tidal channel 
creation, creek bank grading, and revegetation would also be performed 
in the East Pasture. Most of the actions under this alternative focus 
on removing agricultural infrastructure such as filling of ditches, 
ripping of compacted roads, fence removal, and removal of pumps, 
pipelines, and concrete spillways, as well as removal of ranch 
buildings. For future public access, the southern perimeter trail would 
include a prefabricated bridge across Lagunitas Creek, near the old 
summer dam location across from White House Pool County Park. The 
bridge design would place footings outside of the active channel, so as 
to not impinge on hydrologic processes. Future extension of the 
southern perimeter trail, in collaboration with the County of Marin, 
would connect White House Pool County Park with a path along Sir 
Francis Drake Boulevard (that would either run alongside the road or 
move off the road at the southern end of the unrestored West Pasture 
onto a low-elevation boardwalk that would join back with Sir Francis 
Drake Boulevard in Inverness Park). Other infrastructure constructed is 
a culverted berm through-trail on the eastern perimeter of the East 
Pasture.
    Alternative B--Moderate Restoration of the Giacomini Ranch East 
Pasture and Limited Restoration of the West Pasture with Expanded 
Public Access, Including Boardwalk Trail on the Eastern Perimeter. This 
alternative would completely remove the East Pasture levees and create 
several breaches in the West Pasture levee, as well as remove the 
tidegate on Fish Hatchery Creek. More tidal channel creation, grading, 
and revegetation would occur than under Alternative A. There would be 
no activities taken at Olema Marsh. Most of the new public access 
facilities would continue to be limited to the eastern and southern 
perimeters of the East Pasture, including construction of the 
pedestrian access bridge across Lagunitas Creek near the old summer 
dam, and extension of the southern perimeter trail to Inverness Park. 
The culverted berm through-trail on the eastern perimeter in 
Alternative A would instead be a boardwalk. On the West Pasture north 
levee, a viewing area would replace the existing informal trail.
    Alternative C--Full Restoration of the Giacomini Ranch East and 
West Pastures and Restoration of Olema Marsh, with Moderate Public 
Access. This alternative involves complete removal of levees in both 
the West and East Pasture. In general, this alternative would result in 
more tidal channel creation, grading, and revegetation than Alternative 
B. In addition, the project boundary is expanded to include Olema 
Marsh, which is located south of the Giacomini Ranch and White House 
Pool and is owned by ACR and the NPS. Olema Marsh and the Giacomini 
Ranch once formed an integrated tidal wetland complex. In Alternative 
C, there would be an adaptive approach for Olema Marsh restoration that 
would include phased shallow channel excavation and vegetated berm 
removal. Levee Road and Bear Valley Road culverts could be replaced in 
the future should initial restoration efforts not achieve the desired 
degree of success. Public access components include the southern 
perimeter path and proposed future trails as described under 
Alternative A and Alternative B, but there would be two spur trails 
rather than a through-trail on the eastern perimeter of the Giacomini 
Ranch.
    Principal Differences Between the Draft and Final EIS/EIR:
    Change in Preferred Alternative: The alternative preferred by the 
NPS and CALC has been changed to Alternative D from Alternative C. The 
lead agencies initially chose Alternative C as the Preferred 
Alternative as it appeared to best meet both wetland restoration goals 
and community public access needs. During public review of the DEIS/
EIR, a large number of responses from the public, organizations, and 
agencies advocated selecting Alternative D because it was more 
compatible with restoration and would have less traffic, noise, 
pollution, and land use impacts.
    Changes to Alternative D: Alternative D has been modified slightly 
in the FEIS/EIR in response to public feedback so as to slightly 
decrease the degree of excavation, to remove eucalyptus from Tomasini 
Creek, and to construct an ADA-compliant trail and viewing platform at 
the nearby White House Pool County Park. In addition, this alternative 
now also incorporates the option for NPS to collaborate with Marin 
County in a separate environmental process on possible additional 
public access facilities on the southern perimeter of the project area 
(as noted above).

[[Page 36029]]

    Change in Impact Determinations: Because of refinement of 
construction scheduling and project design (identified in Chapter 2), 
the NPS and CALC have re-assessed some levels of impact identified, 
although none of these changes results in any ``Significant, 
Unavoidable Impacts'', such that all major impacts are mitigated to 
moderate or lesser intensities.
     Construction-related air quality impacts under Alternative 
C have been reduced to moderate, although Alternative D still would 
have major or substantial impacts that are mitigated to moderate levels 
through implementation of recommended Best Management Practices.
     Alternative A and Alternative B would have major impacts 
on riparian habitat due to construction of the eastern perimeter trail 
that could conflict with state and local policies on riparian habitat 
protection, but these impacts would be mitigated to minor or moderate 
through active and passive revegetation efforts.
     Major restoration actions in Olema Marsh identified as 
part of the adaptive restoration under Alternative C and Alternative D 
such as culvert replacement would not be implemented until the NPS can 
confirm these actions would not cause major impacts to municipal water 
supply through increasing water salinities in the portion of the 
Lagunitas Creek that is adjacent to municipal groundwater wells.
    Summary of Public Engagement: On September 23, 2002, a Notice of 
Intent (NOI) to conduct public scoping to inform preparation of an EIS 
was published in the Federal Register. On September 25, 2002, a copy of 
the NOI and scoping information was sent to 45 landowners adjacent to 
the project area, and 163 persons and organizations on a public review 
request list maintained by the Seashore. On October 4, 2002, the NOI 
was sent to the Governor's Office of Planning and Research State 
Clearinghouse for distribution to relevant state agencies (SCH 
2002114002). Following agreement by CALC to act as the lead CEQA 
agency, a Notice of Preparation (NOP) for preparation of a joint EIS/
EIR was prepared by CALC, and distributed to the State Clearinghouse, 
which circulated the NOP between May 29 and June 30, 2003. The 
extensive public scoping period also closed on June 30, 2003.
    Oral comments were heard at a public information meeting at the 
October 19, 2002 Advisory Commission held at the Point Reyes Dance 
Palace where approximately 30 to 40 members of the public attended. In 
addition to the oral comments obtained, approximately 86 individuals or 
private organizations provided written comments regarding the proposed 
restoration. Regulatory scoping meetings were conducted on November 6, 
2002 and November 8, 2002 during the public scoping period. The NPS and 
CALC received comments from seven local, state, or federal agencies. 
After the public scoping phase concluded on June 30, 2003, a staff 
report was prepared that summarized all information derived from the 
public scoping process.
    After a series of internal post-scoping discussions in spring 2004, 
the NPS and CALC hosted a series of information meetings with 
regulatory and local and state agencies, adjacent landowners, and local 
technical experts in the field of wetland restoration, to present and 
receive feedback on preliminary restoration and public access concepts. 
This phase culminated in a public workshop on June 22, 2004, at the 
Seashore Red Barn attended by more than 110 people. Following the June 
public workshop, all interested individuals and organizations were 
encouraged to submit comments to the NPS and CALC on the restoration 
concepts and scope of the proposed DEIS/EIR.
    Through July 23, 2004 written letters or e-mails from 58 
individuals and 14 private organizations were received, as well as two 
petitions with a total of approximately 450 signatures. NPS staff also 
met with representatives of stakeholder groups from Marin County and 
interested agencies that requested briefings. In response to the 
comments received, the NPS and CALC contracted for two additional 
studies on public access options within the project area that evaluated 
potential impacts on resources and adjacent land uses, as well as 
technical feasibility and costs. As part of this effort, additional 
meetings were held with adjacent landowners and the general public in 
February-March, 2005.
    The Seashore's Notice of Availability for the DEIS/EIR was 
published in the Federal Register on November 3, 2006. The EPA's 
notification of filing of the DEIS/EIR was published in the Federal 
Register on December 15, 2006, formally initiating the 60-day public 
comment period. A notice that the DEIS/EIR had been also filed with the 
State Clearinghouse was published on December 18, 2006. The Seashore 
mailed over 450 letters regarding availability of the DEIS/EIR for 
public review on December 13, 2006 (this letter also announced a public 
meeting scheduled for January 25, 2007, at the Seashore Red Barn, and 
confirmed that the public comment period would end February 14, 2007).
    On December 14, 2006, a press release announcing the public meeting 
was distributed to the Point Reyes Light, Marin Independent Journal, 
and Press Democrat, as well as 28 other media outlets, including 
newspapers, radio stations, and television stations. Details about the 
public meeting were also posted on the Seashore's Web site. The Marin 
Independent Journal and Point Reyes Light published articles about 
release of the DEIS/EIR and the pending public meeting. Approximately 
100 members of the public attended the January 25, 2007 meeting. The 
Point Reyes Light published an account of the meeting on February 1, 
2007.
    Altogether approximately 180 interested individuals and 
organizations responded to release of the DEIS/EIR; approximately 170 
were from private individuals. There were no form letters. More than 99 
percent of the letters submitted were from residents of Marin County. 
Organizations providing comments included the Environmental Action 
Committee of Marin; Point Reyes Lodging Association; Marin County 
Bicycle Coalition/Community Pathways Committee/Access 4 Bikes; 
California Native Plant Society; Point Reyes Village Association; 
Sierra Club, Marin Chapter; and Tomales Bay Association. Ten responses 
were received from local, state, or federal agencies--the California 
Coastal Commission; the California Regional Water Quality Control 
Board; the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary; the North 
Marin Water District; the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control 
District; the County of Marin Department of Public Works; the County of 
Marin Department of Parks and Open Space District; the State Department 
of Conservation; the State of California Department of Fish and Game; 
and the EPA.
    More than 90 percent of the oral and written comments received 
during the public meeting and throughout the comment period concerned 
the choice of Alternative C as the Preferred Alternative. A large 
number of comments also advocated modifications to either the existing 
Preferred Alternative or to Alternative D, with most of these proposed 
modifications focusing on changes to the public access components on 
the eastern and southern perimeters of the project area. On March 2, 
2007, the EPA published its Lack of Objection (LO) findings regarding 
the DEIS/EIR, noting that the ``EPA supports the proposed project and 
believes it will significantly improve the hydrologic

[[Page 36030]]

and ecological processes and functions in the Tomales Bay Watershed.''
    All written comments received and a summary of commentary from the 
January 25, 2007, public meeting are available for inspection at the 
Seashore Administration Building, 1 Bear Valley Road, Point Reyes 
Station, CA. Substantive comments and responses are documented in the 
FEIS/EIR. Copies of the FEIS/EIR may be obtained from the 
Superintendent, Point Reyes National Seashore, Point Reyes, CA 94956, 
Attn: Giacomini Wetlands Restoration Project, or by e-mail request to: 
pore_planning@nps.gov (in the subject line, type: Giacomini Wetlands 
Restoration Project). The document will be sent directly to those who 
have requested it, and also will be posted on the Internet at the 
Seashore's Web site https://www.nps.gov/pore; and both the printed 
document and digital version on compact disk will be available at the 
park headquarters and local libraries.
    Decision: As a delegated EIS/EIR, the official responsible for the 
final decision is the Regional Director, Pacific West Region. A Record 
of Decision, fully documenting the entire conservation planning and 
environmental decision-making process, will be prepared not sooner than 
30 days following publication in the Federal Register of the EPA's 
notice of filing and availability of the Final EIS/EIR. Subsequently 
and prior to implementation, notice of approval of the Record of 
Decision will likewise be published in the Federal Register, as well as 
announced via local and regional news media. Following approval of the 
Giacomini Wetlands Restoration Project, the official responsible for 
project implementation will be the Superintendent, Point Reyes National 
Seashore.

    Dated: April 25, 2007.
George J. Turnbull,
Acting Regional Director, Pacific West Region.
 [FR Doc. E7-12714 Filed 6-29-07; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4312-FW-P